by Andrew Walden
Would you loan $50M to a drunken rave promoter?
Hawaii legislators would--or would they?
While pretending to ‘rebuild trust’ after the feds busted two of their number in a bribery scheme, Hawaii legislators seem to have been all about business as usual voting House Bill 1682 through both houses and now heading to conference committee.
HB1682 is Jon Riki Karamatsu’s latest attempt to get Special Purpose Revenue Bond funding for some corporate scheme. Karamatsu Bonds have been a legislative perennial ever since he got two DUI’s while spiraling down from Vice Speaker of the House to working in Keith Kaneshiro’s corruption-riddled Honolulu Prosecutor’s office and promoting rave parties.
Deputy Prosecutor Karamatsu hosts a rave party.
HB1682 provides a blanked-amount dollar amount of SPRB funding to Next Level Solutions Group Inc for “development of waste-to-energy technology in the State.” The real number, $50M, is mentioned only in testimony from Next Level itself.
Oahu already has H-Power which often has a capacity larger than Oahu’s waste stream. In past years this has cost the City millions of dollars due to garbage supply shortfalls.
Typical of Karamatsu’s other schemes, Next Level Solutions Group Inc is recently registered with DCCA BREG, Aug 23, 2021. Karamatsu was the sole incorporator but he later added others and on January 18, 2022--one day before Opening Day of the legislative session--swapped himself out as Next Level’s ‘registered agent’ and moved corporate headquarters from his Waipahu condo to a dingy building on Waialae Avenue.
Perhaps Karamatsu realizes he is a liability?
Would you cosign a $50M loan to somebody in this building?
It worked, sort of.
In critical coverage of HB1682, media outlets other than Hawai’i Free Press failed to note the fact that this was just another Jon Riki Karamatsu scheme.
The good news: Both House and Senate versions of HB1682 are defective stating, “The authorization to issue special purpose revenue bonds under this Act shall lapse on June 30, 2027. This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2100.”
In other words, the media was still ready to cover for Karamatsu, but legislators were only willing to pretend to play along. The next step is usually a failure to clear Conference, thus (without fingerprints) killing a bill which cleared the House 46-2 and cleared the Senate 23-2.
After Jon Riki’s previous schemes fail to clear conference, the front company he created to receive the bond funding has usually been terminated for non-payment of fees by BREG.
Here is the background:
2016: SB2301: Legislators Vote $10M for Drunk Driver to Promote Rave Parties
2019: SB652: Will Legislators Give Drunk Rave Promoter $50M?
2020: Panel Green-Lights Zoning Change for Hotel, Other Uses at Kona Airport
2021: How about we toss in another $50 million for the same folks?