Governor, AG Oppose Proposed Federal DHHL Rules
Marijuana behind OHA's push for Federal Recognition?
Six DoE Sex Education Curricula Reviewed
DBEDT Releases New Edition of Hawaii Data Book
Marijuana Dispensary Licensing "Rigged, Headed Down Wrong Path"
CB: Will the public get input into crucial rulemaking and a transparent view of how dispensary licenses are awarded?
...a lot remains to be decided about program rules and how the state Department of Health will choose companies to receive eight coveted licenses to grow and sell cannabis.
It’s been only a month since Gov. David Ige signed the measure, and the department is still in the process of hiring staff to manage the program. It is charged with adopting rules to clarify criteria and procedures for selecting eight licensees that will be allowed to run two production centers and two dispensaries apiece.
Two big questions are how much input — if any — the public will have in the rulemaking process, and how much transparency there will be in the selection process.
Because lawmakers exempted the program from the state’s usual rulemaking requirements to expedite the opening of dispensaries, the department isn’t required to hold a public hearing or accept public comments....
Department of Health, which isn’t planning to publish interim administrative rules until Dec. 30. That would give companies only a month to fine-tune their plans before applications are due.
Bill Jarvis, (President of MobiPCS) a telecommunications business owner who is planning to apply for a license, said he still has many questions about the program, including whether the requirement that medical cannabis be grown in an “indoor facility” precludes greenhouses. He hopes he’ll have a chance to get some clarity on the law sooner rather than later.
“Every entrepreneur right now is making assumptions and decisions based on the bill as any of us have interpreted it,” Jarvis said. “I think that leaves a lot of room for mistakes and just heading down the wrong path.”
Numerous people who stopped by the National Cannabis Chamber of Commerce booth at a recent expo at the Hawaii Convention Center said they are interested in applying for a license, but worried the process would be rigged.
The department is still figuring out how it will choose licensees and isn’t yet sure how much information it will make public about applications and how they’re evaluated. DOH spokeswoman Janice Okubo said in an email that the agency will confer with the attorney general about what information may be disclosed and when.
Any perceived missteps by DOH during the selection process could trigger expensive lawsuits for the state. Legal challenges could also prevent medical marijuana dispensaries from opening next year....
read ... Secret Marijuana Deals
Hint Hint: As Cane Burning Case Approaches, Supreme Court Justice Wilson Says 'Environmental Court' will take care of "environmental problems that need to be addressed that aren’t being addressed"
Q: How did you go about structuring the environmental court?
A: The development of the legislation wasn’t something that I actually participated in, and the folks that did participate, and the reason they put the legislation together the way they did, has a a lot to do with what is happening to our natural resources.
The genesis of that is Jan Dapitan as well as Denise Antolini, professor at the University of Hawaii law school, who is very aware of (ie delusional about)what’s happening, broadly speaking, to our environment.
The purpose, and it’s in the statute, is to recognize that we’re facing environmental problems that need to be addressed that aren’t being addressed, and in order to take care of these very pressing issues we need to have a court that can address land, air, water, the environment.
Q: Could you give me examples of cases that have come through the court system that would have benefited from being heard in the environmental court?
A: Cases like the Superferry. It was an important court case decided by the Supreme Court that would have probably started off in environmental court.
Q: What would have been the difference?
A: Hindsight is probably not possible with respect to cases that have already come before the court. The future of the environmental court is anticipated to be one in which there is a consistent gathering of information before judges that will have a history of the subject matter.
That would mean that there would be a level of consistency with respect to technical issues. Technical issues might pertain to things such as erosion issues; issues dealing with the use or misuse of resources in parks; misuse in terms of illegal harvesting. It could also involve issues dealing with improper land use practices, issues that deal with taking of species illegally.
read ... Hint, Hint
AG Subpoenas Hawaii County Officials in Kenoi pCard investigation
WHT: The state Attorney General’s Office remained mum Thursday on the status of a criminal investigation — or even if there’s an ongoing investigation at all — into Mayor Billy Kenoi’s use of his county-issued purchasing card, as the County Council prepares next week to clarify rules governing the taxpayer-backed pCards.
It’s been four months since Attorney General Doug Chin announced in a news release that his office was investigating “facts related to Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi’s use of his county-issued purchasing card, or PCard.”
“Facts learned during the course of the investigation will determine whether the attorney general’s office pursues or recommends criminal charges, administrative discipline or no further action,” Chin said in the April 14 news release.
Spokesman Joshua Wisch told West Hawaii Today on Thursday that it’s Attorney General’s Office policy not to comment on ongoing investigations. Kenoi has hired three Honolulu attorneys, including top criminal defense attorney Howard K.K. Luke, who didn’t return a telephone message Thursday....
Several individuals associated with county government have been interviewed by the attorney general after being subpoenaed in connection with the case. They declined to give the newspaper details and asked that their names not be made public.
read ... Investigation?
Electric Rates Drop 2.5% on Lower Oil Prices
SA: ...Customers’ bills fell $3.70, or 2.5 percent, this month, after climbing in June and July.
The typical residential bill decreased slightly due to lower oil prices, according to Hawaiian Electric Co., the state’s largest utility provider with service to Oahu, Maui and Hawaii island.
The bill for a typical household using 500 kilowatt-hours on Oahu is $142.51 this month, HECO said. The price per kilowatt-hour decreased to 26.4 cents this month from 27.2 cents in July, when the average bill was $146.21.
Hawaii has the highest electrical rates in the nation due in part to the state’s dependence on imported oil for most of its power.
In 2013 oil made up roughly 72 percent of the HECO companies’ energy mix. Other states use natural gas, but the alt-energy scammers and the so-called environmental groups which front for them are working feverishly to keep LNG out and electricity high....
read ... Falling Electricity Rates Scare Scammers
DoTax Claims to be Modernizing, Begins Spending $32M
CB: ...In 2013, the Legislature provided $32 million to fund the five-phase project through fiscal 2018. The project is scheduled to be completed by the middle of 2019.
“Tax System Modernization will transform how we work and will enable us to better serve our customers — the taxpayers of the State of Hawaii,” Tax Director Maria Zielinski said in a news release Thursday.
“Converting a paper-focused manual process to a technologically-driven process will giver our employees the tools they need to do their jobs faster and more efficiently,” she said.
The state has tapped FAST Enterprises to handle the project. The software and consulting company has implemented tax systems for 21 other states and the District of Columbia, according to the release....
read ... $32M Spent FAST
State lawmaker requests emergency funds for 24/7 security in Kakaako
KHON: ...Rep. Scott Saiki, D, who represents the area, says he wants to see 24/7 security patrols in Kakaako.
“The governor’s leadership council has been working pretty diligently for the last three weeks and we are working to find ways and to divert residents from Kakaako to other areas,” he said.
As far as a timeline on when there will be more patrols and security, Saiki said, “It depends on the availability of funding, but this is an emergency, so we’ll look for funds that can be released as soon as possible.”
A security manager with Star Protection Agency says he has seen an increase in the need for more patrols.
Rodney Kahalepuna says being a security officer in that area “can be trying, especially for an officer if they are brand new to the industry.”....
CB: Photos of Tweeker Camp under Nimitz
read ... Trying
Lawyers Eager to Keep Homeless on Street
HNN: ...Mayor Kirk Caldwell believes Oahu's ordinance that bans sitting or lying down on sidewalks in areas of commerce would pass a legal challenge.
"We looked at the Seattle jurisdiction and we followed their model because it was actually challenged, and the challenge was not successful," he said.
The U.S. Justice Department said a law in Boise, Idaho, that makes it a crime for homeless people to sleep in public when there is insufficient shelter space constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.
Attorney Gavin Thornton from the Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice sees a relationship to sit-lie.
"In the Department of Justice's opinion it's related to whether people have alternatives. And I think here a lot of people don't right now. The further you expand it the further you exacerbate that problem," he said....
DN: Out of the mouths of babes: Compassion for Honolulu’s homeless in Kakaako
read ... Alternatives
PHOCUSED Plan: Keep Homeless on the Street to Rack up Federal Money
SA:...But the governor said that among the reasons to delay dismantling the Kakaako encampment is the need for better data on the population there.
The survey is required for the state to be eligible for federal money for homeless programs, Ige said, to better match their needs with bed spaces and social services.
What’s frustrating, though, is that government and service agencies have been gathering data for months now, under a newly unified form.
Simply put, the state and city should have been on top of this requirement by now....
read ... Keeping PHOCUSED on the Money
Asset Forfeiture -- HPD's $15M stash of cash
HNN: The Honolulu Police Department needs new police cars, motorcycles, and video surveillance machines. They've asked the Honolulu city council for $2.6 million from taxpayers but Hawaii News Now has found an HPD account that has six times that amount, just waiting to be used.
It's called the Federal Asset Forfeiture Account. When the FBI, DEA, ICE, or other federal agencies raid gambling or drug operations with HPD, the items seized are sometimes sold. The profit is shared with the participating agencies. HPD has built quite a coffer but the department isn't spending the money available.
Hawaii News Now looked back a decade. 2004 was a good year with $1.3 million added to the account. HPD spent only a little more than 200-thousand of that. Back then the cash balance was about $6 million.
But over the years the balance ballooned to more than $13 million in 2010. And now, the balance is nearly $15 million. So far this year, HPD has only spent 37 thousand dollars....
Read ... Stash of Cash
Honolulu Police officer arrested again, this time in SWAT raid
HNN: Alan Ahn, a 9-year veteran of the force, was arrested this morning in a drug raid on a McCully home.
Ahn had been arrested on July 13 for abuse of a family member but the Honolulu prosecutor's office declined the case because the victim was not cooperative. That victim, Tiffany Masunaga, is Ahn's girlfriend. She was with him when the raid happened and was also arrested this morning.
Neighbors tell us the McCully street was lined with police cars this morning after the SWAT team, Narcotics and Vice went in to execute a warrant.
Both Ahn and Masunaga were arrested for numerous drug crimes. Neither has been charged.
Outside the home, a Porsche SUV, a Maserati and several other cars. Neighbors wondered how Masunaga could afford the luxury rides....
Kojima and other neighbors say they would always see Officer Ahn's police car parked outside the home too. He had a take-home patrol car.
read ... SWAT
Air Conditioned Portables for Campbell, Kealakehe
HNN: ...Portable classroom structures used during last year’s emergency lava evacuation for Keonepoko Elementary School will now go to two public high schools in an effort to reduce classroom overcrowding and help with a renovation project.
The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) leased 10 portable structures to create Keonepoko Elementary School North in October 2014 when encroaching lava threatened the school. In May 2015, the emergency was lifted and the Keonepoko Elementary students and staff have since returned to their original location.
The Department will be purchasing the 10 structures for $1.6 million and move them to Kealakehe High and James Campbell High. Two of the larger structures will go to Kealakehe High to provide four ‘swing space’ classrooms for use during a science building renovation project. Eight portables will go to Campbell High to provide 15 classrooms. These portable structures have built-in air-conditioned units....
News Release: Temporary fix for space issues at Campbell, Kealakehe high schools found
read ... Air Conditioned
School parking lot project delayed five months, cost rises 25%
HNN: A badly needed new parking lot at Moanalua elementary school has remained unused for nearly five months because of safety concerns, frustrating families tired of a parking crunch there....
The DOE accepted the completed project from the contractor on March 27, DOE officials said. But then school officials were concerned about a steep slope to a drainage inlet in the new parking area, so they worried it was a safety hazard, according to a DOE spokesman.
"It's just really frustrating. Hopefully it will get fixed," said Teixeira.
So the DOE is paying $40,000 more -- a quarter of the project's original cost -- to install a new grate as part of a change order. Now the parking lot won't be able to open until September 8, more than five months after it was originally completed.
read ... 25%
Tarnas to Challenge Evans for HD7
WHT: Former state Rep. David Tarnas announced Thursday he’ll seek the District 7 state House seat currently held by Rep. Cindy Evans, a fellow Democrat.
The district includes North Kona and North and South Kohala.
Candidate filing for the next election doesn’t begin until Feb. 1, but Tarnas, 54, said he wanted to announce exactly one year prior to the Aug. 13, 2016 primary. He’s also had to open a campaign spending account after reaching state spending reporting limits.
Tarnas was the state representative for North Kona and South Kohala from 1994 to 1998, (two terms) before losing to former Hawaii County Councilman Jim Rath, a Republican. For the past two years, he was the Hawaii County Democratic Party chairman. (HINT: 10 years in Lege = lifetime pension)
read ... Needs Three Terms to Score Pension