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Thursday, February 14, 2019
February 14, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:16 PM :: 4390 Views

Disbar Dubin--Disciplinary Board

Who Wants to Give OHA Millions More?

UPDATE: FSM Government Responds to Lyon Bribery Charge

Hawai‘i County Seeking Applicants for Boards and Commissions

Katherine Kealoha a Drug Addict?

ILind: …Katherine Kealoha’s increasingly risky behavior looks very similar to that of other attorneys who developed drug habits and eventually reached a point where their desperate search for money to purchase drugs sank their businesses and their professional careers….

Of course, the difference is that most attorneys who get mired in drug problems have only their own practices to destroy. That was initially the case with Katherine Kealoha, who was in private practice when the financial pressures initially arose, at least in the timeline laid out by prosecutors. Later, however, when her husband became chief and she rejoined the prosecutor’s office, the couple’s positions of authority and power meant their attempts to resolve personal financial problems involved more serious abuses of power with broader ramifications.

But friends pointed out that in all the paperwork involved in the overlapping criminal cases involving Kealoha, there’s been no evidence or references to drug use.

That changed this week.

This line in a memo filed in Hawaii’s Federal District Court on Wednesday immediately jumped out at me.

“As part of this investigation, multiple witnesses have identified KEALOHA as a user of controlled substances.”

Prosecutors repeated the assertion at least a couple of times in their 12 page motion….

KITV: Court documents give examples of messages between Kealoha and one of the conspirators, who she allegedly helped with a plea deal in another case in order to hide Puana's involvement  

HNN: ‘Got ur back’: Prosecutors say Kealoha’s private texts showcase alleged misconduct

HPR: Police Commissioner Reflects On Federal Corruption Case

SA: Feds release Katherine Kealoha’s secret texts

AP: Prosecutors Want Katherine Kealoha’s Brother Held Without Bail

AP: Ex-Prosecutor, Doctor Released as Siblings Face Opioid Case

CB: Katherine Kealoha And Her Brother Are Free Pending Trial On Drug Charges

read … Multiple witnesses have identified KEALOHA as a user of controlled substances

Soft on Crime: Katherine Kealoha, brother released after pleading not guilty in drug case

SA: … A federal judge ordered the continued release on bond today of former deputy prosecutor Katherine Kealoha and release on bond of her brother Rudolph Puana pending their trial for conspiracy and drug distribution.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard L. Puglisi scheduled the trial for April, but it’s likely to get postponed. Kealoha is scheduled to be in the middle of another trial with her husband, retired Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha, and three former members of HPD’s Criminal Intelligence Unit on charges accusing them of framing a Kealoha relative of stealing the Kealohas’ mailbox and of lying to investigators.

Puglisi said Kealoha can remain free on the same $100,000 signature bond he had ordered for her in the mailbox case, but added new conditions. He restricted her travel to the island of Oahu and ordered her to undergo drug testing.

Puana had been in custody since his arrest Monday on the Big Island. Puglisi ordered Puana released into the custody of his of his wife on $50,000 bond, half of which must be secured with cash….

The indictment says Puana gave some of the drugs to his sister, who then distributed them to two other people. It also accuses Kealoha of covering up her brother’s involvement in illegal drug distribution involving the three patients and others after law enforcement found out about it.

The government had asked Puglisi to order Puana held in custody without bail and to impose a cash or security requirement for Kealoha’s bond….

Big Q: Amid calls for his suspension, what should city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro do?

SA Editorial: Kaneshiro must remove himself, or be removed

read … Katherine Kealoha, brother released after pleading not guilty in drug case

Prosecutors: Elect them, or appoint them?

KHON: … Honolulu's top prosecutor has been elected since 1980. Before that it was a position appointed by the mayor, which became a lightning rod for accusations of corruption at worst -- and cronyism, at a minimum.

Political analyst John Hart says election-versus-appointment doesn't seem to be the basis of the current trouble at the prosecutor's office.

"So you now have the state's attorney general and the Honolulu police chief, not wanting to work with the prosecuting attorney. Houston, we have a problem."

Tough-on-crime Charles Marsland was Oahu's first elected prosecutor. He was succeeded by Keith Kaneshiro, then Peter Carlisle, who served four terms. Kaneshiro got the job back and has had the post for nine years.

Despite the current controversy, Carlisle strongly supports election of prosecuting attorneys….

The office has been elective in Hawaii County since 1968. Current prosecutor Mitch Roth was first elected in 2012.

Kauai County -- 1973. Justin Kollar has held the office since 2012.

Maui is the only county with an appointed prosecuting attorney. John D. Kim has served the county as a legal officer for three decades. He began his current role in 2011 and was appointed to continue by Mayor Michael Victorino.

An initial council vote last month opposed his confirmation. The council will vote again on Friday….

read … Prosecutors: Elect them, or appoint them?

Carbon Taxes Debated at Hawai`i Legislature

IM: … SB 1463 would (claims to) maintain existing tax levels and maintain how the funds are allocated. It would alter who the revenues are collected from.

The amount of revenue collected from fuels used for driving vehicles would decrease while the tax on fuels used to generate electricity would increase.

The hearing drew only a few testimonies and only a few attendees. State agencies and the Tax Foundation offered comments. The measure was supported by Blue Planet Foundation, Sierra Club, and the Elemental Excelerator.

The Nature Conservancy supported the intent of the bill but favors HB 1584 which would have the University of Hawai`i “analyze the feasibility and impacts of implementing a carbon tax .”

Joseph Kohn MD testifies for We Are One, Inc. on many energy and climate bills. “This bill is poorly written and seems to be a scam to support toxic corporate agendas. Much clarification and transparency needed. People & 'Äina before profit. There is no rational reason to pollute our own environment or destroy ecosystems.”…

Feb 1, 2019: Monsanto, Blue Planet, Exxon Mobil, 350 Hawaii -- Support Carbon Taxes

read … Carbon Taxes Debated at Hawai`i Legislature

Legislature’s New Approach: Inspect Budgets In Bite-Sized Chunks

CB: … Dozens of programs and offices are getting closer scrutiny under a new House process that’s less reliant on the Finance Committee….

The House is rolling out the new process this session. House Finance Chair Sylvia Luke refers to it as “zero-based” or “performance-based” budgeting. The idea is to put departments under closer scrutiny to justify the taxpayer money they receive….

read … Legislature’s New Approach: Inspect Budgets In Bite-Sized Chunks

Stop This End Run Around Hawaii Public Records Law

CB: … Cheryl Kakazu Park, director of the Office of Information Practices, has asked the Hawaii Legislature to make major changes to House Bill 1478. As written, the measure concerns increasing the extent to which the public records law applies to the state judiciary.

But Park, in testimony submitted Monday, wants to use HB 1478 to add what’s known as the “deliberative process privilege” to the Uniform Information Practices Act — the state’s public records law.

If the committee does that — a vote is scheduled for Thursday afternoon — it would be a legislative end run around a landmark Hawaii Supreme Court ruling in December that overturned three decades of government secrecy.

Public agencies in Hawaii have withheld innumerable records from public view over the years by claiming they were subject to the deliberative process privilege. OIP — whose mission is “ensuring open government while protecting individual privacy” — had long assumed that such a law existed.


The high court’s ruling, which stemmed from a Civil Beat lawsuit that challenged the City and County of Honolulu for withholding internal government documents, was so consequential that we argued in this very space last month that lawmakers must resist any effort to undercut the UIPA….

read … Stop This End Run Around Hawaii Public Records Law

HART Board Member: Stop Rail at Middle Street, Order Forensic Audit

SA: …There is but one chance left for this dream: The Rubicon, the proverbial point of no return, is Middle Street.

Let us have a much-needed timeout now. We must stop at Middle Street; conduct an in-depth, independent forensic audit; make systemic changes in rail’s governance and management structure; revisit blatantly optimistic projections for ridership, capital, operational and maintenance costs; get on the right track; and stop hurtling toward a disastrous derailment.

Rail’s current South Shore, ocean-hugging route to Ala Moana Center will produce luxury housing for the ultrawealthy and offshore investors.

Using a Singapore-like turnaround and focusing unflinchingly on rooting out possible corruption, we must use what could well be our last chance to resolve the muddle by stopping at Middle.

We must throw over the money changers’ tables in the temple….

We must step back from big, life-changing mistakes….

Citing the new University of Hawaii research on climate change, which reveals that sea level rise will eventually imperil rail’s current South Shore route, we can appeal to the federal authorities to allow us to rebid the remaining portion of the project and get it on the right track….

read … John Henry Felix

Mauna Kea draft rules don’t limit Hawaiian culture, university says

SA: … University of Hawaii officials insist they have no intention of restricting Native Hawaiian cultural practices and have revised draft rules for public and commercial activities on Mauna Kea in an effort to make that clear.

The draft Mauna Kea administrative rules came under attack during a statewide round of public hearings in September and in scores of written submissions….

They propose restrictions on commercial tours, make camping off-limits, limit snow play, prohibit drones and gliders, and establish fines for breaking the rules, among other things….

Among the changes is the removal of a section originally drafted with the help of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, ironically after it expressed concern for the protection of Native Hawaiian rights.

But there was strong opposition to the section during the hearings, due in part to the perception that it regulated Native Hawaiian culture….

The university also removed a permit requirement for public assemblies after testimony during the hearings described the provision as interfering with cultural activities, practices and protests….

Comments on the draft rules can be submitted in an email to or in writing to the UH Government Relations Office, 2442 Campus Road, Administrative Services Building 1-101, Honolulu, HI, 96822.

The comment deadline is March 15 at 4:30 p.m.

UH is planning to run the draft rules by the Board of Regents before holding a second round of public hearings sometime in the next few months….

HTH: UH releases latest draft of proposed administrative rules for Maunakea Science Reserve

read … Mauna Kea draft rules don’t limit Hawaiian culture, university says

Bill would let airports self-manage; not rely on state

WHT: …A bill that would shift authority over the state’s airports from the Department of Transportation to an independent airports corporation was introduced for the fourth consecutive year.

Senate Bill 666 is the latest iteration of a years-long effort to improve the quality and efficiency of the state’s airports. A functionally identical bill was introduced last year and made it most of the way through the state Legislature before being unexpectedly abandoned at the final hurdle….

read … Bill would let airports self-manage; not rely on state

House Committee Advances Zipper Lane Tolls Bill

HPR: … The House Committee on Transportation passed House Bill 327 that would allow the use of O’ahu’s zipper lane for single occupant vehicles, for a price.   State deputy director for highways, Ed Sniffen, says the DOT would charge an access fee and follow Federal Highways Administration rules….

“Federal law allows us to use it for tolling, if it’s enacted in legislature, provided that we have an electronic system that monitors and enforces.  The electronic system, we believe, is about $20-to-$30 million to put in.  We’re not sure yet.  We’re still following up on the costs.”….

Another measure, House Bill 1215, would establish a tax credit for drivers who live within 10 miles of their workplace and offset state motor vehicle registration and inspection fees.  Leeward O’ahu Representative, Stacelynn Eli, introduced the measure to encourage commuters to live closer to work (ie move out of her district—commuters must not be her political base).  Her current drive from Nanakuli to the State Capitol takes an hour-and-a-half….

read … House Committee Advances Zipper Lane Tolls Bill

Bill would abolish bus fare program for low income

SA: … The Honolulu City Council is considering eliminating a reduced bus fare program for “extremely low-income” riders.

Bill 77 would also increase fares for most riders. The latest draft released last week went before the Council’s Budget Committee, which opted to defer action on it. The proposal would eliminate the “Bus Pass Subsidy Program,” a little-known initiative that reduces the price of monthly bus passes for those earning no more than 30 percent of Honolulu’s area median income.

In Honolulu, that means families of four that bring in $35,500 or less annually and single people who bring in $24,500 or less can apply for a subsidized bus pass through the program.

The program reduces monthly bus passes by $10 for eligible adult riders and $6.50 for eligible youth riders. Currently, it reduces the prices of monthly passes to $60 and $28.50, for adults and youths, respectively.

Without the program adults could pay $80 for a monthly bus pass if the bill passes. Monthly passes for minors would remain at $35.

The bill would increase single-ride fares to $3 from $2.75, day passes to $6 from $5.50, monthly passes for seniors to $8 from $6 and annual passes to $45 from $35 and single TheHandi-Van fares to $2.25 from $2.

The Department of Transportation Services reported that 23 adults and 14 minors in Honolulu participated in the program in 2018….

read … Bill would abolish bus fare program for low income

Honolulu Among Cities in Worst Fiscal Condition

PN: … The 75 most populous cities’ total unfunded debt is approximately $330 billion. Most of this debt comes from unfunded retiree benefit promises, such as retiree healthcare and pensions.

The cities in the worst fiscal condition are New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Honolulu, and San Francisco. These cities, like many states and cities in the U.S. have large unfunded pension liabilities, which are greatly affected by the volatility of pension assets. Unfortunately, to achieve higher rates of return, government pension plans have increased their allocation to riskier assets ….

read … America’s largest cities are going broke

Jobs in solar industry declined 22% in Hawaii

PBN: … Jobs in Hawaii's solar solar industry declined last year, from 2,715 in 2017 to 2,120 in 2018, according to the national industry association The Solar Foundation. It's a 22 percent drop that leaves Hawaii ranked 30th in the nation for the number of solar jobs.

The report also shows, however, that Hawaii remains one the strongest solar states, ranking 6th for for solar jobs per capita. Last year, one out of every 858 jobs in Hawaii was in this sector….

read … Down 22%

Maui Enviros Sue to Block Energy Saving LED Lights

HNN: … The groups behind the suit are suing to block the replacement of approximately 4,800 streetlight fixtures across Maui County with the brighter LED lights.

Critics say the lights can harm and kill seabirds along with two types of turtles.

Birds can get disoriented mid-flight and come crashing down, and freshly hatched sea turtles can be attracted to the lights, and never make it to the ocean, Earth Justice says.

“The Hawaiian petrel is critically endangered, with bright lights one of the biggest culprits in its decline,” Julie Leialoha, Interim Executive Director of Conservation Council for Hawaii said.

“A single bright light can kill hundreds of turtle hatchlings,” Hannah Bernard, Executive Director and Co-founder of Hawaii Wildlife Fund, added. “Because hawksbills are so rare, we simply can’t afford to allow the streetlights project to skate by without any environmental review.” …

They did say however, "Along with the other counties and the state Department of Transportation, Maui County and Maui Electric Co. are replacing old streetlights with L.E.D. streetlights. This replacement is being performed to provide greater energy efficiency and safety at a cost savings to our taxpayers and electric ratepayers. In making these types of decisions, Maui County follows the environmental review process, as well as other applicable rules and laws.”

read … Maui County faces a lawsuit over bright streetlights

Hu Honua Final Approval Before Supreme Court

IM: … The Hawai‘i Electric Light Company (HELCO)-Hu Honua Amended and Restated Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) was approved by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The agreement is not final until the Life of the Land appeal has run its course.

Hu Honua is assuming full risk by building their plant without final approval to sell the electricity to HELCO.

HELCO wrote a letter to the PUC on February 12, 2019.

“Given that this matter is still on appeal with Hawaii Supreme Court, the agreement is not yet effective.”

“Hu Honua anticipates being ready for interconnection acceptance testing on or about March/April.”

“Hu Honua has inquired whether Hawai‘i Electric Light would be amenable to waiving the Final Approval Requirement so that the project may be placed into service so that Hawai`i Electric Light can begin making payments to Hu Honua under the terms of the PPA. However, Hawaii Electric Light is not amenable to Hu Honua’s proposal.”

HTH: Hu Honua sought waiver pending appeal outcome

read … Hu Honua Update

Justice: Family of Underage Home Invader to Lose Home

SA: … One day in February 2000, four teenagers burst through Robert Wong’s front door in Pearl City and told him to lie face-down on the carpet. One of the intruders carried a rifle. He demanded to know if anyone else was in the house. He kicked Wong as he lay there.

Then the rifle went off (one of the criminals shot Wong with a rifle).

When the teenagers burst into his house, Wong was drinking a beer and having something to eat, according to hospital records he later submitted in his civil case against them. At the time, he was working for a wholesale food company.

Wong’s daughter and her boyfriend and his son were also in the house, but weren’t aware of what was going on until it was all over. Wong’s son called 911.

At the hospital, a social worker wrote that Wong said he was “doing well emotionally and just puzzled as to why this incident occurred.”

But the consequences had not fully revealed themselves. One of the bones in his hip joint had been shattered. One leg was now shorter than the other and he would have a chronic limp.

He spent six days at The Queen’s Medical Center, at a cost of more than $20,000, followed by a week at a rehab facility and more outpatient treatment.

“They came to my house, shot my leg and now I’m permanently crippled,” Wong, now 72 and retired from an insurance agent job, said in an interview.

“I can’t even dance. Do you see a lot of crippled people dance?”

Wong said he can’t walk more than a block or two before he has to find a place to sit.

“Every morning, I can’t put on my socks,” he said. “I can’t clip my toenails. My wife clips my toenails for me.”

As for the young men who caused the damage, he said, “I don’t know if they even feel sorry.”

It’s taken an emotional toll. He angers more easily. “This incident changed my life, even my personality,” he said.

So Wong took the path that the law opened for him — he sued the perpetrators. In 2003, he presented evidence of his pain and suffering, severe mental and emotional distress, reduced enjoyment of life, disability, medical expenses and loss of income.

A Circuit Court judge imposed damages of $20,456 for the time Wong spent in the hospital and $360,000 in general damages. In addition, each of the teenagers were on the hook for $50,000 in punitive and exemplary damages, except for Sanders, the shooter, who was liable for $100,000.

The judge also noted that, under Hawaii law, the parents of the two minors in the case – Villa and Sanders – were considered responsible for the actions of their children and would also owe money to Wong….

In January, Villa’s house was offered up in an auction. The only bidder was Wong, who got it for one dollar…. 

WHT: Double DUI offender ordered to pay $809,000 restitution

read … Justice

When a Criminal Croaks in Prison, Lawyers Have a Hard time Turning a Dollar on It—But Legislators Can Help

CB: … In the past week two measures, House Bill 336 and Senate Bill 1077, have been approved by their respective public safety committees and moved to the full chambers.

The bills would require DPS to provide the name, gender and age of the inmate or employee, the location of the death or injury leading to the death, the date and time of the death, the cause and a medical report called a clinical mortality review that would include correctional steps to be taken to prevent further deaths. The information would need to be reported to the governor, who would be required to report it to the Legislature….

There’s a growing urgency to the questions being raised. More inmates in Hawaii appear to be dying than in the past. Since April 2015, less than four years, at least 15 inmates have died unnatural deaths, according to news reports and records reviewed by Civil Beat.

(And every one of them could’ve been a million-dollar lawsuit.)

The impetus (chain of custody) for the legislation came from Felicia Cowden, a resident of Kauai’s North Shore who was elected to the Kauai County Council in November. She was (insert excuse here) and raised the issue with Rep. Nadine Nakamura of Kauai, who shared the idea with another colleague from Kauai, Senate President Ron Kouchi….

read … Lawyers Need Money

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