Honolulu ‘Ethics’ Commission: Kealoha Investigations Closed, Lets go After Tupola
Legislators Have Extra $450M to waste -- But War In Ukraine Dampens Economic Future
CB: … State lawmakers could have about $450 million more to spend on the state budget for the last four months of this fiscal year, which ends June 30.
The additional cash is based on projected growth rates in state tax revenues set by the state Council on Revenues, a five-member panel of tax experts and public accountants. The Legislature uses the council’s projections to write the state’s budget.
Hawaii tax collections could be higher than $8.7 billion for the current fiscal year. Higher prices, higher income, inflation and an influx of tourists factored into the council’s decision to raise projected tax collections for the year from $8.3 billion, a target set in January.
At its January meeting, the council set the state’s general fund growth rate at 15%. On Thursday, the council voted unanimously to raise that projected increase to 21%. ….
The University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization estimates Hawaii will see about 8.3 million tourists by the end of the current fiscal year. That would rise to more than 9 million tourists in 2023.
But there’s some concern over how higher prices could impact visitor travel to the islands in the years after that.
“It’s really about 2023, and how much higher prices factors into people’s budget, and that plays in to their decision over whether or not to come to Hawaii,” UHERO economist Carl Bonham said during Thursday’s council meeting.
The council’s next forecast is scheduled for late May….
read … Council Anticipates Big Budget Boost But War In Ukraine Dampens Economic Future
Raising the ‘tip credit’ for servers
SA: …The term is “tip credit,” and it means allowing an employer to pay workers below minimum wage if they earn a certain amount in tips. The state House, in its bill to increase the baseline wage, would raise that credit. One restaurant testifying in support said servers on average earn $30 an hour with tips, far over minimum wage. Those opposed say it establishes a “sub-minimum” wage that puts the onus of fair pay on customers.
As long as tipping remains a social norm, this issue is sure to complicate the numbers game of setting the right minimum wage. ….
SA Editorial: Make a deal on minimum wage
read … Raising the ‘tip credit’ for servers
This New Hawaii Commission Is Aimed At Open Government. So Why Has It Been Meeting In Secret?
CB … A commission tasked with making recommendations for government transparency and accountability has so far been meeting behind closed doors but the commission’s chairman says it will open its meetings after delivering an interim report to state lawmakers later this month.
Retired Intermediate Court of Appeals Judge Dan Foley, who leads the Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct, said the commission couldn’t work out meeting logistics in time to allow for public participation in March.
The commission’s members include the heads of the state Ethics and Campaign Spending Commissions as well as directors of Common Cause Hawaii and the League of Women Voters of Hawaii – all which advocate for more open government.
The commission first met in late February and must produce an interim report with proposed legislation for this session on March 31. The House convened the new working group days after former lawmakers J. Kalani English and Ty Cullen pleaded guilty to felony charges for taking part in a bribery scheme.
House Resolution 9 requires the commission to assess Hawaii laws dealing with ethics, campaign finance and lobbying. Much of that preliminary report will include recommendations on amendments to bills already moving through the Legislature, according to Foley.
read … This New Hawaii Commission Is Aimed At Open Government. So Why Has It Been Meeting In Secret?
HGEA Endorses Josh Green for Governor
HNN: … The union said Green was the right person to lead the state as we recover from the impacts of the pandemic. They cited his work on the frontlines as an ER doctor, and as the state’s second in command as the reason for their endorsement.
“Josh Green was out there volunteering his time, making sure that we were taking precautions as necessary and doing what was necessary to keep us as a community safe. The other thing that I can say about Josh is that at the time when we were facing the worst of the crisis — the fear, the anxiety — Josh Green was often the voice of reason publicly,” HGEA Executive Director Randy Perreira said.
Green says he’s running on a platform of increasing affordable housing in Hawaii and addressing the state’s homelessness crisis.
read … Public workers’ union announces endorsement in race for governor
Testimony raises questions about what chief knew about murder outside HPD station
HNN: … New details about a murder on the footsteps of Kapolei police station raise questions about whether Honolulu’s acting police chief was hiding information about what occurred or didn’t know the facts weeks after the killing….
Two weeks after the murder, at a meeting March 2, members of the Honolulu Police Commission had a lot of questions about the case.
“I did wonder why nobody was around or nobody intervened or was the timing so quick,” said commissioner Richard Parry. “I’m wondering if you could tell me what happened.”
Acting Police Chief Rade Vanic responded:
“You know I’m not familiar with the very specific area where the incident occurred. Of course that will be apart of the investigation as to where it did occur, what type of surveillance possibly was available, if officers were in the area. Where they were.”
Records show Armstrong had been released from jail minutes before the attack.
The 35-year-old, who suffers from mental illness, had been arrested the day before for punching an officer but prosecutors didn’t immediately pursue charges.
“The failures are just beyond words. It’s incredible,” said Tony Armstrong, the suspect’s father. He said Armstrong needed to go to the State Hospital and shouldn’t have been able to walk free.
Now, he’s calling for HPD to release all of its surveillance video both before and after the killing.
“That will obviously give us more answers,’ Armstrong said. “But there better not be any attempts to hide this or cover it up. The truth is the truth. So just let it out. Whatever it is.”….
An HPD spokesperson said, “The Professional Standards Office is currently looking into the incident to provide better clarity as to what actions were taken that night.” ….
KITV: Parents of Kapolei murder suspect call for changes in processing mentally ill detainees
read … Testimony raises questions about what chief knew about murder outside HPD station
Before Murder, Miske had Fraser Beaten
CB: … On the morning of Nov. 13, 2014, Fraser was beaten by several men, allegedly acting on Miske’s orders, as retribution for the theft of his gold Rolex watch, according to Freitas’ plea agreement.
Fraser later described the incident to his mother, Shelly Miguel.
“They mobbed my son,” she said in a September 2020 telephone interview. “I was told he (Miske) was in the car watching.
“He lost the first front tooth in that beating.”
Fraser told another family member that he and Caleb were both involved in stealing the watch from Mike Miske’s office, and then trying to pawn it. When they were caught, Fraser took the blame and was beaten as a result.
Later that same day, Mike Miske’s younger brother, John Stancil, along with Freitas, then apparently working for Miske’s Kamaaina Termite and Pest Control, were sent by Miske to get the watch back, according to Freitas’ plea agreement.
The two met Fraser at Kaneohe District Park, where Freitas, “using the threat of force,” demanded the watch.
Fraser was able to get back into his car and flee, turning onto Kahekili Highway with Stancil in pursuit.
“Fraser was ultimately able to escape and meet with Honolulu police officers to whom he reported the incident,” the plea agreement states.
(So Kealoha's HPD had this chance to go after the Miske mob before Frasier was killed, but didn't.)
It is silent on what, if anything, happened to that police report, or if Fraser also met at that time with federal investigators, who were already actively probing Miske’s affairs.
At the time the watch was stolen, Caleb Miske and Jonathan Fraser, along with their girlfriends, had been sharing a unit in the Oasis Waipahu Apartments. But the four young people had fallen behind on their rent, and had recently been sued by the property management company seeking several thousand dollars in back rent, as well as court permission to evict them.
Almost exactly one year later, on Nov. 17, 2015, Caleb Miske and Jonathan Fraser were critically injured in a high-speed crash on Kaneohe Bay Drive….
ILind: A tale of Mike Miske’s gold Rolex
read … Bad Blood Between Crime Boss And His Son’s Friend Started Over Stolen Watch, Plea Says
Kahikina Poised To Get $25K Bonus For First Year As Rail Director
CB: …Honolulu rail board members gave a preliminary nod Thursday to a $25,000 bonus for the transit project’s executive director, Lori Kahikina, based on her first year on the job.
The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s Human Resources Committee voted 3-1 to approve that bonus. Lynn McCrory, the committee’s chairwoman; Roger Morton, the city’s transportation director; and Anthony Aalto voted in favor. Kika Bukoski voted against it. Art Tolentino, who attended his first meeting as a board member Thursday after being appointed last week by Mayor Rick Blangiardi, abstained.
The full HART board must vote to approve the bonus at a future meeting before it can take effect.….
read … Kahikina Poised To Get $25K Bonus For First Year As Rail Director
UH Engineering Professors Want Rail Guy Gone
CB: … At a meeting of the College of Engineering Faculty Senate on Jan. 14, faculty members passed a no confidence resolution, citing “serious concerns” about the administration of finances and personnel in the college over the past two years under Dean Brennon Morioka. The vote was 39 to six with nine people abstaining or not voting.
Morioka previously served as director for the state’s Department of Transportation under former governor Linda Lingle. He also worked for 4-1/2 years as deputy director at the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, focusing much of his time there on the utility relocation issues that persist at the transit project to this day.
Morioka then left HART in 2017 to join Hawaiian Electric, where as general manager for “electrification of transportation” he helped push for more charging stations and infrastructure that might support more electric vehicle-use….
read … UH Engineering Faculty Cast Vote Of ‘No Confidence’ In College Dean
Key player in Kauai councilman's drug trafficking ring reaches plea agreement
KITV: … Orlando Manguchei was one of the 11 suspects indicted in the incident involving former councilman Arthur Brun, who already agreed to serve a 15-year prison sentence.
Court documents show that Manguchei will enter a voluntary plea of guilty to a count of conspiring to possess a firearm and ammunition as a felon. Under the plea agreement, he will also be subject to imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of up to $250,000.
Additionally, Manguchei admits to entering into a conspiracy with Brun whereby Brun sought to obtain firearms and ammunition for Manguchei's use tied to the overall drug trafficking case.
read … Key player in Kauai councilman's drug trafficking ring reaches plea agreement
Former Kauai federal employee racked up $17K unauthorized charges
KHON: … A former federal worker on Kauai has been indicted for racking up more than $17,000 in unauthorized charges on his government credit card.
A federal indictment says it happened over a span of six months in 2017. Authorities allege Scott Poland used his Department of the Interior work card for frequent purchases at big box and hardware stores, also to pay utility and self-storage bills. Some of the costliest expenses were for car repairs and buying fabric.….
read … Former Kauai fed racked up $17K unauthorized charges
15 Firearms, Ammunition Stolen from DLNR Armory
SA: … Sometime between Wednesday afternoon and this morning an unknown number of suspects broke into the armory at 2135 Makiki Heights Drive and made off with the weapons. Also stolen were state and personal property. This includes a Polaris Utility Terrain Vehicle, which has been recovered in the Tantalus area, according to a DLNR news release.
The address where the theft occurred is listed as the Makiki Baseyard for DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife. The weapons taken include AR-15 rifles used to help reduce numbers of invasive, feral ungulates. The break-in is the second since November where thieves targeted DLNR storage facilities.
In November, at the DOFAW Hilo Baseyard two trucks, a UTV, and a lift trailer were taken, according to the release. All of that equipment has been recovered. More than 100 smaller pieces of equipment used by a forest restoration project were also stolen but have not been found.
Two suspects were arrested by Hawaii police in January, according to the release…..
read … 15 Firearms, Ammunition Stolen from DLNR Armory
Hawaii House Proposes 48 New ‘Positions’ To Beef Up Child Welfare Services
CB: … A proposed $8.3 billion state budget for next year would beef up staffing and funding for the struggling state Child Welfare Services agency in the wake of an alleged murder of a 6-year-old girl on Oahu last year.
The House Finance Committee unveiled plans on Thursday that would increase the CWS budget by $2.95 million and add 48 new ‘positions’ to the agency, which is tasked with responding and intervening in cases of alleged child abuse and neglect…..
read … Hawaii House Proposes 48 New Positions To Beef Up Child Welfare Services
300 Volunteers Take to Street to Count Oahu Homeless
KITV: … After being delayed for more than a year because of COVID-19, hundreds of volunteers once again took to the streets for the annual Point-In-Time homeless count.
The survey provides crucial data to the state about the current size of the homeless population on Oahu.
Organizers say this year had more than 350 volunteers participate in the count. Teams spread out to different parts of the island including the North shore and West side.
They say because last year's count had to be canceled, the data collected will likely shed light on how much the homeless situation has changed during the pandemic.
Care packages with hygiene items and McDonald's gift cards were given out to encourage participation in a short questionnaire survey.
In the 2020, nearly 5,000 homeless people were counted on Oahu…..
SA: Survey of Oahu’s homeless returns
read … 300 Volunteers Take to Street to Count Oahu Homeless
Corona Virus News: