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Wednesday, June 16, 2021
June 16, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:24 PM :: 3331 Views

SB404 Would Hide Source of Funding for Political Ads

Citizenship: Appeals Court Victory for American Samoa

European Travel Ban Takes 3.21% of Hawaii GDP

Bid Rigging HART CEO: “We referred to the contract as the Colleen or Hanabusa contract”

HNN: … The Honolulu rail authority raised suspicion and triggered public outcry back in April when it awarded a $216,000 contract to former Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa.

Critics said it appeared HART was trying to steer the lucrative job her way.

During a Hawaii News Now Sunrise interview Monday, HART CEO Lori Kahikina appeared to confirm skeptics’ concerns.

“Prior to the solicitation we referred to the contract as the Colleen or Hanabusa contract,” Kahikina said.

“Based on the specifications alone, it was difficult to say this was not bid rigging,” said Ian Lind, board member of Common Cause Hawaii and a longtime investigative reporter.

“But now, we find out before the solicitation was made that they were calling it ‘Colleen’s contract’ or ‘Hanabusas contract.’ This is wrong,” he added.

Even though Hanabusa turned down the job last month and joined HART as an unpaid board member, Lind said the rail authority still may have violated state procurement laws.

“Bid rigging is illegal and I’m presuming conspiracy to rig bids is illegal. And in that case it doesn’t matter that the contract was never let,” Lind said.

Added Randal Lee, a former prosecutor and Hawaii Pacific University Professor:

“It raises a serious ethical issue in terms of whether not the contract was pre-determined and who was going to get it,” said Lee.

“I’ve never seen something like that in my 25 years as a prosecutor and especially doing public corruption cases. I’ve never seen something like that.”….

read … In offering Hanabusa a $216K contract, HART may have broken laws, critics say

Murder charges against HPD officers surprise legal experts in light of no grand jury indictment

HNN: … “In 30 years, I’ve never seen a prosecutor present a case to the grand jury, get rejected, and then turn around and tried to take it to preliminary hearing,” Attorney Victor Bakke said.

“This is a step toward accountability. Accountability is essential for to maintain the public’s trust in our policing system. So this is one step,” said Deputy Public Defender Jacquie Esser…

In a statement, Interim HPD Chief Rade Vanic said, “We are surprised by the Prosecuting Attorney’s announcement to seek charges against the officers after a grand jury comprised of citizens decided not to indict them. This is highly unusual, and we are not aware of a similar action having been taken in the past. While we await the court’s decision, we will continue to protect and serve the community as we have always done.”

The lack of a grand jury indictment will make convicting the officers harder, according to Bakke….

”It gives the prosecutors the heads up that something’s wrong with their case because they couldn’t even establish probable cause. So how are they going to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt at trial? It’s not unheard of, prosecutors do shop the case around to grand juries and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.”…

SHOPO issued a brief statement on the matter saying they will trust the process and they continue to stand by their officers.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi added that the allegations against the three officers “are a very serious matter,” however the mayor’s office does not get involved with law enforcement investigation. He had no further comment on the matter….

read … Murder charges against officers surprise legal experts in light of no grand jury indictment

Criminals Rewarded for Spreading COVID in Jails--Class action lawsuit filed on behalf of all Hawaii inmates in DPS facilities

KHON: … The Erik A. Seitz, Attorney At Law cooperation announced plaintiffs filed an amended class action lawsuit on behalf of all Hawaii inmates in Department of Public Safety (DPS) facilities on Tuesday, June 15.

According to a news release, “the lawsuit alleges disturbingly inhumane conditions of confinement and an abysmal effort by DPS to protect inmates from exposure to COVID-19.”…

“Inmates and current DPS employees describe a third-world environment with upwards of 50 inmates confined in a single room overrun with urine and feces, and without adequate access to necessities like water or restrooms. Others are housed in groups of seven in small, chain-link “dog cages” with no precautions in place to prevent the exposure to COVID-19.”…

(Because the soft on crime crowd obstructs any effort to build new jails.)

A status conference with United States District Judge Jill Otake will take place via telephone on Wednesday, June 16, at 3 p.m….

Meanwhile: We are not forcing criminals to take the J&J vax.

read … Class action lawsuit filed on behalf of all Hawaii inmates in DPS facilities

226 inmates have received first vaccine dose at MCCC

MN: … A total of 226 Maui Community Correctional Center inmates had received their first vaccination shot as of Thursday, up from the approximately 188 who received their first shots earlier this year during a COVID-19 outbreak in the facility.

“Our health care and security staff are doing everything they can to encourage inmates to get vaccinated,” Toni Schwartz, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Safety, said Monday. “They frequently go back to inmates who have said ‘no’ to see if they will reconsider, in hopes that they will get the shot before they are released.”

The last time the Wailuku jail had a confirmed positive inmate test result was on May 19, and there are currently no active cases at the facility, Schwartz confirmed.

From February through early April, an outbreak at the jail grew to around 95 cases, spurred on by the highly transmissible B.1.429 variant first found in California, according to health officials. A total of 98 inmates overall at MCCC have tested positive for the virus during the pandemic, according to DPS data as of Monday….

Currently, a larger cluster is spreading at the Hawaii Community Correctional Center on Hawaii island, where a total of 204 inmates have tested positive as of Monday, according to DPS data.

A total of 160 HCCC inmates have received at least one shot, Schwartz said on Tuesday….

read … 226 inmates have received first vaccine dose at MCCC

Fighters Scramble from Hickam as Russian Naval Exercise nears Hawaii

CBS: … The Russian Navy is conducting what Russian officials call its largest exercise in the Pacific Ocean since the end of the Cold War. The exercise, about 300-500 miles west of Hawaii, comes just ahead of the meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden, their first since Mr. Biden took office in January.

The exercise includes surface ships, anti-submarine aircraft and long range bombers.

U.S. defense officials said that on Sunday, the U.S. scrambled F-22s from Hawaii in response to the bomber flights, but the bombers did not enter the Air Defense Identification Zone and were not intercepted. 

At the same time, officials said a U.S. carrier strike group headed by the USS Vinson is operating about 200 miles east of Hawaii, conducting a strike group certification exercise. The exercise had been planned but was moved closer to Hawaii in response to the Russian exercise ….

read … Ahead of Biden-Putin summit, Russia conducts what it calls its largest naval exercise in the Pacific since Cold War

$25M in Federal Funds to turn COVID Effort into Racial Gripe Session

CB: … The pandemic illuminated long-standing health inequities in Hawaii as COVID-19 disproportionately affected Filipinos and non-Hawaiian Pacific Islanders. The Department of Health hopes to reduce those by reestablishing the defunct Office of Health Equity with the help of an infusion of nearly $25 million in federal funds.

The change comes as racial and ethnic disparities in the pandemic persist across coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, deaths and vaccination rates in the islands.

Lola Irvin, who leads the health department’s chronic disease division, said the re-forming of the equity office and expansion of its staff to seven is in response to those disparities….

(NOTE:  To get the Simoleans, the disparities must be correlated to race--not age, education or economics.)

SoR: Hawaii community leaders discuss ensuring health equity beyond the pandemic

read … Hawaii Is Bringing Back Its Health Equity Office As Pandemic Highlights Disparities

Clash of the Phonies: IAL vs Green Energy

CB: … Renewable energy companies say Honolulu’s plan to designate 12% of Oahu as “Important Agricultural Lands” could hinder the state’s ability to meet its clean energy goals….

The Hawaii Clean Power Alliance has asked the Hawaii Land Use Commission to postpone taking any action on the City and County of Honolulu’s proposal to designate about 41,000 acres as “Important Agricultural Lands,” a designation meant to preserve prime agriculture lands for ag use.

Also arguing against the IAL designation are three existing projects – EE Waianae Solar LLC and Hawaii Gas’ Waihonu solar farms near Mililani and TerraForm Power’s Kahuku Wind Power project – along with 174 Power Global, which has proposed a large solar farm with battery storage in Kunia….

read … Land of Make-Believe

City hopes to efficiently distribute federal funds for homelessness by deadline

SA: … Oahu has about $24 million in federal COVID-19 funds to spend on homelessness outreach and housing — of which $10 million is going to a new program called Oahu Housing Now. It places homeless individuals and families into market-rate rental units.

However, 20% of the $24 million — or $4.8 million — must be spent by September, said Laura Thielen, executive director at Partners in Care, Oahu’s planning body that coordinates housing and services for homeless individuals.

If the funds are not spent, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development might take back $5 million….

(Simple Idea: Build 1,000 SROs at $5K ea.  Then enforce a vagrancy law.)

(As Explained: A Model for Hawaii: Federal Judge Orders Los Angeles to Clear Skid Row)

(Here’s what they’re doing instead…)

City Council Chairman Tommy Waters pointed out that the budget the Council recently passed, and which is awaiting the mayor’s approval, included five more positions in purchasing within the Department of Budget and Fiscal Services to expedite these transactions.

Waters also advocated for redoing the computer system within the Department of Budget and Fiscal Services.

“What am I understanding is it’s still paper going back and forth,” he said….“It could be really, really more efficient if we upgraded our computer system.”

There is a second deadline of March when 80% of the $24 million will need to be spent. …

SA Editorial: United effort can curb homelessness

read … City hopes to efficiently distribute federal funds for homelessness by deadline

After Homeless Tent City Goes up in Flames, Bum Says Maaaayyyybeeee he will accept shelter 

HNN: … First responders raced to the corner of Lono and Kamehameha Avenues around 5:45 a.m. Monday to find a homeless encampment up in flames.

Officials said no one was injured, but the blaze was about 25 feet away from Kahului Union Church and Preschool….

“I went to Wailuku to (…uh…) ‘see family’ ( yeah, that’s the story…) this morning. I came back 45 minutes later, and everything was burnt,” Mark Pacman said.

Pacman said he and his girlfriend have been living on the sidewalk in front of Kahului Union Church for about a week now.

Church staff said homeless nearby have been a growing problem. They said they have found needles and drugs on school property and have been working with service providers to try to get the homeless into housing.

“We’re hoping that today might be an incentive to be agreeable to the services,” said Family Life Center Executive Director Maude Cumming.

Cumming said her team has been trying to help Pacman for years….

“We have offered him services many times,” Cumming said.

Outreach workers were back out there Monday afternoon trying to offer support.

Pacman said he is not sure who lit his belongings on fire, but said he is finally considering going into a shelter after this morning’s attack.

“Probably more safe for me,” Pacman said….

Cumming said they were able to get one person from the homeless encampment near Kahului Union Church into shelter about four months ago.

“And last week, we were able to get him into permanent supportive housing,” Cumming said….

read … Homeless encampment goes up in flames dangerously close to Maui church and preschool

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