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Tuesday, February 27, 2024
February 27, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:39 PM :: 1910 Views

Hawaiʻi educators urged to take part in presidential selection process

SHOPO & Maui County Reach Agreement on COVID Hazard Pay

The real cost of returning to the office in Hawaii

COVERUP: HART has never been audited and will now cancel next audit

SA: … Plans to scrap a previously sought top-down internal review of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation are expected for review today.

HART’s board of directors will consider a recommendation from its Internal Audit Committee to cancel a 2023 internal audit solicitation, the meeting’s agenda states.

According to its website, HART issued the latest internal audit solicitation in August, with a Sept. 30 due date….

But on Feb. 2 HART’s Internal Audit Committee chair, Edwin Young, said the board of directors should cancel procuring outside internal audit services until a better option can be created….

(Young covered up for Caldwell’s C&C as HNL auditor.  That’s why he was selected to be in charge of covering up for HART.)

Meantime, the request to cancel a planned internal audit rankled board member Natalie Iwasa, who claimed she’d been pushing for years for a full-scale review of HART’s inner workings….

“I just can’t believe it wasn’t established in the very beginning because we have a $10 billion project,” she told the panel Feb. 2, “and as the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners points out, organizations of all kinds have experienced approximately 5% loss of revenues annually, and one way to mitigate that risk is to have an internal audit function and a hotline.”

She said that “those two methods alone account for over 50% of frauds that are discovered.”

“So I am just really frustrated with this. … This board has discussed the internal audit function for four years now,” Iwasa said, adding that a prior peer review conducted by outside rail company directors yielded a detailed report. “The HART board adopted rules based on their report. The procurement was based on their report, and a lot of it is word for word.”

She added that although the board followed these recommendations, “at no point in the entire process did anyone say, ‘Hey, wait a minute, this goes against the charter.’ … So while I understand what we’re doing, I just wanted to express my frustration because this has just taken so long.”

Later, board member Roger Morton queried Young on whether city auditors have jurisdiction over HART. “And is it appropriate for us to look to them for providing that service, and are they willing?” Morton asked.

Young replied, “HART is a quasi-governmental entity, so they have no jurisdiction over it.”…

UPDATE: HART postpones discussion on scrapping internal audit

read … HART board to consider scrapping internal audit

Affordable if you make $186K per Year

CB: … now the HHFDC will be in charge, with planner Dean Minakami, a veteran of firms like Alexander & Baldwin and Castle & Cooke, in charge. 

(CLUE: “Alii Trust Agenda.”)

Minakami stressed in an interview that HHFDC projects eligible for the waivers would have to include a substantial percentage of homes sold at below market rates. 

Specifically, he said, under the new order qualifying projects would have to set aside 60% of the units at prices considered “affordable” for people earning no more than 140% of the area median. That is individuals earning no more than $128,380 and four-person families earning up to $183,400, according to HUD guidelines. 

At current interest rates, of about 6.5% for Honolulu, that amounts to $712,700 for a four-person home and $498,900 for a one-person home, according to HUD’s most recent guidelines, for 2023.

“It’s basically a working class family,” Minakami said (without even a smirk)….

(CLUE: “Alii Trust Agenda.”)

read … Why The State's Housing Working Group Is Being Dissolved - Honolulu Civil Beat

Almost 12,000 affordable homes in Hawaii could be lost over next 20 years, study says

SA: …Hawaii is at risk of losing nearly 12,000 affordable homes over the next two decades, according to a study commissioned by a nonprofit promoting action to prevent such loss.

AARP Hawai‘i commissioned the study from Washington, D.C.-based Smart Growth America, and is scheduled to brief two legislative committees today on results….

The study accounts for rental and owner-occupied housing with affordability requirements expiring between 2023 and 2065….

(CLUE: If affordability requirements do not expire, owner-occupied units will be trapped without real estate appreciation necessary to build equity to buy a better home.)

Such housing, including many units reserved for seniors, typically was developed using local and/or federal government subsidies that came with affordability requirements often running for several decades. When affordability terms expire, such housing can be at risk of being converted to market-priced housing….

According to the report, Hawaii had 14,747 subsidized units with ongoing affordability terms before the Aug. 8 Lahaina wildfire, and nearly 80% of those, or 11,624 units, have terms expiring by 2045. Some of this inventory was destroyed by the fire.

A lot of the affordability term expirations are concentrated over just a few years from 2041 to 2045 affecting 5,423 units. Another 6,201 units have expiration terms through 2040, including 1,056 units through 2025. There are also 3,293 units with expiration terms from 2046 to 2065.

In some past cases of privately owned low-income rental housing projects in Hawaii, developers have acquired new government financing to extend affordability terms under acquisition and renovation deals. Sometimes, though, affordable housing is lost.

One past example that unsettled state leaders was Kukui Gardens, which long had been one of Honolulu’s largest privately owned affordable rental housing communities….

read … Almost 12,000 affordable homes in Hawaii could be lost over next 20 years, study says

These Billionaires Own 11% Of Hawaii's Private Land

F: … America’s richest have been buying in Hawaii for years, but no one knew exactly how extensive their holdings were. To figure it out, Forbes spent months digging through thousands of property records on Hawaii’s six biggest islands. …

NPR: Billionaire Marc Benioff is buying up land in Hawaii. And no one knows why : NPR

read … These Billionaires Own 11% Of Hawaii's Private Land (forbes.com)

Donna Mercado Kim Meets UH Regents. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

CB:… If you’re looking to perk up your Tuesday afternoon, consider tuning into the Senate Higher Education Committee starting at 1 p.m. That’s where three gubernatorial nominees to the University of Hawaii Board of Regents will make their respective cases before Donna Mercado Kim, Michelle Kidani and other senators.

Bring your popcorn. It promises to be quite entertaining, The Sunshine Blog hears….

Board of Regents v. Advisory Group: Speaking of the search for a new UH leader, earlier this month the 11-member Board of Regents postponed a vote on the candidates for the Presidential Search Advisory Group.

The proposed group includes Duane Kurisu, aio chair and CEO (that’s a magazine publishing company); Noe Noe Wong-Wilson, Hawaiian Civic Club of Hilo President; Livingston “Jack” Wong, CEO of Kamehameha Schools; and Dom Bonifacio, a student government leader from Leeward Community College.

The regents are expected to take things up again at a special meeting in the “near future” with BOR Chair Alapaki Nahale-a saying in a press release, “substantive issues need to be resolved for the integrity of the process.”

UH hopes to have a new president on board before the fall semester begins. David Lassner is set to retire at the end of the year….

read … Mercado Kim Meets UH Regents. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Puna 2005: Another Girl Almost Tortured to Death

KHON: … Alexis Lehman-Cabanting was 10 years old in February 2005 when first responders were called to the house she was staying at in Puna.

She was unconscious, with burn marks on her skin, half her lips gone and open wounds infested with maggots….

Her caretaker, Hyacinth Poouahi, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for abusing her….

In 2022, there were a total of 2,114 cases of child abuse tracked by the Children Justice Centers of Hawaii.

“Physical abuse is still the leading cause of death for young children,” said Kapiolani Medical Center’s Child Advocacy and Protection Center Director Dr. Patricia Morgan. “Children, definitely under the age of 12, and definitely under the age of four years, tend to be victims of physical abuse.”

Dr. Morgan said she is called to look at possible cases of child maltreatment several times a day in Hawaii. She said only 25% turn out to be abuse or neglect ….

read … Child abuse survivor raises awareness by sharing her story

Alleged Kakaako Killer Was Convicted of Rape One Year Ago--and yet was out on the street

SA: … Nielsen has a conviction record dating back to 2015. On Feb. 28, 2023, he was convicted of attempted second-degree sexual assault, second-degree assault and third-degree drug promotion. He was sentenced to one year confinement and five years’ probation.

He was also convicted in 2016 of assaulting a police officer, first-degree burglary, unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle and resisting arrest.

read … Man arrested in connection with fatal Kakaako stabbing of UH employee

Judge to decide if high-profile case should be delayed because of murder-for-hire probe

HNN: … The attorney accused of trying to order a hit on a federal judge and prosecutor wants her trial in a high-profile bribery trial pushed back again.

Sheri Tanaka’s lawyer told U.S. District Court Judge Timothy M. Burgess, a senior district judge for Alaska, that she cannot get an impartial jury in Hawaii given the publicity over a new, murder-for-hire investigation….

Attorney Mark Mermelstein told the court his client also isn’t prepared to go to trial because the new investigation has been a distraction and the FBI seized Tanaka’s phone and laptop while executing search warrants on January 23. Mermelstein said the devices contained information crucial for trial….

To that, Burgess asked why that information wasn’t backed up or provided to the defense team.

Silvert also asked why that would warrant another trial date.

“It’s been so long and the lawyer should be ready to go,” Silvert said.

Tanaka’s co-defendants in the bribery case do not want another delay….

CB: Federal Judge Says He'll Rule Soon On Motions In Kaneshiro Bribery Case - Honolulu Civil Beat

read … Judge to decide if high-profile case should be delayed because of murder-for-hire probe

Miske allegedly threatened a girlfriend’s ex: Like so many others, he ‘declined to prosecute’ 

ILind: … Kim declined to prosecute and signed a form withdrawing his complaint. He testified that he was afraid of Miske and was afraid of retaliation if he pursued the case. Wolf said he did not take written statements because Kim had decided not to press charges and instead reported brief verbal statements, leaving an incomplete record that Miske’s attorneys made the most of during cross examination.

Heather Freeman filed for a temporary restraining order in February 2016, alleging she was the victim of domestic abuse by Miske. However, she failed to appear at a court hearing two weeks later, and family court judge Paul Murakami granted a motion by Miske’s attorney, Alen Kaneshiro, to dismiss the temporary restraining order….

read … Miske allegedly threatened a girlfriend’s ex

Honolulu police fire 3 officers in Makaha crash case

SA: … Three Honolulu Police Department officers awaiting trial for allegedly causing a high-speed chase and crash and covering it up in Makaha in September 2021 were fired by the department.

(TRANSLATION: After 2 1/2 years of paid suspension, they will now be ‘terminated’ for two years.  Then arbitration will return them to work with back pay.  Net result: 4 1/2 yrs pay for doing nothing.) 

On Sept. 12, 2021, officers Joshua J.S. Nahulu, 37, Erik X.K. Smith, 25, and Jake R.T. Bartolome, 35, allegedly engaged in a high-speed pursuit of a car filled with six partyers from a beach park in Makaha.

“After an internal administrative investigation, Officers Joshua Nahulu, Erik Smith and Jake Bartolome were discharged earlier this month,” said Michelle Yu, an HPD spokesperson, in a statement.….

SA: Editorial: HPD needs culture shift to start at top | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)

read … Honolulu police fire 3 officers in Makaha crash case

$58K to Dry out a Bum

SA: … HB 2309 mentioned the center’s efforts and said that “a successful pilot program can do more to reduce the cost of restoring homeless persons to normalcy and independence.”

As of Monday, 146 people have been admitted into the ‘Imi Ola Piha Triage and Treatment Center. Of the 143 discharged, 114 people completed their detox and stabilization program, according to Angie Knight, IHS community relations manager.

Ellen Carson, an IHS volunteer, submitted written testimony in support of HB 2309, calling a homeless triage center “the best chance for our chronically homeless persons to get the help they need for recovery.”

Carson wrote that the cost for services through triage centers will amount to “much less” than if the homeless people enter the cycle of the law enforcement and health care systems.

“When a homeless person is finally ready to get help for addiction or mental illness, we need these centers to offer immediate beds and assistance, to help break the cycle of continuing homelessness,” Carson said.

The bill said that homeless people with behavioral health issues frequently rely on hospital emergency departments, which include emergency ambulance transportation and mental health evaluations — resulting in “millions of dollars each year” within Hawaii’s health system.

Each year, the average cost of detoxification is $1,536 for outpatients and $58,810 for residential patients.

“Saving 1,602 patients from outpatient rehab visits or diverting them from emergency medical treatment could save the state upwards of $2,460,672 and $5,820,066, respectively,” the Legislature wrote….

According to Partners in Care’s 2023 Point in Time Count, 4,028 people experienced homelessness on Oahu.

Among the 2,824 people who were surveyed, 31% of them reported a substance use problem, and 39% reported a mental illness.  (The other 30% are liars.)

HNN: Arnold Buskey was admitted two days ago after living on the streets for the last 20 years.

read … Measure calls for homeless triage center

Lahaina Fire News:

Legislative Agenda:  

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