OHA’s Secret Mauna Kea Meetings
America’s Crummy Airports: How to Fix Them?
Visitor Spending Rose for Sixth Straight Month in November
Chief Kealoha: More Than the Mailbox
CB: …Louis Kealoha has been the Honolulu police chief since 2009. Since leap-frogging over several high-ranking officers including the acting chief to get the top job — Kealoha was a captain in the juvenile services division at the time — his Honolulu Police Department has been beset by the kind of problems that come with bad management and flawed leadership.
The frequency of bad behavior within HPD is enough that its stories make up most of the growing “police accountability” section on our website. A few highlights from Kealoha’s tenure as chief:
— Once a week, on average, an HPD officer faces disciplinary action, most often for something very serious like abuse of prisoners, domestic violence, lying, falsifying records, even conviction of a crime. Yet very few officers are fired and even suspensions are usually for short periods of time. Some officers have even served prison time and then returned to work. Oversight of dozens of bad cops is largely done in secret, with very little public disclosure of continuing problems.
— Since 2010, at least three dozen police officers have been arrested, charged or convicted of crimes ranging from drunken driving and tampering with government records to sex assault and extortion. Many of them are still with the department. One high-ranking officer — a former police major — was convicted of taking bribes and protecting an illegal gambling ring. Another was sentenced to federal prison for trying to extort money from a hostess bar.
— The city has shelled out millions of dollars in settlements, jury awards and legal fees relating to wrongdoing by Honolulu police officers. The cases involve use of excessive force, endangering others and racist and sexist behavior, among other things.
— Kealoha makes no effort to assure the public he serves that that his department is meeting the highest standards or that Honolulu’s police officers are receiving appropriate training and guidance. Questions about high-profile misconduct cases — like the officer caught on tape kicking a man in a gambling joint or the officers who attacked and beat two local hikers — have been generally met with silence by the chief. Department policies on a wide range of police practices are not made fully public and large sections are blacked out even when released or published on the HPD website.
— Domestic violence has been an ongoing problem within his own agency as well as among Honolulu residents. Kealoha resisted efforts by legislative leaders — the women’s caucus to be exact — to meet with him to discuss domestic abuse and how it was being handled. Last year, he promoted a major with his own history of domestic violence to a top spot in the department but was forced to reverse course in the face of public outrage.
— When officers kill citizens few details are ever made public despite the fact that a lot of taxpayer money is spent on legal settlements and attorneys’ fees. Kealoha rarely, if ever, addresses the media when someone dies as a result of police force. Usually the only details that emerge come from heavily redacted police reports that raise even more questions about whether officers acted appropriately or had proper training.
And now, the FBI has targeted Kealoha in its spreading corruption investigation…
read … The Only Cure For Our Police Blues: Put Chief On Permanent Leave
Hawaii to Allow Killer Doctors?
CB: In a recent ‘study’ conducted by researchers at Stanford University (arriving at pre-determined outcome) and published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine, 76.5 percent of Hawaii residents surveyed support physician-assisted death.
This year in the Legislature, incoming Sen. Karl Rhoads plans to propose a bill to legalize this action and join six other states (California, Oregon, Montana, Washington, Vermont and New Mexico) that already allow doctors (This is about doctors, not suicide. Hello?) to prescribe lethal doses of medication for the express purpose of allowing patients to end their lives.
Seventy-six percent of Hawaii residents — this seems like a much different story than in 2002, the closest the measure ever came to passing in the islands when it failed by only three votes. Now, four former governors have all petitioned publicly to have this bill passed….
read … Stars Being Lined up in Lege
Hawaii’s Public Records Agency Is Picking Up The Pace A Bit
CB: … The agency issued five formal opinions in fiscal 2016, which ended June 30, and 11 informal opinions, an in-between step of sorts….
There were 1,162 total requests for the office’s services in fiscal 2016, a decrease from its high of 1,313 in 2014.
The agency is down to 104 cases that it has yet to resolve, aside from pending litigation. The backlog was 147 last year.
More significant, perhaps, is the office’s work in reducing the age of the oldest case to two years. The oldest in 2012 was 12 years, a length of time that likely renders any opinion moot for the issue it was intended to address.
OIP has been working with the equivalent of 8.5 full-time positions, including five staff attorneys. Its fiscal 2016 budget was $564,000….
read … OIP
HIDOT Studies Ferry Options
WHT: …Lawmakers approved $50,000 in May to study a possible inter-island ferry, and the state Department of Transportation received a $500,000 grant from the federal Maritime Administration to hire consultants to explore potential routes and boats.
“The feasibility study might come back and say maybe it’s not financially feasible for us to do this,” said Ford Fuchigami, director of the state Transportation Department. “But right now, using federal money which is available … we want to be sure that we use that money to see whether or not this is possible.”…
The new study will explore public or private ownership of vessels and operations. If the state owns the vessels, it could get federal subsidies, Fuchigami said. But it might be cheaper for a third party to operate a ferry system, he said.
“Almost no ferry system in the country is self-sustaining,” said Lauren Brand, an associate administrator for the Maritime Administration. “The vast majority of them have to have public dollars to help them keep on.”
Washington State’s ferry system, which Fuchigami has identified as a potential model for Hawaii, gets about 30 percent of its operating costs from subsidies and 70 percent from the fare box, ferry experts said. The Staten Island Ferry in New York, where customers ride for free, is also subsidized by taxpayers.
Hawaii’s open ocean geography, deadly channels and protected marine life pose unique challenges.
But Hawaii can learn from ferry systems operating in the Greek Islands, the Philippines and between Argentina and Uruguay, said David Moseley, a former director of Washington Ferries and senior consultant with Carus, a firm that may compete to conduct the Hawaii study.
“There are places all over the world where ferry systems with similar situations to Hawaii are operating very successfully,” Moseley added.
Fuchigami is considering a red-eye trip from Honolulu to Hawaii Island and inter-island trips from Oahu to Kauai and Maui. He also wants commuter ferries on Oahu and Maui.
“Everyone talks about traffic,” Fuchigami said, proposing a ferry from Oahu’s West side — where homes are less expensive — into urban Honolulu.
To ensure a steady revenue stream, Fuchigami hopes inter-island ferries could carry cargo such as farm produce….
Meanwhile: Former Hawaii Superferry en route to Maine
read … Super
Hawaii Oil Imports Down 41% – 85% of Decrease from Non-Utility Sources
SA: …Hawaii has made progress toward its goal of lowering its dependence on oil, cutting the number of barrels imported by 41 percent since 2006.
Hawaii’s annual petroleum use has declined by 20.2 million barrels over a 10-year period, according to data released Tuesday by the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. In 2015 Hawaii imported 28.8 million barrels, down from 49 million barrels in 2006. Fossil fuel used by Hawaii’s electrical utilities fell to 9.2 million in 2015 from 12.2 million barrels in 2006….
Ige said in a statement. “Despite our advances, such as the recent rapid growth of renewable energy in Hawaii’s electricity sector, more than 80 percent of Hawaii’s energy system-wide still comes from petroleum.”
read … Reduce
HECO Still Seeking Big Cable Project
IM: The Hawaiian Electric Companies filed their Power Supply Improvement Planning (PSIP) Update Report with the Public Utilities Commission on December 23.
The HECO Companies noted that interisland connectivity is technically feasible.
“Interisland transmission cable technology is commercially ready, and has the credible potential of sharing renewable resources among all interconnected islands. Its feasibility for Hawai`i, however, is uncertain because of the significant environmental, capital investment, cultural, social, permitting, and development challenges associated with realizing potential benefits.”
There are three issues associated with interisland connectivity: technical feasibility, relative cost compared to the various alternatives, and reliability.
“Our goal is to determine, as quickly as possible, whether or not interisland transmission represents a viable resource option for Hawai`i that demands further analysis. We believe this two-step process—first evaluating the benefits, then, if warranted, evaluating the cost.”
PBN: What's next for HECO's revised energy plan
read … Hawaiian Electric PSIP Plans Supports HECO`s Desires
Privatized Public Housing Hosts After School Program
CB: High-end technology, solar panel roof systems and a fully equipped and stocked kitchen probably aren’t what come to mind when most people picture the Palolo Valley’s housing complexes.
Palolo Homes, which used to be public housing, has a reputation among outsiders as seedy and dangerous. But at the Palolo Ohana Learning Center, volunteers tutor and mentor young students, helping them overcome stereotypes and the tough challenges facing children of immigrant families in American schools….
About 1,200 people live in Palolo Homes, which was sold to Mutual Housing of Hawaii in 2002 because the state couldn’t afford maintenance. Next to Palolo Homes is Palolo Valley Homes, federally assisted housing for about 300 people.
Even though the after school-program operates out of Mutual Housing’s facility, children living in both complexes are served. Palolo Homes also invites families from the federal housing complex to its food distributions and other activities….
Now, more than 40 Palolo Homes residents have gone on to higher education. And about 4,000 students across all three campuses have volunteered in the program, Hasager said.
About 40-60 kids use the Palolo Ohana Learning Center daily.
There are lockers where they can store their belongings, a media center for movie nights and presentations, small children’s toys, study tables, a reading room and a computer lab. There’s even a room to record music and a kitchen equipped with a ceiling mirror for cooking demonstrations….
read … After-School Program Helps Palolo’s Kids Find Their Way
Cheap Rentals in Warm Weather Destinations? Pahoa Ranks 5th in USA
TT: It is not completely true that It is expensive to have a vacation in Hawaii. In fact, Pahoa in Hawaii is the 5th in terms of having the most affordable rentals for snowbirds. The place is not far from Hilo airport and it is nestled in shadow of Kilauea. Tripping.com say "its Big Island location offers snowbirds endless possibility when it comes to planning an active day. Tour a Kona coffee plantation, walk on the beach, set out on a scenic hike or simply read or relax in your very own lanai".
read … Pahoa Where Life is Cheap
Convincing Chronics to Accept Shelter is Very Difficult
SA: …it seems the longer a homeless person grapples with difficult problems like drugs and mental illness, the harder it becomes to leave the streets or even accept a helping hand.
That’s why last week’s placement of the first of 30 chronically homeless people in a public housing project — the latest wave entering the city’s ongoing Housing First effort — should be considered a success, even though it took an outsized effort by social workers and agencies. Among those receiving help are individuals who have been living on Oahu streets for two and three decades. Each will have a voucher covering 70 percent of their rent.
Honolulu has been spending about $2 million annually on Housing First, and it’s clear that the project will not be an inexpensive quick fix….
But it offers a potentially effective solution: getting people into permanent homes as quickly as possible, without demanding sobriety or other conditions before placement, and then providing supportive services as needed.
When Housing First began permanent supportive housing placements in November 2014, proponents pointed to the strategy’s success in other cities such as Denver, where chronic homelessness was reduced by 36 percent over a two-year period. Honolulu’s progress is slower, as our challenges are compounded by a severe affordable housing shortage and year-round comfortable temperatures that do little to discourage living on the streets.
During its first year, the city’s Housing First program placed 176 people in permanent housing. Figures have yet to be released for the second year.
In October, city officials announced a partnership with the United States Veterans Initiative, through which Honolulu will spend an additional $2.2 million on the program and U.S. VETS will kick in $600,000.
The partnership with U.S VETS aims to help up to 150 people and is open to everyone, not just veterans. Together, those figures add up to a get-off-the-streets opportunity for nearly 5 percent of the 7,921 homeless people counted in the latest statewide tally….
Both the city and state are embracing the Housing First ethic, as it includes chronically homeless people who had been unable to comply with traditional shelter sobriety and conduct requirements because of addictions or mental illness.
read … Hard-won success for Housing First
Chinatown: Entrepreneurs Help Clean out Homeless Drug Addicts
CB: Now that they’re established in Chinatown, some of the business owners are trying to help transform it.
They’ve created a group called ACME — Arts, Culture, Merchants, Etc. — that meets about once a month to discuss how they can address Chinatown’s growing population of homeless people, among other issues.
The area’s high concentration of social service organizations and people in need – whether poor, homeless, drug addicted, or mentally ill – create a turbulent climate for business….
When Nella Media Group opened, Cutinella had a hard time getting corporate clients, like hotel or airline executives, to meet with him in Chinatown….
Chinatown’s well-known issues persist. People living on the streets sleep on the doorsteps of bustling businesses.
The passage of the sit-lie ban in Waikiki incited Jeff Mull to become involved in efforts to make Chinatown more business-friendly….
He and other business owners started ACME after participation dwindled in a previous group, the Arts District Merchants Association.
At ACME meetings, young professionals like Mull, Owens, and Jo discuss community issues. Members have taken small steps so far, like organizing community cleanups and painting over graffiti.
ACME members attempt to connect homeless people with the appropriate social services. They say they know almost all of the people who live on Chinatown’s streets.
Their collective mission is to get more people to Chinatown to shop, dine and play.
“Chinatown has the potential of being the food, beverage, entertainment destination of Hawaii that isn’t a mall,” Grable said.
They see their community presence as a force deterring illegal activity, like drug dealing….
“It’s different when you’re the person who needs to pick up shit,” Owens said, referring to the neighborhood’s sidewalk defecation problem.
She’s had to deal with people “crazy high on drugs” who enter her store. There’s a methadone clinic three blocks away.
When the sit-lie law was expanded to parts of Chinatown, Mull said it was a “tremendous” and “visible” help….
read … Dominating Your Day
Maui Ex-county worker charged with theft over ‘Commercial Kitchen’ Scheme
MN: A 59-year-old former Maui County Public Works district supervisor was charged with second-degree theft Tuesday, police records show.
Raynard Oshiro of Kihei was released on $5,000 bail in relation to a case from 2015, the records indicate.
Oshiro retired from Maui County in 2015 after 38 years….
in 2015, a Honolulu TV news report uncovered a well-furnished commercial kitchen in the Wailuku Public Works Baseyard that had been outfitted with items charged to a government purchasing card, or pCard, in the possession of a Public Works district supervisor. News reports and police have linked Oshiro to the pCard abuse incident….
read … Ex-county worker charged with theft
With Kenoi Gone, Hawaii Council Suddenly Wants to Ban Booze Purchases
WHT: Stricter limits on taxpayer-funded alcohol could soon become law, under a bill to be considered next week by a County Council committee.
Bill 6, by Hilo Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy, would take any wiggle room out of the ability of county officials and employees to buy alcohol with county money.
It would change the law to state, “The purchase of alcoholic beverages for social or entertainment purposes is prohibited.”
Currently, the law states, “The purchase of alcoholic beverages is prohibited unless provided by authorized exception.”
The bill is set to be heard Wednesday by the council Finance Committee, which is meeting in Hilo council chambers. The public can testify there, or by videoconference from remote locations in Kailua-Kona, North Kohala, Waimea, Pahoa and Naalehu.
Both Mayor Harry Kim and Council Chairwoman Valerie Poindexter have already instituted internal limits on buying alcohol.
Kim calls his policy a “blanket ban,” although it does allow the Police Department to purchase alcohol for training purposes when it’s part of a formal program. Alcohol purchases require permission beforehand and approval of the department head, Finance Department director and mayor, under the Dec. 12 policy. The policy bans employees and officials buying alcohol with their county-issued purchasing card, or pCards.
Poindexter’s Dec. 19 policy states, “It will be the policy of the County Council and the Office of the County Clerk that there will be no reasonable exceptions that would allow the purchase of alcohol with county funds.”
“I think this is a nice complement to the administration policy and the chair’s policy,” Lee Loy said Wednesday….
read … Lee Loy’s bill would take the wiggle room out of booze ban
Ex-Senator Melody Aduja Gives Up Law License to Hide Latest Doings
SA: Local attorney and former state Sen. Melodie Aduja will give up her law license to avoid disciplinary proceedings under an order issued this month by the Hawaii Supreme Court Disciplinary Board.
Court officials would not say why Aduja was facing disciplinary action. Under Hawaii Supreme Court rules, that information is sealed if an attorney opts for disbarment.
Aduja can reapply for a Hawaii law license in five years.
Aduja’s resignation is effective Jan. 4….
“She made a mistake and has decided to give up her license so that her clients would not have to endure a hearing on this matter.” ….
(Translation: They would be testifying against her.)
This isn’t the first time that Aduja has lost her Hawaii law license.
In 2005 the state Supreme Court suspended her from practicing law for three years for mishandling a client’s trust account. Lawyers must set up a special bank account for clients’ money and not commingle funds with their own. The Supreme Court found that she failed to do so.
While a state senator representing Kahuku and Kaneohe, Aduja was also fined $9,100 in 2004 by the state Campaign Spending Commission for misuse of her campaign fund. State officials found that she had written more than $30,000 in campaign checks to her ex-husband, not all of which was accounted for through receipts. Her campaign also didn’t disclose a $3,000 loan or show receipts indicating how the loan was used, while her campaign treasurer received $9,490 in campaign checks, which is prohibited.
Aduja was elected to the Senate in 2002, losing a re-election bid two years later….
Aduja Calif Bar 2005: ‘No Prior Discipline’ (pg 3)
2014: Former Hawaii senator with troubled past wants another chance
read … Melodie Aduja Again
Mo Money: Bumpy Kanahele Launches Digital ‘Currency’
CB: Nation of Hawaii has some exciting projects that came about because people learned about us in the movie “Aloha”….
A major economic venture we have pursued is the development of a crypto currency called Aloha Coin. Aloha Coin is the Nation’s official monetary system and will help us develop an independent and sovereign Hawaiian economy. If you want to learn more about Aloha Coin, you can visit alohacoin.info and alohacoin.today…..
Nation of Hawaii will be featured in an upcoming episode of “Hawaii Five-0” that airs on CBS on Friday, Jan. 20….The episode focuses on a Hawaiian man who is accused of a crime and flees to Nation of Hawaii for protection….
read … He Likes Money