Revealed: How Lindsey Beat Trask
Visitor Spending Increases for Fifth Consecutive Month
Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade to Commemorate 75th Anniversary of Attack
Jaylin Kema pleads guilty to manslaughter in Peter Boy’s death
HTH: ...Peter Kema Sr., the boy’s father, still faces a second-degree murder charge in his son’s death. His trial is scheduled to start Jan. 23 before Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura, but Deputy Prosecutor Rick Damerville told Hara his trial likely will be postponed until April to allow Kema Sr.’s defense lawyers to prepare their case, given his wife’s manslaughter plea and her agreement to testify against him at trial.
The judge said that in return for Jaylin Kema’s plea, the state has agreed to sentence her to 10 years probation with one year in jail, with sentencing to take place after her husband’s trial.
A sentencing date of May 30 was set, but if she is not sentenced by April 27, she will be freed on supervised release with electronic monitoring and will give a videotaped pretrial deposition, if needed. That date will mark a year of incarceration. She and Kema Sr. were arrested April 28, 2016, after being indicted by a Hilo grand jury for murder.
Jaylin Kema, who also pleaded guilty to second-degree theft for unlawfully receiving more than $18,000 in food stamps, faces a possible 20 years on the manslaughter charge and five years on the theft charge if she fails to live up to her end of the plea deal.
SA: Peter Boy’s mom will testify against his dad
read … Plea Agreement
Gabbard: Obama’s Pro-Al Qaeda Policy ‘Curdles my Blood’ – Discussion with Trump Meaningful
TN: I recently met with President-elect Donald Trump to give voice to the millions of Americans, including my fellow veterans, who desperately want to end our country’s illegal, counterproductive war to overthrow the Syrian government. We had an hour-long, meaningful, back-and-forth discussion about the problems with current US policy in Syria and where to go from here….
Since 2011, the United States—working with Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Turkey—has been providing support to “rebel groups” fighting to overthrow the government and take over Syria. A recent New York Times article reported that these “rebel groups” supported by the US “have entered into battlefield alliances with the affiliate of al-Qaeda in Syria, formerly known as al-Nusra.” How the United States can work hand-in-hand with the very terrorist organization that is responsible for the killing of 3,000 Americans on 9/11 boggles my mind and curdles my blood….
read … Gabbard’s Advice For Trump
Star-Adv: Hawaii Will be Just Fine Without Obamacare
SA: …A lot of politics-watchers on the national scene are forecasting health-care tumult, and for good reason. President-elect Donald Trump has settled on U.S. Rep. Tom Price as his nominee to be Department of Health and Human Services secretary.
Most of the experts see this as a sign of the GOP leadership’s resolve to repeal the Affordable Care Act fairly promptly, as Rice, a former surgeon, has been an avowed ACA critic.
But in Hawaii, a proposed ACA waiver seeks to return the state largely to its pre-ACA status quo, anyway. So perhaps everything old will be new again….
Flashback 2010: Health Insurance? No need: Abercrombie promises to dump Prepaid Health Care Act
read … ACA or no ACA? Hawaii may be OK either way
More Donors to End Funding of ‘Politicized’ UH
SA: We have received support from around the country because of all the articles (including in The New York Times) about our decision to defund our support of the University of Hawaii-Manoa art department (“Donor pulls funding for UH arts after Trump protest,” Star-Advertiser, Top News, Nov. 22).
One major donor to UH-Manoa even contacted us and said they are exploring following our lead in cutting off major funding because of the one-sided politicization of the art department.
UH professor Gaye Chan is missing the point (“UH can’t depend on private donations,” Star-Advertiser, Letters, Nov. 29). Although she posted on her personal Facebook page (which most of her art students follow), she did send out a call to arms to hold an anti-Donald Trump protest and gave instructions to meet on UH property to make signs. Can you imagine if it was a pro-Trump rally? …
read … Don’t Pay for Your Enemies
Lawsuit Targets Secrecy In Hawaii Tax Change Proposals
CB: A Honolulu attorney has sued the Hawaii Department of Taxation in a case that could establish how transparent state agencies must be about their communication with the Legislature.
The lawsuit was filed by Peter Fritz, a tax attorney who is represented by The Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest, to obtain copies of any correspondence between the department and the Legislature about Senate Bills 2925 and 2927.
The measures — which proposed to change rules on tax refunds and general excise tax licenses, respectively — were introduced in January as part of Gov. David Ige’s legislative package….
Fritz’s request was rejected again. This time, the department explained that what he was seeking was exempt from disclosure for another reason: the “deliberative process privilege.”….
The department had made the same argument in 2009 in response to another request made by Fritz — only to be overruled by the Hawaii Office of Information Practices….
read … Secret Tax Hikes
Gall: Criminal Al Hee’s Crooked Company Sues PUC
SA: …The telecom company has been under investigation and audit by the Federal Communications Commission since its founder, Al Hee, was indicted and later sentenced to almost four years in prison in January on tax fraud charges.
Federal prosecutors said Hee skimmed some $4 million from Sandwich Isles’ parent company, Waimana Enterprises, to pay for personal expenses, such as vacations, massages and his children’s college tuition.
The FCC cut off the subsidy, which supports telecom services in rural and remote areas, in June 2015, amounting to an overall financial loss so far for Sandwich Isles of about $24.5 million.
The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission has since declined to recertify Sandwich Isles on a quarterly basis — a step necessary for the company to resume receiving federal funding. If the FCC chooses to restore the subsidy after its investigation, it could take several more months before Sandwich Isles can get approval from the PUC, further delaying payments.
In a complaint filed in Circuit Court on Oct. 31, Sandwich Isles argues that it has met PUC certification requirements and that commissioners have treated the company unfairly, requiring it to respond to additional information requests that other companies weren’t subject to….
Iwase said that usually a party can only appeal to the courts when there has been a final ruling by the PUC, which there has not been….
read … Gall
Alm Responds to HOPE Doubters
CB: …Former Hawaii 1st Circuit Court Judge Steve Alm said HOPE has had critics since he implemented it in his courtroom in 2004.
“Usually they are academics who don’t really understand HOPE or the probation system itself and how the current system is failing many people,” said Alm, who now works as a consultant in Washington, D.C. on HOPE-type projects. “They tend to think any jail time is harsh. What they fail to see is that many probationers are currently failing at probation-as-usual and going to prison for years. That is harsh.”
Alm said that when the HOPE model is employed properly — as, he argued, it has been in Hawaii, Washington, Texas, Kentucky, Michigan and other states — it reduces crime, helps offenders and their families by avoiding long prison terms and saves taxpayers millions of dollars.
When the program is not executed correctly — say, focusing too much on sanctioning probationers instead of on effective probation officers and treatment providers “all in a caring and supportive atmosphere, it quite naturally is not going to work,” he said.
Alm concluded, “Given the fact that we know HOPE works well in some places and apparently, when not done right, not in others, the challenge for the future is to help as many jurisdictions as possible to get it right.”
Background: HOPE Probation: Is Swift, Certain, and Fair an Effective Supervision Strategy?
read … Get it right
Usual Suspects Have Absolutely No Idea What Elaine Chao as Transportation Secretary means for Honolulu rail
HNN: In the world of trains, Chao is regarded as a known quantity. She was deputy secretary of transportation under Bush the Elder, but she also comes from the Heritage Foundation. That think tank, as Railway Age magazine puts it, has always regarded Amtrak as a favorite piñata.
Chao is seen as anti-regulation, even, when she was labor secretary under Bush the Younger, anti-safety regulation. She is Republican to the core, and the GOP has a long history of favoring roads over transit. So far I can’t find evidence that Chao holds that view herself. (Translation: Ignore everything I just said. I’m just guessing.) The driving issue may be that we’re a predominantly blue state. (Translation: That’s how we Hawaii Democrats do politics so we just assume everybody else is the same.)
Chao has a reputation for remembering who did and didn’t contribute to her husband’s campaigns. Her husband is Senate President Mitch McConnell. (Translation: That’s how we Hawaii Democrats do politics so we just assume everybody else is the same.)
read … They have no idea
Hu Honua Biomess Plant: Expensive Electricity
HTH: Hawaii Electric Light Co. is still in talks with Hu Honua Bioenergy LLC about completing construction of a biomass power plant in Pepeekeo, according to the utility’s president….
HELCO canceled its power purchase agreement with Hu Honua in March after the company missed a deadline to begin operations in January, because of financing issues.
In May, Hu Honua representatives said during a press conference attended by elected officials and union members that they had the funding to finish the project.
The company asked the state Public Utilities Commission to review cancellation of the agreement….
One of the main issues is pricing of power, Ignacio said….
PBN: Energy developer sues Hawaiian Electric, NextEra Energy for $555M
read … Discussions continue about biomass plant construction
DPP Very Slow to Give Permits for Giant Solar Battery Systems
SA: …Anthony Aalto, owner of the first self-supply system in Hawaii and chairman of the Sierra Club Oahu, said he expected the process to be slow because of the new technology involved. Aalto was the first to install a Tesla Motors Powerwall battery in Hawaii….
Aalto said the initial delay for his system came from the DPP with the permit application going through three sets of comments. The DPP’s returned paperwork included questions, such as what liquid was inside the battery.
“It was a slug,” Aalto said. “I don’t blame DPP or HECO for that matter. They are dealing with safety issues and their concerns I think are genuine. … I am putting a giant lithium-ion battery on the wall of my house.”
After the permits were approved Aalto’s system was turned on briefly in May — only to face an additional month of delay due to his system still sending excess energy to the grid. “There was a small amount of leakage of electricity into the grid,” he said….
The length of the review process at HECO has fluctuated over the year, as the review on Oahu was as short as one month in August and more than 76 days in October….
The second Tesla Powerwall was announced in October.
Hooson, the Solar Inspectors Hawaii founder, said …right now it’s a “pain in the neck” for the solar industry.
read … Pain
Older buildings see soaring maintenance fees to keep up with repairs
HNN: Last year, residents at the Pearlridge Gardens & Tower got a letter with an ultimatum: Approve a 49 percent increase to maintenance fees or face a special assessment of over $43,000 per unit.
It's a scenario playing out across the state as older apartment buildings require big repairs or needed upgrades.
In White's case, the previous board of directors wanted the money for new roofs, a solar system, and extensive plumbing work.
Huge increases to maintenance fees are supposed to be prevented by a Hawaii law that requires condo associations to save up money over time to cover capital costs. The problem: Too often, condos don't approve fee hikes incrementally, so residents are forced to swallow a major increase.
He said a building that hasn't seen a maintenance fee increase in five to 10 years is a big red flag….
read … Older buildings see soaring maintenance fees to keep up with repairs
Kahului: 12 Homeless People Leave Behind 4 Dump Trucks Worth of Trash
MN: …Family Life Center Executive Director Maude Cumming said Wednesday her agency did outreach to homeless people in the area for several months and had identified 10 to 12 individuals.
“Another three campsites were noted,” she said.
Despite canvassing at different times of the day, the agency was unable to make contact with people using the additional campsites.
“All that were identified were offered resources, including emergency shelter services,” she said.
On Wednesday, Family Life officials were at the breakwater, and only one person remained, Cumming said.
“She declined shelter services,” Cumming said.
Another four people came into the Family Life facility nearby in Kahului, “and we are hopeful that more thorough assessments can be completed,” she said. “We are aware that most of them moved to neighboring areas and will continue to follow up.” ….
Big Q: What should be done about vandalism of public utilities at Kakaako Waterfront Park?
read … Meth Hoarders
Kahaluu Lagoon Polluted by 700 Cesspools
SA: The state determined that the lagoon and channel leading to Kaneohe Bay contain unacceptably high levels of sewage and put up warning signs. That was two years ago, after users of the waterway complained of rashes and skin infections. The University of Hawaii’s Water Resources Research Center launched an extended study, with the prime suspect being the area’s more than 700 aging cesspools….
Hawaii has about 90,000 cesspools, the most in the U.S., according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Of those, about 87,000 pose a risk to the state’s water resources, according to state Department of Health’s Wastewater Branch. Most of the cesspools in the state, nearly 50,000, are on Hawaii island; Kauai has about 14,000, Maui 12,000, Oahu more than 11,000, and Molokai more than 1,400.
Those cesspools release about 55 million gallons of untreated sewage into the ground every day, the DOH’s website says….
read … Cesspools