Waimea DHHL Association Seeks Federal Recognition as Indian Tribe
Corrections Officer charged with felony drug offense
Mazie Hirono’s rancorous attacks play into Trump game plan
Shapiro: … her points were lost in a rambling statement in which she compared Barr to Rudy Giuliani and Kellyanne Conway, called Trump a “grifter and liar” and re-litigated old business from Barr’s confirmation hearing to the 1989 arrest of Manuel Noriega.
This is a losing look for Democrats, feeding into the GOP narrative that the Russia inquiries are more about politics than oversight. The personal rancor gives cover to Barr and others as they ignore subpoenas from the Democratic-controlled House.
Democrats billed their takeover of the House last year as a chance to prove they could govern effectively. They promised a stream of legislation on economic equity, health care, climate and other major concerns.
It hasn’t materialized as they’ve become increasingly paralyzed by infighting, culture wars and legal battles with Trump.
Trump would love to keep it that way for the next 18 months before the 2020 presidential election. He thrives on chaos….
Lawmakers like Hirono must decide whether it’s more important to thump their chests and throw red meat to the party’s base or give themselves a chance to win the 2020 election….
read … Mazie Hirono’s rancorous attacks play into Trump game plan
Hawaii to Sue Oil Companies for ‘Climate Change’?
SA: … A recent poll by the Center for Climate Integrity showed strong support among Hawaii voters for holding climate polluters responsible for these impacts. Seventy-five percent of those polled agreed that the oil and gas industry should be responsible for some portion of costs to protect communities from climate change. A similar percentage supported litigation against climate polluters.
The high costs of climate change could have been avoided. But given the reality we are facing, it is time that the state and counties seriously examine new approaches.
In our view, legal action may be necessary to compensate for damages to the islands. Hawaii needs to continue to show strong leadership and explore new avenues to address the costs of our climate crisis before irreparable damage is done to the islands....
UH News: UH law school is co-organizer of climate change event at State Capitol
read … More Money for Green Profiteers
List of Failed Ethics-related Bills
SA: … when it came to the long list of bills targeting money in politics, conflicts of interest and other government reforms, almost all of the bills died.
For example, both the Senate and House introduced bills that would have banned lawmakers from holding campaign fundraisers during the legislative session, which runs from mid-January into the first week of May. The Senate version of the bill went even further, prohibiting legislators from accepting campaign contributions from lobbyists, private companies and nonprofits during session.
Critics have long said the practice amounts to, or at least gives the appearance of, “pay to play.”
Neither of the bills received a single hearing. Meanwhile, lawmakers liberally scheduled fundraisers throughout this year’s session — more than 60, according to the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission, which sends out a tweet whenever a lawmaker files the paperwork.
Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, and Sen. Michelle Kidani, chairwoman of the Education Committee, both scheduled fundraisers on April 18 at The Hokua, a luxury condo complex on Ala Moana Boulevard where the suggested campaign contribution was $500, $1,000 or $1,500. Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English scheduled a March 21 fundraiser at Ducs Bistro in downtown Honolulu where the suggested contribution was between $250 to $4,000.
The next deadline for filing campaign spending reports isn’t until July 31. That means the public won’t know who donated to state legislators during the just-completed session, whether at a fundraiser or otherwise, until three months after lawmakers have gone home.
Other bills aimed at getting money out of politics included a measure that would have created a comprehensive public funding program for candidates for county elections beginning in 2022. “With the influence of dark money on political campaigns, the role of public financing becomes more crucial than ever,” according to the bill.
Another bill would have significantly increased fines for certain campaign finance violations.
Both of those bills passed the House but never got a hearing in the Senate Ways and Means Committee.
One bill that did pass, Senate Bill 138, requires campaign spending reports to be filed on two additional dates during a general election year. The measure aims to increase transparency about campaign contributions before absentee ballots are mailed out.
A slew of other bills that attempted to address conflicts of interest in government and politics also failed. This included a bill that would have toughened lobbying laws, including banning behind-the-scenes lobbying activities and expanding the “cooling-off period” before former legislators and top government officials could serve as lobbyists from one to two years. Another bill would have prohibited the governor and county mayors from having other jobs or earning outside compensation while in office.
Other dead measures include a bill that would have expanded the list of government officials who needed to file a financial disclosure statement with the State Ethics Office and a bill that would have enacted state laws mirroring the federal Hatch Act, which restricts certain government employees from participating in partisan activities. …
read … No Ethics
Legislature Warns on Voter Fraud
Borreca: In one of the last votes taken Thursday, both chambers voted overwhelmingly to approve an election vote-by-mail bill to start next year….
There is, however, no indication whether Ige would approve the bill….
The bill contains a stern (toothless) warning that anyone convicted of voter fraud is subject to to both a fine and/or imprisonment….
Also approved last week was the long-needed inclusion of mandatory recounts for elections in which the count differential between the top two candidates is 0.25% or 100 votes or less….
CB: Election Reform: A Step Forward But Still Much To Be Done
read … All mail-in voting in 2020
Kauai Audit to Target ‘Pension Spiking’
KGI: … Kagawa said. “But for me, it’s no secret that the top priority would be the fire department and the spiking.”
Kagawa added that there is already evidence that spiking has occurred, given “actual evidence as provided by another agency.” The other agency is Employee Retirement System data, which he provided to the councilmembers and citizens in attendance….
Related: FD Pension Bill $115K per Pensioner per Year
read … Council says OK to audits
Kim’s proposed $583.9M budget is up 12.7% – 93 New ‘Positions’
HTH: … Mayor Harry Kim has added another 21 employees to his previous request of 72 in his final proposed budget sent Friday to the County Council.
The $583.9 million spending plan is 12.7% larger than last year’s budget and relies on fee increases and a general excise tax surcharge rather than an increase in property taxes. Some property owners, however, may pay more in taxes thanks to an average 3.2% increase in property values.
Kim has allocated money in the budget to remove seven holiday closures of transfer stations and landfill operations. And, $6.5 million in salaries and wages was added to reflect estimated increases coming from collective bargaining with the county’s public employee unions….
read … Kim’s proposed $583.9M budget is up 12.7%
Andy Winer, Longtime Schatz Chief Of Staff, Is Leaving
CB: … After more than six years as U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz’s chief of staff, Andy Winer is moving on.
Winer, who is one of Hawaii’s top political operatives, told Civil Beat he’s leaving Schatz’s office to work in the private sector in Washington, D.C., as a consultant.
He still plans to work for Schatz when the senator comes up for re-election in 2022.
“My plan is to remain on Team Schatz and remain a part of the campaign team,” Winer said. …
read … Andy Winer, Longtime Schatz Chief Of Staff, Is Leaving
Bill aims to prevent Annoying Tourists From Parking
KHON: … parking on the side of some state highways has turned into a big problem in small communities like Haena and Hana.
It’s been just over a year since record flooding hit Kauai.
As the state plans on re-opening the area to visitors this month, residents noticed new signs pop up along their narrow highway that read No Parking Anytime, $200 fine HRS 291C-111.
One Haena resident says the signs were put in problem areas along Kuhio Highway….
Another narrow two-lane highway that could benefit from the bill is the Road to Hana on Maui.
The Hana Highway Regulation group has been aiming to educate visitors and locals on safety while driving through Hana. One big issue they’ve seen is illegal parking.
“We are optimistic at what this measure will do for the areas of Haena and Kuhio Highway,” Napua Hueu, Hana Highway Regulation Committee Chair wrote in a text. …
read … Bill aims to prevent parking on dangerous areas of state highways
Hawaii’s asset-forfeiture reforms go long way to restore public trust in police
SA: … here are few government actions as stacked against the law-abiding public as civil asset forfeiture. While intended to deter crime, it is now used to pad police departments’ budgets by allowing them to take people’s property, even when they’re never accused or convicted of a crime. This oft-abused system has hurt innocent people, and HB 748 goes a long way to fixing it….
To get it back, you can pay a cash bond of $2,500 and hire a lawyer to take the government to court.
If you can prove you are too poor, the bond may be waived. If the court decides against your money, you lose it, AND now have to pay the co ts and attorney’s fees of the government as well. If you win, you only get your money and bond back —nothing else.
When profit becomes part of policing, there is a motive to go after not just the big bad criminals. There’s profit in going after everyone, especially when the game is rigged so heavily toward the government.
As revealed in a scorching audit last year, asset forfeiture in Hawaii goes unchallenged 85-95% of the time, is more commonly abused on the neighbor islands and frequently occurs without a conviction.
The real end result of asset forfeiture is erosion of public trust in our police….
read … Hawaii’s asset-forfeiture reforms go long way to restore public trust in police