VIDEO: Why Hawaii Needs a Jones Act Waiver
Public feedback needed for update to Maunakea management plan
Last Chance to Save Caldwell: Lawyers Argue Not a Crime to Transfer $250K to Kealoha
SA: … The indictment alleges that Amemiya conspired with former Corporation Counsel Donna Leong and former Honolulu Police Commission Chair Max Sword to “conceal the details of the Kealoha payout from the City Council” and “induce HPD to pay for Kealoha’s payout from salary funds allocated in HPD’s budget in order to circumvent City Council approval.”…
Hosoda cited a U.S. Supreme Court case, Kelly v. United States, that stated the criminal statutes Amemiya, Leong and Sword are accused of conspiring to violate are federal property fraud offenses. That requirement prevents the statutes from being used to criminalize every act of dishonesty by state and local officials and restricts federal prosecutors from setting “standards of disclosure or good government,” according to the filing.
“That is exactly what the prosecution is trying to do here: prosecute former City employees for following well-established procedures for the approval of a severance agreement, because the Government (and apparently the former acting Chief of Police) have a different opinion of what the procedure should be.”
U.S. District Judge Leslie E. Kobayashi ruled Feb. 28 that former city Budget and Fiscal Services Director Nelson Koyanagi, who is battling cancer, could be deposed in the case. He is expected to confirm the 2017 Kealoha settlement was legal and followed a structure similar to separation payout agreements with other former city department heads.
Prior to moving forward with the Kealoha payout, the city administration also considered a legal and policy memo authored by a deputy corporation counsel that found the arrangement legal and appropriate. A 2019 review of the settlement conducted by a San Francisco law firm, Farella Braun &Martel, contracted by the city, also declared its structure legal and in line with separation payment practices at the time.
Hosoda wrote that the Supreme Court stated in the Kelly case that if “U.S. Attorneys could prosecute as property fraud every lie a state or local official tells in making such a decision, the result would be … a sweeping expansion of federal criminal jurisdiction.”….
(CLUE: If this garbage fails to sway Judge Kobayashi, then plan B is to rat out Caldwell.)
ILind: Thrust and parry in war of words over conspiracy charge against former city officials
read … Dispute at core of Honolulu corruption case, lawyers argue
Star-Adv: Put a Jones Act waiver to the test
SA Editorial: …assuming it’s implemented for a limited term as described, it could at least enable needed flexibility in acquiring alternative, domestic sources of oil for a state that has been fairly dependent on foreign petroleum imports for many years….
read … Put a Jones Act waiver to the test
Hawaii Supreme Court to hear reapportionment dispute today
HTH: … The state, meanwhile, in a 50-page response filed Friday, contends the state constitution requires the Reapportionment Commission to consider a set of eight guidelines that includes the district-within-a-district concept, but it does not require the commission to adopt all of them. For four guidelines, including district-within-a-district, the framers of the constitution “purposefully refrained from stating in mandatory terms,” the response, signed by Deputy Attorney General Lori N. Tanigawa, stated.
In addition, the state said, a permitted interaction group, in this case the Technical Committee, is allowed under the state Sunshine Law. If that law was violated, the plaintiffs had other channels to object, such as through the Office of Information Practices or the circuit court, but did not do so within the 90-day timeline outlined in law, the response said.
“Undoing the Technical Committee now, only after the bi-partisan group of four Commissioners recommended congressional plans, drew and revised legislative plans following eleven public hearings, and again in response to new extraction figures, and after the Commission adopted the congressional and legislative plans, would cast doubt on the entire reapportionment process and could lead to an unprecedented delay in the elections,” the response said. “Petitioners may not really want what they say they want.”
Oral arguments are scheduled to being at 2 p.m. today. The public can view the proceeding at YouTube.com/hawaiicourts….
read … Hawaii Supreme Court to hear reapportionment dispute today
Maunakea bill still alive in Senate
HTH: … The bill passed third reading in the House last Tuesday and passed first reading in the Senate on Thursday.
On Friday it was referred to two Senate committees: the Committee on Higher Education and the Committee on Ways and Means.
The committee selections are significant because Hilo Sen. Lorraine Inouye, chair of the Senate Committee on Water and Land, had previously said she would not agendize the bill if it was referred to her committee.
Inouye previously told the Tribune-Herald that she is happy with how the University of Hawaii, which leases the summit lands from the state, has improved its management over the years.
Having avoided death at the Water and Land Committee, the bill might yet survive. However, several lawmakers were displeased with the bill during House committee hearings, saying the measure’s proposals are broadly unpopular with both supporters and opponents of development on Maunakea.
read … Maunakea bill still alive in Senate
Lawmakers weigh measures to tax rental car companies
MN: … One proposal that’s been killed time and again but that Maui County continues to fight for is HB 1632, which sets weight limitations for tour operators and rental vehicles on Hana and Haleakala highways….
Advocates for tour operators, however, have pushed back against the measure, saying that visitors who drive the dangerous Road to Hana without the proper knowledge are the real problem, not tour companies.
“It is the unguided visitors that cause the most conflict and damage. Regulating legal operations, which are not the cause of the conflict, is cruel, lacks positive, creative thinking, and is anti-business,” Toni Marie Davis, executive director of Activities & Attractions Association of Hawaii, said in written testimony on Feb. 10. “These locally owned and operated businesses directly employ hundreds of Maui residents and, indirectly, thousands of Maui residents.”
Other bills moving through the Legislature that Hashimoto said the public should keep their eyes on also aim to address tourism impacts.
HB 1452, for example, would subject U-drive motor vehicles — vehicles rented or leased for six months or less — to the same motor vehicle registration fees as other motor vehicles, and HB 1688 would allow the counties to use certain motor vehicle registration fees to mitigate and address the impacts of tourism-related traffic congestion….
Lastly, HB 1971 would regulate peer-to-peer car-sharing companies, such as Turo, an industry that’s grown in popularity within the visitor market, by establishing insurance requirements, imposing the general excise tax and rental motor vehicle surcharge tax on peer-to-peer car-sharing programs and requiring people engaging or continuing in a peer-to-peer car-sharing program to register with the Department of Taxation.
read … Lawmakers weigh measures to tax rental car companies
State of the County: Boost the city’s operating budget by 14%
SA: … Due to an increase in revenue from property taxes and a new county hotel tax, Blangiardi’s budget proposal, which is now before the City Council, would boost the city’s operating budget by 14% without raising fees or increasing property tax rates.
The $3.3 billion proposed overall budget would implement a $420 million increase to the operating budget over last year’s funding but decrease the capital improvement budget for infrastructure projects by $609 million for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1.
The climb in city revenues is expected from an approximately 9% increase in real property valuations and a new 3% transient accommodations tax implemented in December. The city expects the new hotel tax will bring in about $86 million, with about $50 million going to the general fund.
The rest of the TAT revenue is to be split between the rail project and a special fund for natural resources….
The mayor’s State of the City address will be livestreamed at 11 a.m. on his Facebook page and Olelo Channel 49….
Kawakami’s State of the County: Investing in Kaua‘i
State of Maui County held on Wednesday
read … New Honolulu revenue boosts Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s city budget
Tourism returns nearly full force to Hawaii
KHON: … No matter where you’re headed, if you’re traveling for spring break expect it to be crowded at the airport.
Kona and Maui’s airports specifically are back to full capacity. Honolulu’s volume is not back to pre-pandemic levels just yet, and lines have been manageable.
“If you look at the passenger volumes that we are seeing in Honolulu,” Dankers said. “It is about 25% lower than we could have seen pre-pandemic. So you can keep that in mind when you come to the airport.” …
HNN: Hawaiian Airlines 'gearing up in anticipation of the Japanese market’: CEO
read … Tourism returns nearly full force to Hawaii
Costs threaten Hawaii restaurants
KHON: … The surge in costs prompted Coconut’s Fish Cafe on Maui to include an explanation on their menu for price increases, which owner Mike Phillips says has been most difficult due to supply chain shortages, putting prices up 23% since last year.
“There’s got to be a stopping point to the price point because they’re going to say no,” Phillips said of customers. “I’ve been in business through the 70s and 80s and the 90s in many different scenarios. This is the worst I’ve ever seen.”
The rise in prices is happening nearly everywhere.
“We used to pay about $3.40, a couple of years back for a pound of ribs,” Ruby Tuesday Hawaii CEO and Owner Rick Nakashima said. “Now it went up to about seven. So it went past double. Now it’s inching back down. But we use 1,000 pounds of ribs for four restaurants a month. So that’s a big deal.”
The problems haven’t just been shipping. Oil and gas prices have HECO projecting to raise electric rates by at least 10% in Honolulu, and by 20% on Maui and Hawaii Island.
“Restaurants are always air-conditioned, and the food is always odd and that stuff doesn’t come cheap,” Nakashima said….
read … Costs threaten Hawaii restaurants
Kauai Electric Bills Set to Rise Less than Others
CB: … Last week Hawaiian Electric Co. warned that monthly power bills could increase by as much as 20% for residents of Maui County and the Big Island as a result of the U.S. ban on Russian oil imports, a political maneuver to inflict pain on the Russian economy as the country wages war on Ukraine. The utility predicts a 10% residential energy bill hike for residents of Oahu over the next several months.
On Kauai, where the utility grid is powered by the largest share of renewables in the state, residents are better protected from the whims of the oil market. KIUC predicts its 34,000 members’ energy bills could rise between 2% and 10%, or $4 to $20 per month for a residential member based on average electricity usage.
Roughly 70% of Kauai’s electricity grid is powered by renewables…
read … Kauai Quit Using Oil To Produce Most Of Its Electricity Years Ago. That’s Paying Off Now
In body cam video, witnesses to crash involving officers urge police to ‘investigate’ what happened
HNN: … In the body cam footage from the Sept. 12 crash in Makaha, a female officer arrives to find EMTs, firefighters and other officers helping the six victims who were thrown from a white Honda sedan.
The car flew through the air and rolled several times at Farrington Highway near Orange Street.
It is clear from the video that she does not know three policemen were suspected of chasing the car, without lights and sirens, and at least one witness said the car was bumped by an unmarked SUV.
“You seem upset with us,” she is heard saying to a neighbor.
He responded, “Investigate what really happened.”
Another person in the video said an eyewitness, Anthony Charles, was being shooed away by other authorities at the perimeter. “He’s claiming that he’s getting pushed away by the cops and they don’t want to take his statement,” the witness can be heard telling the officer.
Charles spoke to Hawaii News Now days after the crash. He said he was riding his motorcycle the opposite direction and that one of the HPD vehicles almost hit him during the chase.
The body camera footage shows the officer finding Charles after several minutes and he begins to tell her what happened.
“I seen them coming up on Farrington from 7-11,” Charles is heard saying on the recording.
“The cop wen nudge him. The two, three cops chasing ‘em, the cop wen nudge him,” he said….
All six people in the car were injured, several critically. One teen was paralyzed, but after months of physical therapy is slowly walking again. Another man had a broken back. One boy lost an eye….
HNN: The Debrief: Makaha crash criminal investigation ongoing as victims continue recovery
read … In body cam video, witnesses to crash involving officers urge police to ‘investigate’ what happened
Bills would extend Ohana Zones program
CB: … A state-funded program that has helped more than 1,300 homeless people transition into permanent housing but is due to expire next year may be extended through 2028, according to draft legislation being considered by the Hawaii Senate.
The Senate bill also would eventually make the Ohana Zones program permanent by transferring responsibility for it from the state’s point man on homelessness to the Hawaii Public Housing Authority. A separate House bill has a more limited scope and would only extend the program through 2026.
Both measures have survived past a key deadline last week at the midpoint of the 2022 session, although funding for the program must still be determined by lawmakers….
The bills received no opposition. Senate Bill 3168 will have to clear the House committees on Housing, Human Services and Homelessness, Housing and Finance.
House Bill 2512 must clear the Senate Committees on Housing, Water and Land, Government Operations, Ways and Means and the Judiciary….
read … Bills would extend Ohana Zones program
More Homeless Mayhem: Squatters Torch Makiki Hts Home
HNN: … Crews were dispatched to the scene along Hoalu Place around 8:25 a.m. Over 20 personnel from six HFD units arrived on scene around 8:40 a.m.
Neighbors have had concerns over security and recent activities in the area.
“I do notice what might be considered ‘shady’ activity around here,” resident Sarah Robertson said. “It’s kind of a sketchy corner. Definitely seen some, maybe, questionable characters here and there.
Robsertson continued, “Honestly I couldn’t tell you if they were squatters or how they came to inhabit this one particular house or what they’re doing, but its unfortunate that the fire is causing damage to the residents in the area.”…
(Solution: Reopen the insane asylums. Put the insane back inside.)
read … No injuries reported after Makiki Heights fire put out
State Judiciary: Kill a dude in Chinatown, get back out on the streets in a year
SA: … Senior United States District Judge Susan Oki Mollway today sentenced Tiseya Puapuaga, 27, of Honolulu and California, to 37 months that will run consecutive to a state prison sentence that will be based upon his parole revocation, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s office.
On December 18, 2020, the Honolulu Police Department searched an apartment in Waikiki where Puapuaga was living. Officers found a disassembled pistol, known as a ghost gun, a disassembled AR-15-type rifle, a loaded handgun magazine, and four rounds of ammunition from the living room, kitchen, and inside the oven.
“Ghost guns are capable of subverting application of federal firearms laws because their separate parts may be assembled in the State of Hawaii, rather than being manufactured in another jurisdiction,” said U.S. Attorney Clare E. Connors, in the news release.
Puapuaga was on parole (December 18, 2020) in Hawaii when the incident in Waikiki happened. His parole status was for a 2019 felony conviction involving assault and a firearms offense connected to a murder that occurred in the Chinatown area of Honolulu. Puapuaga has not yet been sentenced by the State on his parole revocation for the 2019 State of Hawaii conviction.
An Oahu grand jury indicted Puapuaga with murder in October 2017 for his role in a the late-night shooting in front of the Maunakea Liquor & Grocery store on Sept. 20, 2017.
In 2017, Honolulu police said Puapuaga approached 34-year-old Issac Mamea on foot and shot him multiple times with a handgun….
(He was extradited from Calif. in Jan. 2019.)
(Yes. The State Judiciary put this guy out on the street just one year after he was convicted for killing a dude in Chinatown.)
SA: Honolulu police continue efforts to clean up Chinatown
read … Man sentenced to more than 3 years for possessing ammunition
Corona Virus News: