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Thursday, February 07, 2019
February 7, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:20 PM :: 853 Views

Ethics: Rowena Akana Fined $23K--Trouble Began with OHA-Funded Scheme to Dig Up Kawaiahao Church Graveyard

Aquarium Fishing and Hawaiian Culture

Hawaii: Highest Sales Taxes Per Capita in USA 

Exposed: Meet the Activist Groups Organizing Drug Addicts into Homeless Tent Cities

SA: … Hui Aloha, a volunteer group of Oahu residents, and Ka Po‘e o Kaka‘ako (The People of Kaka‘ako, KPOK), members of the houseless community in Kakaako Gateway Park, have been working together for the past half-year to build community and trust on the mean streets of Kakaako, and to nurture responsibility for their... (keep the homeless out of shelters).

In November, KPOK leaders launched regular area cleanups, supported by Hui Aloha. At the beginning of January, they decided to make the cleanups a weekly event: Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon, with a potluck lunch afterward. After several weeks of cleanups, they decided to address the area around the Children’s Discovery Center. 

(Uh-huh)

This was right before center board Chairwoman Loretta Yajima’s commentary on the plight of the center came out in the Star-Advertiser (“Homeless may force center to close,” Island Voices, Jan. 16).

After the first cleanup on Jan. 26, and given the untenable situation at the center, the leaders of KPOK decided to ask their neighbors, who were staying in and around the center’s grounds, to move voluntarily. Around this time, police warned campers of impending “sweeps,” or forced relocations, of people camping near the center.

(Translation: They got swept.)

In response, KPOK’s leaders welcomed those campers to come and join them in the lower park, rather than be “swept.” By Wednesday morning, Jan. 30, everyone had moved away from the immediate area of the center voluntarily, saving the city and state money, time and resources….

(Translation: We took advantage of the sweep to bring more drug addicts into our homeless tent city.)

This past Saturday morning, KPOK members and their neighbors, Lt. Gov. Josh Green and his staff, (Translation: This goes to the top.) Hui Aloha volunteers, and friends from the Kalihi-Palama Health Center, gathered on the steps of the Children’s Discovery Center, in the soft rain, to do one more major cleanup. We made a circle, held hands and introduced ourselves. It was the first time Loretta and Liane Usher, president of the center, were meeting the leaders of KPOK.

(Translation: This is a secret group.)

Uncle John Ka‘ulupali, (2017) (2018) one of KPOK’s leaders, apologized — on behalf of himself and the others of the houseless community, for what had happened to the center…. Twinkle Borge, leader of Pu‘uhonua o Waianae, and her crew were waiting there to serve us her famous chicken hekka for lunch. Twinkle and her folks are members of Hui Aloha, too….

(Translation: All the homeless tent cities are organized by this group.)

(IQ Test: T/F -- These homeless ‘leaders’ are in charge, not the socialist activists and lawyers?)

read … Houseless move from Discovery Center grounds, with aloha

SA Editorial: OHA must improve to justify funding

SA: … Under House Bill 402 and companion Senate Bill 1363, doing the right thing would mean transferring $35 million annually from state coffers to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, double the current $15.1 million yearly — plus, about another $139 million in lump sum for underpayment of public land trust revenues since 2012.

Those substantial sums, alone, are enough to give pause. But the real hesitancy is due to OHA’s checkered history of financial mismanagement and public disputes. Giving so much more money to OHA without confidence in the quasi-state agency’s efficiency seems folly; there must be safeguards that OHA will manage and spend its money with discipline and transparency.

Unfortunately, OHA’s financial history includes a number of critical audits.

The most recent, a state auditor’s report last February, found that in fiscal years 2015 and 2016, OHA spent $14 million on “discretionary” disbursements, nearly double the $7.7 million it spent on planned, budgeted and properly publicized, vetted and monitored grants.

“We found that OHA has spent with little restraint, using Native Hawaiian Trust Fund moneys to pay for such things as the retirement benefits for a former trustee ($56,300), political donations, an international conservation convention ($500,000), as well as a beneficiary’s rent ($1,000), another beneficiary’s funeral-related clothing expenses ($1,000), and a trustee’s personal legal expenses ($1,500),” the audit said….

On the heels of that audit, reports swirled about state attorney general and federal inquiries into OHA. And still ongoing is a $500,000 independent audit that OHA commissioned into its own operations and subsidiary LLCs. First approved in 2017, the audit is finally underway, and in the interest of informing decisions, OHA must adhere to its targeted April completion….

HB 402 passed a House committee last week, and a hearing on SB 1363 is set for today….

Best Comment: “What the editorial says is yes, go ahead and give OHA both the doubling of its annual payment and the $139 Million in makeup money -- give OHA all that money upfront, says the editorial, and THEN afterward we hope that OHA will improve its way of doing business. That's utter nonsense.”.... 

Akina Feb, 2019: Legislators Pressure OHA on Audit, LLCs

Background: Broken Trust Flashback: Rep Holt Pushes Thru Increased Funding for OHA

read …  Editorial: OHA must improve to justify funding

Legislature Seeks to Reform OHA Elections

HPR: … “Right now, all OHA candidates can get is $1,500 in public funding for a statewide race which you know candidates have felt are very unfair,” says Waiʻanae Senator Maile Shimabukuro, who chairs the committee. “When you look at the Lieutenant Governor which I think is like $100,000 so its a dramatic difference.”

Senate Bill 728 seeks to increase the amount of public funding available to OHA candidates. It’s a measure supported by current OHA Trustee Keliʻi Akina.

“Each trustee, unlike a legislator, actually has to campaign on each and every island,” says Akina, “Therefore it would only be fair that they are able to raise an amount of money that allows them to do that.”

The bill passed out of committee with amendments that increase the amount to $42,000 per election year but only after candidates raise a minimum of $5,000.

Another bill proposed to place the names on a ballot in a random order, rather than alphabetical order. Something OHA beneficiary Kauʻi Pratt-Aquino hopes will allow candidates to move beyond name recognition.

“Itʻs no secret that a candidate with their last name starting with the letter A has an advantage over every other candidate in the race. And that has not have to do with merit at all,” says Pratt-Aquino, “What these bills try to do is put candidates on equal footing.”

Former OHA candidate Sam Wilder King II sees it as an opportunity to combat low voter participation in OHA races….

That issue is covered by Senate Bill 729 – which passed out of committee as is. Shimabukuro says it has a good chance of becoming law because it doesnʻt require any funding to implement. Former OHA candidate Esther Kiaʻāina testified in support of the legislature’s efforts….

read … Legislature Seeks to Reform OHA Elections

Louisiana Jungle Primary Dead: Statewide Romy Cachola Vote by Mail Plan on the Move

CB: … Perhaps the most dramatic proposal in the Legislature for changing Hawaii elections appears dead for this session as lawmakers opt for less controversial reforms.

Measures calling for the top two vote-getters in the August primaries to advance to the November general election regardless of their political party have been deferred in the House and a Senate measure has not been scheduled for a hearing….

Instead, measures calling for statewide all-mail voting and automatic recount in close races are moving ahead, along with other bills related to election campaigns….

Your Future: Vote by Mail Fraud: Romy Cachola Barged In, Wanted Ballots

read … Effort To Pump Up Voter Interest In Elections Goes Nowhere In Legislature

Hawaii Lawmakers Unanimously Approve Marijuana Legalization Bill In Committee

MM: … A Hawaii Senate committee approved a bill on Thursday to legalize marijuana for adults 21 older in the state.

Last week, the Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing and listened to spirited testimony from advocates and opponents of cannabis reform. When the committee reconvened for its latest meeting, they voted unanimously to advance the legislation forward.

“This is the first time, to the best of my knowledge, that a legislative committee here has moved a legalization bill,” Carl Bergquist, executive director of the advocacy group Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii (DPFH), told Marijuana Moment. “It’s very exciting.”…

SB686: Text, Status

read … Hawaii Lawmakers Unanimously Approve Marijuana Legalization Bill In Committee

Caldwell: The city could do a better job running schools than the state

HNN: …“Mayors and county councils are much closer to the people,” he said. “I think perhaps if the school system was managed by the local entity, there would be more reaction to the problems and addressing those problems.”

Hawaii has the nation’s only statewide public education system, with a single, centralized office overseeing all public schools. Because of that, Hawaii’s schools system is the ninth-largest in the country.

The single system also means that Hawaii schools are largely funded by legislative appropriations, not property taxes.

A switch to a city school system would almost certainly require a change in how property taxes are allocated on Oahu.

The teacher’s union, education department, and board of education all strongly oppose the proposal, which is before legislators….

read … Caldwell: The city could do a better job running schools than the state

House committee to decide whether funding for Kupuna Caregivers Program should continue

KITV: …Right now, under the program, working caregivers are given up to $70 a day to cover costs for adult day care, assisted transportation, home-delivered meals and personal care.

But Wednesday, the House Committee on Human Services and Homeless will consider whether or not the funding for that program should continue. The committee could also move to change the amount to $350 a week.

Right now, it's estimated there are 154,000 unpaid family caregivers in Hawaii. Many are taking care of their aging parents, spouses or other family members.

The committee will decide on the bill Wednesday morning. …

read … House committee to decide whether funding for Kupuna Caregivers Program should continue

Judge denies Hawaii’s move to get Airbnb host records

AP: … A judge on Thursday denied Hawaii’s move to compel Airbnb to hand over a decade of vacation rental receipts as the state examines whether hosts have been paying the equivalent of hotel and sales taxes.

Hawaii First Circuit Court Judge James Ashford said the state did not sufficiently show that Airbnb users may have failed to comply with tax laws.

In addition, the state did not establish that the information wasn’t available from other sources, he said. Hawaii wants the records to find out which hosts have not been paying taxes involving their vacation rental and bed-and-breakfast listings…. 

read … Judge denies Hawaii’s move to get Airbnb host records

Lawmakers again take up legalized gambling issue

SA: … The House Judiciary Committee today will consider a bill to legalize and regulate sports betting in Hawaii, which is now one of only two states in the nation that has no form of legalized gambling.

Gaming proposals always stir controversy at the state Capitol, and Gov. David Ige says he opposes legalized gambling, but House Judiciary Chairman Chris Lee said it is time to take up the issue again….

House Bill 1107, which was introduced by state Rep. Chris Todd, would create a sports wagering corporation to regulate sports gambling in Hawaii. Profits from the corporation would be deposited into a special fund, and that money would be used for state construction and maintenance projects….

The Judiciary committee hearing begins today at 2:05 p.m. in Room 325….

read … Lawmakers again take up legalized gambling issue

Asset forfeiture bill clears committee hurdle

WHT: … The state Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday passed unanimously, with amendments, a bill that would make it more difficult for law enforcement agencies to seize private property in civil forfeiture cases.

SB 1485 now goes to Ways and Means, the senate’s money committee….

The measure introduced by Judiciary Chairman Karl Rhoads, an Oahu Democrat, would raise the standard of proof the state must meet in order for property to be forfeited from a “preponderance of the evidence” to “beyond a reasonable doubt” if passed into law. It also would direct proceeds from a civil forfeiture to the general fund for public education purposes.

According to the bill, at least three states — Nebraska, North Carolina and New Mexico — have abolished civil forfeiture, and 15 states now require a criminal conviction for most or all forfeiture cases.

Currently under Hawaii law, all forfeiture proceeds are divided among the state and county law enforcement agencies that were involved in the seizure and forfeiture.

The bill also would repeal administrative forfeiture proceedings, a process in which the Department of Attorney General can seize property in a quasi-judicial proceeding without a judge….

2018: Audit: State Asset Forfeiture Program -- 30 Years Without Rules

read … Asset forfeiture bill clears committee hurdle

Legislators Plan to Let Lots of Criminals out on Streets

HNN:  Last year, all of Hawaii’s jails were overcrowded.

Most were operating at least 25 percent over capacity, but some as high as 50 to 85 percent….

Across the country, experts say overcrowding at jails disproportionately impacts (criminals).…

Critics argue this level of bail reform could potentially risk public safety by allowing accused offenders to be released back into the community without a upfront financial obligation.

Supporters say lawmakers have written this measure to ensure that defendants are held accountable by requiring that they and their families would still be liable for bail amounts if they fail to appear in court or if they commit additional crimes while out on bail.

(Reality: Criminals in jail on $100 bail are in there not because they are broke but because EVERYBODY in their family wants them to stay in jail.)

Two measures making their way through the state Capitol -- House Bill 175 and Senate Bill 192 -- aim to ease this financial burden by offering judges an additional option to allow for unsecured or partially secured bail….

Today’s Criminal Mayhem:

read … Hawaii lawmakers introduce bills for bail reform to help ease jail overcrowding

$350,000 pact reached in MPD Sex discrimination suit

MN: … Maui County is paying $350,000 to settle a federal sex discrimination lawsuit brought by retired Maui Police Department Capt. Mollie Klingman, who alleged she was discriminated against when she wasn’t promoted to assistant chief.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Honolulu in July 2016, was dismissed with prejudice Jan. 29 after a settlement in the case was reached in December, according to court records.

A copy of the confidential settlement agreement was provided to The Maui News this week in response to a Freedom of Information Request received Jan. 24 by the Maui County Department of the Corporation Counsel. …

read … $350,000 pact reached in MPD discrimination suit

Rate increase 4.3% for interisland service

KHON: …Young Brothers today announced it has received approval by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission for its first significant rate increase in six years. The 4.3% rate increase is critical to allow Young Brothers to reinvest in its business and upgrade equipment to continue providing essential interisland cargo transport services.

Young Brothers makes over 1,250 sailings each year between the Hawaiian Islands….

read … Rate increase for interisland service

City seeks landowner incentives to build hundreds of affordable rentals

HNN: … Caldwell is introducing a bill to give landowners incentives to build new low rise apartments, which he says will create 500 new affordable rental units per year on top of the 800 he says the city is already churning out.

“That is a big promise and so we need to match it with incentives that gets it there,” said Kathy Sokugawa, acting director of the city Department of Planning and Permitting.

The five-year proposal includes allowing more units per lot, a 10-year real property tax exemption, sewer fee hook up waiver and a 90-day limited review process while elevators and parking wouldn’t be required.

New buildings would have to keep 80 percent of their apartments affordable for the life of the building….

Developers say with the new incentives, they’ve identified 10 to 15 landowners who could raze their properties and rebuild a new affordable apartment….

SA: Plan offers incentives for affordable rental walk-up apartments on Oahu

read … City seeks landowner incentives to build hundreds of affordable rentals

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