Harbors Division Fee Hike designed to boost $77M OHA Slush Fund?
Auditor: 25% of Trust Funds Managed by Governor’s Office Should be Closed
Maui Seeks Volunteers for County Boards and Commissions
Micronesia Expert Blasts ‘Flawed’ U.S. Approach To Foreign Aid
CB: …a former Peace Corps volunteer who now runs a nonprofit in Yap that works to help Micronesians, lamented how the migration impacts the homeless situation in Hawaii, where Micronesians are overrepresented when it comes to services.
The problem, said Neil Mellen, is flawed foreign aid, specifically the more than $200 million each year that goes from the U.S. Department of the Interior to Micronesia.
“The DOI has dominated through the power of the purse,” said Mellen, who spoke in downtown Honolulu at a Grassroot Institute of Hawaii forum….
America is not keeping its “side of the bargain” when it comes to Micronesia, he said. If America does not change its path (one he characterized as merely “keeping the lights on”), he warned, other powerful nations with Pacific ambitions — namely, China — are eager to jump in….
read … Foreign Aid
Council Approves $150K To Pay Lawyers For Police Chief
CB: The Honolulu City Council on Thursday approved four resolutions authorizing the payment of up to $150,000 to retain the services of three outside law firms to represent Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha in four lawsuits.
Normally, the city’s Corporation Counsel would represent the city in all legal proceedings.
But because Kealoha recently sued the city and its Ethics Commission for investigating him, the Department of Corporation Counsel felt there was a potential conflict of interest if it represented Kealoha in other legal proceedings, according to the resolutions.
read … Lawyers
City Council seeks greater authority to make property tax compromises After 1000s Hit by Caldwell’s Massive Property Tax Hike
HNN: The council unanimously advanced a bill Thursday that would allow the council to cut deals with taxpayers who feel they're being treated unfairly.
This, after some condo owners saw their property taxes skyrocket.
"I'm comfortable with the person paying an administrative fee or being assessed some type of penalty, but to have your assessed taxes almost doubled because someone missed a deadline to me is absolutely Draconian," said Councilman Ikaika Anderson, who introduced the measure.
The city's tax department has refused to compromise, saying it shouldn't be making exceptions for individual taxpayers.
"There's probably 2,000 or more taxpayers that either didn't respond or missed the deadline or some reason or another It would be unfair to just compromise for one taxpayer," said Gary Kurokawa, deputy director of the city Department of Budget and Fiscal Services,
Earlier this week, Punchbowl resident Karen Okazaki told Hawaii News Now that the city incorrectly classified her long-time rental as a resort unit, which quadrupled her taxes.
read … Stop Caldwell
Attorney general announces 40-Month timeline to reduce untested rape kits
KHON: …The plan is to test as many as 50 kits each month starting next year.
There are nearly 2,000 untested kits across the state. According to the attorney general, about 1,375 of them are on Oahu though HPD says it’s since reduced that number to under 1,200.
A report provided to the state Legislature Thursday also says police departments are compiling databases to help keep track of the kits and any records of testing. HPD’s database shows untested kits from as far back as 1993….
read … Untested
Officer Acquitted of Assault Due to Incapacity-SHOPO Working to get job back?
WHT: …“As counsel for Mr. Harper in this nearly year-long prosecution, we have been committed to focusing our efforts on obtaining justice for him in the criminal justice system separate and apart from any civil remedies he may have as a result of this matter,” said Attorney Michael Schlueter. “At this time, we are focused on working with Mr. Harper to pursue his civil rights and all damages he may be entitled to as a result of his arrest and prosecution.”
The ruling was handed down last week by Kona Circuit Court Judge Ronald Ibarra, who determined after a bench trial that Harper suffered from a physical or mental disease, disorder or defect that resulted in him not having the capacity to have the particular state of mind for the charge filed.
Ibarra also granted a motion for discharge seeking Harper’s release from the court without conditions and without having to be committed to the Department of Health filed by Schlueter. Harper had been slated for jury trial Nov. 29.
The motion was based on confidential reports submitted by three court-appointed doctors who examined Harper as part of the court proceedings finding he did not have penal responsibility for the alleged acts; suffered from “significant, acute and temporary physical condition(s) leading to an acute and temporary mental defect or disorder rendering him incapable of being held liability for penal responsibility;” and no longer suffered of the mental disease or defect and is not a danger to himself or others.
“We’re definitely very pleased with the result. We definitely believed from pretty early on that he deserved an acquittal and automatic discharge — it’s one of those cases that is unfortunate it really had to be litigated,” Schlueter said. “It was clear and unanimous by the three court-appointed mental health professionals that he was suffering from a very serious physical ailment and that physical impairment to his health literally rendered him unable to form a state of mind for the offense. That was sort of our position and it became more and more clear as the case went on.”
During the January altercation, the victim suffered a broken nose, a cut above his right eye that needed six stitches, bruising to his right eye and bruising to his arm and Harper suffered an abrasion on his right forearm.
During a March preliminary hearing, Harper testified he went upstairs as a result of loud noise about 11 p.m. While at the door the man grabbed at him, he said, and that’s what led him to take the man to the ground and restrain him, as his training dictated. Harper also called for police and an ambulance after the incident.
Schlueter’s office is currently looking at pursuing legal action against the county for the treatment of Harper but has yet to file anything with the courts. In addition, they are working with the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission “in order to secure his rights related to matters relevant to the commission and we will be assisting him in that effort” And it is Schlueter’s understanding, he said, that SHOPO, Hawaii’s police union, has instituted action on Harper’s behalf….
read … Ex-officer acquitted in off-duty assault
Maui County in Talks to Buy Wailuku Water Co After Stream Diversion Ruling
MN: Maui County has revived its plans to purchase Wailuku Water Co.’s assets, including its ditch system and watershed lands, Mayor Alan Arakawa said Thursday morning during his weekly talk show on KAOI radio.
“We’ve been trying to acquire their assets for quite some time,” Arakawa said. “We’re negotiating with Wailuku Water Company right now. I have a proposal on my desk.”
Council Chairman Mike White and Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Riki Hokama also will take a look at the proposal “so we can come up with an agreement on what the pricing should be and whether we can agree to their terms or not,” Arakawa explained.
Currently, the county pays Wailuku Water Co. for the use of water in its Wailuku treatment plant. Arakawa said the county is calculating how much would be saved in the long-term if the county could purchase the property and have control of the company’s system….
Wailuku Water Co. owns about 13,200 acres of West Maui forest reserve watershed lands. However, the deal being worked out between the company and the county does not encompass all of these acres, Chumbley said.
According to the West Maui Mountains Watershed Partnership, Wailuku Water Co. provides water for agriculture as well as limited use by the county’s Department of Water Supply. Wailuku Water is the descendant of Wailuku Sugar and Wailuku Agribusiness Co., which produced sugar, macadamia nuts and pineapple over a span of almost 140 years. However, the company also drew strong criticism for diverting water from Na Wai Eha, “the four great waters” of Waihee, Waiehu, Wailuku and Waikapu starting in the 19th century, until the state approved the restoration of full flow to the streams in 2014.
read … Wailuku Water
Anti-GMO Whackjob Gary Hooser Preps for Special Election after Trump Appoints Gabbard to Something or Other
KE: …Gary Hooser’s … also entertaining a return to politics.
In a Nov. 29 email to his mailing list, Hooser wrote:
Whether or not my recent loss is the last and final election campaign of my life is a question that I ask myself daily. Serving in elective office, though challenging and somewhat stressful at times, has been incredibly fulfilling.
Future political options primarily revolve around the 2018 election cycle however sometimes “things happen” in mid cycle that create opportunities for appointments and/or special elections.
A potentially YUGE wrinkle in Hawaii’s political landscape is the rumor of U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard leaving her CD2 seat early for a job in the Trump administration. The CD2 is composed of the neighbor-islands (2/3) and rural Oahu (1/3).Should this happen, a “winner take all” special election will occur giving candidates possibly only 4 months to organize and run a campaign on all islands.
Candidates with existing name recognition and established statewide networks would have a clear off the blocks advantage.Lot’s [sic] of choices….
read … CD2 Circus
Laughed out of Court, Anti-GMO Circus heads for 2017 Legislature
KE: …With further appeals now apparently out of the question — despite funding pleas to the contrary — the activists plan to focus all their fury on the Legislature and Gov. Ige's administration. Oh, joy!
Ashley Lukens, director of the Hawaii Center for Food Safety, said the group will be pushing some bills supported by its partners — Sierra Club, Surfrider and Farmers Union United, which represents primarily foodies and yardeners, not commercial farmers. CFS, meanwhile, will be lobbying for mandatory “public” disclosure of pesticide use, and buffer zones around “sensitive areas,” such as homes, schools and waterways. But curiously, only for agriculture.
read … Circus Coming to Town
Veterans’ group criticizes vets, including U.S. Rep. Gabbard, joining pipeline protest
AP: Some military veterans in North Dakota disagree with the (claimed) 2,000 (alleged) veterans, including U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabard, planning to join a protest opposing the four-state, $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline.
The North Dakota Veterans Coordinating Council has sent a letter to the “Veterans Stand for Standing Rock” group asking them not go to the southern part of the state where hundreds are camped out because it’ll create more tension and increase the burden on law enforcement, council president Russ Stabler said today.
The council doesn’t an opinion about the pipeline, which is mostly complete aside from a portion on federal land under a Missouri River reservoir that’s been held up, and supports anyone who wants to protest peacefully. But, he said, the demonstrations have not been conducted in “the military manner in which our veterans behave.”
He believes the veterans coming to Standing Rock have been misinformed and should not be supporting a movement that has “broken laws, destroyed property and attacked law enforcement.”
read … Attack Law Enforcement
Hawai'i GOP Leaders Focus on 2018 Election
HPR: Hawai’i Republicans lost key races for Honolulu Mayor and the last GOP seat in the State Senate. GOP leaders are now focusing on local races in 2018 and developing a strategy to win. HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports….
read … Focus