Hawaii Family Forum Prepares for Legislative Session
Hawaii State Legislators join nationwide initiative to address opioid abuse
Opening Day Remarks: House Minority Leader Beth Fukumoto
Senate Democrats 2017 Legislative Program
Danger: Legislature Begins 4 Month Run for Your Money
FBI raids second city building in police chief investigation
HNN: …FBI agents had a search warrant for images and documents connected to Police Chief Louis Kealoha stored in the Frank Fasi Municipal Building, where the back-up server for the Honolulu Police Department is kept, sources say. All electronic files and emails are stored on that server.
On Friday, the FBI also raided the Honolulu Prosecutor's Office for the files of Katherine Kealoha, a deputy city prosecutor.
Also last week, city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro was called before the federal grand jury investigating the couple. Kaneshiro was ordered to hand over laptop computers, Hawaii News Now has learned.
Attorney Victor Bakke called the raids "unprecedented" in Hawaii.
"In 25 years I haven't seen anything like this," he said….
The fact that the FBI went after the servers, meanwhile, indicates to him that they were worried about the files being deleted or tampered with.
"There's at least a few other officers involved," he said. "(They) were probably instructed at some point by the chief or by Kathy to delete information. and if they did that would be the obstruction."
read … FBI raids second city building in police chief investigation
OHA settles sexual harassment claim against Peter Apo for $50K
HNN: …Sources said the former OHA staffer accused Apo of inappropriately touching her several times in 2015.
People familiar with the deal said that the woman also alleged that Apo was using his state office for his private business.
"This is wrong. It's using trust funds to cover up inappropriate sexual activity of an elected official and quite frankly he should be made to pay his own costs and removed from office," said Hawaiian activist and attorney Mililani Trask. "Fifty thousand Hawaiian trust dollars were expended to cover up a personal problem of an elected official."
OHA declined comment and sources said the settlement came with no admission of wrongdoing. Apo also denied the allegations….
Sources said the woman, who wants to remain anonymous, worked at OHA for several years.
Trask said she spoke with the woman early last year. Trask said the woman faced retaliation at OHA after she complained.
"She told me at the time that she had been placed on leave with pay. That was changed to leave without pay. She basically got a notice to clean up her office and get out," Trask said.
OHA hired an outside attorney to investigate the woman's claims but sources say the lawyer's report has not been shared with the full board.
The secret settlement is one reason OHA's new board Chairwoman Rowena Akana is calling for an investigation into OHA's finances.
"At this point, I think we have to demand a forensic audit. And many of the candidates this last election" were calling for an audit, Trask said.
The state auditor's office has already started its own financial review which is expected to be completed this summer….
read … $50,000
Counselor Involved In School Sex Case Now Works For State
CB: …In 2013, the Hawaii Department of Health was searching for a social worker to manage cases for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Workers in that classification are “expected to exercise considerable authority, judgment, and decision-making responsibility,” according to the online description.
The state’s choice? A counselor at the Hawaii School for the Deaf and the Blind who was one of two officials accused in a federal class action lawsuit of failing to stop rampant sexual abuse between students.
Eight months before he got the health department job, Scott O’Neal had agreed to pay $750,000 to settle the lawsuit, which alleged that 35 students were sexually abused by a group of older classmates who called themselves “the ringleaders.”
O’Neal had been providing counseling services at the school, the only public school in the state for deaf and blind students, as an independent contractor.
According to the settlement, he denied the claims against him but settled because he sought to avoid the time and expense of continued litigation….
The state kicked in another $5 million to compensate victims and settle the case, which also named the school’s principal at the time, Sydney Dickerson, a state Department of Education employee.
Dickerson now is listed on the website of Kapiolani Community College as a student support specialist, meaning that both school officials named in the lawsuit are on the public payroll….
Background: Lawsuit: Adult counselor engaged in questionable activities with students at Blind, Deaf School
read … Counselor Involved In School Sex Case Now Works For State
BoE Scrounges Around for Excuse for Matayoshi Firing
HNN: …"We have no idea what you guys are basing it on, what the matrix is, and next year, they come back and the kids suffer, that will be an embarrassment, and you better not even be here," said Rep. Sylvia Luke, chair of the House Finance Committee.
BOE members acknowledged that some test scores had gone up, but they also pointed to a growing achievement gap.
"The gap is growing at the bottom. The SPED (special education) kids are not advancing. The ELL (English Language Learners) kids are not advancing. The math scores have not grown, particularly in the lower income groups, the disadvantaged groups, and the budget presentation said those groups are growing," explained BOE member Bruce Voss.
KITV: Lawmakers grill school board over ouster of school superintendent “"We find it very disturbing that you cannot give specific examples, if you want to continue her work, then why aren't you retaining her?” said Finance Chairwoman Sylvia Luke…. "To treat somebody the way Kathy has been treated in the last two months is absolutely embarrassing," said Kauai Rep. Jimmy Tokioka.”
read … Because the HSTA Doesn’t Like Accountability
Caldwell Conceals DPP Resignations For Nearly a Month
PBN: Jesse Broder Van Dyke, spokesman for Mayor Kirk Caldwell, told PBN that both George Atta, the director of the Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting since 2013, and Arthur Challacombe, who had been the department's deputy director also since 2013, retired at the end of 2016.
“Mayor Caldwell intends to announce second-term cabinet appointments within the next month,” he said. “In the interim, Kathy Sokugawa is serving as acting director and Tim Hiu [is] serving as acting deputy director of DPP.”
read … Top officials in Honolulu planning and permitting department retire
Moving in the Right Direction? Housing for the Homeless in Hawaii
NPQ: Hawaii, having the third-highest per capita homeless rate in the nation, is transitioning to a new “rapid rehousing” model. New homeless shelters in Hawaii will have the goal of moving homeless individuals and families out of shelters and into housing in 90 days or less….
The approach has modestly decreased the average shelter stay. Previously, clients were staying at the shelter for an average of 201 days before they moved into permanent housing. Since the model was put into place, clients’ stays have decreased to 190 days, [Jason] Espero, [Director of Homelessness Services] said. That still far exceeds the 90-day goal, and now the state wants shelters to transition clients into permanent housing even faster. Next Step is facing new state requirements that say half of its clients need to move into permanent housing within 60 days….
The state of Hawaii is moving toward performance-based contracts using the rapid rehousing approach, meaning that nonprofits will get paid by the state for homelessness services only when they meet the 60 or 90-day requirement.
Rapid rehousing fits under the category of the housing-first model, with the main difference between the two being the 90-day time-limiting qualifier. (See a full description on the rapid rehousing model here from the National Alliance to End Homelessness, along with an infographic that depicts the main elements of the program.) As our readers know, NPQ has commented on the pros and cons of the housing-first model in the past. …a growing amount of research points to the success of the rapid rehousing approach….
Related: Ige Announces Contracts for 33 Homeless Shelters, Claims Increase in Bed Count
read … Moving in the Right Direction? Housing for the Homeless in Hawaii
Legislators Seek to Outlaw Lower Cost Private Insurance Plans
HNN: …state legislators are working on a back-up plan to protect the essential Obamacare benefits.
"That means introducing legislation to make sure that all of those provisions are statutorily required by anybody that sells health care insurance in Hawaii," said state Sen. Roz Baker, who chairs the Senate's Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Health.
Most of the plans under Hawaii's Pre-Paid Health Care Act of 1974 already have many of Obamacare's provisions, but lawmakers -- and Hawaii's Congressional Delegation --- say they want to make sure private plans as well as Medicaid plans also have them….
read … Legislators seek to preserve key provisions of Obamacare in state law
Rep Kaniela Ing Wants to Steal Your Money, Shut Down Businesses which Employ the Poor
HNN: …Ing is proposing a series of bills aimed at redistributing income from Hawaii’s wealthiest residents to those most in need. A pair of his bills would cap CEO wages at 20 times the average salary of employees and create a surcharge for companies in which 50 percent or more of the employees get social assistance payments.
“It’s my belief that if you rely on the government to pay your employees, you’re anything but a success,” Ing said. (We want them to rely 100% on the government.)
Ing wants Hawaii to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour in 2019 and $22 an hour by 2022. Minimum wage in Hawaii is now $9.25 an hour and set to increase to $10.10 next year.
House Majority Leader Scott Saiki said that proposal is likely to face a battle because the latest changes to the minimum wage aren’t fully implemented, so “it may be premature to consider raising it again.”
2012: Legislative Candidate Mark Ing: Bin Laden Was “Leading a Movement Against the American Crusade”
read … Thief
Anti-GMO Losers Want Legislature to make them into Winners
KE: …What does it say when two people who failed dismally at the polls — Gary Hooser and Fern Rosenstiel — are now hoping to push the overturned Kauai Ordinance 960 (Bill 2491) through the state Legislature?
It says they aren't listening to the will of the people.
It says they think they know best, and damn the rest.
It says they just can't bear to step out of the spotlight — even though voters summarily rejected their platform and agenda.
Besides Fern and Gary, the “go Ordinance 960” rallying call has been picked up by two groups that benefit financially from keeping the conflict over GMOs and pesticides alive: Hawaii SEED and Hawaii Center for Food Safety.
Though Jeri Di Pietro has yet to file the 2015 tax return for Hawaii SEED, the 2014 return shows the group pulled in $229,894 — up from $167,973 in 2013. In 2010, Hawaii SEED brought in just $266.
But that was before the mainland anti-GMO groups decided to try and set a precedent on Hawaii, and started funneling money to the Islands….
read … Musings: Real Issues
Green Energy Schemers Grab for More Tax Credits
SA: …Hawaii is a leader in renewable energy with its goal of getting 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2045. Advocates are pushing proposals to accelerate the transition.
One way is by increasing the use of storage, so the Blue Planet Foundation and others will propose tax credits or incentives for installing batteries to speed adoption of the technology that is falling in price.
“The faster we can roll that out, the faster we can reduce cost for consumers and avoid the need to build additional power plants and other grid upgrades,” said Rep. Chris Lee, chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection.
Renewable energy advocates also will be pushing for a transition to clean fuel in the ground transportation sector.
Sen. Lorraine Inouye plans to introduce a bill to reduce state tax credits for installing solar panels, and she’s planning a bill to enhance state control over geothermal development….
CB: The state of solar power is in deep decline
read … Crony Capitalism
Lifeguard Immunity: Trial Lawyers vs Counties
CB: To Mel Rapozo, chairman of the Kauai County Council, it’s a no-brainer: lifeguards should be protected from being sued.
But if the Legislature does not act this session, lifeguards will have no protection from civil litigation once a current law expires July 1.
“Over the years there has been a threat that if we don’t get that protection, the mayors may have to pull these lifeguards off state beaches because we can’t afford the liability exposure,” Rapozo said Tuesday at the Capitol. “They are doing their job, and they need protection.”
As Civil Beat reported in its Dying For Vacation series, drowning is the No. 1 killer of visitors. Lifeguards have struggled for better pay and working conditions….
read … Counties Seek Lifeguard Immunity
More Empty Talk About Hawaiian Health Care
CB: …Keawe‘aimoku Kaholokula, a task force co-chair, called the challenges facing Hawaiians “a public health crisis that desperately needs our attention.”
He and others outlined a number of policy recommendations.
They include establishing an online database across state agencies to track Hawaiian health, pushing for median strips and sidewalks in Native Hawaiian neighborhoods, and backing paid family leave that is “culturally relevant” to multigenerational households.
Members of three state Senate committees congratulated the task force on its hard work. But they were not satisfied with its recommendations.
Senate Majority Leader Kalani English, a Native Hawaiian, took Kaholokula and others to task for not offering specific details for new legislation. It is something the Senate called for when it authored the resolution creating the task force.
Kaholokula, who works at the Department of Native Hawaiian Health at the University of Hawaii’s John A. Burns School of Medicine, responded that the task force was “a first step” and that it was “too soon” for it to call for specific legislation.
Kamana’opono Crabbe, CEO of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the other task force co-chair, agreed, saying the task force felt its work to this point was “preliminary.”
He described the report as a “framework” to build on, one that would be updated with additional task force meetings and aided especially through the creation of a Native Hawaiian Public Policy Advisory Council. It’s one of the task force’s 16 recommendations.
But English still wasn’t hearing what he wanted.
Admitting that he may sound “heavy-handed,” he pointed out that the Legislature is busy crafting bills in advance of a Friday deadline for nonadministrative legislation.
English also pointed out that a report on the dire status of Native Hawaiian health is nothing new.
Indeed, Crabbe himself called attention to a 1985 Native Hawaiian Health Needs Study Group that highlighted health disparities. And Noa Emmett Aluli, a doctor at Molokai General Hospital and a member of a hui of Hawaiian physicians called Ahahui o Nā Kauka, said the health problems existed when he started medical school in the 1970s….
read … Report: Native Hawaiians Face A ‘Public Health Crisis’
Charter School Commission Hides Funds from Legislators
CB: The accounting practices of the State Public Charter School Commission came under scrutiny during a legislative budget hearing at the Capitol.
The commission, which collects and distributes funds to the state’s 34 charter schools, keeps its funds in Bank of Hawaii accounts.
No other state department or agency is able to hold its funds in private accounts, Sen. Jill Tokuda said at the hearing. She chairs of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
“We don’t even know how much you’re actually distributing because we have no transparency into that fund, it’s privately held,” she said.
She said the funds should be taken out of private accounts “immediately.” ….
If the Legislature approves the roughly $5.5 million requested for facilities, Tokuda said the money cannot be held in a private account.
The commission also requested $579,000 to provide incentive pay for hard-to-staff schools, and $90,000 for National Board Certified Teacher awards. The awards are statutorily mandated, and charter schools currently use the per-pupil finds for the awards.
Other requests included $200,000 as start-up funds for new charter schools, and $112,000 more for commission staff salaries.
read … Check Register
Kauai Reduces teacher turnover
KGI: …On Kauai, teacher turnover is high but according to Complex-Area Superintendent Bill Arakaki, the Garden Isle only had four full-time and one part-time positions vacant at the start of this past school year.
A big part of keeping job positions filled on Kauai has been the “Growing Our Own Teachers on Kauai” program, which supports and retains its educators. The state’s new plan also indicates further support of these “growing our own” types of programs on the neighbor islands and Oahu….
read … Turnover
15 Years Later UH Maui Building Falling Apart
MN: Chancellor Lui Hokoana said the building that houses its culinary program, student dining and Class Act restaurant, is safe, but people are restricted from walking under the eaves in certain areas because the soffits, or undersides, have begun to fall….
Hokoana said that the soffits on the upstairs of the Pa’ina building began to fall off around two years ago. The college had a contractor look at the problem, but the contractor found other construction and design deficiencies, such as large metal beams that were not correctly fastened to the building….
read … Falling Apart
Quiet Title Actions a Great Opportunity to Shake down Zukerberg for some Serious Money
SA: …A contested case with many owners can cost $100,000 or $200,000 or more. For someone to use the law to not only establish title, but to also force a sale requires that they have an ownership claim. For some of the Kauai land, Zuckerberg has done this by purchasing interests from several part-owners.
Keoni Shultz, a partner at the Honolulu law firm Cades Schutte representing Zuckerberg companies in the litigation, said in an email that it’s common for large tracts of land in Hawaii to contain small parcels that lack clear ownership title and have co-owners who might not be aware of what they own.
“Quiet title actions are the standard and prescribed process to identify all potential co-owners, determine ownership, and ensure that, if there are other co-owners, each receives appropriate value for their ownership share,” Schultz said.
Three Zuckerberg companies — Pilaa International LLC, Northshore Kalo LLC and High Flyer LLC — filed eight quiet title lawsuits Dec. 30 in state Circuit Court on Kauai.
In one suit the only named defendant is Oma, a Hawaiian woman who is believed to be the first private owner of one parcel within Zuckerberg’s property. She has no surname, as was tradition in old Hawaii.
Another case names Eliza Kauhaahaa, Annie I and long-deceased defendants including Kelekahi, Palaha, Laka, Lote, Luliana, Kapahu and Kaluuloa.
Some cases filed by Zuckerberg involve properties believed to have no living owners. In this instance, Zuckerberg’s team will have to trace ownership through genealogical records and make valid efforts to identify any living descendents and, if found, notify them so they have an opportunity to participate in the court action.
Perhaps the most complicated case was filed against roughly 300 defendants descended from an immigrant Portuguese sugar cane plantation worker named Manuel Rapozo who is listed in the complaint as having bought four parcels totaling about 2 acres in 1894.
In this case one of Rapozo’s descendents, Carlos Andrade, is helping Zuckerberg’s team as co-plaintiff.
Andrade, a great-grandson of Rapozo, is a retired University of Hawaii professor of Hawaiian studies who said he lived on his family’s kuleana land from 1977 until recently but still visits the property, on which he built a house, several times a week to maintain taro patches and fruit trees….
read … Money
Program to Let Lots of Criminals out of state’s jails has yet to launch
SA: …Ige signed Act 217 into law July 6 to create the program, but Department of Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda said writing regulations for the law and getting the approval of the state Attorney General’s Office for those regulations have slowed the effort.
Espinda said he hopes to start releasing pretrial inmates under the new program next month but said it appears that fewer than 100 prisoners statewide will qualify. That is a small fraction of the 1,990 inmates Hawaii held in its four jails at the end of last year.
Relatively few inmates will be released, in part because lawmakers would not authorize the jails to free any prisoners under the program who were ever convicted of violent offenses or were ever arrested for abuse of a household or family member.
Lawmakers also excluded inmates who were on probation or parole for serious crimes, and prisoners who were denied bail or had bail set at more than $5,000.
Espinda said his department then further limited the scope of the program by deciding that “we’re not going to release anybody with mental health needs, we’re not going to release anybody who’s homeless.” ….
Mateo Caballero, legal director of the ACLU of Hawaii, said the exclusion of the homeless and mentally ill from the early release program is “misguided, contrary to the early release statute, and unconstitutional.”
(We worked for decades to line America’s streets with mentally ill homeless people. How dare you incarcerate them when they commit crimes. They should be thanked for enlightening our consciousness by stealing stuff.)
HTH: Councilwoman catches suspected burglars in the act
read … Program to ease overcrowding in state’s jails has yet to launch
Soft on Crime Policy Denies Free Room and Board to Homeless Criminal
MN: A homeless man who was arrested early Friday at a Spreckelsville beach is being investigated for driving two stolen vehicles and illegally possessing a firearm, police said.
Randan Vares, 29, was arrested on a $100,000 probation-violation warrant….
Vares grabbed a backpack and began to run from the officer before he was able to detain and handcuff the suspect, Lopez said. He said a gold Toyota Tacoma parked near the tent at the end of Kealakai Place was found to have been stolen Jan. 7 from the Maui Beach Hotel.
Detectives were seeking a warrant to search Vares’ backpack after officers noticed it was heavy and suspected that it might contain a handgun with a possible magazine attached, Lopez said.
He said Vares also is being investigated in connection with the Dec. 2 theft of a 2005 Toyota Tacoma from Acura of Maui….
read … Will he get free room and board now?
Soft on Crime: Criminal sought after officer-involved shooting was on work furlough
HNN: …Turns out, he was already in jail, but part of the work furlough program at the Oahu Community Corrections Center.
Dunya Kanoa, 37, was supposed to be at his job Friday about 4 p.m. when officers responded to the Malaekahana Campgrounds to investigate a stolen pickup truck.
Police say Cameron Johnson drove the stolen truck at a patrol officer who fired, hitting Johnson in the chest. He subsequently died.
During the chaos that followed, Kanoa ran from the scene -- and the stolen car, sources say. He returned to OCCC that night, checked in as required and spent the weekend in his module.
Kanoa is serving time in connection with a burglary conviction….
read … Man sought after officer-involved shooting was on work furlough
Entire UH Manoa Campus to be Consumed with Anti-Trump Protest
HNN: University of Hawaii students, faculty and staff are gearing up for a mass protest this Friday, the day Donald Trump takes office.
Organizers are planning lectures, performances, political workshops and more on campus. But the headline event is a trio of marches that afternoon. Protestors will gather at the Manoa campus, Ala Moana Park and Honolulu Zoo and will march to Waikiki Gateway Park. The combined group will then head to Trump International Hotel and then to the Waikiki Shell.
"We're hoping to voice how many people are disgusted about what's been going on. The ideologies that Trump has exude during his campaign and carried over into his cabinet appointments," said graduate student Jan Dickey.
"There are so many people who are students, who are educators, who are really troubled by Trump and his Republican cohorts," said lecturer Nicholas Chagnon.
Chagnon said his students don't have to attend classes on Friday and they won't be penalized.
The university isn't sanctioning the event, but the faculty senate passed a resolution encouraging campus-wide participation.
read … Nothing to Learn Here, Should Just be Disbanded
Honolulu: 6,000 Expected to Protest Trump on Saturday
KITV: …March organizers on O'ahu are expecting about 6,000 people to show up at the state capitol on Saturday….
Marches are set for the Sister Isles as well….
read … 6000