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Thursday, March 07, 2019
March 7, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:22 PM :: 3146 Views

Lyon Bribery: Preliminary Election Results Show FSM President May Lose Seat

Prosecutor Kaneshiro Take Leave of Absence on Deadline to Respond to Supreme Court

Kanuikapono School: Will Teachers be Fired to Cover Up FBI Investigation?

Hawaii Sues Trump Over Abortion Sales Pitch

DBEDT Projects Slower Economy, Rising Unemployment

Crossover: Anti-Gun Bills Make it to the Other Side

House Passes Election Changes, Ethics, Campaign Spending Reforms

DoH Launches Marijuana Sales to Tourists

How Much Does Your State Collect in Corporate Income Taxes Per Capita?

Carbon Tax Crosses over to House

CB: … the climate commission’s work has only begun. The 20-member group has adopted a landmark sea level rise report, which includes online mapping tools for the public and state agencies to use for planning. In November, it unanimously called on the Legislature to pass a carbon tax to incentivize people to change their habits for the planet’s well-being (environmentalists’ private profit)….

On the Senate side, the biggest is a proposed carbon tax — a sweeping environmental policy reform that would affect virtually everyone in Hawaii.

Senate Bill 1463, introduced by Sen. Karl Rhoads and six colleagues, unanimously passed the 25-member chamber. It was transmitted to the 51-member House on Tuesday.

It’s the only version of a carbon tax still alive. Two House bills, far different than Rhoads’ proposal, died without a hearing. One related measure, House Bill 1584, is still moving forward but it only calls for a study by the University of Hawaii….

SB 1463 would replace the environmental response, energy and food security tax — commonly known as the barrel tax — with a carbon emissions tax equivalent to $6.25 per ton of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels sold by a distributor to any retail dealer or end user of the fuel, other than a refiner. It would be paid by the distributor.

It has received lukewarm support from environmental groups and state agencies. Concerns remain over its regressiveness and effect on highway funds, which depend on money from the barrel tax.

The Tax Foundation of Hawaii, led by Tom Yamachika, testified last month that the social change the tax encourages may help stave off the dire consequences of global warming. But it cautioned that its constituents are worried less about the end of the world than the end of next week.

“Will their paychecks be enough to pay the rent, keep the lights on, or feed the family?” Yamachika said. “If the cost of simply driving to work from the suburbs is horrible now, just wait until the tax kicks in.”

Yamachika warned that businesses will pass on any increased costs to consumers to continue providing their products and services.

“If you think the hammer of a carbon tax will fall most heavily on huge, faceless corporations like the electric company, the airlines, or the shippers, think again,” he said. “Our already astronomical cost of living could head further up into the stratosphere.”

Yamakchika did recognize that the bill is revenue-neutral. Increased taxes on carbon-related entities would be offset elsewhere. But he’s worried the tax rates would change over time.

Hawaiian Electric Co. estimates that the carbon tax could add more than $19 million in costs each year to customers across the islands. Scott Seu, HECO spokesman, said in his testimony last month that the company supports doing a study first.

The Environmental Caucus of the Democratic Party of Hawaii, which has made a carbon tax a top priority this session, suggested amending the bill. The group proposed drastically increasing the price per ton of CO2 for all fossil fuels  (see how these people are?)

“It’s Hawaii’s attempt to get its foot in the door to initiate a carbon tax or pricing scheme,” Lemmo said….

Link: Calculating Various Fuel Prices under a Carbon Tax

The Real Plan: IPCC Demands $240/gal Gasoline Tax!

read … Many Climate Change Bills Are Still Alive, Including A Carbon Tax

Ozawa Helped Kealoha Pal Miske

ILind: … Deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha went to unusual lengths to aid Honolulu businessman Michael Miske, despite Miske’s criminal history, violent reputation, and pending trial on felony charges stemming from an alleged attack on a rival promoter in December 2012. Her actions were described in a post here earlier this week.

But Kealoha was not the only public official who appears to have gone out of their way to give Miske special treatment.

Trevor Ozawa, who at that time represented the east Honolulu area on the Honolulu City Council, also fought to give Miske special treatment despite opposition from several community groups in his district.

Ozawa, who is facing a special runoff election to regain his council seat after the Hawaii Supreme Court voided a narrow reelection victory over Waters in the 2018 general election, played a key role in backing Miske’s quest to obtain city approval to place lights on a tree in an oceanfront park in Hawaii Kai during the holiday season. Miske initially said the lights were a memorial to his son, who died in 2016 as a result of injuries suffered in a traffic accident, but later expanded that to include all those whose remains have been scattered at sea in Maunalua Bay.

In late 2016, Miske unilaterally and without permission wrapped the tree in lights, but later removed them under pressure from the Department of Parks and Recreation. He then turned to Ozawa for help.

Ozawa brokered a meeting between Miske and the director of the Department of Parks and Recreation…

Ozawa then drafted and introduced a bill that he would use as a political weapon to essentially force the department to go along with Miske’s request despite their objections.

Here’s an excerpt from a column I wrote about the situation at the time (see “Ian Lind: Why A Tree In Hawaii Kai Is Raising Questions Of Favoritism“)….

read … Kealoha not alone in doing special favors for local businessman

Kealoha lawyer seeks city funding for fees

SA: …An attorney for former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha on Wednesday urged the Police Commission to use taxpayer money to pay for the lawyers representing him in two federal criminal cases.

The panel will decide on the request at its next meeting March 20, Commission Chairwoman Loretta Sheehan said…. 

read … Kealoha lawyer seeks city funding for fees

Solar Bid Rigging: Yamamoto Caliboso Secretly Represented All 7 Winning Bids

IM: …The Consumer Advocate filed untimely Information Requests to Hawaiian Electric Company about the Independent Observer filing. They all dealt with the fact that a single law firm-- Yamamoto Caliboso--represented all seven solar plus battery bids accepted by HECO, MECO, and HELCO.

Carlito Caliboso served as Chair of the Public Utilities Commission during the Lingle Administration.

“Please discuss whether the Independent Observer expressed concern at any point during the evaluation and selection process that multiple projects were represented by the same counsel.”…

HEI said: … “The Company had concerns that during PPA negotiations, the shared attorney(s) representing the developers could in theory use information and, in particular, concessions gained in one negotiation to obtain the same or substantially similar concessions to benefit other developers in other negotiation sessions. In fact, in several circumstances, counsel for the developers requested that the Company give one developer the same concession the shared attorney’s other client(s) had attained the Company’s agreement to give on another project.”

“While the Company believes that the RFP process was ultimately successful, the Company believes that the negotiation process was not as efficient as it could have been due to the fact that there was essentially a single attorney negotiating on behalf of all seven projects. Time constraints and the limitations of having a single legal counsel representing all seven developers often made it difficult to schedule negotiation sessions or to obtain turns of the PPA drafts in a timely manner.”…

CB: Big Island: Opponents Will Try To Stop Geothermal Plant From Reopening

read … Questions Raised: Yamamoto Caliboso Secretly Represented All 7 Winning Bids 

State fires firm auditing rail change orders

SA: … The Hawaii State Auditor has canceled a contract with a company that was supposed to review change orders for the $9.2 billion Honolulu rail project, and it is unclear whether that report will ever be completed.

The decision by state Auditor Les Kondo to terminate the $700,000 contract with the certified public accounting firm BKD LLP came to light just as state lawmakers were advancing bills to reduce the auditor’s oversight of the rail project.

On Tuesday, the state House voted unanimously to eliminate the requirement that the auditor produce an annual review of documents and the activities of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Trans­portation. That review would have included scrutiny of invoices, contracts and progress reports for rail. Senators are expected to vote on a similar bill today….

“What needs to happen now is bigger than an audit,” Luke said.

“In concert with the federal government, I think the state needs to do a little bit more in our investigation of finding out if there were misused (funds) and fraud dealing with state funds,” Luke said. “That’s not going to be accomplished by an audit. That needs to be accomplished through criminal vetting and the Attorney General’s office taking a more aggressive approach on this issue. That’s the discussion that we need to have.”

Luke said she believes that could happen “in conjunction with the federal inquiry.” She said the Attorney General’s office has been in contact with the federal agencies investigating issues surrounding rail, “so we will be asking the Attorney General’s office to look at the rail issue closer to see if there needs to be a state criminal investigation as well.”

Krishna Jayaram, special assistant to state Attorney General Clare Connors, said, “We certainly welcome the representative’s input, and we’ll have that discussion.”

Kondo said his office hired BKD to review change orders and other cost items for the rail project, but canceled the contract “because we were not happy with the work.”

“We had concerns about the accuracy of the information that was being reported, and we had asked the contractor to provide us with assurance that the information (in the draft report) was accurate and supported with appropriate evidence,” Kondo said. “The contractor was not willing to do that.”

He said there is “no way” the auditor would release a report unless it was confident that it was accurate…. 

SA Editorial: HART probes will go on

HNN: Kondo is consulting with the state Attorney General to try to recoup the $450,000 that has been spent on the contract.

read … State fires firm auditing rail change orders

Rail officials want a multi-million dollar do-over for a station entrance they once decided to scrap

HNN: … To (pretend to) cut costs in 2013, rail officials decided to scrap plans for the station's makai entrance, leaving just one entrance on the mauka side….

The head of the rail authority and the city agree that restoring the makai entrance is the right thing to do, but it's not a simple fix.

In a council committee hearing last week, HART CEO Andrew Robbins said along with construction costs, because the rail station is located on the flood plain, they would also have to buy more property for flood mitigation….

"We have a low estimate of $8.1 million and a high estimate of $14.6 million," said Robbins….

HART officials say its unclear how much money was saved by eliminating the makai entrance years ago, since that part of the project was never bid out.

The Pouhala station is scheduled for interim opening next year….

read … Rail officials want a multi-million dollar do-over for a station entrance they once decided to scrap

Secret Plan to Convert Waianae Shelter into Massive Festering Homeless Tent City Behind Oahu’s 20% drop in sheltered homeless

HNN: … The Institute for Human Services told Hawaii News Now it was forced to cut about 100 shelter beds….

Spokesman Kimo Carvalho said every night the nonprofit’s shelters are close to full as outreach workers serve more people than ever before….

Despite the cuts, IHS still managed to house 3,864 people in 2018….

Altogether, Oahu’s service providers moved an average of 377 people off the street and into permanent housing every month last year ― compared to 246 people a month in 2017….

another reason for the dramatic drop in the number of shelter beds was due to the closure of Ulu Ke Kukui (by DHHL for no good reason), a transitional housing facility in Maili that could accommodate more than 300 people.

“My understanding is those 312 beds are coming back,” Green added. “We can’t afford to have 312 beds out of circulation.”

The state has said it intends to turn the property into an 'ohana zone ― a place for homeless people to live while they get back on their feet….

(Ohana Zone = Tent City  Bottom line: DHHL shut down an operating homeless shelter for no good reason and Josh Green plans to replace it with a tent city.  That’s what Josh Green just said.) 

HHC: FLASH: Honolulu streets are still a mess

read … The reason for Oahu’s 20% drop in sheltered homeless? Far fewer shelter beds exist

Queens Overrun by 1,700 Lunatics: Legislators Consider Doing a Study

CB: …House Bill 1013, already passed by the House, would assemble a task force to address the lack of infrastructure and mental health specialists who treat patients for involuntary psychiatric hospitalizations. It is now being deliberated in the Senate.

Colloquially referred to as an MH-1, involuntary emergency psychiatric treatments occur when police transport people considered to pose a danger to themselves or others — but have not committed a crime — to a hospital to receive care. These patients — either mentally ill or in a state of crisis — cannot be held against their will by doctors for more than 48 hours.

Often these interventions are inadequate….

In HB 1013, lawmakers are seeking to improve access to treatment under the MH-1 process for people who either have a mental illness or are in a state of crisis while reducing the number of patients admitted for emergency psychiatric care who could more appropriately be served by another hospital unit.

The task force that would examine this and other problems with the MH-1 process would include in its membership state Health Director Bruce Anderson, Hawaii Attorney General Clare Connors, Dean of the John A. Burns School of Medicine Jerris Hedges, the chief of police for each county, key lawmakers and mental health advocates.

In 2018, Queen’s hospital admitted more than 1,700 MH-1 patients for mental health evaluations. Approximately 85 percent of them did not require specialized psychiatric treatment and could have been seen by another emergency department, according to testimony to lawmakers last month.

Queen’s treats more MH-1 patients than anywhere else in the state, but it has only six psychiatric beds in its emergency department.

“Although we have six dedicated patient rooms for treating those with psychiatric illnesses,” Queen’s executive vice president Paula Yoshioka said in written testimony, “we have experienced times when these rooms were full, leaving us to find space in our (emergency department) to evaluate and treat. This creates an unsafe environment and stresses an already over-capacity (emergency department) that the community relies on.”

SA: State senator films Maili brush fire, police standoff while riding bus

read … Bill Focuses On Revolving Door Of Involuntary Psychiatric Treatments

Rare Polynesian artifacts stolen from OHA CEO's home

KITV: … OHA CEO Kamana'pono Crabbe who tells KITV4 that thieves ransacked a multitude of traditional treasures: ni'ihau shell lei, a whale tooth pendant, and hand crafted kapa. …

According to Crabbe suspects also walked off with weapons like this one used in Polynesian martial arts and protocol ceremonies.

A number of the items were gifted to him by cultural leaders, but it's sentimental items that Crabbe says he desperately wants back, which include a lock of his late mother's hair.

"Those belongings or heirlooms that belonged to my mother and grandmother I humbly ask that you return them now," Crabbe said.

Surveillance footage captured images of a dark blue Chrysler thieves used during the robbery, and this photo of what appears to be a man in a long jumpsuit.

read … Rare Polynesian artifacts stolen from OHA CEO's home

Soft on Crime: 31-Time Loser Gets 10 Years—Could be out in 1 Year

MN: …A man with a criminal history spanning two decades was sentenced Wednesday to 10-year prison terms after he was arrested with quantities of methamphetamine and stolen rental vehicles. As a habitual property crime offender, Peter Feliciano III, 45, was ordered to serve at least one year before being eligible for parole….

Feliciano’s criminal history includes 12 felony convictions and 31 total convictions.

“He’s been given probation, he’s participated in the Drug Court program,”she said. “He’s been in the system since his early 20s.”

In 2011 criminal cases, Feliciano was sentenced to five years in prison….

he was arrested again May 11 at the pali lookout with two stolen vehicles, a 2017 Nissan Juke and 2016 Nissan Rogue. Feliciano was engaged in lewdness with a 29-year-old woman who was found with methamphetamine…

Feliciano said he wanted to put the criminal cases behind him and “start doing pro-social stuff in the community.”…

read … Two-decade habitual offender is sentenced to 10-year prison term

HB287 / HB1557: Clear Squatters out of Foreclosed Homes

WHT: … Leilani Estates residents “picked a couple of the worst offenders to be our first successes.”

“We’ve had gunshots. We’ve had fistfights in the middle of the street. A lot of those folks, we’ve gotten out,” Andrews said.

He noted that instead of the lengthy civil process of eviction, the Leilani committee and police have tracked down homeowners, when possible, and secured a letter stating that no one is supposed to be on the property.

“And then we go after it with trespass laws instead of squatter laws,” Andrews said. “We can have police come in and serve immediate trespass notices, which means the people who are in the house have to get out, right then and there. The police literally escort them out of the house.”

According to Andrews, many of the squatters also were arrested on outstanding warrants unrelated to the trespassing charges.

“We’ve seen an appreciable drop in crime here in Leilani by virtue of that,” Andrews said. “A lot of the crime was being done between one in the morning and five in the morning. A lot of those folks, who are the druggies, they’re not out here in those hours as much as they have been. We haven’t eliminated it entirely, though.”

Police Capt. John Briski, Puna district commander, described the push to get squatters out as “slow going, but it’s an effort that we’re going to continue to move in trying to address each situation.”

“Initiatives formed between the police and numerous associations in Puna have really stepped forward with a combined effort on the squatting problem — throughout the district of Puna, not just Leilani Estates. We’ve seen some unprecedented cooperation with our (County Council) people and state representatives who have put forward some new legislation to try to assist with those situations,” Briski said.

A pair of bills introduced by state Rep. Joy San Buenaventura of Puna, House Bills 1557 and 287 survived the crossover from the House to the Senate and passed their first readings in the latter chamber on Monday. Neither have yet received committee referrals in the Senate. Both measures focus on houses in foreclosure.

HB 1557 would impose fines on a homeowner, foreclosing party or purchaser in foreclosure when a vacant residential property remains unoccupied during the foreclosure process, and establishes conditions under which a property may be rented.

HB 287 would require counties to expedite demolition permits for vacant and abandoned residential homes and allow the Department of Taxation to use nonjudicial foreclosure to sell vacant and abandoned residential properties with outstanding state tax liens….

read … Squatters

Advocates Want to Legalize Child Prostitution

SA: … Exactly which sex workers should we listen to? As a member of AF3IRM, an organization whose membership includes women who have lived experience in the sex industry, I write to ask the public to consider and include sex workers who do not find prostitution empowering or worth legalizing.

The lobbying group of sex workers who have been featured recently in the Star-Advertiser are those who speak only for the most empowered segment. They support decriminalization of sex buyers, not just the women.

The girls from our communities need people who assert that their value does not come from their ability to pleasure men. They do not need to be told that men objectifying and buying women is normal, healthy and inevitable — just a neutral activity. We have a whole pop culture doing that.

We also need to train the groups of people who often have more contact with sex-trafficking victims than other people in the sex industry to intervene. These groups include medical professionals, school employees, state social workers, court and law enforcement personnel.

The Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) is part of the national lobby that seeks to decriminalize the entire sex trade, including buyers and pimps. This group advocates for men buying women. They try to conceal the core issue of sex trafficking: male sexual entitlement to our bodies. They only represent sex workers who support the sex industry, and aggressively attempt to silence sex workers who want this harmful system to end.

The Phoenix chapter of SWOP, which SWOP Hawaii recently flew to Hawaii to sway our politicians, openly advocates for child prostitution. They fight sex-trafficking laws that protect children by claiming that children should be able to prostitute because they have “agency.”

The prostitution lobby uses its members’ relative privilege against the interests of more marginalized sex workers who can’t be public. Only a very, very few number of people can be public about their involvement in the sex industry. Those who can’t be public are more representative of the majority….

read … Sex-trafficking victims need help to get their voices heard

DLNR Takes over Surf School Permits, Gives only one out

WHT: … More than a year after plans surfaced and fizzled for a pilot program to manage surf schools at Kahaluu Bay, businesses are still in the dark about how to get permits to teach wave riding at the popular spot.

That’s because a branch of the Department of Land and Natural Resources last month abruptly issued a single permit to a local business before just as abruptly putting other applications on hold. The agency did so without explaining why it was holding up a plan that’s yet to be put in action…./

read … Confusion at Kahaluu

Building More Suburbs Could Help Millennials Stay In Hawaii

CB: … One way to bring down those costs is to open up more land for housing. Hawaii has the most heavily regulated housing market in the nation, with only 5 percent of its land zoned for urban or rural housing development. This tight zoning situation has made building neighborhoods outside of Hawaii’s urban cores nearly impossible.

About 545,000 acres of once-active agricultural land in Hawaii has gone dormant since 1980. Rezoning some of the less farmable land for suburban housing could help provide housing for islanders, without touching the 1.97 million acres of land already preserved for conservation. In addition, new housing in areas designated for agriculture could conceivably encourage farming again, albeit on a smaller scale than before, through lower housing costs for potential farmworkers.

At the very least, policymakers should make it easier to rezone land for suburban housing, thus lowering building costs and providing the kinds of homes that young families are looking for. This could finally make a dent in Hawaii’s high cost of living — and stem the tide of millennial families looking for better opportunities elsewhere….

read … Building More Suburbs Could Help Millennials Stay In Hawaii

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