Did OHA really ‘Slash’ Trustee allowances?
Akina: Hope that Hawaii can change
Hawaii 3rd-lowest Employment Growth as Many Jobs go Begging
Mail voting and corruption
Lawsuit Launched to Protect Hawaii’s Cauliflower Coral
To What Extent Does Your State Rely on Individual Income Taxes?
OHA approves $100,000 in event grants
OHA seeks community input on its upcoming biennium budget
Ethics: City Employee ‘Likes’ Tommy Waters on City Time
Ethics: Caldwell Admin Asked Neighborhood Boards to Campaign Against HSTA Property Tax
VA Pacific Islands launching new community care options
Bipartisan Effort Urging DHS Action on REAL ID for COFA Migrants
First Dialysis Center Coming to Micronesia?
Witnesses: Kealohas Targeted Uncle Years Before Mailbox Theft
CB: … federal prosecutors are now making the case that the conspiracy started much sooner.
Much of Wednesday’s testimony focused on Puana’s 2011 arrest and prosecution for unauthorized entry into a home.
Among the witnesses were relatives of Puana, who said Katherine Kealoha called them in advance of his arrest and later entered his home with police officers after he was in jail so that she could search his apartment.
Another witness testified that Kealoha also orchestrated an attempt to overturn a judge’s decision to wipe the conviction for the 2011 incident from Puana’s record.
Wednesday’s testimony highlighted how the Kealohas began implicating Puana of possible criminal wrongdoing around the time that he and his mother started suspecting Katherine of stealing their money….
Gerard Puana’s 2011 arrest has come up before.
In December 2016, Puana filed a lawsuit against the Kealohas and several Honolulu police officers, including Minh-Hung “Bobby” Nguyen and Daniel Sellers, accusing them of abusive police tactics and malicious prosecution.
Puana’s lawsuit alleged that after his 2011 arrest, Katherine Kealoha “unlawfully” entered his home with the help of Nguyen and Sellers….
Puana said in the lawsuit that Kealoha stole approximately $15,000 in cash, a cap gun, two knives, a memory card, clothing and hats emblazoned with HPD’s logo that had been given to him by either his niece or her husband, the chief.
For 72 days, Puana was incarcerated while the unauthorized entry charge was pending against him.
During that time, he said Katherine Kealoha would set up meetings with him at the courthouse even when he didn’t have any hearings. He said he was transported by the Sheriff’s Division of the state Department of Public Safety.
In the lawsuit, Puana said Kealoha tried to convince him to enter a residential drug treatment program even though he didn’t have a substance abuse problem. She also told family members not to post bail or talk to him because she was “taking care of everything.”….
Jaunette DeMello said that before Puana’s arrest she received a phone call from Katherine Kealoha telling her that their uncle was about to be arrested.
“She wanted to warn me,” DeMello said. “She told me that Uncle Gerry was going to be arrested and she didn’t know if he was going to act violently or if there was going to be any commotion so she told me to get out of the house.”
By the time DeMello got back she said Kealoha and several HPD officers, including Nguyen, were inside the Puana household, with one of them at Gerard’s computer.
DeMello said Kealoha told her she found over 100 pills of “pure ecstasy,” which was a surprise to DeMello. She asked if she could see it, but she said Kealoha changed the subject.
“Well, how do you know it’s pure?” she asked….
The extent to which Katherine Kealoha inserted herself into Puana’s 2011 case became clear when the prosecution called on Thomas Cayetano to testify.
Cayetano is a deputy sheriff with the Hawaii Department of Public Safety. He said that while Puana was in jail Kealoha would ask him to set up secret meetings with her uncle in the basement of the courthouse.
To perform the favor, Cayetano said he would put Puana’s name on the court calendar even when he didn’t have a hearing so that he would be transported from his jail cell to downtown Honolulu to meet with Kealoha.
When Kealoha convinced her uncle he should join a drug treatment program to avoid jail, Cayetano said he was able to pull some strings at the Sand Island Treatment Center to put Puana at the top of the waiting list.
He testified that he did it at Kealoha’s request. The two had known each other for a long time, he said, and even served on the board of the Hawaii Law Enforcement Memorial Foundation together….
read … Witnesses: Kealohas Targeted Uncle Years Before Mailbox Theft
Trial set in missing police evidence case
WHT: … A retired Hawaii Police Department officer accused of illegally taking drug evidence from a police locker and notifying Hilo arcade owners of a gambling raid pleaded not guilty Wednesday to 10 criminal charges.
Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura ordered Brian Miller to appear for trial at 9 a.m. Oct. 14. ….
Miller, who is free on $10,000 bail, is charged with first-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, second- and fourth-degree theft, obstructing government operations, two counts of second-degree hindering prosecution, and four counts of tampering with physical evidence.
The most severe charge, first-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, is a Class A felony punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment upon conviction.
Miller, a 55-year-old retired Hilo Vice Section detective, is accused of stealing cocaine from a police evidence locker in May 2016.
In an apparently unrelated incident, he’s also accused of tipping off Triple 7 arcade owners Lance and Stacey Yamada about an Aug. 10, 2017, gambling raid on the downtown Hilo establishment and engaging in a conspiracy to hide or destroy gambling devices….
Also facing the same charges as Colon and Kaluhikaua is 67-year-old Chadwick Fukui, a retired police captain who once commanded the Hilo Criminal Investigations Division and worked as an investigator for the county prosecutor after his 2006 retirement.
On May 16, Fukui was granted a postponement in entering a plea…
read … Trial set in missing police evidence case
Why Is Every Legislative Session Shrouded In Political Mystery?
CB: …The much ballyhooed effort to raise the minimum wage was just one bill that died with no vote or announcement. Lawmakers didn’t want you to even ask, much less know….
The legislators’ old black magic “gut and replace” puts us in a spell. Everything suddenly changes. Important bills disappear into the night….
A key reason is that they don’t like to talk publicly about internal conflict….
Within legislatures elsewhere, there are two other potential sources of demystifying information that don’t exist here.
One is a strong minority party that could leak information and call out the majority, making the private more public. Nothing against the competence of our GOP legislators, but since they are few enough to all fit into one Smart Car, they really are not significant players.
The other potential source involves factions. Because the Legislature is so heavily Democratic, most serious differences occur within the Democratic majority. The problem is that our legislators don’t talk about them. For lawmakers “factions” is the f-word.
Hawaii’s factions are especially mysterious and opaque. In other one-party state legislatures, factions are easier to identify. They break down by ideology — liberals versus conservatives — or by personal attachment — for or against a governor.
Those two breakdowns are great cues for constituents, giving a strong idea where a legislator stands. Our Legislature’s factions appear to be nothing like that…
Overall, political knowledge here is sparse and shallow. People think they know more than they do about how things really work, often don’t realize the importance of things they don’t know, and consequently have a low bar for what passes for good political explanations.
So much political discussion around here is gossip and guess rather than analysis — the same old tropes about corruption, inefficiency and aloha rather than deep knowledge about our place and ourselves…..
read … Why Is Every Legislative Session Shrouded In Political Mystery?
After Lying About it, Anti-GMO Kauai Councilmember Cowden Accepts Russia Junket from Putin
KGI: … Councilmember Felicia Cowden (who, like Tulsi Gabbard, is more Russian than Donald J Trump) was not in attendance for Wednesday’s Kauai County Council meeting. She is traveling to Volgada, Russia to be a delegate at a Russian-American peace conference.
Cowden, who said earlier in the month that she would not be attending the conference in Russia, has now stated that she is attending the conference as a citizen rather than a councilmember (whatever). Cowden was required to provide the council with a written disclosure regarding the possibility of a conflict of interest in accepting a donation (free trip) from the Russian Center of New York (ie Putin) in the amount of $2,000-$3,000 for “travel-related expenses.”…
…with Ka‘eo Bradford and Lana Anderson as we leave for Russia tomorrow as guests of the Russian-American community attending The Fort Ross Dialogues in Vologda June 2-4, which is a cultural understanding of positive shared history and current collaborative efforts in Education, Science, and Business,” Cowden wrote of the trip on social media….
read … Cowden More Russian than Trump
Unable to Control Union Negotiations, Kauai Council Rubber-Stamps Bloated Budget
KGI: … The Kauai County Council has refrained from making public comment on the 2019-2020 fiscal year budget throughout the budget process, which started in March. But on Wednesday, councilmembers were allotted 10 minutes by Council Chair Arryl Kaneshiro to voice their thoughts about this year’s budget during the bill’s second and final reading.
The council voted 6-0 (without councilmember Felicia Cowden who was not in attendance due to a trip in Volgada, Russia) to accept the 2019-2020 budget that will have a $242 million operating budget….
“The only cuts that we had, $111,000 of a $242 million operating budget,” Councilmember KipuKai Kuali’i said of the cuts made to the budget throughout the formulation process, pointing out that equates to less than 1 percent….
Councilmember Luke Evslin thanked Kuali’i for his hard work throughout the process as well as Vice Chair Ross Kagawa for bringing up the issue of “spiking.”
“Nobody brought more attention to that (spiking) than councilmember Kagawa and I think it is important that we break that paradigm,” Evslin said….
“Our job is to try and figure out how to not increase the budget as much as possible, that the biggest expenses and increases come from our salaries, so we need to be able to continue to focus on that,” Chock said. “We run into this big problem about how we engage with that decision process because that’s really not within the council’s purview. We’re not at the discussion, we’re not at the decision-making table as it relates to how these increases occur.”
Chock added that it has been very difficult, in his view, to actually decrease the budget.
“We’ve seen anything from $100,000 to $300,000 in a good year of deductions,” Chock said….
…Vice-chair Kagawa commended Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami in the budget process, adding that the mayor got all but $100,000 of his requested budget….
Meanwhile: Putting a spike into pension spiking
read … Rubber Stamp
Kauai scrambles for solutions after number of unsheltered homeless doubles
HNN: … Kawakami says the epidemic got substantially worse following historic flooding in April 2018.
“All of the Na Pali and Kalalau was shut down," he said. “We started seeing an influx of new homeless individuals that we hadn’t identified previously.”
And a recent count of the island’s homeless population confirmed those suspicions.
The point-in-time census conducted in January found 348 unsheltered homeless people on the island. That’s double the total from a year ago.
“We’re running into problems with individuals who are suffering from several mental health issues that don’t want to comply with any parameters we put up," Kawakami said. …
One of the major plans: Using $2 million from the state to transform Pua Loke Arboretum into Kauai’s first Ohana Zone….
Opposite the arboretum is an old parking lot. It will be the site of an affordable apartment complex with a total of 54 units. Work on the infrastructure is starting soon….
Robin Danner, leader of the Sovereign Councils of Hawaiian Homestead Association, thinks Native Hawaiians could play a critical role in the solution….
HHC: Honolulu’s violent crazies
read … Kauai scrambles for solutions after number of unsheltered homeless doubles
Hawaii County to Post Security Guard at park to Keep out Homeless Drug Addicts
HTH: … Hawaii County will close Mo‘oheau Park on Friday for clean up in response to what officials describe as unsanitary conditions.
Problems include homeless people camping in the downtown Hilo park, littering and abandoned property, as well as human and animal feces.
“There is urine, there is feces, there are other homeless setting up permanent residence in the banyan trees.”…
Messina described the cleanup as a “deep sanitization,” and said it will include pressure-washing and scrubbing, in addition to trash pickup….
“It’s way past time — and I stress way past time,” he said. “We got to put our foot down.
“We need to remind everyone that this is our home. It’s not their toilet, it’s not their camping ground, this is not your rubbish dump.”….
Messina said a security guard will be posted at the park after it reopens….
read … Mayor: It’s time to clean up Mo‘oheau Park and make it safe for families
Michael Formby to lead Pacific Resource Partnership
SA: … Former Honolulu City Councilman Michael Formby has been named Pacific Resource Partnership’s new executive director.
Formby previously served as chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and was director of the Honolulu Department of Transportation Services under Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. He also served as a member of the board of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation that oversees construction of the Honolulu rail project. ….
read … Michael Formby to lead Pacific Resource Partnership
LOL: Soft on Crime Policies Put Drive-by Shooter Back in Prison
KGI: … A Kapaa man who pleaded guilty to shooting up a McDonald’s had his conviction overturned earlier this year after spending nearly a decade in jail.
What he got out of it so far, is more time in jail….
Ten years ago, Taekyu U was sentenced to 20 years in jail for a drive-by shooting in Waipouli. In 2013, he got a new lawyer and appealed his conviction. Five years passed. U was admitted into a work furlough program and got a job, spending his days on unsupervised release and returning to jail at night. His parole date grew near.
In January, over five years after his appeal was filed, Hawaii’s Intermediate Court of Appeals handed down a ruling on U’s case. He won. The plea bargain he signed 10 years prior was found to be invalid.
The appellate court gave county prosecutors two options. They could either drop the most serious charge, reducing U’s sentence to five years — a term far short of the time he already spent in jail — or start the case all over again. They chose the latter.
In April, a month before U was eligible for parole, prosecutors dismissed his guilty pleas to the charges he spent a decade in jail for, reinstated the same charges and prepared to go to trial. U’s bail was increased. He was removed from the work release program. He lost his job….
read … Justice
Self-Driving Cars Another Nail In Rail’s Coffin
CB: … It’s another example of how private sector innovation often outpaces the slow gears of government….
read … Self-Driving Cars Another Nail In Rail’s Coffin