Gabbard Defends Fringe Leaders’ Rights After Facebook Ban
Lawyers for Hawaii Gun Carry Lawsuit File Supreme Court Brief in New York Case
JP Morgan Report Highlights Hawaii Pension Problems
Give OHA a Piece of Your Mind
Hawaii: 2nd Highest Taxes on Pass-Through Businesses
Honolulu: Lowest Starting Salaries in USA
Drug, Gambling Charges Filed Against Big Island Cops Kaneshiro Refused to Prosecute
HTH: … A grand jury has indicted two retired Hawaii Police Department officers in connection with a 2018 stolen drug evidence case.
The first indictment was posted shortly after 10 a.m. Tuesday against retired police officer Brian Miller. A second indictment posted at around 11:30 a.m. had charges filed against retired police officer Chadwick Fukui as well as four civilians: Lance Yamada, Stacey Yamada, David Colon and Ivar Kaluhikaua…. (HPR: Three of the four have previously been arrested for gambling.)
Miller was charged with fourth-degree theft; obstructing government operations, three counts tampering with physical evidence by destroying or mutilating it; second-degree theft; first-degree promoting a dangerous drug; second-degree hindering prosecution; conspiracy to commit second-degree hindering prosecution; and conspiracy to commit tampering with physical evidence by destroying or mutilating it.
Fukui was charged with hindering prosecution; two counts of criminal conspiracy; and tampering with physical evidence.
The Lamadas, Colon and Kaluhikaua face the same charges.
Hawaii Police initially forwarded their investigation into one of their own sworn personnel to the Hawaii County Prosecutor’s Office on March 2, 2018, after cocaine was found missing from the Hilo evidence storage facility.
After reviewing the case, County Prosecutor Mitch Roth forwarded it to the Attorney General’s Office in Honolulu, which assigned it to Honolulu Prosecutor’s Office because of a conflict of interest.
After months of reviewing the case, Honolulu determined in October there was no probable cause to support a charge of Securing the Proceeds of an Offense or any other crime.
(Kaneshiro doing the job he was paid to do.)
(Hawaii County) Prosecutors on Tuesday said they began reviewing the case again after receiving more information in December. The conflict of interest that existed in March 2018 that kept Hawaii County prosecutors from pursuing the case has been resolved. That conflict occurred in the Hilo office, prosecutors said, but could not go into more detail…. (The Conflict: Chadwick Fukui had been working as an investigator in the Hawaii County Prosecutor's office.)
read … Update: 2 retired cops, 4 civilians indicted in missing drug evidence case
Kealoha Lawyers Name Reporter as ‘Witness’ to Block Her from Courtroom
CB: … A local journalist covering the criminal trial of Louis and Katherine Kealoha says the law enforcement couple wants to keep her out of the courtroom to retaliate against her for critical news coverage.
Lynn Kawano, who’s the chief investigative reporter at Hawaii News Now, was named as a witness in the case, which focuses on allegations the retired police chief and his wife, a former city prosecutor, aided by several Honolulu police officers, framed a family member for the theft of their mailbox.
Under federal rules any witness can be excluded from the courtroom until it is their turn to testify. For Kawano that could mean she wouldn’t be able to cover the trial from inside the courtroom ….
UPDATE: Judge J. Michael Seabright on Wednesday issued an order effectively removing Kawano from the list of potential witnesses
Cataluna: Boon or bane? Talk around town is ‘Would you want to?’
read … Hawaii News Now: Kealohas Are Retaliating Against Our Reporter
From ‘Flying Carpets’ to the Kealohas: Hawaii’s Rich History of Scandal
CB: … Stories of misdeeds and corruption have helped shape Hawaii’s history, going back to a royal opium scandal that contributed to efforts to overthrow the monarchy….
read … Jim Dooley
City council overrides mayor’s veto of a bill that will lower property taxes
HNN: … Honolulu council members unanimously voted to override the mayor’s veto of a bill aimed at lowering property taxes.
The measure, Bill 3, drops the tax by about $70 for most Oahu homeowners who live in their houses ….
Mayor Caldwell rejected the bill, saying it would cost the city about $10 million dollars a year in revenue .…
read … City council overrides mayor’s veto of a bill that will lower property taxes
Maui Council Hikes Property Taxes Even More than Mayor
MN: … After years of cutting back the mayor’s budgets, the Maui County Council is bringing an $823.6 million budget to the table, $43 million higher than Mayor Michael Victorino’s proposal and a touch above the $820 million proposal that former Mayor Alan Arakawa called his “most aggressive budget proposal to date.”
The fiscal year 2020 budget is headed for first reading before the Maui County Council on Friday, the culmination of dozens of meetings and public hearings since late March. The council has to pass the budget on second reading by June 10, or Victorino’s $781 million budget goes into effect.
Keani Rawlins-Fernandez, chairwoman of the Economic Development and Budget Committee, said on April 29 after the committee passed the budget that she was happy with the final product.
“I think we’re going to do great things,” Rawlins-Fernandez said. “We’re really putting our money where our mouth is. We talked about how affordable housing is a priority, and I think we made it a priority in this budget. I think we made environmental protection and cultural preservation a priority in this budget.”
But last year’s budget chairman, Council Member Riki Hokama, was critical of the increases, saying he had “never voted for a budget that I cannot even tell one person what is our expenses, what is our revenues and what did we fund.”
“I’m kind of disappointed that we didn’t bring more clarity to the process,” he said during the April 29 meeting. “I’m still yet befuddled. I hope staff can show me the numbers that make more sense because eventually somebody’s going to have to explain to the taxpayers what we did, and I really don’t know who can, to be honest.”
All told, the council’s budget includes $670.8 million for operations (about $22.7 million more than the mayor’s) and $152.8 million for capital improvement projects (about $20 million more). They increased most categories of real property taxes — the county’s largest revenue source — to generate a net revenue of $358 million, close to $20 million more than both the mayor’s rates and the current rates….
MN: Council’s version contains $40 million more than mayor seeks
read … Council budget up for first reading
Best States? Lack of Opportunity Drags Hawaii Down in US News ‘best states’ ranking
HNN: … In its latest “best states” ranking, the magazine put Hawaii 24th out of the 50 states for how its providing key services and opportunities for its citizens.
Hawaii fell in the rankings from last year, when it was in the no. 17 spot. And it got especially poor marks for “opportunity" and “economy.”
That “opportunity” ranking ― which put Hawaii 46th in the nation ― includes a consideration of affordability (for which the islands ranked dead last in the nation) and economic opportunity (for which it ranked first).
Meanwhile, Hawaii ranked first in the nation for its health care metrics, and it took the no. 5 spot for crime and corrections ….
read … Hawaii falls in the middle of the pack on US News ‘best states’ ranking
Unity House Scammers Trying to Force Way Back onto Waikiki Beach
HNN: … A year after it awarded lucrative Waikiki beachboy concessions to Dive Oahu, the city said its revenues have nearly doubled.
But a former beachboy operator said tourists are being underserved.
“I know we made the right decision when you look at the revenue to the city. We’re doing much better than we did before," said Guy Kaulukukui, director of the city Department of Enterprise Services.
Dive Oahu has paid the city about $1.3 million since it was awarded the contract last May. Between May 2017 and May 2018, previous operators Star-Beachboys (run by former Unity House scammer Aaron Rutledge) and Hawaiian Oceans paid a combined $662,000, the city said.
Dive Oahu said its figures would have been higher because it only operated for several days in May 2018 and its results for May 2019 are not yet available….
But Star-Beachboy’s President Aaron Rutledge said Dive Oahu is serving fewer visitors since it rarely provides canoe rides. He added that the company had closed one of its stands on certain days.
“They don’t (have) enough beachboys walking around the beach hustling, providing services from sun up to sun down," he said.
But Dive Oahu blames competing surf instructors -- including former Star-Beachboy workers -- who set up illegally on the beach.
“That’s money that supposed to go to the taxpayer, that’s supposed to go to the City and County that’s being stolen," said Rofrits.
Rutledge his company is offering competing services…
2006: Plea Agreement Means Rutledge Out at Unity House
read … Turfwar brewing in Waikiki as beachboys spar over contract obligations
PUC to HELCO: Work to restore power to PGV requires approval, public hearing
HTH: … The letter said the commission “is not taking a position on whether PGV will, in fact, come back online, but rather is stating that if PGV does come back online, it should be under circumstances that take advantage of this opportunity to benefit HELCO ratepayers” by lowering the costs of electricity.….
State Sen. Russell Ruderman, D-Puna, Ka‘u, said there are “a lot of concerns in my mind and in the community about whether they ought to restart or not.”…
read … PUC to HELCO: Work to restore power to PGV requires approval, public hearing
Collapse of Recycling Market May force Changes in Hawaii County polystyrene ban
HTH: … The convergence of two unrelated events has food vendors crying foul and might lead to changes in the county’s polystyrene ban.
The ban on polystyrene — popularly known as Styrofoam — was passed in 2017 but doesn’t go into effect until July 1.
The 2017 law allowed compostable or recyclable plastic containers as substitutes to polystyrene. But the county on Dec. 1 stopped accepting plastic “clamshell” containers for recycling because there is no longer a market to recycle them.
That led Council Chairman Aaron Chung of Hilo to begin work on a new bill to better accommodate the vendors.
“Everyone was led to believe it was a polystyrene ban,” Chung said about the original bill, which he opposed. “Now it’s a ban on plastics. A lot of people who weren’t affected are now affected.”
A public hearing Tuesday about rules implementing the current law quickly turned into questions about what might change. A second public hearing is slated for 2 p.m. today at the West Hawaii Civic Center….
read … County hosts public hearings for draft polystyrene ban rules
Honolulu police and local residents team up to ‘take back’ Chinatown from homeless
SA: … two programs are underway in Chinatown and other parts of the urban core that were born from the Kakaako experience: H.E.L.P. Honolulu, which stand for “Health Efficiency and Long-term Partnerships;” and LEAD, or Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion.
The programs pair up social workers from 30 different organizations with Honolulu police (H.E.L.P.) and state sheriff’s deputies (LEAD).
The idea is to take homeless people who are at risk for a citation or low-level arrest — such as violations of the city’s “sit-lie” ban, for example — and offer them immediate assistance through a social service agency.
“Law enforcement is the portal of entry,” said Heather Lusk, executive director of the Hawai‘i Health & Harm Reduction Center that helps run both LEAD and H.E.L.P. Honolulu….
Homeless people with outstanding warrants are referred to Honolulu’s Community Outreach Court, which waives sometimes dozens of arrests, citations and warrants for homeless people who also agree to work with social service agencies.
The city Prosecutor’s office is still figuring out what kind of offenses will be dismissed through H.E.L.P. Honolulu. But since it began on July 1, LEAD is already showing signs of success, Lusk said.
Some 50 homeless people have been enrolled so far following encounters with either HPD or sheriff’s deputies, Lusk said.
“Twenty are now sheltered, four completed substance abuse treatment and for one person it’s the first time they’ve been sober in 25 years,” Lusk said. “Over 30 needed to get their IDs. At least 10 people needed legal help, such as meeting with their probation officers before going to court. We’ve had a couple reunified with their children.”
One homeless man in Iwilei had daily contact with deputies until they came back with social service workers as their partners.
“He was one of our first-day clients,” Lusk said. “Four days ago he got sheltered for the first time in almost five years.
read … Honolulu police and local residents team up to ‘take back’ Chinatown from homeless
Sovereignty Activist Builds Homeless Tent City in Downtown Hilo
HTH: … The owners of a downtown Hilo property on which a homeless commune has been established owe the county nearly $6,000 in fines.
A lot located between Ponahawai and Mamo streets behind Agasa Furniture and Music Store has become a fenced-off community of tents and other temporary structures, in defiance of multiple orders by county agencies to clear the lot….
Rose declined to answer questions regarding her property. However, in April she wrote a letter to the editor of the Hawaii Tribune-Herald explaining, to some extent, her motives:
“I own private property which is in the lawful Hawaiian Kingdom as the takeover of this land by corporate power has been recognized as unlawful. I stand on the Hawaiian Kingdom, which exists under God’s law. The Hawaiian Rose Trust exists to restore the executive power to the House of the Queen. Where there is private property, there is no homeless person and therefore no ‘homeless camp,’” she wrote….
read … County steps up action against Hilo encampment’s landowner
Catholic congregations are shrinking across the state
HCH: …Fewer Hawaii Catholics are going to church. A lot fewer, according to the annual count of Mass-goers conducted by the diocese last October.
The chancellor’s office, which coordinates the count, tracked 107 parishes, missions and ethnic communities. Of them, 85 saw a drop in Mass attendance over the past three years, from 2015 to 2018.
The diocese recorded an average of 46,890 people in church each weekend last October. That’s 2,998 fewer than 2015’s count of 49,888, and 11,547 fewer than 2008’s total of 58,437. The difference over the past decade amounts to a nearly 20 percent drop.
The loss is even more significant considering that the U.S. Census Bureau recorded an 11 percent increase in Hawaii’s population from the years 2008 to 2018, from 1.28 million to 1.42 million. That’s 140,000 people. Catholics make up around 20 percent of the population in the United States, so that influx should have increased Hawaii’s Catholics by 28,000.
If 20 percent of Hawaii’s population — that’s 280,000 — is Catholic, the October count would indicate that more than 233,000 Island Catholics skip Sunday worship. That would seem to confirm the observation that, as a group, non-practicing Catholics make up Hawaii’s largest “religious denomination.”…
read … Catholic congregations are shrinking across the state
248 Lucky Prisoners Transferred to Arizona
CB: … Gov. David Ige signed a bill Monday providing $5.1 million to the Department of Public Safety to repairs the damage caused during a March riot at the Maui Community Correctional Center.
House Bill 456, now Act 33, also gives the department $2 million to house 248 Halawa Correctional Facility inmates at the private Saguaro Correctional Center in Arizona for six months. That appropriation also covers the transportation costs to bring the inmates back home….
Shortly after the riot, Pubic Safety Director Nolan Espinda said that dissatisfaction with the jail’s overcrowded conditions was at least one of the causes. Since then, 37 pre-trial detainees at MCCC were transferred to Halawa.
Meanwhile, 248 other Halawa inmates were moved to the mainland due to delays in renovations at Halawa.
More than 1,400 Hawaii inmates are housed at the Saguaro Correctional Center, according to an April count.
This is the fourth year in a row that lawmakers have provided additional funds for relocating inmates due to delays with the renovations, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported. Housing expenses related to delays have cost taxpayers more than $16 million to date.
read … Ige Signs Bill To Cover $5.1 Million In Repairs After Maui Jail Riot
Chinese Spy had Hawaii Connections
WaPo: … The public case against Lee, who moved to Hawaii in high school and has lived in Northern Virginia, has always been circumstantial. He was compiling and keeping information China wanted while at the same time receiving large sums of money, according to court papers. He lied about both his finances and his travel history in interviews with American authorities. Eventually he admitted he had received assignments from Chinese spies and compiled information they requested but maintained he had never given the documents to them….
Suspicious, law enforcement lured Lee to the United States in 2012 with a fake offer to return to the CIA. Searching his hotel room in Honolulu, they found a thumb drive with a document describing CIA operational details. They also found two notebooks on CIA asset meetings and locations, numbers, names, and facilities in his luggage….
Intelligence officials still suspect Lee is responsible for compromising CIA sources in China, some of whom were killed, according to former U.S. officials. But both intelligence and law enforcement officials have expressed doubt since his arrest last year that they would ever be able to prove Lee was behind the collapse of the CIA’s network of assets in China. There are some who think there may be another explanation for how the CIA’s covert communication system was breached …
read … Former CIA officer Jerry Lee admits conspiracy to spy for China
Anti-GMO Cowden Gives All-Expense Paid Russian Propaganda Trip to Another Activist
KGI: … County Councilmember Felicia Cowden will not be traveling to Russia as part of a conference to foster conversation and collaboration between the United States and Russia from May 31 until June 10.
The council received a communication at their May 8 meeting, which was from the Russian Center of New York extending an invitation and offer to pay for affiliated travel costs to Cowden….
“Received effectively means dispose of the request,” Cowden said of the council communication. “I took myself off the guest list and have replaced myself with someone closer to the issue….”
Precisely as Explained: Anti-GMO? Regressive Left Just as Russian as Trump
read … Cowden declines Russian invitation