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Saturday, October 17, 2015
October 17, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:51 PM :: 4514 Views

Schatz, Abercrombie Secretly Organized NextEra Merger Proposal

OHA Lawyer Represents Contractor Accused of Using Political Influence to Rip-off State

To Beat NIMBYS, Ige Takes a Page from Lingle Playbook--Signs Homelessness Emergency Proclamation

Fiber optic cables were maliciously cut on Mauna Kea this Summer

IRS Report Reveals Average Property Tax Deductions in Hawaii

Labor Market Effects: Obamacare vs Hawaii Prepaid Health Care

City now accepting Grants in Aid applications

Criminal Charges Filed Against Rep McKelvey--$33,000 Missing Campaign Funds 

HNN: ...State Rep. Angus McKelvey, whose district includes Lahaina and Kihei, was charged Wednesday with failing to report political contributions and for unauthorized expenditures of campaign funds.

(McKelvey + Tokioka = 2 down, 6 to go = Roadmap to open seats in 2016?)

Campaign spending records show that McKelvey, who is chairman of the House Consumer Protection and Commerce Committee, reported zero contributions for the first six months, but his amended report said he received more than $33,000.

The complaint by the state Attorney General's office also said that he allowed his mother to receive and spend campaign money, which is illegal because she's not an official with the campaign....

Maui News October 18, 2015: The charges are misdemeanor criminal matters, carrying a maximum penalty of a year in jail and/or a fine of $10,000.  "I'm working with the AG's office to reach a settlement," McKelvey said.

SA Oct 20: Each of the two charges carries a maximum penalty of up to a year in jail.

Background:

read ... Mama's Boy

Double-standard allows Chief Kealoha to continue while under FBI Investigation

HNN: Louis Kealoha, Honolulu's embattled police chief, has addressed the federal criminal investigation targeting him and his wife for the first time, telling a closed-door meeting of top police officials he's done nothing wrong, sources told Hawaii News Now.  (How many people were in the room?) 

The chief tried to downplay the situation at an internal meeting of police brass this week, sources said, even as a special federal prosecutor has been brought in from California to oversee the criminal probe against him.

Kealoha told officers it will be proven that he made the right decisions and he's done nothing wrong, according to four people who were present at the meeting.  (At least four of Kealoha's top brass are against him on this.)

Kealoha also acknowledged that he has supporters and detractors inside the police department, sources said.

But Kealoha did not talk about a key issue that has many officers upset: whether he should be placed on paid leave during the investigation.

Officers who refused to be identified for fear of retaliation said it's a double-standard to allow Kealoha to continue in his job as the top cop when any other police officer who's the focus of a federal criminal probe would immediately be placed on leave.

The Honolulu Police Commission plans to discuss Kealoha’s situation in executive session at its next regular meeting on Oct. 21....

Meanwhile, sources said the Justice Department has brought in special prosecutor Michael Wheat from San Diego, to oversee the Kealoha investigation. He is collaborating with the FBI, working out of the FBI’s Kapolei offices and the U.S. Attorney’s office at the federal building in downtown Honolulu, sources said.  Wheat is legal heavy-hitter with three decades of experience as an assistant U.S. attorney....

read ... Twisting in the wind

New Rail Projections Include $299M Federally Approved Slush Fund

HNN: ...HART officials told the board they are running the numbers with the most accurate and “realistic” data they can in order to account for the recent rising construction costs and fewer GET revenues. 

The new data included higher estimates to account for rising construction costs and financial charges, as well as for additional utility relocation, traffic signal improvements and rail station escalators.

It also includes $299 million in “unallocated contingency” costs to be figured in, on top of the project’s current “allocated contingency” costs.

The unallocated contingency funds are required by the FTA to account for a sort of “cushion” of contingency costs that could arise. The FTA wants to see a clear plan in place to address unforeseen costs and revenue shortfalls as it doles out most of the funds to support Oahu’s largest infrastructure project to date....

read ... Slush Fund

Student Sex to be Banned for UH Faculty, Admin--But Union Members Won't be Fired

ILind: University of Hawaii employees, including faculty, would be prohibited from having romantic, dating, or sexual relationships with other employees, or with students, “when one member has an evaluative and/or supervisory responsibility for the other.”  (This will shift the grading curve downward.)

That’s the bottom line of a Proposed New Executive Policy on Consensual Relationships circulated for comment this week by UH President David Lassner.... 

Such relationships that exist at the time the new policy goes into effect would have to be disclosed to the employee’s supervisor (which employee's superior?), and a plan established “to manage and/or resolve the conflict of interest.”  (Wow.)

(Loss of employment benefits....  Could violate the HGEA contract?  Keep reading ....)

Penalties for violating the policy would include possible “suspension or termination from employment” for administrative employees who are not represented by a union, while disciplinary actions against union employees would proceed according to existing union contracts. (Translation: Union members still receive this benefit.)

According to the proposed policy, the university “will not tolerate retaliation against persons who report violations of this policy.” .... (Uh-huh.)

read ... Many Professors will quit now

After Arnold Mess, UH Promises to Clean up its Act (Again)

SA: In the wake of this mess, how did Arnold come out so well? Basically, it was a questionably worded contract.

Arnold’s contract allowed him to receive “a lump sum amount equal to the total amount of compensation earned under the terms of this Agreement as to the date of termination.” The clause easily could be read to mean that, if dismissed without cause, Arnold would get paid twice for the same work.

It sounds preposterous, and it is. It’s hard to believe that UH had this in mind when it signed the deal.

But Arnold claimed he was owed $1.4 million, and a divided UH Board of Regents, in an 8-6 vote, approved the settlement of $700,000 — $500,000 for Arnold and $200,000 for his lawyers. The settlement clears up all claims, including two prohibited-practice complaints before the Hawaii Labor Relations Board, a union grievance filed by Arnold, and a lawsuit brought by UH.

Carrie Okinaga, UH general counsel, said the settlement would be cheaper than going to trial and hashing everything out.

She’s probably right, and it makes sense to stem the bleeding. Memories are still fresh of the Stevie Wonder blunder, which reportedly cost UH roughly $1 million to deal with a $200,000 scam....

At least two attorneys will review every athletics department contract; more emphasis will be placed on contract review; and some contract language will be standardized, hopefully (don't hope for too much) the parts relating to the terms of contract termination....as should be obvious by now, a badly drafted contract can needlessly drain the public purse.

Meanwhile: "Ganot’s hiring was announced April 9, yet, as of Thursday’s (July 17, 2015) Regents meeting, his contract remained to be executed"

read ... Contract

End to Net Metering Hits Solar Leasing Schemes Hard

PBN: Marco Mangelsdorf, president of Hilo-based ProVision Solar, told PBN that it’s about time that the current program has ended.

“An enormously successful leg-up for the local [photovoltaic] industry and homeowners and a subsidy that achieved its desired effect,” he said. “Under the new regime, the overall [return on investment] for a direct purchase or financed purchase, with the homeowner getting the federal and state tax credits, should only be marginally negatively affected. For those residential leasing companies, the hit on the value proposition will be more pronounced.”

read ... Leasing

Don’t shoot test-score messenger

MN: Five long years ago, Hawaii and more than 40 other states adopted tough new standards in reading and math, setting dramatically higher expectations for students in elementary and secondary schools. Now we've reached a critical milestone in this effort, as the public just got to see for the first time the scores on the new tests aligned to the standards. The news was sobering.

Just 40 percent of Hawaii's students are on track in math; the news wasn't much better in reading or writing. Though the scores may come as a shock to many, let us explain why people shouldn't shoot the messenger....

read ... Test-Score

First look at Hale Mauliola’s temporary modular housing

KHON: On Friday, the city unveiled its first two living containers being installed at Hale Mauliola. More will be put in during the coming weeks until all 25 are installed.

Fabricated from new shipping containers, each unit has a programmable combination lock on the door, insulation, and screen doors and windows.

The ones shown Friday are Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant.

“It’s a pilot project and if it’s fully used, then we may expand,” said Eduardo Manglallan, deputy director, Department of Facility Maintenance. “We can expand, because we have five acres here that we leased from the state. We only used one acre up to now.”

read ... First Look

DLNR Unable to Staff Harbors, Public-Private Partnership to be Sought in Legislature

HNN: "Currently we have no harbor agent in Waianae, we have no harbor agent in Haleiwa, and we're down on harbor agents in Keehi Small Boat Harbor as well as the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor," said Boating and Ocean Recreation administrator Ed Underwood.

The state spent $5.2 million to fix piers and build new ones at Haleiwa. Boaters like the upgrades, but not what they call a slow response to day-to-day emergencies. For example, Pavsek said, a recent water leak lasted seven days before it was fixed.

He said some harbor users would do emergency repairs themselves if the state would let them.

Underwood said that's not happening.

"First of all there's a the liability issues," he said. "And then there's going to be the issues of taking a job away from a union member."

In lieu of a full-time harbor agent for Haleiwa, boaters have asked for a fill-in at least one day a week to process permits. DLNR can't commit to that because of staffing shortages.

But state Sen. Gil Riviere, whose district includes Haleiwa, said that's not an acceptable answer.

"I think that they should be able to schedule one day a week, one day every other week," he said, adding that lawmakers will tackle the state's harbor needs in next year's legislative session.

Underwood said DLNR wants state permission to hire 51 new positions. That would cost $2.8 million.

He added, "We're also going to be asking to be allowed public-private partnerships on some of our facilities."

SA: Rules for Ko Olina’s public boat ramp have drawn complaints

read  ... Legislative Agenda

Hawaii: Where Not To Die In 2016

F: The tally of death tax jurisdictions drops by one for 2016 as Tennessee’s inheritance tax repeal goes into effect. That leaves 18 states plus the District of Columbia imposing either estate or inheritance taxes or both. It’s never a static picture: Eight states are ushering in death tax changes for 2016, and they’re all changes that lessen the tax bite.

Thanks to scheduled increases and inflation adjustments, there will be higher exemption amounts for 2016 in Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, and Washington. (The higher the exemption amount, the fewer estates subject to tax.)

read ... Forbes

Pounded by Gabbard, National Democrats Prepare to Capitulate

TM: Two vice chairs in the party, R.T. Rybak and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, have openly broken with Wasserman Schultz and accused of her acting unilaterally. “Much of the party feels we should have more debates,” R.T. Rybak, vice chair of the DNC, said on MSNBC’s MTP Daily. He added that he had “serious questions” whether Wasserman Schultz could continue to lead the party.

Tuesday’s debate between Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O’Malley, Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee was watched by 15.8 million viewers around the country, a record for Democratic debates but significantly fewer than the two Republican debates, which had 25 million and 23 million viewers.

The additional discussions between DNC officers this week indicate the enormous pressure the party is under to change its schedule and compete with Republicans for viewers.

But a compromise in the coming days—like a candidate forum or town hall meeting including all the candidates, for example—may not placate angry party members who are calling for additional debates.

“There’s an impression gap, a free media gap, between Democrats and Republicans and we have to close it. It’s too big for comfort,” said Simon Rosenberg, president and founder of the New Democrat Network and a candidate for DNC chair in 2005. “There’s enormous anger and resentment.”

B: Insurrection Erupts at DNC

read ... Time Magazine

How many ways can you tell a Kauai County Councilman to piss off?

KE: Quite a few, according to the results of Councilman Gary Hooser's attempts to collect data on glyphosate use.

Hooser spent nearly two months — and untold hours of Council Services staff time — pressing golf courses, government agencies and seed companies for details on their 2014 glyphosate (Round-up) use.

Why? To make political hay, of course....

But curiously, he never did ask any of the resorts, landscaping companies, nurseries, taro farmers, ranchers or other likely users how much glyphosate they applied. Nor did he ask Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Home Depot or BEI how much they sold for public use....

read ... Musings: Bugger Off

Federal Whistleblower Investigator Fired After Blowing the Whistle on His Own Agency

NBC: ...Former OSHA employee overseeing Hawaii and West Coast says he was fired as ‘retaliation’ for exposing problems in the Whistleblower Protection Program....

read ... Retaliation

Maui police officer accused of trying to bribe witness against him in Theft Case

SA: Police said Officer Anthony Maldonado, 26, and Damien K. Kaina,Jr. were arrested Thursday on suspicion of bribery of a witness and hindering prosecution in the first degree.

Police said Kaina visited a man who had filed a theft case against Maldonado on Tuesday, and offered an undisclosed amount of cash if the victim would withdraw the criminal complaint against Maldanado.

The victim reported the incident to police on Wednesday and turned over the cash given to him, police said.

Kaina, of Wailuku, was charged in the case and posted $10,000 bail.

Maldonado, a Makawao resident, was released pending further investigation.

He had been on leave following his arrest on Oct. 1 in the second-degree theft case.

read ... Bribe

Former Honolulu police officer sentenced to 30 months in prison for Game Room Assault

KHON: According to information presented to the court, Morre, then a 10 year veteran of HPD, was searching for a fugitive when he entered a game room on Hopaka Street. Once in the game room, Morre, in an unprovoked attack, kicked one of the victims in the head.

After searching the game room for the fugitive, Morre reapproached the first victim, but first struck the second man in the face twice and then kicked his chest.

Morre then continued the assault on the first man by kicking him off his chair.

As Morre was leaving the game room, he threw a metal stool which hit the first man in the head, requiring three stitches.

Five days later, Morre filed a false police report omitting that he had assaulted the two men....

SA: Ex-officer apologizes for assaults at game room

read ... 30 Months

Police want to demote sergeant accused of giving fellow officer special treatment

HNN: The Honolulu Police Department wants to demote the sergeant who's accused of failing to follow police procedures in the case of another officer whose fight with his girlfriend was caught on video last fall, sources told Hawaii News Now....

In a new development, sources said HPD wants to demote Sgt. Mike Kahikina to corporal because he's accused of giving Cachola preferential treatment at the scene.That demotion would mean a cut of about $5,000 to his annual salary.

Kahikina is expected to appeal the decision.

Kahikina was the responding supervisor to the Cachola incident and sources said he violated police policy by not having officers submit a written report; he also failed to notify a higher-ranking officer or the internal affairs division.

Meanwhile, Cachola remains at HPD -- with his police powers removed and on a desk job – and his lawyer said he will appeal the firing, a process that could take weeks or months.

read ... Demote

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