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Friday, May 6, 2022
May 6, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:28 PM :: 1938 Views

UH to Pause Work on Mauna Kea Master Lease

DLNR: Mauna Kea Bill Dangerous, Unconstitutional

Did Hawaii Beat the Virus?

Hawaii least social media-obsessed state

Hawaii 2nd Lowest Drug Abuse in USA

Only 13 Legislators Quitting--63 Will Stay

HNN: … Ten state representatives and three state senators are leaving the state Legislature. Some are retiring while others are seeking higher office….

Finance Chair Sylvia Luke ― is leaving after 24 years to run for lieutenant governor…

State Rep. Patrick Branco announced his run for the 2nd Congressional District Thursday as U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele is expected to announce a run for governor on Saturday…..

On the GOP side, state Rep. Bob McDermott is running for U.S. Senate and Rep. Val Okimoto is running for City Council.  That’s means for now, House Republicans are going from four to two members….

State Rep. Tina Wildberger (D-South Maui).and longtime senators Clarence Nishihara, Brian Taniguchi and Roz Baker are retiring…. 

read … Final day of legislative session punctuated by a flurry of departures and retirements

Hawaii Probationers Allowed to Use Methamphetamines

HNN: … Court documents show the man suspected in an attack that left a security guard in critical condition this week was a fugitive who was supposed have been jail.

Armin Baertsch remained locked up Thursday facing attempted murder charges.

The attack is the latest in a rash of violent crimes involving repeat offenders.

City Prosecutor Steve Alm called the issue disturbing, and said a big part of the problem is there is oftentimes no consequences for people who violate their probation.

On Tuesday, a large pool of blood soaked the brick walkway outside Pioneer Plaza, where the attack occurred. Witnesses say Baertschi was causing problems on the property about 5:30 p.m….

He says since the pandemic, crime along Fort Street Mall has gotten worse and that oftentimes it’s the same culprits responsible.

“If they can get away with 10 to 15 crimes and still be out here to harm or even kill a person, something’s wrong here,” Fielding said….

According to court records, Baertschi has bounced in and out of lock-up for more than a decade.

He was convicted of felony drug charges, trespassing and theft and sentenced to probation in 2016 and again in 2019. Another warrant was issued Monday after he missed multiple drug tests.

It appears he’d been on the run for some time….

“It needs to go back to the model that was developed where there’s a jail consequence for every violation of probation. And that’s not happening now,” Alm said.

“Now, they test positive for drugs and they leave. They’re allowed to leave.”….

read … Amid spike in crime, prosecutor seeks stricter rules for probation violators

HB1567: Criminals won’t even have to show up for bail interviews

SA: … HB 1567 gives defendants the option to participate in a bail report interview via videoconference. 

(This could be enticing to those awaiting trial for open lewdness.)

In a news conference Thursday, Ige said his administration would go through the process of evaluating the bill and would make a decision on whether to sign or veto it within 45 days.

He noted that significant bail reform was enacted in 2019, referring to Act 179, and that some of the pretrial detainees who were released during the COVID-19 pandemic to reduce jail populations committed new crimes, raising the question of whether a “blanket” policy for releasing suspects without posting bail would protect the community….

SHOPO President Robert Cavaco, a lieutenant with the Honolulu Police Department, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser the bill will “allow criminals to victimize and re-victimize the people of Hawaii over and over again.”

“In most cases, the arrested suspect will be released before the arresting officer even finishes typing their arrest report,” he said. “When a crime victim cooperates with our investigation and we make an arrest, only to turn around and release a suspect within minutes, victims will lose faith in the system. They will feel violated and be less likely to cooperate in the future, which just leads to more crime,” said Cavaco.

In testimony submitted to lawmakers March 31, Retail Merchants of Hawaii President Tina Yamaki told legislators that property criminals who would benefit from HB 1567 know exactly how to exploit existing laws to dodge penalties. She called the measure “a big win for the offenders especially career criminals.”

“Many thieves know the exact value of what they are stealing and make sure that what they are taking is valued right under the minimum threshold,” she said. “Retailers have been facing an upward increase in theft — from designer clothing to handbags to sunglasses to electronics to Spam to cosmetics to liquor to tobacco to name a few.”…

Kauai Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca Like told the Star- Advertiser that she shares the concerns articulated by other state and county law enforcement agencies. (fully endorses HB1567 and hopes Ige will sign it into law).

“However, even more than that, I do not want another jail or prison built in Hawaii. Ideally, I would like to see more transitional housing for inmates getting released into the community as well as more affordable and low-income housing,” said Like. “If individuals have a place to live, they are less inclined to commit the types of lower-level offenses outlined in HB 1567.”  

KHON: Girlfriend of injured security guard says justice system is failing

HNN:  Business owner accused in murder of acupuncturist allowed bail to return to house

read … Hawaii legislative bill removing cash bail for nonviolent crimes draws opposition

Mauna Kea Bill: ‘So Much for UH to Appreciate’

SA: … In his statement Thursday, Lassner said the final version of the bill enshrines astronomy on Mauna Kea as a matter of state policy, and it includes language that locks in a minimum percentage of viewing time for UH in all future subleases, which will ensure that Hawaii will not become a mere landlord of observatories on Mauna Kea.

“So there is much for UH to appreciate,” Lassner wrote….

A handful of Mauna Kea observatories, however, welcomed the new authority, saying the “community- based mutual stewardship model” will allow astronomy to thrive alongside other interests and to be sensitive to the needs of the local community.

“We feel a mutual stewardship model reflects and is strongly aligned with the astronomy profession’s broader aspirations,” five observatory directors said in a letter, adding that the recently published Astro2020 Decadal Survey suggests the same….

CB: Ige said during a press conference Thursday that DLNR raised valid questions about the bill and he plans to look the measure over for any potential constitutional issues.

read … Mauna Kea management bill finds acceptance, opposition

Tupola’s City Council Term Limit Proposal Raises Ethics Concerns

CB: … Currently, council members are limited to two consecutive terms at a time, but they may leave office and run again later. Last month, Tupola introduced Resolution 22-102, which would restrict council members to two four-year terms total via a charter amendment. 

While the proposal would establish a permanent change, it would have an immediate effect on one declared council candidate – Menor, who previously represented council District 9 for eight years.

And one of Menor’s opponents in the race, Keone Simon, has paid Tupola $17,500 since October for “mentor/training” services through her consulting business, Hawaii Leadership Solutions, according to campaign spending data.….

read … Tupola’s City Council Term Limit Proposal Raises Ethics Concerns

HB1147: Gut n Replace Bill Funds HTA

SA: … Before signing off on the final draft of HB 1147, the Senate had favored House Bill 1785, which would have reorganized HTA. The House had favored Senate Bill 775, which funded HTA without strings but sought to create an additional agency, a “Natural Resource Management Commission,” with an appropriation of $30 million.

After last week’s deadline for fiscal bills, lawmakers amended HB 1147 to include HTA funding. The last-minute changes to what was originally a “capital improvements bill” could still trigger a challenge about whether it tests the limits of a recent “gut and replace” court ruling. The ruling requires that when a bill is stripped of its original content and replaced with something entirely different, the move must be followed by a set of readings for the amended measure. 

SA Editorial: The legally shaky gut-and-replace process should not be used as the funding mechanism for such a key entity as HTA.

read … Hawaii Tourism Authority secures state funding

Property Tax Rate Rollback for Big Island?

HTH: … Mayor Mitch Roth’s administration is recommending a rollback in property tax rates for almost all property classes, following updated assessments showing an additional $23 million on top of the $45.4 million increase estimated in March.

Even with the rate rollback, the proposed $779.7 million budget is a 27.8% increase over the current year. Of the increase, $42.6 million is due to additional grant revenue and does not affect taxes, the mayor said Thursday in his budget message….

read … Roth recommends rate rollback: Proposed $779.7 million budget is a 27.8% increase

Marijuana Eradication Continues in Support of Dispensaries

TGI: … A Kaua‘i Police Department “Green Harvest” cannabis suppression program is poised to continue this year.

The Kaua’i County Council unanimously approved a KPD request Wednesday to receive and expend $35,000 in federal funds from the Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program.

“What we try to do is keep Kaua‘i honest. There’s a legal way with the dispensaries that went though all the regulations to be able to provide medical marijuana for people who need it,” said KPD Investigative Services Bureau Assistant Chief Bryson Ponce. “We conduct our operations looking at illegal grows throughout the island. Looking at public lands, state lands, every now and then we may see some in somebody’s yard.”…

Marijuana crimes were deprioritized under the regime of former Kaua’i Prosecutor Justin Kollar, who declined to prosecute most marijuana offenses.

His successor, Rebecca Like, who was elected to the position this February in a special election, has largely continued this trend.

read … Prosecutor continues to de-emphasize marijuana prosecutions

Wahiawa hospital didn’t deserve state funding

SA: … The hospital previously paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for Medicare fraud and other violations. The hospital board failed to take action to terminate senior management. The state Department of Health, which has oversight over the long-term care facility, turned its head when it came to violations.

I filed a complaint and it took more than 18 months to even acknowledge it. To make matters worse, the Legislature was subsidizing the hospital with millions of taxpayer dollars. The insanity is that the Legislature gave money to support the hospital’s operations, while revenues were used to pay penalties to the federal government….

read … Wahiawa hospital didn’t deserve state funding

Red Hill Water Contamination Sickened Some 2,000 People, Survey Finds

HNN: … Seventeen people were hospitalized, children experienced seizures and pets died, federal health officials found….

read … Red Hill Water Contamination Sickened Some 2,000 People, Survey Finds

Lawsuit claims Molokai health center administered expired vaccines to children

HNN: … A lawsuit filed this week claims Molokai Community Health Center administered expired vaccines to children.

The health center was under fire back in 2019 when it shut down for several days due to staff shortages. Since then, residents held protests and demanded a change in leadership.

A new lawsuit claims violations are still being made….

read … Lawsuit claims Molokai health center administered expired vaccines to children

Legislative News:

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