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Saturday, March 4, 2017
March 4, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:13 PM :: 4487 Views

Former Omidyar ‘Journalist’ Charged with Threats Against Jewish Centers

HB314: Limit Warrantless Drone Surveillance

Anti-Gun Legislation Eligible for Senate Floor Vote Next Week

Hawaii Legislature: A Guide to the Deadlines

Hawaii Family Forum Legislative Week in Review

OHA Trustee sued over secret sex harassment settlement

HNN: Native Hawaiian activist Mililani Trask and attorneys for royal descendant Abigail Kawananakoa have sued Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee Peter Apo, calling for him to pay back $50,000 or resign.

OHA paid a former staffer $50,000 to settle sexual harassment claims against Apo. Trask and Kawananakoa's attorneys said Apo's alleged misconduct is hurting a state agency established to help Native Hawaiians.

"This is inappropriate and reprehensible conduct on the part of an elected official and certainly we should not be paying for it," Trask said.

In the past, Apo has denied the allegations. And in a redacted, three-page settlement agreement obtained by Hawaii News Now through a state open records law request, there was no admission of wrongdoing.

But in the lawsuit, Trask said the woman confided in her that she often traveled with Apo to the neighbor islands, where much of the alleged harassment occurred.

"The harassment included invitations to his (hotel) room, appearing partially clothed, and un-consented physical contact," the suit said.

Apo could not be reached for comment Friday.

The settlement, signed by former OHA Chair Robert Lindsey, was kept secret until board members asked for the details.

That settlement could backfire on other trustees, who knew about the allegations but did nothing to investigate them.

"If these things cannot be addressed by OHA ... we will probably see further litigation and I myself am keen to support it," Trask said….


read … Activist, wealthy heiress team up to sue OHA trustee over sex harassment settlement

HPD Reassigns Detective Who Investigated Toddler Abuse Case

CB: Meanwhile, the husband of the day care owner retired this week from the Honolulu Police Department, where he was a corporal….

KHON: Mother of injured son details how police say they mishandled investigation

read … Reassign and Resign

Police irked as repeat felons are released to drug treatment – then escape

HNN: Last August, Bryson Bagio led police on a car chase that circled Oahu, one that came to a crashing end on the H-1 Freeway in Aiea and wreaked havoc on the rush hour commute in the process.

Already a convicted felon before the car chase, Bagio hit multiple vehicles during the pursuit before jumping from an overpass wall while trying to evade police.

He was hospitalized for his injuries and has since pleaded no contest to charges from the incident. He's scheduled to be sentenced later this month, but in the meantime, Bagio has been granted a 30-day release to a drug treatment center.

It's a practice that is frustrating law enforcement officials across the state.

"It's a revolving door, we call it," says Tenari Maafala, president of SHOPO, the state's police union. "We can arrest a felon today, they'll be out tomorrow, and here we go again."

Employees at the treatment centers are counselors, not typically trained to treat criminal patients. In many cases, the patients simply walk away from the rehab centers.

It's exactly what Amery Kahale-Sugimura did last month.

Kahale-Sugimura, often called the 'Gingerbread Man' because he instigates chases with police, is a career criminal. Despite more than 90 prior arrests, and about two dozen convictions, a judge released Sugimura to rehab last month. 

On his very first day at the facility, Sugimura walked away. His departure triggered a manhunt, one that took officers from multiple agencies -- and a SWAT standoff -- to get him back in custody.

But Kahale-Sugimura is far from the only one. Last month, convicted felon Charles Kosi left a rehab center and breached security at Honolulu International Airport. He died during the arrest.

"Protect the public," says former Honolulu mayor and city prosecutor Peter Carlisle. "That's not being done in these circumstances. We have over and over and over again, re-offend, re-offend, re-offend."

read … Police irked as repeat felons are released to drug treatment – then escape

After a Lifetime of Crime, Let 55 Year Old Criminals Out One More Time

HNN: 13 percent of all Hawaii inmates are 55 and older.

At the state’s largest prison, the Halawa Correctional Facility on Oahu, nearly one in six inmates is over the age of 55. About 5 percent of the facility’s more than 1,000 inmates are (allegedly) disabled due to age, mobility and cognitive issues….

The state Department of Public Safety says age-related medical costs and a growing inmate population are driving up its $24 million health care budget for correctional facilities.  (And they need to use that money for rape case settlements.)

Some say inmates with severe medical conditions should not be kept behind bars, while others argue there is no place for them to go (except back to their life of crime).

AP: 56-Year-Old Hawaii Drug Dealer Escapes Lompoc

read … Soft on Crime

Star-Adv: Lets pretend to Get Tough on UPW Rapists

SA: In 2015, there were more substantiated cases of staffers sexually abusing inmates than inmates abusing one other, according to the Department of Public Safety’s most recent report to the Legislature. The same held true in 2014.

The number of substantiated incidents may seem small compared to the number of offenders jailed or imprisoned here and on the mainland — roughly 5,700. Of the 31 reported incidents involving staff in 2015, eight were substantiated; of the 33 involving only inmates, the number was four. The previous year, there were five substantiated reports of abuse by staff, three by inmates.

Nonetheless, it’s deeply troubling that such activity happens at all. Not only does DPS maintain a zero-tolerance policy for sexual contact between staff and inmates, such contact is a felony — no matter the circumstances….

There are no easy or cheap ways to erase this blight from the state’s correctional system.  (Yes there is: Abolish the UPW.)

Hawaii’s prison system shares some of the vulnerabilities of poorly performing facilities highlighted in the Justice Department report, including outdated and crumbling facilities. They will be expensive to fix.  (They could be free if only we would accept the idea of paying for inmates to stay in superior privately-run prisons for less than we pay for corrupt, decrepit UPW prisons.)

read … Get tough on sex abuse in prisons

Still Refusing Shelter: Homeless drug addicts crowd into H-1 embankments

HNN: A sprawling homeless community at the top of embankments on the H-1 Freeway near Downtown Honolulu is causing significant safety concerns….

Drivers zipping by the area see a row of tarps and tents….

Aipia said she feels more comfortable wedged in between the freeway and the parking lot of the Nuuanu YMCA….

Still, she said, the area can be dangerous. Campers are often robbed by outsiders, and the proximity to the H-1 Freeway is a concern.

Aipia told Hawaii News Now there are no families living in the encampment, just adults. Most struggle with meth.

"Workers respond to immediate health and safety concerns, like items on the roadway," he said, in a statement. "HDOT also removes trash or debris left behind when individuals vacate an area. Currently available resources and manpower only provide for one statewide clean up by HDOT crews per year."…

Put Desk Jockeys to Work: HIDOT Fails to Answer -- $78K Administrative Cost Per Mile

read … Crowded

Mayor: Ing Would Let Wailuku Residents Drown

MN: The Sept. 13 flood nearly took out the levee that protects the neighborhood makai of the Wailuku Post Office. The damage to the levee and the small mountain of rock that blocked the flow of water to the sea left Iao Parkside and Lower Main seriously vulnerable to flooding if another extreme weather event occurred.

The Public Works Department recognized the emergency and worked tirelessly to clear the river mouth of over 3,000 tons of rock and debris and then restored and armored the levee in time to be ready for the next major flood event that occurred on New Year’s. That speedy action protected both lives and property.

But instead of gratitude, the mayor and his team are getting grief because they did not honor and inventory every stone pulled out the river while they were racing against the clock. While it is important to respect and acknowledge the belief systems of others, the claims being made by Council Member Elle Cochran and Rep. Kaniela Ing that every stone removed from the stream is “sacred” and must be returned to the stream, are irresponsible given the emergency being faced and an absurd waste of tax dollars.

read … Drown Them

Green Energy is a Joke: HECO To Build Two More Giant Diesel Plants

PBN: Two major power plants at Hawaii’s military bases could be in the works, Pacific Business News has learned.

In regulatory filings regarding its updated energy plans, Hawaiian Electric Co., the state’s largest utility, revealed details for a 100-megawatt thermal energy plant at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Honolulu and a 54-megawatt thermal energy plant at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe….

The Honolulu utility said that both power plants were included in its updated plans as unit additions due to the grid modernization benefits provided by these projects….

The two power plants would join another power plant at a Hawaii military installation. The 50-megawatt power plant at the Army’s Schofield Barracks broke ground last year….

read … Green Energy is Phony

Anti-GMO Luxury Realtors Sue Each Other

PBN: Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers is suing one of its founders, Justin Britt, who is also the sole medical marijuana dispensary licensee on Kauai, over allegations he has put the company at risk by misappropriating funds and damaging the company’s reputation. (Pause to enjoy the schadenfreude.)

In the lawsuit filed Thursday in 1st Circuit Court in Honolulu, Hawaii Life seeks unspecified punitive damages from Britt, who owns one-third of the company and is the founder of the medical marijuana dispensary Green Aloha Ltd. The lawsuit also seeks Britt's expulsion from Hawaii Life….

In the complaint, Hawaii Life, represented by Starn, O’Toole, Marcus & Fisher, claims that Britt made risky company decisions without the consent of Beall and Winston Welborn, the company’s third co-founder.

Britt told Pacific Business News in an email Friday that he had not yet seen the complaint, though heard of it in an email sent out to Hawaii Life employees.

“I think they knew we were preparing a suit against them because they have been wrongfully freezing me out of the company and they filed this suit to try and get to the courthouse before me and launch a spin campaign. Proof is that news reporters heard about the case before I did,” Britt said. “Their claims are without merit and in the long run, sadly, will only hurt the company I founded and helped to build.”

In an unrelated case, Welborn sued Britt last year for allegedly illegally drawing funds from another, separate business account, Wasabi Design Inc.

read … No Honor Amongst Hysterics

A Year Later--VA administration still looking for Hawaii director

HNN: It's been one year since Wayne Pfeffer abruptly retired from his post as director of the Veterans Affairs Pacific Islands Healthcare System in Honolulu.

Since his departure, five senior Veterans Affairs executive directors from the mainland have been filling in, rotating as interim directors for Hawaii. The fill-in directors come in for a month, leave the state, and then return….

"There is an individual, a name that has been put forward, that is undergoing the vetting process in our headquarters to potentially be named as our new permanent director."

A final decision, though, is up to the recently confirmed Secretary of Veterans Affairs, David Shulkin. Oswald says the process could still take six months or longer.

In the meantime, the interim arrangement will continue.

More than 50,000 veterans in Hawaii get their medical care through the VA. In 2014, Hawaii vets waited an average of 145 days for care, the longest in the country, to see a primary care physician.

Oswald says that with interim directors providing guidance, the wait time has dropped dramatically, to about 10 days….

Besides Hawaii there are about 20 other centers lacking a permanent leader….

read … Still Looking

Hawaii Residents Have Least Past Due Medical Debt

WS247: The prevalence of delinquent medical bills varies substantially by state. Mississippi leads the nation with 37.4% of nonelderly adults with past-due medical debts, while just 5.9% of nonelderly adults in Hawaii reported such debts, the lowest share.

read … Past Due

Who owns vacation rentals in Hawaii?

PBN: On Oahu, buyers from Hawaii make up the largest portion of U.S. buyers with 76.7 percent, while 10.6 percent of buyers are from California….

read … I have me the enemy and he is us

State Supreme Court says election board erred in not hearing challenge

HTH: The Hawaii Island Board of Registration, which considers election disputes, erred when it refused to hear a Kapaau resident’s complaint about a candidate in the 2014 election, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

Lanric Hyland had challenged the residency status of Ron Gonzales, who unsuccessfully ran against Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille that year. County Clerk Stewart Maeda denied the challenge and Hyland appealed first to the Board of Registration and then to the Intermediate Court of Appeals, which sided with the clerk and Board of Registration.

The Supreme Court, in a unanimous opinion issued Thursday, said the Board of Registration should not have determined that Hyland’s petition wasn’t filed within the 10-day window without taking into account a federal holiday and mailing times between the Big Island and the state Elections Office in Pearl City.

“The local board’s narrow interpretation of its jurisdiction is particularly concerning given that claims under (state law) involve the integrity of the electoral process and the right to vote,” Associate Justice Richard W. Pollack wrote in the opinion that was signed by all five members of the court.

The court returned the case back to the Board of Registration for further consideration.

Hyland’s attorney, Robert H. Thomas, said the issue is one of equal protection and due process.

“There is no rational basis for Oahu challengers to have the full ten days, but their neighbor island counterparts who rely on the mail less time,” he argued in court filings….

Background: Hawaii Supreme Court Oral Arguments: When Is Election Law Admin Appeal "Brought?"

read … State Supreme Court says election board erred in not hearing challenge

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