Trask: Trustee Apo uses OHA Resources for Private Business Deals
VIDEO: OHA Board Protesters Throw Salt, Call for FBI Investigation
FSMA: Unknown Regulatory Threat Leaves Agriculture in Limbo
Third Circuit Seeking Applicants for Independent Grand Jury Counsels
VIDEO: School Choice Dance 2017!
HB71: Bill Would Force Caldwell Resignation
SA: … leading Democrat in the state House has introduced a bill to prohibit the governor and the four Hawaii mayors from accepting any outside employment or earnings while in office, a measure that, if passed, would most likely affect Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.
(Really Obvious Question: Which job would he quit? The million-dollar bank job or that part time county gig he’s holding on to?)
House Majority Leader Scott Saiki said House Bill 71 was inspired by what he views as financial conflicts of interest involving President Donald Trump and his administration, and was not a response to the 2016 election-year controversy over Caldwell’s paid position on the Territorial Savings Bank board of directors.
“I just felt that Hawaii should make our standard clear for the governor and the mayors,” Saiki said.
Caldwell’s most recent financial disclosure on file with the city indicates he received between $200,000 and $299,999 in compensation as a director for Territorial in 2015 while he was also employed as a full-time mayor.…
Cayetano said he was required by the state Constitution to withdraw from his law practice after he was elected lieutenant governor, which meant he took a significant financial hit. He said the same logic should apply to the mayors.
Cayetano said he does not ever recall a situation like Caldwell’s in Hawaii where a chief executive accepted paid outside employment.
“It doesn’t do the city any good to have a mayor who is collecting a million dollars from a private company,” Cayetano said. “When I was governor I was expected to be available 24/7. That’s part of the job.” ….
Jan Yamane, executive director of the Honolulu Ethics Commission, said city employees are not allowed to take on outside work that would be a perceived or actual conflict of interest, but they are allowed to take second jobs….
Daniel Gluck, executive director and general counsel of the Hawaii State Ethics Commission, said the commission does not have jurisdiction over county employees, and therefore he declined comment as to the bill’s impact on Hawaii’s mayors.
“As for the governor, the ethics commission supports the Legislature’s efforts to strengthen Hawaii’s conflict of interest laws,” Gluck said in a written statement. “These types of measures help to ensure that state officials focus on serving the people of Hawaii with the utmost integrity.” ….
HB71: Text, Status
read … Which Job Would he Quit?
Something to Hide? Will OHA Trustees Even Vote for Watered Down Audit?
SA: …The proposal by trustee Keli‘i Akina will be considered at 9 a.m. Thursday in a public meeting that was originally scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday. The meeting was postponed Friday due to quorum issues. (Translation: They have been trying to avoid casting a vote on this because they have to kill it but don’t want anybody to know they were against it.)
Another meeting, a controversial proposed election of new officers originally slated for Tuesday, was also postponed to 10 a.m. Thursday. (They will vote to replace Akana with Lei Ahu Isa.)
Akina’s audit proposal appears less draconian than the “forensic audit” Chairwoman Rowena Akana and some beneficiaries have been calling for.
Such an audit involves a full financial accounting while searching for evidence of fraud, embezzlement and other wrongdoing for potential use in criminal prosecution.
Under Akina’s proposal an independent firm would still identify potential areas of waste, abuse and fraud in the procurement of goods and professional services.
It would satisfy Akana’s concerns for a comprehensive examination of OHA’s finances, he said, while not targeting any individuals.
“The chief goal is to remove the cloud of concern that has been raised by the beneficiaries and the media,” Akina said. “A second goal is to help trustees perform their fiduciary duty.” …
Some Native Hawaiians have been campaigning for the extreme audit, but getting one could prove tricky. Passage will require six votes, or two-thirds of the board….
Under his proposal, Akina is calling for a review of all management contracts and financial transactions of $100,000 or more and a random selection of 25 percent of all contracts and transactions less than $100,000.
In addition, auditors will be called upon to review all management policies and procedures for consistency with best practices….
PDF: OHA BOT Action Item 17-03
read … OHA to discuss audit, agency review proposal
Toxic DoE Tries to Increase Teacher Retention Rate by Sacrificing Matyoshi
KHON: … The Hawaii Department of Education laid out its goals Friday to better help students succeed.
Education officials presented their strategic plan to lawmakers, which includes increasing the graduation rate to 86 percent by 2020 (versus 82 percent in 2016) and a 60-percent teacher retention rate (versus 52 percent in 2016).
Another goal is to incorporate more special-education students in general education classes for at least 80 percent of their day. Right now, that applies to 32 percent of special-education students. Officials hope to increase that to 51 percent by 2020….
The plan was approved by the Board of Education in December. View the full strategic plan here.
During Friday’s meeting, the DOE also gave an update on its search for a new superintendent.
Lawmakers questioned the board’s decision not to keep current superintendent, Kathryn Matayoshi, despite an annual performance evaluation that “exceeds expectations.”
“If I were applying for the job and I said what were the indicators and it was all this, and I’m going to walk into a situation that says, ‘Wow, even if you’re a great leader and you do great things, you still might not be around.’ That’s a very toxic environment,” said Rep. Roy Takumi, D, House education committee chair….
read … Strategic Plan
Anti-Pesticide Claims are all Hype and Hysteria
HNN: …"I don't think there's a debate over whether pesticides are dangerous. We understand they're dangerous," said Ashley Lukens, director for the Hawaii Center for Food Safety. "We just want to know where they're sprayed and if we can prevent them from being sprayed on our most vulnerable communities."
Industry experts say the risks are overblown.
"You're talking about levels of exposure... That people could not possible do for lifetime-type scenarios, decades-long types of exposures at levels that would simply never happen," said Renee Pinel, CEO of the Western Plant Health Association.
Pinel said mandatory disclosure would make it too expensive to farm, especially in Hawaii, where most farms are 50 acres or less.
"That's millions of dollar to implement this kind of program," she said….
read … GMO critics push for more pesticide transparency
Senate asks attorney general to step in on HTA Secrecy
SA: State Sen. Donna Mercado Kim has asked Hawaii’s attorney general to determine whether the Hawaii Tourism Authority is violating open-meeting requirements by discussing public matters in closed-door executive sessions.
Kim said Friday she wrote Attorney General Douglas Chin after becoming increasingly concerned that board minutes, which have dwindled from 20 plus pages to as few as four, lack substantive discussion. Kim told Chin in a letter Wednesday that HTA’s board may be using a sunshine exemption given to them in 2010 by the Legislature to “skirt the law to discuss many things in private that are not exempted.”
In her letter to Chin, Kim (D, Kalihi Valley-Moanalua- Halawa) said it had come to her attention that the HTA board had discussed general budget information and salary increases in executive session, preventing these decisions from being recorded in meeting minutes. Without open dialogue, Kim said it’s hard to discern whether there is accountability between the HTA staff and its board and that special-interest decisions aren’t being made….
read … Senate asks attorney general to step in on HTA predicament
UH Athletic Dep’t Grabs for HTA Pro Bowl Money
SA: …There is one important Pro Bowl-related question for now, though: Where’s that $5 million we paid the NFL annually to host it?
“Six months ago we invested it in our major market areas, Japan, U.S. and Canada,” said Leslie Dance, the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s vice president of marketing and product development. “We have to shore up our mature markets. That’s where the majority went. There’s also cultural events and community enrichment programs we do with the counties, festivals and events.”
So that idea of the University of Hawaii and other college athletic departments in the state getting a big chunk is a no-go.
The HTA is, however, still in the sports marketing business, and does assist UH in events that are mutually beneficial, such as the Rainbow Warriors’ football game in Australia last August…
(Now you know what the Senators REAL complaint is.)
read … Money Grab
Lawmakers grill DHS over long-delayed day care safe sleep policies
KHON: Lawmakers grilled the Department of Human Services over long-delayed safe sleeping rules at Hawaii day care facilities.
In a packed room at the State capitol on Friday, a frustrated Sen. Brickwood Galuteria questioned the DHS director.
"It's been three years, eight months and 26 days since the 2013 bill became law and you still haven't adopted the rules," he said.
In 2013, a bill aimed at preventing sudden infant death syndrome in childcare programs was signed into law.
Initially, DHS opposed it and promised lawmakers it would change its administrative rules -- instead of spelling it out in legislation -- to require infants to be put down to sleep on their backs. Four years later, those policies still don't exist….
Two new bills introduced this year would bolster safe sleeping rules and toughen sanctions against negligent daycare operators.
DHS now has a new director. He said he hopes to implement the rules by March.
"We will do our best," said DHS Director Pankaj Bhanot. "Can I safeguard everybody at all times? Perhaps it's not possible, but it's not going to be lack of trying that is going to lead to that."
DHS will hold a public hearing on its proposed amendments on February 6th.
read … Grill
After 11 years, school building might finally open
MN: …No one really knows when Maui Waena Intermediate School’s new science building will open, aside from a final inspection of the elevators Feb. 9, the acting principal said Friday.
The inspection is supposedly the last barrier before the school is issued a certificate of occupancy, but it is unclear how long the process might take. Students and teachers are also skeptical that this truly is the final step of a building 11 years in the making.
“They’re becoming very discouraged, like it’s not going to happen this year,” acting Principal Jackie McCandless said. “The students just asked me Tuesday, ‘It feels like we’re never going to get in there.’ In many ways it breaks their heart. It makes me sad for them and our teachers.”
School officials originally held a blessing for the two-story, nine-classroom science, math, music and computer building in late September and hoped to be moved in by Oct. 17. The date was then moved to winter break or the beginning of the second semester in January, but that time also has come and passed….
read … 11 DoE Years
Caldwell Lets Oceanfront Park Rot for Five Years until Community Volunteers Pay to Fix it up
SA: Long-awaited park improvement projects in Haleiwa and Ewa Beach are moving forward thanks to two public-private partnerships.
The basketball and volleyball court at Pupukea Beach Park will reopen today after the facility was closed more than five years ago. City officials, including Councilman Ernie Martin and Parks and Recreation Director Michele Nekota, and residents plan to hold a blessing ceremony at the 9,500-square-foot court at the beach park off Kamehameha Highway in Haleiwa at 10:20 a.m.
Residents said the court was in disrepair for several years, describing it as an eyesore where grass and weeds had grown through the cracked pavement, the fence was rusted and the basketball hoop was missing.
Community members launched a fundraising campaign last year to improve the court and raised $142,300, surpassing their initial $125,000 goal. Work to replace the asphalt surface, chain link fence, poles and gate; repair the stone retaining walls; seal and stripe the courts; install basketball backboards; and construct a handicap ramp began at the end of September and was completed last week….
In West Oahu, community members plan to start work next month to improve the skateboarding area at Ewa Beach Community Park and expect to finish in March. Students at nearby Campbell High School and other skateboarders made a plea to the Ewa Neighborhood Board last year for improvements at the facility.
They said the cracks in the ramps, the unsteady surface and the loose pebbles and rocks made it difficult and unsafe to use the facility, which was built in 1992 and has not been refurbished.
The Association of Skateboarders in Hawaii stepped in to help collect donations for improvements to the facility and plans to install two concrete skateboarding obstacles for users at a cost of $37,000. Those funds were also donated to the city via a resolution that the Council adopted Wednesday….
For more information, visit pupukeawaimea.org for the Haleiwa park initiative and skatehawaii.org for the Ewa Beach skateboarding project.
read … Partnerships help repair park facilities
Soldier’s body found along freeway nearly 12 hours after motorcycle crash
KHON: Westbound traffic was backed up for miles Friday after a body was found along the H-1 Freeway near the Palama off-ramp.
Police got the call at around 11 a.m., and two right lanes were shut down until around 2 p.m. as they investigated.
Officials confirmed he was a 26-year-old Schofield Barracks soldier who had been involved in a crash nearly 12 hours prior.
At around 12:30 a.m., officers responded to a call of a motorcycle crash in the area. They found the motorcycle, but no sign of the operator….
Sources say the motorcycle kept going after the crash, so the body of the operator was actually located several hundred feet behind where the motorcycle was found.
The Honolulu Police Department says lighting was one of the reasons why his body wasn’t discovered until much later….
read … Soldier’s body found along freeway nearly 12 hours after motorcycle crash
Ex-Cop Gets 2 Days for DUI
MN: A former Maui Police Department officer was sentenced to a two-day jail term after he pleaded no contest last week to driving under the influence of alcohol.
John Salomon, 41, was arrested on the charge after a single-vehicle crash at 1:53 p.m. June 11, 2015, in Central Maui, police said. He also was charged with refusing to provide a blood, breath or urine sample, inattention to driving and reckless driving.
At the time, Salomon had been a police officer for about three years. Police were investigating Salomon in connection with several reports of a man sexually exposing himself in Pukalani parking lots May 30, 2015….
read … Another One
Bill would ban cellphone use while crossing streets
KITV: Taking it a step further, Bill 6 (2017) would also make it illegal for bicyclists to be on their electronic devices while in a crosswalk….
The bill has passed one out of the five readings needed to make it through.
It now goes to the Planning and Transportation committee.
To view proposed Bill 6 (2017), click here.
KHON: SB363 Lawmaker seeks to triple fines for cell phone use while driving
read … Bill would ban cellphone use while crossing streets
Another Hi Tech Tax Credit Failure
SA: …Bill Spencer, Hawaii Oceanic’s CEO, said the Hono- lulu-based company he started could not raise the money to build, test and deploy an initial cage big enough for 20,000 100-pound yellowfin or bigeye tuna.
The company was permitted to deploy 12 such cages, but the estimated $10 million for just one cage was an investment for which Spencer said he could find no takers….
The diameter of each oceansphere was 177 feet, or about half the length of a football field. The interior area for the fish was about 3 million cubic feet, and at full capacity could have produced 12 million pounds of ahi annually harvesting fish from half the cages each year.
At a target price of around $12.50 per pound, the business would have generated $150 million in annual revenue if operations worked as planned. The company also planned to sell its patented oceansphere technology for similar ventures in the United States and other countries.
However, Spencer said prospective investors were wary about risks and challenges, which included opposition from fish-farming opponents, difficulty in obtaining permits, stringent conditions placed on some permits and the high price for a single oceansphere.
read … Tax Credits don’t work
Got Money? Wanna Live in Hawaii? We WILL Make You Pay Us – Just ask Zuck
SA: Mark Zuckerberg serves as a good lesson for other billionaires looking to invest in Hawaii. (Lesson: “Greenmail is a way of life here.”)….
Zuckerberg received a wave of criticism for a series of lawsuits he recently filed to force the sale of small, isolated parcels of land from local and Hawaiian families using obscure laws…. (‘Criticism’ mostly from grifters with their hands out.)
There are so many rich people in one area of the Big Island, Forbes called it “The Billionaire Getaway.” Some of the owners of the posh homes inside neighboring private resort communities include Michael Dell, Charles Schwab, Carol Ann Bartz, Paul Hazen, David L. Anderson and others.
On Maui, Oprah Winfrey accumulated about 165 acres more than a decade ago.
As long as the billionaires show they are respectful and understanding of the island communities and native cultures, and seek to preserve the environment and natural beauty, they will feel welcomed. They won’t if they build walls before even stepping off their private jets…. (Translation: Pay up or get out.)
read … The rich should take heed of Zuckerberg’s land battle
White Supremacists Cheer: Gabbard Talks Up Trump-Syria Unity
CB: …Critics say that a meeting with a member of Congress enhanced Assad’s credibility and that it was naïve, or even treacherous, for her to go there.
Gabbard’s trip “raised alarms,” wrote The Guardian, a British news site. “Tulsi Gabbard’s Fascist Escorts to Syria,” was the headline on a piece by The Daily Beast. The Daily Kos called her a “stooge” for the Syrian president, who has killed thousands of dissidents, allegedly including by poison gas.
The secret trip angered some of her congressional colleagues, according to The Hill, a political news site.
Gabbard, a combat veteran who served in Iraq, has also been praised in some circles for making the trip. A group of Syrians posting on a website called Progressive Democrats of America called the visit “courageous.” A story about the trip on AntiWar.Blog attracted applause from people who oppose U.S. military intervention and high levels of military spending.
Gabbard, a Hindu of Samoan descent, has also been lauded by white supremacists David Duke, the former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, and Richard B. Spencer. In a tweet, Spencer said Gabbard is “brave and the kind of person we need in the diplomatic corps.”
WT: Gabbard: 'Shared interest' of crushing Islamic State could unite Assad, Trump
read … Gabbard Stooge?