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Thursday, January 26, 2017
January 26, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:06 PM :: 6973 Views

Who Covered up OHA Sex Harassment Settlement?

Full Text: 2017 State of the Judiciary Address

Farm Bureau: 12 Anti-Agriculture Bills Introduced to Legislature

SB702 Would Punish Short-Term Rentals Like Sexual Assaults

HB1367: Accountability and Involvement with Homeless Provider Agencies

Medicare Overbilling: Hawaii ranks 16th

Hawaii #2 in USA for Arrests of K-12 Students

Study: More Corrupt States Have Higher Public Debt

Haven of Aloha: Democrats Declare Hawaii to be a ‘Safe Space’ from The Trumpmonster

Grassroot: Stop the Return of Earmarks

Star-Adv: Independent Audit of OHA Needed

SA: Akana…has a valid concern about the personnel costs the agency shoulders, as well as an interest in pursuing more programs focused on critical housing and health needs of OHA’s Native Hawaiian constituency….  Some of that agenda — the proposal to conduct an independent audit of the agency — represents a move toward needed transparency from the agency management.

The agency has an expanding role to play in advocacy for Native Hawaiians. Just to name one: OHA is a co-trustee for the federally protected Papahanaumokuakea National Marine Monument. It’s well past time to demonstrate that trust in the agency was not misplaced.

Akana is right that how OHA spends the Native Hawaiian Trust Fund needs careful scrutiny, and an independent audit would provide some of that. It also would cast light on whether Crabbe’s met his fiduciary responsibility to the trust, by a careful examination of his executive decisions….

VIDEO: Activists Call for Forensic Audit

read … OHA squabbling hurts Hawaiians

OHA Trustees to Vote on Forensic Audit Monday

SA: …At 10 a.m. Tuesday, the board will consider a “Reorganization of the Board of Trustees,” a meeting formally requested by at least five members, including the current minority faction of Robert Lindsey, Dan Ahuna, Peter Apo and Colette Machado, plus vice chairwoman Lei Ahu Isa, who helped to elect Akana chairwoman two months ago by a narrow 5-4 vote.

Akana said Wednesday that she said she believes Ahu Isa may be plotting to take over as board leader following Tuesday’s closed-door meeting that examined a “confidential executive summary of incidents” involving Akana and her 2013 lawsuit against the trustees, as well as her alleged mistreatment of OHA employees…. 

Monday’s 10 a.m. meeting will look at whether OHA should undergo a forensic audit, a comprehensive examination of the agency’s recent history of spending with an eye toward possible criminal wrongdoing….

As for the forensic audit, Akana said some beneficiaries have been campaigning for it following news of shady practices, improprieties and alleged illegal activities connected to OHA in recent years.

She said the audit will be costly but worth it to flush out bad elements that have been taking advantage of the agency for their own financial gain. She said it will have some trustees “running for cover.”

Trustee Peter Apo, calling the move “mean-spirited,” said he would not support a forensic audit… (IQ Test: Any doubt why?)

Best Comment: “If a forensic audit will prove that Akana is wrong, then you would figure that those opposing it, would welcome it. If there is truth in her words, then I can see that they are “running for cover”. Do the audit, let’s see whose who’s not being forthcoming.”

read … 10 AM Monday

HSTA pitches $500M/year State property tax, hotel surcharge

SA: The Hawaii State Teachers Association says it wants to tap into property taxes to help better fund public schools.

The teachers union has drafted a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow the state to collect a property tax surcharge on residential investment properties and a daily surcharge on all visitor accommodations at hotels, timeshares and vacation rentals.

An amendment is needed because the state Constitution exclusively authorizes the counties to levy property taxes.

The union says the proposed surcharges together would raise an estimated $500 million…

“With that $500 million we think we can start solving the systemic problems that we have in Hawaii schools,” HSTA President Corey Rosenlee said…

(No they can’t.  The DoE problems have NOTHING to do with money and everything to do with bureaucracy and unions.)

Last legislative session the union was unsuccessful in its effort to raise the general excise tax….

read … One Note Song

Legislators: ‘Out to Get’ Ige

Cataluna: …Gov. David Ige managed to float along, his flailing, inelegant delivery buoyed by a well-¬≠written speech.

Ige had to work hard to keep his head above the rip currents for this one. This was not a friendly crowd.

Ige was speaking before a legislative body that is out to get him and is well armed against weakly constructed budget requests submitted from the governor’s various department heads. Add to that anger over things such as the way the Maui hospital privatization went down, the mysterious dumping of the highly rated DOE superintendent, and the “Cool the Schools” plan, which ended up being mostly hot air. Tough crowd.

Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui had a stone-faced expression that rivaled that of Michelle Obama at President Donald Trump’s inauguration, a “Tsuts is not impressed” look….

read … Not Impressed

Mrs Brian Schatz is ‘Project Manager’ for Illegal North Shore Commercial Activities

HNN: A permitting dispute is intensifying on Oahu's North Shore, where city officials have issued a third notice of violation for a controversial commercial development near Sharks Cove.

The city's Department of Planning and Permitting has ordered Hanapohaku LLC to immediately remove several illegal structures, including food trucks, eating areas and temporary toilets.

The landowner reportedly apologized to the community last April for developing the three lots, totaling nearly three acres, without the proper permits. But little has changed since then.

"Since that point, we've seen increased commercial activity and increased violations on the property," said Maxx Phillips, managing director for Malama Pupukea-Waimea. "We haven't seen their promise come to full fruition,"

Company officials maintain that they've been taking steps to address the concerns.

"There actually has been a dialing back," said Linda Schatz, (aka Mrs. Brian Schatz) project manager for Hanapohaku LLC. "They actually had gotten rid of a couple of tenants during that period, and they've dialed back some of the built items that were not permitted."

Hanapohaku sole ‘Member’ is YANI,ANDREW D, co-founder of Bonterra which went out of business last year.  

PDF: Notice of Violation

read … Schatz Crime Family

Ing Admits he is a Liar

MN: Saying “I was mistaken” when he made earlier statements about his citation for not having vehicle insurance, state Rep. Kaniela Ing pleaded no contest Wednesday to the traffic crime.

Ing was fined $500, but half of that was suspended for six months on the condition that he not be convicted of another offense. As part of a plea agreement with the prosecution, a charge of failure to appear was dismissed.

During the hearing Wednesday morning in Wailuku District Court, Ing’s attorney, Ben Lowenthal, presented proof of insurance for the blue 2000 BMW.

The insurance was obtained July 26, about six months after the Jan. 18, 2016, citation, said Deputy Prosecutor Terence Herndon.

In comments to The Maui News in July, as he was seeking re-election to the state House seat representing South Maui, Ing said he was ticketed for not having insurance while fixing his “undriveable” car on the street outside his Kihei residence.

But police said the citation was issued to Ing when he was driving the car as it turned onto South Kihei Road from Welakahao Road. Ing couldn’t produce proof of insurance when he was stopped for having an expired safety sticker and delinquent vehicle tax, police said.

Ing said he paid a fine for the ticket. But police said the citation doesn’t set a fine but noted a Feb. 18 court date for Ing to appear.

After he didn’t show up for the hearing, a bench warrant was issued for his arrest. He was arrested on the warrant July 26 when he turned himself in at the Wailuku Police Station and posted $250 bail to be released.

In sentencing Ing on Wednesday, Judge Blaine Kobayashi followed the plea agreement reached between the defense and prosecution. Kobayashi didn’t suspend Ing’s driver’s license. Ing agreed to have the bail he posted applied to his fine.

When the judge asked Ing if he wanted to say anything in court, he replied, “No, sir.”….

Barry Aoki, Maui Chapter chairman of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, said, “I’m glad he’s taking responsibility for his actions. And the officer involved will appreciate it also.” ….

read … Liar

After Four Years of Ignorance, Kauai Council “clear the books” of invalid law regulating pesticides, GMOs

SA: The Kauai County Council unanimously voted to “clear the books” of an invalidated county law the courts had struck down requiring biotech companies to disclose pesticide use and regulate the growth of genetically modified organisms.

The council voted 6-0 Wednesday on a measure to repeal Ordinance 960 (Bill 1491) from the county code after the federal district and appellate courts had ruled the measure was preempted by state law. Councilman Arthur Brun, an employee of Syngenta Seeds on Kauai, recused himself from the vote.

The measure will be sent to the mayor’s office for approval. Mayor Bernard Carvalho had supported the intent of the ordinance but vetoed the bill in 2013 because it was “legally flawed.” The county council voted 5-2 to override the veto.

read ... Cleaning up the anti-GMO Mess

Laughed out of Court, Anti-GMO Activists Introduce Anti-Ag Bills in Hawaii Legislature

KE: Following court rulings that overturned GMO/pesticide laws passed by three Hawaii counties — the Kauai County Council formally rescinded its law yesterday — activists have turned to the state Legislature, where their anti-GMO agenda is now cloaked in the rhetoric of pesticide reforms.

Anti-GMO activists have relied upon sympathizers like Sen. Josh Green, who is eying a gubernatorial run, Rep. Chris Lee, and Sen. Russell Ruderman, who appears untroubled by the conflict of interest inherent in his ownership of organic grocery stores, to introduce more than a dozen bills related to pesticides.

In keeping with the activists' anti-GMO/anti-ag mantra, these bills target farmers. Pest control and termite treatment companies, which apply more restricted use pesticides than any other group in the state are given a free pass.

Since the activists are, at core, against GMO and conventional farming, they continue to inist that only agricultural pesticide use must be monitored and controlled “to protect keiki, kupuna and the aina” — though no actual threats have been documented, even by the anti-GMO dominated Joint Fact-Finding Group (JFFG)….

read … Musings: Cloaking the Rhetoric

HECO Pays Isles’ largest solar farm 40% More Than Mainland Retail

SA:  …San Diego-based Eurus Energy America Corp. said Wednesday its 27.6-megawatt EE Waianae Solar Project LLC solar photovoltaic facility, with the potential to power more than 4,000 homes, has begun commercial operation.

Eurus will sell energy to HECO for about 14.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. The facility is jointly owned by affiliates of Eurus and Toyota Tsusho America Inc.

(This wholesale rate is 40% higher than the average retail rates on the mainland.  They are laughing at us.  Is the Sun more expensive on Oahu?)

The solar project in Waianae will triple the amount of utility-scale solar connected to Oahu’s grid.

There are three other solar farms on Oahu: Kalaeloa Solar Two with 5 megawatts, Kalaeloa Renewable Energy Park with 5 megawatts and Kapolei Sustainable Energy Park with 1 megawatt….

read … Isles’ largest solar farm starts supplying HECO

Hawaii bill would classify homelessness as medical condition

AP: If homelessness is a disease, he reasons, then doctors should be able to write prescriptions for the cure: Housing.

“It is paradigm shift for sure, but the single best thing we can do today is to allow physicians and health care providers in general to write prescriptions for housing,” Green said.

Green last week introduced a bill in the Hawaii Legislature to classify chronic homelessness as a medical condition and require insurance companies to cover treatment of the condition.

But if a doctor wrote a prescription for six months of housing, where would the patient fill the prescription?

That’s where Green wants Medicaid to step in.

He wants to redirect some of Hawaii’s $2 billion annual Medicaid budget to pay for housing….

He says the state could spend less Medicaid money by dedicating some of it to housing instead of paying for frequent visits by homeless people to emergency rooms. A recent University of Hawaii survey found health care costs for chronically homeless people dropped 43 percent when they had decent housing for an uninterrupted six-month period.

Background: Mental Health: Can Reform Solve Hawaii’s Homeless, Prison and Unfunded Liability Problems?

read … Insurance

Homeless Court Gives Bums Chance to Get a Job 

KITV: …He also announced a new initiative to ease the court backlog and help the homeless.

"Some homeless individuals repeatedly come through our District Courts, arrested on minor offenses and held for a couple of days, building up unpaid fines or outstanding warrants that can keep them from obtaining gainful employment. In order to break this pattern, we must treat these encounters as opportunities to bring about change," said Recktenwald.

That change Justice Recktenwald hopes will be found in Community Outreach Courts.  Some are calling it the homeless court.

Honolulu City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro and state public defender Jack Tonaki worked together for over a year to come up with the community outreach courts.  Kaneshiro's office obtained grants and the first session is on Thursday, Jan. 26.

"For instance [on Thursday] we're scheduled to hear our first session and we're bringing in four defendants that have a total of, I believe, 52 citations. So just right there, you're getting rid of 52 cases even though it's only four people," said Tonaki.

The offenses handled by the court will be minor ones, mostly nuisance cases.

"We're not looking for punitive, but there has to be accountability. That's why what we're asking for are not fines, we're not asking for any jail time, we're asking for them to provide community service. Give back to the community," said Kaneshiro….

read … Get a Job

SB611—Jack Up Cost of Housing to Create Make Work for Plumbers Union

KHON: Should each county have the option to require home builders to install sprinkler systems in new homes?

It’s a question state lawmakers will be asked to decide, and one that some worry could add thousands of dollars to the cost of building a home.

Right now, most condominiums are required to have them, but not single-family homes or townhomes….

Gladys Marrone is the CEO of the Building Industry Association of Hawaii, which wants to keep things the way are.

“The new homes, which is where they want to put the law, apply the law,” Marrone said. “New homes are built so much safer with better technology, hardwire smoke alarms, and other types of materials that just really make a home so much more safer.”

Installing fire sprinkler systems can cost thousands of dollars. Marrone says the biggest cost comes from upgrading the water meter….

SB611: Text, Status

read … Sprinklers

Hawaii Legislators Follow Abortion Playbook

R29: Everyone take a moment to thank, *deep breath*, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin today. On Wednesday, these 18 states made moves to set up pro-choice legislation in an effort to counter the government's decisions to repeal Obamacare, defund Planned Parenthood, solidify the Hyde Amendment, and reinstate the Mexico City Policy.

Specifically, the states introduced bills that require things such as requiring crisis pregnancy centers to disclose that they're not medically licensed facilities, having increased access to emergency contraception for survivors of sexual assault, requiring abortion to be classified as healthcare, and requiring employers to not discriminate against employeeswho make healthcare decisions that go against their personal beliefs.

State and local legislators partnered with the Public Leadership Institute to form these bills, pulling information from PLI's A Playbook for Abortion Rights. The PLI's non-partisan guidance helps legislators form and advance their bills….

"We’ve been working for awhile on this — these things don’t happen overnight," Gloria Totten, founder and president of PLI, told Teen Vogue….

read … Lots of Abortions

SB677: Gambling Bill Dead on Arrival

PO: A new bill introduced by Hawaii state Sen. Will Espero seeks to end the state’s run as a state with no gambling….

Calling Espero’s bill a long shot is being generous, considering Hawaii is about as anti-gambling a state as you’ll find. It did look at iGaming briefly in 2012. But the odds of it joining the likes of Nevada and New Jersey in regulated online gambling appear to be slim.

How surprising would it be for the bill to gain traction, or for Hawaii to legalize online gambling in the near future? As Clark Griswold says to Cousin Eddie in Christmas Vacation, “If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised.”

The state has zero gaming infrastructure. With a population of 1.4 million, the amount of revenue the state would generate from online gambling would be minimal. Furthermore, there will likely be a lot of pushback from the state’s many resorts and providers of outdoor activities. They would almost certainly view any form of legalized gambling as competition for tourists’ time and money.

SB677: Text, Status

read … Dead on Arrival

Got Albizia? Get a Tax Credit

HTH: …A canopy of trees in Manoa on Oahu prompted Rep. Isaac Choy, D-Manoa, Punahou, Moiliili, to introduce legislation that would offer an income tax credit for albizia removal or tree trimming.

The Manoa albizia trees grow along the valley stream, and trunks and limbs have broken off and fallen in, clogging the waterway. Choy said Wednesday that in introducing the tax credit, he hopes to get the trees cleared from the stream and the shore, and stave off future destruction if the valley should flood.

House Bill 20 was introduced specifically with Manoa in mind, he said, but albizia eradication throughout the state would benefit.

A tax credit would only be available during a two-year window, from 2017-19. The amount of credit has not yet been specified.

Ruderman’s bills would require homeowners in the process of selling a house to disclose the presence of all albizia trees within 150 feet of the property, and allow property owners to enter adjacent vacant land to clear trees.

“… Albizia trees located on private properties often create hazardous conditions for adjacent properties and … the development of these hazardous conditions should be prevented wherever possible,” the latter, Senate Bill 843, states.

read … Tax Credits

Hawaii Lawmakers Grab for Control Over Judiciary

CB: …Several bills introduced this year would transfer decisions regarding the reappointment of state judges and justices to the Senate from Hawaii’s independent Judicial Selection Commission. It looks a lot like a replay of controversial legislative moves made last year, which were widely interpreted as not-very-veiled threats against the justices of the state Supreme Court by unhappy legislators.

The very first bill introduced in the House this year calls for a constitutional amendment removing reappointment decisions from the commission, and instead giving the Senate the final word in the reappointment of individual judges and justices.

The measure, House Bill 1, was introduced by Souki, along with House Majority Leader Scott Saiki, Judiciary Committee Chair Scott Nishimoto, and Finance Committee Chair Sylvia Luke. That’s a weighty list of sponsors.

Under the guise of promoting “transparency,” the bill would give the Senate the power “to reverse the decision of the judicial selection commission regarding the retention of a justice or judge.”

A similar measure, Senate Bill 673 was introduced by Gil Keith-Agaran, chair of the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee, along with Jill Tokuda, who chairs the powerful Ways and Means Committee. A separate Senate bill targets retirement benefits of future judges for a significant cut.

Last year, several bills in both houses that threatened the independence of the judiciary. Some would have required judges to be elected, while others empowered the Senate to reject the reappointment of judges, presumably when senators or special interest groups disagreed with their legal decisions….

read … Hawaii Lawmakers Needlessly Renew Assault On The Judiciary

Same old BS from New HPD Interim Chief

KHON: … “I think the officers have seen under Chief Okimoto that we have changed direction,” said Robinson. (Really?  Then why ….)

At the last meeting, commissioner Loretta Sheehan submitted documents for public record that detail how she wanted to handle Kealoha’s retirement process.

We have yet to receive them.

read … same old same old

Judge Throws Kealoha’s Lawyer off Case 

HNN: Federal Judge Derrick Watson on Wednesday disqualified attorney Myles Breiner from representing two men suing the Honolulu Police Department over an assault by a police officer.

The assault happened inside an Oahu game room in 2014, and Breiner had previously represented Jordan Topinio and Francisco Franson in the civil suit against HPD, which originally listed Police Chief Louis Kealoha as one of the defendants.

Breiner later began representing Kealoha in a separate case involving an FBI investigation into public corruption. 

Judge Watson deemed this a conflict of interest, saying the representation of one client limits Breiner's ability to represent the others properly….

read … Thrown Off Case

Gabbard Endorses Trump’s Position on Syria After Trip—Calls for End to Obama-Clinton Policy of Arming Al Qaeda

KHON: …“My visit to Syria has made it abundantly clear: Our counterproductive regime change war does not serve America’s interest, and it certainly isn’t in the interest of the Syrian people.

“As I visited with people from across the country, and heard heartbreaking stories of how this war has devastated their lives, I was asked, ‘Why is the United States and its allies helping al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups try to take over Syria? Syria did not attack the United States. Al-Qaeda did.’ I had no answer,” Gabbard said in a statement.

The Congresswoman is calling for support of the Stop Arming Terrorists Act (H.R.608), which would prohibit the use of government funds to assist Al Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and to countries supporting those organizations.

“We must stop directly and indirectly supporting terrorists—directly by providing weapons, training and logistical support to rebel groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and ISIS; and indirectly through Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Turkey, who, in turn, support these terrorist groups. We must end our war to overthrow the Syrian government and focus our attention on defeating al-Qaeda and ISIS,” Gabbard said.

U.S. foreign policies, including those involving Syria and terror groups, were a main point of discussion when Gabbard met with then-President-elect Donald Trump last November.

“We discussed my bill to end our country’s illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government, and the need to focus our precious resources on rebuilding our own country, and on defeating al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other terrorist groups who pose a threat to the American people,” she said then….

read … Trump

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