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Monday, November 8, 2021
November 8, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 12:27 PM :: 1985 Views

Good riddance to ‘gut and replace’

Whistle-blower complaint: Higa Admits Guilt but Cronies Still Running Na Leo

HTH: … Na Leo community television executives are investigating a whistle-blower complaint filed by an employee charging a hostile work environment because three managers who had a business relationship with former CEO Stacy Higa continue working at the station.

The complaint, filed by an anonymous employee whose identity is known to the newspaper, self-characterized as “a scared and concerned employee” in the two-page complaint….

“The three managers continue to hold lead roles in management that actively supervise current employees who feel very uncomfortable and unsafe with the three helping to direct the daily work operations of Na Leo TV,” the complaint states. “The trust is gone in these managers’ ability to properly direct daily duties, supervise employees, and in being required to continue to work side by side with them. The current work environment and work culture is compromised and it is not a safe place to hold employment at because these serious matters have not been properly addressed by the Board of Directors.”

Higa, who has pleaded guilty to federal embezzlement and bribery charges, faces a likely range of between 46 and 57 months in prison and a fine of up to $200,000. In his plea agreement, he pointed to the three managers as having a part in his schemes. Higa is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 13 in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. He remains free after surrendering his passport….

A 13-page statement of offense, signed Aug 19 by Higa, detailed a complicated series of transactions among Higa; co-conspirator Hanalei Aipoalani, who has also pleaded guilty; Na Leo; Makaala Solutions LLC, a business and leadership consulting company owned by three of Higa’s Na Leo employees — Assistant General Manager and Marketing Manager Micah Alameda, Grants Manager Kyle Kawano and Production Manager Matt Cordero and Kawaico Inc., an embroidery company owned by Higa and his wife at their Hilo home address.

Aipoalani admitted to embezzling from AmeriCorps and agreeing to accept a bribe under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. He was sentenced to 46 months in prison….

Related: COVID Money: Stacy Higa Pleads Guilty to Bribery and Embezzlement

read … Whistle-blower complaint targets Na Leo managers

Proposed Hawaii Tourism Authority board rule criticized as ‘gag order’

SA: … The Hawaii Tourism Authority is debating a new code of conduct that says if board members intend to publicly oppose a board action, they must resign before doing so….

HTA’s Administrative Standing Committee reviewed the proposed changes Thursday and has recommended that the board keep its simpler original code of conduct. However, HTA Chairman George Kam said the proposed draft is still subject to a full board vote, which would occur at an upcoming meeting.

Some committee members objected to line item No. 7 in the draft, which says that a board member must “resign his/her position as a board member if she/he intends to publicly oppose a board action before doing so.”

David Arakawa, HTA vice chairman, raised concerns over fairness and the ability of board members to publicly state when something is not right.

Arakawa added, “My major concern is this: Is HTA so paranoid that they want to propose a gag order on board members?”

HTA board member Kyoko Kimura also expressed concern about the proposed changes. “To be honest, my first impression when I reviewed it was, ‘Did I do something wrong?’”

Keith Regan, HTA chief administrative officer authored the draft proposal….

read … Proposed Hawaii Tourism Authority board rule criticized as ‘gag order’

Details of 2019 Maui jail riot that caused $5.3 million in damage still being withheld

SA: … Two and a half years after a riot at the Maui jail caused $5.3 million in damage, the Department of Public Safety still hasn’t released its investigation into the uprising, leaving the public largely in the dark as to what exactly happened that day and whether the agency has addressed the reasons it took 3-1/2 hours to contain the mayhem.

In 2019, amid intensifying political pressure, public safety officials indicated the report, which was completed that year, would eventually be released. But when the Honolulu Star-Advertiser filed a public-records request for the document this year, DPS initially told the newspaper it would have to pay $770 in costs, before denying the request outright.

DPS now says it’s continuing to withhold the report because the Maui County prosecutor’s office might bring criminal charges in connection with the March 11, 2019, riot at the Maui Community Correctional Center in Wailuku….

Former DPS Director Nolan Espinda briefed lawmakers in August 2019 on the findings of the department’s investigation, saying the riot began before 3 p.m. March 11 when about half of the inmates in one of the modules began staging a peaceful protest….

A supervisor told the inmates they had 10 minutes before lockdown, but corrections officers weren’t actually prepared to enforce that ultimatum (BINGO!) and inmates soon began covering windows, destroying furniture, breaking sprinkler heads and flooding the module, Espinda told lawmakers….

An inmate lit a roll of toilet paper and other combustible products on fire and threw them into the guard station, forcing officers to flee. The riot expanded to another module, and inmates began breaking windows….

It’s not clear what else is detailed in the 300-page investigative report.

The Star-Advertiser filed a public-records request for the report in February. Under the state’s public- records law, government agencies have 10 business days to disclose requested records unless there are extenuating circumstances, in which case the agency must provide a notice to the requester within 20 business days and begin disclosing the public portions within five business days.

In July, DPS told the Star-Advertiser the report had been under review for the past four months and that it would be forthcoming. “We will send the final product to you as soon as review is completed,” DPS’ Office of the Director told the Star-Advertiser on July 14….

SA Editorial: Department of Public Safety, release Maui riot report

read … Details of 2019 Maui jail riot that caused $5.3 million in damage still being withheld

The End Of Gut-And-Replace Won't Be Enough To Stop The Legislative Sausage

CB: … The Hawaii Supreme Court struck down the use of a controversial legislative tactic. Let's hope it's just the beginning…..

Big Q: Will the Hawaii Supreme Court’s ruling against ‘gut and replace’ on legislative bills make a difference?

SA: Hoping for more transparency on bills

read … The End Of Gut-And-Replace Won't Be Enough To Stop The Legislative Sausage

What we’re doing is we’re increasing the cost of homes through ‘climate adaptation’

RTOI: … Hawaii County Planning Department Director Zendo Kern discussed the financial impact on renters and homeowners from updating building codes for climate change.

“There are two crises that we’re in: We have climate, and we have affordability. The merger of these two together... they don’t jibe, on the surface. What we’re doing is we’re increasing the cost of homes through climate adaptation, mitigation, etc. At the same time, we’re saying we need all these homes,” Kern said, adding that the county is projected to be short 13,000 housing units over the next five years.

Kern argued for more a more nuanced building code system that would take coastal impact areas into consideration. “If you’re in a coastal impact area, your code should probably be pretty close to what it is, maybe even ramped up. But if you’re not, what’s wrong with an older style of construction?”

Kern spoke on what he thinks is a lack of data showing that a uniform housing code increases safety, saying, “I don’t think that really exists ….

read … Ige, Agencies Update Hawaii Climate Commission

Housing Price ‘Solution’?  Nope. Just Another Tax Increase

KHON: … Oahu has a long-term vacancy rate of 5.3%. Honolulu City Council Chair Tommy Waters hopes Bill 76 in the city council to tax those vacant properties can help increase stock that is being lost.

Waters said a 1% vacancy tax could create approximately 10,000 new rental units on the island or provide around $60,000,000 per year in revenue for affordable housing….

The bill targets units that have been unoccupied for more than 180 consecutive days within the tax year. with exceptions for extraordinary circumstances. It is waiting on a third reading in the council….

read … Hawaii’s housing prices remain high; expert hopes proposed tax could help rental market

City council considering bill to crackdown on short-term rentals in Honolulu

KITV: … A bill before the Honolulu City Council would increase restrictions on rental homes and step up enforcement. It's meant to crack down on illegal vacation rentals, but those currently following the rules say it would kill their income….

read … City council considering bill to crackdown on short-term rentals in Honolulu

Flacking for Wind Developers, Feds Propose to Downlist Hawaiian Hoary Bats

CB: … Wind farm developers are funding millions of dollars of ‘research’ ….

Despite glaring gaps in scientists’ understanding, federal regulators announced this week that they will seek to strip the imperiled, uniquely Hawaiian creature of its endangered species status.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the animal, also known as the opeapea, no longer appears to be on the brink of extinction and therefore should be reclassified as a threatened species.

The agency said its proposal to downlist the species is based on a five-year status review published earlier this year that suggests the species is resilient, living on more islands than previously thought….

read … Flacking

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