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Friday, May 13, 2016
May 13, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:14 PM :: 4230 Views

Full Text: IBEW International Details Charges Against Ahakuelo

Elections: Supreme Court to hear Green Party Suit Against Scott Nago

McDermott calls for special session to address Campbell HS construction funds

Mediator Peter Adler appointed to serve on Caldwell’s Ethics Commission

E-Scrips: New York First to Adopt Common Sense Solution to Opioid Abuse

Rusting Wind Junk off Waikiki? Feds Coming to Honolulu for Public Hearing

Dollar Worth only $0.86 in Hawaii, the most expensive state

Nepotism?  ‘Its Part of What We Do’

SA: …In recent years Ahakuelo was criticized by subordinates for his spending of union dues, including the hiring of five family members.

Ahakuelo earned $201,712 in 2015, while his wife, Marilyn, director of community services for Local 1260, was paid $105,119, according to the union’s most recent financial report filed with the U.S. Department of Labor. Their son Brandon received $143,274, while daughter-in-law Neiani, executive assistant, earned $77,656. Ahakuelo’s sister-in-law, Jennifer Estencion, senior executive assistant, had a salary of $101,855, the filing shows. A fifth family member, son-in-law Eric Falkner, was hired in March as a training coordinator/organizer for $125,000 a year, though he lives in Las Vegas, according to IBEW records.

“If you go through local unions across the country, you have family members who work there. … It’s part of what we do,” Ahakuelo said. “If you look at how many family members I have working at the union and you look at the total number of how many people who work on my staff, it’s less than 20 percent of the staff. I didn’t just go and hand-pick people. There were resumes put in, there was a vetting process and they were qualified to do the job. To go ahead and defame my family, to go ahead and defame the organization I built within the last five years … and then have people come in from the mainland and take it away from you, now that’s a tragedy.”

Damien Kim, business manager and financial secretary for IBEW Local 1186, representing nearly 3,900 local electricians, said union bylaws do not prohibit a business manager from hiring family members.

“But it’s up to each business manager on who they hire. Whoever you hire should be doing the job. There should be no issues if they’re doing their job,” Kim said. “In Hawaii there’s a lot of people that are related somehow. (Hiring) immediate family is a little bit tougher (to explain), but it’s not like it’s never been done in Hawaii.” ….

Several Local 1260 members, who asked not to be identified out of fear of losing union support, said many workers are aware of the alleged misappropriations. It’s a “touchy situation” because nobody wants to speak out against the union and risk losing protection, especially during a precarious time with the proposed sale of Hawaiian Electric Industries to Florida-based NextEra Energy Inc., the union members said.

“We let them do whatever they going to do, just for let us keep our jobs,” one union member said. “We know that they’re mismanaging funds, but what else we going do? (Without the union) we got nothing.”…

read … Union brass investigates local

“You Lied to Us Again” – Rail Costs Jump Another $350M

SA: …The official cost estimates for Honolulu’s rail transit system have grown by nearly $350 million in recent months, raising more concerns that the city’s new five-year rail tax extension won’t be enough to finish the project.

A budget update marked confidential and prepared by the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation in March shows that the rail agency’s estimates increased $348 million between that month and October, which is the last time the agency briefed the public with an official budget update.

The new local estimates, which are mostly based on the cost increases to build rail’s second 10 miles and final 12 stations heading into town, now put the project’s total price tag at some $6.9 billion.

The total costs have grown at least $1.64 billion since December 2014, based on HART estimates.

That price tag is poised to grow, however.

Rail’s federal partners say they believe the total cost is “significantly higher” than HART’s March estimates, although they haven’t finalized their own estimates yet, according to HART board Chairwoman Colleen Hanabusa.

Hanabusa provided HART’s March budget update to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser after a board meeting Thursday in which a project consultant repeatedly referred to a higher project cost than the rail agency had previously reported. Hana¬≠busa said she wants to keep the public and local leaders in the loop on cost estimates as much as possible.

“I don’t want (the City) Council getting more huhu with us — they’re already huhu with us — and then saying, ‘You lied to us again,’” she said.

read … You Lied to us Again

Rail Governance is now on Charter Commission Agenda with Lobbyist at Helm

SA: …The commission is in the throes of paring down some 180 proposed amendments to the charter. On Monday, the panel will discuss the recommendations by one of its sub-groups on suggested ways of changing the governance of the rail project, among myriad other topics.

Unlike amendments to the state Constitution, Rae said, in which questions left blank count as a “no” vote, charter amendments can pass with a simple majority of votes actually entered.

So it’s doubly important to put the most serious and carefully considered changes on the ballot. And there’s much more to do in the winnowing process before final proposals are finalized Sept. 1. These are what voters will consider in the general election….

QUESTION: There was a flap over you being part of the commission, having been a lobbyist for Campbell Estate/Campbell Co., saying you’d be conflicted over the rail issue. How do you answer that criticism?

ANSWER: Well, my job was never “lobbyist.” My job was doing entitlements, working with the communities, things like that.

Q: Were you registered as a lobbyist?

A: I did register …

read … Registered Lobbyist

Caldwell's Double Standard: Let Kealoha Keep his Job After Admitting he is Under Investigation

HNN: The mayor says the Honolulu Police Commission shouldn't take action against the police chief until charges are filed against him.

The remarks came a day after the police chief's newly-hired criminal defense attorney said he expects an indictment to be handed down in a federal investigation into the chief and his wife, a deputy city prosecutor….

Hawaii News Now has previously reported that a federal grand jury has been investigating potential civil rights violations against poliec chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, Katherine, a politically powerful couple alleged to have used elite police units to investigate relatives while they were involved in a family financial dispute.

Breiner said the police chief will step down if indicted.  (Translation: Therefore the Police Commission will not have to act and Caldwell is basically telling them to do nothing.)

He added, "As the chief has said, as long as he is not been officially charged with any particular allegation, he is going to remain the chief of police, and I support that."

But others say the chief can't perform his duties with the case hanging over his head, especially now that his attorney has essentially removed any doubt that there is a federal investigation into the Kealohas.

"I believe that what is best for everyone at this stage is for the chief to step down and be temporarily reassigned until this problem or issue is resolved," said state Sen. Will Espero, who has been critical of the chief and backed a number of law enforcement reform bills in the legislative session that just ended….

read … Any Rank n File Officer would Already be Suspended

Kealoha Lawyer Targets Officers Testifying Against Chief

SA: …Breiner said Kealoha should “absolutely not” step down, even if he’s indicted, because the indictment subsequently could be dismissed. “He’s entitled to his day in court, just like anyone else.”

(And as Chief, he can keep potential witnesses in check.)

Breiner said he has spoken to attorneys representing some of the officers who have been called before the grand jury, including several who invoked their right to remain silent.

(Translation: The Chief Knows Who You Are.)

Officers who invoked that right subsequently had family members subpoenaed, according to Breiner, who interpreted the tactic as a way for prosecutors to try to pressure officers into testifying.

As a criminal defense attorney, Breiner has represented clients who have sued the police department.

read … Counter Attack

Carlisle Announces Pro-Rail Mayoral Candidacy

HNN: …Speaking at a press conference in Downtown Honolulu, Carlisle said if he's elected, he will put the rail project at the forefront of his priorities.

“Rail, while it has many problems in terms of costs, there is no doubt that rail is the future of Honolulu,” he said. 

"I owe it to Sen. Inouye to do everything I can to get the rail project completed without hesitation and to make sure it's done to its entirety."

Carlisle, a partner at O’Connor Playdon & Guben, will be running against current Mayor Kirk Caldwell, who just received his first major endorsement for his re-election campaign from the Hawaii Construction Alliance.

When asked why he thinks he would make a better mayor than Caldwell, he said that he would be a better leader who makes firm decisions.

“A leader doesn’t put their finger to the wind and figure out which way the wind is blowing,” he said, referring to Caldwell’s style.

The 63-year-old said that if elected as mayor, he will likely only serve one term primarily because of his age….

read … Pro-Rail

How HECO Power Supply Study Designed to Promote Inter-Island Cable

IM: On April 1, 2016 the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ released their Power Supply Improvement Plans (PSIPs) Update Report….

One interpretation is that the Report supports the conclusion that O`ahu lacks renewable energy resources and thus an inter-island cable is needed if Hawai`i is to achieve its 100 percent renewable energy goal.

Diving down into the weeds, and drilling into the data, reveals another picture entirely. The Report intentionally excluded so many things that the conclusion was probably the result of reverse engineering. Develop an answer and then force the data to prove that conclusion.

Although the military would like to get off fossil fuels, and is in the process of building on-site renewable energy facilities, Pearl Harbor Naval Station, Hickam Air Force Base, Schofield Army Base and the Kaneohe Marine Air Corps Station were not included because they are military land.

The major populated areas of Honolulu were excluded because it is zoned urban.

Important Agricultural Land were excluded.

Land with a slope of 3-15 percent was included for wind but excluded for solar.

Roofs were excluded….

PBN: Hawaiian Electric to unveil next steps of new energy plan next week

read … Is HECO Gaming the Results

NYT: Keaau Plant Helps Biofuel Industry Cover Up Environmental Damage

NYT:  But after about $20 million and four years of operation, a central question about the plant, and the industry as a whole, has persisted: Do biofuels ultimately reduce carbon emissions?

“We’re worried that the efforts to ramp up our use of biofuels are actually doing a lot of damage and digging the climate hole deeper,” said Jonathan Lewis, a lawyer focused on climate change at the Clean Air Task Force.

Now, the biodiesel industry’s backers say they have an answer, at least for this modest plant. The Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance, a nonprofit industry group, commissioned an audit of the plant’s sustainability by an independent company, and the result was yes. It was the first United States-based certification of sustainability granted for a biodiesel plant, according to the alliance….

A decade or so ago, biofuels seemed to have great potential to help wean the country off fossil fuels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Plants absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, making them essentially carbon-neutral if used for fuel, the ‘thinking’ (hysteria) went.

Starting in 2005, the federal government approved requiring biofuels to be blended into the gasoline supply at increasing volumes, a move that, with generous grants and subsidies, helped spur their production.

But much of that was ethanol from food crops like corn and sugar cane, which led to criticisms. Using those crops for fuel can drive up the price of food and animal feed and release more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as farmers clear land, including rain forests, to grow more of those crops to meet the increasing demand. And although biodiesel differs from ethanol — it derives from oils rather than sugars and works in conventional diesel engines — it, too, can fall into a similar cycle.

“It’s a bunch of small economic steps, but if the end result is deforestation of a tropical forest, there’s a massive carbon pulse when you do that,” Mr. Lewis, the Clean Air Task Force lawyer, said….

read … Biofuels Plant in Hawaii Is First to Be Certified as ‘Sustainable’

Acting Skills Pry Money out of Legislature

Borreca: …What happened this year was new. The drama and dance department, which has one of the finest Asian theater programs in the country including kabuki and Beijing opera, went outside of the UH bureaucracy, and had its own request sent to the Legislature asking for money.

The plan was started by a drama student and legislative veteran, Dennis Ihara, who was told by Mitri that the department had no more money for paper for copying, that it was unable to pay for graduate students or student help, or even pay the light bill.

Ihara went to Rep. Ken Ito, chairman of the Culture and Arts Committee, who talked to Choy and the pair met UH faculty members.

“I was pretty shocked to find the department was getting shortchanged. They had cut after cut and (were) never restored,” Ito said.

The crusty former Kalani High School shop teacher was sold on the program when he learned of the awards won and the productions produced while the budget was being cut.

“They are very entrepreneurial. They clean the theater themselves; one faculty member even cleaned toilets. They are so motivated. I never saw faculty like this. I guess it is the motto ‘The show must go on,’” Ito said, adding, “You know I had tears in my eyes.”

Choy, a CPA, is not much of a softy, although he came away from the meeting with new respect for the UH program with its 17-member faculty….

read … Tear Jerker

Park marred by homeless? Let’s spend a jillion dollars!

Cataluna: What a cute example of positive thinking, estimating that it will take 20 years to clear out the homeless from that area. That might be a bit optimistic, but you people roll with it. Dream big….

SA: Public input crucial to park’s future

read … Park marred by homeless? Let’s spend a jillion dollars!

$50,000 Per Toilet for Homeless

KHON: …Manahan says $2 million has been budgeted for the plan, design and construction of the Iwilei center and the program costs about $600,000 to run.

When KHON2 asked Manahan if he believes people will use these facilities, he responded, “I think that’s what we are missing.” He says 60 people a day use the showers at the Chinatown station.

It costs $200,000 to retrofit each bus. Councilmember Ann Kobayashi says $400,000 has been put in to convert two buses with two toilets and two showers each….

Meanwhile: Obama to Invite Trannies to Party With Him in White House Bathrooms

read … And Another $50K for the Shower

HCDA Giveaway to Developers: Reduced Parking Space Requirements for Condos

KHON: …Regardless of what happens with rail, HCDA says it still wants to turn Kakaako into a less car-dependent area “and more pedestrian-centric, to make the pedestrian experience on the road much more positive experience,” Los Banos said. “If people are using the rail, not using the car so much because from Kakaako to downtown, they can jump on the rail. They can go downtown. Maybe you don’t need that many cars anymore.”

With no cars, there would be no need for parking stalls.

It’s up to the developers, not HCDA, to determine how many parking stalls to add. But, HCDA says, if the developers chose to provide fewer stalls for their condo buildings, homebuyers will benefit.

“The purchase price so for a building parking space cost about $40,000-$50,000 to build just the space, the structure, and everything like that, so that gets bundled into your home price,” Los Banos said.

HCDA is also looking at some other options, like car sharing.

“Maybe you need it for a few hours a day, and we’re talking about a bank of cars where you can book, reserve, rent for a few hours rather than owning a car,” Los Banos said.

HCDA plans to hold more public meetings with people who live and work in the area to talk about its development plans, and have some of the concepts underway by early next year.

read … Bonanza

Blood Bank Tries To Prepare For Potential Zika Outbreak

CB: A lack of approved tests for Zika or dengue leave few good options to protect Hawaii’s blood supply in a major outbreak….

read … Zika

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