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Lawsuit Over Teen Raped by son of HGEA President Settled for $1.25 Million

CB: … The state has agreed to pay $1.25 million to settle a lawsuit over the sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl at a Hilo beach park by a state Department of Land and Natural Resources enforcement officer in 2016.

A Big Island jury in 2017 convicted former Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement Officer Ethan Ferguson of two counts of second-degree sexual assault and three counts of third-degree sexual assault in the case.

Ferguson was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison later that year. He was released from prison on parole on Oct. 17, according to the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation….

Ferguson had been discharged from the Honolulu Police Department in 2012 after nearly a dozen years of service, and HPD said it destroyed his disciplinary file. He was then hired by DLNR as a DOCARE officer in 2013.

Civil Beat reported in February 2014 that Ferguson had been fired by HPD after falsifying reports and lying to investigators about transporting an underage runaway.

Lawmakers later learned state officials knew Ferguson had been fired by HPD but did not know the details of Ferguson’s alleged misconduct while he was with the police department.

After Ferguson was arrested, Honolulu police disclosed they had told the state that Ferguson had been discharged and that the department would not recommend his hiring….

(So why’d they hire him? Simple  His mother, Jackie Ferguson-Miyamoto, was president of the Hawaii Government Employees Association --HGEA-- the union representing DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers..)

The settlement of the lawsuit over the assault is included in a package of funding requests for settlements and judgments against the state now pending action by state lawmakers in House Bill 2340 and Senate Bill 3029….

HTH: Settlement reached in Hilo case involving DLNR officer: Assault will cost state $1.25M

2017: DLNR Finally Gets Around to Firing Rapist Cop Son of HGEA President

read … Lawsuit Over Teen Who Was Sexually Assaulted By A DLNR Officer Is Settled For $1.25 Million

Next Step: HART Gobbles up TheBus

Shapiro: … HART is a semi-autonomous agency formed to build Oahu rail. Once operations begin, authority transfers to the city Department of Transportation Services, which reports to the mayor.

There’s interest among board members and others of combining the two agencies; the big question is whether it would happen by giving HART responsibility for operations as well as construction, or folding HART into DTS and leaving the city administration in charge.

Supporters of a merger hope to get the issue before a Charter Commission that will recommend changes in city government for voters to consider in 2026….

As HART Chair Colleen Hanabusa explained it at the board’s last meeting, “The people who spearheaded it were (former City Council members) Donovan Dela Cruz and Charles Djou, an interesting combination. … The purpose was to keep the then-mayor (Mufi Hannemann) out of HART. … This is the reason why HART was so weirdly formed in the beginning.”…

Hanabusa plans to poll the board at an upcoming meeting on whether to name its own working group to make recommendations or ask Blangiardi to create a task force with broader participation….

read … David Shapiro: Big changes might loom for Honolulu rail agency 

How much to tax tourists to be debate in Legislature

Borreca: … Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who is now Hawaii Tourism Authority board chairman, said “we don’t want to see a blanket fee that will go into a general fund.”

He added: “We want to tie it back to something that has to do with the environment, some type of impact the visitors feel they have when they come here. We’re OK with having that dialogue.” ….

Josh Green: Column: Finding new ways to make housing more affordable

read … How much to tax tourists to be debate in Legislature

Temporary campus opening for King Kamehameha III Elementary pushed back

SA: … Students displaced from King Kamehameha III Elementary School, which was ravaged by the Lahaina wildfire in August, will now have to wait until April to occupy a new temporary campus being built for them in Pulelehua, according to the latest timeline from state school officials.

In addition, many of the families and teachers of Lahaina’s Hawaiian-language immersion students say they are growing impatient in asking for classroom space for in-person learning together instead of leaving dozens online, and asking for state Schools Superintendent Keith Hayashi to meet with them as the state Board of Education had directed him last month….

The opening of the temporary campus being built in Pulelehua in West Maui, near the Kapalua Airport, has been pushed further back — and closer to the May 30 end of the state Department of Education school year — than at least some observers initially believed it would be.

Students and employees of King Kamehameha III have been working since mid- October in “high-quality tent structures” and borrowed classrooms on the campus of Princess Nahienaena Elementary School above Lahaina. Only roughly half of King Kamehameha III’s original student enrollment of 624 before the fires are attending classes on the Nahi­enaena campus, DOE data indicate….

read … Temporary campus opening for King Kamehameha III Elementary pushed back

Anxiety Sets In For Family Displaced By Lahaina Fire As Moving Day Looms

CB: … The Dadezes are excited to possibly live in a house after months in hotel rooms. But they know their next location won't be permanent either….

read … Anxiety Sets In For Family Displaced By Lahaina Fire As Moving Day Looms

Bill would clarify definition of ‘historic property’

SA: … While the current statute defining “historic property” only states that the site must be older that 50 years, the latest version of Senate Bill 68 would also require that it meet the criteria for inclusion in the Hawai‘i Register of Historic Places or that it have important value to Native Hawaiians or other ethnic groups through associations with cultural practices, beliefs, events or cultural identity.

Associations with traditional beliefs, events or oral accounts important to history, traditional practices and cultural identity also are criteria.

“Because of the state historic preservation statutes, part of it is cumbersome to initiatives by the state right now to create housing,” said Sen. Lorraine Inouye (D, Hilo-Pepeekeo), who introduced SB 68. “We’ve added a lot of positions to that office, but we also want to consider how we’re looking at making sure to consider economic benefit, as well as speed up permit approval.” ….

read … Bill would clarify definition of ‘historic property’ | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)

More conversions of Downtown Honolulu office buildings on the way

KITV: … A total of 1.2-million square feet of office space is expected to be turned into alternative uses like hotels and homes like the Davies Pacific Center in Downtown Honolulu….

"It stabilized the office market to keep it from cratering in regards to how bad or even when you compare it to some of the other metropolitan areas in the United States," Mike Hamasu, research and consulting director for Colliers Hawaii, told Island News….

The relocation of office tenants from buildings undergoing redevelopment to other office spaces boosted occupancy levels and Colliers Hawaii tells Island News that more of these conversions are on the way.

"The hope is that with all of these conversions that it helps to keep the office market from really facing some challenging times with rents sinking and vacancy rates rising," Hamasu said.

Although the outlook for the office market in 2024 remains uncertain, Colliers Hawaii noted that one thing's for sure - the COVID-19 pandemic reshaped the workplace with a decrease of more than 100,000 square feet of space that businesses are not leasing….

read … More conversions of Downtown Honolulu office buildings on the way

5 city park facilities closed due to vandalism

KHON: … Many residents on the Waianae Coast say illegal behavior and crime have taken oven their beach parks.

Susan Carpenter lives near Pokai Bay and said she and other residents pick up trash from Pokai Beach Park and Lualualei Beach Park weekly. “Needles, rotten food, bags of feces, mattresses, metal bed frames, you name it,” she told city council members on Wednesday during a council hearing.

In Oct., councilmember Andria Tupola introduced Resolution 23-267 which urges Dept. of Parks and Recreation and Honolulu Police Department to improve conditions, strictly enforce city ordinances, and address community concerns at Lualualei Beach Park….

The issue was highlighted after the restroom there went up in flames two days earlier.

Many community members said they’ve never used Lualualei Beach Park for recreational purposes because of the illegal activities that happen there.

According to HPD crime mapping from Aug. 1 to Dec. 31, there were 24 assaults at Lualualei beach park, two burglaries, 12 vandalism calls, two weapons calls, and a robbery.

The beach park is closed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., but according to the statistics 73 percent of the crimes happened while the park was open….

read … 5 city park facilities closed due to vandalism (khon2.com)

Lahaina Fire News:

Legislative Agenda: 

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