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Wednesday, January 18, 2023
January 18, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:32 PM :: 1838 Views

Hawaii Families Seek to Boost Awareness of K-12 Options During School Choice Week

Opening Day for 2023 Legislature

Hawaii targets housing reform as Legislature returns

Green Names New Disaster Advisor and HI-EMA Administrator

Daniel Nāhoʻopiʻi Named Hawai‘i Tourism Authority Chief Administrative Officer 

Lawmakers Rushing To Hold Last-Minute Fundraisers Before Session Begins

CB: … Legislators can still hold fundraisers up to the very last day before session starts, which this year is Wednesday.

And at least eight lawmakers have done just that: Sens. Donovan Dela Cruz, Gil Keith-Agaran, Joy San Buenaventura, Lynn DeCoite and Jarrett Keohokalole; and Reps. Troy HashimotoKirstin Kahaloa and Cedric Gates. I know this because the Campaign Spending Commission requires legislators to report these fundraisers publicly.

Meantime, lawmakers can still seek and accept donations during session, just not by holding an event with suggested donations.

Many of the same lobbyists who donate money at these very fundraisers are — not coincidentally — wanting to influence the outcome of pending legislation….

read … Lawmakers Are Rushing To Hold Last-Minute Fundraisers Before Session Begins

Honolulu Permitting Inspector OK’d His Own Company’s Projects

CB: … An inspector in Honolulu’s permitting department has been running an electrical company on the side for over a decade and has inspected and approved more than a dozen of his own projects, public records show. 

Arthur Suverkropp, a supervising electrical inspector, is also the head of K&A Electric. The Honolulu-based company has applied for some 350 permits from DPP since 2007, according to city permitting data.

On 18 of those permits, issued between 2012 and 2021, Suverkropp is listed as the electrical inspector. In two instances, the permits show that the homeowner had been working with a different electrical company but switched to K&A Electric in the middle of the project. …

Honolulu Ethics Commission Executive Director Jan Yamane called the situation a “textbook conflict of interest.” …

Suverkropp has held his dual roles for years, public records show. His company was registered with the state in 2007, and he’s been an electrician with the city since at least 2011, the year Civil Beat started its public employee salary database. DPP wouldn’t say whether he started working for the department earlier than that. 

Honolulu requires all new employees to disclose their outside employment and specify whether their second jobs may interfere with their city work.  Suverkropp disclosed his affiliation with K&A Electric in 2012, according to a form he filled out at the time….

Dawn Takeuchi Apuna, DPP’s director designate, said Tuesday in an interview that the department was unaware of the situation until Civil Beat contacted the office for comment on Friday.…

And as a supervisor at DPP, Suverkropp may have played an oversight role in the approval of additional K&A Electric projects inspected by subordinates in the department….

The Ethics Commission is essentially powerless when it comes to union employees. It can only make recommendations to the department, she said.…

read … Honolulu Permitting Inspector OK’d His Own Company’s Projects

A new witness for the prosecution appears to have created conflict of interest for Miske’s lead attorney

ILind: … On Tuesday, December 17, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Inciong filed an “ex parte in camera presentation” for review by Magistrate Judge Kenneth Mansfield which suggests this type of conflict is behind Otake’s request to withdraw from Miske’s case.

“Ex parte in camera” means the filing is for the judge to review without being disclosed to the defendants or the public.

In a cover memo, Inciong said the filing consists of “documents which contain information about an individual who may be a potential trial witness for the United States” in the Miske case. The timing of this filing strongly suggests it describes the conflict of interest that led to Otake’s departure from the case.

Based on Otake’s statement that the as-yet publicly undisclosed conflict does not affect Panagakos, it would appear that a current or former client of his has only lately been identified as a witness against Miske, his current client.

It would appear that this must be an important potential witness to create what must be an obvious and serious conflict.

Does it indicate an important new dimension to the prosecution’s case? Perhaps a new cooperating witness as a result of another plea bargain? There are lots of possibilities, and it seems likely that we’ll know more soon….

read … A new witness for the prosecution appears to have created conflict of interest for Miske’s lead attorney

Will Anderson ‘Blowup’ $600 Million DHHL Spending Plan?

CB: … The Hawaiian Homes Commission approved new Chairman Ikaika Anderson’s conceptual plan to build more homes for Hawaiians even as questions remain over how various housing projects will be built and where.

(Key Word: Conceptual.)

Tuesday marked Anderson’s first meeting before the nine-member commission, which is tasked with overseeing trust lands set aside by an act of Congress. He presented a “five-point plan” that places a big focus on searching for alternative ways to deliver homes to more than 28,000 beneficiaries on the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands waitlist.

At a Senate hearing last week, Anderson floated the idea of possibly amending the commission’s plans for spending $600 million allocated by the Legislature last year. On Tuesday, Anderson said his plan isn’t meant to “blowup or entirely scrap” the commission’s spending plan.

(CLUE: Know them by what they deny!)

The Hawaiian Homes Commission also asked lawmakers for more time to spend the historic funding it received in 2022….

(Translation: Anderson knows DHHL won’t get the $600M spent or encumbered in time.)

The commission went into executive session for more than an hour before voting on Anderson’s plan. It passed 7-to-2. Commissioners Randy Awo and Dennis Neves were the “no” votes….

Overall, the commissioners reacted positively to Anderson’s proposals, but wanted more details than provided in the one-page, bullet-point plan.

(Translation: Anderson Has No Plan.)

Awo said the panel typically receives project proposals in detailed packets submitted by staff and they’re usually tied to specific projects.

“This is not something that usually comes to us in this kind of format,” Awo said.

Awo voted “no” because he did not think it was necessary for the commission to approve statements from the chairman as opposed to fully vetted policy decisions….

(Translation: Anderson Has No Plan.)

Neves said pieces of Anderson’s plan are already in motion at DHHL and wanted to hear more specifics on the kinds of projects being proposed. He was one of the commissioners who worked on a committee to develop the original $600 million spending plan.

“When these things come up, we need detail or we waste a lot of time going ‘What is this?’” Neves said, adding that he appreciates Anderson’s “first effort” on a plan….

(Translation: Anderson Has No Plan.)  

read … DHHL Chair: New Proposal Won’t ‘Blowup’ $600 Million Spending Plan

A year after construction wrapped up, red tape keeps city’s $17M housing project for the homeless empty

HNN: … Nearly a year after construction wrapped up on a $17 million homeless housing project in Iwilei, no one’s moved in. Meanwhile, a row of makeshift shelters line the sidewalk outside….

And the city admits it doesn’t know when the Homeless Resource Center will open….

“We’re very motivated to really get that building activated,” said Anton Krucky, director of the city’s Community Services Department, “The problem we have is what I call the color of money.

“What that means is there are different types of money that were used to construct that building. And those types of money have rules to them? And in particular the bond money.”

He says the rules associated with those bonds require a portion of the building to be affordable housing.

That means the city needs to find an entity to manage the units….

Krucky says the city has tried to partner with a long list of groups but so far every deal has fallen apart. When asked how many proposals haven’t worked out, Krucky responded, “I like to laugh about it when I say seven, eight.”

The latest potential partner is the state. But there’s no guarantee that will work, either….

read … A year after construction wrapped up, red tape keeps city’s $17M housing project for the homeless empty

Maui Medical center’s patient census seasonally high

MN: … No patient totals were given in the news release.

But the hospital reported on its website Tuesday that there were 22 COVID-19 patients hospitalized, of which 15 had been vaccinated and 10 also received a booster. Seven patients were unvaccinated.

Two COVID patients were in the ICU, both of them were vaccinated but have not received a booster. One patient was on a ventilator and had been vaccinated but did not receive a booster….

read … Medical center’s patient census seasonally high

Ron Menor, longtime Hawaii politician, dies at 67

HNN: … Ron Menor, a longtime Hawaii politician who brought decades of “passionate service” to elected seats in the Legislature and Honolulu City Council, has died. He was 67….

Menor was the son of the late Hawaii Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Menor and Lilian Menor….

Gov. Josh Green announced the news Tuesday evening, saying that Menor died a day earlier following an “unexpected medical emergency.”… 

SA: Hawaii politician Ron Menor was driven to serve

RELATED: Menor Among Three Nominees to Replace Rep Yamane HD37

read … Ron Menor, longtime Hawaii politician who brought ‘passionate service’ to elected office, dies at 67

Hawaii gas price average finally below $5, but still higher than national trend

HNN: ... Hawaii has been slow to catch up to the national trend, with the national average now sitting at $3.36.

Hawaii is also the most expensive state by a significant margin. The second highest gas prices is California where the average is 45 cents lower at $4.43….

read … Hawaii gas price average finally below $5, but still higher than national trend

Legislative Agenda: 

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