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Monday, July 24, 2023
July 24, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:58 PM :: 2340 Views

OIP Issues Four New Opinions

New Nepotism Law?  Brickwood Galuteria Already Looking for Exemption

CB: … For instance, OHA Trustee Brickwood Galuteria’s daughter serves as one of his two aides. Galuteria has submitted an application for exception, and “will abide by whatever decision is handed down,” he wrote in an email….

The Hawaii State Ethics Commission is delaying enforcing the state’s new nepotism law to give state employees more time to comply with the new guidelines.

The Legislature put in place a nepotism law this past session that took effect last week. On Wednesday the commission approved a two-month delay in enforcing the provisions.

The law prohibits nearly all state workers, except for employees of the Legislature and the Judiciary, from employing or supervising a relative. It also bars state employees from awarding contracts to businesses owned by relatives or household members. …

SA: Off The News: Anti-nepotism law put into practice | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)

SA: OHA trustee denied exemption from anti-nepotism law

read … Hawaii State Agencies Work To Implement New Nepotism Law

Violent, and blatant, criminal activity within the walls of OCCC

SA Editorial: … A jail sweep following Vaefaga’s death turned up an eye-opening pile of contraband in the facility, including methamphetamines and syringes, drug capsules and steroids, vapes and burner cell phones.

This violent, and blatant, criminal activity within the walls of a correctional facility raises alarms that should reach Tommy Johnson, head of the Hawaii Department of Public Safety (DPS), and Gov. Josh Green, who must demand reforms.

OCCC’s new warden, John Schell, must also move quickly to root out corrupt behavior and bolster safety protocols. Schell, who was selected for the job by DPS just over a month before Vaefaga’s death, has 20 years of correctional experience at the Oregon Department of Corrections, and must use all of that experience and gleaned knowledge to enforce reform.

Revelations of wrongdoing at OCCC have erupted at various times in recent years, with little indication that the underlying problems were addressed in between each scandal.

>> Late last year, officials confiscated 86 pounds of illegal aerial fireworks sent to an OCCC corrections officer through the U.S. mail, in the name of an inmate who was not even at the facility. The discovery was made because of a tip by a U.S. Postal Service inspector — but had that tip not come in, would the contraband have been intercepted? DPS launched an internal investigation, but no results have been revealed.

>> In 2020, corrections officer Jon Estabilio Jr. of Honolulu was charged with federal crimes including possessing contraband in prison and and bribery of public officials after he was found at OCCC with several packs of cigarettes, lighters, tattoo kits and 16 small baggies containing meth.

>> In 2017, a OCCC guard was reportedly suspected of trying to smuggle drugs and a cell phone into Module 13, which held murder suspects Dae Han Moon and Lance Bermudez….

read … Tighten security, sweeps at OCCC 

Funding Limits Soft-on-Crime Propaganda

CB: … Gov. David Ige’s administration never released $488,000 in funding that would have allowed the commission to hire and pay staff in fiscal years 2020 and 2021, and for three years the commission operated without staff.

It was finally cleared in the fall of 2021 to hire oversight coordinator Christin Johnson last year, and the result has been a series of dramatic, often scathing reports by commission staff during the last 12 months on the conditions and problems in state correctional facilities.

Those reports disclosed a months-long failure of the electronic system that maintains inmate medical records, and appalling overcrowding and other poor conditions at the Hilo jail.

Johnson also disclosed the lack of working video cameras at the Women’s Community Correctional Center, which has a long history of sexual assaults of inmates by staff, security lapses at the state’s largest jail on Oahu and the plight of impoverished petty offenders who were stuck in jail because they could not post bail amounts as low as $15.

Commission members and staff have also arranged for a series of tours by judges, prosecutors and lawmakers to underscore the the problems the system faces. One such tour of the Hawaii Community Correctional Center in Hilo prompted a Big Island judge to describe conditions there as “atrocious.”

Johnson said the funding provided by Green does not include money for out-of-state travel. The commission had requested travel money to finance trips to inspect the Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona, where Hawaii now holds about 870 inmates.

(Translation: Soft on Crime crowd won’t be paid to make up excuses for removing Hawaii criminals from Arizona prison.)

The smaller-than-requested budget also does not include funding for a study the commission had planned to establish appropriate population limits in Hawaii facilities, Johnson said. The law that created the commission requires that it set those population caps….

(Translation: Soft on Crime crowd won’t be paid to make up excuses for letting lots and lots of Hawaii criminals out onto the streets.)

Meanwhile: Man free on bail in manslaughter case arrested for unrelated DUI

read … Lawmakers Set Up The State Prison Commission. Now They Don’t Want To Pay For It

Did TMT start work or no? Land board to mull permit condition No. 4

HTH: … The latest legal challenge against the Thirty Meter Telescope project hinges on whether construction of the controversial and long-delayed observatory has actually already begun.

In 2017, Suzanne Case, then the chair of the state Board of Land and Natural Resources, granted the University of Hawaii at Hilo — which manages the lands at the Maunakea summit — a conservation district use permit for the TMT to use the summit land. But opponents contest whether TMT has satisfied one of the conditions of the permit….

That condition, Condition No. 4, required that any work on the land be initiated within two years, and completed within 12 years, after the permit was issued.

Because of the extenuating circumstances arising from the 2019 protests at the Maunakea Access Road, Case granted a two-year extension to Condition No. 4 in 2019, pushing the required start date back to 2021. But in 2021, Case determined that the condition had been met based on preliminary work done in 2019, including the removal of unpermitted ahu near the construction site, site surveys and moving several vehicles to the project location….

read … Did TMT start work or no? Land board to mull permit condition No. 4

Keeping it in the family: Farmers using state land laud new law regarding lease extensions

HTH: … Big Island farmers are praising a bill that Gov. Josh Green recently signed into law extending lease renewals for up to 30 years in certain agriculture parks on the neighbor islands.

The benefits will extend to the nearly 100 farm lessees throughout Pana‘ewa and Pahoa whose leases for state land are set to expire between 2030 and 2037, including David Shiigi’s Bromeliads Hawaii nursery….

“My concern was, if we had to somehow bid again, and we lost, where would we relocate all the thousands of plants we have?” Shiigi said. “It would have been a nightmare.”

Shiigi, like many local farmers, was hoping to pass down his nursery to another member of the family. And now, thanks to the new law, he’ll be able to achieve it….

The law will allow lessees with 15 years or less remaining on their state land leases to apply for an extension of up to 30 years if the land is 25 acres or less and not on Oahu….

read … Keeping it in the family: Farmers using state land laud new law regarding lease extensions

Summertime And The Flying Is Easy — For Lawmakers, That Is

CB: … The Hawaii House of Representatives this month finally got around to posting its legislative allowances. Like state senators, who began posting their allowances online in March, state reps are allocated $15,952 a year.

The House reports are only as of July 17, so there’s not much to report. Many of the 51 reps filed no report while others paid nominal amounts for newsletter writing and postage, office supplies and refreshments.

But the House reports also turned up travel expenses for more than a half-dozen reps including…

Kanani Souza‘s plan to fly to Boston this week for the New England Seminar Conference in Forensic Sciences. “Beautiful Setting, Collegial Environment and Great Sessions!” says a promo for the gathering, which will be in Colby College in Waterville, Maine. Airfare: $928.

Souza’s report does not explain why she is going to a conference on forensics….

read … Summertime And The Flying Is Easy — For Lawmakers, That Is

Hawaii developer is asked to do more for evicted residents

SA: … Waters would defend Kuilei Place — a 201H state-level affordable housing project that provides financial incentives to developers, speeds the review process and offers exemptions for developers from certain laws and rules related to planning, zoning and construction standards — that he and the Council also approved, a high-rise built taller than other buildings around it, near the corner of Kapiolani Boulevard and Date Street.

“Through our negotiations on this particular project alone, we were able to take the project from 13 units at or below 80% of the AMI to 41, a 215% increase. In addition, we increased the units between 100 and 120% AMI from 130 to 219, a 68% increase,” Waters wrote. “While in the short term, we are taking 125 units offline, in total, we would be adding 603 affordable units and 402 market units back into the inventory in their place.”

Kobayashi Group did not immediately respond to questions over Waters’ letter or any additional plans it had to transition Kapiolani Village tenants to new locations, including to properties it owns.

Previously, Pakkala told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser the company continues to relocate affected tenants.

“Working with city and state leaders, we agreed to exceed the state’s 120-notice requirement by providing nearly one year’s notice of our plans — residents were notified in October 2022 that leases would not be renewed,” Pakkala said previously via email.

She noted the additional assistance includes providing a dedicated relocation specialist tasked with searching for new homes for tenants, free rent in August and September, a reference letter and $1,500 in additional relocation assistance money.

Pakkala added that “out of 125 impacted tenants at initial notification, 49 have found a new home.”

Kuilei Place is expected to break ground in late 2023, with an anticipated completion date of mid-2026, the company says….

read … Hawaii developer is asked to do more for evicted residents

Zombies: Honolulu triples homeless cleanup crew efforts

SA: … The city has tripled its workforce that clears homeless encampments across Oahu every day and night — Monday through Friday — with some cleanups on weekends.

There are now three crews and a fleet of support vehicles, accompanied by Honolulu Police Department officers, that respond from midnight through 3:30 p.m. to complaints of tons of homeless belongings and debris in city parks and blocking Honolulu sidewalks.

On Friday they continued to enforce Honolulu’s 11-year-old Stored Property and Sidewalk Nuisance ordinances in Waikiki, the Ward area and various portions of South King, Beretania and Keeaumoku streets; Kapiolani Boulevard; and Kalakaua Avenue….

Dunn appreciates the ongoing efforts and concerns from Mayor Rick Blangiardi and HPD, but homeless people continue to sleep in Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Park next to the theater despite more than $1 million in improvements under former Mayor Kirk Caldwell that included the removal of a water feature that homeless people urinated and defecated in and then used to wash their clothes.

Theater patrons continue to find needles and drug paraphernalia, Dunn said. Homeless people also damage plants in the park….

“We have a guy walking around breaking windows around River,” she said. “I do see new bodies coming into Chinatown looking for drugs, selling drugs … and going crazy.”…

read … Honolulu triples homeless cleanup crew efforts

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