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Friday, May 8, 2015
May 8, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:23 PM :: 6018 Views

Feds Grab for Rule-Making Authority over Hawaiian Homelands

Hawaii, Alaska Independence Movement Requests Russian Support

“We don’t follow laws, we make them”

Heritage: Jones Act Reform Part of Seven-Point Plan for Economic Recovery

How They Voted: HB321 Marijuana

Death Taxes: How Does Hawaii Compare?

CEOs Rank Hawaii 44th Worst for Business

Feds try to get Kauai Protesters Arrested: "I want you to hit me"

KGI: Malia Chow, sanctuary superintendent for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the altercation she had with fisherman Greg Holzman in Kilauea made her feel so unsafe she reported it to her supervisor and asked for increased security at the two remaining meetings. It also served as a perfect example as to why some sanctuary proponents told her they were afraid to testify publicly.

Holzman, however, said it was Chow who was the aggressor.

“I do regret the whole situation,” Chow said. “I regret that tensions were so high that it is getting personal.”

The clash happened before the start of the first meeting Monday outside the Kilauea School cafeteria.

Chow approached three opponents of the new management plan for the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary who had set up a table outside the cafeteria. They were distributing opposition pamphlets with suggested talking points.

Chow told the men to pack up their table. The building was being leased by the federal government for the purpose of a public hearing, she said, and outside vendors were not permitted to be there.

While accounts of the encounter differ, neither side said it was amicable.

Holzman, a commercial fisherman from Kekaha who was working the table, said Chow got in his face and yelled harshly at him to set up his table elsewhere.

Holzman said he questioned the validity of Chow’s authority to force him to move the table. He said he was taken aback by her response, which he described as uncharacteristically combative in nature.

“I said, ‘What are you gonna do, hit me?’” Holzman said. “And she said, ‘No, hit me. I want you to hit me.’ She was trying to get me arrested.”

When asked by a reporter Wednesday whether she asked Holzman to hit her, Chow said, “I said that? Yeah. He said the same thing. You have to understand in that exchange there is such anger towards me.”

Asked again if she told Holzman to hit her, “I did not say that,” Chow said.

On Thursday, Chow again changed her answer: “To be really honest, in the heat of the moment, I don’t know who said what. I do know that he was so angry with me.”

Dave Stewart, 59, of Hanalei, said he saw the whole thing....

“She was literally in his face with her chest puffed out and her finger in his face,” he said. “Her nose was maybe two inches away from his nose. We were pretty much in shock. We didn’t expect that kind of anger.”

Reality: Feds Grab for Control of 1,601 square miles of Hawaii Waters

read ... Federal Trick Fails

Borreca: Randy Perriera a Big Loser?

Borreca: This 2015 edition of the state Legislature is providing both winners and losers for Hawaii's political class....

Some political players ended the session with a glass half-full or half-empty, depending on where you sat at the bar. 

Randy Perreira, the politically potent HGEA executive director, has bragged to public workers in past years that he could and would kill any bill that allowed the privatization of the Maui hospital. This year, while Perreira was unable to stop it, he was able to get a six-month job security guarantee for state workers and also have Gov. David Ige conduct the hospital sale negotiations....

read ... HGEA Half Empty

City Ethics Commission investigating HPD chief

HNN: The Honolulu Ethics Commission is investigating Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha to determine if he abused his power in a police investigation of his wife's uncle who was later charged with stealing a mailbox from the Kealoha home, sources told Hawaii News Now.

At issue: whether Kealoha overstepped his authority because specialized police units were used for surveillance and the arrest in what was a relatively minor crime at his own house....

Sources said the amount of HPD resources used in the case raised ethical questions.

For instance, in an unusual move, HPD assigned a homicide detective to handle the mailbox theft investigation.

Police CRU and CIU units performed surveillance for several days on Kealoha's wife's uncle, Gerard Puana, who the Kealohas accused of stealing their mailbox, sources said.

But sources said the police report in the mailbox case left out key information in what some consider a cover up.

The HPD report claimed CRU officers were used only in Puana's arrest, not for days of surveillance and the report completely left out CIU's involvement....

The Ethics Commission's lead investigator in the case is a well-known retired police captain who used to run the Crimestoppers program. Letha DeCaires left HPD after a 27-year career when she was not promoted by Kealoha's administration....

During the trial, Silvert asked key questions of Niall Silva, the HPD officer who recovered the black and white surveillance video of the mailbox theft from the chief's house. Silvert said he wanted to know why Silva went to the Kahala home to review the video hours before Katherine Kealoha reported to 911 that the mailbox theft happened. Silva is now retired from HPD.

read ... Ethics?

Police Reforms Killed in Conference Committee

SA: ...even a limited plan for a body-cam pilot program in county police departments failed to survive the legislative session, done in during conference committee, reportedly over funding concerns....

Among the worthy goals unmet:

» Body cams: The known presence of cameras would reduce use of excessive force by officers, and protect officers from false accusations by people they arrest.

Neither Senate Bill 199 nor House Bill 365, which would have funded limited pilot programs, won approval.

» Transparent discipline: Senate Bill 497 would have eliminated an exemption in the state's public records law that shields the disciplinary records of police officers suspended for misconduct....

» Domestic violence: Companion measures (Senate Bill 396 and House Bill 456) would have specified that allegations of domestic abuse against a police officer need not be made in writing or sworn to by the complainant, requirements that advocates say deter victims from coming forward.

» Definition of custody: Senate Bill 1335 sought to clarify when citizens are in police custody. It was inspired by a Honolulu police officer accused of fondling a teenager he had pulled over for speeding last fall....

» Carrying a gun while drinking: House Bill 888 died on the House floor, after making it through conference committee and out of the Senate. The bill would have made it illegal to recklessly possess and discharge a loaded firearm while intoxicated. The case of an off-duty Honolulu police officer who apparently accidentally shot a woman at a bar last month brought attention to this issue.

» Authority to fire police chief: Senate Bill 677 would have allowed each county mayor to fire his county's police chief "for good and just cause, upon approval by the police commission." Disputes involving police chiefs on Kauai and Oahu inspired the measure.

» Standards board: Hawaii is the only state that does not have a statewide police standards board. Senate Bill 568 would have set minimum training standards and created a certification process. Although the bill raised many jurisdictional and funding issues, this idea must be kept alive as a way to impose more transparency and accountability on Hawaii's powerful police departments.

read ... Police Reform

Dozens of UH P-Card Users Rack up $100K-$200K Each

KHON: ...in 2010, the state auditor put out a report that was part crystal ball in light of recent pCard scandals on the Big Island and Maui.

“I think more oversight from State Procurement Office is what we recommended in the first part,” said state auditor Jan Yamane. “I think that would still be in order. I think that recommendation stands.”

So do six other auditor recommendations that never resulted in any changes.

“We spend all this money on all these audits and reports, and we don’t do a good enough job of following through,” said Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, D-Kapalama, Alewa, Kalihi Valley, Ft. Shafter, Moanalua Gardens and Valley.

Oversight is still the major weakness from that audit that stands out today....

We’ve found some other interesting things in the course of our reviews. Total credit card spending at the University of Hawaii is about $25 million a year across 1,275 cardholders. The top 30 people spend between $100,000 and $200,000 each.

New pCard Statements:

  1. County of Maui
  2. University of Hawaii

read ... Unresolved Issue

Rail Will Use 122.4 GigaWatts of Electricity

IM: What is the anticipated load for Honolulu Rail project?

HECO gave the answer for rail. “The anticipated annual energy in GWh and non-coincident demand in MW for the Honolulu Rail Transit Project at full build out and ridership in 2030 is forecasted to be 122.4 GWh and 18.3 MW, respectively.”

KHON: Rail Construction damage cuts 100+ traffic cameras in Leeward, West Oahu

read ... Big Fat Electric Bill to be Paid

Telescope viewed as an opportunity for science education to some

AP: For some, however, the telescope represents an opportunity to get Native Hawaiian children interested in science, technology, engineering and math — areas that they've lagged behind.

"If you give kids opportunity, give them education, who knows what's possible. We need all the help we can get," said Richard Ha, a Native Hawaiian farmer on the Big Island who has long been supportive of the telescope.

Native Hawaiians make up about 23 percent of the state's population. A push by the University of Hawaii has resulted in 12 percent of STEM majors at its three four-year campuses being Native Hawaiian, up from 9 in spring 2009.

During the early years of the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope project's planning, officials met with Big Island residents and heard there was a desire for more high-tech jobs and education, said telescope spokeswoman Sandra Dawson.

"It became clear to us that supporting STEM, we can train kids and then hire them," she said.

In November, the telescope launched the Hawaii Island New Knowledge Fund for STEM education. The fund will contribute $1 million annually for the 19-year Mauna Kea sublease with the University of Hawaii.

The money is given to two foundations, which distribute the money to schools and nonprofit organizations. The $1 million was recently awarded, but telescope officials held off on announcing the winners.

"Everybody was afraid it would get lost in all the shouting," Dawson said.

The remaining funds will be disbursed as long as the project is under construction or in operation, she said.

Telescope opponent Kealoha Pisciotta calls the fund "buy-off money" that will cost Hawaiians their culture. "The money they've offered is really too little, too late," she said. (Or more to the point, Pisciotta wants the money to go to OHA rather than going to science education.)

read ... Telescope

Telescope Protesters: "This court has no legal authority over me"

HTH: ...Thirty of the 31, who call themselves “protectors” of Mauna Kea, appeared in Hamakua District Court in Waimea. They were joined in the tiny courthouse by an overflow crowd of more than 100, some of whom viewed the hearings from outside through the building’s screened jalousie windows.

One, Keoni Payton, a 39-year-old Kaneohe, Oahu, resident, was a no-show, as he was on April 28 in Hilo. Judge Barbara Takase issued a bench warrant for his arrest for contempt of court and set bail at $400. She also ordered forfeiture of his $250 bail on a charge of disobeying a police officer. His arrest, and those of the others, stemmed from the blockade of Mauna Kea Access Road in an attempt to prevent construction of the $1.4 billion observatory on the mountain they consider sacred.

Some face a charge of disobeying a police officer, others face charges of trespassing or obstructing a roadway, all petty misdemeanors punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Moanikeala Akaka of Hilo demanded the hearings be moved back to Hilo. “Are you just trying to give us a hard time because of the role that we’re playing in the community?” she asked Takase.

Another Hilo resident, Danette Godines, said holding the hearings in Waimea presented a hardship and took issue with being asked to come back June 18 for further proceedings.

“On April 28 we were supposed to be given our arraignment and plea,” she said. “I drove for over two hours, just for you to tell me to turn back around and come back another time? No. This is wrong. … This is undue harassment.”

Godines said she’d “like to hold this court in contempt of the law.”

Hawaiian sovereignty also was brought up by several of the defendants, including Akaka.

“As far as I’m concerned, this court has no legal authority over me,” she said.

Lakea Trask of Hilo said he’d “like to object to this whole process” and said he complied with the order to appear “under duress.”

“I’m only here, in distress, because of the threat of force,” he said....

Anastasha Dandelion Luttrell of Hilo engaged in several testy exchanges with the judge, who threatened to hold her in contempt of court. Takase warned her and others if they continued to argue or speak out of order she would find them in contempt.

As she did at the April 28 hearing, Takase granted refunds of the $250 bail to several defendants. The judge again denied the return of Luttrell’s bail money as she did at the first hearing after Luttrell said she had transportation problems. That prompted an outburst from Luttrell.

“I’d like to know why my bail’s being denied,” she said, loudly, as she was restrained by co-defendants....

read ... Contempt

Fear and Pseudoscience: Another Bogus Anti-GMO Pesticide Study Released

SA: ..."Pesticides in Paradise: Hawai‘i's Health & Environment at Risk" — which comes from the same outfit that helped propel the Maui GMO moratorium to ballot victory and lobbied unsuccessfully for pesticide buffer zones and public disclosure of pesticide use in the state Legislature — takes aim at Hawaii's seed crop industry and establishes what the center describes as a link between pesticide use, genetically engineered field test sites and public health risks in Hawaii.

Asked to respond, an industry spokes­woman fired back, saying (pointing out that) the Hawaii Center for Food Safety's report uses "emotional subterfuge and misinformation" to attack the state's seed companies in an effort to raise money for the center's political activities.

"CFS's continuing exclusive focus on seed companies is no surprise," Bennette Misa­lucha, Hawaii Crop Improvement Association executive director, said in a statement. "With this report, the organization is advancing its true mission — using fear and pseudo­science to raise money and perpetuate misinformation."....

read ... Pesticides report draws flak from seed industry

$3-5M Needed to Legally Launch Marijuana 'Dispensary'

PBN: The final draft of House Bill 321 passed by House and Senate lawmakers requires that applicants have at least $1 million in the bank and pay an application fee of $5,000 along with a $75,000 license fee due within seven days of acceptance by the Hawaii State Department of Health. Selected licensees will be announced next April and distribution will begin that July.

Local criminal and civil tax attorney Stephen Pingree, who has worked in Nevada for several years with their marijuana industry, says Hawaii lawmakers were particular when deciding who could be considered as a licensee.

“Not only will a successful applicant need to have that to satisfy fee application requirements, but will also need to have additional funds to build out the dispensary and production facility, hire employees, and pay for marketing, and testing,” he said. “It really takes at least probably $3 million to $5 million dollars to establish a successful business.”

...multiple businesses that appear to be interested in dispensing medical marijuana have registered with the state, including Hawaii Cannabis Center, Hawaii Marijuana Co., Hawaiian Medicinals LLC, and Honolulu Medical Dispensary LLC....

read ... Stupid Broke Potheads Need Not Apply

Honolulu is worst in the U.S. for affordable housing for young adults

PBN: Honolulu has the nation’s lowest percentage of available homes on the market that are affordable for millennials, a Seattle-based nationwide company that compiles and tracks real estate data has found.

Zillow reports that only one in four Honolulu homes, apartments and condos now on the market would be affordable to people between the ages of 25 and 34, the lowest percentage in the nation.

Los Angeles and San Diego fared only slightly better. About 26 percent of available homes on the market in Los Angeles were considered affordable for millennials, just below San Diego at 27 percent.

CB: You Are Not Alone — The Toll of the Price of Paradise

read ... Cost of Living

Opponents say Okada Trucking case raised Hawaii construction costs

PBN: “The decision has negatively impacted the public procurement process, has made public procurement more expensive, and now threatens to impact economic growth, to the detriment of the state,” Oshiro wrote in her analysis, titled “Okada Trucking: How the Supreme Court redefined what it means to be a general contractor in Hawaii.”

“At the same time, there is no evidence of any measurable benefit in terms of increased public satisfaction of safety as a result of the decision,” she added.

Under the decision, general contractors with either an engineering (A) or building (B) license now face more restrictions on what work they can do themselves and what they must subcontract to specialty licensees.

read ... Costs

After Launching TAT, Tourism Industry Now Surprised to See it 'Picking Their Pockets'

PBN:  You’re walking down the street in Waikiki and you discover that someone has picked your pocket.

You know the pickpocket, but you have a problem. The assailant has the legal authority to take your money.

What do you do?

That’s the dilemma that Hawaii’s visitor industry has faced for years. The pickpocket, in this case, is the state Legislature, which is well within its legal right to take the money. After all, it makes the laws.

The money in question is revenue generated by the Transient Accommodations Tax and the Timeshare Occupancy Tax. Together, they generate almost $400 million a year with most of it coming out of the pockets of hotel guests and time-share occupants. The taxes were created supposedly with one purpose in mind — to create a fund to market Hawaii to the world.

David Carey, president and CEO of Outrigger Enterprises Group, was involved in the creation of the TAT back in the 1990s.

“It worked very well for a while,” he told visitor industry colleagues at a PBN roundtable. “The fund began to grow. The industry thought the marketing budget would grow. Then the Legislature went, well, you’re fine with that number, let’s stop there.”

In the fiscal year that ended on June 30, 2014, the TAT and TOT generated more than $395 million. Of that, almost half — 47 percent — went into the state’s General Fund. That’s more than $187 million that initially would have been earmarked to promote Hawaii’s No. 1 industry.

It gets worse. The state’s marketers are working under a revenue cap, which means they don’t share in the higher tax revenue generated by record numbers of visitors. The Hawaii Tourism Authority, the state’s primary marketing agency, gets $82 million a year, but a huge chunk of that goes to maintain the Hawaii Convention Center. The counties share a $103 million revenue pie, a number that will revert to $93 million in fiscal year 2016-2017 if lawmakers don’t take action.

In short, almost half of the taxes created to help Hawaii maintain and grow its most vital industry are being siphoned off for other uses. Our No. 1 industry has had its pocket picked, not by some thief on Kuhio Beach but by the people who make the laws.

Meanwhile, the state is spending only $1.4 million a year to promote Hawaii in China, the world’s fastest-growing market in terms of outbound travel.

“It’s a tragedy,” Carey says of the amount of resources dedicated to global marketing. 

(No.  It's the inevitable result which comes from trusting government with your dollars.  If the tourism industry had a private trade association which it funded to promote Hawaii tourism, the TAT would have never become an issue.  Duh!)

read ... Just now figuring this out, eh?

Solar Scammers Game HEI Merger With Takeover Offer 

PBN: A hui of groups and individuals in Hawaii have formed an organization called KULOLO, or “keep our utilities locally owned and locally operated,” which is aimed at spurring the public acquisition of Hawaiian Electric Co., an executive from a company that's part of the effort confirmed to PBN Thursday....

"It's a serious effort," Robert Harris, director of public policy for Sunrun in Hawaii, told PBN.  (Know them by what they deny.) "The idea is to ensure that the public ownership option is put on the table and one that should be looked at closely." (Politician control, not co-op.)

He also noted that the group is in the process of inviting even more people and entities to be part of the coalition, although he declined to name current members, except for The Alliance for Solar Choice, whose members include Sunrun.

Reality for those who can handle it: SunRun, SolarCity: Hawaii Solar Installers Subpoenaed

read ... Hustlers

Overpriced Tesla Home Batteries: Who Will be Suckered into Buying Them?

HP: Many, however, aren't convinced the battery is revolutionary.

"There's been a lot of hype surrounding it, but all it is is just a battery," says David Kelly, CEO of Alberta-based solar energy firm SkyFire Energy.

"They've basically packaged up a bunch of lithium ion batteries with their battery management system and hung it on the wall."

Kelly says the Tesla batteries, which sell south of the border for between US$3,000 and US$3,500, not including the price of an inverter, costs roughly double the price of a lead-acid battery system. Either system could effectively store solar power in a home....

Related: SolarCity To Offer Off-Grid Tesla Solar Energy/Battery System To Eligible Customers In Hawaii In 2016

read ... Suckerbait

City Needs to Manage Bike Lane Projects Better, Audit Says

CB: Some projects were never built, resulting in a loss of federal funds. The lack of adequate financial tracking between departments is cited.

Background: Auditor: City Unable to Track Federal Transportation Funds

read ... Bicycle

Mayor Wright theft eviction reversed

HNN:  State housing officials are finding that it's harder to evict a man for theft than to convict him of the crime.

Back in 2012, Fetu Kolio, the former president of the Mayor Wright Homes Tenant Association, pleaded guilty to stealing $1,400 from the project. He was later evicted for engaging in criminal activity, which is barred under his rental agreement.

But on Wednesday, the state Supreme Court overturned the eviction, saying the rental agreement only refers to criminal activity that threatens the health and safety at the project....

The 48-year-old Kolio is a longtime tenant and a former resident activist at Mayor Wright.

He was instrumental in getting the state to fix the project's longstanding maintenance problems and was one of the initial plaintiffs who sued state housing officials over unsanitary conditions at the housing project.

That suit was recently settled with the state paying $350,000 to tenants.

read ... Reversed

Ex-Drug Court clerk pleads guilty to stealing $930 in gift cards

SA: A former state Family Drug Court clerk pleaded guilty Thursday to theft and paid back the money she stole by spending $930 worth of Kmart gift cards meant as rewards for program participants.

Filo Lise Atuatasi-Pouono faces no more than four years of probation, with no jail time, when she gets sentenced in July, according to the terms of her plea agreement with the state Attorney General’s Office.  She has asked for a deferral of her guilty plea for an opportunity to keep her criminal record conviction-free....

read ... Stealing

Former probation officer pleads not guilty to theft

SA: ...According to a criminal complaint the state Attorney General filed in state court last Friday, Freeman stole $2,665 that probationers had paid in fees, fines or court costs. The complaint alleges that he forged the receipts for $1,515 on July 1, 2011, forged the receipt for $1,000 on Apr. 24, 2012 forged the receipt for $150 on July 9, 2013.

Each of the receipts in 2012 and 2013 were single payments, according to the complaint. The 2011 receipts were for three payments each of $105, $150 and $250.

The state Judiciary fired Sasao on June 13, 2014....

read ... Theft

Hawaii could be first to Ban Animal Circus Acts

KITV: ...animal rights groups have pushed for a ban on traveling wild animal acts on the islands, such as the circuses brought in for Hawaii’s 50th State Fair.

“It sends a really strong issue that Hawaii is beyond that,” said Inga Gibson from the Humane Society of the United States. “We have so much natural beauty to be proud of. We don’t need these frivolous acts for sheer entertainment.”

However, three grizzly bears will still make an appearance at the 50th State Fair since they were approved before the governor made his decision....

The Department of Agriculture expects to place the ban on wild animal acts on the June agenda when they’ll ask the board for approval to go forward with the rule changing process. It’s a process that could take months, but in the meantime, permits will not be approved.

The ban currently does not extend to the Honolulu or Panaewa Zoo, the big islands' three ring circus....

Newsflash: PETA Kills Puppies

read ... Hounded by PETA Nuts

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