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Thursday, April 04, 2019
April 4, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:00 PM :: 1416 Views

Full Text: MCCC Officers Tell Riot Story, Slam 'Upper Echelons' of PSD

Sin Taxes: Hawaii 3rd Highest in USA

Do You Think Like an Islander?

Hawaii: Anti-Gun Bills Pass Committee, Age Restriction Bill Eligible for a Floor Vote

HEI Plans to Shut Down State's Cheapest Energy Producer to Make Way for More Tesla Batteries

2019 Graduation Dates

Sovereignty Thugs Accused in OHA takeover tried to ‘serve warrants’ at Attorney General’s office—‘Released pending investigation’ (again)

HNN: … Hawaii News Now has obtained new details on the two men arrested this week for multiple felonies in connection with a violent takeover of the OHA offices in January.

Sources said the two suspects, Kawika Smith and Remedio L.K. Dabaluz, showed up at the state Attorney General’s office Wednesday morning to “serve a warrant” from their government.

That’s when they were arrested by state deputy sheriffs.

They were booked on multiple felony counts, including kidnapping, burglary and terroristic threatening.

The two suspects are with the group Polynesian Kingdom of Atooi, and were released pending further investigation.

The incident at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in January left employees shaken. Two were assaulted in the incident, and in its wake, security has been enhanced….

“We have HPD officers posted when we have agendized meetings as well. That’s a big step up in our security. Administration is working on long-term solutions.”…

HNN: 2 men accused of storming OHA offices could face felony charges

read … Arrested and Again Released

Another 3.4% Rate Hike: PUC sets HELCO hearings

WHT: …The state Public Utilities Commission has scheduled public hearings next week to determine whether a 3.4 percent rate increase for Hawaii Electric Light Co. is “fair and reasonable.”….

Part of the increase would also be used to fund grid modernization efforts, repairs to facilities damaged by the Kilauea eruption and increasing operation at power plants due to the loss of Puna Geothermal Venture, repairing and repowering the Waiau hydro plant, enhancing cybersecurity and equipment upgrades or repairs.

HELCO estimates the rate hike will generate $13.4 million in additional revenue. It would cost a typical residential customer using 500 kilowatt-hours of electricity another $8.21 per month. If approved, it’s expected to go into effect late this year.

The hearings are scheduled for 5 p.m. April 11 at the West Hawaii Civic Center and the same time April 12 at Aupuni Center in Hilo.

Written statements may also be mailed to: Public Utilities Commission, 465 South King St., Room No. 103 Honolulu, HI 96813 or email to puc.comments@hawaii.gov. All written statements should reference Docket No. 2018-0368….

read … PUC sets HELCO hearings

HB593: Plan to allow solar farms on top-rated agricultural lands killed

IM: … The HECO Companies filed a Request for Proposal for Renewable Energy coupled with energy storage. Seven proposals were accepted. All seven were represented by the Yamamoto Caliboso Law Firm.

One of them was illegal.

Just three percent of the agricultural land in the state is zoned prime agricultural land. This is the only type of land which does not permit industrialized renewable facilities.

Ho`ohana Solar 1, LLC, subsidiary of Hanwha Group, a Korean multinational corporation, did not have the right to build a solar facility on prime agricultural land.

The Public Utilities Commission opened docket number 2018-0431 on December 31, 2018, and approved the illegal HECO-Ho`ohana project on March 25, 2019.

A Legislative bill was specially carved out for their project based on a false cost and interconnect narrative and false farming statements. The opposition to the bill was overwhelming.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee heard the bill on April 3, 2019. Nine of the thirteen members were present. Five voted no. The chair then withdrew the vote and pronounced that the bill was "deferred indefinitely" (killed).

The five no votes were Senators Sharon Moriwaki, Gil Riviere, Maile Shimabukuro, Brian Taniguchi, and Lorraine Inouye.

In previous Senate votes, Senators Keohokalole, Harimoto, Ihara, Ruderman, and Thielenvoted no and Senators Keith-Agaran, Nishihara, English, Fevella, and Kim voted yes with reservations.

HNN: HB593: Plan to allow solar farms on top-rated agricultural lands dealt setback

read … Hawai`i Legislature Confirms PUC Nominee & Rejects PUC Decision

Legislators Trying to make A&B give $62M to Politically Connected Mahi Pono?

HNN: …In 2018 A&B sold its sugar cane land in Central Maui to Mahi Pono and sales documents sent to investors shows a promise made by A&B to Mahi Pono to divert 30 million gallons of water per day until 2026 or they'd pay $62 million.

Their permits expires this year and they want an extension. A bill that originated in the State House would have granted A&B seven more years but Kai Kahele cut it to three years after finding out about the promise they made. …

SA Editorial: Demand progress on water leases

read … One of the largest landowners in Hawaii could lose $62 million

Bill Would Criminalize Driving Under The Influence Of … Almost Anything

CB: … A legislative committee is scheduled to vote Thursday on a measure that would vastly expand the substances for which people could be convicted under Hawaii’s intoxicated driving laws.

Under Senate Bill 641, those substances could include any plant, medication, poison or compound that could fall under a whole host of depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, anesthetics, narcotics and inhalants.

In fact, the bill would expand the definition of “drug” for purposes of DUI enforcement to include anything that “can impair the ability of a person to operate a vehicle safely.”

The bill would allow prosecutors to pursue charges against suspected impaired drivers by expanding the substances that could potentially lead to DUI charges beyond the ones currently listed in schedules 1-4 of the state’s Uniform Controlled Substances Act. Existing law only allows prosecution for alcohol and illegal narcotics like marijuana, meth and opium….

read … Bill Would Criminalize Driving Under The Influence Of … Almost Anything

Middle Street Rail Solution: Run Bus Lanes on North King Street

SA: …express vehicles from Middle Street can use our existing urban road system, with some improvements and lane additions. North King Street can provide one excellent solution. This underutilized road could be improved to provide space for two lanes of express bus routes connecting Middle Street with downtown and beyond…. 

Panos: Riders would be boarding bus at Ala Moana anyway

read … King Street a better option than rail for city-center transit

Desperate to Save Insider Control: Department of Public Safety proposes plans to relieve overcrowding

KHON: … They want to develop a medium-security housing unit at each facility for inmates at Maui Community Correctional Center, Kauai Community Correctional Center, and Hawaii Community Correctional Center.

The units are not meant to increase the inmate population at the facilities, but to ease overcrowding.  The state is still putting together draft environmental assessments ….

KITV: Plans to relieve overcrowding in Hawaii's jails are in motion

read … Department of Public Safety proposes plans to relieve overcrowding

DPS Plans to Stack Hearing for Espinda—Worried ‘Outsider’ will be Next Boss

HNN: … Most of the maneuvering appears to be the work of Deputy Director of Corrections, Jodie Maesaka-Hirata.

A series of text messages went out from Hirata’s phone that dictate where people should sit at the hearing Thursday afternoon.

Hawaii News Now has the text messages which begin, “Aloha All, It’s Jodie."

The author is asking for subordinates to show their support for their boss saying, “If Nolan is not reappointed, PSD stands a chance of having an outsider come in.”

It says he is “under fire (as) is Renee.” That’s in reference to Renee Sonobe Hong, the Deputy Director of Law enforcement….

The texts from Hirata’s phone regarding the confirmation hearing also orchestrates seating arrangements for Espinda, directing employees to arrive an hour early, 12:15 p.m. for the 1:15 p.m. event.

She also warns, “There will be a group of Sheriffs that will be in opposition..." and that she wants to ensure Nolan (Espinda) is surrounded by his supporters.

She even directs Ford Fuchigami, the Governor’s Chief of Staff, to sit next to Espinda with the wardens -- who she is in charge of -- to sit directly behind Espinda.

The messages also names two critics who must be kept away, “We need to keep Kat Brady & DeMont (Conner out) of eye shot of boss.”…

Another questionable move by Hirata ahead of Espinda’s reconfirmation, an online petition urging support for Espinda.

It has Hirata’s name as the author and sources say she was telling subordinates to sign it. Some say they felt intimidated and signed it fearing retaliation.

“This department will do anything and everything it can to keep the people in power who shouldn’t be in power,” said Keiron Pratt, a PSD employee who posted a negative comment on the online petition, which mysteriously got deleted.

“The morale of this department is the lowest it has been since I’ve been with the department since 2002.”…

BIN: ACLU Hawai‘i Testifies on Director of Public Safety Nomination

read … Last minute tactics by supporters of DPS leader uncovered ahead of hearing

Puana Grandmother to Provide Key Details on Mailbox Frameup?

CB: … Because of Florence Puana’s condition — she was hospitalized last week — federal prosecutors have asked a judge to let them perform a videotaped deposition with her before the start of the Kealohas’ May 13 trial in case she’s unable to testify at that point….

Honolulu police officer Minh-Hung “Bobby” Nguyen, wants to stop that from happening.

Nguyen’s lawyer, Randall Hironaka, filed a motion Monday opposing the government’s request to depose Puana, saying the prosecution hasn’t shown proof of the “exceptional circumstances” necessary to warrant such a maneuver.

Federal prosecutors said Florence Puana mistakenly told Nguyen that Gerard drove a white sedan, which was the same color car used two days later by the alleged mailbox thief.

Gerard’s car, however, was silver….

read … Defendant Wants To Stop Early Testimony Of Katherine Kealoha’s 99-Year-Old Grandmother

Council leadership: Taxpayers shouldn’t pay for ex-police chief’s legal defense

HNN: … The City’s Corporation Counsel also recommended on two separate occasions that taxpayers not be forced to fund the legal fees, telling the police commission that: “Chief Kealoha’s acts were not done in the performance of his official duty."

The Kealoha’s lawyer, Kevin Sumida, argued that the actions are covered by the law.

But Sumida is not their taxpayer-appointed attorney in the federal mailbox case. Instead, Rustam Barbee is the one assigned to defend Louis Kealoha, while Cynthia Kagiwada is the court-appointed attorney for Katherine Kealoha.

SA: Honolulu City Council members oppose Kealoha fees

Link: City Councilmember Ron Menor's Letter to Police Commission

read … Council leadership: Taxpayers shouldn’t pay for ex-police chief’s legal defense

Whistleblower tells police commission concerns about upcoming promotions

KHON: …Dee Ann Koanui didn't talk about the lawsuit or the settlement, but rather she said she's concerned that Chief Susan Ballard is promoting one of her friends, even though he's had disciplinary issues in the past.

Less than a month after being awarded a huge settlement from the city, Koanui sat before the police commission, alongside her sister, during the part of the meeting set aside for public testimony.  She had a three minute time limit to get her message across.

"She's going to promote him to major on Friday.  This is the second time they have a chance to do what's right.  I think they need to realize that," Koanui told the commissioners.

Koanui's concerned about one of the current HPD captains who's being promoted to major.  He's someone who's been a longtime friend of Chief Ballard, and who's had disciplinary issues in the past.

Koanui spoke about an incident at the police academy in which that person was in charge of the dojo and changed tactics that she said resulted in a number of injuries….

read … Whistleblower tells police commission concerns about upcoming promotions

Nearly 23,000 Votes Cast in Council Special Election

SA: … About one-third of registered voters in Honolulu City Council District 4 have already cast votes in the special election between Trevor Ozawa and Tommy Waters. The official election day is April 13.

City Clerk Glen Takahashi’s office reported that as of 4 p.m. today, it had received 24,005 mail-in ballot envelopes and processed 134 ballots from those who voted in person at Honolulu Hale. About 66,000 registered District 4 voters are eligible to participate.…

read … Walk-in voting underway for contentious Honolulu City Council seat

Unionization of UH grad students a Financial Burden to State

HNN: … UH spokesman Dan Meisenzahl said the university opposes graduate assistant unionization for a simple reason: GAs are students first, employees second.

He also said the graduate assistantships aren’t careers. They’re part-time, and GAs are required to be working toward a degree.

He said adding a layer of collective bargaining would create a financial burden for the state….

read … Amid push to unionize, UH grad students say their voices aren’t being heard

Hawaii Population Decline Military-Related?

CB: …If the trend of the past two years is an indication, there will be fewer and fewer people to pay them. Hawaii was one of just nine states that lost population in 2018, the U.S. Census Bureau reported, with a decline of 3,700 people. That followed a population loss of 3,900 in 2017.

Hawaii’s slight population dip of the last few years might seem small in the context of the state’s population of 1.4 million.

However, it becomes more pronounced considering that Hawaii still enjoys what economists call a “natural increase” in population; in other words, more people are being born than dying.

In fact, in 2017, Hawaii had 17,523 births versus 11,505 deaths, a natural increase of 6,018. Thus, the total loss of population in 2017 was closer to 10,000, when factoring in the natural increase….

UHERO’s data shows a decline of military personnel and their families contributed to the overall decline….

read … Hawaii’s Population Decline Signals Future Economic Challenges

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