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Friday, July 21, 2023
July 21, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:33 PM :: 2887 Views

Hawaii's unemployment rate down slightly

Grassroot Institute of Hawaii wins two journalism awards

Former Union Officer Sentenced to 140 Months in Prison for Conspiracy, Wire Fraud, and Embezzlement

UH sets new extramural funding record of $515.9M in FY2023 

HECO Rate Hikes Coming: Public Must Make Big Sacrifices for 'Green' Energy

Friends and Family Plan: Federal lawsuit claims Hilo attorney maliciously prosecuted on Bogus Rape Charge

HTH: … A Hilo attorney has filed a federal lawsuit against Hawaii County, Mayor Mitch Roth, county Prosecutor Kelden Waltjen and Deputy Prosecutors Kate Perazich and Sylvia Wan.

Pueo Kai McGuire is seeking monetary damages, claiming malicious prosecution, fabrication of evidence and abuse of process, defamation of character, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress….

McGuire, then a 31-year-old deputy public defender, was charged by complaint on Jan. 22, 2020, and indicted by a Hilo grand jury on Jan. 29, 2020, with first-, third- and fourth-degree sexual assault for what prosecutors alleged was an acquaintance rape of a 27-year-old woman on Jan. 19, 2020, at McGuire’s Hilo home.

The charges were dismissed with prejudice — meaning they could not be refiled — on July 16, 2021, by Third Circuit Chief Judge Robert Kim. The dismissal was in response to a motion filed by Perazich on July 13, 2021. According to the motion, the request the charges be dismissed was made “in the interests of justice.”

Among the allegations in the suit are that the complainant — the daughter of a police sergeant/detective — had consensual sex with McGuire, but lied to police and the grand jury both about the nature of the sex and about having had sex with McGuire the previous night, as well.

(BINGO!  Its another ‘F.O.P.’ case.)

The complaint alleges a police detective interviewed the alleged victim three times and didn’t find her claims credible, but Wan advised the detective to press the sexual assault charges.

According to the suit, Wan did so “to embarrass and defame” McGuire, “shame” the Office of the Public Defender, and benefit the political campaigns of Roth, then the county prosecutor and candidate for mayor, and Waltjen, then a deputy prosecutor seeking election as prosecutor.

The suit alleges Wan charged McGuire “despite the existence of credible and clearly exculpatory evidence” and that Perazich, at Roth’s direction, “prepared to mislead the grand jury by selectively omitting … clearly exculpatory evidence.”…  

On March 17, 2020, according to the suit, Perazich offered a deal in which the first-degree sexual assault charge would be dropped if McGuire would plead guilty to second-degree sexual assault. Prosecutors would argue for 10 years imprisonment instead of the 20 years possible if McGuire were convicted of first-degree sexual assault. Under the terms of the deal, McGuire would be free to argue for probation if he agreed to serve 18 months in jail.

The deal was rejected by McGuire and his then-court-appointed attorney, the late Brian De Lima.

The lawsuit claims the purpose of the plea deal was to secure a conviction for the benefit of Roth’s campaign, embarrass McGuire and the public defender, and prove Roth’s “unfettered loyalty to HPD employees,” including the accuser’s father....

(Yep.  FOP = Family of Police.)

read … Federal lawsuit claims Hilo attorney maliciously prosecuted, defamed by Roth and Waltjen

‘Sensitive Fail’:  Gun Law Did Not Prevent Fatal bar shooting

HNN: … Many details about a fatal shooting at a bar earlier this week aren’t yet known. What is clear: The suspect shouldn’t have been armed in the first place.

A new state law explicitly bans guns in bars and other “sensitive places.”

Myron Takushi, 44, has been booked on a count of murder and a firearm offense for the shooting death of William “Kono” Dahlin.

Under new state and city laws, the penalty for bringing a registered gun into any place that sells liquor is a misdemeanor and the person could lose their concealed carry license. (If he had one, which he doesn’t.)

“You know, criminals are going to go everywhere,” said Andrew Namiki Roberts, of the Hawaii Firearm Coalition. “The only people that are going to have the guns is going to be criminals.”

“There’s no way that you can defend yourself in this situation.”…

KHON: Is the ‘Sensitive Places’ Law Working?

HNN: Guns are not allowed in bars even with concealed carry license

read more … Fatal bar shooting puts spotlight on newly-enacted ‘sensitive places’ laws

HART board surprised by $99M Lawsuit

SA: … On Thursday, following a roughly minute-long “executive director’s update” from HART Executive Director and CEO Lori Kahikina focused on the June 30 public opening of Skyline, board member Michele Chun Brunn­graber said she wanted more information presented in upcoming agendas than what’s been previously provided to the 12-person panel.

“Your updates are becoming very short,” said Brunngraber, a retired CIA employee with a background in acquisition and procurement….

Later, board Chair Colleen Hanabusa said the board’s subcommittees often delved more deeply into rail-related subjects, then made their recommendations known to the full panel for a potential future vote.

Still, Hanabusa expressed her own frustrations with HART staffers over a different matter: lawsuits against HART.

Hanabusa recounted hearing from a media report — not from HART staff — about a lawsuit filed against the rail agency by one of its own contractors.

On July 6, Shimmick/Traylor/Granite JV, a California- and Indiana-based joint venture involving Shimmick Construction Co., Traylor Bros Inc. and Granite Construction Inc., filed the suit in state Circuit Court. The contractor, also known as STG, is building the second segment of Honolulu’s rail line — a 5.2-mile route from Aloha Stadium to Middle Street — but sued the rail agency for over $99.1 million in alleged unpaid extra time and work….

She added, “I don’t remember anybody saying that in the past couple of months that we had a lawsuit threatened or that a lawsuit was going to be filed. Because (as a board) it ultimately comes to us.”  

Big Q: Is it concerning that the rail board is criticizing subpar financial updates from its CEO?

read … HART board calls for more financial information on Honolulu rail

Lack of clarity plagues Mauna Kea transition

SA: … When the state Legislature created a new entity to manage the activities on Hawaii’s tallest mountain, it also created a bit of confusion.

Act 255 called for a transition period in which the previous manager, the University of Hawaii, would share duties with the new one, the Maunakea Stewardship Oversight Authority, over a five-year time frame that started July 1.

But university officials say the setup left “a lack of clarity” over lines of responsibility, and now there’s a real possibility of the two entities bumping heads over decisions that have to be made.

The UH Board of Regents on Thursday deferred a resolution calling for a memorandum of understanding outlining how the university and the authority will jointly manage the mountain during the transition….

The draft resolution also calls for completing some projects and obligations that were already started on the mountain, including:

>> The decommissioning of two observatories: Caltech Submillimeter Observatory and Hoku Ke‘a Observatory by August 2024.

>> The installation of a new UH Hilo educational telescope at Hale Pohaku.

>> The development and implementation of Mauna Kea educational programs by the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center.

>> The decommissioning of up to three additional observatory sites in compliance with existing or future permits or governmental approvals linked to the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope. If decommissioning is still required, the three observatory sites will be identified and reported to the board by January 2026….

The university previously proposed an orderly withdrawal of numerous Mauna Kea permits and agreements. The list includes two general leases and a road easement equal to approximately 11,378 acres, nine Maunakea Observatory subleases and 18 conservation district use permits with approximately 300 conditions issued to UH by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources…. 

Big Q: Will the new Mauna Kea authority be up and running with clarity by year’s end?

read … Lack of clarity plagues Mauna Kea transition

City director reports drop in Honolulu building permit backlog

SA: … During a special meeting Wednesday of the Honolulu City Council’s Committee on Planning and the Economy, DPP Director Dawn Takeuchi Apuna told the panel that her current staff had managed to knock down the backlog of 3,600 applications awaiting pre-screening by nearly 70%.

“Today we’re at about 1,100,” she said. “So that’s a big drop, and I think the staff are working so hard on that.”…

read … City director reports drop in Honolulu building permit backlog

Neighborhood Board Election Outcome Reversed After Rematch

CB: … The Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board incumbent who asked for a re-vote after a series of computer glitches has won the repeat election, and the Honolulu City Council is asking for a written report on what went wrong with the original vote.

In early June, Paige Altonn, who has served on the board for more than nine years, appealed her defeat by Dylan Buck, a political newcomer who is an employee of the Honolulu Neighborhood Commission, which oversees neighborhood board elections.

In the original election, Buck defeated Altonn by receiving 17 votes, while Altonn received 14, for a total of 31 votes cast.

In the repeat vote, which ended July 7, Altonn defeated Buck by winning 66 votes to 41, a total of 107.

In June, Altonn protested that in the area where she lives many dozens of voters typically cast votes in the board election but that she and others in the community got locked out of the computer system when they attempted to record their votes during the previous go-round….

read … Neighborhood Board Election Outcome Reversed After Rematch

Public asked to weigh in on state’s ocean stewardship fee proposal

HNN: …The DLNR’s Division of Aquatic Resources said its proposal would require permitted operators of commercial vessels, watercraft and water sports equipment to collect a $1 ocean stewardship user fee from each passenger carried or customer served. The fees would then be transferred to DLNR….

If you don’t want to testify but want to watch the hearing online, click here.

If you want to provide a comment in writing, you can email DLNR.Aquatics@hawaii.gov or mail a written testimony by Aug. 4 to the Division of Aquatic Resources (1151 Punchbowl Street, Room 330, Honolulu, HI 96813.)…

BAKGROUND: Bra and Panty Birthday Parties: Lawsuit Details Work Life at Hawaii DOBOR

read … Public asked to weigh in on state’s ocean stewardship fee proposal

Disabled couple wins Handi-Van appeal

KHON: … Janice and Edward Fernandez were told that they would have to walk to the end of the block to get picked up by the Handi-Van. She’s legally blind and he’s wheelchair bound. The city said the road where the couple lives is too narrow for the big vehicles to turn around and there aren’t enough small vehicles in the fleet.

“It was scary and we didn’t know what we were going to do with numerous appointments coming up, doctor appointments especially,” said Janice Fernandez.

Their first appeal was rejected so they tried again and reached out to KHON2. They just received a letter approving their appeal so they’ll get picked up outside their home.

“We did a high five and we did a woo hoo!” …

read … Disabled couple wins Handi-Van appeal

Oahu Condo Board Members Feel ‘Muzzled’ By Management Companies

CB: … Hired to manage properties, the companies frequently tell board members to not talk to contractors or others outside board meetings….

Joanne Qiu joined the board of Waikiki’s Seaside Suites condo association in March, hoping to help her fellow owners solve problems and lower association fees. Almost immediately, Qiu says, she ran into interference from the condo’s property manager, Moana Siaki, of Hawaiiana Management Co.

There was the time, for example, that Qiu says she tried to check on a water heater after the building lost hot water for four days with no response from management. Qiu says Siaki shut down the effort. The rationale: Siaki said Qiu was a board member only during meetings, Qiu recalls.

The same thing happened, Qiu says, when Qiu contacted the building’s fire alarm company at a fellow owner’s request to see if a new alarm system eliminated the need for an expensive security service. Siaki said this, too, was deemed out of bounds.

Even something as simple as attending to a clogged trash chute was purportedly verboten.

“You have been advised on the role of a director, I strongly recommend that you adhere to that role,” Siaki wrote in an April email after Qiu and a fellow resident had solved the problem….

read … Oahu Condo Board Members Feel ‘Muzzled’ By Management Companies

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