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Thursday, May 23, 2019
May 23, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:38 PM :: 1101 Views

Debunk: Sierra Club Fluff Piece on Hawaii Carbon Credit Scheme

To What Extent Does Your State Rely on Sales Taxes?

Does Legalizing Uber and Lyft 'Take' The Property Of Taxi Companies?

Ige Administration Announces Job Openings

‘You are going to have to decide’: Prosecutors, defense make opening statements in Kealoha trial

HNN: … In an hour-long opening statement Wednesday, a federal prosecutor sought to lay the foundation for the public corruption case against former law enforcement power couple Louis and Katherine Kealoha, saying “this story neither begins or ends with a mailbox.”

At the kick-off of the trial against the Kealohas and three Honolulu officers, prosecutor Michael Wheat outlined for jurors the series of financial schemes that the government alleges Katherine Kealoha deployed to defraud her grandmother and uncle out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The alleged network of schemes, Wheat said, “reveals her motives" in attempting to frame her uncle with a federal crime ― with the help of her then-police chief husband and officers in an elite HPD unit….

But defense attorneys told jurors in their opening statements that the government is relying on circumstantial evidence to make key conclusions in the case.

“You are going to have to decide whether Kathy entered into an argument with one or more people to hurt her uncle by framing him,” Cynthia Kagiwada, Katherine Kealoha’s defense attorney, told jurors….

After a brief afternoon recess, the jurors returned to hear from the government’s first witness in the trial: Honolulu police officer Frederick Rosskopf, the officer who responded to Katherine Kealoha’s 911 call on June 22, 2013, about her mailbox being stolen.

The five defendants in the case are:

  • Ex-Police Chief Louis Kealoha
  • Katherine Kealoha, a former high-ranking deputy city prosecutor
  • HPD Major Gordon Shiraishi, who was in charge of HPD’s elite Criminal Intelligence Unit.
  • HPD Lt. Derek Hahn, who was also a business partner with Katherine Kealoha in a solar company.
  • HPD Officer Bobby Nguyen, who was related by marriage to Katherine Kealoha, and was also living in the Kealohas’ pool house when the couple’s mailbox was reported stolen.

And while the first trial for the Kealohas is historic, it won’t end the scandal. The couple still face dozens of other federal charges, and Katherine Kealoha faces more than her husband.

A second federal trial moves away from police corruption and into financial fraud.

After that trial, Katherine Kealoha and her brother face a third trial on drug charges….

The appeals process could take years….

read … ‘You are going to have to decide’: Prosecutors, defense make opening statements in Kealoha trial

Police sergeant pleads not guilty, requests jury trial

SA: … An attorney for a Honolulu police sergeant accused of abusing his estranged wife entered a not guilty plea to the charges Wednesday in Honolulu District Court.

Sgt. Darren Cachola was charged with one count of misdemeanor abuse and two counts of petty misdemeanor harassment. Prosecutors claim he abused his estranged wife in the presence of a child on April 23.

The couple have two children and are living in separate homes as they go through a divorce….

Cachola is on restricted duty after HPD removed his police powers. His wife has filed a civil lawsuit accusing him and the police department of negligence, conspiracy and infliction of emotional distress.

Cachola was stripped of his police powers and ultimately fired after a surveillance video in 2014 showing him hitting his former girlfriend at a restaurant. He got his job back when an arbitrator reversed the decision….  .

read … Police sergeant pleads not guilty, requests jury trial

Honolulu Climate Change Commission to Hear Carbon Tax Presentation

IM: … Carbon Taxes include a broad, multi-dimension family of market-based mechanisms that have been in place in some countries since 1990. They are designed to alter consumer behavior and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Citizens' Climate Lobby (CCL) is focusing on a national Republican-Democratic effort to create a federal corporate carbon tax that, minus an administrative fee, creates a fully-rebated revenue-neutral carbon tax. Citizens' Climate Lobby is active in Hawai`i.

Other approaches involve using the tax to subsidize renewable energy projects, to support social justice initiatives, to finance regulatory bodies, and/or to support legislative pet projects.

The Executive Director of Life of the Land will make a presentation on “Carbon Taxes: From Theory to Reality.”…

Last Time: Auditor: DoTax allows $2B in Tax Credits Without Checking

read … Guard Your Wallet

TVR Taxes Boost Kauai Budget $33.8M

KGI: … The resolution stated that the net value of taxable real property in the county for tax year 2019-2020 is $21 billion.

The total revenue from the tax rate for the fiscal year 2019-2020 is estimated to be $144 million with most of that amount coming from the vacation rental tax rate, which is estimated to produce $33.8 million for the county in the coming fiscal year.

Compared to the tax year 2018-2019 and 2017-2018, the tax rate has remained relatively unchanged, despite a $1 increase to the vacation rental tax rate and a dollar drop in the residential investor tax rate over the course of three years.

In the tax year 2017-2018, the net value of taxable property in the county was estimated to be $18.1 billion, revealing a nearly $3 billion increase in taxable property in the county over the course of three years….

read … Taxable property value rises

“Our system almost encourages spending at the back end”

HTH: … The first round of County Council budget amendments brought treats for West Hawaii, more money for council members to spread throughout their districts, a whistle-blower program and a discussion about whether the county should spend every cent it collects.

The council Wednesday passed Mayor Harry Kim’s $583.9 million spending plan on first reading after dipping into fund balance reserves to add $545,000 more in spending to the mix. The budget is a 12.7% increase from last year and goes into effect July 1.

Kohala Councilman Tim Richards was the sole dissenter, after voting yes on the amendments. He said he’s voting no “on principle” because he doesn’t like the current piecemeal process of putting together a budget, and he doesn’t like how spending was ramped up to match new revenues.

“Our system almost encourages spending at the back end; it doesn’t encourage savings,” Richards said. “I’m seeking a solution. I’m not obstructing here.”

Hilo Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy agreed with that sentiment.

“Right in the last six weeks, we’re spending like crazy,” Lee Loy said. “Why don’t we try to save some of it?”

Council members questioned how the county can afford 93 new employees, when salaries, wages and benefits are taking an increasingly larger share of the budget. Several asked what happens to the budget to employees who are hired with grants and temporary tax hikes that eventually run out.

“We’re going to have these employees on our books,” said Lee Loy. “Some of those buckets of money may not be available 10 years down the road.”

Finance Director Deanna Sako said usually the employees are “absorbed” into government positions….

read … Council adds $545,000 from fund balance reserves to proposed budget

Hanalei Bay Filth: DoH Contradicts Surfrider

KGI: … DOH reported record levels of 222 parts per 100 mL of water that were detected during routine beach monitoring on Wednesday — results that exceed the threshold level of 130 enterococci per 100 mL.

“The advisory for this beach is posted because testing for enterococci indicate that potentially harmful microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, protozoa, or parasites may be present in the water,” the advisory states. “Swimming at beaches with pollution in the water may make you ill.”

The beach has been posted with signs that alert the public of the high levels of bacteria and will remain until samples no longer exceed the state’s threshold. The testing area is near the Hanalei Pier.

Surfrider Kauai’s Blue Water Task Force sampled the water during their monthly testing on May 11 around the island. They sample the surf at (a spot they found always tests clean) Pine Trees in Hanalei Bay and (doing their best to promote eco-tourism) on May 11 returned results of 10 parts per 100 mL, below the state standards for safety….

(Of course Surfrider never never lied about bacteria counts at Mahaulepu. Never.)

read … Busted

Rep Ward: Shortfalls Of The 2019 Legislative Session

CB: … First, we have the potential to be the “Hollywood of the Pacific,”…

Second Hawaii can become the “Geneva of the Pacific”…

Third, Hawaii has the potential to become the “Kennedy-like Space Center of the Pacific.”….

Lastly, we have the opportunity to become the “World Sports Arena of the Pacific.”…

read … Rep Gene Ward 

US sees biggest slump in tourism for four years

UKT: … The number of overseas visitors to the US is falling, with a 5.4 per cent drop in March compared to the same time last year.

It represents the worst showing since 2015, prompting fears among the country's tourism chiefs that the US will lose out to rival destinations this year.

Tourism also fell in February, albeit by a more modest 0.2 per cent, figures released by the US Travel Association revealed….

read … US sees biggest slump in tourism for four years

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