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Monday, July 08, 2019
July 8, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:02 PM :: 1415 Views

Hawaii Among Worst States to Start a Business

HSTA Members Grill Dem Presidential Contenders--Demand More Money

HSTA applauds governor's intent to veto bill on e-cigarettes in schools

Will Ige Veto Sustain Dubin Litigation? Condo Owners Could Face Millions Of Dollars In Potential Liability

CB: … Senate Bill 551 clarifies condo associations’ right to conduct non-judicial foreclosures, which could save condo owners from footing the bill in a multimillion-dollar class-action lawsuit. …

(UPDATE: Ige allows SB551 to become law without signature)

Condo owners agree to pay their maintenance fees when they purchase their property. When they don’t, it hurts all the other owners because it forces them to pay more than their fair share.

That’s why the Legislature gave condominium associations the power to utilize non-judicial foreclosures almost 20 years ago in Act 236 (SLH 1999). Associations use non-judicial foreclosure as a remedy to collect delinquent maintenance fees from owners who are in default for a significant period of time. In these cases, it’s the only way the association can hope to collect on thousands of dollars in unpaid fees.

SB 551, which was passed this session, clarifies that back in 1999 the Legislature did intend to give condo association the right to pursue the remedy of power of sale or non-judicial foreclosure as expressed in HRS Chapters 514A, 514 B, and 667….

Unfortunately, Gov. David Ige has said he intends to veto this bill. Why does this matter for virtually every condo owner in the state?

In 2016, a few homeowners and their lawyers decided to sue their condo associations for conducting non-judicial foreclosures. Many associations have been named in the lawsuits so far, and more could be added. 

(PDF: Lawyer Gary V Dubin at work.)

If SB 551 does not pass, the homeowners suing the association — owners who were foreclosed on because they often owed thousands of dollars in maintenance fees and other charges — could end up pursuing claims for millions of dollars or more in damages….

read … Condo Owners Could Face Millions Of Dollars In Potential Liability

AG Busy Suing Trump, Misses Deadline To Create New Standards For Cops

CB: … A state board failed to meet a July 1 deadline to create basic certification standards for law enforcement and police officers in Hawaii, shirking its legislative mandate.

The Law Enforcement Standards Board was created by the Hawaii Legislature in 2018 and given one year to come up with basic training and certification standards, a decertification process and a basic training curriculum for law enforcement. Hawaii was the last state in the U.S. to enact an officer standards board.

The board has met just once since it was created, and it’s not clear yet when it will meet next or when it plans to get its job done. Earlier this year, the board asked lawmakers for more time and more money to complete its task, but that proposal never went anywhere.

The board is administered through the state Attorney General’s Office, and its members include the chiefs of each county police department, as well as directors of state departments with law enforcement or policing powers including taxation, public safety, transportation and land and natural resources.

In response to an inquiry from Civil Beat, Krishna Jayaram, special assistant to the AG, said that the board lacked enough resources and faced challenges to coming up with certification.

The AG’s office referred to a legislative report that outlined some of the board’s concerns after Civil Beat asked for an interview to discuss those challenges.….

(The AG’s office was too busy suing Trump.)

Related: Why is the Hawaii Attorney General too busy to prosecute charter school corruption?

read … Hawaii Ignores Deadline To Create New Standards For Cops

HPD training videos show disgraced Kealohas lecturing officers about ethics

HNN: … When Louis Kealoha was police chief, he made several training videos that all Honolulu Police Officers were forced to watch.

In the videos, Kealoha preached ethics. One, titled ‘courtesy and demeanor’ featured his wife, then a top ranking deputy prosecutor.

Katherine Kealoha plays a driver, illegally parked. An officer is sarcastic and rude when ordering her to move the minivan.

In another video titled, “make the right choice” the chief warns officers about getting arrested and shows media clips from Hawaii News Now, calling coverage, “relentless” when an officer is accused of crimes.

The videos were made in 2014, one year after the Kealohas framed a relative for a crime because he was exposing them for swindling large amounts of money from family members….

read … HPD training videos show disgraced Kealohas lecturing officers about ethics

A Decade Later, Big Island Police No Closer to Giving Up Juicy Subsidized Vehicles

HTH: … New marked police SUVs are hitting Big Island streets, the first additions to the Hawaii Police Department’s fleet in over a decade.  Police Maj. Robert Wagner said Friday the department now has in its possession four of the 10 new Ford Explorer Police Interceptor Utility vehicles….

The county first acquired marked police vehicles in 2008-09 when 33 sedans and SUVs, each costing $55,000 to $67,000, hit the roads. About two dozen remain in use…

The 2008-09 procurement followed the county instituting a Police Fleet Implementation Group to study setting up a fleet vehicle program to address questions over the department’s use of mostly unmarked vehicles lacking uniform paint, police emblems and other official markings.

Maui is the only county in the state with 100 percent use of fleet vehicles.

At the time, all officers drove their private vehicles and were reimbursed for furnishing it for police use.

The group recommended a switch to all fleet vehicles.

The county ultimately opted to implement a hybrid program with county-owned fleet cars and subsidized vehicles. That program remains in place today. Budgetary constraints kept police from expanding the fleet until 2018 when Mayor Harry Kim included funding for 10 vehicles in his 2018-19 budget.

Currently, officers are responsible for providing and maintaining their own vehicles that have to meet certain criteria set by the department, such as engine size. Officers receive a monthly subsidy of $600, and are expected to furnish an insured vehicle at all times. Each also receives a gallon of gas for every 10 miles driven on official duty.

However, discussion of transitioning to a full fleet vehicle system is back on the table.

In March, the county Cost of Government Commission submitted a report to Mayor Harry Kim’s office recommending conversion to fleet vehicles for the entire department. The commission estimated savings at $2 million over a five-year conversion process. That assumed use of existing county facilities to maintain the vehicles.

The report proposed purchasing 162 vehicles, or 40 percent of the number of personal vehicles in use….

read … New police rigs ready to roll

Affordable Housing Wins With Veto Of REIT Tax Bill

CB: … One of our clients, Douglas Emmett, a REIT operating in Hawaii, just finished the $120 million expansion of Moanalua Hillside Apartments in Aiea, which now provides nearly 500 additional workforce rental units for those making between 80%-120% of the median area income. They are adding another 500 additional workforce rental units in the downtown area over the next few years.

Kapolei Lofts, a $140 million project also built by a REIT, provides hundreds of workforce housing rentals, and Hale Mahana, a $110 million REIT-built property provides housing for nearly 600 students at University of Hawaii….

read … Affordable Housing Wins With Veto Of REIT Tax Bill

Push is on to Hire Potheads to Drive Cement Mixers and School Buses

SA: … John Fielding, director of risk management at Altres, the state’s largest private employer, which manages human resources, benefits and payroll for more than 2,000 employers with drug-free policies, said the problem is worsening as more states legalize cannabis, which is still considered illegal under federal law.

“It’s this big marijuana push. As an employer … do you want them high or debilitated? That’s the option the state is giving us as employers,” Fielding said. “It’s just like a crapshoot. You are just taking your chances on are they functioning. The problem that we have is that even if they’re in certain jobs, we wouldn’t have them working under the influence of oxycodone or any drug or medication that would make them drowsy, inattentive or not 100% cognizant because it would be detrimental to an employer. Most employers are horrified.”

Fielding said 5% to 10% more workers are trying to use their medical marijuana certification cards every year to justify failed drug tests. Lawmakers this year scrapped a bill that would’ve provided employment protections for cannabis patients by banning employers from taking action against a cardholder who tests positive for pot.

“This is another vice, just like alcohol,” he said….

“People say it’s just marijuana, but all those accidents I’ve seen over the years, it’s stupid accidents. This guy had an itchy eye and was screwing something in, and he poked his eye out. He wasn’t paying attention. He was high on pakalolo.”

As Hawaii’s medical marijuana patients grow — 26,125 as of May 31 from 21,596 patients a year ago — more workers are testing positive for marijuana. In first-quarter workplace drug tests, use went up to 2.98% from 2.89% year over year, according to Diagnostic Laboratory Services Inc., which typically samples 7,000 to 10,000 drug tests each quarter….

Several of Dr. Clifton Otto’s medical cannabis patients are facing job termination or fear failing pre-employment drug screenings as Hawaii employers hold fast to zero-tolerance policies when testing workers for drugs.

At least one worker facing termination has been placed into a mandatory rehab program and must go through counseling and follow-up drug tests before being allowed to continue working, said Otto, who runs a medical cannabis clinic with about 800 patients.

“But (his job) is still very much in limbo, and if the patient decides to give up his cannabis registration, then he could face adverse health effects for not using this substance for his medical condition (like …uh … ‘severe pain’, yeah that’s it, severe …uh... pain) ,” he said. “It’s a pretty severe situation right now.”

read … Driving a Cement Mixer Near You

Hawaii Provided ‘Inaccurate’ Data On Student Restraint And Seclusion

SB: … The practice of secluding a student, or “involuntarily confining” a student in a room was barred by the passage of a 2014 state bill that became Act 206. That same law called for curbing the use of physical restraint except when student behavior poses “an imminent danger of property damage or physical injury” to the student, peers or staff.

The impetus behind that legislation was the disturbing number of reports of incidents that involved students with disabilities and special needs, said state Rep. John Mizuno, who introduced the 2014 bill.

The legislation generated a lot of support, including from the Special Education Advisory Council, whose chair, Ivalee Sinclair, wrote in her testimony that there had been “shocking examples, even in Hawaii, of special education students being tied to a tree or desk, or kept in isolation without proper supervision.”

Retired Honolulu attorney John Dellera recalled hearing about “recurring instances” of inappropriate restraints in schools, including an instance in which a vice principal on the Big Island was using duct tape on a child with autism.

“It was essential,” Dellera said of the legislation, which was signed into law by then-Gov. Neil Abercrombie. “The harm that was being done to the child is hard to overstate.”

Act 206 required the DOE to begin reporting the number of students restrained starting with the 2016-17 school year.

According to DOE records shared with Civil Beat by the ACLU of Hawaii, 67 of Hawaii’s 292 schools recorded at least one case of a student being restrained in 2017-18 and 66 schools statewide recorded at least one case of student restraint in 2018-19.

The exact number of cases is unknown due to redactions in the records. Any number less than 10 cannot be disclosed, due to student privacy concerns.

However, the records do reveal that the cases span elementary, middle and high school levels, DOE schools and public charters. Those cases predominantly consist of students who receive services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or Section 504, which also protects students with disabilities.

At a handful of schools, students in the general population or who were designated as English language learners were restrained, according to the DOE records.

An issue brief by the U.S. Education Department from 2014 states that although students with disabilities represent about 12% of the population, they comprise 75% of those who are physically restrained and 58% of those who are secluded nationwide.….

read … Hawaii Provided ‘Inaccurate’ Data On Student Restraint And Seclusion

Have The Guts To Use Hawaii’s ‘Whistleblower Law’

CB: … In the aftermath of the Kealoha convictions, there’s a creed the people of Hawaii need to learn that would truly save our future: I will not lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those among us who do…..

read … Have The Guts To Use Hawaii’s ‘Whistleblower Law’

Hit the brakes on car-sharing plan

SA Editorial: … Rules for the program must still be adopted by the Department of Transportation Services. Typically, it takes a city agency between six months to a year to go through the process of adopting rules, which would include a public hearing and public comment period.

Before rule-making gets underway, though, the Council should make sure that the proposal, which would essentially privatize public space, doesn’t open the door for car-sharing companies to gobble up the city’s high-demand parking stalls.

Further, if city officials are keen to privatize for the sake of stepping up the availability of car-sharing as an alternative mode of transportation for residents not wanting the expense of owning a car, they should charge car-share companies premium rates to rent the spaces.

Subsidizing for-profit companies should not be an option. But testimony opposing the bill questioned whether that’s what’s in the works. A Halawa resident estimated that, under Bill 19, a car-sharing stall would bring the city only 25% of what it would potentially net if it charged the public $3 an hour….

read … Hit the brakes on car-sharing plan

Bums to be Cleared from Hilo Farmers Market Area

HTH: … The owners of a controversial homeless encampment in downtown Hilo have approximately a month to remove unauthorized structures from their property or face court action….

The camp, which is a fenced-off collection of tents and tarps, houses approximately a dozen people, said camp resident Eldred Ikaika…. 

Ikaika went on to say that it is his calling to be at the camp so he can educate others about the “dark nature” of the English language, which he claimed was designed by Satan.

The presence of the camp occasionally interferes with the nearby Hilo Farmers Market, said market owner Keith De La Cruz. Vendors and customers have complained of rubbish and illegal dumping near the camp, he said.

Meanwhile, De La Cruz said there have been occasional interactions with camp residents that needed to be “defused”….

SA: Bums Take over Waikiki Building

read … County says unpermitted camp structures must go

New Law Lets SNAP Cardholders Double Up On Local Produce

CB: … Starting this month, Hawaii’s nutritional assistance program is increasing incentives to buy local fruits and vegetables at farmers markets and grocery stores.

For every $10 spent, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program cardholders will receive another $10 worth of fresh island-grown produce for free as part of the Double Up Food Bucks program. 

“We all know that fresh fruits and vegetables are usually pricier, so this was just a way to help increase access for those who are on SNAP,” said Jessica Yamauchi, executive director of the Hawaii Public Health Institute. 

The initiative began as a pilot program nicknamed “DA BUX” and led by The Food Basket in Hilo on the Big Island. KTA Superstores offer 50% discounts for up to $20 for qualifying fruits and vegetables. SNAP cardholders on the Big Island are also offered discounts on “Da Box,” a produce subscription by Hoolaha Ka Hua, and “Da Bus,” which offers mobile produce market sales….

(Road to Riches: Use cash to buy EBT cards from tweekers at 50% of face value, Use those cards at 200% of face value to buy alleged local produce. Then get a set of ginsu knives, some bowls, and a whole bunch of chopsticks.  Open a vegan ‘raw food’ restaurant to re-sell the alleged local organic gmo-free produce to new age types at a 10-fold markup.  Result:  4000% profit.)   

read … New Law Lets SNAP Cardholders Double Up On Local Produce

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