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Friday, May 20, 2022
March 20, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:07 PM :: 5519 Views

VIDEO: 2022 Legislature still addicted to spending

Oahu Unsheltered Homeless Count Remains Near Record Level

Hawaii Unemployment 4.2%

VIDEO: Q&A with Four Finalists for HPD Chief

Hawaii BOE selects Keith Hayashi as superintendent

Former Prison Chief Nolan Espinda Dies After Being Found Shot At Kailua Beach

CB: …Nolan Espinda, a longtime Hawaii prison warden and former director of the Department of Public Safety during Gov. David Ige’s administration, was found dead at Kailua Beach on Thursday.

Sources said Espinda apparently died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and a firearm was found near his body….

Ige first appointed Espinda to the job of director of the state Department of Public Safety in 2014. He easily won confirmation from the state Senate that year, but had to fight to be reconfirmed to the job after Ige won a second term in 2018.

Senators expressed concerns about a riot at the Maui jail and other issues, but Espinda finally won confirmation for a second time in 2019 in a 17-8 vote.

Espinda abruptly retired the following year as Covid-19 spread in OCCC in what emerged as the largest infection cluster in the state. The Hawaii Government Employees Association and the United Public Workers union both called for his removal at the time, alleging he had mishandled the response to the pandemic….

read … Former Prison Chief Nolan Espinda Found Dead At Kailua Beach

Schizophrenic Inmate’s Suicide Is Prompting Calls For ‘Meaningful Change’ In Hawaii’s Prison System

CB: … Joseph O’Malley had a long history of mental illness, and his primary treating psychiatrist at Halawa diagnosed him with schizoaffective disorder. In the 10 months prior to his death, O’Malley was placed on suicide watch seven times at Halawa, including once when he attempted to hang himself, according to court records in the case.

O’Malley was removed from suicide watch and placed on “safety watch” in a one-man cell in the prison medical unit shortly before he died, and prison officials reported Halawa staff had followed the protocol of the system’s suicide prevention policy in the case.

But Dr. Pablo Stewart, an expert who reviewed the case in connection with the lawsuit, concluded that claim by the department was an attempt to cover up deep flaws in the system.

Stewart found that video recordings showed that staff at Halawa failed to check on O’Malley in his cell every 15 minutes as required by the policy, and had locked him in a cell with bars that protruded into the cell in a way that made it possible for him to hang himself.

Stewart also declared that the prison practice of isolating suicidal inmates and depriving them of human contact including visits, calls to family and recreation time can dramatically aggravate mental illnesses.

Corrections officers acknowledged in their depositions that inmates on suicide watch were held in their single cells for 24 hours per day except for showers, and prisoners on safety watch were generally in their cells for 23 hours per day.

Prison policies also call for inmates to be transferred to Hawaii State Hospital for treatment if they are so severely mentally ill that they cannot be properly cared for at Halawa, but top staff reported that was rarely or never done. In fact, the prison staff psychiatrist said she was unaware that was even an option.

Stewart said he was also mystified as to why the prison system was using medications for mental illness that are obsolete and significantly below the modern day standard of care…..

read … An Inmate’s Suicide Is Prompting Calls For ‘Meaningful Change’ In Hawaii’s Prison System

Rape Victim Gets $4M, Sheriff Deputy Gets Reinstated

SA: … This year, Senate Bill 3041, among other settlements, allots $4 million for Elizabeth Mueller, who sued the Department of Public Safety after an alleged sexual assault at the Circuit Court in 2014. A federal jury awarded Mueller $7 million in the case.

Deputy Sheriff Freddie Carabbacan was fired after the assault, but returned to the job in 2016 after arbitration….

read … Taxpayers pay for official misconduct

Hawaii Census Over Count 6.8% -- And Still Losing Population

MN: … states with overcounts were Hawaii, at almost 6.8%; Delaware, at 5.4%; New York, at 3.4%; Utah, at almost 2.6%; Massachusetts, at 2.2%; and Ohio, at almost 1.5%.

Eugene Tian, Hawaii's chief state economist, said the state's large number of vacation homes likely contributed to people being counted twice.

“People were counted as Hawaii residents while vacationing in Hawaii or waiting out the pandemic in their vacation homes between April and October 2020, but their usual residences were on the U.S. mainland," Tian said in an email.


read … In 2 states, 1 in 20 residents missed during US head count

HPD: 92% of Property Crimes Go Unsolved

KITV: … Overall, there were 10,370 violent and property crimes during the first four months of 2022, and the overall closure rate was only 7.71%.

Oahu has far more property crimes than violent crimes.

The statistics show that only 5.42% of all property crimes that happened between January 1 and April 30 of this year were cleared or closed. That means of the 9,532 property crime cases, only 516 were cleared, and 9,016 remain open.

Auto theft had the lowest closure rate, not only this year at 2.73%, but historically as well. During the first four months of this year, 1,500 vehicles were reported stolen on Oahu -- which is more than in years past -- and only 40 of those cases were cleared.

Larceny, which includes catalytic converter theft cases, had a closure rate this year of 5.85%, which means of the 6,963 larceny cases that happened during the first four months of this year, only 407 were cleared…. 

KHON: HPD report covers murder, rape, burglary and other crimes in Hawaii

read… HPD statistics reveal low closure rates especially for property crimes

While Feds Investigate Overpayments, HART Pays Nearly $1 Million To Compensate 24 Parties Underpaid for Rail Relocation

CB: … The Honolulu agency overseeing rail construction has determined that its prior history of shoddy relocation payments ultimately short-changed 24 businesses and tenants displaced by the future rail line to the tune of $883,000.

Those underpaid parties were later compensated as part of a lengthy effort that wrapped earlier this month.….

HART submitted its final report on the so-called “corrective action plan,” which the Federal Transit Administration had required it to do, on May 2, according to Krista Lunzer, the rail agency’s latest director of property acquisition and relocation. She briefed the HART board on the matter Thursday….

What Lunzer didn’t address in that briefing, however, were the numerous overpayments for relocation that HART and the city were also found to have made, in addition to the underpayments.

Such overpayments on relocation costs were the focus of a grand jury subpoena delivered to HART in early 2019, as part of a federal criminal investigation into rail that’s believed to be ongoing…..

The agency has reported issuing more than $13.2 million in relocation costs.

Numerous problems including missing documents, math errors and “payments without justification” in HART’s relocation files were first discovered by the agency’s real estate consultants in 2017.

The rail agency made the problem public in 2018 and agreed to forgo $3.8 million in future FTA payments. That move essentially gave back what the federal agency had already paid out to cover its share of relocation costs…..

A team of investigators with Hill International subsequently took a detailed look at most of HART’s relocation files for the FTA in 2019. They found that 22% of the individuals in those files were actually overpaid, and an additional 6% were paid even though they were ineligible…..

read … HART Pays Nearly $1 Million To Compensate 24 Parties Short-Changed By Rail Relocation

UH regents OK amendments to Maunakea plan

HTH: … The University of Hawaii’s Board of Regents on Thursday approved a supplement to UH’s management plan for Maunakea, despite potentially losing jurisdiction over the mountain before the end of the decade.

UH President David Lassner said during a regents meeting that amending the 2009 Comprehensive Management Plan is “the right thing to do,” even though UH may not be managing the Maunakea summit area after 2028, depending on whether Gov. David Ige signs a bill to reform how the mauna is managed.

“Until we see what happens (with the bill), UH is still responsible for the land until 2028, and we have an obligation to update the CMP,” Lassner said. “This will help guide whoever’s in charge.”

The CMP is UH’s management framework for the part of Maunakea currently managed by UH, and is separate from the Maunakea Master Plan, which also had a new draft approved by the regents earlier this year…..

read … UH regents OK amendments to Maunakea plan

Moving the Smokestack: Hawaii lawmakers pass bill to create fake zero-emission future for transportation

KITV: … Senate Bill 3311. The bill, which passed unanimously in the House and Senate, aims to create the Hawaii Clean Transportation Initiative for clean transportation usage on air, land and sea.

Hawaii residents pay among the highest in the country for transportation….

The Department of Transportation and State Energy Office will work with electric car, aircraft and charging companies to achieve the goal of zero emissions.

“Going forward, it means a lot for the auto industry and the dealers and the manufacturers. It’s providing incentives as well as opportunities to move forward to clean energy and get more EVs on the road….”

The measure will also provide more electric charging stations across the islands…..

read … Hawaii lawmakers pass bill to create zero-emission future for transportation

Keaau HS Students Walk out to Protest Cover-Up of Rape by HSTA Member

KITV: .. A letter has been circulating throughout Kea'au High School over the past few weeks claiming a former student who graduated in 2005 was sexually assaulted by a teacher.

In response, Principal Dean Cevallos wrote to parents and staff explaining that after an investigation, the Department of Education concluded there was not enough information to back the accusations, which were reported five years ago…..

To break what they called the silence surrounding sexual misconduct on campus, Smith and Stamsos staged a walk out at school Thursday. The pair is also demanding the school establish a safe space of assault survivors to receive help and support.

"Especially having friends reach out to me and tell me their experiences with reporting sexual harassment cases to admin and having almost nothing done about it, and just feeling really alone and lost," Smith claimed….

"They (school administration) have told us to hush down because they want to protect their reputation," Stamsos added….

HTH:  Students walk out of Keaau High in protest about alleged incidents

read …. Hawaii Island high school students demand more in addressing sexual misconduct on campus

Maui Charter Commission sending 11 proposed amendments to the ballot

MN: … Proposals include creation of new departments, limiting some mayoral powers ….

read … Commission sending 11 proposed amendments to the ballot

Hawaii Oil Coming from Argentina Now

R: … About 1 million barrels of Argentina’s medium Escalante crude also discharged at Par Hawaii Refining’s Honolulu plant.

Par Hawaii President Eric Wright said oil from North and South America was meeting Hawaii’s crude processing requirements. Historically, the company had sourced 20%-25% of its oil from Russia….

read … U.S Imports of Latam Oil Soar as Refiners Replace Russian Barrels

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