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Thursday, July 30, 2020
July 30, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:22 PM :: 1566 Views

Jones Act costs Hawaii families almost $1,800 extra every year

5 Years for Embezzling $600K from Hawaiian Charter School

FBI Working with Guam Department of Labor to Address Scams and Fraud Targeting COVID-19 Stimulus Funds

June Tourist Arrivals Down 98.2%

Blue Pacific Act to Set Framework for US Foreign Policy in Region

COVID Count: 124 new cases out of 2,156 tests -- another new record

Alleged Oahu Crime Boss’ Nightclub Was A Popular Place For Political Fundraisers

CB: …Mike Miske, the alleged organized crime boss who was arrested earlier this month and charged with a series of federal felonies, was the owner and operator of M Nightclub for years.

Before the downtown Honolulu nightclub was closed down, it gained a reputation for being a dangerous place….

Records from the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission show that in addition to Ige, Kim, Ozawa, state senators Gil Riviere, Maile Shimabukuro and Breene Harimoto, who died of cancer this summer, and state Rep. Daniel Holt held fundraisers at Miske’s M Nightclub between 2012 and 2015.

The fundraising reports also show Honolulu City Councilman Brandon Elefante’s campaign held a fundraiser at the nightclub in 2017, although by then the name had been changed to Encore at the Row. Federal investigators have said in court records Encore was part of Miske’s enterprise even though he often tried to obscure his ownership in the companies by using straw men and women to “avoid prosecution and tracing of his assets.”….

Gordon Arakaki and Ryan Kalei Tsuji are listed in state records as the organizers of Ige’s fundraiser at the M Nightclub. In recent interviews, they both said they remembered the assault on Williams but that they never had any (insert excuse here).

Tsuji, a Honolulu journalist who now works as a media consultant, said he had chosen the location because he had hosted events there in the past for groups, such as the Boys & Girls Club….

Kim, Harimoto, Riviere and Shimabukuro all held a fundraiser at M Nightclub on May 5, 2015, an event that, records show, was organized by Brigitte Yoshino, who worked on Kim’s campaign and is now the chairwoman of the Candidate Advisory Council for the University of Hawaii that helps the governor select the university’s regents (because she is a great judge of character).

In an interview with Civil Beat, Riviere said he remembers the event well because it came on the heels of the Legislature approving a tax extension for Honolulu rail and Kim being overthrown as Senate president.

A lot of well-known officials attended the event, Riviere said, including Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, but he couldn’t recall whether Miske himself was at the nightclub that evening….

(Translation: Miske was there.)

Regardless of whether Miske was present, May 5, 2015 appears to have been a lucrative night for Kim and her colleagues as their campaigns reported raising more than $20,000 that day between the four of them. Kim by far took the largest share with donors pumping more than $13,000 into her campaign.

Among those contributing to Kim’s campaign on that date were Bruce Coppa, John Radcliffe and George “Red” Morris — who at the time were three of the state’s most influential lobbyists — top executives from Alexander & Baldwin, the Hawaii Fire Fighters Association and the political action committee for Street Bikers United Hawaii….

Email records obtained from the city by Lind showed Miske had also threatened to have his “Uncle Buzzy” cut down the tree if he didn’t get his way. Uncle Buzzy, Lind reported, referred to William “Buzz” Hong, a former Honolulu police officer who’s politically (and criminally) well connected.

(HA 20091107: Uncle Buzzy quits Police Commission because it allowed two mainlanders to compete for top HPD position against Kealoha.)

(When not serving as Miske’s hatchet-man) Hong used to run an organized crime task force for the city prosecutor’s office (near top of food chain), was the executive director of the Hawaii Building and Construction Trades Council and sat on the board for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, which oversees the city’s $9 billion rail project….

Over the years, state and federal records show, Miske’s only made a handful of reportable political contributions to Hawaii candidates.

Among the top recipients is Sen. Donna Kim, who Miske and Kama’aina Termite  supported with thousands of dollars in political contributions when she ran for state senate and U.S. Congress.

Others who have received financial backing from Miske include former U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye, who died in 2012, former Honolulu City Council Chairman Ernie Martin and current City Councilwoman Heidi Tsuneyoshi, (one metric ton of cocaine) who, records show, received a $500 donation from Miske in 2018….

CB: Police Unions Are One Of The Biggest Obstacles To Transforming Policing

read … Alleged Oahu Crime Boss’ Nightclub Was A Popular Place For Political Fundraisers

Governor wants to close bars again, limit gatherings to rein in COVID-19 surge

HNN: … At a news conference Wednesday, Gov. David Ige said he wants to reinstate some of the mandates that had been relaxed in recent months in a bid to rein in a surge in new COVID-19 cases in the islands.

“We need to take action to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Ige said.

“We all must redouble our efforts to take personal responsibility. We know that we can only be successful in fighting COVID-19 together as a community.”

Honolulu’s mayor has proposed a three-week shutdown of bars, a limit on social gatherings and new rules that would further strengthen Oahu’s mask mandate. Those proposals require Ige’s approval.

Some 109 new cases were reported statewide on Wednesday, including 98 on Oahu. That’s a single-day record and the first time Hawaii has seen a triple digit increase in 24 hours….

HNN: Mayor walks back plan to strengthen mask mandate, but seeks other restrictions

read … Governor wants to close bars again, limit gatherings to rein in COVID-19 surge

Hawaii income forecast coming amid troubled economy

SA: … The report on personal income from the Council on Revenues will be just one part of Hawaii’s complicated and troubled economic puzzle, which already includes pressure to speed up — and simultaneously slow down — the reopening of Hawaii’s economy, affecting whether even more island workers will soon join the ranks of the unemployed.

Barring action in Congress, Hawaii unemployment beneficiaries will have seen their last federal $600 unemployment payment, likely to be paid this week, according to Bill Kunstman, spokesman for the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations….

PDF: Agenda (no board packet available)

read … Hawaii income forecast coming amid troubled economy

Hawaii releases Med-QUEST re-procurement RFI

SoR: … The Department of Human Services (DHS) released a new request for information (RFI) last week, seeking information to prepare for the upcoming re-procurement of QUEST Integration (QI) health plans.

The RFI comes after DHS announced it was rescinding the Medicaid managed care contract awards previously announced in January due to the “evolving needs of the community” during the COVID-19 crisis.

Prior to the cancellation, the transition to the new contracts — which pared five plans to two on the neighboring islands — was turbulent. AlohaCare filed a Notice of Protest, legislators introduced a bill pushing against the decision to limit options on neighbor islands, and Maui and Hawaii County Councils adopted resolutions calling for the delay of the contracts….

read … Hawaii releases Med-QUEST re-procurement RFI

Start of TMT construction may be delayed 3 years

SA: … Construction of the stalled Thirty Meter Telescope could face considerable delay — perhaps as much as three or more years — if new federal regulatory hurdles are placed in front of the $2.4 billion astronomy project planned for Hawaii’s tallest mountain.

An executive summary memo prepared by the office of the president of the University of California describes the project’s latest obstacles and challenges ahead of a meeting today that aims to update the Board of Regents on the TMT project….

According to the memo, the TMT’s recent move to join up with the Giant Magellan Telescope and the U.S. National Optical-Infrared Laboratory to obtain major funding from the National Science Foundation will trigger a federal environmental impact statement and National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 consultation.

The only other time those same requirements were seen on Mauna Kea came in 2003 for the proposed NASA-funded Keck Telescope Outriggers Project, also a UC project.

The Outriggers proposal ended up being delayed for three years and was ultimately withdrawn following challenges by the Mauna Kea Hui, the same group that has been a thorn in the side for the TMT.

Asked for comment, TMT Vice President Gordon Squires issued a statement that said no on-site activities will be initiated this year due to the coronavirus pandemic “and other factors.”

Squires added that TMT is awaiting the results of the U.S. Decadal Survey next year, which will set the priorities for the astronomy community for the next 10 years and help guide the National Science Foundation in making its funding decisions.

“This is one important step of many toward seeking funding from the NSF,” he said.

VIDEO: TMT Proposes NSF Process To Move Forward

read … Start of TMT construction may be delayed 3 years

State Legislature sides with Nanakuli landfill opponents

SA: … State lawmakers recently passed a highly contested bill that would stop a planned expansion of a landfill in Nanakuli operated by PVT Land Co.

PVT runs the only landfill on Oahu permitted to accept material from commercial construction and demolition projects. The facility, which dates to the early 1980s and has an estimated five years of remaining capacity, also is designated to receive most debris from catastrophic hurricane damage.

The company claims Senate Bill 2386, which lawmakers enrolled to Gov. David Ige on July 13, will have negative consequences for ongoing or near-term construction projects including Honolulu’s rail system and redeveloping Aloha Stadium because the company will raise disposal fees and stop accepting some materials if the bill becomes law.

“Construction projects — as small as a kitchen remodel or as large as a shopping center — would come to a halt,” the company said in written testimony….

read … State Legislature sides with Nanakuli landfill opponents

Another Worthless Lawsuit Against BoA over DHHL Loan Program

AP: … In July, Maui County voted to hire a special counsel to sue Bank of America for alleged failure to fulfill a past commitment to make home loans to Native Hawaiians and for fraudulent foreclosure, opening a new chapter in the bank’s decades-long struggle with the state.

The county authorized the hiring of a special counsel to go after Bank of America, as well as other mortgage lenders, in a 7 to 1 vote July 10. The same day, Bank of America filed in federal court to stop the suit….

“While we respect and understand the issues faced by the native Hawaiian community, the county has authorized a meritless lawsuit relating to a pledge made in 1994. The bank has fulfilled its pledge,” Bank of America spokesman Bill Halldin said in a statement.

The bank asked a federal court to preempt Maui’s lawsuit and issue a ruling that the county has no claims it can make against the bank….

read … Maui to sue Bank of America, claims the bank broke vow to lend to native Hawaiians

Commission, CPAC chairs face conflict allegations

MN: … At the Tuesday meeting, testifiers raised the issue of a possible conflict with planning commission Chairman Lawrence Carnicelli and his job as managing director of Olowalu Elua Associates, which owns large tracts of land in the Olowalu area that is part of the West Maui Community Plan.

In response, Carnicelli said he reached out to the county Board of Ethics awhile back for an opinion on the possible conflict; the board advised him that he could participate in discussions involving Olowalu but should not vote on matters pertaining to Olowalu Elua Associates.

When Olowalu comes up in community plan discussions, Carnicelli said he will not participate in discussions nor vote. He also will “hand the gavel over” to Vice-Chairman Christian Tackett….

read … Commission, CPAC chairs face conflict allegations

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