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Wednesday, March 15, 2017
March 15, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:03 PM :: 4272 Views

Another Step Towards an OHA Audit

Hawaii Republican Party Convention Set for May 12-13

Break up 9th Circuit Court? Judicial Conference asks for 5 More Judgeships

SB501: Force Pro-Life Centers to Promote Abortion

How Paid Home Care leads to Union Membership Scam

Trump Ban “Blatantly discriminatory”? Hawaii Should Look at the Fake Indian Tribe

Prosecutor’s Office Tries to Squeeze Defendant on Behalf of Kealoha

HNN: …Trader called for multiple recesses in an effort to get Tiffany Masunaga to reveal sensitive information regarding her situation to the new deputy prosecutors to whom her case has been assigned.

Through her attorney, however, Masunaga refused. She believes sharing the information would put her in danger….

Trader called for multiple recesses in an effort to get Tiffany Masunaga to reveal sensitive information regarding her situation to the new deputy prosecutors to whom her case has been assigned.

Through her attorney, however, Masunaga refused. She believes sharing the information would put her in danger.

Masunaga was arrested during a police raid in August of 2015 at a Moiliili home with her boyfriend, then-Honolulu police officer Alan Ahn, who has since pleaded 'no contest' to multiple drug charges. He is scheduled to be sentenced in April. 

But Masunaga's new attorney, William Harrison, says there's a conflict that makes it impossible for her to have a fair trial in Honolulu.

Masunaga's original attorney was Myles Breiner, and the original deputy prosecutor assigned to the case was Katherine Kealoha. Breiner has since begun representing Kealoha, who is being investigated by the FBI in an alleged public corruption scandal.

Harrison wants the case moved to another county or the Attorney General's Office, because Kealoha still works in the Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney's office. In a motion filed on February 9, Harrison asked that the agency be disqualified from the matter and that records in the case be sealed.

"If we give this information that discloses the conflict, it can be used against my client," Harrison said.

The judge struggled with his decision, acknowledging Harrison's reputation as an officer of the court with an extensive career, more than 35 years. 

Trader says he knew Harrison would not file a motion like this frivolously.  

Still, after more than an hour and a half of deliberating, Trader denied Harrison's motion, saying, "if you do not disclose the information to the court, or to the prosecutors, then it's virtually impossible to rule on this motion."

Harrison says he has no problems revealing the details to another prosecutor's office, just not to a Honolulu agency. He will now try again to have the case moved, possibly to federal court….

read … Defense attorney: Inside information jeopardizes fair trial for high profile drug suspect

Liberal States Time their Anti-Trump Suits so Shopped Judges can Coordinate

CB: A local hearing is scheduled to begin six hours after one in Maryland and 90 minutes before another in Seattle….

read … Timed and Shopped

Caldwell: Creating a Giant Bureaucracy to do Sweetheart Deals with Developers

SA: It will cost more than $1 million for the city to fully establish two new agencies that Oahu voters approved via City Charter amendments in November.

“We’re not creating a giant bureaucracy,” Caldwell told the City Council Budget Committee during a briefing Tuesday.  (Know Them by What They Deny!)

The Department of Land Management, approved by a narrow majority — 51 percent — of those who cast general election votes, will oversee and manage all of the city’s nonpark land, including property that the city and private entities might have an interest in developing. The 2018 budget calls for a $730,612 budget with 22 new positions….

The new Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency (no joke), adopted with the support of 59 percent of Oahu voters, will oversee and coordinate citywide efforts to reduce and fight the effects of climate change on city facilities and the community in general. It calls for an annual budget of $467,388, which includes $135,000 in each of the next two years from the Rockefeller Foundation to hire a chief resilience officer.

But of the six remaining positions assigned on the books, funding is being sought for only five of those in next year’s budget….

read … Know Them By What They Deny

Akina: Public-worker benefits need reform

SA: …This $23 billion debt not only jeopardizes the retirement plans of current and former government workers, it also could soon take money away from vital state and county services such as police, fire, education and other social services.

Whenever government salaries go up, so does the debt, and this system has led to the highest level of unfunded liabilities in the history of the state.

In the past decade, benefits for public employees in the state have risen five times faster than in the private sector, and this has worsened the pension debt crisis.

Hawaii taxpayers are footing 76 percent of the bill for government workers’ pensions and health care, despite those workers making up only 15 percent of the total workforce. This means that private sector workers, who are struggling to save for their own retirements, are also paying the retirements for public workers….

read … Reform

BOE Search: Matayoshi Should Apply

SA: …The Harold K.L. Castle Foundation withheld its $50,000 grant funding the superintendent search, asserting a lack of confidence that the process could be even-handed. The BOE suspended the search. Galera stepped away as a job applicant, and immediately the search resumed.

It’s distressing (fortunate) that a private foundation with a mere $50,000 could have such an outsized influence on a process that should be run independently by the school board (but can’t be because they are all Ige cronies).

This raises the issue of the job description for the next superintendent. What’s surprising is that the criteria provide the outline of a candidate who sounds a lot like Matayoshi. For example, here’s one element:

“Minimum of five years in progressively increasing leadership roles in public or business administration working with multi-year strategic planning and budgeting. At least five years shall have been in an executive capacity leading a diverse senior team in a large multigeographic organization, and at least three shall have been in an educational environment.”

Matayoshi, who came to the job in 2010 from the business world, could be faulted for lacking experience in the classroom setting at the outset. Surely her experience shepherding the DOE through a challenging period of federal mandates has overcome that deficit. She led a team achieving improvements in student learning that have been durable.

As recently as September, the BOE gave Matayoshi an “exceeds expectations” evaluation, capping a series of positive annual reports. Matayoshi may be associated with a more structured era of educational administration, but given her stellar reviews, she should consider applying for the post herself, making the case that she could make the change the BOE seeks….

read … Political twists mar BOE search

HIDOT Takes Waianae Hostage, Demands Money

SA:Despite a (Because of) growing call for a secondary access road through the Waianae Coast to relieve traffic congestion and address public safety concerns, the state Department of Transportation says it doesn’t have the money to build it and is instead focusing on improvements planned for Farrington Highway….

State Rep. Andria Tupola said she was not surprised to hear the DOT doesn’t have funding for another road, given that the department previously announced it would focus on operational improvements statewide. Tupola (R, Kalaeloa-Ko Olina-Maili) said she has been working with U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard on ways to improve Kolekole Pass, a military-owned road that runs through the Waianae Range that is currently not open to the public.

Idea: Contract a Private Developer to Build a Toll Road with no HIDOT Involvement

Flashback: Washington Monument Gambit

read … Scam to get Money

Frustration mounts over HIDOT’s slow Honolulu airport renovations

HNN: …The $2.7 billion modernization project has been underway for years now, and while airport officials say they're around two-thirds of the way through time-wise, they're still only about halfway through construction-wise with the work that should be completed in another four to five years if they can stay on schedule.

The state first proposed the airport renovation project a decade ago, and after some early delays, the Department of Transportation says the project is now on time and on budget.

Hawaiian Airlines CEO Mark Dunkerley says the slow pace of the project is not normal and not good for business.

"Other communities have found ways to update its infrastructure in a fraction of the time,” he said. “Hoover Dam took five years to build. The Coliseum in Rome took eight years to build, and The Parthenon took nine years to build. I'm just trying to draw out how much time has passed for the state's airport modernization program. It was a high priority to develop the infrastructure, which is so important to our state and the state's economy."….

read … HIDOT

DLNR: A&B must prepare EIS for East Maui water diversion

MN: Responding to an “overwhelming majority of comments” calling for the state — not Alexander & Baldwin — to prepare an environmental impact statement for water diversions in East Maui, the Department of Land and Natural Resources said Tuesday that state law requires the applicant to prepare the EIS.

A&B and its subsidiary East Maui Irrigation are applying for a 30-year lease for water from streams in Nahiku, Keanae and Huelo. The private entity is required to obtain the lease for developing, diverting, transporting and using stream water, which is a state resource.

The ditch, tunnel and siphon system were developed over a century ago to irrigate sugar crops in Upcountry and Central Maui. Although Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. ended operations in December, A&B is seeking the lease for 115 million gallons of water per day for future diversified agriculture on the old sugar lands….

read … DLNR

Following the Anti-GMO Money

KE: Funding for the Hawaii anti-GMO movement continues to grow, with nearly all of it coming from wealthy mainland philanthropists, according to the latest tax returns.

Indeed, grant making foundations supply virtually all the operating money that fuels the national and local anti-biotech movement, even though its leaders love to claim they're leading a grassroots, citizens' initiative…..

In 2014, CFS took in $5.231 million — nearly $1.3 million more than 2013…

More opaque funding came from other sources — Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation and two organic companies, Nutiva and Sky Island Organics — which disclosed they donated, but not how much. The Johnson foundation gave to both the national and Hawaii CFS offices, while Nutiva contributed to both CFS and Hawaii SEED. And it got $11,629 from the "combined federal campaign" (federal workers).

CFS also received a $1.358 million windfall in 2014 from a 2013 class action lawsuit brought in California against a manufacturer of hair and skin care products. Plaintiffs claimed they were misled by the packaging and advertising of purportedly “wholly organic” hair and skin care products that failed to meet the requirements of California’s organic standards law, which resulted in a class-action settlement of $6.5 million. Attorneys’ fees and administration costs reduced that to $4.866 million. Claims were capped at a maximum of $28 per person, and people had six months to file. Apparently, few did, as $2.716 million was left in the pot when claim period ended. By court order, it was split evenly between the Consumers Union — the publisher of Consumer Reports, which claims to be non-partisan, but is actively anti-GMO — and CFS. These two groups, and the lawyers who filed the suit, made out like bandits in a case that was much ado about nothing…..

There’s a growing argument that cy pres (“as near as”) awards to NGOs are predatory and unconstitutional. Basically, CFS received the cy pres funds because it works to uphold the National Organic Standards Act. In other words, its “underlying mission” was sufficient to make it a beneficiary of the settlement, though CFS did not initiate the lawsuit nor provide legal counsel to plaintiffs. In a more just world, the court might have directed such funds to a worthy cause — say, a food bank. But that’s not how the cy pres doctrine works.

Flush with cash, CFS opened a field office in Honolulu in 2014 and hired Ashley Lukens, a political science PhD, to run it. According to its tax return, the Center for Food Safety expended $738,569 to open and operate its new Hawaii field office in 2014.

A CFS press release said the office was staffed by Lukens, program director, and Kasho Ho, a community outreach coordinator. How did the fledgling, two-person office manage to expend $738,569? The tax form provides no details. We know, however, that CFS assisted in the 2014 GMO moratorium ballot measure campaign on Maui that year…..

So how is CFS using its money, aside from running a propaganda campaign in Hawaii? Though its own return offers few details, the 2015 returns filed by its funders shed more light. I'll delve into that in the next installment….

read … Musings: Following the Anti-GMO Money, Part 1

So Busy With Anti-Pesticide Hype, DoH Forgets About Lead Poisoned Soil in Kalihi

HNN: Just 3 inches below the asphalt on Factory Street in Kalihi lies a toxic dump that — until last summer — the government had forgotten about….

Health officials say as long as it stays covered, it's not likely to hurt you. But therein lies the problem.

After years of neglect, parts of of the Kalihi roadway are crumbling away, years of rain and rigorous use taking their toll.

If repairs aren't completed soon, dangerous neurotoxins could be exposed in the mostly residential neighborhood.

The dirt in a typical Hawaii backyard, the state says, contains about 200 milligrams of lead per kilogram of soil. The concentration is slightly higher in more urban areas, Kalihi among them.

But recent tests revealed something startling: Concentrations of more than 10,000 mg/kg under Factory Street and its accompanying shoulder lane — more than 50 times the usual amount of lead in the soil….

The Department of Health first discovered the contaminated soil in the early 1990s, when four kids who were living in the neighborhood were diagnosed with lead poisoning….

Health officials believe the ground was polluted decades ago by a company that manufactured lead fishing weights. An emergency order was issued to remove the worst of it, then cover up what was left with a layer of asphalt.…

PDF: DoH on Factory Street Site

read … About Real Chemical Poisoning

SB1150 Crackpot Sunscreen Ban Continues to Advance

SA: …The state Department of Land and Natural Resources in written testimony questioned the feasibility of enforcing SB 1150, noting that “an officer would have to observe a person on the beach applying the product and then determine if the product contained oxybenzone.”

Asked about how the law would be enforced, English said, “A lot of it is self-regulation. A lot of it will be word of mouth.”

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association argued that oxybenzone is a proven ingredient in preventing skin cancers and that high sun protection factor (SPF) ratings will be more difficult to attain without it.

The association also cited findings from the Coral Reef Conservation Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, listing acidification, overfishing, coastal development and pollution as “primary stressors” of reef ecosystems.

The bill is scheduled to be heard by the House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee at 8:30 a.m. Thursday in Conference Room 325 at the state Capitol….

Feb, 2017: Nature, Sci Am Challenge Anti-Sunscreen Coral Damage Claims

read … Crackpot Pseudoscience

Cover-up?  Kam Schools wants Secret Court Hearing on Alleged Faculty Pervert

SA: A state judge says he intends to close his courtroom to the public when two Kamehameha Schools employees testify in May in a case involving a teacher accused of using a spy camera to record students in the shower at his home.

Before making his decision final, Circuit Judge Rom Trader is giving the public an opportunity to object. That opportunity will come at 11:30 a.m. April 4 in Trader’s third-floor courtroom in the state First Circuit Court Kaahumanu Hale courthouse on Punchbowl Street.

The case involves former Kapalama campus speech teacher and debate team coach Gabriel Alisna, who is charged with violating the privacy of students who went to his off-campus faculty housing apartment. The state says Alisna, 41, used a miniature spy camera to record students using his shower. The clothes hook camera was mounted on the shower wall….

Kamehameha Schools officials alerted Honolulu police of the alleged crimes in March 2013 after they gathered evidence during their own investigation. The two employees scheduled to testify in May are the campus security captain and a security guard who conducted a search and seized items, including the camera and memory card, from Alisna’s apartment.

Trader described the amount of evidence school officials turned over to police as “scant” when compared with all of the material they collected during their investigation. He ordered the school to turn over to Alisna another 150 pages of documents that they did not give police.

School officials say the extra material is privileged attorney-client communication because they conducted the investigation at the direction of their lawyers. Trader agreed but said Alisna needs the material for his defense to get a fair trial. The officials turned over the documents after the Hawaii Supreme Court rejected their appeal of Trader’s order.

It was Kamehameha Schools that asked Trader to close the hearing involving the two security employees….

read … Public input sought on closing court in Kamehameha Schools case

Manoa Rapist to get Another Chance?

KHON: The man dubbed the “Manoa rapist” is getting some signals that he could be let out of prison for the first time in 35 years.

The case of John Freudenberg is one Always Investigating has been following.

He’s serving life in prison with the possibility of parole for multiple rapes and assaults in the 1980s. Every year since he served his 15-year minimum sentence, he’s been denied parole.

But on Tuesday, the Hawaii Paroling Authority board showed a willingness to at least consider a plan to let him out of prison, which will be reviewed in six months.

read … A Second Chance

SB 718: Funds sought to expand court sessions for homeless

SA: This afternoon the House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hear a bill, SB 718, that would fund the program.

Between fiscal year 2014 and fiscal year 2016, there were 42,662 minor violations committed on Oahu — including 21,763 park violations alone.

“We have a tremendous caseload,” Kaneshiro said. “I think we can clear a lot of these. But there has to be consequences for their actions.”

Kaneshiro said he believes that four to eight hours spent cleaning up public spaces “is fine” for minor violations committed by homeless people. But he is hopeful that getting homeless defendants before a judge also could turn their lives around by ordering them to connect with homeless services.

“Right now you cannot force people to go to homeless counseling,” Kaneshiro said. “With this program the court can do that. This is something that’s worthwhile. We can also get rid of the backlog so the courts can handle the most serious cases.” ….

The disabled defendant is still working to serve out his community service, Tonaki said. “He uses a walker and has pretty bad infections,” he said….

read … SB718

Plan to Shut Down West Hawaii Homeless Camp Begins With Arrest of Its Meth Dealers

WHT: Under the direction of Mayor Harry Kim, the effort will begin with a two-day closure of the park for an extensive cleanup. No date has been set, but Kim said the administration is looking at the end of April.

Prior to the closure, the Office of Housing and Community Development will canvass the area to make the homeless aware they must vacate the premises, and at the same time will distribute outreach information from housing possibilities to rehabilitation.

Once a date is established, Kamaka will ask police to provide enforcement on the eve of the cleanup, evicting any homeless who refuse to vacate the park….

Related: Pair busted with drugs at Old Kona Airport Park to stand trial

read … Tweekers

Hawaii Supreme Court narrows definition of “disorderly conduct” in case of Occupy activist

CB: Occupy Lei Day …Teale took … a small group of supporters, began a quiet, nonviolent protest. She blew a pū, or conch shell, from a position 50 to 60 yards to the side of the bandstand to announce their presence, and the group walked slowly through and in front of the crowd, interacting with and (an act of Noblesse Oblige) trying to ‘educate’ members of the (ignorant benighted reactionary) audience….

…to try to ‘talk to’ then-Mayor Peter Carlisle, who was present at the event, about how city workers had ignored their own rules by confiscating a banner painted by a visiting artist for use in a May 1 event being planned by the (de)Occupy Hawaii protest group….


read … They Can Do Anything, They are Enlightened, Conscious and Progressive.  They are Superior Beings

Will Gorsuch Save us from Political Correctness?

CB: …I’d ask Gorsuch for his views about the First Amendment right to offend. It’s an important topic today for three reasons.

First, protesters may use offensive language to capture attention and show the passion behind their views. The Supreme Court traditionally protects offensive political speech, as it famously did in 1971 in Cohen v. California. There it ruled in favor of Paul Robert Cohen’s First Amendment right to wear a jacket with the words “F— the Draft” in a Los Angeles courthouse hallway.

Second, some believe there’s a pall of political correctness in society, particularly in higher education. Some students may be deterred from using certain language or expressing particular viewpoints for fear they will offend others and thus be punished.

Third, the Supreme Court is set to rule in the coming months in a case called Lee v. Tam. It centers on the power of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to deny an Asian-American band called The Slants trademark registration over that name because it allegedly disparages Asians. The court heard oral argument in the case in January.

I’d thus ask Gorsuch: “When does offensive expression — in particular, offensive speech on political and social issues — lose protection under the First Amendment?”

read … Stop Censorship

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