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Sunday, March 6, 2022
March 6, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:49 PM :: 4204 Views

Launching an Annual Attack on the Wealthy

No More Russian Oil: Rep Ed Case Seeks Jones Act Waiver

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted March 5, 2022

UHERO: Economic Recovery Comes with End of COVID Restrictions

50 Candidates File for Election

Hint to Caldwell: Cornered, Roy Amemiya Brought Jeremy Harris Down

CB: … Years before Roy Amemiya was Honolulu’s managing director and before he was accused of a federal crime, he was one of three city officials who helped expose a serious case of corruption.

It was 1997, and then-city finance director Amemiya and his colleagues suspected that something was amiss with some city housing contracts, the Honolulu Advertiser reported. So they told the police. Their concerns turned out to be valid, and a city housing official was convicted of theft, money laundering and forgery for running a bid-rigging scheme.

(Translation: Amemiya saw a risk to himself and fingered somebody else.)

The incident, which came to be known as the Ewa Villages scandal, was a black eye for the city and Amemiya’s boss at the time, Mayor Jeremy Harris. It was later used against the mayor in that year’s election....

(CLUE: If I’m going down, I’m gonna take you with me.)

Amemiya resigned from his city post in December 2000. Upon his departure, city hall insiders said Amemiya was well liked because he wasn’t afraid to stand up to the mayor, managing director and deputy manager director, according to the news agency.

“The sources said Amemiya complained about high levels of secrecy in the Harris administration and about being overruled by superiors when he refused to approve expensive change orders on city construction projects,” the AP said. …

(Translation: Amemiya saw a risk to himself and fingered somebody else.)

in 2015, Amemiya refused to renew a contract for ethics investigator Leitha DeCaires, a move that was perceived by many as part of a larger effort to stifle ethics investigations.

DeCaires was the Honolulu Ethics Commission’s lead investigator looking into what would become the Kealoha mailbox scandal….

(Example of incident Amemiya might have tradable information about.)

Hosoda is trying to get the case against his client dismissed. In court filings, he argued there was “nothing criminal” about arranging a severance package for an outgoing employee.

To help prove his client’s innocence, Hosoda is working to obtain copies of other severance agreements that did not go before the council for approval, including deals made with retired ethics commission director Chuck Totto and the former head of the rail project, Dan Grabauskas. …

(Two more incidents Amemiya might have tradable information about.)

read … Roy Amemiya Was A ‘Soft-Spoken’ Banker Known For His Integrity. Then He Was Indicted

Saiki: My Corruption Committee is Just Window Dressing

Borreca: … Saiki said a committee he appointed is coming up with recommendations by the end of the month to go over legislative ethics, campaign ethics and lobbying ethics.

I asked Saiki why a review was needed: Hawaii has tons of ethics laws; what about some way to get folks to obey them?

“You are right, if we inventory all the laws, it would show that a lot of areas are probably already covered. Already there are criminal statutes prohibiting bribery,” Saiki said in an interview last week. Even so, he figures it wouldn’t hurt to review what is already on the books.

“Are the standards clear and have the people been informed of these standards?” Saiki said.

Of course you don’t have to be informed that a “No Parking” sign means it is illegal to park there, just like you don’t need anyone to patiently explain to you that you must not rob banks: it is the law and you are expected to obey it.

So the question really before Saiki is how will the actions of Cullen and English rub off on the rest of the legislative incumbents? Will voters assume the rest of the pack has the same lack of respect for state and federal laws?

“They know we have to improve standards because we need to show the public that we learned something from this,” Saiki said in response….

read … Assessing corruption taint from English and Cullen on legislative peers, all up for reelection

If Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation won’t accept needed oversight, freeze its funding

Shapiro: … When the Legislature in 2017 approved its second bailout for the Honolulu rail fiasco — this one for $2.4 billion in excise tax and hotel tax revenues — it came with strings attached.

Legislators wanted more oversight of rail and gave the House and Senate each the right to appoint two nonvoting members to the board of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation to act as watchdogs for lawmakers and the public.

HART is now thumbing its nose at the legislative oversight, and it cries for a strong response as the fumbling rail agency continues its old tricks of smothering dissent and ducking scrutiny.

Over objections of the state attorney general, HART adopted new rules that lock the legislative watchdogs out of some board deliberations, or muzzle them if they participate.

The rules require the House and Senate appointees to sign confidentiality agreements that threaten criminal penalties for disclosing information, which isn’t required of the city’s voting board members.

Natalie Iwasa, a certified public accountant and fraud examiner who was appointed by the House, refused to sign out of concern that an inadvertent misstep could cause her to lose her professional licenses.

In retaliation, Iwasa was barred from the board’s executive sessions, where most major decisions are made.

Beyond confidentiality, the new rules give HART the right to exclude legislative watchdogs “at any time if it does not further the interests of the board” — an in-your-face challenge to the oversight imposed by the Legislature.

The Attorney General’s Office took issue with the rules concocted by HART Chair Colleen Hanabusa and city attorneys, saying there’s “no legal authority” to treat legislative appointees differently from other board members.

House Speaker Scott Saiki, who chose Iwasa for her incisive critiques of rail financial management, wrote city attorneys that excluding legislative appointees unlawfully disrupts the transparency intended by the Legislature in the bailout.

The question becomes what the Legislature will do about it beyond writing letters….

read … If Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation won’t accept needed oversight, freeze its funding

City Council Woman Heidi Tsuneyoshi Complains About Free Speech

CTS: … About a hundred community members and high school students were protesting on February 19, 2022 in Hau’ula. They were against her flawed and quick Resolution 22-11 to seize private property through the Department of Planning and Permitting’s fines.

Based on her record and behavior on this issue, this city council woman IS bullying her constituent, an immigrant owner from Tonga. This is not to say that neighbors cannot complain about their concerns and be heard. This is about treating all constituents the same with the same Due Process.

However, it was ok for Tsuneyoshi to malign her own constituent in the Honolulu Star Advertiser, with a readership of about 162,287 on Oahu, that the owner has been in violations with DPP for 5 years. The public record shows Taufa has been the owner for 2.5 years ….

CTS: RESOLUTION 22-11 Adopted on February 23, 2022. Search Warrant on Property February 24

read … City Council Woman Heidi Tsuneyoshi Complains About Free Speech

Hawaii Co Council meetings to remain closed to public this month

WHT: … The Hawaii County Council plans to continue keeping council chambers closed to the public until at least April, despite Mayor Mitch Roth lifting all crowd restrictions for the county, and state legislative leaders announcing the state Capitol will be open to the public starting Monday….

(IDEA: Arrest some councilmembers.)

read …  Council meetings to remain closed to public this month

Hawaii lawmakers in favor of ending mask mandate

KITV: … KITV-4 talked to nearly a dozen lawmakers who told me there is growing sentiment to no longer require masks, from members of the state legislature, including leaders.

Most of them did not want to speak on camera because the issue is too controversial but some were willing to talk, including Hawaii House of Representatives Vice Speaker John Mizuno.

"The majority of all the doors I've knocked on, I do wear my mask out of respect for everybody that I go even though its outside, and I've noticed probably 70-80 percent of the constituents I've met," said Mizuno. "They come out without their masks and will chat for a few minutes. U think they are ready to move forward. They are waiting for the governor to eliminate the indoor mask mandate."…

HTH: Ige defends state mask mandate

read … Hawaii lawmakers in favor of ending mask mandate

Hawaii Lawmakers Should Identify The People Asking For Legislation

CB: … The practice of introducing bills anonymously “by request of another party” is a disservice to the public and to lawmakers themselves. What is there to hide? ….

A search shows that, out of the more than 2,300 bills introduced in the Hawaii House of Representative in the 2021-2022 biennium, more than 100 where “introduced by request of another party” without actually identifying who or what that party is.

The same goes for the Hawaii Senate, where, of the more than 2,600 bills introduced during that same period, nearly 100 have anonymous authorship….

PDF: List of Anonymous Bills

read … Hawaii Lawmakers Should Identify The People Asking For Legislation

Bill could remove duty to retreat from Hawaii law

KHON: … “This law would basically put us in with the other 28 states and the district of Puerto Rico,” said Rep. John Mizuno. “All this bill says is that you have the right to defend yourself with equal deadly force against the attacker, as long as you’re not the aggressor.”

Mizuno said a majority of states have adopted “stand your ground” laws to give victims the chance to fight back with equal force as their attacker. Duty to retreat comes first in public areas before any self-defensive actions can legally be taken in Hawaii….

The bill would legally allow victims to fight an attacker with lethal force as long as they feel their life is in danger. …

Using force in self-defense is legal in Hawaii if it is not deadly and only after attempting to retreat first. Click here to read HB2464.

“I just like the ability to stand my ground and do that legally, to defend myself and my family from someone who’s attacking us with deadly force. That’s all,” Rep. Mizuno said….

read … Bill could remove duty to retreat from Hawaii law

A history of dubious deals

ILind: … It was the beginning of 2018. James Harold Hall and his daughters had been living rent free as squatters in a series of Hawaii Kai homes for 6-1/2 years, and were now awaiting imminent eviction from the 2,460 square-foot waterfront home on Kumukahi Place in Hawaii Kai where they had resided since mid-2013.

Their string of squats had started in 2011, when the family ran out of money and could no longer afford rent. Instead, Hall moved them into a vacant house nearby, the first in a series of empty homes where they lived without authorization.

Since then, the family had been evicted from two other homes, and were now “being threatened momentarily with eviction by a court-appointed foreclosure commissioner,” Hall’s attorney at the time, Gary Victor Dubin, wrote in a last-ditch appeal to the Hawaii Supreme Court to block this foreclosure and eviction.

The high court was not moved and declined to hear the case. The Halls were ejected from the property not long afterwards.

But less than nine months later, Hall’s finances appear to have remarkably improved.

In September 2018, Hall bought Greentree Properties LLC, a Nevada company, for $3 million from Dubin, the attorney who had been representing him. Greentree’s primary asset was the large residence at 91 Coelho Way in Nuuanu, court records show.

It was just the latest curious transaction in the history of the property, which was suddenly thrust into the news last April, and became a matter of public interest, when 29-year old Linden Myeni was shot and killed by police as he exited the home….

ILind: A history of dubious deals–Part 2

Related: Hawaii’s Largest Carbon Credit Scheme to be Evicted from its own HQ?

read … A history of dubious deals

More Homeless Mayhem: Elementary School Burglarized

HTH: … “At first I was thinking, wow, this is one big rat,” she recalled. “Then I turned and I saw all of my cabinets open. All my drawers open. My papers were everywhere. I said I’m sure a rat can’t read, so something is going on.”

She also noticed a horrific smell and discovered someone had defecated in her trash can.

Hunter said the items missing were random. A ball pump, snacks, computer cords, silverware and tools were among the missing items.

Other more expensive items remained untouched, including PE equipment, boxes of T-shirts and dye for their color run event.

“I went around the corner of my building, and see all of my papers around a bench,” she said.

She asked the garden keeper if he was missing anything and he replied all of the tomatoes in the garden had been picked.

She also noticed a pillow she had in her office, trail mix and spices were strewn about a rock on the road leading into the school.

The police were called, but she said those responding officers did not offer any encouragement that the case would be followed up.

Hunter also observed a fence that was cut, giving access to the school.

“It looked like they were camped out there all of Friday night,” she said. “We know people were coming and going on campus Saturday and Sunday, and nothing was seen or heard, so I figure it happened Friday night.”

Hunter surmised the perpetrator was a vagrant…

read … Elementary school office vandalized

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