Hawaii Joins Opioid Resolution against Sackler family and their company, Purdue Pharma
Chief Justice Names Maloian to Oahu Family Court
Hawaii Governor Signs Anti-Gun Bills
VIDEO: Hawaii Says Aloha to Gun Education & Kids SAFE Foundation
Starting January 1st, 2022, law-abiding citizens will have the option of owning tasers and stun guns.
Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave?
New Honolulu FBI chief focused on Catching More CARES Act Fraudsters
SA: … Steven B. Merrill was named special agent in charge of the FBI’s Honolulu Field Office on May 10, and is responsible for FBI operations in Hawaii, Guam, Saipan and Samoa. Merrill most recently served as a financial crimes section chief in the Criminal Investigative Division at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and led the bureau’s efforts to combat fraud related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I take it personally,” Merrill told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser at the FBI Honolulu Division headquarters in Kapolei. “I am a taxpayer. And I am going to make sure that it’s being protected. It will always be a priority for the FBI here in Hawaii to make sure that taxpayer funds are protected and, more importantly, used for the reasons they are being allocated and appropriated by our congressmen and congresswomen in Washington. And that is to support the most needy and those who depend on these funds to survive. It’s the public trust. I want to know that my tax money is being used for good. It means something. People make decisions every day and our job and the U.S. Attorney’s job is to make sure we prosecute those who are abusing that public trust. We want to make sure every dollar is accounted for and being used properly.”
The latest example of that accountability came with the June 30 sentencing of Hanalei Aipoalani, a former Olelo TV executive and city administrator for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.
Aipoalani, 42, pleaded guilty in March to embezzlement of AmeriCorps funds, a federal program to help communities in need, funneling the money to himself and his wife. He also pleaded guilty to accepting a bribe in September while serving as the city’s temporary CARES Act program administrator to help Na Leo TV CEO Stacy Higa, apply for $845,000 in CARES funding for Na Leo Hawaii and another company he controlled. (Olelo and Na Leo TV are Public, Education and Government Access channel operators.)
Aipoalani was sentenced to three years and 10 months in prison for diverting federal funds intended for struggling communities and using them to finance a lavish lifestyle for him and his wife that included first-class travel, high-end dining, a Ferrari rental and a vacation at the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina.
The FBI worked with the inspector general for the AmeriCorps program and other federal and local agencies to build the Aipoalani case. Merrill also mentioned a friend who works for AmeriCorps to help repair rivers and streams in his area as an example of the important, community-specific work done by the relatively small federal agency.
“(In the Aipoalani case) whatever funds were being diverted from what the people needed and wanted and what it was appropriated for, that money wasn’t being spent properly,” Merrill said. “And we were not going to hesitate.”…
read … New Honolulu FBI chief focused on kupuna, online fraud
Money grab passed off as tourism reform
Shapiro: … The Legislature’s bill to gut the Hawaii Tourism Authority and reallocate hotel room tax revenues, passed over Gov. David Ige’s veto, has the whiff of a money grab passed off as tourism reform.
The measure would strip HTA’s $79 million in dedicated annual funding from the hotel tax and scoop the money into the state’s general fund, leaving HTA to operate this year on $60 million in federal COVID relief funds that won’t renew.
In addition, lawmakers diverted the counties’ $103 million share of the hotel tax to the state general fund and authorized the four counties to each levy their own 3% hotel tax to make up lost revenue….
Lawmakers have eyed a raid on hotel tax revenue for years, and their claims that the 3% county increases will in themselves bring about a shift to fewer and wealthier tourists is nonsense.
In the vacuum the Legislature has left, decisions about what tourists come will be made almost entirely by the airlines, hotels and vacation rentals that bring them in….
Now and for the foreseeable future, their market sweet spot is ballooning numbers of budget-conscious visitors who are looking for an affordable good time and are least likely to be conscious of community sensibilities.
The greatest outrage is that this legislation, which seemed motivated as much by lawmaker animosity to HTA leadership as policy goals, was a gut-and-replace bill hastily cobbled in secret at the end of session without public hearings, proper research or consideration of unintended consequences.
We’ll continue getting legislative malpractice of this magnitude until voters make clear to ringleaders — House Speaker Scott Saiki and Senate President Ron Kouchi; House Finance Chairwoman Sylvia Luke and Senate Ways and Means Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz; and the tourism chairmen, Rep. Richard Onishi and Sen. Glenn Wakai — that we’ve had enough of corrupt rules that allow these shady last-minute Frankenbills….
Borreca: After decades of back-and-forth on Hawaii tourism, ball lands in counties’ court for more taxation
read … Hawaii will pay cost of tourism vacuum left by Legislature
Same Game, Different Decade: 20 Years Later More Pretend Solutions underway for North Shore traffic woes
KHON: … For two decades, North Shore residents have been asking for a solution to deal with the gridlock at Laniakea.
North Shore residents believe the traffic in the summer of 2021 is the worst they have ever seen it.
Some residents said it takes an hour and a half to drive the eight miles between Haleiwa and Sunset Beach….
The quick fix is making the fenced off area into a parking lot with some type of guardrail providing an entrance and exit point for cars. The entrance point would be from the Haleiwa side with an exit point near the Waimea end of Laniakea.
“We’re going to (Translation: We haven’t yet) work with the city to look at the ingress and egress points for the parking lot, and also pedestrian walkways for where we should put it in,” explained state highways deputy director Ed Sniffen….
(Translation: We have no plan and haven’t done anything because the first rule of bureaucracy is … MAINTAIN THE PROBLEM.)
Sniffen says Kamehameha Highway at Laniakea has about 10 years before it starts being inundated by erosion and high surf.
“The initial plan [for the area] was (Translation: We abandoned that plan.) to move [the highway] 500 feet inland and get it out of the inundation zone,” Sniffen explained. “Make sure that it is resilient and we don’t have to touch it again, but that’s a $65 to $70 million option.”
He said that would take 15 years to complete.
(He then began giggling uncontrollably as worried-looking aides tried to usher him away from reporters.)
“We know that the situation can’t wait that long, so instead of looking at the larger realignment further inland and all the way to Chun’s, we’re looking at a smaller realignment that just gets us past Laniakea. It’s going to be about $10 million,” he explained. “It’ll relocate the highway about 50 feet from the existing roadway.”
(Translation: We have no plan and haven’t done anything because the first rule of bureaucracy is … MAINTAIN THE PROBLEM.)
read … Solutions underway for North Shore traffic woes
'We get cussed at every day': Maui tourist surge raises tensions, renews calls for visitor limits, new fees
YN: … Ute Viole, the ranger and unofficial historian on the privately owned farm, rushed around arranging orange and yellow cones on the edges of the lot in a bid to prevent visitors from parking haphazardly on the side of the winding, single-lane road when the 43 spaces fill up, as they do every day by 8 a.m.
Her supporting role as traffic cop, always a challenge at the free waterfall and hiking spot, has become a thankless job as cooped-up travelers return to Maui in numbers approaching pre-pandemic levels, and its former overflow lot is closed due to nearby construction. Twin Falls is suddenly turning away droves of visitors, and some aren't taking the rejection lightly.
"We get cussed at every day,'' Viole said, compared with pre-pandemic times when "we never, ever, ever got yelled at, cussed at.''…
"They've run over our cones. They'll try to hit you with their car,'' she said. "It gets a little dicey here.''
The incidents of incivility, which employees at hard-to-book restaurants and activity providers in Maui say they also face every day, aren't limited to tourists.
Visitors to Waiʻānapanapa State Park, home to a popular black sand beach near Hana, have filled online message boards with complaints about rude employees since the park began requiring reservations and charging fees earlier this year as a pilot program to control crowds. Officials strictly monitor the three-hour time limit.
A tourist who visited in May said in a TripAdvisor review that his family was locked in the parking lot by an employee, who screamed profanities at them for lifting the gate to get out. "I have never been treated like this by a state worker in my entire life and felt like a hostage in this state park.''
Last week, the driver of a pickup truck that barreled into a packed beach parking lot full of families at Makena State Park near Wailea shouted "Go home'' to a USA TODAY reporter who politely gestured to slow down, turning around to repeat it again on the way out of the lot….
read … 'We get cussed at every day': Maui tourist surge raises tensions, renews calls for visitor limits, new fees
Aloha greetings and reminders in Hotel Bubble
DR: … We sat in a room, wearing masks as instructed, and were first told chanting is not singing. Then we got a mini lecture about the word Aloha. If you’re like us, we thought the word simply meant “hello” and “goodbye” and made jokes about whether you were coming or going if you heard it.
We then had to learn five weird Hawaiian words, one of which sounded like we were just laughing, which we were, because that’s what you do when you’re trying your hand at Hawaiian chanting and you can feel your Ohio oozing out of your pores….
I don’t honestly know if this lady was feeding us tourism garbage or not, but I think we’re going to pretend it's the real deal. …
read … Aloha greetings and reminders
Profitable Nonprofit Grifts to Take Control of Coco Palms Site
HNN: … I Ola Wailuanui, a community organization led by Kauai residents, started a petition with hopes of acquiring property in which the former Coco Palms Hotel stands on.
The organization wants to see the land be used for Native Hawaiian education and cultural practices rather than another lodging option.
“And so I’m very confident that, you know, should a hotel developer buy this property and attempt to build a hotel that they will fail,” said (anti-GMO protester) Fern Holland, member of I Ola Wailuanui….
read … Native Hawaiians, residents petition to restore land on which iconic Kauai resort stands on
Restaurants overwhelmed: Many struggle to find enough help to meet rising demand
HTH: … “I’m just so overwhelmed with everything. We don’t have enough help,” Ching-Maiava said. “We want to expand our hours, but we just can’t without more workers. My staff is running around without breaks, and I hate to see that happen.”
Ching-Maiava has had a few people apply for jobs in her restaurants, but explained that there aren’t enough people showing interest in working….
read … Restaurants overwhelmed: Many struggle to find enough help to meet rising demand
Building Code: Council to increase home construction cost by another $10,000
HTH: … The council on Wednesday postponed action on Bill 44, the proposed building code, to give the council and administration a chance to work out cheaper alternatives in some sections of the code, such as the one that would require sheathing under rooftops on new construction.
(Translation: They’re gonna do it anyway. But first they have to posture and preen.)
The code prescribes a minimum of 5/8-inch sheathing when trusses are 2-foot on center and 3/4-inch sheathing when trusses are 4-foot on center.
Sheathing plywood currently costs consumers almost $100 a sheet for 5/8 inch plywood and more for 3/4 inch sheets.
Joe Belisario, a Kona builder with 40 years experience, told the council that local people are already priced out of the housing market, and the proposed building code would make it worse.
“If we are trying to streamline the process, we’re gong backward,” Belisario said.
Several architects, however, asked the council to move the new code forward. If the county doesn’t meet its deadline to adopt the 2018 code, the county will automatically revert to the statewide 2012 code, which hasn’t been amended to incorporate specific local elements, they said. The county is currently using the 2006 code….
Acting Deputy Building Chief Neal Tanaka (who claims to not be Mrs Lee Loy’s boyfriend) said the code is prescriptive, meaning design professionals can use the code as a recipe, or they could “design it out,” proving to the county they can create the “structural load path.”
Bottom line, he said, safety has to prevail, although certain aspects of the code will be less onerous than in the past. For example, the old code required the entire structure to be brought up to the most current codes if renovation costs exceeded 50% of the building value, which dissuaded many from renovating their homes. Now, design professionals have more flexibility to show which components would need to be brought to code, he said.
Puna Councilman Matt Kaneali‘i-Kleinfelder, who installs solar panels, said he’s been on plenty of rooftops in his business, and he has yet to see them inadequate for the job, even without sheathing.
But Hilo Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy, chairwoman of the council’s Public Works and Mass Transit Committee, (who claims to not be Tanaka’s girlfriend) said there are other ways housing costs can be reduced without sacrificing safety. A home could be built without a garage, for example, or with fewer cabinets, she said….
Related: Police Corruption Scandals Revenge for Gambling Prosecutions?
read … Building code: Council balks at increased home construction cost
Honolulu’s new homeless program shrinks to almost nothing before launch
SA: … Anton Krucky, the city’s director of Office of Housing and Homelessness, for months has been saying the city’s new Crisis Outreach Response and Engagement program would free up Honolulu Police Department officers’ time by not having them respond to nonviolent, homeless-related calls.
Instead, a new team of social workers and health care workers, who are in the process of being hired, are now expected to respond to homeless-related calls, backed up by HPD officers.
Homeless sweeps are no longer conducted and the new Crisis Outreach Response and Engagement approach represented Blangiardi’s first homeless-related idea of his own, albeit modeled after a similar program borrowed from Denver.
But Oahu’s version already has been restricted to cover an area just from Kalihi to Waikiki. And instead of running 24 hours a day, the new concept has been scaled back to only two shifts per day, staffed by 12 to 20 workers with certifications in mental health, homeless outreach and medical practices who have yet to be hired.
CORE is expected to cost $3 million, using federal, COVID-19 American Rescue Plan Act funds once they become available.
Krucky said that hiring has yet to begin but that new employees will respond to calls in two newly branded trucks….
CORE is modeled after Denver’s Support Team Assistance Response program that deploys paramedics and mental health professionals to respond to nonviolent, homeless-related calls such as trespassing and indecent exposure….
In its first six months of operation in 2020, Denver’s STAR program responded to 748 calls and none required the assistance of the Denver Police Department, according to a STAR Program Evaluation.
The evaluation did not identify the number of homeless people who actually accepted offers of services, such as housing to get off the street and medical assistance….
(Translation: This solves the police department’s problem but does nothing to eliminate homelessness.)
read … Honolulu’s new homeless program modified before launch
West Oahu Residents Clean Up Beach Parks Trashed by Homeless Drug Addicts
CB: … “We’re seeing homelessness, illegal dumping, vandalism, theft, all of those things happening,” says Department of Parks and Recreation Deputy Director Kehau Pu‘u. “All of the issues we see in our communities are magnified in our parks.”…
Michael Loftin, cofounder and executive director of 808 Cleanups, sees active participation in their cleanups across the island. The environmental nonprofit has hosted litter and graffiti removal on Oahu since 2014 and has removed almost 700,000 pounds of rubbish with thousands of volunteers showing up and even spearheading their own community-led events….
And this may be why community members feel like they have to be the champions of their own parks. Scheduling weekly cleanups. Continual graffiti removal and repainting. Nightly patrols. Tracking improvement projects at neighborhood board meetings. All of these community-led efforts to keep parks safe and sanitary have become their prime responsibility.
There are more than a dozen groups on the Westside working to keep the parks usable for the public and most of the work is done by the community members themselves….
read … These West Oahu Residents Are On A Mission To Clean Up The Island’s Beach Parks
Counselor Complains that Mentally Ill People Don’t Have 2nd Amendment Rights
SA: …(Just skip to the comments) Suddenly an opinion in favor of 2nd Amendment rights? I smell a rat.
When the mentally ill have guns they do crazy things with those guns. Then their deeds are used as an excuse to gut the 2nd Amendment. For instance the schizophrenic who shot Rep Gabrielle Giffords.
Mentally ill people abuse their 1st Amendment rights too. And right now their abuses are being used to restrict what can and can't be said online.
That's the plan. Its been the plan ever since sociologists talked the Kennedy and Johnson Admins into closing the insane asylums.
With rights come responsibilities. The mentally ill can't handle those responsibilities. That's why they were released into the general population…..
read … Column: Stigmatizing mental health treatment
Corona Virus News: