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April 2, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:27 PM :: 2875 Views

Micronesia: Will Lyon Associates Crook Become FSM President Again?

Legislative Madness

VIDEO: Lottery Scammer Tracked to Ewa Beach Condo  

Assisted Suicide Expansion Bill Passes Final Senate Committee

Miske Business Under Surveillance for 18 Years?

ILind: … Panagakos, in a declaration supporting the motion for a further delay, recited some now relatively familiar, but still staggering, statistics.

Evidence produced in the process of discovery “includes in excess of 2,000,000 pages of documents, extractions from 51 digital devices, 8 social media search warrant returns, in excess of 11,000 native files, over 200 hours of audio and video recordings, and 53.6 terabytes (18.75 years/6,836 days) of polecam data….”

Yes, you read that right. A camera on a utility pole outside the Kamaaina Termite office on Queen Street was reportedly capturing photos of the area for over 18 years! ….

In addition, another 40 terabytes of digital data, apprently scans of records seized from Miske’s various businesses, was produced to Miske and co-defedant Delia Fabro-Miske because of the association to the businesses, but was not provided to other defendants.

My guess is that obtaining approval from Judge Watson for this additional trial delay is not going to be easy. Not all co-defendants have supported prior delays, and an attorney representing one defendant, Jarrin Watson, is appealing for his client’s release on the grounds that the more than 2-1/2 years in custody since arrest is a violation of his constitutional rights. A hearing on that appeal is scheduled for Wednesday morning at 9 a.m.

In addition, Watson warned during an earlier court hearing that attorneys in the case should plan on cancelling vacations and working long hours to meet the September trial dates.

While indicating further delays are possible, he signaled that he would be more critical of such requests going forward….

read … Miske attorneys seek another trial delay

Life After Inouye: Hawaii Democrats New Order 

CB: … Inouye’s death opened the door to new political players, beginning with Schatz and most recently with Hawaii Gov. Josh Green. And while he’s been gone a decade, Hawaii is still very much adjusting to a life without Inouye, especially as special interests continue to jockey for position….

“Inouye’s approval had the same weight as a ton of money,” Abercrombie said. “There’s no such power anymore, and there’s not even the idea that such power still exists.”

Inouye’s influence was already waning before he died, Abercrombie said, an aging monarch in a world that was rapidly evolving.

“The political reality was that there was a generational shift happening,” Abercrombie said….

“If you have to look real hard to see who the political kingpins are they probably aren’t there,” said Neal Milner, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Hawaii Manoa. “There’s nobody anywhere close to him that was such a dominant or charismatic figure.”…

The political machine as Inouye knew it was already being supplanted before he died.

The 2012 Honolulu mayoral race brought new, more sophisticated tactics to Hawaii that set the political stage for the islands today. A small, but mighty group of special interests, many of which are not accountable to voters, spends millions of dollars trying to influence races up and down the ballot.

At the top of the list is the Pacific Resource Partnership, which represents the Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters — the largest construction union in the state — and more than 240 local contractors.

Over the past decade, PRP and its affiliated super PACs have spent more than $10 million on political advertising, according to data from the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission.

That’s nearly six-fold what Green spent on advertising during his entire run for governor last year.

Other top spenders in Hawaii in recent years have included super PACs with ties to major agricultural chemical companies and the Hawaii Government Employees Association, which with nearly 37,000 members is the state’s largest public employee union….

read … ‘Nobody Gets To Run A State For 50 Years Anymore’: Hawaii Political Life After Dan Inouye

How Committee Chairs Keep Legislators in Check

CB: … Q: Where does this come into play with committees that are run by chairs with seemingly dictatorial powers?

A: I don’t think chairs have dictatorial powers, at least not by the rules. For example, a Senate rule requires a chair to hear a bill if a majority of committee members request it. And Mason’s allows a chair to defer voting on a bill, by unanimous consent. Last month, I asked to vote on a bill the chair wanted to defer.

It also allows a member to make a motion during decision-making by the committee.

Oh, by the way, the chair does not have to ask for unanimous consent, just have no one object to the chair’s action, because it is presumed that members know the rules.

Q: In practice, don’t committee members tend to not want to challenge the chair?

A: Yes, not if the member wants help from the chair, like scheduling their bill for a hearing.

Some members don’t know that they could challenge a chair’s action. I’ve found this to be more common in the Senate, especially when most senators chair a committee or have powers in leadership.

When I entered the Senate in 1994, I found a fiefdom system with a culture of “everyone backs the chair,” where the chair was king or queen of their domain. To try to change this, we implemented a co-chair committee system that rewarded collaboration rather than a single chair going it alone. In two years, the major committees returned to single-chair.

Q: Doesn’t the chair, though, have the power to single-handedly defer a bill, even if a hearing is held?

A: Yes, but only if there are no objections.

Q: But a committee member could object and force a vote on that too?

A: Yes. In the ’90s I did it often until the chairs stopped doing it. They started checking with members first….

CB: Hawaii’s Bully-Based Legislative System

read … Hawaii's Longest-Serving State Lawmaker Talks About The True Power Of Legislators

Hawaii’s self-important senators need a dose of humility

Shapiro: … calling out the power-tripping ethical wasteland that is our Senate…..

You knew state Senate confirmation for Gov. Josh Green’s Cabinet nominees would be nasty from the unusually hostile reception they got at their first budget hearings before the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

They were shown little of the courtesy or basic manners extended nominees of previous governors, getting berated, badgered and bruised from the start by Chair Donovan Dela Cruz and members such as Michelle Kidani, Donna Mercado Kim and Glenn Wakai, who lorded with imperious self-regard….

Ikaika Anderson, who was rejected as Hawaiian Homes chairman, was a politician who had made political enemies, and it wasn’t a great surprise it cost him.

Chris Sadayasu, turned down as director of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, had the misfortune of being nominated for a job Wakai wanted and didn’t get; it was predictable whoever Green put forward for the post would be roughed up. Wakai wiped his fingerprints by ducking the 15-8 vote….

It was in the sudden and messy rejection of Scott Glenn to head the Office of Planning and Sustainable Development that the sordidness and naked political aggression of the Dela Cruz group became clear….

read … Hawaii’s self-important senators need a dose of humility

$25M already wasted on Aloha Stadium plans

SA: … One remaining area of contention is seating capacity. Originally, the new stadium was planned for 30,000. The old Aloha Stadium, opened in 1975 and closed for spectator events in 2020 due to safety concerns, seated 50,000.

“Whatever form the stadium takes, the foundation will be built to allow (capacity) to be expanded,” Stadium Authority Vice Chair Brennon Morioka said when asked about reports of a 25,000-seat plan.

The University of Hawaii football team will continue to play its games in Manoa until the new stadium is built. The Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex stadium on the lower campus is undergoing expansion from 9,000 to 15,000 seats before the 2023 season.

Time is also an issue because of rising costs for building materials. The longer it takes to build, the less $400 million will buy, and the new stadium might end up less of a multipurpose venue than planners envisioned.

NASED planners estimated that with its original P3 plan, the state could make an annual profit after eight years from the contributions of the private builders, based on ground leases around the stadium for new housing, restaurants, shops and other attractions.

The state has invested around $25 million since 2018 to develop NASED plans; more than half of that figure might not be transferable should there be a change in course. Much of this would depend on the degree to which the RFPs would have to be changed to accommodate the proposed design-build-operate-maintain model….

read …  Aloha Stadium plan shift may extend timeline for completion

$17M already wasted on ‘first responder campus project’

SA: … A controversial and costly state plan to build a vast campus for state, county and federal first responders in Mililani may have hit a funding snag for a second straight year.

Last week, a bill to appropriate $100 million for building just part of the planned project’s main road and other infrastructure failed to meet a committee advancement deadline and appears dead.

While it’s possible that funding will be inserted into a state budget bill like last year, it’s not assured that the money will be approved or released by the governor to further work on the First Responder Technology Campus.

The project — estimated to cost $315 million to $470 million — would create an operations base with offices, classrooms, warehouse space, housing, a hotel, dorms, retail space, a cybersecurity data center and training facilities, including an indoor shooting range …

Rep. Amy Perruso, chair of the House Committee on Higher Education and Technology, declined to hold a hearing on the campus funding measure, Senate Bill 1469, after it passed the full Senate on March 7 in a 24-0 vote, followed by a 6-1 vote on March 14 by the House Committee on Water and Land….

the project’s biggest champion, Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz (D, Mililani-­Wahiawa-Whitmore Village), said it’s possible that he will insert an appropriation into a budget bill as chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Dela Cruz also is hopeful that Gov. Josh Green may seek an appropriation or approve of one for the project after a meeting Wednesday between Green and several proponents of the campus plan representing state and city agencies involved.

A spokesperson in Green’s office said Thursday the governor is weighing all the information presented…

To date, about $17 million has been spent on the project, which included buying the 243-acre site from Castle & Cooke Inc. for $9.8 million in 2017, after purchase money was appropriated in 2014, and $7 million to produce a market study, conceptual plans, a recently completed environmental review and other things related to planning and design….

In 2019, $55 million in construction financing for the campus was inserted into an omnibus capital improvement funding bill through an amendment made by Ways and Means led by Dela Cruz. But in a House-Senate conference committee, the $55 million appropriation was nixed.

Instead, a $15 million appropriation was agreed upon to buy 19 acres of adjacent undeveloped land from Castle & Cooke for use as a community arts center and “ancillary support” to the planned first responders tech park. No such purchase has been made….

read … $100M for first responder campus project flatlining

Housing: Framing the problem correctly

HTH: … In our good intentions toward solving the “affordable” conundrum, let’s not delude ourselves into thinking we can solve the whole problem without deconstructing the framework that underpins an unsustainable housing economy. We solve that, and we go a long way toward a solution….

What we hear everywhere is the need for “affordable” housing, and yes, we need that, and yes, affordable is in the eyes of the beholder to be sure. But “affordable” has also become code for some sort of publicly assisted housing product, whether that be through outright subsidies, set asides for selected income levels, in designated affordable project areas, or on public lands. All well and good, we desperately need all those things.

But I think we risk missing more fundamental solutions to housing if we focus only on what we are now coding as “affordable” and aren’t looking at the full spectrum of housing needs at all the income levels that a housing market needs to be healthy. And in making that shift, we need to look at the barriers we’ve put in place and how we’ve shot ourselves in the foot with good intentions that have gone awry with unintended consequences.

We all want safe housing, but do we need (and can we afford) the current permitting environment that has created bureaucratic morasses that defy common sense, promote inertia and invite fraud?…

RELATED: https://www.vibranthawaii.org/

read … Housing: Framing the problem correctly

Hawaii Child Welfare Officials Need To Recognize The US Constitution

ILind: … Hawaii’s actions are clearly at odds with a series of decisions by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals holding that children can only be taken from the home in child welfare cases if they’re likely to be seriously hurt in the time it would take to get a warrant. Hawaii gets warrants in fewer than 10% of cases, essentially saying that almost every child welfare case is an emergency.

But Hawaii is an outlier in this regard compared to other states and counties in the 9th Circuit, most of which have developed systems to quickly get court orders and actually do get warrants at far higher rates.

It matters because judges can put the brakes on overzealous child welfare workers and police, who in their ardor to protect children may discount the constitutional rights of parents. Judges know the Constitution and the law and how to balance competing interests.

With that in mind, four bills were introduced in the current session of the Legislature that would have required warrants in a far higher percentage of cases.

All four died. Three didn’t even get a hearing.

The written testimony for Senate Bill 407, the one that at least cleared one committee, is telling.

Cathy Betts, the director of the Department of Human Services, which runs the child welfare system, did not once mention the Constitution or the 9th Circuit decisions. Ditto the Attorney General’s Office, the agency charged with assuring the rule of law in Hawaii. (Oddly, though, the AG did cite a seminal 9th Circuit case in a footnote suggesting a wording change, so at least we know the state’s lawyers have read it.)

Implicit in these two agencies’ comments was the idea that Hawaii takes almost all children from their homes without getting a court order because almost all children in child welfare cases face immediate harm. Changing the system would endanger children.

But why would Hawaii be different in this regard than Orange County, Calif. — where judges signed off on 73% of child removals — or Arizona, or Washington state, or Oregon – all of which somehow have the time to get court orders far more often before taking the drastic and damaging step of removing children from their homes? …

read … Hawaii Child Welfare Officials Need To Recognize The US Constitution

Hawaii resident dies every two days from suicide, mental health advocates say

KITV: … A new state reports shows the number of suicides, completed and attempts, just keeps going up in the islands.

A local mental health advocate said a resident in Hawaii dies from suicide every two days.

200 suicides were confirmed last year and an additional 14 were undetermined. 300 hospitalizations took place for attempts. More than 500 residents took a visit to the emergency room and almost 1,000 calls were to the Hawaii Poison hotline….

According to the Hawaii Department of Health, suicide is the leading cause of death for people aged between 15 to 44 and it is the highest in youth and teenagers.

"There’s a whole other number of people that attempt suicide. That’s very serious and of course attempters are at risk for attempting again. Then there’s a whole another segment of our population that think about suicide,” said Merriam….

read … Hawaii resident dies every two days from suicide, mental health advocates say

Hawaii may soon ban thousands of everyday items containing toxic chemicals

KHON: …State lawmakers are considering a ban on intentionally added polyfluoroalkyl or “forever chemicals,” that make up an array of items from certain cosmetics to water-resistant clothing, food packaging and more.

Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are called ‘forever chemicals’ because they take so long to break down.

For decades, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances were used to make non-stick cookware, water-repellent clothing, waterproof and long-lasting cosmetics, firefighting foams, and grease-resistant paper products….

Diana Felton, Hawaii state toxicologist, told lawmakers at a hearing regarding SB504 last week said such products can be washed off the skin and straight into the water supply.

It’s my understanding the Food and Drug Administration has not done a thorough evaluation of how much contribution to a person’s exposure of PFAS is coming from the personal care products. So, PFAS are all around us and in the environment so we’re getting them from different places depending on the food you eat, water you drink, and products you use, they’re coming at us from all these places and what contribution are coming from personal and skin care products is very much under investigation.”

DIANA FELTON, HAWAII STATE TOXICOLOGIST

However, according to Tina Yamaki of the Retail Merchants of Hawaii, the FDA has deemed such items safe, and despite the need for more research, many people would be hit economically by a ban.

“It’s tens of thousands of products that are in stores that we use every day, and we need to understand that it’s not firefighting foam that we’re putting into food products and packaging or makeup, there’s a different process going into those products,” Yamaki explained.

She said PFAS are found in products like eye shadows, foundation, dental floss, liquid lipsticks, shaving creams, toothpaste, hair care products, perfumes, cleaners, anti-wrinkle cream, shower gels, and much more. However, not every company or manufacturer uses PFAS in their products.

“The products that are on the market now including the packaging, makeup and personal care products, the FDA has approved of all of these things,” Yamaki continued. “They never came back and said these things are terrible for us and there’s a nationwide recall on it or a ban on it so it is still legal and deemed safe by the FDA.”

read … Hawaii may soon ban thousands of everyday items containing toxic chemicals

Back to the drawing board for rezoning bill: Roth vetoes Bill 194

HTH: … Mayor Mitch Roth on Thursday vetoed Bill 194 presented to him by the Hawaii County Council.

Bill 194, introduced last summer by North Kona Councilman Holeka Inaba, would replace the current practice of administrative time extensions approved by the Planning Department, and require the council in a public forum to make that decision.

Inaba has said he sponsored the bill to address a common complaint among West Hawaii residents that developers’ rezoning applications, once approved, get numerous time extensions without regard to how conditions and infrastructure may have changed in the intervening years.

The bill — as introduced — sought to change the zoning ordinance to include specific language prohibiting administrative extensions: “Unless specifically authorized by the council, extensions of time to satisfy conditions may not be allowed by the director.” ….

(CLUE: Obviously, this would sharply increase the cost of housing on the Big island.  That is the intent.) 

“The Bill eliminates the Council’s, the Planning Commission’s and the Department’s authority to include as a condition to any change of zone ordinance authorization for the Planning Director to grant an administrative time extension for the performance of the conditions within the ordinance. The Bill requires that any request for such a time extension may only be granted by the Council via resolution. This changes what was formerly a Council-authorized administrative procedure into a political process requiring an additional Council approval,” Roth stated in a letter to council members….

read … Back to the drawing board for rezoning bill: Roth vetoes measure

Expand geothermal energy in Hawaii

SA: … Recently, University of Hawaii scientists completed Hawaii’s first statewide assessment of geothermal resources since the 1980s. The Hawaii Groundwater and Geothermal Resources Center completed its Play Fairway project, and the results suggest that all of the major Hawaiian islands may hold geothermal resources….

read … Expand geothermal energy in Hawaii

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