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Friday, June 16, 2023
June 16, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:17 PM :: 1915 Views

HTA: De Fries Gets Boot

Hawaii May Unemployment 3.1%

Divide and Conquer: More Property Tax Tiers Means Higher Taxes

Sanford Dole, Abolitionist

CB: … In Hawaii, for example, the constitution of 1852 included a clause abolishing slavery so any slave entering the kingdom was free as a matter of law. On top of that, slaveowners could not “enjoy any civil or political rights in this realm.” The constitution went into effect nearly a decade before the American Civil War.

But did that end slavery here? The constitution is one thing, but the Masters and Servants Act of 1850 allowed sugar companies to collude with the government and bringing in laborers through a questionable contract system.

Workers from China, Japan, Korea, Portugal and the Philippines immigrated here under government contract and were then assigned — without their say — to work for the private companies in the sugarcane fields and plantations throughout the islands.

Runaway workers were hunted down by the police or sheriffs. Then the law empowered district court judges to extend their contracts for absconding. If they refused to work, they were jailed.

One worker known to us now only as “a Japanese” named Mioshi challenged the law in 1891. After signing his labor contract with the government, he immigrated to Hawaii and learned he was heading to the Hilo Sugar Co. When he couldn’t get out of the contract, he sued and argued that being forced to work for the Big Island company was akin to slavery.

This was a dangerous challenge to the carefully choreographed scheme between the government and sugar companies that had been in place for decades. If Mioshi was right and his contract turned out to be unconstitutional, the industry could collapse.

The Hawaii Supreme Court rejected Mioshi’s argument and upheld the law. The chief justice at the time wrote that judges were “not … blind to the view which the statements and law-makers of this country have uniformly entertained toward this law.”

One justice, however, agreed with Mioshi.

“So we have before us the case of a laborer held for service under a contract, penally enforceable, if enforceable at all, to masters with whom he has never contracted; but he has come into their hands, without having the opportunity of choosing his employers, by a process suspiciously similar to that by which a Honolulu hack, horse and harness are hired out to a driver,” he wrote.

This justice believed it was an unconstitutional form of slavery. Paying Mioshi didn’t change that. “The fact that the laborer receives proper wages for his work does not take the case out of that condition of involuntary servitude or semi-slavery which is inconsistent with our Constitution and laws.”

The dissenter was Sanford Dole — the man who would later support insurrectionists in overthrowing the Hawaiian monarchy, push for annexation and become the first governor of the territory. Ironically, becoming a territory to the United States, the aim of many businessmen in Hawaii, put an end to this contract labor system they valued so much.…

Related: June 14, 1900: The Abolition of Slavery in Hawaii

read … Why It's Hard To Pinpoint The End Of Slavery — Even In Hawaii

Budget Cuts: DoE Stops Teaching English and Math

CB: … A variety of line items did not make the cut in the Legislature’s approved budget, including funding for parts of the weighted student formula — the department’s mechanism for funding schools — secondary mathematics initiatives and English learner programs….

(Don’t worry.  There’s still plenty of money for gender diversity studies.)

The added funds promised by the governor would come out of a discretionary fund that only applies to the 2023-24 fiscal year….

Capital improvement projects likewise took a hit, with the Legislature approving only 19% of the department’s budget request.

Critical areas like project completion received less or no money at all.

An additional 117 capital improvement projects estimated to cost more than $300 million were only allocated about $195 million for fiscal years 2023-2025.

The department’s operations budget shortfall amounts to about $261 million over the next two fiscal years.

Outgoing board chairman Bruce Voss said he found the shortfall “puzzling and disappointing” and asked if the Legislature had given a reason for such a wide gap in funding.

According to department employees, no explanation was given, and the Legislature’s priorities are unclear regarding the portion of the $200 million discretionary fund allocated in the state budget bill. The governor indicated he would direct the $55 million to DOE, $25 million to UH and other monies to the Hawaii Tourism Authority….

SA: Budget cuts for public schools called a ‘travesty’

REALITY: Washington Monument Gambit

read … Budget Gap Puts Brakes On Public School Capital Improvement Projects

Rail Opening Day Ridership to be Kept Secret

SA: … City officials will open the gates at the first nine rail stations for free rides on June 30, meaning it will be impossible to get an accurate count of exactly how many passengers show up to ride the rail line in person….

The first free rides are scheduled to be offered 2 to 6 p.m. on June 30 without the use of a HOLO card, which will be needed from then on to open station gates.

Riders also will still not have to pay July 1 through July 4, but will need to buy a $2 HOLO card and load it with at least $3 more to get into each station, although fares will not be deducted….

read … Secret

State Agriculture Corp. Gets New Board Leadership

CB: … Warren Watanabe, a seasoned agricultural advocate, has been elected to lead the Agribusiness Development Corp.’s board of directors.

The election at a meeting Thursday, comes as part of a leadership shakeup for the ADC following the unexpected death of long-time executive director James Nakatani in April.

Former board chair Frederick Lau stepped down from his role following Nakatani’s death so that he could be considered for the executive director role.

Watanabe has been serving as vice chair.

Watanabe, who is also executive director of the Maui County Farm Bureau, was nominated by ADC’s Kauai County representative board member Lyle Tabata, with a unanimous vote in support….

read … State Agriculture Corp. Gets New Board Leadership

Why You Should Volunteer On A Public Board Or Commission

CB: … The experience will open up eyes and provide a better foundation for dabbling in public policy issues….

read … Why You Should Volunteer On A Public Board Or Commission

Maui Ethics Board: You Can’t Keep Those $400 Koa O’o Sticks

CB: … The board’s decision Wednesday could set a precedent for how Maui’s government officials handle o‘o and other tributes that have long been doled out during groundbreakings across the Hawaiian Islands without question. 

“The perception in the community is what ultimately we need to protect,” Gerri Lewis, the ethics board chair, told her colleagues.

The council members’ requests for the board to weigh the issue come as there is a sharp focus on tightening up ethics rules throughout the islands. In recent years, two former Hawaii legislators and two former Maui County officials pleaded guilty to accepting thousands of dollars in bribes in one of the largest public corruption scandals in Hawaii’s history.

Across the state, ethics watchdogs have since looked more closely at curbing so-called “gifts of aloha,” which typically include small items like cookies, malasadas, manapua or musubi. …

read … Maui Ethics Board: You Can’t Keep Those $400 Koa Digging Sticks

'Make it easier': Maui woman describes 19-month struggle getting homeless friend into housing

HNN: … how challenging it actually is getting homeless individuals into homes.

Air Force veteran Lawrence “Larry” Delizo, 65, spent more than a decade living on the streets of Maui.

Friday will be two weeks since he moved into his own home in Kahului….

Larry is a blackbelt in Taekwondo, he has a nursing degree, and was once a homeowner. But depression took over his life.

“I just gave up everything. I gave up my lifestyle. I gave up my marriage, and I started drinking,” said Larry….

after a year and seven months, Larry has a place he can call his own.

Keisa says there needs to be a better way to help the homeless.

“The path to being house is so challenging and traumatic in itself, that it doesn’t seem worth the risk anymore, and maybe we change that process to make it easier,” she said.

Larry now hopes to reconnect with his children and put his culinary skills to use….

read… 'Make it easier': Maui woman describes struggles of getting homeless friend into housing

Felon with extensive record is charged with burglary

SA: … A convicted felon with an extensive arrest record who has not been charged for allegedly bringing a ghost gun and drugs to Honolulu Circuit Court in April was charged Thursday with burglary in the second degree.

Jordan K.H. Mineshima Jr, 33, was charged by felony information with a class C felony for allegedly breaking into the King Restaurant and Bar walk-in combination freezer and refrigerator unit, located at 1340 Kapiolani Blvd. #101 early Tuesday morning.

He is being held at the Oahu Community Correctional Center in lieu of $100,000 bail. Mineshima will be arraigned and enter a plea on June 22 at 8:30 a.m. before Oahu Circuit Court Judge Ronald G. Johnson. If convicted, he faces up to five years in state prison and a $10,000 fine….

Mineshima was released pending investigation after he was arrested by sheriff’s deputies April 11 on suspicion of firearm and ammunition violations and third- degree promoting a dangerous drug.

On June 5, Mineshima was arrested at 9 p.m. at 650 Iwilei Road on suspicion of car theft and criminal contempt of court. He was again released pending investigation.

At 4:20 a.m. Tuesday, he was arrested on suspicion of second-degree burglary after he allegedly broke into King Restaurant and Bar.

The state Department of the Attorney General has not made a decision about whether to charge Mineshima in the April 11 weapon violations case…

read … Felon with extensive record is charged with burglary

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