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Thursday, March 24, 2022
March 24, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:08 PM :: 1634 Views

Anti-Telescope Leaders Oppose HB2024 -- 'Bill does not provide any benefits'

HART: Recovery Plan Does Not Exist (yet)

Green Energy: Schatz Gives Taxpayer Money to Maui Councilmenber's Spouse

Innovative States? Hawaii Ranks 40th

HB2125 Deferred: Would Criminalize Parental Involvement in Education 

Donna Leong Pleads Not Guilty To Lying To Federal Agents  

CB: … Prosecutors say the three city officials coordinated to sneak Kealoha’s $250,000 retirement deal past the Honolulu City Council and tried to keep the arrangement quiet at a time when Kealoha was under federal investigation for corruption.

On Nov. 13, 2017, federal agents who were investigating the payout questioned Leong about it.

According to the superseding indictment, Leong falsely stated that as far as she was aware, the acting police chief Cary Okimoto was not involved in any conversations about Kealoha’s payment prior to it being reached.

She allegedly claimed that she did not have any conversations with the acting chief about the payment until after the chief objected to it and that the first time the acting chief objected to the payout was after it was signed – assertions the feds say are not true.

The superseding indictment also references an individual listed only as “W.A.” — apparently Honolulu Police Assistant Chief William Axt. Prosecutors say Leong falsely claimed she never had conversations with him about the payout to Kealoha.

Leong is also accused of falsely stating that Deputy Corporation Counsel “D.P.” – presumably Duane Pang – would not have been able to talk to anyone outside of the Honolulu Police Commission while the Kealoha deal was being negotiated because “that was something Leong controlled very tightly,” according to the indictment.

Amemiya’s attorney filed a motion to dismiss his client’s indictment in January, arguing that there is “nothing criminal about discussing and agreeing to pay severance to a soon-to-be former employee.”

Lawyers for Leong and Sword have since joined in that motion, and a hearing is scheduled for Thursday at 9:45 a.m.

(Once the motion to dismiss is itself dismissed, Caldwell begins sweating.)

In the meantime, a trial is scheduled for June 13….

ILind: Nothing odd about the latest charges against Honolulu’s former top lawyer

SA: Former Honolulu corporation counsel Donna Leong did not lie to the FBI, attorney says

read … Donna Leong Pleads Not Guilty To Lying To Federal Agents

Hawaii lower public education literacy levels could last years

HNN: … Disruptions to classroom learning during the pandemic, led to a reduction in reading rates at island public and charter schools.

Those lower literacy levels are expected to last for years….

Students are back in classrooms now. But the disruption to regular learning, over the past two years, meant lower academic results this school year.

"The impact on test scores were definitely on Kindergarten,1,2,3, & 4 grade. Our achievement levels have gone down," stated Kualapu'u Public Charter School Principal Lydia Trinidad.

At Kualapu'u Charter School on Molokai, achievement levels have not dropped for all students equally.

The additional COVID challenges have widened the gap between students who excel at learning and those who struggle.

"For our kids that were already behind, it is putting them 6 months to a year behind. For kids that were a little behind, some students we saw improvements. For kids that were reading at grade level, they are still doing fine for the most part," said Kualapu'u School Vice Principal Loretta Sherwood.

"Once kids were able to read, I don't think the pandemic had as great of an effect on them - because they were able to independently read," added Schatz.

According to the DOE, 5th and 6th grades across the state did not see a drop off in test results as did their younger schoolmates.

Literate students also appeared to keep those skills sharp.

Over the past two years, the DOE's e-book program had double the number of checkouts compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Parents may have also played a part in the success of their children's at-home or virtual education.

"We have seen that family involvement has never been higher or stronger," stated DOE Educational Specialist Esther Tokihiro….

read … Hawaii lower public education literacy levels could last years

Amended bill Keeps Mauna Kea under UH Control

HTH: … The Senate Committee on Higher Education approved the bill today after lengthy discussion Tuesday. But while the committee voted unanimously to pass the bill, committee chair Donna Kim introduced amendments to the measure that alter its scope.

Most significant among those amendments is a clause that would place the agency — now called the Maunakea Stewardship and Oversight Authority within UH-Hilo “for administrative purposes.”

According to the amendments proposed by Oahu Sen. Donna Kim, chair of the Senate Committee on Higher Education, the Authority “will replace the role of the University of Hawaii Board of Regents and the University of Hawaii President,” but will retain most of the responsibilities delineated in previous drafts of the bill….  

Kim told the Tribune-Herald on Wednesday that the previous draft of the bill was “set up to fail,” that the countless responsibilities of managing the mountain could not be shifted over to a wholly new entity in the three years allotted by the bill.

Additionally, the bill seems to reduce the scope of the Oversight Authority. Previous drafts of the bill placed all Maunakea lands above 6,500 feet under control of the authority, but the latest draft now specifies only lands above the 9,200-foot level….

The new draft also makes changes to the makeup of the Authority’s board. Under the bill, the Authority will consist of 11 voting members, including the chairs of the state Board of Land and Natural Resources, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs’ Board of Trustees and the UH Board of Regents, a Mauna Kea Observatories representative, a “recognized practitioner” of Native Hawaiian cultural practices and a lineal descendent of a Native Hawaiian cultural practitioner.

Kim said the changes to the board avoid concerns raised by the state Office of the Attorney General, which criticized the previous draft for requiring that some of the board members be Native Hawaiian, a requirement that could be considered racial discrimination. However, at least three members must be Big Island residents, Kim said….

The bill will next be discussed by the Senate Ways and Means Committee. No hearing for that discussion has yet been scheduled….

read … Shakeup for Maunakea bill: Amended version of measure advances at senate committee

Case urges Jones Act waiver, calls out Matson, Pasha

HTH: … U.S. Rep. Ed Case on Wednesday criticized the two main ocean cargo companies shipping goods between the mainland U.S. and Hawaii — Matson Navigation Co. and Pasha Hawaii Transport Lines — for opposing his request to President Joe Biden to exempt Hawaii from the Jones Act for the duration of the Russia-Ukraine conflict….

In a livestream, Case — a Democrat who represents urban Honolulu in Congress — identified Biden’s trade ban with Russia, which supplied about a quarter of Hawaii’s crude oil, as the reason gasoline prices exceed $5 per gallon.

“It costs three to four times more to ship crude oil from the U.S. mainland to Hawaii than it does from international ports … in international tankers because of the Jones Act, which basically constrains the supply of tankers that can be utilized on the trade between the mainland and Hawaii. And as a result … we take out 25% or so of our crude oil supply that is Russian oil,” Case said.

“We’ve got to find a replacement for that supply,” he continued. “And if the only place we can go is the domestic supply that costs three or four times as much to move here, then that’s going to be an impact on us. And I believe that’s why we are seeing some of the impacts on our gas prices as we speak.”…

SA: Jones Act waiver would have little effect on isle oil imports

read … Case urges Jones Act waiver, calls out Matson, Pasha

Bill 41: City Council considers ban on short-term vacation rentals in residential areas

HNN: … Short-term vacation rentals would be banned in residential areas under a bill approved Wednesday by the City Council’s Zoning and Planning Committee.

The bill now goes to the full Council for consideration.

Bill 41 would only allow short-term vacation accommodations in or next to resort zoned areas, such as Waikiki and Turtle Bay, while keeping them out of other residential neighborhoods through most of Oahu….

The bill would also require new residential renters to pay for at least 90 days, but opponents question how that’ll be enforced and say it overlooks certain circumstances….

“Why is it that hotels and timeshares are exempted from this bill, while everything else has to be restricted and has fees imposed upon it?” asked bill opponent John An.

As expected, those in the tourism sector expressed their firm support for the measure….  

PBN: Proposal to crack down on illegal short-term rentals continues to advance

CB: Honolulu Short-Term Rental Restrictions Pass Final Committee

read … City Council considers ban on short-term vacation rentals in residential areas

Legislative Bill calls for audit of State's Agricultural Parks

KITV: … The House Agricultural Committee voted on Wednesday to advance two resolutions calling for an audit of the state's 10 agricultural parks. A story KITV 4 told you about earlier this month is causing state legislators to take action.

Simeon Rojas is accusing the Kahuku Ag Park manager and the man who he leased land from, of trying to get him to build a private aquaponic facility for them. He's even got a temporary restraining order against the long term lease owner, for shutting off his water, twice. Now he and State Representative John Mizuno are trying to get the state parks audited to see what problems are out there at the parks and get them corrected. The result just might have an effect on the state's food supply …. 

SA: Kahuku farm dispute sparks call for audit

HCR77: Text, Status

read … Legislative Bill calls for audit of State's Agricultural Parks

City prosecutor clears 2 HPD officers in fatal shooting of machete-wielding man

SA: … Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm said during a news conference this morning that the use of deadly force resulting in the death of Elia S. Laeli, 41, was justified, and no charges will be filed against the two officers.

According to Honolulu Police Department reports, the officers responded to an assault call at about 2:30 a.m. Aug. 11 in the 1300 block of North School Street. At the scene, officers were confronted by Laeli, who was armed with a machete and had reportedly severed a man’s pinky finger with the large blade.

Laeli ignored the officer’s commands to drop the machete, and instead “rushed toward” one officer. Two officers then fired several shots, hitting the suspect, according to an account of the incident provided by interim Police Chief Rade Vanic two days after the incident.…. 

HNN: GRAPHIC: Video shows police saving knife-wielding criminal's life by using stun gun instead of shooting him 

HNN: City prosecutor expresses concern about spate of violent crime, including 3 fatal shootings in March

read … City prosecutor clears 2 HPD officers in fatal shooting of machete-wielding man

Legislative Agenda:

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