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Wednesday, May 26, 2021
May 26, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:35 PM :: 1954 Views

A Model for Hawaii: Federal Judge Orders Los Angeles to Clear Skid Row

Hawaii 5-year Growth Rate 2nd Lowest in USA

Ige Lifts Outdoor Mask Mandate

HSTA reaches tentative contract agreement

More Free Money for HSTA: BoE Approves Shortage Differentials for 2021-22

Act 18 Streamlines Professional Licensing for Military Spouses

Hawaii ranks 2nd healthiest state in US

CoR: Increasing vaccination rates upgrade Hawaii’s economic forecast

CB: … The state Council on Revenues voted unanimously on Tuesday to adjust its forecast upward for the last two months for the current fiscal year as well as for each fiscal year after that. The council’s new revenue projections mean Hawaii could get an extra $450 million in tax revenues over the course of the coming year.

State tax collections are expected to top $7 billion this fiscal year, which ends June 30, and could hit at least $7.2 billion next fiscal year.

“We’ll probably be on a path that’s as high or higher than it would have been if we had not had this pandemic, in terms of the growth path for the next year or two,” Carl Bonham, a council member and economics professor at the University of Hawaii, said.….

read … State Panel Forecasts Better Economic Outlook For Hawaii

Hawaii planning incentive program to boost vaccinations

HNN: … Nearly 1.5 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered across the state.

“We have to have 2 million shots to get all the way there,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green. “So these last 500,000 doses are going to be a little bit more difficult.” …

officials with the Hawaii Restaurant Association and the Retail Merchants of Hawaii both confirm they’ve been asked to find businesses willing to donate incentive gifts.

That’s not all.

“My team is going to reach out to some hotels over in Las Vegas and see if they’d be willing to offer some nights over on the Ninth Island,” said Green.

Several other states have already launched incentive programs.

In Maine, vaccinated residents can get a free hunting or fishing license. Over in West Virginia, folks who get the shot can chose between a $100 savings bond or a $100 gift certificate.

Meanwhile, states like Ohio, New York, Maryland and Kentucky are offering eligibility for cash prizes.

Oregon also just announced it’s offering a shot at a $1 million lottery jackpot. Minors who get the vaccine are entered into a separate drawing for five $100,000 scholarships.

Green said Hawaii’s incentive program is currently being vetted by attorneys.….

AP: Hawaii planning incentive program to boost vaccinations

Cataluna: The Strange Ploy To Incentivize A Life-Saving Vaccine 

read … Hawaii poised to join a growing list of states offering incentives for people to get vaccinated

University of Hawaii floats plan to reopen campuses to public, end telework policy

SA: … The University of Hawaii has made tentative plans to reopen its campuses to the public Tuesday and phase out its pandemic telework policy, with all staff back on campus Aug. 3.

As the state emerges from some pandemic restrictions, the university aims to resume full, in-­person services at its offices July 6. It reached out last week to the unions representing its staff and faculty and asked for their feedback on the reopening plans by Friday….

The Hawaii Government Employees Association has shared the reopening plans with its members and asked for their input, according to Caroline Sluyter, communications officer for the union.

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, which represents faculty, reported on its website that it is reviewing the plans and will respond to UH officials by the Friday deadline.

The academic year starts Aug. 23 for UH Manoa students. When registration opened in April for the fall semester, about 60% of courses were to be completely online, nearly 20% in person and the rest in a hybrid format allowing both modes of instruction. The campus expected to transition to largely in-person courses by spring.

read … University of Hawaii floats plan to reopen campuses to public, end telework policy

BoE to Loot COVID Money and Give it to HSTA

SA: … The governor is under pressure to veto the $2,200 bonuses that legislators voted to give every public school teacher, but hefty pay “differentials” for classroom teachers in shortage areas are on track for next year.

The Department of Education has affirmed that the shortage differentials, which range from $3,000 to $10,000 annually, will be paid. That’s despite the fact that the Legislature did not fund them for the fiscal year starting July 1. About 4,000 teachers statewide earn that incentive pay at a total cost of $32.5 million a year.

Asked where the money would come from, DOE spokeswoman Nanea Kalani said this week that “we’re not sure at the moment, but as a department we are committed to finding the resources for this expense.”

“We’ve already made that commitment to our teachers,” she said. “We know teachers made decisions based on that. However, the Legislature did not accommodate that expense in their budget plans for the department for the year that starts July 1.”

One possibility is federal funding. As required by federal law, the Department of Education is now seeking public input on how to use the latest round of coronavirus relief money. The legislation puts a priority on in-person learning and mitigating learning loss resulting from the pandemic.

Members of more than a dozen stakeholder groups, from students and staff to parents and industry partners, are invited to share their priorities via an online survey at hawaiipublicschools.org. The Public Input Survey on the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund State Plan is open through the end of the day on June 4.

“Right now the department is engaged in getting public comment on how to use these funds,” Board of Education Chairwoman Catherine Payne said. “That’s one of the conditions of the federal money.”

read … Hawaii teachers’ $2,200 bonuses may be in jeopardy

Miske awaiting DOJ decision on death penalty

ILind: … The Hawaii US Attorney’s Office has made a recommendation stating whether or not it wants to seek the death penalty in the case of Michael J. Miske, Jr., the former owner of Kamaaina Termite and Pest Control, and other related businesses, who faces charges involving multiple federal crimes, including four capital offenses related to the kidnapping and murder of 21-year old Jonathan Fraser in July 2016.

The disclosure came in a document filed in Honolulu’s federal court yesterday (May 25).

“This office has already submitted its recommendation regarding the death penalty and is awaiting a decision from the Attorney General of the United States,” the motion said.

The substance of the recommendation was not disclosed….  

SA: Alleged crime boss Michael J. Miske’s trial may be delayed as death penalty is considered

KHON: Miske trial delayed awaiting death penalty decision from U.S. Attorney General

read … Miske awaiting DOJ decision on death penalty

Miske News: Beverly Hills Lawyer Gets IATSE Exec Board Member out of Jail

ILind: … On Monday, May 24, it was disclosed that a second of Miske’s ten co-defendants has elected to cut a deal, plead guilty in exchange for dropping several charges, and cooperate with prosecutors, including testifying at trial if requested.

The plea agreement was disclosed by Beverly Hills attorney Ronald Richards in a motion filed yesterday in Honolulu’s US District Court asking that Norman Akau III now be released from custody pending sentencing.

Akau has “a fully executed plea agreement” which admits he was part of Miske’s racketeering enterprise, according to Richards’ motion. This offense carries a maximum 20 year sentence, but does not have a minimum sentencing floor. In exchange for Akau’s guilty plea and willingness to cooperate, prosecutors have agreed to drop four additional counts involving drug and weapons offenses, which had included a potential life sentence with minimum of 15 years behind bars.

At the time of his arrest, Akau had been working as a rigging grip for more than a decade, setting up and dismantling cameras, equipment, and scenery on movie and television productions in Hawaii. He was also an executive board member of IATSE Local 665, the Hawaii local of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the union representing stagehands….

(Did the union pay for this lawyer?)

Akau’s family has offered to put up a $250,000 unsecured bond, and also offered the family home as secured collateral.  (Crime pays in Hawaii.)

1994: Norman Akau Kills Cabbie

read … Attorney discloses plea deal by second Miske co-defendant

Former hokulea crewmember pleads guilty for role in drug ring

HNN: … Oahu businessman Sam Kapoi has pleaded guilty to federal drug crimes for his role in a drug ring.

U.S. prosecutors say he and several others conspired to distribute at least 50 grams of meth in 2019.

Court documents say he flew with the drugs to Kona where co-conspirators further distributed it throughout Hawaii Island. When he was arrested in February 2020, law enforcement officers found 1,342.4 grams of meth in his possession….

Kapoi is a former respected Hokulea crewmember. When the voyaging canoe came back from their worldwide voyage in 2017, he was one of the members who took part in a traditional and rare spear throwing ceremony.

He could face up to 10 years behind bars when he’s sentenced in October….

Meanwhile: Did Miske-owned Longliners Run Drugs to Hawaii?

read … Former hokulea crewmember pleads guilty for role in drug ring

Lawyer Exploits Grand Jury Mix-up to Get Alleged Rapist off easy

HNN: … The juror, who served the entire 2018 year on grand jury panel B, accidentally did so in place of his father. The Waianae man shares the same name as his father.

The mistake wasn’t realized until the following year, in April 2019, when the man filled out his taxes.

A 1099 form from the state Judiciary had his father’s Social Security Number instead of his.

When he realized what happened, he notified the Judiciary.

Attorney Victor Bakke said all cases heard by that panel should be dismissed and cases refiled as a result. “This is just unacceptable on so many levels,” Bakke told Hawaii News Now.

He said he plans to file a motion to dismiss the case against his client, who was preparing for trial next month on a felony sex assault charge.

Bakke said there was an old electronic filing in the case that he missed when the document was originally uploaded in November 2019.

The document explained the error and said the juror served 23 total days during the 2018 term….

read … Grand jury mix-up puts dozens of state felony cases at risk

Ex-Honolulu lieutenant in Kealoha corruption case must report to prison pending appeal

AP: … A former Honolulu police lieutenant must report to prison next week to serve a three-and-a-half year sentence in Hawaii’s biggest ever corruption case after a U.S. judge denied his request to remain free while he appeals his conviction.

A judge denied Derek Wayne Hahn’s motion at a hearing today, said his defense attorney, Victor Bakke.

A jury convicted Hahn, another former police officer, a former Honolulu police chief and the ex-chief’s former prosecutor wife of conspiracy in a plot to frame a man.

Hahn helped Louis and Katherine Kealoha with the framing of the man to preserve the couple’s lavish lifestyle, prosecutors said.

Hahn is scheduled to surrender at a federal detention center in Oregon on June 1.

The appeal process could take several years, his motion said.

At today’s hearing, U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright also denied a request by former officer Minh-Hung “Bobby” Nguyen to join in Hanh’s motion. Nguyen was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for his role in the conspiracy…. 

KHON: Kealoha co-conspirators must report to prison next week

read … Ex-Honolulu lieutenant in Kealoha corruption case must report to prison pending appeal

Judge orders some records released in Lindani Myeni shooting

SA: … In a ruling that could force more police transparency, a Circuit Court judge ordered the city to turn over unedited body camera footage, 911 recordings and other evidence to attorneys representing the family of an unarmed citizen of South Africa who was shot and killed last month during a fight with patrol officers.

The decision by Judge Dean E. Ochiai came on the first anniversary of George Floyd’s murder by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, a fact highlighted by attorneys pushing for disclosure as another reason why evidence in the case must be made public.

The court granted some of the city’s attempt to delay discovery in the wrongful death lawsuit filed against the officers and the city in connection with the death of 29-year-old Lindani Myeni until after the Honolulu Police Department’s and the Prosecuting Attorney’s separate investigations conclude….

read … Judge orders some records released in Lindani Myeni shooting

Maui Police Commission Won’t Discipline Former Police Chief For So-Called Hit-And-Run

CB: …  Tivoli Faaumu will also be allowed to retire in good standing, which allows him to collect additional retirement benefits…..

MN: Police commission to take no further action on former chief’s vehicle accident

Reality: Blackmail and Doctored Video Target Maui Police Chief

read … Maui Police Commission Won’t Discipline Former Police Chief

State says readings indicate latest Red Hill fuel spill not contained; Navy claims data is inaccurate

SA: … In the days after approximately 1,000 gallons of jet fuel leaked from a pipe at the Navy’s Red Hill underground fuel farm on May 6, soil vapor levels indicating fuel contamination spiked well above averages, according to data released by the Hawaii Department of Health on Monday. The elevated soil vapor levels are raising concerns that not all of the leaked fuel was recovered, as the Navy has suggested.

Indeed, Health Department officials said last week that the soil vapor data, which at the time they were declining to release publicly, indicated fuel had entered the subsurface.

“The Navy’s claim is pure shibai,” said Hawaii Sierra Club attorney David Kimo Frankel… (blablabla)

The Navy uses the soil vapor monitoring system to detect possible fuel leaks. The data released by the Health Department on Monday shows petroleum vapors below seven of the tanks in the vicinity of the spill ranged from 170 parts per billion by volume (ppbv) to 1,184 ppbv in late April. Readings taken in the days after the spill show levels far above that around many of the tanks. Vapor levels reached a high of 232,667 ppbv below one of the tanks – a level that is more than 1,000 times its average prior to the spill.

Missing from the data are soil vapor readings in the days immediately following the May 6 fuel leak. Readings aren’t listed for some of the tanks until May 10. For tanks 17, 18 and 20, the tanks closest to the leak, soil vapor data isn’t listed until May 13, a week after the spill.

The readings are recorded by the Navy and provided to the Health Department, which along with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, regulates the facility.

The Navy said that cleanup procedures following the leak prevented its contractor from immediately taking readings and that it believes the elevated readings in later days were due to contamination.

The monitoring tubes “were likely contaminated by water washdown and cleanup performed after the release,” Navy spokeswoman Lydia Robertson said by email. “The tubes needed to be cleaned of debris and soil, and we believe the elevated numbers are due to sampling port contamination during fuel cleanup.”… 

SA: Editorial: Navy not candid on Red Hill leak

read … State says readings indicate latest Red Hill fuel spill not contained; Navy claims data is inaccurate

New Hawaii State Veterans Home Is Being Built On Land Designated For Affordable Housing After NIMBYs Reject Diamond Head, Aiea Sites

CB: … Construction on a $75.5 million new state veterans home on Oahu has finally begun after a series of delays and rejected locations.

But, according to House Finance Chair Sylvia Luke, the 120-bed facility ended up on 7 acres in the Westside neighborhood of Kapolei that had been designated for affordable housing.

“The problem is that apparently (the veterans) have already broken ground and they received federal funds in 2013 so this is almost 10 years in the making,” Luke said, adding that further delays could jeopardize the federal funds allocated for the facility. “This puts us in a bind.” …

Nan Inc., Hawaii’s largest locally owned and operated contractor, was awarded a $75.5 million contract in October and began digging in the area last month after fencing off the site, which is part of a larger 27-acre vacant parcel across Farrington Highway from the Walmart….

Construction had been slated to begin last year, but the company didn’t receive notice from the state to proceed until last month, according to Barfield….

It was the latest in a series of delays. Luke said the Kapolei location was chosen after the state Department of Defense’s Office of Veterans’ Services aborted attempts to place the facility at a University of Hawaii site near Diamond Head and a city-owned plot in Aiea, where it ran into objections from residents.

The Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp., which is in charge of overseeing affordable housing development in the state, agreed in late 2018 to lease the land in Kapolei for the project….

Luke said the issue came to the attention of her money committee when it was warned that HHFDC may need state help paying for the cost of infrastructure and other properties due to lost revenue….

“Once you give the land away, you are losing the opportunity to build affordable rentals, which is bad to begin with,” she said. “Then come to find out they rely on revenues generated from that parcel to pay for the infrastructure of other lands in Kapolei so now what’s going to happen is HHFDC will have to come to the Legislature to ask for like $300,000 a year to pay for the infrastructure.”…

read … New Hawaii State Veterans Home Is Being Built On Land Designated For Affordable Housing

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