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Saturday, June 3, 2023
June 3, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:20 PM :: 2090 Views

​Pay Hike? Pledge to Recall Honolulu Councilmembers

Ranking Individual Income Taxes--Hawaii 5th Highest

Red Hill 2023 Consent Order Published

Notice of Anticipated Judicial Vacancy – Circuit Judge, Circuit Court of the First Circuit (island of O’ahu)

Green Signs 22 More Bills Into law

HCDA to Ban Residential Development at Kakaako Makai

Tripler Culture and Malpractice: Contrasting military medical centers and private hospitals

James Hansen Study Ends ‘Consensus’ -- COVID Shutdowns Blow Lid off Global Warming Theory

Green Replaces Board of Education Chair

Green signs bill banning concealed firearms in 'sensitive places'

Bankruptcy: Louis Kealoha’s plan to stiff victims?

KHON: … In a letter from behind bars, he said “Over the past two years in prison I have reflected… and realized I should have done more to stop the situation from escalating.”

The situation? He and his deputy prosecutor wife Katherine Kealoha, along with Honolulu Police Department officers, framed Katherine’s uncle Gerard Puana in a mailbox theft hoax partially as cover in a financial fraud that cost Katherine’s grandmother Florence Puana her home and savings.

“My lack of judgment has cost me almost everything I have worked for in all of my life,” Louis Kealoha wrote, in a letter asking a federal judge for help avoiding a default judgment for damages in a federal lawsuit brought by the Puanas.

While Kealoha is serving time, almost every dime of his city pension is going elsewhere.

“It has all been going to restitution for the last year or so,” explained Eric Seitz, an attorney representing the Puanas in the lawsuit. “It took a long time. Monthly, the grandma’s trust, gets about $2,200. Gerard gets about $800 or $900.”…

Gerard, and Florence’s trust, got $2.85 million from the city in the federal case, plus much smaller amounts from some of the other HPD officers involved in the scheme.

“We want some sort of a judgment against Louis and Katherine, which is going to be held over their heads when they got out of prison,” Seitz said. “Otherwise, it ends and they just pick up their lives and they go on with however they wish.”

Kealoha’s letter was prompted by plaintiffs seeking an evidentiary hearing on damages and to get a default judgment….

Kealoha writes that the court-ordered obligation to pay restitution “places a hardship on me because I am falling behind on paying my bills and trying to avoid bankruptcy.”…

CB: Louis Kealoha Asks Judge For ‘Mercy’ In Letter From Prison -- Seitz said ... general damages can be wiped out in bankruptcies, but punitive damages remain.... 

read … Louis Kealoha addresses redemption, restitution from prison

A compact for doctors

SA Editorial: … It is not news that Hawaii needs more physicians — about 710 more, according to the Hawaii Physician Workforce Assessment Project. Lack of access to regular health care, especially in rural and remote parts of the state, can literally be life-threatening.

It’s also not news as to why: A physician who wants to set up a practice in Hawaii faces a months-long licensing process, an extremely high cost of living and diminished opportunity for professional growth, among other reasons. But these problems may not be as intractable as they seem.

The Legislature this session passed Senate Bill 674, which would enable the state to join the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, an agreement that allows physicians to practice in multiple states through a streamlined licensing process. It’s a good idea, and Gov. Josh Green should sign the bill….

read … A compact for doctors

HGEA - UPW Freebie: City Council urges administration to provide COVID hazard pay to employees

KHON: … Honolulu City Council Chair Tommy Waters is urging the city administration to provide hazard pay to city employees who worked during the COVID pandemic. That compensation would include up to (be) $13 per hour of (uh …) ‘essential’  (uh …) ‘work’…

Waters said, that payment would come from federal COVID money. The city received nearly $400 million to combat COVID impacts and according to Waters, there’s still a pot of money available to repay city workers.

“There’s still a significant chunk left. We should spend that money to compensate our City employees who put their lives on the line (pretended to work from home) really. At the time we didn’t know how dangerous COVID was,” Waters said…..

In October, Hawaii Government Employees Association won its dispute with Maui County over temporary hazard pay. About 1,300 Maui County employees are receiving an up to 25% pay increase for working two years under COVID emergency orders.

Kauai and Hawaii County are currently in arbitration with HGEA over COVID hazard pay….

HTH: Unions seek hazard pay: HGEA, UPW want extra money for Hawaii County employees

read … City Council urges administration to provide COVID hazard pay to employees

‘This is crazy’: Analysis finds billions in schools construction money unspent

HNN: … More than $2 billion in school construction is going unspent, Hawaii News Now has learned, and nearly half of that money is set to lapse next year.

“That to me is something that to me is totally unacceptable. We know we can do better and accepting mediocrity is to me something like accepting an F,” said Republican state Rep. Gene Ward.

The money is for hundreds of DOE projects that the state Legislature appropriated for school construction.

“This is crazy when we have a massive repair and maintenance backlog ... I mean, there’s there’s just no imaginable excuse for this,” said Colin Moore, a University of Hawaii political science professor.

“I’m sure that many other departments across the state would be very happy to take some of this money off the DOE’s hands.”

The state Department of Education said the amount of unspent capital improvement funds doubled during the past three years due to the COVID-19 lockdowns, permit hold-ups and supply chain disruptions.

“We got jammed up during the pandemic. They were not able to fulfill all the different projects on campus during that time,” said the DOE’s Deputy Superintendent of Operations Curt Otaguro.

Otaguro added that he doesn’t think the bulk of the nearly $1 billion in funding will lapse next year because the department has already started work on about 70% of those projects.

“If a project needs to be lapsed and re-appropriated — and we communicate this to the Legislature —everybody’s understanding to that is yes, yes, yes,” said Otaguro.

But critics said the pandemic shouldn’t be an excuse for delaying construction.

In fact, many private companies and government agencies stepped up construction during the lock downs because their buildings were empty….

KITV: Some are wondering why a concrete slab is being removed from a Kahala school. Here's why

read … ‘This is crazy’: Analysis finds billions in schools construction money unspent

Governor signs laws banning guns in ‘sensitive’ places, requiring active shooter drills in schools

HNN: … Alan Beck, gun rights attorney, said the laws are almost certain to be challenged in court.

“It’s a huge waste of the taxpayers’ money because a lawsuit inevitably is going to have to be filed,” he said.

Similar legislation has already been struck down in New York and New Jersey.

State Attorney General Anne Lopez said she is ready to litigate the new law in court if it is challenged….

TR: Hawaii Passes Strict New Gun-Carry Law in Pushback Against Supreme Court

HiFiCo: "Lawsuits are expected. Stay tuned."

SA: Hawaii governor signs bills to reduce risk of gun violence

read … Governor signs laws banning guns in ‘sensitive’ places, requiring active shooter drills in schools

Kakaako Condos: Hawaii leads nation in homeownership increase

SA: … Hawaii led the nation with a 1.2% increase in its rate of homeownership between 2010 to 2020, one of only five states with a positive rate change over the decade, according to the latest U.S. census.

Despite the progress, however, Hawaii, with its high cost of buying a home, remained a bottom-five state when it comes to the number of homes occupied by their owners.

Hawaii’s homeownership rate in 2020 was 58.8%.

The U.S. homeownership rate hit its lowest point in five decades, dropping by 2 percentage points to 63.1%, the Census Bureau said Thursday….

The Aloha State was followed by Alaska, Idaho, South Carolina and Wyoming, the only other states to see their rates rise over 10 years….

The low homeownership rate is reflected in the number of renters here. While renter-occupied housing accounts for 36.9% of housing nationwide, in Hawaii it’s 41.2%, according to the 2020 census.

What’s more, there are more vacant houses in Hawaii: 12.6% compared with the national average of 9.7%.

Real estate analyst Stephany Sofos said she suspects Hawaii’s homeownership rate was propped up by a growing percentage of people, largely aging Asians, who were downsizing into a condominium and giving their homes to a son or daughter or even grandchild….

State chief economist Eugene Tian said construction of workforce housing as part of the condo boom in the Kakaako area starting in 2015 was largely responsible for pushing up the state’s homeownership rate.

Between 30% and 40% of those condominiums were priced for workforce housing, which is affordable to qualified working folks, often couples with two incomes or young professionals, Tian said.

But, he said, they are not considered affordable enough for most people.

“Affordability is still blocking people from owning their own homes,” Tian said. “Demand is strong. We need 10,000 new units a year based on pent-up demand, but a lot of people are doubling up with their parents.”….

2013: Ethics complaint: HCDA Falsifies Kakaako Workforce Housing Affordability Formulas

2020: Amemiya Joins Pack of Insiders Grabbing ‘Affordable’ Housing Units for Themselves

2023: Census: 11.5% fewer children as young families flee state

read …  Hawaii leads nation in homeownership increase

DLNR puts Coco Palms resort demolition on hold

SA: … Demolition work for the former Coco Palms resort on Kauai is on hold after a state land agency alleged developers conducted unauthorized work on the property.

Work to demolish dilapidated structures was slated to begin in May to make way for a new 350-room hotel, but a recent letter to RP21 Coco Palms LLC from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources alleging unauthorized work has delayed developers’ plans to tear down the buildings.

The land agency alleged the company cleared vegetation and trees on state land without authorization….

read … Land agency puts Coco Palms resort demolition on hold

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