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Saturday, February 08, 2020
February 8, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:16 PM :: 1133 Views

Hawaii: Few Disabled Working, Federal Benefits Unused

NELHA: Feds Bust Money Laundering Scheme at Heart of De-Sal Water Bottler

Road Usage Charge: DoT Wants to Know How Much Spying Motorists Accept

Makuu: Homeless Move onto Abandoned DHHL Leaseholds, Set up Auto Junkyard

SB42: Protesters trying to legalize anarchy

HCR37: Will Pro-Telescope Hawaiians be Included on 'Blue Ribbon' Panel?

UH Releases Sex Harassment Survey Results

Fund Race: Carpenters Have $4M to Buy Election

SA: … major takeaways from the latest election financing reports filed with the state Campaign Spending Commission last week:

>> The powerful super PAC Be Change Now, spearheaded by the Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters, has amassed a war chest of more than $4 million, although it’s unclear what races the political action committee will seek to influence.

>> In the closely watched Honolulu prosecutor’s race, former deputy prosecutor and now defense attorney Megan Kau is out-raising a host of other candidates, including former Judge and U.S. Attorney Steve Alm and potential candidate and current acting Prosecuting Attorney Dwight Nadamoto.

>> Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, who lists governor as the seat he is seeking on his campaign spending report, calculated a surplus of $338,482. That includes $280,833 raised from July 1 to Dec. 31.

Mayoral race

Amemiya reported $940,223 raised in the four-month period from the time he entered the race in late August through the end of 2019. Of that amount, however, $200,000 came through a loan the candidate gave himself. Additionally, he listed $151,374 in debts owed.

Amemiya spent $228,577 during that period, also the most among the candidates who filed reports, not counting the debts owed. While the report shows $711,645 in available cash, the campaign is carrying only a $360,272 surplus, significantly less than Pine.

All but $11,485 of the funds raised came in contributions of more than $100. Among the influential Hawaii residents who contributed to his campaign were executives of law and insurance firms, construction trade companies, development firms and nonprofits.

Among those Amemiya’s campaign owes money to are local campaign and communications consulting firms DTL LLC ($44,503), Strategic Outcomes LLC ($41,885) and Chicago-based Snyder Pickerill Media ($21,434), which has worked on the campaigns of Gov. David Ige and U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.)….

read … Megan Kau, Keith Amemiya lead in early campaign fundraising totals in city races

Attorney General gets go-ahead to subpoena anti-TMT nonprofit Kahea

SA: … The state Attorney General’s Office can subpoena the financial records of a nonprofit organization that raises money to oppose the Thirty Meter Telescope planned for Mauna Kea, a Circuit Court judge ruled Friday.

At a previous hearing, Judge James Ashford told attorneys for the Attorney General and Kahea: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance that he was inclined to allow the subpoena for nine areas of Kahea’s financial records but was not inclined to let the Attorney General obtain information related to nine other areas, including ATM surveillance photos.

Ashford gave both sides until Friday to negotiate the nine areas, but they returned to tell Ashford that they could not reach agreement.

In addition to the nine areas Ashford said he was inclined to approve, Deputy Attorney General Max Levins told Ashford that his office had decided to limit the subpoena to only two of the other nine areas they had failed to agree on: checks going into Kahea’s account and checks going out….

The Attorney General’s Office previously issued a subpoena to Hawaiian Airlines seeking the names of people who donated their frequent-flyer miles so protesters could join the protest at Mauna Kea, and it subpoenaed the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which had provided portable toilets, rubbish collection and other amenities at the protest camp at the base of Mauna Kea Access Road…

Related: SB42: Block AG's Investigation of Telescope Protesters Funding

SB42: Protesters trying to legalize anarchy

read … Attorney General gets go-ahead to subpoena anti-TMT nonprofit Kahea

Hawaii Legislators Advance HB2037 to Create LGBTQ Commission

SA: … A bill that aims to create a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Plus Commission to address issues concerning the LGBTQ+ community won preliminary approval from a House committee on Wednesday on a 6-1 vote.

House Bill 2037 would create a commission to improve the state’s interaction with members of the LGBTQ+ community to identify issues such as discrimination or physical violence that need more attention, and to ensure there is an effective means of researching, planning and advocating for the population. This includes people who identify as neither male nor female, identify as both, or people who are questioning their identity.

If the bill becomes law, it would be the first commission of its kind in the state…

It’s unclear how much the commission would cost. The lone vote against the bill came from Rep. Gene Ward (R, Kalama Valley-Queen’s Gate-Hawaii Kai)….

HB2037: Text, Status

AP: Hawaii Legislators Advance Bill to Create LGBTQ Commission

read … Bill to create an LGBTQ+ commission wins state House panel’s preliminary approval

Will Legislators Strip Safeguards from Assisted Suicide?

SA Editorial: … It has been just over one year since Hawaii’s Our Care, Our Choice Act — legalizing medical aid in dying — went into effect, with strict safeguards in place.

Now lawmakers are advancing bills to ease some of the law’s restrictions. House Bill 2451 and Senate Bill 2582 would reduce the mandatory waiting time from 20 to 15 days, and in some cases waive the waiting period altogether for qualified patients who are within 15 days of dying — assuming they meet all the other requirements of the law.

The bills also would authorize certain advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) with prescriptive authority to provide the life-ending drugs to their patients who qualify under the act. In light of the state’s shortage of physicians, this change is intended to assist patients without access to willing doctors, particularly on neighbor islands.

As expected, only a handful of patients — 27 between Jan. 1 and Dec. 26, 2019 — received aid-in-dying prescriptions. Of those, 19 died: 14 who ingested the medication and five who did not.

In some respects, the changes would push Hawaii into the forefront. Eight other states and the District of Columbia allow medical aid in dying, but Hawaii would be the first to allow APRNs as well as physicians to participate. And Oregon, which legalized aid-in-dying more than 20 years ago, is the only state with a law that allows physicians to waive the waiting period — a change it made just last July, so the full effects may not be known for some time.

Is changing the law an act of compassion, making this legal right more accessible to suffering patients? Or could it make the option less safe for patients who might change their minds? Lawmakers, move with care….

read … Medical aid in dying

With Six Months to Primary, Maui County Appoints New Election Officials

MN: …The Maui County Council on Friday voted to approve nominees for the top two elections posts in the county — Kathy Kaohu as county clerk and James G. Krueger as deputy clerk.

The council appointments come with the primary election six months away on Aug. 8 and implementation of an all-mail election. The general election is on Nov. 3….

MN: Officials hope shift to mail-in ballots will bring in more voters to process

read … Top elections officials approved

Dueling Labtests as Food Snobs Freak out over Mahi Pono Potatoes—Some Nuts Coopted

MN: … Environmental Micro Analysis Inc., a California-based lab that analyzes and tests pesticides used in food, agriculture and environmental industries, last month tested potatoes, Mahi Pono’s signature product, from a recent test crop.

A standard Food and Drug Administration panel test of about 400 chemicals was requested by Mahi Pono and performed. Separate assessments for diquat and paraquat, pesticides that are restricted but legal for use in Hawaii with state-certified applicators, also were performed.

All studies came back clear Jan. 31.

In looking at the results this week, Maui District Health Officer Dr. Lorrin Pang (a ‘chemtrails’ conspiracy theorist, who is therefore above reproach) said that none of the hundreds of chemicals were detected, adding that labs must report their limits of detection at a minuscule 0.02 parts per million….

(Anti-GMO whack job) Tiare Lawrence, Mahi Pono community relations director, added that other local farms have successfully produced healthy crops on land formerly used for sugar cane….

(Is the Mahi Pono strategy of hiring the loons working?  Well …)

Meanwhile, results from a separate study on the potatoes initiated by state Rep. Tina Wildberger of South Maui has yet to be reported, she said last week. She declined to disclose the company assessing the potatoes, the methods of testing or the estimated timeline for results.

Wildberger said she is having Mahi Pono’s first round of potatoes tested because of soil quality concerns raised by people in the community.

“The impetus for having the potatoes tested came out of community concern for the condition of the land in the valley after 100-plus years of undisclosed chemical application, since the only remediation that has taken place was the fires last year,” she said in an email.

Mahi Pono said fires were not part of a soil remediation plan. Maui police and fire officials have said weather conditions and arson incidents contributed to a record number of wildfires last year, with much of the central plains impacted….

read … Lab: Mahi Pono’s potato crop is free from chemical residuals

New HPD recruiting strategies boost number of graduates in 2019

HNN: … The police department credits several recent changes in the recruiting strategy.

One of those changes: An additional class was added so those who qualify don’t have to wait as long.

“We’re doing this new thing where it’s continuous," Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard said.

“Instead of filling for one class we have like four classes and as soon as (recruits are) ready to go in we’re just boom, boom, boom, we’re just popping them in whichever class."

In 2018, there were 56 recruits who graduated. Last year, that number almost doubled to 102.

Previously, retirement and resignation outpaced the numbers of those joining the force.

HPD is also currently accepting applications for lateral transfers to fast track officers from the mainland and neighbor islands….

HPD has 2,143 authorized positions with 1,825 of those filled. There are 123 recruits currently in training….

Big Q: Amid the ongoing police shortage, have you been directly affected by crime in the last six months or so?

read … New HPD recruiting strategies boost number of graduates in 2019

Accused Wahiawa killer left girlfriend behind in fatal 2007 street racing crash—Released from Prison, 2019

SA: … Prosecutors charged a 37-year-old convicted felon in connection with the January shooting death of a 30-year-old woman near Whitmore Village in Wahiawa.

Bernard DeCoito Jr. was charged Thursday with manslaughter in the death of Malia Soma-Valmoja of Wahiawa. He was also charged with three firearm violations.

DeCoito’s bail is set at $1 million. (Thank God for cash bail!)

DeCoito has a criminal record of three felony convictions. If convicted of manslaughter, DeCoito could get life in prison with the possibility of parole….

Criminal records show DeCoito was convicted in 2010 for leaving the scene of a 2007 street racing car crash in Mililani that killed his teenage girlfriend and severely injured another passenger.

Police said DeCoito was racing with another car driven by Justin Amorin on Feb. 23 when Amorin skidded and crashed into a tree on Lanikuhana Avenue. DeCoito witnessed the crash from behind. He slowed down to look at the wreckage then drove off….

Gillian Badua, 17, who was a passenger in Amorin’s vehicle, died in the crash and another passenger, 19-year-old Gavin Watson, was severely injured.

A state judge sentenced Amorin to two consecutive five-year prison terms for second-degree negligent homicide and second-degree assault.

DeCoito was sentenced to an 18-month prison term with credit for time served and five years of probation for accidents involving death or serious bodily injury and second-degree assault.

A year later, a judge resentenced DeCoito to 10 years in prison after he violated terms of his probation that included testing positive for marijuana and methamphetamine use and failure to seek substance abuse and mental health treatment.

He was released on parole in 2015 but returned to custody twice over the next two years for parole violations, according to administrator Tommy Johnson of the Hawaii Paroling Authority.

DeCoito was released from prison in October 2019.

His criminal record includes a felony conviction for unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle…

read … Accused Wahiawa killer left girlfriend behind in fatal 2007 street racing crash

Police nab accused purse snatcher in Homeless Camp

HNN: … A 69-year-old woman who was attacked by a purse snatcher early Friday in Aiea is thanking police for catching her accused attacker quickly.

The man accused of sending her face first into the sidewalk is behind bars facing robbery charges.

Officers say they caught Kelly Maae-Vellez hiding out near a homeless camp on the Waimalu stream.

“I’m happy they caught him,” said Mary-Antonette Asuncion. “So there’s a lesson for these people.”

Officers say they caught the Kelly Maae-Vellez hiding out near a homeless camp on the Waimalu stream. (Source: HPD)

Quick action from HPD not only led to an arrest. Asuncion got back everything that was stolen.

read … Police nabbed her accused purse snatcher ... then fixed her purse and returned it to her

Owners at affordable condo to appeal after seeing their property taxes skyrocket

HNN: … Nearly 50 owners of affordable condos at an Ala Moana area highrise are appealing their city property tax assessments.

The owners of the units at 1631 Kapiolani Blvd. said the city is incorrectly using sales of nearby high-end condos to value their studios, which unlike market-priced units, have strict restrictions on resale.

“It was quite a shock,” said James Kawana, who owns a studio on the 43rd floor of the complex and is appealing his assessment.

Last year, Kawana ― an employee at Hawaii News Now ― said he paid about $500 in property taxes for a studio the city valued at around $158,000.

This year, the city’s quadrupled his assessment to about $690,000, meaning that his property tax will be about $2,000….

“They should have a good chance" of appealing, he said. “The comparables used in this case were not comparables."…

read … Owners at affordable condo to appeal after seeing their property taxes skyrocket

7 quarantined in Hawaii homes following return from China

SA: … Seven people who came from China are in home quarantine after being flagged at the Honolulu airport.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green, who is acting governor this week while Gov. David Ige attends the National Governors Association, said the individuals have no signs or symptoms of the deadly coronavirus, but are being monitored closely by the state Health Department.

“We haven’t had any highly symptomatic individuals we’re worried have the coronavirus. They just have a travel history that necessitates quarantine,” he said, adding that the individuals did not come from Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak that has killed more than 700 in China and affected more than 34,500. “It’s highly likely they’re completely normal, clean and have no disease. Very low-risk people with no symptoms is my understanding, but you can’t be too careful in this case.” ….

SA: Quarantine designation at Honolulu airport was ‘dropped on us,’ Kirk Caldwell says

read ... 7 quarantined in Hawaii homes following return from China

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