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Wednesday, September 14, 2022
September 14, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:20 PM :: 1901 Views

Corruption in Paradise -- Government Watchdogs Look the Other Way

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Feds Arrest Mitsunaga Lawyer in California

KITV: … A sixth person has been arrested in connection with the ongoing federal investigation involving former Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro.

Federal agents arrested attorney Sheri Jean Tanaka in California on Tuesday. Tanaka represented Mitsunaga & Associates, Inc. in administrative, civil, and criminal matters. She was indicted on Thursday, Sept. 8.

Kaneshiro, Mitsunaga & Associates, Inc. CEO Dennis Mitsunaga, and three firm employees – Terri Otani, Aaron Fujii, and Chad McDonald, were all named in the original indictment back in June 2022. At the time of the original indictment, Tanaka was listed as an unlisted co-conspirator.

According to the indictment, Tanaka along with Mitsunaga & Associates employees contributed more than $45,000 to Kaneshiro’s re-election campaigns between October 2012 and October 2016 in exchange for Kaneshiro’s prosecution of a former company employee….

read … Attorney arrested as part of ongoing corruption investigation into former Honolulu prosecutor 

‘Big Oil’ pushes back in Honolulu suit over climate change

SA: … “History belies plaintiffs’ assertion that there was a failure to warn or misrepresentation, or that plaintiffs were somehow unaware of the relationship between the combustion of fossil fuels and climate change,” Shell said in its filing.

Shell said scientific study of climate change dates to the 1800s, has been discussed by the company for more than 30 years and has been the subject of media reports and government policy debate for many decades. “It was far from hidden or unknown as plaintiffs claim,” Shell said in its filing.

Shell also said in its response that reducing carbon emission levels and generally tackling climate change will take “unprecedented levels of collaboration and cooperation across all sectors of society” and won’t be achieved through the city’s lawsuit.

“Rather than seeking real solutions to climate change and emission reductions, plaintiffs instead resort to the judicial system and wrongly seek to hold defendants — a select few energy companies — responsible for the alleged local effects of global climate change from the global use of fossil fuel products,” Shell said in its filing refuting claims by the city.

Chevron Corp. and Chevron U.S.A. Inc. made similar arguments and noted that federal and local governments have long made energy policy decisions with knowledge of climate change impacts. “Plaintiffs’ complaint tries to construct a narrative that oil and gas companies had some unique knowledge about climate science and withheld it or misrepresented it in some way that impacted policy responses and consumer choices,” Chevron said in its response. “That narrative is false.” …. 

Big Q: Should oil companies be sued over environmental harm from climate-change impacts?

EE: Big Oil’s new strategy in climate cases: Cite Captain Planet

read … ‘Big Oil’ pushes back in Honolulu suit over climate change

Firm Power is Critical for Island Energy Systems

IM: … A column, “The fallacy of `firm` energy`s reliability” was published by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser today.

The opening sentence is: “The claim that `firm` energy guarantees uninterruptible electrical service for customers of electrical services has recently been disproven.”

Firm generation is generation. Uninterruptible electrical service is transmission.  Reliability is traditionally a metric that measures the success rate of the grid to supply electricity to customers.

No one has ever asserted that firm generation guarantees that your lights will go on. All generators could be working while a car hits a pole knocking out power delivery.

Except for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, fossil fuel generators can be always on (baseload) or capable of being turned on (firm power). Having sufficient firm power to meet demand is critical.

Solar and wind systems coupled with limited storage can sometimes deliver power when the sun isn`t shining and the wind isn`t blowing (firmer renewables or firm-like renewables).

The article asserts that if a fossil fuel generator can have an unscheduled outage, then the facility can`t be considered firm power. The article adds, “It is true that solar and wind energy have the downside of being intermittent.

If this is true, then the firm energy concept can be expanded. Since no man-made object always works, therefore there is no such thing as firm energy. Therefore, the term “firm” need not exist in utility conversations….

The ill-conceived SB2510 introduced in the 2022 Hawai`i legislature showed the weakness of its arguments used by its proponents.

The danger is that in the next Legislative session the other side will propose an equally ill-conceived bill that ignore the critical role played by firm power….

SA: Column The fallacy of ‘firm’ energy’s reliability

read … Firm Power is Critical for Island Energy Systems

Kaua‘i Police Chief still has final say on public carry firearm permits

TGI: … KPD Investigative Services Bureau Assistant Chief Bryson Ponce said that the changes to the application would reduce the requirements for those hoping to carry a gun in public.

“Before, you had to justify that your life was in danger,” said Ponce. “You had to justify that you needed it for immediate self-protection.”

He also reported that there are still “reasons that you can be denied.”

“It’s not like everybody who applies for a permit will automatically get it,” he said.

Kaua‘i Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca Like clarified that “the chief of police does retain discretion to deny permits based on certain criteria.”

The new application also still requires a significant amount of legwork for applicants, including a firearm-proficiency test and a waiver of liability for those providing information during a background check.

Keeping with a state Department of the Attorney General opinion issued in July, the application has different requirements for open- and concealed-carry applicants.

For both concealed- and open-carry licenses, applicants are asked a range of questions focused on their criminal and mental-health histories.

For open-carry permits, though, applicants are asked to answer questions justifying their need to open carry.

The questions for both sections are “Yes or No,” with space provided for further explanations of certain answers. It is unclear if answers in this category can immediately disqualify a person from open carrying.

Director of the Hawai‘i Firearms Coalition Andrew Namiki Roberts said the group sees the new Kaua‘i permitting process as too strict — “far outside the scope of the law and what would be constitutional given the Supreme Court’s ruling.”

“The police chief is taking this (to mean) he can make a qualification standard for those that wish to carry,” said Roberts.

“The chief of police has no authority to deny permits to anyone absent evidence that the person is a prohibited person.”

The Kaua‘i permitting process appears more relaxed than the Hawai‘i Island policy announced in late August, which requires a waiver of all legal privileges, including “attorney-client, clergyman-penitent, husband-wife, physician-patient, psychologist-client, creditor-customer and accountant-client” for background checks on applicants.

The KPD application includes a waiver that authorizes those contacted to release “information, data or opinions they may have” as to the applicant’s “background, family, mental health and any other relevant information,” though it does not mention any of these privileges specifically….

read … Kaua‘i Police Chief still has final say on public carry firearm permits

Preliminary $600 million plan framed for Hawaiian homesteads

SA: … The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has refined its plan to spend a historic $600 million mostly to produce homesteads for beneficiaries, and may be acquiring land and helping private developers finance housing projects as part of the effort.

A “preliminary strategic approach” drafted by the agency to meet a three-year deadline to use the record appropriation from the Legislature was unanimously approved recently by the Hawaiian Homes Commission.

The plan includes more homestead lots and less cash assistance for beneficiaries, compared with projections provided to lawmakers before their May 5 approval of the funding measure that Gov. David Ige signed into law July 11.

DHHL now projects that it can produce 3,163 lots, up from 2,910. And a previously anticipated $112 million in beneficiary cash assistance has been reduced to $60 million.

The agency’s plan envisions $540 million being spent to produce homesteads. This includes $35 million to buy land that could be used to deliver 300 lots, and $30 million to help finance affordable-­housing projects proposed by private developers, which could include rent-to-own homes.

The nine-member commission overseeing DHHL unanimously approved the agency’s plan at a special Aug. 25 meeting….

read … Preliminary $600 million plan framed for Hawaiian homesteads

Jump in Interest Rates Changes Housing Affordability

HNN: … The jump in interest rates is cutting into developers profits, forcing some to rethink their plans.

Developer Stanford Carr said some developments won’t survive.

“Some projects may no longer even be feasible especially affordable housing projects,” said Carr.

Carr said the higher interest rates is also shrinking buyer’s purchasing power.

“You could have qualified maybe for a home about $600,000. Well now with the 6% interest rate, you may only qualify to purchase a home around $500,000,” he said.

read … Hawaii housing experts worry inflation will throttle back development, buying power

Who’s unemployed in Hawaii: By age, race and jobs

KHON: … Those ages 35 to 44 fell in the largest group of unemployed workers (22.7%) who filed new claims for insurance benefits during 2021, followed by 25- to 34-year-olds (21.2%) and 45- to 54-year-olds (20.7%).

There were also more male unemployed workers (56%) than female workers (44%).

When it comes to comparing industries, construction workers accounted for 19.7% of the insured unemployed, those who worked in accommodation and food services made up 14.9%, followed by 11.9% of administrative and waste services workers. Approximately 18% of information was not available for this list.

For race groups, Hawaiians made up the most of insured unemployed workers in 2021 at 20.5%, followed by Filipinos at 19.5% and white/Latino at 18.5%….

read … Who’s unemployed in Hawaii: By age, race and jobs

Background on those illegal game rooms

ILind: … Here’s an interesting description of Hawaii’s illegal game rooms, which appear to be a popular and widespread form of gambling. It isn’t clear to what degree these operations are controlled by organized crime groups, or whether by definition anyone who owns and operates a game room is considered to be part of organized crime.

In any case, this is an excerpt from an affidavit by a Honolulu Police Department detective, also a member of Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”) Task Force, filed in support of federal criminal charges filed against a pair who robbed, or attempted to rob, two game rooms, one in Honolulu and the other in Nanakuli….

read … Background on those illegal game rooms

Portable oxygen cylinder likely cause of deadly ambulance blaze, officials say

HNN: … Honolulu Emergency Services Department Director Jim Ireland said the fire started when the source of oxygen supplied to the patient was removed from the ambulance and switched to a portable oxygen cylinder.

“There was a sound described as a pop followed by a bright flash of light,” Ireland said, “and then the back of the ambulance was filling with smoke and fire.” He said no external source of combustion was found.

Ireland added the paramedic who was injured was able to speak to investigators from his hospital bed….

read … Portable oxygen cylinder likely cause of deadly ambulance blaze, officials say

More Homeless Mayhem: Bums Torch Cars at Sandy Beach

KITV: … Vandalism and trespassing have become an ongoing nuisance to nearby residents of an undeveloped, 17-acre city property in Hawaii Kai on the mauka side of Kalanianaole Highway, across of Wawamalu Beach.

The city has cleared out several cars homeless people were living in from the site and removed debris.

Area neighborhood board member Kaleo Nakoa, however, would like to see the brush cleared to prevent fires, and to, "make it safer. I mean if you clear this place out, it also takes out the chances of people coming back here."

"It's disturbing and it's getting worse. If you look around, it's getting a lot more packed," Nakoa added.

Right across the highway at Wawamalu Beach, city and state officials installed barricades of boulders to stop cars from trolling on the sand.

"We had a problem with derelict vehicles, in fact vehicles being lit on fire right on the beach and putting those boulders as a mechanism to stop the cars from getting in there actually worked," Honolulu City Council Chair Tommy Waters said.

However, Waters also reported people are moving the boulders to get their off-road vehicles onto the shore, which is why he is working with state leaders to possibly put up metal guard rails along the makai side of the highway….

read … City clears out litter, squatters from undeveloped Hawaii Kai property, but some want more action

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