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Friday, March 30, 2018
March 30, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:40 PM :: 5264 Views

Senate Vote 23-2--Assisted Suicide Heads for Ige's Desk

Senate WAM Passes Budget With Amendments

Senate Confirms Russell Suzuki Attorney General

February Visitor Spending Up 12.7%

Elections: 229 Candidates Pull Papers

Hawaii's Good Friday Holiday - What's Up With That?

Nene Recovery: USFWS Proposes Downlist from Endangered to Threatened

Kailua, Kaneohe Blasted by Three-Hour Siren Test

HECO Plans to Transfer More of Your Money to Elon Musk

After Souki and Hee--How Long Until Legislature’s Four Secret Sex Harassers Are Exposed?

(Editor's Scorecard: Hanabusa Two, Ige Zero.)

Cataluna: …Last week a super PAC (political action committee) set up a website on which it posted documents from gubernatorial candidate Clayton Hee’s 1989 divorce. The PAC self-importantly named itself Women Against Domestic Violence Hawaii, though there is no indication that the shadows behind this effort are against anything other than Clayton Hee. 

(Editor's Note: They are against Ige because a vote for Hee is a vote for Ige.)

They have gone so far as to post images of yellow warning signs that say “Caution: Stop Clayton Hee, stop domestic violence,”….

But posting the divorce papers of a candidate whose marriage ended nearly 30 years ago comes with collateral damage that outweighs any sense of righteousness:

It runs right over the spouse’s right to privacy.

It was her story to tell if she wanted to tell it. She didn’t.

(False.  Lyla Berg DID tell her story—in court.)

A line has been crossed and it’s an important line. People in Hawaii still like to think of themselves as good folks who play fair. If we’re going to follow the tone and tricks of national politics with its constant parade of smears and embarrassments, we have to admit that Hawaii is no longer separate and special, but is just as pilau as the worst of it.

The #MeToo movement is about empowering women to fight back at abusers and harassers. It should not be misused as a political bludgeon to take down opponents, and it should never override a woman’s right to privacy or her ability to move past a messy relationship that happened a long time ago….

(Translation: There are still three legislators and one senator who have been nailed for sex harassment but not publicly identified.  After Souki and Hee which of them will be next?  Why are Ige's people holding back from their just retailation?  Hanabusa's Saiki takes out Souki then Hanabusa supporters take out Hee who is just running interference against Hanabusa.  Its time for payback!  Uh ... on behalf of ... uh... victims.  Yeah that's it--the victims!)


read … Recounting Hee’s divorce violates ex’s privacy

Four Top Legislators Remind Us They are Working for Hanabusa

CB: …Top leaders at the Hawaii State Legislature are throwing the full power of their legislative offices behind Colleen Hanabusa in her bid to unseat David Ige for the governor’s office.

Senate President Ron Kouchi, House Speaker Scott Saiki, Senate Ways and Means Chair Donovan Dela Cruz and House Finance Committee Chair Sylvia Luke signed a fundraising letter on Hanabusa campaign letterhead criticizing Ige for his leadership of Hawaii and seeking support for Hanabusa. Their titles appear prominently at the bottom of the letter.

While it is not unusual for sitting lawmakers to donate to and campaign for candidates, it is unusual for such powerful people to be united in their opposition to a sitting governor.

It also comes in the middle of the 2018 legislative session, in which the House and Senate are considering Ige’s administrative initiatives as well as a budget and legislation that will be submitted to Ige for approval….

read … Hanabada

State Sen. Breene Harimoto diagnosed with lung cancer

HNN: …Sen. Breene Harimoto, D, Pearl City, Aiea, Halawa, has been diagnosed with lung cancer.

He made the announcement Thursday on the Senate floor at the State Capitol as he cast his vote against "Our Care, Our Choice," Hawaii's medical-aid-in-dying bill.

"I'd like to share that I was not supposed to be here today. Last week, I was diagnosed with cancer in my lung, and I was scheduled to begin chemo yesterday, which meant that I would be out of commission for several days," he said. "I thank God for giving me this unexpected opportunity to be here today to speak on this bill and cast my no vote. I pray that should this bill become law, we can all put our differences aside and come together to move Hawaii forward toward a shared vision of the future for the sake of our children and our grandchildren."

This is Harimoto's second battle with cancer.

He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer just last year, and went into remission after undergoing chemotherapy….

read … State Sen. Breene Harimoto diagnosed with lung cancer

On his last day, former Hawaii house speaker apologizes for 'inappropriate behavior

HNN: …On his last day in office, former Hawaii House Speaker Joe Souki issued an apology for “inappropriate and unacceptable behavior."

His two-sentence apology was part of a settlement over sexual harassment complaints. The settlement also said Souki must resign no later than Friday, pay an administrative penalty of $5,000 and not seek public office for at least two years.

Despite the settlement, Souki said last week he didn’t do anything wrong and had “absolutely no memory of ever acting inappropriately with any women at any time as a member of the House or in a private setting.”

Souki's resignation is part of the State Ethics Commission agreement that stemmed from allegations filed last fall by former Director of Human Services Rachael Wong and several other women.

Souki said the alleged misconduct happened between three to eight years ago.

In a statement, Wong said she did not want to share details, but that he made “inappropriate” comments about her physical appearance and an “inappropriate request for physical contact beyond the traditional greetings we typically exchange in Hawaii.”

According to the settlement, Souki admitted to touching and kissing "more than one woman in ways that were inappropriate and unwelcome. He admits that this physical contact exceeded the boundaries of the customary 'aloha kiss.'"… 

read … On his last day, former Hawaii house speaker apologizes for 'inappropriate behavior

Water Rate Hike Designed to Soak Single Family Homeowners

SA: …the proposal rightly reserves higher-than-average increases for larger residential users in single-family homes. Residential customers using the least would see a relatively small increase or, possibly, a decrease. That seems fair — partly because conservation should be rewarded, even in green Hawaii, where water shortages and land subsidence touched off by drained groundwater supplies are not front-and-center concerns.

The last time BWS put in place a set of rate increases, they spanned a decade, starting in 2006. The previous increase had been in the mid-1990s. The interim lull resulted in a backlog of deferred system upgrades. BWS responded by deploying drastic “rate shocks,” starting with a 50 percent increase over five years, followed by a 70 percent hike over the subsequent five years.

The jarring effect was exacerbated when a plan to put in a new customer care and billing system caused the agency to “back-bill” a number of its customers, resulting in confusing spikes in water bills, and contributing to the eventual cost of the accounting system skyrocketing to more than three times its original price tag. A 2014 city audit concluded that the water board had “inadequately planned for its utility customer billing information system implementation,” a switch activated in 2013 with an initial cost set at $5 million.

This time around, it appears that BWS is building its case for hikes on a four-year analysis of lessons learned. Let’s hope so, anyway. The analysis involved stakeholder scrutiny of a 10-year projection for maintaining and improving operations. The probe will continue this month and in May, with public hearings in Honolulu, Kapolei, Kaneohe and Mililani.

In addition to suggested changes that should be welcome, such as the addition of new green-minded “affordability” tiers and and a more precise billing charge (based on meter size rather than a flat rate), BWS wants to put in place a structural shift through which single-family residences would see a more substantial bill increase than multifamily residences….

read … More Social Engineering

State procurement exemption still up in the air for Hawaii's airport authority

PBN: …The bill to establish an independent airport authority in Hawaii recently passed the House Finance Committee, though the version passed would not allow for an exemption from state procurement codes.

Senate Bill 2996 originally gave the airport authority financial autonomy after a three-year transition period, but the bill's latest draft would keep the authority tied to state procurement codes, HRS Chapter 103D, which would encumber the corporation, according to Blaine Miyasato, co-chair of the Airlines Committee of Hawaii.

“We truly believe that for the corporation to be successful, it cannot be encumbered with state protocols,” Miyasato said. “Procurement has always been a key component of what would be necessary for the corporation to be successful. Having robust procurement protocols in place so you can launch projects on-time and on-budget is important with any business. We just think it should be exempt from state procurement codes.”

The bill …now moves back to the House….

The House hearing should occur early next week. If it passes, a joint conference will be scheduled, and then it will go back for a final vote. …

read … State procurement exemption still up in the air for Hawaii's airport authority

Advocates push for eviction-free housing for Hawaii's mentally ill

HNN: Out of the 7,220 people who are homeless in the islands, it's estimated a third are mentally ill.

Of those, experts say, only about half will actually receive treatment.

"If you're poor or live in rural areas you're not going to be able to see a provider as quickly," said the executive director of Mental Health America of Hawaii, Trisha Kajimura. "That's the situation we are in with a lot of mentally ill people who are homeless. They are really past the point of a quick intervention."

For decades, advocates say that Hawaii's government has swept the issue of mental illness under the rug.

Access to psychiatric care in Hawaii is so short of the need that, on average, new patients wait between four and six months for their first appointment.

"So many people are trapped in this revolving door of homelessness, occasional hospitalization and frequent incarceration," said Paul Gionfriddo.

The head of Mental Health America is in Hawaii this week to discuss strategies with local providers. He says that in order to combat the problem, a top priority needs to be establishing "unconditional housing", or places where people can get treatment without the threat of eviction if they do something wrong….

Hawaii is one of 46 states that allows the courts to step in and provide involuntary treatment for people who are incapacitated by mental illness. But the law is rarely used, mainly because there's no money to cover the cost of legal fees.

Advocates say lawmakers need to start funding those programs along with street psychiatry. Right now, there is only one street psychiatrist in the entire state….

Hawaii is one of 46 states that allows the courts to step in and provide involuntary treatment for people who are incapacitated by mental illness. But the law is rarely used, mainly because there's no money to cover the cost of legal fees.

Advocates say lawmakers need to start funding those programs along with street psychiatry. Right now, there is only one street psychiatrist in the entire state….

The price tag for all of this would no doubt be millions of dollars. (WORTH EVERY PENNY.)

"The best way to pay for all of this is to take the money from where we've been putting it. That's jails and prisons," said Gionfriddo. "The money's there. We just need to take it and move it back to the healthcare delivery system where it belongs." 

(Idea: Sentence homeless mentally ill criminals to forced treatment instead of jail.  Redirect the funding that would have paid for their very expensive UPW-controlled jail cell.)

Meanwhile: Mentally Ill Homeless Refuses Medical Evaluation, Gets 10 Days Jail

read … Advocates push for eviction-free housing for Hawaii's mentally ill

CB: It’s Long Past Time To Allow Mobile Homes In Hawaii

CB: …Earlier this month Honolulu officials gave keys to three qualified families to move into permanent modular housing units in Waianae.

The project, called Kauhale Kamaile, features 16 units for homeless or formerly homeless families and individuals who earn 50 percent of the area media income. Rent for a one-bedroom unit is $981, while a two-bedroom unit goes for $1,177.

The units aren’t fancy, but they include the basics for shelter: a bathroom, a kitchen, a bed, walls and a roof.

We applaud the city for this important step.

Similar approaches to affordable housing include the prefabricated homes at Kahauiki Village along Nimitz Highway, and shipping containers turned into apartments in Kailua-Kona known as Hale Kikaha….

high-quality, beautifully laid-out and landscaped mobile home parks have existed for decades all over the United States, including areas of the country with extreme weather. And there’s no good reason that can’t be the case here….

Instead of aggressively pursuing mobile home options, here is our current housing reality:

The city is trying to control the proliferation of so-called monster homes, as owners wildly expand their existing homes.

Developers seek to skirt requirements to include affordable units as part of their planned high-rises.

We are considering the establishment of ohana zones, safe zones and tent cities which, while helpful, are really temporary shelters by other names.

There is a long and expensive backlog for repair and maintenance of existing public-housing facilities.

A recent study shows that a quarter of homes sold in Hawaii during were bought by non-residents.

And the price tag of medium-priced home on Oahu is nearly $800,000.

…doesn’t a manufactured home listing for perhaps one-tenth the cost of an average home here sound entirely reasonable?….

read … It’s Long Past Time To Allow Mobile Homes In Hawaii

Bill 98: Transparency Requirements for Salary Hikes

WHT: …A charter amendment is unnecessary, Salary Commission officials told the County Council on Wednesday, because the commission is changing its administrative rules to add more transparency to the way it doles out raises.

Those assurances weren’t enough, however, to satisfy council members, who’ve heard loud and clear from constituents that double-digit raises for the county’s highest officials were over the top in a year when taxes were raised to balance the budget. The raises, to 36 positions whose salaries are controlled by the commission, add about $1.5 million to the annual budget.

The council voted 9-0 to pass Bill 98, the ballot initiative on its second of three required readings. If approved, it will be placed on the Nov. 6 general election ballot….

read … Council wants voters to weigh in on future raises

Kealoha Enters Plea

HNN: …Kealoha, his deputy prosecutor wife and four other co-defendants all pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges against them. …

Last week, another grand jury indicted them on three additional criminal counts, bringing the total to 23.

The charges range from bank fraud, conspiracy, obstruction of justice and identity theft.

The other defendants are HPD officers Derek Hahn, Bobby Nguyen, and Danny Sellers, and former HPD Maj. Gordon Shiraishi.

Four special prosecutors from California have been working on this case for years. Authorities allege the Kealohas stole large amounts of money from relatives, friends and financial institutions and that the officers helped cover up the theft.

Already one former police officer, Niall Silva, has pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against the others.

Another man, Ransen Taito, also took a plea deal. Katherine Kealoha is accused of stealing from a trust account belonging to Taito and his sister. …

read … 'We are not guilty': Ex-police chief says he look forward to day in court

DHHL familiar with members of group manning ‘checkpoint’

HTH: The head of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands said a group that started an “Aloha Safety Checkpoint” on beneficiary lands along the Maunakea Access Road this week did so without permission.

But she wouldn’t say when they will be told to leave.

“I prefer to take it one day at a time at this point,” DHHL Chairwoman Jobie Masagatani said Thursday. “We’re looking at our options. I’m not at liberty to discuss much more than that.”

A group called the Beneficiaries Trust Council started the checkpoint, which includes a small shack called “Hale o Kuhio” next to the road, on Monday’s Prince Kuhio Day. The road goes through DHHL land….

The group says it is up there to keep track of traffic on the road used to access Maunakea and Mana Road, which also passes through the department’s lands in the area, as part of resource management. By Wednesday, they were using a “slow” sign instead of a stop sign, and it wasn’t clear if they were still trying to get vehicles to stop at the checkpoint or just counting them as they pass.

There haven’t been reports of them blocking the road or telling people to leave, though some are staying overnight.

“Our dedication of Hale o Kuhio as an Aloha Safety Checkpoint is the first phase of community-led Malama Aina programming by our beneficiaries to maintain a presence and better manage roughly one-third of the total DHHL lands, some of the most important and critical cultural and natural resources in the Hawaiian Islands,” the group said in a press release….

read … DHHL familiar with members of group manning ‘checkpoint’

Hawaii high schools stage walkout protesting placement of state flag

KITV: Students from a number of schools walked out of class in a show of resistance against the placement of the state flag.

One of the biggest protests happened on Maui at Hana High School, which also attracted members of the community.

Demonstrators lowered the American flag and exclusively raised the Hawaiian flag. 

The teenage protestors are advocating for every school campus to be equipped with two flag poles so the national and state flag fly side by side.

The protests were organized by Hana High junior Jesiah Malaikini.

“I feel that so much could be accomplished with just one little task,” Malaikini said.

On March 14, he switched the position's of the school's flags, the demonstration got him suspended….

read … Hawaii high schools stage walkout protesting placement of state flag

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