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Tuesday, June 29, 2021
June 29, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 10:42 PM :: 1990 Views

41 Junk Cars Removed from Oceanfront Kahului Homeless Camp

$100M Tax Hike: City conducts surveys for feedback about Storm Water Master Plan

Sixty Defendants Charged in Nationwide Takedown of Sinaloa Cartel Methamphetamine Network

After Embezzling To Fund ‘Luxurious Lifestyle,’ Former CNHA Board Chair Begs For Leniency

CB: …Federal prosecutors want to send a former Honolulu nonprofit leader to prison for five and a half years for embezzling federal funds from Olelo Community Media and trying to fleece the city out of federal COVID-19 relief funds.

Hanalei Aipoalani has pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $500,000 from the nonprofit media company’s AmeriCorps program and agreeing to take a bribe to steer CARES Act money to the CEO of Hawaii island’s public access TV station, according to court records.

Prosecutors asked the court to sentence Aipoalani to 66 months of imprisonment, three years of supervised release, mandatory restitution and a forfeiture money judgment.

“To affect his frauds, the Defendant abused multiple positions of trust and treated public funds ear-marked for the most vulnerable and desperate Americans as his own personal piggy bank,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed Friday.

Aipoalani is scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday in federal court in Washington, D.C….  

PDF: Sentencing Memo

Background: Guilty of Bribery, Embezzlement: Caldwell Admin CARES Act Administrator Hanalei Aipoalani

read … After Embezzling To Fund ‘Luxurious Lifestyle,’ Former Nonprofit Exec Begs For Leniency

State harbor user fee going up, what does that mean for consumers?

KHON: … The state says the scheduled 3% tariff increase or “user fee” for activities such as port entry and vessel dockage goes into effect on July 1.

This was deferred for one year to support COVID economic recovery efforts….

“It will impact the consumer unfortunately as our cost go up, our operations,” said Kimo Muraki of D. Otani Produce. “It has to be passed on to the consumer. But here at Otani, we try to find ways of buying and purchasing better to eliminate and minimize the cost that is passed on to us.”

D. Otani distributes produce to many restaurants and hotels. Muraki also explains they’ve seen a fuel charge increase as well.

“That happened earlier this year and it happened again last month. So as fuel goes up as we all experience at the gas station, we consumers also feel the affect from a lot of stuff that’s either shipped back and forth neighbor island and U.S. Mainland,” said Muraki….

As Explained: Harbors Division Fee Hike designed to boost $77M OHA Slush Fund?

read … State harbor user fee going up, what does that mean for consumers?

Hawaii offshore wind farm development in doldrums

SA: … a Massachusetts project with one of the leases last month received the first go-ahead for construction and operation of a large-scale offshore U.S. wind farm, while the same thing in Hawaii is estimated to be more than a decade away….

Much of the potential from wind energy is seen as being offshore because wind farms on land have run into resistance largely over proximity to populated areas and unsightliness.

(In Hawaii) Because wind farms out to sea can be a dozen or more miles away, view issues become reduced and projects can be far larger….

For instance, the Na Pua Makani wind farm in Kahuku, which has sparked efforts at the Honolulu City Council to require future terrestrial wind farm siting be as much as 5 miles from neighboring property lines, has a 24-megawatt capacity while single projects contemplated off Oahu have been 400 megawatts.

A project that size could (key word: “Could’) generate enough electricity (erratic never baseload) to power nearly 25% of the island (but only when the wind is blowing and its not down for maintenance) .….

read … Hawaii offshore wind farm development in doldrums

Some healthcare professionals in Hawaii are concerned about COVID-19 hospitalization numbers

KITV: … Healthcare professionals are seeing a disturbing trend in the continued battle against COVID-19. 33 people have been admitted to healthcare facilities so far this month.

Doctors KITV spoke with say most people currently in a hospital for COVID-19 are not vaccinated against the coronavirus. Their fear is that the Fourth of July holiday could be a super spreader event for unprotected people, as the Delta variant continues to spread in the islands.

There's also been a shift in who's hospitalized for COVID-19. Doctor Sreenandh Krishnagopalan, chief of critical care at Kaiser Permanente Moanalua Medical Center says it's not elderly people.

"Generally tend to be younger than the original cases we were having last year because a lot of our kupuna have been getting their vaccine so they've been able to stay out of the hospital. People we're seeing are generally younger," Krishnagopalan said….

read … Some healthcare professionals in Hawaii are concerned about COVID-19 hospitalization numbers

Maui mayor’s appeal to airlines: At least for now, please bring us fewer visitors

HNN: … To combat overtourism and congestion at the airports, Maui Mayor Michael Victorino is asking airline officials to reduce passenger capacity to the island.

Last week, Maui County officials said Victorino met with airline executives “to determine their willingness to voluntarily reduce airlift into Kahului Airport.”

“The people of Maui County have lacked sufficient time to prepare for the sudden, large influx of tourism, even as health restrictions remain in place,” said Brian Perry, a spokesman for the mayor.

“Many of our hospitality-related businesses are still struggling to fully staff their operations to provide a high quality of customer service.” ….

read … Maui mayor’s appeal to airlines: At least for now, please bring us fewer visitors

Air travel by visitors to Hawaii major factor in global warming

SA: … In 2020, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change calculated that each planetary citizen has a yearly carbon budget of 2.7 tons CO2(e) — carbon dioxide equivalent — emissions if we are to keep global warming below 1.75 degrees Celsius by reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The Nature Conservancy posts that the average world citizen now emits 4 tons annually and each U.S. citizen emits 16 tons. The average visitor to Hawaii is responsible for the equivalent of 1.8 tons of CO2(e) global warming emissions in air travel to Hawaii. (Details are in my “white paper” presented to the Hawaii State Climate Commission in April 2021; see At 1.8 tons emissions, the average Hawaii visitor has spent two-thirds of his yearly equitable carbon budget in these few hours of travel…..

With 1.8 tons emissions per traveller, those 10 million visitors determine 18 million tons of emissions. In contrast, the emissions from all of Hawaii’s stationary combustion (electricity power plants, petroleum refineries, etc.) was 7.8 million tons and all ground transportation CO2(e) was 4 million tons….

read … Air travel by visitors to Hawaii major factor in global warming

Most buildings failing fire life-safety evaluations, hundreds more pending

KHON: … Nearly four years after the deadly Marco Polo fire, hundreds of residential high rises across Honolulu are still struggling with updated fire safety requirements.

Requirements passed in the wake of the blaze let building associations choose between installing sprinklers or passing an alternative “Life Safety Evaluation” (LSE).

Only one-third of more than 300 old LSE-eligible buildings have done the review, and just a handful have been able to pass….

Hundreds more buildings haven’t even done the life safety evaluation yet and are racing an already extended deadline of next May, instead of this past spring, to do the report. Then, any fixes flagged in failing evaluations have to be up to done by spring 2025….

read … Most buildings failing fire life-safety evaluations, hundreds more pending

Harsher penalties wanted for landlords, renters who house illegal gambling rooms

KITV: …Over the past year and a half, the Honolulu Police Department says it's averaging as many as seven busts a month -- double what they did before the pandemic. So far this year, more than 28 rooms were raided in neighborhoods across the island -- from Waianae to Waikiki to Hauula to Waimanalo.

But keeping them closed is another story. Now, Honolulu law enforcement agencies are getting creative to stop the rise of what some people call "hubs for criminal activity."

"It's sad because a lot of hard working families who have a lot of elderly, families, elderly communities, people are going into their home, stealing things, breaking into their cars," said Kalihi resident Keali'i Lum, who knows of 30 active illegal game rooms in his neighborhood – he says one even reopened after police raided it last month….

Lum believes it's a slap in the face of officers, while criminals get a slap on the wrist. The problem he says is owners have backup machines.

"Every owner has maybe one machine in each game room so that if they do get caught, it's not like it's hurting their pocket, because they still have their games in other game rooms," Lum said.

HPD says it's monitoring anywhere between 60 to 80 active game rooms, but the actual number is believed to be much higher.

The machines themselves are arcade games or as crude as a computer screen with a plywood frame.

"It could be as simple as video the machine is modified, to take money, chance based, and offer rewards, that's what makes it illegal." said Lt. Michael Brede, head of HPD's Gambling Detail.

He says arresting owners can be difficult because investigations are labor intensive. "If it was deemed that the machines were illegal, simple possession, that would make it a lot easier for us."

Another problem– there's no incentive for a landlord to stop renting to an illegal game room operator – especially if they're getting three times the average rent. Lum says he's been offered $6,000 a month to house a game room.

Plus, the tenant listed is not the actual owner – a tactic used to avoid punishment….

HPD and Honolulu Prosecutor Steve Alm are working on harsher penalties for landlords and renters – including losing their property.

"We've got to somehow make it uncomfortable for a building owner, to let their property be used for illegal activity. And so maybe changing some of the laws to felonies," Alm said, who notes the crimes are misdemeanors. "We're looking at the nuisance abatement laws, we're looking at the asset forfeiture laws, we're looking at maybe some future legislation, either an ordinance at the City Council, or statute at the legislature." ….

read … Harsher penalties wanted for landlords, renters who house illegal gambling rooms

Video of Lindani Myeni moments before officer-involved shooting

KITV: … Newly released video offers a new perspective of the officer-involved shooting that killed 29-year old Lindani Myeni.

His family's attorney Jim Bickerton made the video captured on a Ring doorbell security system available to the public, claiming it supports his argument that the shooting was unjustified.

But another lawyer said the video is misleading.

Scot Brower -- the attorney for the homeowner and two tenants Myeni followed into their Nuuanu vacation rental house on April 14, said Myeni claimed he lived there.

"The video that's being shown is very deceptive. It makes it appear as if this guy was there for a very brief period of time. That's not true," Brower said.

Myeni is heard on the newly released video saying he knew the couple staying at the property. Brower said he began moving things around in the house.

"He went into that house and he was rummaging and they were trying to get him to leave."

Bickerton has said Myeni was likely searching for the Hare Krishna temple next door. But Brower doesn't believe that.

"At no time did he say, 'Is this the temple? Is this the Hare Krishna temple?' Never came up." ….

HNN: Attorney for HPD officer acquitted in 1980s says prosecutors in Sykap case face ‘high bar’

SA Editorial: Strengthen police, community ties

read … Video of Lindani Myeni moments before officer-involved shooting

Supreme Court Decision Came Too Late For Maui Residents Fighting Against Affordable Housing

CB: … the first primarily affordable housing community to be built in West Maui in 40 years, the 203-unit Kahoma Village was constructed on the last undeveloped parcel on Lahaina’s Front Street with families starting to move in last year.

A group of concerned Lahaina residents known as the Protect and Preserve Kahoma Ahupua‘a Association had tried to intervene in 2014 when the Maui Planning Commission approved a developer’s application for a permit to build Kahoma Village.

The neighbors wanted a contested case hearing before the commission to address whether the current storm drain system would be able to accommodate the affordable housing development. They also had concerns about potential impacts on Hawaiian cultural and gathering rights, beach access, traffic congestion, property values, open space, the coastal ecosystem and the tsunami inundation zone.

But the planning commission denied the group’s intervention and green-lighted the developer’s permit application. So the neighbors took their grievances to court.

Earlier this month the Hawaii Supreme Court upheld a decision by the Intermediate Court of Appeals when it ruled unanimously that Maui County planners erred in permitting Kahoma Village while exempting it from adhering to the state Coastal Zone Management Act. The CZM Act, among other things, would have required the development to adhere to a West Maui Community Plan that’s intended to guide a region’s character and inform policy decisions about land use, parks and infrastructure (not be built) ….

The court also found that the group of residents had a constitutional right to intervene in the Maui Planning Commission proceedings, and that the commission violated the residents’ right to due process by not allowing them to participate (thus failing in its duty to find a way to kill the project)….

read … Supreme Court Decision Came Too Late For Maui Residents Fighting Housing Development

Kishimoto Math: $412M - $100M = -$200M

HTH: … Kishimoto also spoke about the “extremely difficult” and “disappointing” 2021 legislative session and drastic budget cuts implemented by the state Legislature.

“In the midst of a pandemic, the DOE had $100 million taken from kids. And that’s the best way I can put it out very specifically,” she said. “$100 million (was) cut from our budget during a time when we needed more funding for devices, connectivity, food services, wrap-around supports, getting to isolated communities in different ways. We were spending more, and we had $100 million cut.

“What was really disappointing was I was brought to the table and asked, ‘Can you spare $100 million up front, we will restore it,’ and at the end of the day, not only was it not restored, it was made a permanent cut,” she continued. “And that’s disappointing, because it’s money that should be going to kids.”

According to Kishimoto, the DOE received $412 million in federal coronavirus relief funds, for which the department is grateful, but “we’re catching up on unpaid bills” to ensure a balanced budget heading into the new school year.

“At the end of the year, we have about a $200 million cut to our budget still, and I’m hoping that with revenues increasing that that money will be restored to children, to their future. That that money is put back,” she said.

DO The Math: $412M - $100M = $312M not -$200M. 

Lesson: Always complain you need more money  

SA Editorial: More options for student learning

read … Departing Superintendent Kishimoto discusses reopening of schools in August

Outgoing DOE Superintendent Plans To Stay In Hawaii

CB: … “I’m staying in Hawaii, Hawaii is home, I love this place,” Kishimoto said on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s “Spotlight Hawaii” program.

Noting that she’s led three school districts across the U.S. over the last decade and served in a deputy role for six years before that, she suggested she’s ready to head in a new direction.

“I will certainly be a part of this state’s work moving forward,” she said. “I’m ready to lean into another area of policy and equity where I can lead more boldly and with more support around me to change some of the trajectory of what it means to live and to work and play and worship in Hawaii.”

Kishimoto did not elaborate on her plans, other than to say they will involve “equity of access for our children” and “gender equity in terms of women empowerment and voice.” DOE spokeswoman Nanea Kalani later said the information the superintendent shared on the program “is all the info she’s sharing at this time.”…

SA: Limited distance-learning options next fall for public school students

SA VIDEO: DOE Superintendent Christina Kishimoto joins the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Spotlight Hawaii

read … Outgoing DOE Superintendent Plans To Stay In Hawaii

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