Happy New Year, Hawaii, now pay up!
Christian Brothers Oust Damien School President
US Solicitor General Urges Supreme Court to Hear Maui Injection Wells Case
Bum Patrol: Security Contract Expands to Windward, North Shore Parks
Luke: DoE Lied to Legislature About Maintenance Backlog
CB: … Luke asked Kami to address a statement made last year by DOE officials about the backlog of repair and maintenance work needed for school buildings.
Last session, Luke said, the DOE said it had used legislative appropriations to decrease the backlog from $750 million 10 years ago to $293 million.
“That was a lie,” Luke said, putting a fine point on the issue. “Now the backlog is $850 million.”
Kami didn’t dispute that the backlog had actually ballooned to $850 million, but he also seemed at a loss for a response as Luke pressed him about whether it concerned the administration that the DOE had dramatically changed its story. Kami repeatedly said a study to find answers was in order; to Luke the issue was that the DOE had misled the Legislature.
“Does that bother the Department of Budget and Finance or the governor’s office?” she asked. “Does that bother you at all?” ….
SA: DOE lied about school repair backlog, Luke says
read … If You Thought Legislature Would Bury The Hatchet With Ige, Think Again
Attorney on Nude Pics: “Katherine Kealoha's apparent need to express herself in unusual ways"
KITV: … Ebersole's attorney, Donald Wilkerson, tells KITV4 the news articles about the pictures "sensationalize otherwise irrelevant information."
He sent us this statement:
"If the recent information reported by the Honolulu media regarding Mr. Ebersole was presented to a federal grand jury as sworn testimony, the Honolulu media would be indicted in federal court for conspiracy to lie to a federal grand jury. Shame, shame, shame. The Honolulu press continues to dishonor the 1st Amendment."
He adds Erbersole's defense team was not made aware of any of the scandalous photos, and his guilty plea was based on genuine remorse for his conduct and "had nothing to do with Katherine Kealoha's apparent need to express herself in unusual ways." ….
read … Firefighter's attorney's not happy with news stories about clients explicit messages to Katherine Kealoha
Feds say explicit photos led to Big Island firefighter in Kealoha case
ILind: … Sexually explicit photographs were found on at least one phone seized when federal agents raided the residences of Louis and Katherine Kealoha in October 2017.
Prosecutors disclosed the existence of the photos during a court hearing in August 2018. A transcript of the hearing became available through the federal court’s online PACER system this week.
Michael Wheat, a San Diego-based Deputy U.S. Attorney who is the lead prosecutor in the Kealoha cases, said during the August hearing that once authorities were able to get access to the contents of the locked phones, they found “photographs of nudity and genitalia” which “relate to Ms. Kealoha’s relationship with Jesse Ebersole….” ….
At least two devices, a phone and an iPad, were still locked and inaccessible to prosecutors as of the hearing date in August, according to statements made during the hearing. It isn’t currently known whether prosecutors have since managed to gain access to them….
read … Feds say explicit photos led to Big Island firefighter in Kealoha case
Deputy AGs Urged Ige to Reappoint Suzuki
CB: … Doug Chin was Ige’s attorney general for most of his first term and gained national attention for representing Hawaii in challenges to President Donald Trump’s travel ban. Chin then served as lieutenant governor before making an unsuccessful run for Congress.
Ige said Thursday the Trump administration has continued to introduce policies that don’t match the values or views of Hawaii. But he added that Connors’ primary duty wouldn’t be to challenge the administration.
“We’d have to look at those issues as they come up,” Ige said. “She’d be working on behalf of the people.”
Ige’s appointment comes several days after a letter circulated among the deputy attorneys general stating their support for Suzuki and urging the governor to reappoint him.
“It is difficult to imagine our department without Russell at the helm. He keeps our department running smoothly and provides the necessary guidance and support to the supervisors of the divisions. Our supervisors are effective leaders, in large part because of the example that Russell sets,” the letter said….
read … Ige Selects Trial Lawyer To Be Hawaii’s New Attorney General
Star-Adv: Legislature Should Pass Automatic Recount Law
SA Editorial: … Cases such as this one have spurred legislators to seek a change in Hawaii laws on recounts, but none has succeeded. In the most recent failure, Senate Bill 247 passed the Senate in 2017 and carried over to the 2018 session but died in the House. It proposed that a recount would be automatic in very close elections.
Specifically, the chief elections officer or county clerk would conduct a recount if the vote difference between the apparent winner and the closest opponent is less than 250 votes, or less than 1 percent of the total votes cast in the contest, whichever number is smaller.
There wasn’t a flood of testimony on the bill. Primarily the response came from Scott Nago, chief elections officer for the state Office of Elections. He did not take a position on it but asserted that the bill should set a timetable enabling a potentially revised general-election ballot to be printed, in cases of a primary-election recount that changed the outcome.
In addition, Nago rightly argued in written testimony that the law would have to clarify whether races other the one in dispute could be certified before the recount, or if those vote tallies would need to be updated as well.
Nago rightly added that the law should affirm the original results of those other races, even if the recount of the disputed election pushes the other contests into recount territory….
read … Review standard for vote recount
Police officer indicted in Kealoha corruption case to change plea
KHON: … Sgt. Daniel Sellers previously plead not guilty to charges of making false statements to a federal officer and tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant.
Prosecutors allege Sellers was involved in a plot to frame Katherine Kealoha's uncle, Gerard Puana, in the 2013 theft of the Kealohas' mailbox.
Puana was tried in federal court, but the case ended in a mistrial.
In the indictment, authorities say the mailbox plot was carried out to hide the "precarious financial condition and prior malfeasance" of the trust accounts of Gerald Puana and Katherine's grandmother, Florence Puana.
Sellers and Katherine Kealoha met in high school, dated for several years, and continued a social and professional relationship while Katherine worked as a prosecutor. (Another one of KK’s boyfriends.)
A hearing on Sellers' request to change his plea has been scheduled for Jan. 11….
read … Police officer indicted in Kealoha corruption case to change plea
Judge rules prison must accommodate Sovereignty Movement Recruitment
KITV: … A circuit court judge rules the state Department of Public Safety violated a prisoner's right to practice his Native Hawaiian religion. The Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation filed the suit on behalf of Halawa Correctional Facility inmate Robert Holbron. Alleging, the state failed to respond to several of Holbron's requests including: being allowed outside at sunrise for group worship and being allowed to build a stone alter or ahu. ….
read … Judge rules prison must accommodate Native Hawaiian practices
Ballard Considers Allowing Lateral Transfers from Other departments
CB: … Mainland police departments are making it easy for rookie and veteran officers to relocate. With 246 vacancies, the HPD may start doing the same….
A single exam next month could put dozens of police officers in Hawaii on the path to a significant pay raise. That is, if they move to Seattle.
Welcome to today’s police recruiting wars. For the first time in more than 15 years, the Seattle Police Department is coming to the islands.
On Feb. 27, the Seattle department will offer “lateral” exams in Honolulu for new applicants and veteran officers….
Seattle is coming armed with much better salaries and more frequent raises. Starting salary for a police officer in Honolulu is $65,592 per year versus $81,444 for a newly sworn officer in Seattle. For veteran officers, the pay gap is even larger….
Police departments in Hawaii do not allow mainland officers to transfer directly here without having to go through the police academy and then weeks of additional field training. That can add up to more than six months.
HPD Chief Susan Ballard and her executive team have been looking at easing the lateral transfer policy in Honolulu, and it is one of her goals for 2019. HPD is reviewing policies used elsewhere.
(Of course this would mean letting officers in who are not part of the old boy system, hence the resistance.)
read … Honolulu Is Short On Cops — And Seattle Is Poaching
Windfarm Approvals: Nonsense in a Rush for Expiring Subsidies
IM: … Eurus then states why a 100% solar grid would be impractical. Since wind systems already exist on O`ahu, this is a nonsensical argument.
When considering applications, the Public Utilities Commission considers each on its merits. For example, will the project reduce rates? The Commission does not look at alternative projects within utility applications for a specific project.
A comparison between projects is done only within the Commission`s Competitive Bidding Framework, or in planning dockets, first with Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) in the 1991-2013 era, then Power Supply Improvement Plans (PSIP), and in the future, Integrated Grid Planning (IGP). Right now Hawai`i is in between the PSIP and IGP planning systems….
One reason for fast action on the wind application is because the federal tax credit for wind is due to expire at the end of 2019. On the other hand, HECO wants the solar plus storage projects to be approved in early 2019.
The solar projects do not need HRS 343 environmental review. The wind project will need to complete an Environmental Assessment. State law requires the EA to be filed at the earliest reasonable time.
Life of the Land, one of three intervenors in the wind application proceeding before the Public Utilities Commission, wonders why the EA was not included in the HECO filing with the Commission, and whether that omission was legal ….
read … Hawaiian Electric Transparency Questioned
43 pedestrians died on Hawaii roadways in 2018. That’s more than the number killed in vehicles
HNN: … In all last year, 43 pedestrians were killed in crashes statewide, according to preliminary figures from the state Transportation Department. Of those fatalities, 27 were on Oahu.
By comparison, 38 people who were occupants of vehicles died statewide in 2018.
That’s a stunning turnabout from 2017, when 15 pedestrians were killed and 60 occupants of vehicles died in crashes….
In all in 2018, some 117 people were killed on Hawaii roadways….
read … 43 pedestrians died on Hawaii roadways in 2018. That’s more than the number killed in vehicles
Elder Abuse Cases up 300%
KHON: … The number of cases prosecuted in the unit's ten years have grown exponentially.......from violent crimes - like murder, sex assault, to property crimes - like burglaries, car thefts - financial crimes, like counterfeit checks..
"We have seen an increase from when we started the unit to today we've seen an approximately 300 percent increase in crimes and people always ask me why, I don't know the answer," says Spallina. "When I first started out, I was getting one phone call per month, and now i'm getting multiple calls a day." ….
read … Elder abuse unit working to protect seniors year round
Soft on Crime: After 10 year Spree, Criminal Finally Gets Hard Time
MN: … Saying he had been wrong to give a Makawao man a chance on probation three years ago, a judge sentenced the defendant Thursday to prison terms totaling 30 years for burglaries and theft.
“You’re going to be sentenced today because you’ve committed new crimes that are essentially no different than the old crimes,” 2nd Circuit Judge Peter Cahill said in ordering consecutive prison terms for Cody Amaral. “The only thing that’s changed is the MO and the victims.” ….
The new crimes occurred from October 2016 to January 2017, while Amaral was on probation for 2014 crimes including burglary, theft and being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition. In October 2015, Amaral was sentenced to an 18-month jail term as part of five years’ probation.
At that time, Cahill said he had agreed to follow a plea agreement recommending probation for Amaral, in part because he had agreed to enter the Maui Drug Court program of intensive treatment and supervision.
But Amaral didn’t enter the program, Cahill said. He said Amaral also didn’t help recover nearly $40,000 in historic military memorabilia he had stolen from an uncle.
The judge noted that Amaral’s new crimes included stealing from an active-duty Navy member who was on the way to being deployed in the Middle East when her vacation rental was burglarized at Aina Nalu in Lahaina in January 2017….
“He’s an addict,” she said. “He’s been using drugs for over 10 years and he’s also been in the court system for just as long if not longer.”….
Amaral’s letter from his 2015 sentencing was “almost the same” as what he said in court Thursday, Cahill said.
“He is a remorseless person who merely says things,” Cahill said.
He read a letter submitted for Amaral’s 2015 sentencing from an aunt who had been victimized.
“We have watched Cody evolve into a person that has proven time and time again he cannot be trusted . . .” the letter said in part. “I have never seen Cody be remorseful, show empathy or ever take responsibility for his behavior or actions. He seems to have no conscience or compassion for others.
“This is not a person who will honor a second or third chance. This is so much deeper than just theft. This is about owning up to the pain and suffering he’s caused . . .
“I strongly believe our community will be at risk should he be let off for these offenses.”
Cahill said: “I made a serious, truly terrible error in judgment by sentencing you to probation the last time you were here. The bottom line is your aunt was right and I was wrong.”….
read … Soft on Crime
Tulsi Gabbard one of only Three to Vote Against PAYGO
TI: … The debate over the vote started Wednesday morning, when it became clear that the House rules package for the 116th Congress would include a fiscally conservative measure known as “pay-go.” A spokesperson for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., called for progressives in the House to oppose it. Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., was the first out of the gate, calling it “terrible economics” and promising to vote down the rules package. Ocasio-Cortez soon followed suit.
For a moment, it looked like a rebellion could brewing among the newly energized and organized left. Except it wasn’t. There was no stampede of opposition, and later that day, the co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Reps. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and Mark Pocan, D-Wisc., put out a statement in support of the rules package, ending any real chance at a last-minute insurrection.
The next evening, when the package hit the House floor, just three Democrats voted it down: Khanna and Ocasio-Cortez were joined by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, who has hinted at 2020 presidential aspirations.
Jayapal, who came to Congress as an organizer and has played a key role in shaping the progressive Democratic agenda on issues like immigration, said she was frustrated about how the debate was framed on social media, in newsletters, and in part by some outlets — this one included. The conversation, she said, lacked the full context of the ways in which the CPC had defanged pay-go.
The narrative that emerged “is so hurtful to the progressive movement because we got so much out of this,” Jayapal said. One result, she said, has been to take the focus off the CPC’s major organizing effort to pack powerful committees full of as many progressives as possible. Khanna and Ocasio-Cortez are both angling to land some of those coveted spots, and their opposition to the rules package could make it harder for them to do so….
CB: ‘I Feel The Energy’: Ed Case Returns To Congress
read … BEHIND THE PAY-GO BATTLE IS A CENTRAL CONTRADICTION THAT ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ AND HER ALLIES WILL NEED TO RESOLVE