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Wednesday, January 2, 2019
January 2, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:21 PM :: 3489 Views

Hawaii Rankings: Either the Best or the Worst

Feds say explicit photos led to Big Island firefighter in Kealoha case

ILind: … Sexually explicit photographs were found on at least one phone seized when federal agents raided the residences of Louis and Katherine Kealoha in October 2017.

Prosecutors disclosed the existence of the photos during a court hearing in August 2018. A transcript of the hearing became available through the federal court’s online PACER system this week.

Michael Wheat, a San Diego-based Deputy U.S. Attorney who is the lead prosecutor in the Kealoha cases, said during the August hearing that once authorities were able to get access to the contents of the locked phones, they found “photographs of nudity and genitalia” which “relate to Ms. Kealoha’s relationship with Jesse Ebersole….” ….

At least two devices, a phone and an iPad, were still locked and inaccessible to prosecutors as of the hearing date in August, according to statements made during the hearing. It isn’t currently known whether prosecutors have since managed to gain access to them…. 

SA: Feds recover nude photos on Katherine Kealoha’s phone

ILind: You saw it here first

HNN: Evidence of affair between Katherine Kealoha and firefighter included sexually-explicit photos

read … Feds say explicit photos led to Big Island firefighter in Kealoha case

Hospitals to Become More Like Used Car Dealerships 

HTH: … On Tuesday, The Queen’s Health System, which operates North Hawaii Community Hospital in Waimea, put the required information online.

“The Queen’s Health Systems sees this as an opportunity to improve communication with the communities we serve,” said spokesman Cedric Yamanaka by email. “By Jan. 1, 2019, we will have required standard pricing information of products and services available at our four hospitals, The Queen’s Medical Center, The Queen’s Medical Center-West Oahu, Molokai General Hospital and North Hawaii Community Hospital, available on our websites.”

But the listed charges, which Waltjen said would be the most the hospital can bill to a patient or insurer, won’t necessarily be what patients pay.

Instead, she likened it to a sticker price at a car dealership.

“(Do) you really pay that?” Waltjen asked. “No. You have a conversation with someone to figure out what your true cost is going to be.”

She encouraged individuals to talk to their insurance companies to determine actual out-of-pocket costs. Those without insurance can contact a patient financial counselor for options.

According to information on the HMC website, actual charges will depend on a variety of factors such as the length of time spent in surgery or recovery, the number of days spent in the hospital and whether additional tests are needed, among others. The list also does not include physician charges…. 

HNN: The chargemaster for Kaiser Moanalua for example has three different prices for a whole body MRI for “cancer surveillance" — from $2,554 to $6,720.

read … Hospitals must now post standard charges online

Wind farm impacts worry Leeward Oahu residents

SA: … City Councilwoman Kymberly Marcos Pine said she and other leeward community members were taken by surprise at news of Eurus Energy America Corp.’s purchase-power agreement with Hawaiian Electric Co. that entails a 13-turbine wind farm above the Kahe Power Plant since they had earlier expressed concerns about it.

Pine said in a news release that it was disappointing Eurus and landowner Gill ‘Ewa Lands were going forward with the Palehua Wind project without more consultation with residents….

Kioni Dudley, former chairman and member of the Makakilo-Kapolei- Honokai Hale Neighborhood Board, said he remains adamantly opposed to the project.

In late April, when he was chairman, the neighborhood board voted unanimously to oppose the project, expressing concerns over its impacts on animal habitats, particularly pueo (owls), as well as cultural sites and view planes.

“I don’t think I can stress how opposed I am to it,” he said. “This is just berserk. To destroy the natural beauty is just insane.”

Dudley said he is reminded of this every time he drives past Waimea Bay on Oahu’s North Shore and sees the Kahuku wind turbines.

“I very definitely do support the energy goals but I think this is a terrible mistake,” he said. “I think putting photovoltaic on top of houses is the way to go. If we put PV on every house, we wouldn’t have any need for windmills.”

Patty Kahanamoku- Teruya of the Nanakuli-Maili Neighborhood Board said a similar wind farm was proposed a few years ago and the community did not support it then.

“Now this has come up again. It caught us by surprise,” she said. “They have not come out to Waianae.”

The neighborhood board put the proposed wind farm on its agenda for its next meeting this month, she said, and has asked a Eurus representative to attend. She said the community is concerned about the view planes and ecological sites, and does not want Eurus to move forward with the permit process without talking to the community first.

“The Waianae Coast has been ignored and taken advantage of all the time when developers and contractors come out there,” she said. “We would like to be part of the planning and what’s going on. Nanakuli and Waianae didn’t have an opportunity to hear this.”

read … Wind farm impacts worry Leeward Oahu residents

Lawmakers Must Resist Any Effort To Undercut Hawaii’s Public Records Law

CB: … On the Friday before Christmas, the Hawaii Supreme Court issued a significant ruling in strong support of freedom of information.

It stems from a Civil Beat 2015 lawsuit that sought to access budget documents used to inform Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s spending plans for fiscal year 2016.

City officials denied the request, saying it would “frustrate a legitimate government function.” They cited the “deliberative process privilege,” an oft-implemented yet ambiguous public records exemption that, as it turns out, has long been abused.

On Dec. 22, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that the state Office of Information Practices — which administers our open records law, the Uniform Information Practices Act — had improperly cited the deliberative process privilege that had allowed agencies to deny records requests going back to 1989. The justices sent the case back to the lower court where we’ll see if the city plans to continue to fight the release of four-year-old budget documents.

Now it is the job of the Hawaii Legislature to strengthen that transparency and make sure that our public records law is not undermined by agencies seeking to end-run the high court, in this legislative session or those in the future….

read … Lawmakers Must Resist Any Effort To Undercut Hawaii’s Public Records Law

Not Many Doctors Want to Prescribe Death

HNN:  … The law requires patients to obtain two, independent diagnosis that they have six months or less to live. They also must go through psychological counseling.

The state Department of Health is providing guidance to physicians and patients with a new web page providing all of the required forms and instructions.

But some healthcare providers and pharmacists still oppose the measure. Some on religious or ethical grounds. Others say it’s not practical.

“It’s really not physician-assisted suicide, it’s doctors writing a prescription to a legal dose of medicine to the kill the patient,” said attorney James Hochberg, president of the Hawaii Family Advocates, which opposes the new law.

“And that’s inconsistent with the Hippocratic Oath.”

Hochberg said the actual process is cumbersome, making it difficult for terminally ill patients to take the full required dose.

“People assume that the doctor writes you a prescription for a pill. You decided you want to take it and you die," he said. “That’s not the way it works. You get 100 capsules and you empty the contents. You mix it and you wait hour." ….

SA Editorial: Aid-in-dying, pesticide ban laws to watch

read … Hawaii now allows terminally ill patients to take their own lives with prescription drugs

Hooser Having Difficulty Rounding up Support for Minimum Wage Hike

KGI: … In response to my previous column “Hawaii’s minimum wage needs to start at $17 and strive to be a living wage,” a woman wrote to me saying “I have voted for you in the past but it seems you have moved too far to the left …” She then wrote about how she opposed “too much government” and about how increasing the minimum wage would cause “the price of everything to go up.”

I suspect this woman is strong on environmental issues and has supported me over the years because of my likewise strong positions on environmental protection and land use. I appreciate that support enormously. …

SA Column: Workers need $17 minimum wage

read … Wage legislation — radical leftist or essential centrist?

State attorney general opposes Abigail Kawananakoa trust changes

SA: … The state attorney general is opposing a change made to Abigail Kawananakoa’s trust that ensures her wife will receive $40 million and all of her personal property.

In a court filing last week, Russell Suzuki argues the trust amendment is too complex and, therefore, invalid based on First Circuit Court Judge R. Mark Browning’s ruling that the Campbell Estate heiress lacks the mental capacity to consider such a move.

Kawananakoa’s lawyers are seeking Browning’s approval for several changes, which also include distribution of her horse- breeding shares, personal residence and properties owned by the Kawananakoa trust to the heiress’s wife, Veronica Gail Worth….

There are several other significant changes to the revocable living trust, including the addition of new beneficiaries, the removal of former servants as beneficiaries and a distribution to a new, unnamed charitable foundation.

A court hearing on the validity of the amendment will be held Feb. 21….

Flashback: Kawananakoa Estate: Sex, Drugs, and Inequality

read … State attorney general opposes Abigail Kawananakoa trust changes

Water bill spikes prompt warning from Pearl City residents

KHON: … Watch your water bills. That's the warning from some Pearl City residents who caught the Board of Water Supply billing them for more water than they used.

Customers who didn't get a fix reached out to Always Investigating and we found it's a combination of mistaken entries and estimating by the Board of Water Supply….

So she asked the water department when they took her reading, then she checked her own water meter.

"It was 9 days after they quoted me reading it and it was way 3000 gallons below what they read it.," Elisala said.

Yet about a full month's worth of her usual usage was tacked on top of what she saw on her own meter.

"I called the Board of Water Supply and gave them the reading and she said how did you know, I said because i came out on my knees and read my meter and took pictures of it," Elisala said.

Always Investigating went to see for ourselves and indeed now about a month after that board of water supply bill the meter had just then caught up with what they had already charged for. We saw the same happened next door.

"That doesn't seem logical, they show her usage at 5000 gallons so if 5000 gallons it's only gone up 2,000," Elisala wondered.

And again on down the street, some dating back months

"This one is crazy its the same type of a spike he is normally running about 6000 and up here he's 11," Elisala said. 

Always Investigating pointed out that his meter too is way close today to what they say it was back in the fall.

"We don't know how far it goes and I'm not going to bother the whole neighborhood," Elisala said….

We followed up and the Board of Water Supply told Always Investigating that November reading was incorrectly entered into the system.

We asked how could that happen and they said: "Human error. The water data collector misreads the meter or incorrectly enters the number on their handheld device."

More bad news came by mail when another batch of bills arrived just after our inspection, and again, meter charges higher than the meter was really reading….

read … Water bill spikes prompt warning from Pearl City residents

Junk Cars: Can Technophiles Control the Little People?

CB: … Fukunaga wants the city to fine those who’ve abandoned a car $1,000 the next time they try to register a vehicle. The fines would be in addition to the $160 ticket issued by police for abandoned cars. Many of those tickets are never paid.

Through a free program, the city currently offers to tow and dispose of unwanted cars and relieve the owners of outstanding registration fees. But people continue to ditch their old cars in public places, blighting neighborhoods and frustrating officials.

State and local law enforcement agencies issued 5,603 tickets for abandoned cars on Oahu alone last year through Dec. 20, according to data from the Hawaii State Judiciary.

Towing companies contracted by the city removed more than 3,000 abandoned and derelict vehicles from Oahu roadways last year, an increase from 1,971 last year, according to the city’s Department of Customer Services.

Under a measure Fukunaga has introduced, anyone who abandons a car would not be able to register a new car or renew the registration for another car without first paying a fine. …

But officials from the Department of Customer Services, which oversees motor vehicle registration for cars on Oahu, said an antiquated database and other issues would make it impossible to actually levy the fines.

The problem, officials say, is that when someone walks into a satellite city hall to register a new car or renew a registration, the city has no way to determine if that person is guilty of having abandoned a car.

The department relies on a state-owned database of registered cars, according to Abul Hassan, Honolulu’s motor vehicle administrator. The database includes information such as license plates and vehicle identification numbers, as well as the names and addresses of registered owners. But the names aren’t associated with other forms of identification, like credit history information or social security numbers, he said….

(Do you see where this is going?)

“We have a problem with identifying the correct individual, especially if individuals have common names,” said Randy Leong, Department of Customer Services deputy director. “There could be 10 … John Smiths coming in to register their car but one of them has abandoned their vehicle and we wouldn’t be able to definitively identify which John Smith it is.

The database can’t be updated because the employee who understood its programming code “has long retired, there’s no new talent that actually writes code for this sort of database,” Hassan said.

The state Department of Transportation owns the database and has no plans to modernize it, a process that could cost millions of dollars, according to DOT spokesman Tim Sakahara….

(Translation: Can’t pay for Silicon Valley wizardry to catch every little person in every little thing they do.  This is a sales pitch for funding and a mandate.)

read … Cracking Down On People Who Abandon Cars Is Harder Than You Think

Addicted To Airbnb: Hawaii’s Tourism Economy Depends On Illegal Vacation Rentals

CB: … While calls for a crackdown on short-term rentals grow louder, their rapid expansion accounts for a big chunk of the recent growth in the state’s largest industry….

In order to get a handle on the online rentals, the HTA conducted another study gathering data from the three main online brokers: Airbnb, HomeAway and TripAdvisor’s Flipkey and removed duplicate listings to avoid double counting. According to the study, between 5 percent and 15 percent of the homes in Kailua and Lanikai have been turned into visitor accommodations.

It’s even more dramatic on the North Shore, where more than one of every four homes are tourist rentals, HTA says. The vast majority of the rentals are illegal under Oahu’s land-use law, which generally prohibits short-term rentals outside of resort zones like Waikiki and Ko Olina….

read … Addicted To Airbnb: Hawaii’s Tourism Economy Depends On Illegal Vacation Rentals

Fireworks ban as ineffective as temperance

Cataluna: … People in this (anti-fireworks) group would not know where to buy illegal fireworks. No clue. They have, of course, heard all the awful rumors about members of law enforcement actually being the vendors of the annual contraband, stories that circulate every year without any sort of evidence. But if they suddenly decided to cross over and join the cult of explosivity, they would have no idea how to start. A dark alley in Chinatown? An ad on Craigslist? A rusty warehouse hidden by scrub brush? Text 1-900-Go-Boom?

In a town not known for keeping secrets, the distribution chain of illegal fireworks is the biggest shared secret of all.

The first group is winning. Has always won. Will continue to win. There is no political will or wave of community pressure to encourage any government agency to stop the importation of these explosives. You can’t bring a jar of peanut butter on the plane but somehow, enough explosives to turn all of Oahu into a full-scale war zone slip into the state undetected.

On the supply side, too many well-connected people must be making untaxed money hand-over-fist by this annual enterprise. On the demand side, too many people are willing, gleeful consumers of something they believe is worth any perceived risk.….

read … Fireworks ban as ineffective as temperance

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