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‘Sanctuary State?’—Hawaii Dems Pass Toothless Resolution to Fool Base
SA: A resolution urging city and county police to refuse to help federal agencies deport illegal immigrants was approved by a key House committee Thursday, but the leading sponsor of the measure said it isn’t meant to make Hawaii a “sanctuary” state.
House Judiciary Committee Vice Chairwoman Joy San Buenaventura said she introduced House Concurrent Resolution 125 at the request of a group called Hawaii J20+, which has been lobbying lawmakers to make Hawaii a “hookipa” or welcoming state for immigrants.
The resolution asks the city and counties in Hawaii to refrain from spending any state or local funds under any agreement that would make local law enforcement a partner with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for the purposes of immigration enforcement.
It also urges local law enforcement authorities to refuse to engage in any other law enforcement activities “that collaborate with ICE or any other federal law enforcement agency in connection with the deportation of undocumented immigrants who have not been convicted of committing a violent crime.”
The House Judiciary Committee approved the measure with little discussion, and only Rep. Bob McDermott voted against it.
“I am concerned that this is nothing but a thinly veiled poke in the president’s eye about being a sanctuary city,” said McDermott (R, Ewa Beach-Iroquois Point). “We are a welcoming state, we welcome everybody, but they gotta come here legally. There’s a rule of law.”…
San Buenaventura said the resolution “walks a fine line” but stops short of designating Hawaii as a sanctuary state, and will not result in punishment for the state.
“It is a policy. We haven’t actually done anything in furtherance of that, other than to say this is what we believe the policy of the state of Hawaii should be,” she said.
A spokeswoman for the Honolulu Police Department said in a written statement the department wants the public to know its officers do not actively participate in immigration enforcement, and the department does not keep immigration data.
“All HPD arrests are based on suspected criminal activity, not immigration violations,” according to the statement. “However, there are occasions when federal authorities, such as the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, will request that an individual who has been arrested by HPD be transferred to federal custody. This occurs infrequently as immigration enforcement is primarily a federal function, but we do honor specific requests when made by federal authorities.”
Hawaii island police Maj. Sam Thomas said in an interview he believes the resolution is “somewhat shortsighted.” Thomas cited the case of undocumented immigrant Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, who allegedly shot 32-year-old Katie Steinle on a San Francisco pier in 2015….
VIDEO: Reps. McDermott and Ward Address H.R. 76 Ho'okipa State; Federal Immigration Laws
WHT: House resolution asks state to disengage from federal immigration enforcement requests
BB: Trump's Laptop Ban Is Proof His Hands Aren't Tied, Hawaii Says
read … Democrat Base is Easily Fooled
HB1518: Bill could limit access to public records
HTH: A state bill that could limit access to public records was referred to its final Senate committee this week.
House Bill 1518, introduced by Oahu Rep. Scott Saiki, would allow for a Circuit Court to declare a public records requester a “vexatious requester.”
Such a determination would be made if an agency can demonstrate the requester in question is abusing his or her right to public records.
“Very occasionally, extreme situations arise when a small number of requesters make records requests with the intent to harass an agency,” the bill states.
The Hawaii Public Housing Authority testified during the most recent Senate hearing that “two individuals have regularly made up over 60 percent of HPHA’s UIPA requests (one reaching 85 percent in a recent UIPA report). … In the most vexatious instance, the individual would send a copy of the same letter multiple times throughout the year, all with the same date of the original letter.”
Hawaii Health Systems Corp. also supported the bill, submitting in its testimony email exchanges between several agencies and Kailua-Kona residents Tom Russi and Christine Paul. Russi and Paul first started filing records requests in West Hawaii about 20 years ago.
Other state agencies such as the University of Hawaii system and the Department of Agriculture have supported the bill as well.
Brian Black, executive director of the nonprofit Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest, pointed out in his testimony that according to available records, UH had received just 42 nonroutine records requests over the past three fiscal years. The most frequent requesters to UH were all news reporters.
“Applying the ‘vexatious’ label to frequent requesters to those departments would seem politically motivated to silence the news media and community advocates, not protect agency efficiency,” Black said.
The Big Island Press Club issued its own statement on the matter, stating the importance of legislation not being “used as a means to block or hinder media access and the public’s right to know.
“The BIPC is concerned that this legislation could be used to unjustly hamper the gathering and dissemination of news by media outlets and individual reporters, or impair access to public information by ordinary citizens. It is important that the Legislature acts in the public’s best interest to ensure people’s ability to remain accurately informed.”
1998: Paul and Russi “want the Hawaii Medical Service Association to show in detail why it paid only $10,000 of the $24,000 bill for Paul's emergency appendectomy in May 1996.”
read … Vexatious?
Amazon will collect sales taxes nationwide starting April 1
CNBC: Amazon, the online merchandise juggernaut, will collect sales taxes from all states with a sales tax starting April 1.
Tax-free shopping will be over as of next month in Hawaii, Idaho, Maine and New Mexico, the four remaining holdouts….
read … Amazon will collect sales taxes nationwide on April 1
HB1580 Abolish Gasoline and Diesel Vehicles
IM: HB 1580 which “establishes a clean ground transportation benchmark framework to maximize consumer fuel savings, including a near term 2025 target encouraging electric vehicle infrastructure build-out supporting Hawaii's goal for the reduction and ultimate elimination of the use of imported fuels for ground transportation by 2045.”
The bill goes before its last committee, the Senate Ways and Means Committee, later this week….
read … Pie in the Sky is Profitable to Insiders
Audit of tourism authority is urged
SA: The Senate’s Economic Development, Tourism and Technology Committee advanced two resolutions Friday asking the state auditor to conduct the audit and submit findings and recommendations, including proposed legislation, at least 20 days prior to the 2018 legislative session.
“We have a situation with a board with minimal amounts of tourism background and a staff with minimal amounts of tourism background making decisions for our No. 1 industry,” Sen. Glenn Wakai (D, Kalihi- Salt Lake), committee chairman, said during a Friday hearing.
George Szigeti, HTA president and CEO since May 2015, said the agency is opposed to doing an audit now, when state law requires the agency to undergo a management audit every five years with the next one scheduled for 2018….
The hearing follows weeks of negative publicity about HTA’s lack of transparency. State senators excoriated the agency, which gets $108.5 million in public funds to market state tourism and oversee the Hawai‘i Convention Center, in early January for refusing to provide unredacted budgets. HTA took more heat after a Honolulu Star-Advertiser article highlighted the frequency of its closed-door executive sessions, and Sen. Donna Mercado Kim (D, Kalihi Valley-Moanalua-Halawa) asked the state attorney general to determine whether HTA had violated open-meeting requirements.
The newspaper battled since November to get HTA to release individual prices for sporting events, taking it all the way to the Office of Information Practices. The Star-Advertiser dropped its appeal this month when the agency finally released the information.
A transparency bill, Senate Bill 1084, introduced by Wakai, survived crossover and continues to move, albeit in a weakened form. Waters were muddied in February when critics accused Wakai of conflicts because his wife, Miki Wakai, had resigned from HTA. Still, the bill made it through the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. To continue moving, the bill must make it through another conflict. It must be scheduled by the House Committee on Finance, which is chaired by Rep. Sylvia Luke, who is employed as an attorney at Cronin, Fried, Sekiya, Fairbanks, the same law firm where Fried works.
Mufi Hannemann, president and CEO of the Hawai‘i Lodging & Tourism Association, told the Star-Advertiser that the visitor industry group desires the audit, which “offers another means for taxpayers to be assured that public dollars are expended efficiently and wisely.”
Hannemann, who was a finalist for Szigeti’s position, said his concerns reflect the interests of HLTA, which includes more than 500 industry members.
“HTA’s internal governance practices, which have come under fire by key legislators and industry stakeholders, point to a need for more openness and transparency in the administration of a public agency dispensing public money and greater accountability,” Hannemann said.
He said HTA used to be a dues-paying member of HLTA, but Szigeti ended that relationship and declined to participate with HLTA in Tourism Day at the state Capitol.
“I’ve not been to the HLTA. It’s been difficult; you probably understand why,” Szigeti told Wakai during Friday’s hearing.
David Uchiyama, president and CEO of Island Air, also sent testimony in support of the audit. Uchiyama formerly served as HTA’s vice president of brand management, and at one time was being considered to lead the organization. He was fired by Szigeti as part of a reorganization; however, his name is among those that the Senate has sent to Gov. David Ige for consideration in filling a seat on the HTA board….
read … Audit
Law exists to help mentally ill get treatment, but few resources available to do so
HNN: …Shaky cell phone video captured the final seconds of an intimidating encounter on Tuesday with Robert Glenn Hall, a homeless man who can be seen punching the passenger side of car window with two women inside.
With one look at his criminal record, you'll see it was far from his first violent outburst.
Over the course of the past ten years, Hall has been convicted of 63 misdemeanor crimes, including assault and disorderly conduct. He's been found guilty of harassment 20 times, and on average has served about two weeks in jail before being released and reoffending.
The head of the Institute for Human Services says it's a cycle she's all too familiar with.
"We see it a lot of the time, where someone is repeatedly picked up for mental health type behaviors or behavior related to substance abuse," said Connie Mitchell, the Institute's executive director.
Although there is a law in place to help people diagnosed with mental illness undergo court supervised treatment, advocates say it's rarely utilized.
Each case requires an attorney, as well as a psychiatrist who is willing to file a petition with the court, to treat the patient. A social worker is also needed to help the person through the process.
Often times, the patient will need to be admitted to a treatment center.
"Some people need hospitalization to be stabilized. It used to be that we had the state hospital, but the state hospital is just jam packed with people," says Mitchell.
In order to be declared unfit to stand trial, state law says three psychiatrists must examine patients accused of felony crimes. Hawaii is the only state in the country with that requirement.
But due to the state's lack of qualified examiners, offenders spend an average of four months at the state hospital, making the backlog there even longer….
Experts say changes that need to be made to fix some of the problems could be years down the road….
read … Law exists to help mentally ill get treatment, but few resources available to do so
HB1281: Bill to give homeless day jobs advances
SA: Temporary jobs through a work-for-a-day pilot project would put homeless individuals to work on public-service tasks such as litter cleanup and graffiti erasure under House Bill 1281, introduced by Rep. Chris Lee (D, Kailua-Lanikai-Waimanalo).
Similar programs in Albuquerque, N.M., and other cities around the country have proved successful.
“It’s a way for homeless individuals to be able to earn a few dollars, a meal, and step up for themselves,” Lee said. “More importantly, it is a tool that brings them into the network of social services that can be provided and puts them on the radar screen for the very first time like no other program has ever been able to do.”
Along with earned hourly wages, costs involved with mental health services and substance abuse treatment would be covered for chronically homeless workers in the program.
The program created by the bill would run for three years, until 2019.
read … Bill to give homeless day jobs advances
Tough Love: Diamond Head Homeless Sweep Forcers Six to Finally Accept Shelter
SA: The cleanup of 40 or so homeless encampments on the slopes of Diamond Head State Monument will stretch into a third consecutive day today as a private contractor continues to break down the encampments and haul out tons of trash.
By Thursday afternoon workers from T&M Environmental had filled two 30-foot dumpsters and expected to finish up today….
Seven homeless people were cited as the sweeps began, two of them agreed to go into homeless shelters Wednesday and another agreed Thursday, said Scott Morishige, the state’s homeless coordinator. Two others were referred to shelters, he said. Previously, two military veterans who had been living on the crater were placed in permanent housing.
T&M Environmental workers found 20 to 30 bicycle frames that had been stripped of parts, Dennison said. The frames were turned over to DOCARE officers….
KHON: Rockfall hazards to be removed along makai side of Diamond Head
read … Six off the Streets
Unreasonable Abercrombie Angry at Legislators--Wants Death for Expensive Oldsters
HNN: …Abercrombie wants lawmakers to use a procedure that would bring the measure before the full house.
"You can remove a bill from committee, take it to the floor and vote on the floor. And what I'm hoping and advocating for is that this bill get a vote," he said.
But state House Majority Leader Scott Saiki defended the committee. He said it had already listened to hours of passionate testimony, both for and against the bill, before deciding not to take action.
"Neil Abercrombie should understand that a bill like this is very significant, it's very controversial," said Saiki. "There are a lot of different opinions on how this legislation should be drafted."
Seventeen representatives would have to agree to pull the measure out of the committee for a full house vote….
Saiki said that's unlikely to happen with this measure.
"What he's asking for is not reasonable, and it's something we will not do," he said.
read … About Why we Got Rid of Abercrombie
Honolulu Prosecutor faces intense criticism for management of domestic violence safe house
HNN: A multi-million dollar Honolulu safe house meant to be utilized by victims of domestic violence is being criticized by advocates at both the local and national levels for failing to live up to its mission.
The founders of the Family Justice Center told Honolulu City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro, in a letter dated Thursday, to either change the Hawaii center's policies or change its name, saying he is not following proper guidelines.
The safe house, which is maintained by the prosecutor's office, is also called the Honolulu Family Justice Center, the Kaneshiro says he does intend on changing the name.
read … Domestic violence safe house
How Hawaii Paroling Authority Finds Excuses to Let Criminals Out Again and Again
KHON: The Hawaii Paroling Authority decides the minimum time a criminal must serve before he or she is eligible for parole.
The authority looks at three main areas: the nature of the offense, the degree of injury or loss, and the offender’s criminal history.
read … How long should a criminal remain behind bars? Factors behind a minimum sentence
Ookala residents say runoff from dairy is contaminating streams, community
HNN: Another community is up in arms over an island dairy farm, but this time it's on Hawaii Island and not Kauai….
Back in 2014, state Health Department inspectors found that runoff from the dairy did get into some streams, but no fines were ever issued.
But in a report on inspections conducted last year, the department said it found "no definitive evidence that Big Island Dairy discharged waste water from its lagoon system."
The Health Department says it's still investigating.
read … It Spreads