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Friday, January 12, 2018
January 12, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:33 PM :: 5758 Views

UPDATE: Divided OHA Trustees Do Not Agree on Tribal Recognition Act

DoTax Data: 25,500 Vacation Rentals paying TAT in Hawaii

Study: Hawaii Most Expensive Electric Car Ownership in USA

Three Finalists named for student appointment to Board of Regents

Chin’s Campaign Manager Vacuumed $90K out of Takai Campaign Committee after Takai’s Death

SA: …The congressional campaign for the late U.S. Rep. Mark Takai has paid out nearly $90,000 for consulting services to a Honolulu firm run by the committee’s treasurer in the 18 months since Takai’s death, with a payment issued as recently as four months ago, federal campaign records show.

Takai died at the age of 49 on July 20, 2016, after battling pancreatic cancer for less than a year.

His re-election campaign, Mark Takai for Congress, issued more than a dozen payments between August 2016 and September 2017 totaling $86,508 to Lanakila Strategies LLC, according to a Honolulu Star-Advertiser analysis of Federal Election Commission data.

Lanakila Strategies, which registered to do business in the state in 2015, is controlled by Dylan Beesley, who is also listed in campaign finance transaction records as treasurer for the campaign, responsible for authorizing expenditures and depositing receipts.

Beesley is now campaign manager for state Attorney General Douglas Chin….

…Some political observers said privately that the situation raises red flags because spending of campaign funds generally has to be directly related to campaign activities, and in this case there was no active campaign after Takai announced in May 2016 that he would not seek re-election to a second term because of his health.

Takai’s campaign collected $1.1 million in contributions for his 2016 re-election bid and spent roughly $791,800 through the end of December 2016, FEC records show. The campaign reported just under $400,000 in cash on hand for the reporting period.

An FEC spokeswoman said she could not confirm whether a complaint has been received on the case….

The company, which is registered to a Pukalani address, as of this week was listed as “not in good standing” with the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs for failure to submit business registration filings for 2016 and 2017….

read … Payments by Takai’s campaign questioned

Chin Refuses to Fire Campaign Manager

CB: …As of Sept. 30, the Takai campaign still had $328,000 cash on hand, according to the FEC filing.

“I told Dylan he needs to immediately get his house in order and that I would expect someone who served two federal congressional campaigns, the Hillary Clinton campaign and other state and national Democratic causes to know better,” Chin said late Friday. “I am not happy about this.”

Chin added, “The Takai campaign was subject to monthly compliance and legal reviews. It is up to the Takai campaign leadership team to determine how they spend campaign monies within the law and I would not second guess that.”

One of Chin’s opponents, Maui state Rep. Kaniela Ing, released a statement Friday demanding that Chin fire Beesley and that Beesley “should return the $90,000 he received” or use it to open up a foundation in Takai’s name.

“I’m disappointed to learn that my opponent’s campaign manager has taken so much money from Takai’s campaign in ‘consulting fees’ after he passed away,” Ing said in the statement. “This is fraudulent, and it is disrespectful to Takai’s legacy and all who supported him.”

Asked to respond to Ing’s demand, Chin said, “This claim is totally absurd and patently false, and anyone invoking the late Congressman Takai, his family or his legacy for their own political gain is unconscionable.”

Beesley declined to comment, other than to say that he has updated the records of Lanakila Strategies, with the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. The Star-Advertiser reported that the company was listed as “not in good standing” for 2016 and 2017….  

SA: The Federal Election Campaign Act does allow for campaign funds to be used for noncampaign purposes, including “winding down costs of a federal officeholder’s office for a period of six months after leaving office.”

AP: Chin says he believes his campaign manager was following the rules when he received payments from the late Rep. Mark Takai's congressional campaign

read … Chin Tells Campaign Manager To ‘Get House In Order’

Hirono Asks Court Nominees About Sexual Harassment Under Oath—But Still Protects Four Known Sex Harassers in Hawaii Legislature

TC: Senator Mazie Hirono, a Democrat from Hawaii, is not wasting any time. During a hearing for Kurt Engelhardt, Donald Trump’s nominee for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, Hirono hit him with a forward question that she has pledged to ask every court nominee: Do you have a history of sexual harassment?

“Since you became a legal adult, have you ever made unwanted requests for sexual favors or committed any verbal or physical harassment or assault of a sexual nature?” she asked Engelhardt. “Have you ever faced discipline or entered into a settlement related to this kind of conduct?”

The Hill reports that Engelhardt responded, “No, senator,” to both questions.

While Engelhardt’s hearing was the first time Hirono has probed into a court nominee’s history of sexual misconduct, according to her Twitter, she will be asking all nominees similar questions under oath.

(But she still won’t identify the four harassers sitting in the Hawaii Legislature.)

Related: 

read … Hirono Hypocrisy

Hawaiian Airlines set to invest millions in airport renovations, $19M Profit-Sharing, following Republican tax cut

PBN: …Hawaiian Airlines has decided to go a different route than several of its competitors in the airline industry by applying the money it is expected to save under the new federal tax code toward airport renovations, Pacific Business News has learned….

“We plan to begin a significant renovation of our lobbies in Terminal 2 at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. We intend to expand our space and add security lines to relieve the congestion our guests endure every day.”

In order to make the proposed renovations at Honolulu’s airport, the airline will need to get approval from the state Department of Transportation Airports Division, which functions as the administrator and landlord of all Hawaii airports. Hawaiian said it has already begun that process…..

…the airline’s employees can expect to receive some of the highest profit-sharing payments in company history in March, Da Silva said.

The program shares 5 percent of the company’s pre-tax income with part-time and full-time employees below the officer level. Using the company’s pre-tax income of $379 million in 2016, 5 percent translates into about $19 million….

According to Da Silva, Hawaiian expects to pay all of its employees combined bonus and profit-sharing payments equal to more than two weeks' pay.

read … Hawaiian Airlines set to invest millions in airport renovations following Trump tax cut

Poll: 83% Know Hawaii State Government is Corrupt

IM: …The Hawai`i Energy Policy Forum (HEPF) held its 14th Annual Legislative Briefing at the Hawai`i State Capitol Auditorium on January 10, 2018.

Colin Moore announced a new poll by the UH Public Policy Center (PPC) and the UH Social Science Research Institute (SSRI). “We know extraordinarily little in this State about what people think about politics” according to Moore.

When asked,” Do you think the state government is run by a few big interests or run for the benefit of all people,” just 17 percent had faith in state government.

The poll asked questions about energy. The initial question incorrectly stated the state goal: “Which are you willing to do to meet the state`s goals to have 100% of our electricity come from renewables?” 

Support higher taxes on fossil fuels to pay for renewable and energy efficiency projects and programs: Yes 38% No 49% Other 12%

Support paying higher utility rates to increase use of renewables and new technologies: Yes 38% No 53% Other 9%

Use public transportation instead of my car: Yes 55% No 41% Other 4%

Support building large renewable projects e.g. solar farms or wind turbines or geothermal: Yes 77% No 18% Other 8%

How the survey was conducted, what people being polled were told, what the error margin is, and what other questions were asked that might influence answers are unclear at this time…. 

read … Hawai`i Poll on Renewable Energy

Will The HPD Scandal Jump-Start Police Reform In The Legislature?

CB: …two “common sense” measures pushed by Espero and others have yet to take hold.

One would create a statewide standards and training board for law enforcement officers to make sure they meet minimum qualifications to wear a badge and carry a gun….

The other legislation would eliminate a union-inspired provision in the state’s public records law that helps shield bad cops from public scrutiny….

Rep. Gregg Takayama, who heads the House Public Safety Committee, says he hasn’t seen any bills  in response to the charges facing the former chief and others….

read … Will The HPD Scandal Jump-Start Police Reform In The Legislature?

Saito was supplied with cash, fake IDs and cellphones

SA: …When deputy sheriffs nabbed Saito in Stockton, Calif., on Nov. 15, he had over $6,000 in cash, two fake driver’s licenses and two smartphones….

Saito fled the State Hospital on Nov. 12. A police affidavit indicated surveillance video footage reviewed by a detective showed Saito taping the locks of double doors in the Building B lounge shortly before 8:30 a.m. that day.

About an hour later the video showed Saito removing the tape from the door locks and walking to Building K to retrieve “what appeared to be a filled garbage bag from a combination locked cabinet,” according to the court document.

He returned to Building B and changed into clothing that was inside the bag. Video footage then showed Saito walking to a dumpster near the same building and discarding the bag filled with the clothes he previously wore.

At about 10:03 a.m. Saito was observed opening the four-digit combination locked gate that leads to Windward Community College.

A hospital staff employee discovered him missing at about 7:36 p.m. that night….

The court document said Saito used the alias Randall Suzuki when he arranged a charter flight on Royal Pacific Air to Maui from Oahu. He told personnel at the charter that he was arranging a flight for a man named Alvin Pimento, another alias Saito used.

He paid $1,455.35 in cash for the charter and flew under the alias Alvin Pimento. Sometime after he arrived on Maui, Saito boarded a Hawaiian Airlines flight to San Jose, Calif., using the same alias.

Deputy sheriffs nabbed Saito in Stockton after they received a tip from a cab company. They found $6,382,18 in cash and two fraudulent driver’s licenses in his possession. One was a Washington state driver’s license card with the name Clayton Mugen Kawamoto, and the other was an Illinois driver’s license with the name Michael Pascua.

Young described the fraudulent cards that had Saito’s photo on them as “high-quality fakes.”

“A representative of the U.S. Marshals Service was able to point out how most fake licenses are unable to reproduce the holograms that appear on driver’s licenses, but that the fakes found in (Saito’s) possession contained convincing looking holograms,” the court document said….

The court document said it appeared Saito had a smartphone while he was on hospital grounds because he had called a taxicab company about 45 minutes before he fled the hospital.

It’s unclear how Saito obtained a cellphone, which State Hospital patients are prohibited from possessing. What’s clear, Young said in the court document, is that Saito was able to coordinate his escape while using a cellphone at the hospital.

Saito also had obtained a backpack sometime between fleeing the hospital and before a taxi picked him up at Kaneohe District Park….

Meanwhile:  HGEA Hospital Workers who let Saito Escape to Stockton are back at work after 1 Month Vacation

read … How Many HGEA members helped him?

No deal: Settlement talks continue in Kamehameha Schools sex abuse case

HNN:  A self imposed deadline of 4 p.m. Thursday passed without a deal between Kamehameha Schools and sex abuse survivors.

The two sides had hoped to reach a deal before one of the mediators, Paul Finn, had to leave for the mainland. When a settlement wasn't reached, the attorneys agreed to continue talking over the next two weeks

About 100 people, including the victims, their families and lawyers and Kamehameha Schools’ trustees and its CEO, met at Circuit Court on Wednesday to begin the mediation process.

Finn, who mediated many of the sex abuse claims against priests in Boston, and former Circuit Judge Victoria Marks, are the mediators.

"We've put some substantial offers on the table that we think and hope will … bring closure and allow the healing to begin,” said school Trustee Micah Kane on Wednesday. …

The trust won't say exactly how much they're offering and it’s unclear if the amount is enough for the survivors….

Another victim, Gerald Carrell, said he’s pessimistic a deal will be struck.

"Right now, I have no expectations. I can be honest about that. I've heard a lot of words. I've had a lot of promises broken to me by Kamehameha Schools, St. Francis,” he said. "To be honest, we felt like were in exile for 40 years, just coming back was torture."

If both sides cannot reach a deal by the end of the month, the case will go to trial, which is scheduled for this summer…..

read … No deal: Settlement talks continue in Kamehameha Schools sex abuse case

HSTA Member Convicted of Child Molestation

KHON: …On Thursday, a jury found him guilty of one count of first-degree sex assault and two counts of third-degree sex assault.

Wright is scheduled to be sentenced March 15. He faces 30 years in prison.

Wright was a teacher at Jefferson Elementary in Waikiki. He had been with the Department of Education for nine years when he was arrested.

Court records claim the assaults did not happen on campus, and the child was not a student.

SA: The state Department of Education said Wright has been on unpaid leave since his arrest on Sept. 6, 2016. Honolulu police arrested him during school hours.

read … Still Employed? 

Waianae man with history of abusing family arrested for trying to kill his 18-month-old daughter

HNN: …A toddler remains in critical condition Thursday night and her father is in police custody — suspected of trying to kill her.

Police were called to a home on Halona Road in Waianae around midnight after an 18-month-old girl became unresponsive.

Officers found the child’s father, Christian Mikaele, in the back of the home. Sources said he seemed to be hiding….

Court documents show the child's mother was granted a year-long temporary restraining order against Mikaele, which also controlled access to their children. The order expired in August, but in the application for it the woman described his abuse of their kids.

"He shaved my daughter's head," she wrote. "I was against it and tried to stop him. A few weeks prior to that he beat up my seven-year-old, but I did not report it. He then punched me in my face and head. I had a black eye.”

She also wrote that her family was "afraid of him in my household. He said he would kill my son because he hates my two boys that I have from someone else."

Mikaele was arrested for violating his TRO in 2016. It was set to go to trial in November 2017, but when the mother showed up to testify, the judge delayed it for one more day. The following day, the mother did not show up to court, and the judge dismissed the charge indefinitely….

read … Soft on Crime

Caldwell Leaves Park in the Dark for 2 Years

HNN: …When city officials removed the lights that illuminated facilities at Waialua District Park, they cited fixtures that were corroded and unsafe as the reason why.

That was nearly two years ago, and after the sun sets on the North Shore, the park is still in the dark.

"This is a very simple project that should have been done yesterday," City Councilman Ernie Martin said.

read … Caldwell

After huge sweep of encampments under Nimitz viaduct, some squatters return

HNN: …Less than two months after the state completed a $500,000 clean-up under the Nimitz viaduct, squatters are moving back in.

A camp has been steadily growing over the past several weeks.

On Thursday, Hawaii News Now asked both the city and the state if they were aware of the camp.

HNN didn't get a response, but within a couple hours a state clean-up crew arrived, along with an outreach worker and the governor's homeless coordinator.

On Thursday morning, a group of about 20 people were once again living under the bridges.

For the most part, tents were out of sight. The only way most people would have seen them is driving from the H-1 Freeway onto Dillingham Boulevard.

The emerging encampment was in one of the exact spots the state recently spent a month cleaning up.

Before the area was cleared again, HNN spotted trash on the ground and a recently abandoned van.

"What keeps me here is my dogs (excuses)" said Jules, one of the area's inhabitants.

Jules declined to offer her last name, but said she and her boyfriend have been living under the viaduct for four years….

Before the area was cleared again, HNN spotted trash on the ground and a recently abandoned van.

"What keeps me here is my dogs," said Jules, one of the area's inhabitants.

Jules declined to offer her last name, but said she and her boyfriend have been living under the viaduct for four years.

After getting moved out, the couple relocated to an area under the bridge that was never fenced off.

"Yes, there are things that go on down here that is illegal but not all of us are into that," she said.

"A lot of us are trying to be good. We're taxpayers. I actually work. I have two jobs (tweeking and making excuses)…. "

KGI: $11.7 million in federal grants to support 35 homeless assistance programs in the state

read … After huge sweep of encampments under Nimitz viaduct, some squatters return

Lawyer: Maui Water Chief Failed to Screw Homeowner, Should be Fired

MN: … Makawao attorney Tom Pierce claims Water Supply Director Dave Taylor violated county law when he granted a Kula property owner a two-year extension to complete water improvements….

…Meyer pointed out that the same chapter of the County Code allows the director to waive the two-year time requirements, as long as the department saw the person was “making a bona fide effort to get their meter installed.”

“The alternative was they had to forfeit their meter fee, and they’d never get their meter again,” Meyer said.

He added that many extensions have been approved based on the waiver clause (section 14.13.080), and that the department’s job is “not to screw people,” if they’re struggling to complete a project due to delays that many times are caused by the county…. 

MN: Water Supply Director Taylor still out on leave

read … Lawyer: Maui Water Supply chief broke law with meter extension

HHSC Lawyers Try to Milk Cancer Canter for Money

MN: The Pacific Cancer Institute’s medical director Thursday accused Hawaii Health Systems Corp. of using public “scare” tactics last month to pressure the institute that provides cancer radiation therapy into accepting new and “unfair” lease terms at its Maui Memorial Medical Center facility….

Dr. Benjamin Falit, who made his comments in a Viewpoint to be published Sunday in The Maui News, also emphasized that his facility is not in jeopardy of closing Feb. 1 — as claimed by the quasi-public agency that runs Neighbor Islands and rural Oahu public hospitals in a Dec. 12 news release. The HHSC also filed a lawsuit against the institute over the leases on that day.

“If the story ended as a landlord-tenant legal dispute, I would likely not be writing this editorial,” institute Medical Director Dr. Benjamin Falit said. “However, on the same day HHSC filed the lawsuit, it also published two grossly misleading press releases designed to scare Maui patients and physicians.”…

The institute is the only provider of cancer radiation therapy in Maui County. Before it opened in 1993, cancer patients needed to fly off-island for treatment.

The HHSC filed the lawsuit alleging that its two land leases with the institute, which were signed by both parties in 2005 and 2012, were illegal and should be voided to comply with federal law. The HHSC alleged that new leases were necessary because the current ones violate two federal laws.

The HHSC said that the alleged violations of federal law in the leases were discovered when HHSC officials were reviewing contracts in preparation for the transfer of public hospitals in Maui County to Maui Health System, a Kaiser company.

The HHSC said it “self-reported” the violations to the U.S. Office of the Inspector General. That office is responsible for oversight of federal laws and may assess penalties against HHSC as a result of the noncompliant lease arrangement, HHSC said.

In its news releases, the HHSC claimed the federal office “informed” them that it must execute compliant leases with the cancer institute or terminate the current leases by Jan. 31. Falit said local media outlets published the listed deadline, “ostensibly set by federal regulators, as fact.”

“My cancer patients were devastated,” he wrote. “Many of them will be receiving radiation around the time of the purported deadline. Many of them are elderly, ill, wheelchair-bound, oxygen-dependent and/or impoverished, making it impossible for them to travel to another island for treatment.”

Falit said he spent the next two days fielding phone calls from concerned patients and family members. He assured them that the institute would not be shutting down by Feb. 1 “or any point in the future.”

Falit said HHSC has been “dishonest” about the deadline and did not believe the federal office, or any other governmental agency, has determined anything illegal about the leases.

Falit believes the federal agency may have told the HHSC that if it believes the leases are illegal, then it should extricate itself from the agreements before a certain date. The Jan. 31 deadline is not referenced in the lawsuit, and Failt said the HHSC has refused to share any communications from the federal agency.

An official at the Office of the Inspector General reached on Thursday did not have any information regarding communications with HHSC. HHSC officials did not provide The Maui News with any emails, letters or correspondence with the Office of the Inspector General to verify the alleged violations.

read … Scare tactics

62% of Hawaii Jobs Pay Under $20/hr

SA: …The ALICE report noted that 62 percent of jobs in Hawaii pay less than $20 an hour, and among the people falling into the threshold gap group are: retail and restaurant workers, child care providers, landscapers, teaching assistants, laborers and office workers. It’s particularly concerning that more than one-third – 37 percent – of senior households fit the ALICE profile as aging workers are, of course, at higher risk of being sidelined from employment by illness, injury and other setbacks.

Housing was tagged as a Hawaii household’s greatest expense — an average of $1,362 per month for a two-bedroom apartment, according to federal figures….

Related: Report: 48% of Hawaii Households Can't Afford basics

read … Help give at-risk families stability

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