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Friday, October 30, 2015
October 30, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:12 PM :: 3084 Views

GOP: All Democrats Should Return Criminal Hee Contributions

Bill 72: Property Tax Break for Honolulu Home Businesses

S. Korea Bail out for Shipbuilder which Bails out US Shipbuilder

Aha Moku Advisory Committee Hosts Public Meetings to Draft Rules

2015 Hawaii’s Outstanding Military Spouse Awards Program

Ethics Comm., Stacked by Caldwell, Sets Special Meeting to Fire Totto?

ILind: The Honolulu Ethics Commission has set a previously unscheduled meeting for next Tuesday, November 3, at 5:30 p.m. The agenda was filed late Wednesday afternoon, and distributed via email on Thursday....

The meeting has a single agenda item, to be held in a closed executive session.

?II. EXECUTIVE SESSION.

The Commission anticipates convening an executive session, pursuant to Hawaii Revised Statutes, Section 92-5(a) (4), to consult with the Commission’s attorney on questions and issues pertaining to the Commission’s powers, duties, privileges, immunities and liabilities related to personnel and management matters. [emphasis added]

...The commission recently dismissed all charges in a case brought against three city council members for accepting illegal gifts from lobbyists. The reasons for the dismissals were not publicly disclosed....

Earlier, Caldwell’s recent appointees to the commission led the charge to institute a restrictive media policy that would have made it very difficult for the commission’s professional staff to communicate with the news media and the public.

And the mayor’s administration has been and remains at odds with the commission, and has been seen as repeatedly obstructing the commission’s investigative efforts.

So what’s really the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting? It seems reasonable to assume it concerns the commission’s executive director and chief legal counsel, Chuck Totto, unless the commission is going to micromanage things farther down through the staff ranks....

UPDATE: Cancelled: OIP Rules Ethics Comm 'Fire Totto' Meeting Unethical

read ... Is more trouble brewing at the Honolulu Ethics Commission?

Ethics? Up to 61% of Legislative Allowances Misspent

SA: “Certain legislators have things that raise concerns, like a hotel — that is something that should probably be in the per diem,” said Les Kondo, executive director of the Ethics Commission. Usually, House members who commute from the neighbor islands use a separate per diem allowance to cover hotel costs.

“We want to make sure it isn’t a double dip,” Kondo said....

The commission...passed guidelines advising lawmakers that it was wrong to use the allowance on political and charitable contributions, dry cleaning costs, reimbursements for travel to and from work, retirement and staff appreciation gifts, tickets for events, and food and beverages to thank staff....

A breakdown of the expenditures shows that on the whole lawmakers spent 39 percent of their allowances on office-related expenses, 19 percent on food and drinks, 16 percent on travel and the rest on transportation, meetings and opening day expenses, such as lei.

However, itemized lists of lawmakers’ expenses provide only general descriptions of how the money was used, making it difficult for Ethics Commission staff to tell whether the expenditures fall within guidelines.

Lawmakers were told that they should be spending money on food and drinks only during opening day at the Legislature, for constituents when they hold community meetings, or when legislative hearings extend through lunch and dinner. Food and drinks for social occasions, such as birthdays or farewell parties, are considered personal expenses.

2014: Grace for Waikiki: Ethics Commission Should Ban Sledgehammer Purchases by Legislators

read ... Lawmakers might have misused allowance

Transparency? OHA Lawyers try to Silence Criticism of Gentry Pacific Purchase

CB: Earlier this month a state Circuit Court judge in Honolulu set a trial date of Oct. 31, 2016, in the case of Akana v. Machado, named for Rowena Akana and Colette Machado, a former chairwoman of the OHA Board of Trustees.

Should the civil case go to trial, it likely would entail the trustees and OHA employees being called to testify. That would mean airing dirty laundry over whether any trustees breached their fiduciary responsibilities in spending $21 million to buy the Gentry Pacific Design Center to be the OHA headquarters....

Akana filed her suit in September 2013. In addition to naming Machado and the seven other trustees, it also lists 10 John and Jane Does as defendants — “agents, servants, employees, representatives, contractors, subcontractors” and others who will be named “as soon as they become known.”

Machado — OHA’s chair at the time and a trustee since 1996 — and the seven other trustees soon responded with a counterclaim alleging a breach of fiduciary responsibility by Akana, a trustee since 1990....

Akana v. Machado also roped in a former trustee, Mililani Trask, who has been highly critical of OHA on her online “First Friday Show — The Unauthorized News.

Trask has been subpoenaed by OHA’s attorneys to provide documents, some relating to the Gentry purchase, that Akana gave to Trask. OHA says that release constitutes a confidentiality violation. But Trask and Akana say the release of documents was inadvertent.

Akana is also accused by OHA of disclosing confidential information without board authorization on her personal website, leading to its dissemination elsewhere online....

In a related matter, OHA board minutes from July 30 state that Akana was removed from her position as chair of the Asset and Resource Management committee because of (insert excuse here)....

read ... Real Money

Kanaiolowalu: Self-serving, misappropriating, unethical greedy people

CB: (Civil Beat wrote an editorial telling Hawaiians to go along with the Fake Indian Tribe, but lets just skip to the comments)

...Now I see that you sincerely believe that this was going to be a democratic process. If only it was, then this would have been an ideal opportunity for Hawaiians. As Walter Ritte learned, Delegates will not be able to steer this canoe. Since it is not an official State election, we also question the counting of ballots....

Mr. Simmons: Clearly you do not know the cast of characters at Kana'iolowalu and Na'i Aupuni. In essence you are saying, be reasonable you Hawaiians....it's better to be lead by self-serving, misappropriating, unethical greedy people, than not have a governing body at all. I don't agree. We already have OHA and look at how that has worked for us. The U.S. Dept.of the Interior has stated in its rules that we do not have to be enrolled with Kana'iolowalu or Na'i Aupuni in order to be recognized. Your endorsement is suspect. It's time for another audit of checks being written out by Kana'iolowalu, OHA, and Na'i Aupuni....

read ... The Comments

Blue Planet Will be Next to Endorse NextEra 

IM: Turning to Hawaii, Robo asserted that NextEra is continuing to talk to parties to get defections. He misidentified the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) as the Public Service Commission (PSC).

“So we continue to work hard to get the final hurdle, which is state regulatory approval in Hawaii. We have recently gotten a couple intervenors to either fall away or announce their support, and I was very pleased that the IBEW announced their support for the transaction last week. And we continue to work it.

I think my expectation, based on timing right now, is that we're not going to get any kind of decision from the PSC until next year, and so we're going to continue to work it and continue to talk to the parties to try to get it across the finish line.” ...

There is speculation that two other groups may be considering coming to terms with NextEra.

Kyle Datta represents two intervenors: he is a witness for Ulupono Initiative and sits on the Blue Planet Foundation Board of Directors.

On October 29, 2015 Datta wrote a viewpoint for Huffpost Hawaii. Datta asserted that “NextEra has taken some recent steps in the right direction” although “a significant gap still remains.”

NextEra has the money which Hawaii needs. “We still need innovative solutions and billions of dollars of new capital to meet our goal of 100 percent renewables by 2045.”

Datta believes that NextEra should show us the money. “The truth is, that despite what has been said, Hawaiian Electric is a company that could attract other partners to help Hawaiʻi reach our bold energy goals. We believe NextEra could be that partner but only if it engages in straight talk - and firm commitments - with our community.”

Christine Camp, another member of the Blue Planet Foundation Board of Directors, co-wrote an October 26 viewpoint on why the merger is good. “Partnering with NextEra Energy will bring affordability and economic stability to our communities.”

The loss of local control is not necessarily bad. Other Hawaii Companies like First Hawaiian Bank and Kauai Coffee have been sold to outside interests and “they continue to support our communities.”

read ... NextEra CEO Robo discussed HECO merger defections

Ige edges toward doing something about homeless

SA: “There is no silver bullet, although we are seeing some early successes,” Morishige said at a Kaneohe community meeting earlier this week.

The state is collecting demographic information on the homeless “so we can better target our services,” he said.

“We discovered that developing data was vital,” Morishige reported, adding that the issue is one of extreme poverty.

“This is less than $300 a month for a single person and for a household of four it was $500 a month,” he added.

Knowing there is a problem and solving it, however, are not the same....

At the Kaneohe meeting, Ige said the state is looking at state land across Oahu that would be suitable for some unspecified housing project to help the homeless; there was no indication that the state was in a rush.

“We are trying to disperse the homeless so we don’t have huge encampments and also looking to establish a range of services,” Ige said....

read ... Homeless

Legislator hands over Correspondence to Anti-GMO Activists

KE: ...Hawaii-CFS sent out an email yesterday claiming it had “pressured one Hawaii legislator to release the records of her correspondence with pesticide-seed companies and groups representing their interests!”

It goes on to state:

With access to these records, we can better assess the influence of the agrichemical industry on policymaking, demand reform, and protect our allies in office from this pressure.

So without even reviewing the records it just got, or seeing the correspondence its requested from four other Hawaii lawmakers, CFS is already convinced that undue pressure is occurring, reform is needed and its allies need protection.

Ironically, CFS exults in the success of its own pressure tactics, which are somehow OK because it's doing it.  CFS, which refuses to disclose who is funding its own Hawaii lobbying efforts, then has the chutzpah to claim:

We need to remain vigilant in our demands for a fair civic process.

Yes, we do. And that includes demanding transparency from political advocacy groups like CFS and Gary Hooser's HAPA, which masquerade as nonprofits.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that sugar beet growers, who have overwhelming adopted genetically engineered varieties that have higher yields and require less herbicides, are losing market share. It seems food manufacturers are starting to shun GMO sugar beets in favor of the cane sugar.

The Reuters article goes on to say:

Critics believe GMO crops contribute to the industrialization of farming.

Yet over on Maui, folks are trying to shut down Hawaii's last sugar plantation, deriding it as “industrial agriculture” and claiming that cane smoke causes health problems. They're supported by anti-GMO activists who say they're opposed to pesticide use, yet reject GMO products that actually use less pesticides.

It's becoming increasingly clear that the food fear movement isn't very well thought out — except by groups like CFS, which profit mightily from it.

CB: Anti-GMO Activist thinks 'movement' is same as Organizing UAW in 1930s Flint, MI LOLROTF!

read ... Preparations for next Legislative Session

2 Years Later--Thompson Academy Nepotism Charges Still On Hold Pending Criminal Investigation 

SA: ...The ethics charges were supposed to go to a contested-case hearing last year, but the issue was was put on hold when the state Attorney General’s Office opened a criminal investigation.

Although attorney general investigations normally remain confidential, this one became public when investigators seized computers and more than 50 boxes of documents from Thompson Academy’s downtown offices on Dec. 16, 2013. The attorney general’s office also went to court to obtain records from the Ethics Commission and Hawaii State Teachers Association.

The attorney general indicated in state court that it was conducting a felony theft investigation regarding payments to school staff, and court documents filed later said it was looking into the possibility of money laundering, falsifying business records and tampering with government records.

Joshua Wisch, special assistant to the attorney general, said the attorney general’s policy is not to comment on investigations or even to reveal whether the office is conducting one.

No ethics charges were filed in connection with the hiring of Kaapana-Aki’s sons....

read ...  Ethics?

After 7 Years on Welfare, State helps Waipahu family save up $30K

HNN: ...As part of a program that encourages people to get off public assistance, state officials recently gave a Waipahu family a $30,000 check.

The money represented five years of savings: Rather than the state keeping rent increases that public housing or Section 8 families must pay when their income goes up, those funds went into an escrow account.

After five years, families can cash out....

Michael and her family have been on public assistance since they arrived in Hawaii from Guam seven years ago. For the last few years, they've been renting a house in Waipahu using Section 8 housing vouchers.

The Michael family is the 41st to graduate from the Hawaii Public Housing Authority's family self-sufficiency program.

Michael, who is a certified nursing assistant, and her husband, a butcher, were able to save that money through the program based on raises they've gotten since 2010....

check amounts that families receive after the five-year saving program range from several thousand to as high as $31,630....

read ... Cash Bonuses

UH Athletics Wants More Money for Bells and Whistles

HNN: According to Trapasso, for years the pipes that run along the ceiling of the locker room have been leaking causing water damage throughout the entire space. It's an issue that's largely gone unresolved.

"We would stick a Bandaid on it by changing ceiling tiles, and a couple of times changing the carpeting.  Eventually they just decided that's not worth changing and what you're left with a few years later is something that I wouldn't want my opponents to even have to dress and shower in."

Trapasso says the water damage is affecting more than just the condition of the locker room.  It has also impacted the program's ability to recruit.

"The reality is for recruiting, kids love the bells and whistles."

Trapasso and athletics director David Matlin are hoping to transform a multipurpose space into a new clubhouse for the 'Bows as an affordable means to upgrade the facility.

read ... Bells and Whistles

Health Department Resumes Posting Care Home Inspection Reports

CB: The Hawaii agency had stopped complying with the legal mandate, blaming a lack of resources, but started again after lawmakers sent the governor a letter.

read ...  Resumes

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