A Change at OHA That Changes Everything
Kakaako Drunk Driver Busted for Palau Alcohol Theft
Report: Hawaii Greenhouse Gas Emissions Drop After Aviation Emissions Reclassified as 'International'
Honolulu’s transit authority receives second grand jury subpoena
SA: … The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation has received a second grand jury subpoena seeking more information about the $9.2 billion Honolulu rail project, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser has learned.
A spokesman for the project declined to answer questions about the subpoena this morning but said HART CEO Andrew Robbins would meet with reporters this afternoon to discuss the latest development in the federal investigation of rail.
The Star-Advertiser reported in December that federal investigators were taking an interest in the project, and on Feb. 14 HART acknowledged it had received a sweeping subpoena seeking tens of thousands of documents related to rail….
According to HART, the first federal demand for records and files largely duplicated the list of documents HART had already provided to the Hawaii State Auditor ….
HNN: The water is rising. Is Hawaii’s largest public works project ready?
read … Honolulu’s transit authority receives second grand jury subpoena
Opponents of proposed GET surcharge hike voice concerns; Council advances measure
HTH: … A general excise tax increase continued its forward march Wednesday, with the County Council voting 7-2 to bring the county surcharge up to one-half percent and extend it for another 10 years.
The measure, Bill 19, faces one more reading before going into effect next January. The current one-quarter percent surcharge will continue until then, under a bill the council passed last year….
Council members favoring the measure said the state Legislature gives the county only until March 31 to pass the hike or risk losing the opportunity….
Kohala Councilman Tim Richards and Puna Councilman Matthew Kanealii-Kleinfelder were the two no votes. They noted a lack of confidence in government by many of the constituents testifying about the bill and said the county keeps going back to the same playbook of raising taxes to meet expenses rather than looking at the entire county budget structure as a whole.
“Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome — I believe that’s the definition of insanity,” Richards said.
About a dozen people testified during a Tuesday evening public hearing, with most opposed to the increase. Testifiers cited the cost of living, their personal financial impacts, uncertainty about what the additional revenue would be used for and skepticism that the county administration has really cut expenses as reasons for their opposition.
“I’m trying to pinch pennies and I’m sure a lot of senior citizens are doing that,” said Lei Kalamau, a resident of Mohouli Heights Senior Neighborhood in Hilo. “I wonder if the county can pinch pennies, too.”
Another senior, 75-year-old Abel Lui, stripped off his shirt at the testifiers’ table, calling himself “evidence” of a crime, not the crime itself. Lui said his $700 monthly pension isn’t enough for shoes, socks and underwear, much less more taxes.
“What you guys doing taxing the people?” Lui asked. “I only get 700 something dollars and you guys going to tax me?”
Real estate and resort associations also opposed the increase, saying tourism is at a tipping point and adding more costs could drive them to other destinations.
“This regressive and egregious tax puts tax upon tax and affects all economic activity,” said Joy Dillon, representing Hawaii Island REALTORS. “In addition, we still don’t know what this proposed increase in the GET will be used for.”…
read … Opponents of proposed GET surcharge hike voice concerns; Council advances measure
A law meant force mentally ill into Treatment is not being used Four Years Later
HNN: … For the hundreds of homeless people incapacitated by mental illness in Hawaii, years go by ― and for many, nothing changes.
They become fixtures at parks and bus stops, falling deeper into their sickness.
In 2014, the state passed a law ― known as Assisted Community Treatment ― that was meant to get help to those with serious mental illness. It provided a way for courts to order someone to get treatment.
But since then, it’s only been used a handful of times ― helping on average just two people a year….
In order to make the law more effective, he said, the measure’s definition of what it means to be an “imminent danger to self or others” needs to be expanded ― to include a person whose health is so compromised that if nothing is done they are at risk of serious medical illness or death….
… This legislative session, they’re calling on lawmakers to take another look at the law, amending the measure’s language to ensure their highest-need clients are getting help.
There are four bills at the legislature dealing the issue: SB1124, SB567, SB1464 and SB1465 (all have passed second reading)….
SB1124: “Provides that any interested party may file a petition for a mental health order for involuntary hospitalization or assisted community treatment alleging that another person has a mental illness and qualifies for assistance. Requires the court to assess whether a person meets the criteria for assisted community treatment before discharging a person who has been involuntarily hospitalized. Authorizes the court to order a person to obtain assisted community treatment as an alternative to involuntary hospitalization. Clarifies the criteria for assisted community treatment.”
read … A law meant to help the mentally ill is actually preventing some from getting care
SB652: Senate WAM Votes to Give Drunk Rave Promoter $50M
HTH: … A bill that would authorize the state Department of Budget and Finance to issue up to $50 million in special purpose revenue bonds to assist in developing a Kona Jet Center at the south end of Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole passed another hurdle Tuesday. The Senate Ways and Means Committee recommended the measure advance with amendments.
The move sets the bill up for a final vote on the Senate floor. If it passes, it will cross to the House….
read … Drunk with Power
Maui Council to Get More Raises?
MW: … The Salary Commission plans to discuss and take possible action on salary increases for Maui County Council members and the Mayor during a special meeting at 8:30 a.m. Friday in the Mayor’s Conference Room in the Kalana O Maui Building.
The meeting is open to the public and oral or written testimony can be given prior to the commission’s discussion. If written testimony is submitted at the meeting, 13 copies are requested.
In December, the commission voted in favor of 3 percent cost of living increases for county directors and deputy directors.
read … Meet the new boss, just like the old boss
Drug Court: 15% Recidivism Rate
MN: … John Granger, 33, of Lahaina said he relapsed and started using drugs again within days of having felony charges dismissed in May 2017 when he graduated from the program of intensive drug treatment and supervision.
“So almost three years of Drug Court did not do one thing for Mr. Granger to deter him,” 2nd Circuit Judge Richard Bissen said in sentencing Granger on Feb. 13.
Granger is among 15 percent of Drug Court graduates who recidivate within five years of graduating, Bissen said.
“You started recidivating within five days,” the judge told Granger. “Sounds like you were faking the whole time.”…
On April 4, Granger burned the woman’s vehicle because she wasn’t answering her phone, Keanini said.
Then on May 13, she was pushed and struck in her left arm and face and strangled when Granger put both hands around her neck, Keanini said.
He noted that the crimes occurred less than a year after Granger graduated from Drug Court….
Granger is no longer involved in a “volatile relationship” with the woman, said Deputy Public Defender Tyler Stevenson. He said Granger was working toward a college degree (in gender diversity studies?) and has two children with his …uh… fiancée (yeah, that’s the word, fiancée)…..
read … Recidivism
Sex workers say Honolulu police officers are customers, study says
SA: … After the presentation, Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser she questioned the methodology of the study and the fact that only 22 subjects were interviewed. She also noted that it is unclear when and how many of those subjects implicated police….
… Ballard told the Star-Advertiser she was appalled that Jabola-Carolus revealed the information in a public forum rather than going to police first.
(What? Mrs Kaniela Ing is doing a publicity stunt? I’m shocked! Just shocked!)
“We need people to come forward and let us know if our officers are out there doing it,” the chief said.
She said if the Honolulu Police Department is informed, “we will investigate fully.”
Ballard said she will remind officers, “If you’re doing it you better stop. If you know somebody doing it, tell them to stop.”
Jabola-Carolus said, “There are no mandated statewide training of law enforcement and criminal justice personnel. This is sexualized police brutality. Story after story after story told to social workers.”
The first part of the study released last year has had its critics, including Meda Chesney-Lind, professor of women’s studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Nandita Sharma, associate professor of sociology at UH Manoa.
In an op-ed piece they co-authored, which ran Oct. 18 in the Star-Advertiser, they said that “Sex Trafficking in Hawaii Part 1: Exploring Online Sex Buyers” had problems with its methodology, using highly problematic methods that made no sense to conclude that an astronomical number of men on Oahu and Hawaii island seek sex online….
Dec 1, 2018: Police Report ‘Threat’ Against State Women’s Commission Director was Fake—Timed to Coincide with Renewal of Employment Contract
read … The Face of Smug Millennial Entitlement
Arizona Co-Author Defends Hawaii Sex Trafficking Study
ASU: … Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, an associate professor in ASU’s School of Social Work and the director of the ASU Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research, said the 50th state is late to the game when it comes to combatting sex trafficking.
Her two recent studies, “Sex Trafficking in Hawaii: Exploring Online Buyers” and “Sex Trafficking in Hawaii: The Stories of Survivors,” were funded by the Kaimas Foundation. The findings lay out the case that Hawaii does not have an organized effort to combat sex buying, fosters a culture of turning a blind eye and demonstrates a crisis of priorities in the general lack of response by law enforcement.
“It is genuinely troubling that more people are penalized for homelessness and jaywalking in Honolulu than for buying sex,” said Roe-Sepowitz, who worked with the Hawai’i State Commission on the Status of Women to explore the issue. …
There are a number of factors that have slowed the progress of building awareness and providing services for victims of sex trafficking in Hawaii. These include widespread disinterest, collusion or corruption within law enforcement who are the front line of access to victims, a pro-sex work community that encourages the idea that sex trafficking in Hawaii is a myth, a culture of misogyny and the cultural silencing of victims of all types of abuse….
Your study shows that 1 in 11 men in Hawaii search online to pay for sex. Is this higher or lower than the average state?
The estimate of sex buyers in Arizona in an identical study that we conducted was 1 in 20 men in Arizona is searching online to buy sex….
read … Defends
Public Records Chief Is Still Trying To Make It Harder To Get Public Records
CB: … Just one week after a legislative committee rejected Cheryl Kakazu Park’s desire to block transparency in government deliberations, the director of the state Office of Information Practices was at it again.
The outcome was the same.
On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee deferred action on the companion bill to a measure that was killed by the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 14.
Park is now 0-2….
As she stated in her testimony on both bills, Park strongly believes that the Legislature should codify what’s known as the “deliberative process privilege” so that more government records can be shielded from public scrutiny….
SA Editorial: OIP hinders public access to records
read … Public Records Chief Is Still Trying To Make It Harder To Get Public Records
U.S. Supreme Court Ruling Boosts Hawaii Effort To Limit Property Forfeiture
CB: … A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruling released Wednesday is expected to have a major effect on Hawaii’s asset forfeiture polices, which critics have long called draconian.
It is also expected to give a strong push to state legislation that would limit civil asset forfeiture in the state.
The nation’s high court ruled that the U.S. Constitution’s ban on excessive fines applies to state and local governments, thus limiting their ability to use fines to raise revenue.
Hawaii’s system has been called one of the worst in the country because it allows police to seize the personal property of people accused of crimes, even if they have not been charged, sell it and use the proceeds for government purposes….
read … U.S. Supreme Court Ruling Boosts Hawaii Effort To Limit Property Forfeiture
HB497: Total Ban on Fireworks
WHT: …A bill that would make fireworks illegal for consumer use throughout the state will go before a House committee on Friday.
House Bill 497, introduced by House Speaker and Oahu Rep. Scott Saiki, would only authorize the consumer sale and use of fireworks for “cultural purposes.”…
Testimony regarding the bill has been largely negative. The Hawaii Food Industry Association opposed the bill, arguing: “We already have fairly strict limitations on fireworks in our state and we oppose this attempt to ban them further. We are a multicultural state and several cultures use fireworks as part of yearly celebrations of a few significant holidays.”…
The House Judiciary Committee will make a decision Friday regarding the bill….
HB497: Text, Status
read … Ban
SB663: Lawmakers advance red-light cameras bill
SA: … State lawmakers are again moving forward with a program to deploy cameras at traffic lights to photograph the license plates of motorists who run red lights so they can be ticketed.
Similar proposals that have come up in the past proved controversial.
Senate Bill 663 declares that motorists ignoring traffic laws have now become “intolerable,” and the measure would authorize each county to establish its own red-light camera enforcement program. Money from fines would be spent in the county where the fines were imposed, and to finance the photo enforcement project….
The Legislature passed a law in 1998 authorizing photo enforcement systems to ticket speeding motorists, but the so-called “van cams” deployed by a private contractor on Oahu in 2002 caused an uproar. Lawmakers quickly repealed the law, and haven’t approved a new photo enforcement program since.
The new proposal, which was approved by the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday, would create a committee to study the red-light enforcement proposal and recommend changes to lawmakers next year. The counties would then be free to establish photo enforcement programs starting July 1, 2020.
The Legislature has considered similar bills in the past, including during the 2012 and 2013 sessions. In 2017 a bill to let counties to operate red-light photo enforcement systems was approved by both the House and the Senate, only to die in the final days of the session….
It was opposed by just a handful of individuals, including Natalie Iwasa, a community advocate who ran for a seat on the Honolulu City Council last year. She said in written testimony that red-light enforcement cameras treat motorists as if they are “guilty until they prove themselves innocent.” The program also may increase the number of rear-end collisions, she said.
Sen. Donna Mercado Kim voted in favor of SB 663 “with reservations.” Kim believes most people want red-light photo enforcement, but has concerns about how the law will be implemented.
“They kept saying it’s going to be only in the intersections that have a high accident rate, but there’s really nothing in the bill that talks about how they’re going to implement it, nothing that restricts them from putting it in every single intersection,” she said. “There’s just a whole lot of questions that are still up in the air.”….
SB663: Text, Status
read … Lawmakers advance red-light cameras bill
Lawsuit: Disgusting Organic Food Gives Wailuku man rat lungworm disease
MN: … A Wailuku resident diagnosed with rat lungworm disease is suing Hana Fresh, alleging it was negligent to distribute “unreasonably dangerous” produce that carried an infected slug.
Hana Fresh on Tuesday said it stands by its product, calling it “safe to consume.”
In the suit filed last week, Scott Hessler claims that while working as a Travaasa Hotel pastry chef on Feb. 25, 2017, he ate a mixed salad from Hana Fresh and “became extremely nauseous, vomiting, within a couple hours of consumption.”
Hessler went to Hana Health and was then hospitalized for three days at Maui Memorial Medical Center for heart problems. His health continued to decline in following months due to “excruciating” nerve pain and other symptoms, the complaint said.
Multiple doctors confirmed that Hessler contracted rat lungworm disease ….
The suit alleges Hana Heath, a nonprofit that owns Hana Fresh, carries items with “manufacturing defects and insufficient warnings” about containing potential rat lungworm disease. It also said Hana Health is liable for distributing “defective and unreasonably dangerous produce.”
Cheryl Vasconcellos, Hana Health executive director, declined to comment on pending litigation…..
read … Wailuku man with rat lungworm disease sues grower Hana Fresh
Honolulu Auditor Retires
HA: … Edwin Young has retired effective February 1, 2019 after 8-1/2 years of service as the City Auditor. Troy Shimasaki will be Acting City Auditor pending the appointment of a new City Auditor….
read … Auditor