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$200M Leap of Faith
SA Editorial: … Talk about a leap of faith.
Some $200 million in taxpayer dollars have just been allocated to a new, untested state agency — the School Facilities Authority — that got its first executive director less than three months ago to launch operations. The primary mission, under House Bill 2000: to start expanding access to pre-kindergarten for toddlers, toward ultimately fulfilling a 2020 state law for preschool access to all 3- and 4-year olds by 2032.
The $200 million may be used to build new school facilities; renovate and expand existing school facilities to increase pre-K capacity; and any other costs to increase pre-K capacity….
The School Facilities Authority (SFA) was created last year by the Legislature, frustrated over the chronic repair backlog by the Department of Education’s school facilities branch — now exceeding 4,600 repair projects, totaling nearly $1.5 billion.
Creating the SFA, then, was a sad acknowledgement of sluggish bureaucracy bogging down necessary progress to optimize school facilities. The new agency hopes to operate in tandem with the DOE establishment — but very notably, its executive director, Chad Keone Farias, says SFA answers directly to the governor, not to the schools superintendent nor the Board of Education.
It certainly will be a navigational feat as Farias and SFA pursue school spaces to convert for preschool use and to innovate multipurpose spaces. Though lacking a construction background, Farias has had experience rising to challenges: The former Kau-Keaau-Pahoa Complex Area superintendent showed his leadership chops during the 2014 Kilauea lava threat, helping to quickly coordinate the building of a temporary school of portables in a stadium parking lot for 400-plus students.
And he exudes can-do enthusiasm in talking up synergistic ideas — such as whether Waipahu High School could host a preschool classroom as part of a career academy for high schoolers interested in education; or adding a preschool component in proposed multistory, multi-use development projects.
The autonomy that will enable SFA’s nimbleness, however, could also become a point of public concern….
read … New way to get preschools
Ex-Rep Ty Cullen Gets New Sentencing Date In Bribery Case
AP: … A judge has set a new sentencing date for former Hawaii state Rep. Ty Cullen, who earlier this year pleaded guilty to one count in connection with his acceptance of bribes when he was a lawmaker.
He’s now due to be sentenced on Oct. 20 instead of July 5. Cullen’s attorney, Birney Bervar, declined to comment.
Former Senate Majority Leader Kalani English, who also pleaded guilty in a related case, is still scheduled to be sentenced on July 5.
The two Democrats each face up to 20 years in prison, but their sentences will depend on various factors. It’s possible they will get less because they pleaded guilty early.
Cullen resigned his House seat representing Waipahu less than an hour before prosecutors announced the allegations in February. He entered a guilty plea the following week.
His plea agreement with prosecutors says he accepted cash payments from a business owner identified as “Person A” dating as far back as 2014. That year, Cullen received $22,000 worth of casino chips from the business owner during a trip to a wastewater conference in New Orleans….
The agreement says the business owner gave Cullen four cash payments totaling $23,000 on separate occasions from September 2019 through March 2020….
read … Hawaii Ex-Lawmaker Gets New Sentencing Date In Bribery Case
8 Years later-More trial delays for Maui hate crime
HNN: … The coronavirus pandemic is delaying a trial for two Hawaii men charged with a hate crime for allegedly beating a white man in 2014.
The trial for Kaulana Alo Kaonohi and Levi Aki, Jr. was scheduled for July. They have pleaded not guilty.
An indictment last year charged Kaonohi and Aki with a hate crime after they allegedly attacked a white man who was attempting to move into their Maui neighborhood. They face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Court documents said the men punched, kicked and used a shovel to beat a man who was knocked unconscious. He suffered a concussion and two broken ribs, prosecutors said.
The defendants are accused of saying the man was in the “wrong place,” didn’t belong there and that “no white man is ever going to live in this house or neighborhood.”…
read … Pandemic delays trial for Hawaii men charged with hate crime
Gun Wielding Meth Head Runs Rampant After Being Released Again and Again
MN: … Keliihananui Crabbe, 38, was charged with first-degree robbery.
Crabbe allegedly pistol-whipped the other man and pointed the weapon at him May 28, Deputy Prosecutor Jeffery Temas said during Crabbe’s initial appearance Friday in Wailuku District Court. Temas said Crabbe also allegedly threatened to use the pistol to “blow the kneecap” off the other man while trying to enter the man’s truck a second time.
In asking for bail to be increased from $10,000 to $50,000, Temas said Crabbe is awaiting trial in two felony cases and had posted bail to be released. A revocation of his bail was being sought based on allegations that he failed to comply with his release requirements, including by testing positive for amphetamine and alcohol use in March, Temas said.
He said Crabbe didn’t show up for trial Tuesday in one of his felony cases so a bench warrant was issued.
Crabbe is on probation for abuse in a 2021 case.
“So he’s out in the community, allegedly he’s committing violent crimes while on bail, while on probation, while pending trial in two felony cases,” Temas said.
Deputy Public Defender Emily Collins asked for bail to remain at $10,000 for Crabbe, who was arrested Tuesday night.
Judge Blaine Kobayashi granted the state’s request to increase bail to $50,000….
read … Soft on Crime
Federal agents dismantle suspected game rooms on Oahu, Maui in early-morning raids
HNN: … the locations hit on Oahu and Maui are suspected of having ties to a drug operation….
… Agents spent all Friday morning loading up large arcade machines, flat screens and table top games from one suspected game room on Queen Street in Kakaako. Everything was loaded into a large truck….
People who were inside at the time were cuffed and waited next to construction equipment as authorities went through the building….No one was arrested from the Kakaako location….
read … Federal agents dismantle suspected game rooms on Oahu, Maui in early-morning raids
FCK BLM License Plate Still on the Road
KITV: … It's an incendiary message that first caught drivers' attention almost a year ago: a vanity license plate with an expletive-laced message "FCK BLM", or Black Lives Matter.
The license plate was first spotted in August 2021, and the City and County of Honolulu told us that the vanity license plate was an "ill-advised oversight", as any requests with the letters 'FCK' or 'FKN' are automatically rejected.
At the time, the city said the plate was recalled and the owner would have to surrender it. But recently, people reported the car was still driving around with the plates. The city now says the owner was given three messages telling him he needed to surrender the plate, but he ignored them….
read … Offensive Honolulu license plate still on the road one year later
Hawaii County announces free bus rides for the next 2 years
BIVN: … Hawaii County announced Friday that all Hele-On rides will be fare-free for the next two and half years.
According to the department, the County Mass Transit Agency received $4.5 million in COVID relief and almost $2 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds.
Officials added, the money does not have to be repaid to the federal government….
read … Hawaii County announces free bus rides for the next 2 years