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Thursday, April 25, 2019
April 25, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:53 PM :: 3284 Views

Will the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Go Broke?

SCR204: OHA Insiders Exploit Aloha Poke Controversy to Grab Ownership of Hawaiian Culture for Themselves

Neighborhood Board Voting Begins Friday

HB720: Ige Signs Firearm Reporting Bill

Problem Gambling? Hawaii #2 in USA

Poll: Ige Among Most Unpopular Governors, Again

Profitable Nonprofit: Sand Island Rehab Exec Scores $500K Salary and a Slightly Used Miss Hawaii

CB: … Nearly six decades ago, a couple of recovering alcoholics in Honolulu wanted to create a refuge for others whose addictions had ripped apart their lives.

They found a ruined Army chapel on Sand Island, abandoned since World War II, on land so choked with undergrowth they had to hack their way into it, according to a 1969 article in the Sunday Honolulu Star-Bulletin & Advertiser.

The state, under Gov. John Burns, let them use the land for free. For a decade, the small staff worked without pay at Halfway House, run by a nonprofit called the Hawaii Alcoholism Foundation.

In the mid-1980s, Mason Henderson began working there and eventually became its executive director. The treatment center started to win government contracts and add beds. It employed almost 70 people to treat drug addiction as well as alcoholism. Courts referred defendants to the program.

It grew, fed largely by public money, benefiting from the tax breaks of being a nonprofit and operating for free on public land – without a lease.

So did the salaries of those who worked there – especially Henderson’s.

A Civil Beat investigation found that Sand Island Treatment Center, as it’s now known, has been paying Henderson an annual salary of as much as $500,000. That’s far beyond what other nonprofit drug treatment centers in Hawaii pay their top employees….

The rehab center also has paid several people identified in its tax returns as “counselors” or “senior counselors” well into six figures.

They include a former Miss Hawaii who went to Sand Island after being arrested in a drug bust in 2005. Tiffini Limahai was paid $119,126 as a counselor in 2009. According to public records, she has lived recently in a house in the Rocky Mountains owned by Henderson….

Pay is set by a nonprofit’s board of directors. Sand Island’s six-member board has for years included  Henderson and one of his employees, the rehab’s chief financial officer Natividad Morin, despite nonprofit guidelines that warn of possible conflicts of interest from too many paid workers also acting as directors….

The city of Honolulu is expanding the Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant into the public land occupied by the rehab.

The city this month bought a new home for Sand Island Treatment Center for $9 million, and plans to lease it back to the rehab for a nominal amount, perhaps as little as $1 a year, reasoning that it provides an essential service to the community.

The city also is setting aside as much as $1 million to pay for the center’s moving costs, though it doesn’t expect to spend that amount.

Henderson, 66, declined a request for an interview.

A Sand Island spokesman said Henderson was on the mainland for a medical procedure and provided a written statement defending the salaries of Henderson and others.

“Our current Executive Director has been serving the People of Hawaii in his position for nearly 35 years,” the statement said. “We also have the longest serving clinical staff in the State with the average time on staff of nearly 20 years….”

in 2016 Henderson scored $486,615.

One year, 2005, Henderson also made $60,940 as a “consultant” in addition to his pay that year of $213,835.

The generous pay extends to counselors and others at Sand Island.

Several counselors have made more than $100,000 annually. In 2006, Yma Hasegawa, listed on Sand Island’s tax return from that year as a counselor and “cncl sp” — perhaps clinical specialist — was paid more than $200,000.

Those kinds of extraordinary salaries have continued in recent years.

Cathy Ahana, listed as a counselor in most years, made $153,027 in base pay and other compensation in 2016, the year of Sand Islands’ most recent publicly available tax return….

2005: Pageant winner granted leniency in sentencing for crystal meth

read … Profitable

HDOT: If you really Believe in Global Warming You Must Give Us $15B

IM: … A ballpark figure of $10-15 Billion. Ed Sniffen presented short-term, intermediate-term, and long-term fixes needed to protect highways from climate change impacts at a meeting of the Hawai`i Climate Change Mitigation & Adaptation Commission (HCCM&AC) held yesterday.

The ever-increasing threats from sea level rise, flooding, erosion holes in roads, and rain bombs have greatly reduced what the long-range means.

(Rain bombs?  And potholes caused by global warming?  If you believe this crap you deserve to give up your money.)

Sniffen asserted that long-range impacts were those that needed to be addressed in the five-to-ten-year timeframe. …

DLNR Administrator Sam Lemmo sought to put a positive spin on the 2019 State Legislature which is in the process of killing virtually all climate and renewable energy bills. He noted that the bill  to study carbon taxes is technically still alive, having been inserted into a bill to upgrade the DBEDT State Energy Office.

The Climate Commission meets quarterly. The Commission established three Permitted interactions Groups (PIGs) to work on specific issues: Transportation (Trans-PIG), Equity (Eq-PIG), and Legislation (Leg-PIG).

The 2019 State Legislature appears to be de-funding the Greenhouse Gas Sequestration Task Force that was created by the 2018 State Legislature. The three Sequestration PIGs are on hold….

read … Three PIGs Created by State Climate Commission

State Senate poised to accept a proposal to allow vacation rental platforms to collect Hawaii taxes

SA: … The state Senate appears poised to accept a bill tonight that would authorize vacation rental platforms such as Airbnb to collect taxes on behalf of the state, a development that triggered a last-minute lobbying push at the state Capitol today by the hotel industry and the hospitality workers union Unite HERE Local 5 to try to block the measure.

Senate leaders on Wednesday posted a notice that senators would agree to the latest draft of Senate Bill 1292, a measure that would require vacation rental platforms such as Airbnb and Expedia to collect taxes from transient rental operators on behalf of the state.

State tax officials calculate that would raise an extra $52 million next fiscal year if it passes, and lawmakers hope to use that money to finance various initiatives….

read … State Senate poised to accept a proposal to allow vacation rental platforms to collect Hawaii taxes

Effort to impeach Kaneshiro hits new roadblocks

SA: … Deputy Corporation Counsel Moana Yost is making it clear that City Clerk Glen Takahashi, whom she represents, will only accept hand-written signatures in any petition seeking to remove Kaneshiro. The petitioners have been told that “the petition requires a legible full name, a hand-written signature and a resident’s address,” Yost told the Hono­lulu Star-Advertiser after the hearing.

Oahu businessman Tracy Yoshimura’s petition so far has been collecting signatures primarily through electronic platforms — first through change.org and more recently DocuSign at impeachkaneshiro.com. …

Meanwhile, Kaneshiro attorney William McCorriston said he is filing a motion asking Circuit Judge Jeffrey Crabtree to dismiss the petition arguing that it was improperly filed. An impeachment petition against an elected city official requires 500 names be submitted, and Yoshimura’s submissions so far have been defective, McCorriston said….

read … Effort to impeach Kaneshiro hits new roadblocks

Lawsuit: Officers Conspired to Coverup Domestic Abuse

KHON: … Just a few hours before he was arrested a the lawsuit was filed that raises allegations of conspiracy, gross negligence, abuse, and emotional distress all related to HPD's handling of an incident that happened between Cachola and his wife in 2017.

According to the lawsuit, police were called to the families home in 2017 after his wife claimed Cachola strangled her. When police arrived Cachola's wife said that officer Kevin Bailey looked at her injuries and said, "This is not good."

She claimed officer Bailey told her the media would harass her and it would be "ugly" and "embarrassing," if she pressed charges on Cachola.

The lawsuit alleges that Bailey and another officer told her to write the following statement:

"I got into an argument with my husband, I have no injuries, thank you."

Cachola was not arrested in this incident and no photographs were taken of his wife's injuries.

This would have been three years after video surfaced of Cachola fighting with his then girlfriend at Kuni's restaurant in Waipahu.

Charges were not filed in that case.

Police commissioner Loretta Sheehan said she could not believe when she heard the news that Cachola was again being accused of abuse.

"When an officer behaves like this, not only does he undermine confidence in the department, it encourages other people out there to think that they can do the same. And that is just so wrong on every level," Sheehan said.

KHON: "I think any normal person would be wondering, how is it possible that an officer can continue to act this way and do these things and still remain an officer?"

"That is a great question. I don't know. I don't know why he still a police officer," Sheehan said.

Cachola was arrested Wednesday and has been charged with abuse of a household member and harassment.

HPD said Cachola's police powers will be removed and both criminal and administrative investigations have been initiated.

In a statement Chief Susan Ballard said:

"We expect our officers to be positive examples for the community, both on and off duty, and are disappointed with the allegations regarding this officer's conduct."

Sheehan said she wants more transparency in the police department.

"At this point given the repeated arrests, Officer Cachola I think he's a poster boy for more transparency in terms of disciplinary actions against officers."… 

read … Lawsuit filed raises allegations of conspiracy and abuse against HPD and several officers

DOCARE Officers Use Illegal GPS Jammers to Cover up Overtime Abuse

HNN: … The state Attorney General’s Office is investigating the use of illegal GPS jammers by state conservation officers.

Hawaii News Now has learned that up to 10 officers at the state Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement are now under investigation.

At least one has stepped down while another was relieved of his police duties, sources said. …

No bigger than a car cigarette lighter, the illegal devices prevent DOCARE managers from tracking the officers in their official vehicles when they’re supposed to be on the clock.

“They could be doing one of many things, out on the beach, out working second jobs, or serving as security agent for another company," said environmental activist Carroll Cox.

Hawaii News Now has learned that the Attorney General’s Office has subpoenaed at least one manufacturer to find out who was buying these devices to circumvent the department’s GPS system.

In the past, the DLNR used the GPS devices to investigate alleged overtime abuses by DOCARE officers.

Cox said an internal investigation in 2016 found that about a dozen officers were claiming overtime when their GPS system showed they were either at home or at another job….

read … Attorney general investigates use of illegal GPS jammers by DOCARE officers

Hawaii Senate votes to reconfirm Nolan Espinda to lead Public Safety Department

SA: … The Senate voted today to reconfirm Nolan Espinda to lead Hawaii’s Department of Public Safety for another four years, rejecting the advice of a Senate committee that earlier this month advised that Espinda’s nomination be rejected….

The Senate ultimately approved Espinda, however, in a 17 to 8 vote, as Espinda, with Gov. David Ige sitting by his side, watched from the gallery.

Several senators rose on the floor to say that while they had concerns about recent events, they felt Espinda was committed to making reforms.

Sen. Kurt Fevella, the lone Republican in the Senate, said that the Maui riot was bound to happen, whether Espinda was the director or not. He noted that the severely overcrowded conditions in the state’s jails have persisted for years. Fevella said that part of the blame rests with the Legislature for not providing enough financial support to the corrections system.

The Senate also unanimously voted today to reconfirm Suzanne Case as director and Robert Masuda as deputy director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources….

CB: “If not Nolan, who?” Sen. Kurt Fevella said from the Senate floor. “There’s no one who has the backbone.”

read … Hawaii Senate votes to reconfirm Nolan Espinda to lead Public Safety Department

Lawmakers decline to issue budget surplus refunds

SA: … State lawmakers have decided to make a modest $5 million deposit into the state’s “rainy day” budget reserve fund instead of issuing taxpayer refunds from the state budget surplus this year.

Whenever the state ends two consecutive fiscal years with a general treasury surplus of more than 5% of general fund revenues, the Hawaii Constitution requires lawmakers to either make a refund to state taxpayers, or to tuck away some cash as reserves or payments against future state obligations.

The state ended fiscal year 2018 with a general treasury balance of $894 million, and ended last fiscal year fiscal year with $750 million, which triggered that constitutional requirement….

In some other years when that constitutional provision kicked in, lawmakers have opted to give taxpayers a “refund” of $1 each. This year, they chose another approach.

A House-Senate conference committee agreed Monday to appropriate $5 million in Senate Bill 494 for the emergency and budget reserve fund, which is a cache of money that is set aside to help the state navigate unexpected budget shortfalls and economic downturns. The fund now has a balance of more than $375 million.

read … Lawmakers decline to issue budget surplus refunds

Maui Council, Mayor Propose $140M Property Tax Hikes

MN: … The current rates, mayor’s proposed rates and the budget chairwoman’s proposed rates are as follows:

Residential: $5.52, no change proposed

Apartment: $6.31, no change proposed

Commercial: $7.25 (current), $7.39 (mayor, budget chair)

Industrial: $7.45 (current), $7.48 (mayor, budget chair)

Agricultural: $6.00 (current, mayor), $5.94 (budget chair)

Conservation: $6.35, no change proposed

Hotel/resort: $9.37 (current), $9.60 (mayor), $14.91 (budget chair)

Time share: $15.41 (current), $13.93 (mayor), $15.41 (budget chair)

Short-term rental: $9.28 (current), $9.55 (mayor), $15.41 (budget chair)

Homeowner: $2.85 (current, mayor), $2.66 (budget chair)

Commercialized residential: $4.55, no change proposed

The rates are per $1,000 of net taxable assessed value.

Real property tax rates are the county’s largest source of revenue, and Rawlins-Fernandez’s proposal would boost annual property tax revenue from $338.1 million to $410.1 million. Revenue from hotel/resort property taxes would go from $27.5 million to $43.8 million, while revenue from short-term rentals would increase from $87.6 million to $145.4 million….

read … Tax Hikes

Raises get green light

KGI: … In a highly anticipated meeting, the Kauai County Council unanimously voted to defer a vote on a three-part package resolution to increase salaries, some of which will go into effect in July, and the county council effective in December 2020….

(Watch all the ways councilmembers tried to make it look they oppose this pay hike while enacting it.  Hilarious!)

The deferment vote ensured certain employees including the police and fire chiefs and the mayor will see pay increases starting through an inability to carry an amendment to the resolution, either unanimously or through minority vote, which would have passed a measure to stop the pay increases.

It was suggested at one point during the debate that any councilmember that didn’t want the pay increases could “give the money back to the county to use.”

Several motions to either reject the resolution proposed by the Salary Commission in whole or in part were introduced throughout the course of the contested agenda item….

The combined average annual salary for all county officials on the list, excepting the councilmembers, is slightly over $115,000.

The vast majority of the proposed raises are 7.6 percent, although a handful of officials are in line for larger jumps in pay….

Councilmember Ross Kagawa could be heard saying, “Merry Christmas” as the council went into a break immediately after the vote….

read … Raises get green light

Are Medical Costs Dropping Under HMSA's New Doctor Payment Plan?

HPR: … Doctors have to meet quality measures set by HMSA for every patient. They receive bonuses for improvements and can share in the savings if they cut costs.

"It puts the right incentives and opportunities in front of the physicians to drive the kind of changes that we’re all wanting to control the cost of care," Livaudias said.

Dr. Steve Kemble, a local health policy expert and psychiatrist, is skeptical of the incentives.

"The doctors and hospitals make more money if they deliver less care and keep more of what they got," Kemble said. "So that now the doctors and hospitals are functioning as an insurance company bearing insurance risk and they have the incentive to restrict care that the insurance company used to have."

Kemble doesn’t buy the argument that excessive primary care services are causing high health care costs.

"We have fewer doctor visits per capita and fewer hospital days per capita than almost any other industrialized country, and yet our costs are twice what theirs are," he said. "So it can’t be a problem of overutilization due to fee-for-service. There must be something else to explain high U.S. health care costs."  …

read … Are Medical Costs Dropping Under HMSA's New Doctor Payment Plan?

Honolulu leads state in population loss, Census finds

SA: … According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau county population estimates, Hawaii’s population grew at an annual rate of 0.5% on average between July 1, 2010 and July 1, 2018 but that included negative growth in 2017 and 2018.

Honolulu was the biggest population loser over the eight-year period, having posted a net loss of more than 61,700 residents from domestic migration — residents leaving Oahu for the mainland versus newcomers arriving.

Nearly 13,000 residents bailed from Oahu alone from July 1, 2017 to July 1, 2018, according to the Census.

A county population that was once taking aim at the 1 million mark dropped from nearly 993,000 in 2016 to 980,000 by 2018, the figures show.

Likewise, the state population dipped from a record high of nearly 1.43 million in 2016 to 1.42 million in 2018.

The state’s chief economist, Eugene Tian, said Hawaii’s high cost of living and a strong economy on the mainland were factors.

“People are moving to the mainland for opportunity,” Tian said. “The mainland in recent years is booming with more job opportunities.”

Tian said recent military deployments figure in the numbers as well. Oahu’s military population decreased from nearly 50,000 in 2014 to nearly 43,000 in 2018, according to figures from the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism.

As for the latest neighbor island Census numbers, Maui saw a net loss of 151 residents due to domestic migration over the eight-year period, while Kauai had a net increase of 224 domestic newcomers.

Hawaii County’s net domestic migration topped 6,000, helping push the island’s population over the 200,000 mark for the first time….

Despite the exodus, Honolulu’s population actually grew 4.4%, or by 26,874 residents, from 2010 to 2018, thanks to net international migration that added 42,604 newcomers plus the 46,553 attributed to the net “natural” increase of births versus deaths.

Maui County experienced an 8% population increase from 2010 to 2018, bringing the total to 167,207, while Kauai saw a 7.5% increase in residents, with the island’s total population estimated at 72,133….

PDF: U.S. Census Report

read … Honolulu leads state in population loss, Census finds

Hb1165: Trannies to get ‘X’ on Drivers License

CB: … State lawmakers passed House Bill 1165 out of a conference committee between the state House and Senate Thursday morning. HB 1165 would allow drivers to list “X” as a sex designation instead of “male” or “female.”

Hawaii has the highest rate of people identifying as transgender, according to a 2016 report by the University of California, Los Angeles….

If HB 1165 becomes law, Hawaii would join four other states along with Washington D.C. in allowing drivers to list “X” as a sex designation, according to the World Economic Forum.

read … Insanity

State To Housing Applicants: Sign Up Online Or Lose Your Spot On Wait List

CB: … Nearly 14,000 applicants for public housing in Hawaii must sign up online or risk losing their spot in line for one of about 6,100 federal and state-subsidized low-income housing units.

It’s an effort by the state’s Public Housing Authority to bring the wait list into the 21st century and make it easier for applicants to see their place on the list and update their contact information….

The initial notification letters were sent in March with an April 30 deadline. So far nearly 3,000 families have signed up successfully and about 2,800 letters were either returned undeliverable or recipients said they no longer needed housing….

the agency plans to send out a second letter to allow applicants who haven’t signed up yet another 30 days to comply….

read … State To Housing Applicants: Sign Up Online Or Lose Your Spot On Wait List

Kalihi Valley Homeless’ Lower Stolen Piano in Riverbed Tent City

HNN: … Neighbors say squatters have have been living under the bridge for years. But over the past few months, the bustling encampment’s gotten out of control.

A woman who didn’t want to be identified told Hawaii News Now people come and go from the campsite at all hours of the day and night….

Another neighbor provided HNN with video of what looked like a piano being lowered into the encampment from the bridge.

Squatters are also using up the street parking.

People who live nearby said the village is extremely volatile and that recently a fire was set after some illegal campers got into a dispute over territory.

“There’s arguments. There is fighting,” said the woman. “We’ve called police. We talked to the city. We talked to the state. We talked to a representative. Nothing’s being done.”…

read … Residents run into red tape in push to tackle squatters’ village in Kalihi Valley

No Sex Trafficking found at Brothel

SA: … Law enforcement officers this morning raided a massage center that had initially been linked to the indictment of 11 people on prostitution charges.

No one was arrested at Kison Health Shiatsu Therapy Center at 1296 S. Beretania St., but authorities seized evidence after police and Homeland Security officers assisting investigators from the prosecutor’s office executed a search warrant….

Case workers from the Susannah Wesley Community Center accompanied law enforcement to offer assistance and services to any victims of sex trafficking, but none were found, Baehr said.

Law enforcement interviews people individually in an effort to identify victims of sex trafficking, asking whether they are there voluntarily or against their will….

read …  Authorities raid massage center linked to prostitution case

Trump spurs an uptick in politicians leaving GOP

WaPo:  … Hawaii state Rep. Beth Fukumoto is another once-rising GOP star; she featured on The Fix's "40 under 40" list in 2014. She became the minority leader of the state House before turning 30 and was tapped to help the national GOP recruit female candidates. Then in a February 2017 speech to the Women's March in Honolulu, she spoke out against Trump's comments about women and minorities, and the next month she announced her party switch.

These three and other party-switchers notably come from states where their now-former party wields little power, which undoubtedly weighed on some of their decisions. It's also notable that many of them switched after losing or didn't go on to seek re-election….

Outside of state legislatures, a number of party-switching politicians have also cited Trump, including former U.S. senator Gordon Humphrey of New Hampshire, former congressman Charles Djou of Hawaii, Honolulu City Councilor Kymberly Pine, California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, and former Arizona attorney general Grant Woods (a former chief of staff to Sen. John McCain)….

read … Trump spurs an uptick in politicians leaving GOP

‘Hawaiian Day’ Controversy Spurs SD Legislature to Act on Free Speech

AL:  … One law student's concerns about a University of South Dakota party tipped the scales in passing a new state law regulating free speech on campus.

Concerns that USD students' right to free speech was potentially violated in changing the party theme from "Hawaiian Day" to "Beach Day," plus the elimination of leis for the party, prompted legislators to revive a previously defeated campus free speech bill that was quickly passed at the Capitol following the USD controversy.….

News stories are published in national and Hawaiian media outlets over the course of the first weekend in March.

The Senate State Affairs Committee approves on March 4 reviving the campus free speech bill and passes it on March 6. The full Senate passes the bill on March 7.

After the House concurs on the Senate's amendment on March 12, the bill is sent to Gov. Kristi Noem for a signature the following day. Noem signed it into law on March 20, and it'll go into effect on July 1….

read … 'Hawaiian Day' timeline: How a USD controversy sparked change in state law

State-Run Presidential primary election would be good for Hawaii

SA: … Hawaii needs a transparent, open presidential primary managed by the state Office of Elections in which all Hawaii political parties participate on the same day. Voters should be able to vote as they wish, regardless of party affiliation, and with the process of candidate selection in full public view. The selection of candidates should not be a party-managed candidate preference poll, or one where delegates to the national convention who represent different candidates are selected at a party convention.

Hawaii is often troubled that it is not noticed and that no one on the mainland seems to care about the state. The feeling of abandonment becomes more pronounced when both presidential primary and general election candidates decide not to campaign in Hawaii….

read … primary election in January would be good for Hawaii

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