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Thursday, July 27, 2023
July 27, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 9:14 PM :: 1857 Views

DoH, UH Scheme to Hide Your Children's Sex Change Surgery from You

Hawaii 'limited purpose' driver's licenses again recognized in Florida

Hawaii Largest CO2 INCREASE in USA

ACLU Lawsuit Seeks to Protect Massive Festering Homeless Tent Cities

Housing: 'Much of the proclamation I could have written myself' 

Feds Closely Watching Local Property Deals For Signs Of Money Laundering

CB: … The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, a branch of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, has begun requiring title companies on Oahu, Maui, Big Island and Kauai to report the identities of the true owners for all-cash purchases of residential real estate exceeding $300,000.

New federal legislation, meanwhile, means this information will soon be shared in a national database for prosecutors to use in tracking down stolen assets.

The information Hawaii’s prosecutors are receiving through this process has become “an integral part in the development of investigations,” Elliot Enoki, spokesman for U.S. Attorney Clare Connors, said via email….

Buyers purchasing U.S. real estate include Russian oligarchs, officials of foreign countries who embezzle from government funds and drug dealers, they wrote in their 2021 report, “Acres of Money Laundering: Why U.S. Real Estate is a Kleptocrat’s Dream.” The Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022 has also heightened scrutiny of those assets.

Chinese firms in particular have been identified as sources of illicit funds because China is the primary source country for the drug fentanyl, an enormously lucrative industry, according to recent congressional testimony. Some of this money is laundered through real estate purchases, expert witnesses have told federal lawmakers.

The amount of dirty money flowing through the American economy is estimated to be equivalent to 2% of the country’s gross domestic product, according to Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island who has led the push for the crackdown. That translates to about $500 billion per year….

2022: Money Laundering: Feds Begin Targeting Sister Isle Real Estate Purchases

2023: Money Laundering: Feds Unmask Shell Companies Behind Hawaii Real Estate Purchases

read … Feds Closely Watching Local Property Deals For Signs Of Money Laundering

Your GE Tax Hike at Work: Immediate Subsidy to Big Developers

MN: … A proposed wastewater facility in Central Maui is set to benefit a number of current and future housing projects, including the Waikapu Country Town development of more than 1,500 units and the master-planned Kehalani community….

The central facility will service existing and planned developments throughout the Waikapu and Wailuku areas as well as state projects in Pulehunui….

Mike Atherton of Waikapu Properties, which is developing the Waikapu Country Town project, said on Tuesday that the central facility “is the best thing that could happen to Waikapu Country Town.”

Last year Atherton and then-Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino inked a public-private partnership deal to allow Atherton to add 213 workforce housing units in exchange for using the county’s wastewater services.

Atherton previously planned to build a private wastewater treatment plant to service the development.

County officials have said that under the partnership, the Waikapu development would temporarily connect to the county’s wastewater treatment plant in Kahului and later use the proposed central facility once it’s built.

Atherton estimated that work can fully begin next year on the Waikapu Country Town project, which will consist of more than 1,500 new single-family, multifamily and rural units as well as 146 ohana units. It will also include an agricultural preserve, parks and open space, a school and a residential town center….

Related: Council Votes 20% of Maui GE Tax Surcharge to Subsidize Developers

read …  Housing to benefit from proposed wastewater project

Emergency Order: Planners OK more mixed-use development in Halawa

SA: … The Honolulu Planning Commission voted Wednesday to recommend rezoning 227 acres around Skyline’s Halawa station to allow for more development of mixed-use business, residential and affordable housing sites near the state’s planned New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District.

Based on a July 10 city Department of Planning and Permitting director’s report, the commission reviewed DPP’s requests for zone changes near the Halawa station side of the first segment of rail — 10.75 miles of guideway and nine stations from East Kapolei to Aloha Stadium — to implement the Halawa-area Transit- Oriented Development Plan’s recommendations.

Those recommendations would allow mixed residential and commercial uses at higher densities and heights, while ensuring future developments are pedestrian-friendly — areas meant to feature storefront windows, entrances near sidewalks and parking to the rear of stores and other venues, the city says.

The Planning Commission’s recommendation means the City Council is expected to review the zone changes for possible approval to the Halawa TOD Plan at a future meeting. The Council’s meeting date for that review is still undetermined, city staff said….

Meanwhile, some who attended Wednesday’s meeting objected to potential negative impacts development might have on ancient, historically significant and even sacred Native Hawaiian sites as well as natural resources located in areas near Halawa Valley and Aiea.  (But developers don’t have to care about this any more….)

CLUE: Green Signs Emergency Proclamation on Housing

Meanwhile: EPA public forum to set stage for citizen oversight on Red Hill

read … Planners OK more mixed-use development in Halawa

Emergency Order: Developer renews plan for homes below Koko Crater

SA: … A developer has revived plans to extend a subdivision of million-dollar homes in Hawaii Kai onto land zoned for preservation after making similar efforts twice before in recent decades….

CLUE: Green Signs Emergency Proclamation on Housing

read … Developer renews plan for homes below Koko Crater

But No Development Here: DHHL case must spur state progress

SA Editorial: … The case demonstrates that the persistent and sometimes calculated failure of the state and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) to provide homesteads in a timely fashion cannot be tolerated. The price paid is too great.

Kalima v. State spanned nearly 24 years, and the costs have been enormous. The class-action lawsuit, filed in 1999, started with a plaintiff class of about 2,700 Native Hawaiians seeking the homestead lots to which they were entitled. As of Friday, 1,164 had died waiting. The futures and fortunes of all the plaintiffs, living and dead, have been forever altered.

“Lives and families were literally destroyed by the failure of the trustee to fulfill its obligations to provide homesteads to our Native people,” said Tom Grande, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs….

The stubborn unwillingness of the state to resolve an obvious injustice — played out in two trials and two decisions appealed by the state to the Hawaii Supreme Court — has resulted in the biggest known legal settlement in Hawaii history, with Hawaii taxpayers footing the bill….

read … Editorial: DHHL case must spur state progress

To Fund Fat Pay Hikes, Hawaii LG Sylvia Luke Spent Money She Didn’t Have--Governor Bails Her Out

CB: … Just before the close of the fiscal year, Gov. Josh Green stepped in with a $49,000 solution to a budget problem that threatened to expose Lt. Gov Sylvia Luke to possible liability and removal from office.

Luke had overspent her budget because she chose to pay her staff significantly more than her predecessor had – all without the money to pay for it. 

On June 30, the last day of the fiscal year, Green authorized the use of general funds to make up the difference so that Luke could make payroll, according to a memo obtained by Civil Beat via a public records request. …

Luke made changes to her department’s salaries after she took office in December. The deputy chief of staff position, which used to pay about $104,000, now pays $130,000. What were once administrative assistant jobs with salaries between about $40,000 and $60,000 are now director-level gigs paying $60,000 to $80,000….

read … Hawaii LG Sylvia Luke Needed Bailout From Governor, Documents Show

Hawaii Defense Contractors Likely To Get Probation For Campaign Violations

CB: … On Wednesday, federal prosecutors in Washington filed sentencing memorandums recommending leniency for Clifford Chen and Lawrence Lum Kee, who pleaded guilty in April for making illegal straw donations to Collins’ 2020 campaign while working for the defense contracting firm Navatek LLC.

In the memos — which were nearly identical — prosecutors said neither man deserves to go to prison because the conduct they pleaded guilty to was “an aberration in what was otherwise a consistent history of being a law-abiding citizen.” ….

Kao, meanwhile, will be sentenced separately. In addition to illegal campaign contributions, Kao has pleaded guilty in a separate case in which he defrauded a pandemic relief aid program out of millions of dollars. 

He also faces charges in another case involving alleged mortgage fraud. He has pleaded not guilty in that case….

read … Hawaii Defense Contractors Likely To Get Probation For Campaign Violations

Law Enforcement Standards Board Inches Toward Hiring Key Staff

CB: … The board was supposed to set minimum standards in 2019 .…

read … Law Enforcement Standards Board Inches Toward Hiring Key Staff

Board hearing over TMT construction is postponed

SA: … A hearing over whether the stalled Thirty Meter Telescope has officially launched construction has been postponed and will not be heard Friday at the state Board of Land and Natural Resources.

Meanwhile, Land Board Chair Dawn Chang has formally declared she can be fair and unbiased in the matter despite having previously worked for the University of Hawaii and the Department of Land and Natural Resources in matters related to the Mauna Kea summit and its astronomy uses.

Oral arguments in the hearing were deferred by DLNR after the parties involved reported scheduling conflicts. A new date for the hearing has not been selected….

read … Board hearing over TMT construction is postponed

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