OHA Draft Audit: Millions given to those who “know how and who to ask”
Elections: Candidate Filing Begins Today
Honolulu Neighborhood Boards--27 Vacant Positions
Shield Internet from Jones Act
Hawaii Tourism Industry Set New Record Totals in 2017
Dental Health--Hawaii Ranks 15th
House War: Sex Harassment Claim Deployed Against Souki as Speaker Saiki Strikes back Against Enemies
SA: …Former state Department of Human Services Director Rachael Wong has filed a sexual harassment complaint against former House Speaker Joe Souki — a political icon from Maui who for decades has been one of the most powerful lawmakers in the state.
(OK. What about the other three legislators who have been charged with sex-harassment? When will we find out who they are?)
Wong, when reached for comment by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, would not describe incidents or circumstances that triggered her filing against Souki, other than to say the events she described in her complaint occurred “in the course of my work.”…
Wong said she won’t discuss specifics because those details are the subject of her formal complaint, which is currently under investigation by the Hawaii State Ethics Commission. “I don’t want to talk about the actual case because now there’s a process going on,” she said.
After the incident, “I was unable to do my job,” Wong said. “There were constraints after that experience where I could no longer do my job, which means paying visits to, speaking with, the key people involved in government.”
Souki, 84, refused to comment on the complaint Wednesday, and referred questions to his lawyer Michael Green. Green said Wong is complaining about an incident three years ago when Souki was speaker, and Wong attended a meeting in Souki’s office with another representative.
“She went to shake his hand, and he kissed her goodbye,” Green said. “What she said was, they spoke, and he made some comment about being ‘perky,’ and I don’t know what that means, and it was three years ago, but when she went to shake his hand goodbye, I think he kissed her on the cheek.”…
Wong also alleged that when Souki got up from his chair after the meeting, “he adjusted his pants,” Green said….
KHON: “In the moment and during my tenure with the state, I felt powerless to do anything due to the risk of retaliation against me, the department, and the executive branch. It is an abuse of power and representative of where we are broken. I spoke about the incident for the first time with Gov. Ige after I transitioned out of the executive branch and later informed him that I was contemplating filing a complaint. He shared that he fully supported my decision and doing so aligned with his own integrity and values.” –Rachel Wong
HNN: Wong said the complaint was filed last fall and it is still under investigation.
read … Ex-House speaker Souki accused of sexual harassment
Kim Leads Pack In Congressional Campaign Cash
CB: …State legislators Donna Mercado Kim and Kaniela Ing both out-fundraised Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin by significant margins, according to campaign spending reports filed Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission.
Those reports show Kim brought in $172,510 in donations during the final quarter of 2017, from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, while Ing pulled in $82,757 in the same time frame…..
Chin only raised $27,535 from 31 donors, which include his previous boss — former Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle — as well as retired Hawaii Supreme Court associate justice Steven Levinson, lobbyist Bruce Coppa and former Attorney General David Louie….
Ing collected campaign payoffs from a handful of local lobbyists, including Coppa, Oshiro and Melissa Pavlicek. Esther Kiaana, a former Obama administration appointee to the U.S. Department of the Interior, also gave money to Ing’s campaign….
Campaign spending reports from Honolulu City Councilman Ernie Martin, who has also declared his candidacy for the 1st Congressional District, were not available Wednesday.
Martin didn’t officially set up his campaign committee until Jan. 6, which is after the reporting period…..
read … Kim Leads Pack In Congressional Campaign Cash
Ige raises more than $800,000 for re-election bid
SA: Gov. David Ige garnered more than $800,000 in campaign donations for his re-election bid through the end of the year — short of the $1 million he planned to raise in that time frame, but more than his Democratic opponent U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa.
Ige’s campaign raked in $810,903 in contributions for the reporting period covering July 1 to Dec. 31, according to a report filed today with the state Campaign Spending Commission. The donations add to more than $246,000 the campaign reported in cash on hand at the start of the period.
A total of 36 donors contributed the maximum $6,000 allowed for the election cycle, including 13 employees from the construction and engineering firm Bowers & Kubota Consulting. Other donors giving the maximum include attorneys Jeffrey Ono, Dean Yamamoto and Bert T. Kobayashi Jr.; Oceanit founder Patrick Sullivan; Matson Navigation Co. and Alexander & Baldwin HiPAC….
CB: Ige Leads Hanabusa In Campaign Fundraising For Governor’s Race
read … $800,000
State misled public on HI-EMA’s failings
SA: …This was a housecleaning that was overdue — and were it not for intense federal scrutiny and pressure of the two reports, one has to wonder whether the full story would have come to light at all.
That full story is a horror, revealing ineptitude that had put the public at risk from the start.
There were two reports, one an internal investigation ordered by state Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Joe Logan and headed by retired Brig. Gen. Bruce Oliveira. The second probe, from the Federal Communications Commission, is still ongoing but preliminary results also were issued.
That federal report concluded that the Jan. 13 alert went out not as a slip but because the warning officer believed the islands actually were under attack; additionally, poor communication between shift supervisors compounded the confusion.
And, according to the state’s internal investigation, the warning officer had confused drills and real events at least twice before and had undergone counseling.
Neither Gov. David Ige nor any of the HI-EMA officials had revealed that publicly. Instead, they insisted that corrections had been made, seemingly wanting to move on.
Further, it’s mystifying why someone who had demonstrated such a shortcoming continued at this important post. This had been a matter of agency record, and should have been corrected through the worker’s reassignment….
Related: Button Pusher Was HGEA Member—10 Years ‘’Troubled’ Employee’
read … State misled public on HI-EMA’s failings
Ex-Hawaii official now says he resigned after false alert
SA: …A Hawaii emergency management official who said last week that his retirement had nothing to do with a mistaken missile alert that stirred panic statewide now says it was because of the fallout from the warning.
Toby Clairmont said today that he stepped down as executive officer of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency because it was clear action would be taken against agency leaders after the Jan. 13 alert….
Big Q: How confident are you that the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency will fix problems brought to light by the missile false alarm?
KGI: Getting harder to believe what we’re told
Related: Button Pusher Was HGEA Member—10 Years ‘’Troubled’ Employee’
read … Resigned
New $30M defense missile fails in test off Kauai
SA: A $30 million missile touted as a possible
second layer of defense for Hawaii from North Korean threats reportedly failed in its first-ever flight from Kauai’s Aegis Ashore facility today when it did not intercept a target representing an intermediate-range ballistic missile….
Meanwhile: Hanabusa Blocks Missile Defense for Hawaii
read … Hanabusa Fails
Howard Hughes Bought Off Oahu Burial Council Leader
CB: …“The (developer’s) leadership team has never needed any convincing as to why they have to care for burials,” said Kumu Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, a Hawaiian activist who is also chair of the O’ahu Island Burial Council, which manages Native Hawaiian burial sites and ancestral remains….
2015: Oahu Burial Council Chair on Payroll of Kakaako Developer
read … Bought
Con Con delegates had little to say about Hawaiian as “official language”
ILind: The dispute in a Wailuku courtroom last week over the request by a defendant to speak in the Hawaiian language called attention to a provision in the Hawaii State Constitution which makes Hawaiian an official language of the state, alongside English….
Article XV, Section 4, was proposed by the 1978 Constitutional Convention and approved by voters in that year’s election. It provides simply:
English and Hawaiian shall be the official languages of Hawaii, except that Hawaiian shall be required for public acts and transactions only as provided by law.”
In order to get a better sense of what the constitutional provision means, I went back to the proceedings of the 1978 Constitutional Convention, where the amendment originated.
So what did the delegates have to say about the second language provision?
Surprisingly, very little….
CB: Interpreter Incident Illustrates Invisibility Of Native Hawaiians
Related: Con-Con Journals for All State Constitutions Now Online (1950, 1968 & 1978)
read … Con Con delegates had little to say about Hawaiian as “official language”
Sheriffs will now get involved in Coco Palms occupation
HNN: On Wednesday, the Hawaii Department of Public Safety released a statement saying, "The Sheriff Division has received the official request for assistance from the property owner's representative. The Sheriffs will work with the property owner, KPD and the occupants towards a resolution to this matter. For safety and security reasons, we are not at this time, free to discuss any strategies that may be utilized in any related enforcement action.
read … Sheriffs
Anti-GMO Activists Continue to Harass Seed Industry in Court
KGI: A Kauai hui involved in a lawsuit against the Hawaii Department of Natural Resources and the agroscience company Syngenta is continuing efforts to require the seed company to conduct an environmental review of their ongoing operations on the island’s Westside.
On Wednesday, Ke Kauhulu O Mana filed an appeal against a December order handed down in the environmental court on Kauai that rejected their argument that the state and Syngenta had failed to comply with HRS chapter 343, which governs Environmental Impact Statements.
The hui wants agroscience companies, starting with Syngenta, to conduct the lengthy assessments of their impacts to the environment because of alleged health and environment risks that come with the operations….
read … Harassment
MECO Pushing 9.3% Rate Hike
MN: …If the increase is approved, the typical Maui residential bill for 500-kilowatt hours would increase by $13.46 a month to $161.10. On Lanai, a typical home bill for 400-kilowatt hours would raise bills by $13.83 a month to $160.55, and on Molokai bills would increase $11.25 a month to $147.60, also for 400-kilowatt hours….
Maui Electric Co.’s request for a 9.3 percent rate hike to boost revenue by $30 million….to cover costs of improving the grid….to help accelerate the switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Since 2008, MECO’s use of renewable energy has risen from 14 percent to 37 percent.
(See how this works?)
read … Only 3 show for hearing on MECO’s rate hike plan
Measure again seeks to have Airbnb collect taxes
SA: …Lawmakers are again weighing legislation that would allow Airbnb to collect for the state an estimated $30 million a year in taxes generated by short-term rentals marketed on the popular home-sharing platform.
Senate Bill 2999 is the latest attempt by the Legislature to come up with a system to capture general excise and transient accommodations taxes from Airbnb and other companies that facilitate transient rentals.
Opponents have faulted past proposals for appearing to turn a blind eye to operators of illegal vacation rentals in exchange for the tax revenue. Critics say past efforts — including a bill that Gov. David Ige vetoed in 2016 — would have allowed the continued proliferation of short-term rentals that they contend reduce the supply of housing for local residents and overwhelm residential neighborhoods. Hotels also cry foul because many short-term rentals don’t pay transient accommodations taxes.
By some counts there are 30,000 illegal short-term rentals in Hawaii….
read … Measure again seeks to have Airbnb collect taxes
Make Tourists Pay $75 to DLNR to go on Fishing Boat
KHON: If Senate Bill 2052 goes through, you’ll have to get a permit to fish in the ocean as well….
“I don’t like that kind of stuff. I like it free, so all the fisherman can enjoy their lives and passion,” said William James Masao Oaki.
The proposal calls for recreational fisherman to purchase a yearly permit for $5. Non-residents would have to pay much more.
The money would go into a sport fish special fund under DLNR.
SB2052: “The resident fee for licenses issued beginning August 1, 2019, and ending June 30, 2021, shall not be set at more than $15 per year; The non-resident fee shall be at least five times the amount of the resident fee;….”
read … Go Fish
MeToo# to Become Part of DoE Sex Ed Curriculum?
HTH: The bill is filed as House Bill 2430 and companion Senate Bill 2368. It would mandate the state Department of Education create a program for students in pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade on child abuse and child sexual abuse prevention through “developmentally appropriate and evidenced-based instruction.”
HB2430: Text, Status
read … Sex Ed
Senate bill to ban plastic straws in Hawaii passes committee
HNN: “This bill did not take into consideration the needs of the disabled. Many children and adults with disabilities require the need of a straw to drink. It is one thing for the senate to attempt to ban the use of straws in eating establishments but it is an entirely different matter for the state to attempt to ban the sale of straws for private consumption. I understand the intentions of the environmentalists to bring attention to this matter and raise awareness to reduce the use of straws but a complete ban discriminates against the disabled and causes more hardship than the population already endures.”
IM: Hawai`i Sustainability Activists Discuss Plastic Pollution
SB2285: Text, Status
read … Senate bill to ban plastic straws in Hawaii passes committee
Council Votes to Squelch ‘Monster’ Affordable Housing
HPR:…The current version of Bill 110 would temporarily stop the issuance of building permits for homes larger than 3,500 square feet. All exceptions would have to be approved by the Honolulu City Council. Alexander and Baldwin Properties senior vice president, Alan Arakawa, testified on the bill and says it would impact residential lot owners the most….
Businessman Victor Young supports the moratorium on Monster Homes but doesn’t support Bill 110 as currently written.
“A lot of families are consolidating homes. They are actually moving in with their kupuna to maybe take care of them in the future. And if there’s a stop in permits for two years just to do this research, it will, number one, hurt the economy and actually not help the situation itself.”….
A special meeting for the Planning Committee and Bill 110 is scheduled for Monday. Wayne Yoshioka, HPR News.
read … Affordable Monsters
Areas Around Schools And Libraries May Be Next For Sit-Lie Ban
CB:…The Honolulu City Council approved a bill to prohibit lying down at bus stops, but postponed action on schools and libraries….Mateo Caballero, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii, submitted testimony opposing the bill. (But did not offer to let the homeless stay at his home.)
SA: Wednesday Council Votes
HB2012: Giving homeless (in resort areas) a ticket to fly
HMB: HOUSE COMMITTEE MEMBERS VISIT KAHAUIKI VILLAGE FOR HOMELESS FAMILIES
read … Good News
Kawananakoa Case to be Heard
AP: A hearing is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 8.
Background: Kawananakoa Estate: Sex, Drugs, and Inequality
read … Hawaii's 'last princess' fights for control of her fortune
Soft on Crime: Lunatic Gets out Again and Again
HNN: …Early Tuesday morning, fire crews responded to a massive three-alarm blaze. An abandoned home was destroyed, and the two-story residence next to it was also damaged.
The fire is now being investigated as an arson case.
Within hours, police had arrested Jonathan Laronal, Jr. The 50-year-old has a well documented history of mental illness, and court records show he's spent years bouncing between jail, care homes and the state hospital.
In 2015, he left prison after doing time for stabbing his caregiver in the head and the chest while he slept.
Neighbors say their trouble with Laronal began last summer, when he moved into the abandoned home. His arrival, they say, was followed by a trail of destruction. Every time police arrested Laronal, neighbors say he'd be back within days.
"He's been a real terrorizer to our community. He burnt down a car a few weeks ago. Just yesterday, my neighbors had to put out a fire that was started," said Pacleb….
Meanwhile: Former death row inmate wants to represent himself in sex trafficking case
read … Arson
After 20 Years, Kihei HS Site gets a Sign
MN: Well, the construction of the new high school for South Maui continues at breakneck speed.
As we reported last January, less than two decades after it was first proposed and two years after the groundbreaking attended by a passel of politicians, there is a little blue sign on the site of the school that reads:
State of Hawaii
NEW HIGH SCHOOL
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
Superintendent Kathryn S. Matayoshi
Governor David Y. Ige
So far, that is the only visible sign of progress — but it is a sign. A little blue sign.
But don’t let 2016’s and 2017’s tremendous strides get you too excited. The estimate in 2014 of $130 million for the build-out of the school will probably go up by $75 million to $100 million since it will be built in pieces.
Apparently, the blue sign was the first piece.
WHT: Red tape: Honokaa High School gym completion further delayed
read … A sign of progress?
DLNR to help get gun ranges on Big Island
WHT: Long-awaited shooting ranges for the Big Island could take some incremental steps forward, the county Game Management Advisory Commission learned Monday evening.
Officials with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources said two areas traditionally used for target practice, the Manuka Natural Area Reserve in South Kona and mauka of the 16-mile marker on Saddle Road, could be reassigned as shooting ranges under current state law.
Robert Farrell, DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement, said the Saddle Road project could come up before the Board of Land and Natural Resources as early as Feb. 23.….
read … Range
Lowe’s to hand out bonuses, sweeten benefits Thanks to Republican tax cuts
AP: Home improvement chain Lowe’s Cos. says it’s handing out bonuses of up to $1,000 for its more than 260,000 hourly employees, as it becomes the latest major employer to invest in its workers after Congress approved a tax cut that will help businesses.
The chain, based in Mooresville, North Carolina, also will be sweetening benefits for maternity and parental leave as well as offering adoption assistance for the first time.
With the change, Lowe’s is now offering paid maternity and parental leave where full-time hourly and salaried employees will receive full pay for 10 weeks maternity and two weeks parental leave. Previously, pay for maternity leave was under the Lowe’s short-term disability plan where full-time salaried employees received 100 percent of pay for six weeks and full-time hourly employees received 60 percent of base pay for six weeks, according to Jackie Pardini Hartzell, a company spokeswoman….
read … Thank a Republican