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Honolulu Police Department hasn’t conducted a raid or made any arrests for cockfighting in well over a year

CB: … Some people still believe Earl Koanui was a crooked cop. For good reason. He pretended to be one for years. 

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Honolulu narcotics/vice officer went undercover in Oahu’s cockfighting world, playing a version of himself that was willing to take bribes.

In reality, he was working with then-U.S. Attorney Steve Alm’s office on a series of cases that would eventually secure the federal indictment of 32 people for gambling and money laundering. In addition to the undercover work, the department was doing weekly cockfighting raids, Koanui said. 

“We would do it all weekend,” he says. “If we knew on Saturday there was a fight in Kalihi, Waianae, Ewa, Aiea, Waimanalo – we’d split the boys up and we’d try to raid as many different places as we could.” 

Today, things are different.

The Honolulu Police Department hasn’t conducted a raid or made any arrests for cockfighting in well over a year, according to HPD spokeswoman Michelle Yu.

Now, a shooting at a Waianae cockfight last weekend that left two people dead and three injured is bringing attention to HPD’s lack of cockfighting enforcement. …

Over the years, several police officers have even gone to prison for taking money from cockfighting operations in exchange for warning them about upcoming raids. …

read … The Battle Against Cockfighting In Hawaii: Lax Enforcement Helps Foster An Attitude Of ‘What’s Wrong With It?’

Schatz, Hirono Looked the Other Way when Drunk Legislators Drove Home from Parties

Borreca: … The House Democrats had a major mid-session explosion when it was disclosed that freshman Kailua member Rep. Natalia Hussey-Burdick was upset with what was reported as many House members drinking at a private gathering in Saiki’s office. Hussey-Burdick, who disliked the failure of a pet bill that would assist local midwives, issued a press release saying that “I texted a friend about my concerns that some people at the party seemed likely to drive drunk, and my friend in turn alerted members of the HPD. The police never arrived, and instead, word of this tip to the police somehow made its way to the people attending the party.”

Reporters asked Saiki if there would be repercussions. According to news reports, Saiki said no discipline would be taken against any House members, Indeed, House rules require that members vote to launch a formal investigation before any action can be taken.

In her press release, Hussey-Burdick said, “After much introspection I see now that the kind thing to do in this situation would have been to check in with my colleagues and try to arrange a safe way for them to get home. I have apologized to my colleagues for choosing an unkind course of action …”

Although Hussey-Burdick noted that “I am working to repair my relationships with my colleagues to move on from this unfortunate incident,” it will be difficult in a profession based on trust.

In politics, the public appreciates the outspoken crusader as compared to the tattletale. Good examples are Hawaii’s two U.S. Senators, Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono. Both are longtime Hawaii Democrats who came up through the Hawaii Legislature and took positions opposing major political leaders….

read … Keeping Crooks’ Secrets is the Way to Prosper

Council 64.4% Pay Raise Delivered on a Party Platter

Shapiro: … basic accountability is often missing at Honolulu Hale, where the mayor and City Council can have taxpayer money delivered to them on a party platter — into their own pockets at times — without the political pain of a public vote.

Two current examples are massive pay raises for the Council and mayor and increased Oahu property valuations of up to 20% that could greatly grow the tax burden on homeowners — and the revenue city politicians have to play with.

The Honolulu Salary Commission in March approved 64.4% pay raises for Council members, to $113,292 from $68,904 (Chairman Tommy Waters gets $10,000 more), while Mayor Rick Blangiardi was bumped to $209,856 from $186,432.

Under the City Charter the raises automatically take effect 60 days after the panel’s adoption unless three-quarters of the Council votes to reject all or part of the package; in other words, the Council has the option to collect these unprecedented raises without holding public hearings or taking a vote.

The seven commission members are appointed by the mayor and Council, who publicly pressed them for the raises.

read … Stop letting city leaders take easy out on pay, taxes

Waimanalo residents express concern over proposed project to build groins and move sand to beachfront properties near Obama House

KHON: … Residents concerned over changes at Waimanalo Bay gathered Saturday to bring attention to a proposed project from the Pahonu Beach Community Restoration Foundation and its plans to remove 10,000 cubic yards of sand from an offshore site to place in front of five beachfront properties on Kalanianaole Highway…. 

(CLUE: This sand will wash west along the shore to Obama’s house.)

read … Waimanalo residents express concern over proposed project to move sand to five beachfront properties

Yes, Hawaii Can Afford The ‘Green Affordability Plan’

FC: … Such tax cuts in Hawaii are long overdue and could help stem the tide of Hawaii residents who have been leaving the islands in droves over the past half-dozen years due to our inordinately high cost of living — of which taxes are a major component.Gov. Green’s “Green Affordability Plan” would boost existing tax credits and create new ones, increase the state income tax standard deduction and personal exemption and automatically adjust certain parts of the tax code to inflation….

read … Yes, Hawaii Can Afford The ‘Green Affordability Plan’

Working families need tax relief

SA Editorial: … The 240 bills originating in the House and the 200 Senate bills include two that advocates for lower-income households favor: House Bill 954 and HB 1049, vehicles for targeted tax reform.

The Senate draft of HB 954 would make a cost of living adjustment to individual income tax brackets that benefits all taxpayers, but ensures most critically that lower-income taxpayers aren’t penalized when they get a COLA adjustment. HB 1049 enhances the earned income tax credit (EITC), designed to help working families living at or slightly above the federal poverty line….

Will White is director of the Hawai‘i Budget &Policy Center, a program of the nonprofit Hawai‘i Appleseed Center for Law &Economic Justice. He said on Friday that he is encouraged at these bills’ progress.

In particular, White said, he was pleasantly surprised when the Senate Committee on Ways and Means doubled the amount of the EITC from 20% of the federal earned-income credit to 40%. The initial proposal by Gov. Josh Green would have boosted the EITC, too, but to 30%….

read … Working families need tax relief

Dela Cruz’ Latest sequel to Hawaii film tax credit program illegal, unconstitutional

SA: … “This amounts to bad legislation,” said Tom Yamachika, president of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii, a nonprofit advertising the motto “Good Government Depends on an Informed Public.”

HB 1373 would increase the tax rebate program’s annual payout cap for a single year to $75 million next year from $50 million in order to pay a backlog of unpaid refunds.

The bill also would impose new qualifying criteria for credits, close a window through which the state accrues future obligations to pay subsidies that top $50 million in a single year, and create a $25 million annual tax credit available through 2032 for building film studios and certain other media production facilities.

If enacted into law with film tax credit program changes, HB 1373 would be the sixth time the Legislature has significantly modified the program over the last two decades, and the fourth time in seven years.

However, the new tax rebate provisions in the bill face opposition on several fronts.

Yamachika said it’s obvious that all the tax provisions added to HB 1373 don’t materially relate to the bill’s “workforce development” title covering the bill’s original intent to provide a wage rebate for small independent productions that find it hard to benefit from the existing tax credit program.

“You can’t shove unrelated stuff into a bill outside of its title,” he said.

Hawaii’s Constitution states that no bill shall become law unless it passes three readings in each house of the Legislature on separate days. Two years ago, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled in a 3-2 decision that this reading requirement begins anew “after a non-­germane amendment changes the purpose of a bill so that it is no longer related to the original bill as introduced.”

Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, a proponent of the current version of HB 1373, said the bill satisfies this standard because tax credit incentives help develop the film industry…

read … Latest sequel to Hawaii film tax credit program pending at Legislature

Honolulu City Council passes bill to address homeless living near schools

KITV: … Liliha resident Jane Adams walks her 9-year-old son, Kai, to school in the morning. But on the way to Ma'e Ma'e Elementary, they often encounter houseless people. Or, sometimes houseless people live right next to campus.

"The people who are here are doings things kids really shouldn't be exposed to walking to and from school," she said.

Adams called her area councilmember a couple months ago for help.

"The amount of homeless in this area's grown over the last several years. They've become pretty brazen. They openly do drugs. I see biohazards. I've even seen guys walking around with machetes," she noted….

read … Honolulu City Council passes bill to address homeless living near schools

Feds force Honolulu DTS to accept responsibility for rail safety failures

HNN: … A federally mandated rail safety plan identifying the city Department of Transportation Services as the final responsible party for the coming rail system has rolled toward official approval.

The Honolulu City Council last week voted unanimously to adopt the plan, which has the city’s transit agency providing oversight of the operations, maintenance and safety of the nearly $10 billion rapid transit system still under construction.

As approved, the rail plan “serves as a guiding document describing the various safety-related roles and responsibilities, system safety activities, the processes for identifying and managing the potential system hazards, and a means for managing the system safety for the operating rail system.”…

read … Honolulu rail safety plans include security cameras, patrols

First of Many to Come: Kunia Well Shut After EPA Changes Standards

SA: … The Kunia well water samples showed levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) that were many times higher than the EPA’s proposed limits of 4 parts per trillion. PFOA registered between 22 ppt to 27 ppt, while PFOS was between 45 ppt and 50 ppt.

The Kunia Water Association shut down the well, which it leases from the U.S. Army, and last month DOH began encouraging residents to switch to the bottled water being supplied by the water utility.

The scenario is one that water companies throughout the state are hoping to avoid as they prepare for the new EPA limits to take effect, which could happen by the end of the year. The EPA’s proposal is currently out for public comment….

Origin of Hysteria: “These toxic chemicals are everywhere — even in your body. And they won’t ever go away.”

KHON: Bottled water for 14 months: Life near Red Hill

read … Hawaii’s water systems tackle ‘forever chemicals’

Legislative News: 



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