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Sunday, July 14, 2019
July 14, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:29 PM :: 1574 Views

OHA leadership predicts violence at TMT construction site

So What Really Is a Resort Fee?

Hawaii GE Tax Hits 105.29% of Personal Income

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted July 13, 2019

Protesters, Police Head for Mauna Kea

SA: … Ige has expressed concern that outside agitators or protesters from the mainland might create a situation similar to the Standing Rock protests in North Dakota over the Dakota Access Pipeline, where protesters clashed with police, barricades were set on fire and hundreds of people were arrested….

Dozens of police officers from Oahu and Maui will bolster state law enforcement officers and county police, with riot training conducted on Hawaii island in recent weeks, according to law enforcement sources.

Helmets and long batons have been issued to officers who expect to be deployed to the protests, and police vans that can be used to transport officers or arrested protesters were shipped last week from Oahu to Hilo, the sources said.

At the mountain, members of the Royal Order of Kamehameha I joined with self-proclaimed “protectors” opposed to the telescope project to designate a puuhonua or place of refuge at Puu Huluhulu at the base of the Mauna Kea Access Road. A daylong vigil there is planned for today.

According to an announcement from the TMT opponents, given “the extreme and excessive mobilization of Hawaii county and state law enforcement agencies, the Royal Order of Kamehameha I, and the kiai feel it is imperative to dedicate a puuhonua.” A kiai is a guard or caretaker.

On Saturday afternoon about 50 cars were parked at the site designated as a puuhonua at the base of the access road, with upside-­down Hawaii state flags fluttering in the sun. “Stop Cultural Genocide” was the message displayed on the sun shield of one car.

People clustered in groups at the tailgates of parked trucks, and participants embraced and warmly greeted acquaintances they had not seen since the 2015 protests….

Protesters in 2015 pushed rocks and boulders into the access road to try to stop construction vehicles from reaching the summit, but “putting rocks in the road is a reasonable alternative to stopping the truck from rolling,” Pisciotta said. “Listen, nobody threw rocks. That’s violence.

“There’s rules for protesters, but we’re really not protesters. We’re practitioners, and Mauna Kea is our church, so to speak. It is our temple, is our mosque, so all of their plans are to stop us from going up there, and why is that?” she said. “We have a right to worship in the environment of our beliefs, and it’s a First Amendment violation, and treating us as protesters when we’re clearly religious practitioners is a violation of our right…. 

read … Police, protesters gird for Thirty Meter Telescope conflict

Subpoena Fight: HART Will Lose and then We Will Find Out

Shapiro: … Since joining the Council in January, Tsuneyoshi has won support for an overdue deep-dive audit into rail’s grim finances and questioned a proposed public-private partnership for the final phase of construction that would conceal true costs.

Now she’s challenging attempts by the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation to resist federal grand jury subpoenas in a criminal investigation of the project.

Three subpoenas seek rail contracts and subcontracts, change orders, correspondence with the Federal Transit Administration, payments to owners of property taken for rail and full minutes of HART board of directors meetings, including executive sessions.

The executive sessions appear to be HART’s main worry; the rail agency stonewalled state Auditor Les Kondo on a similar request when he audited HART for the Legislature last year.

After the Caldwell administration said it would spend up to $50,000 on outside counsel to advise HART on the subpoenas, Tsuneyoshi introduced a resolution objecting to the use of general city funds and requiring HART to pay attorneys from its own $3.5 million legal budget.

At a news conference she voiced the deeper concern that HART has no legitimate reason not to give the grand jury minutes of the closed-door meetings, saying they “should be turned over without the need for outside counsel.”…

Attempting to restrict the records leaves the impression that smoking guns are being concealed, further eroding public confidence in a project that has little left after more than a decade of lies and shoddy performance.

And it’s a fight HART will likely lose if the feds dig in on full compliance with the subpoenas.

Kondo had a tight deadline to finish his state audit and chose not to pick a subpoena fight, but federal prosecutors have the luxury of time and hard-nosed judges with little patience for stonewalling….

read … HART directors should cooperate on federal subpoenas

Kealoha Malingering Aided by Fake Doctor’s Note?

SA: … The letter from Katherine Kealoha’s doctor that became public via Kobayashi’s order revealed that in February 2014 the deputy prosecutor was dealing with what the physician described as a “serious medical condition.”

Dr. Jennifer Ito, who had been treating Kealoha for the condition since June 2013, said her patient was undergoing tests, was intermittently hospitalized and the medication she was taking could significantly affect her cognitive ability, “making it difficult at times for her to work, be involved in legal proceedings or to perform her activities of daily living,” according to Ito’s Feb. 13, 2014, letter.

At Ito’s direction, Kealoha was on medical leave at the time, and the physician believed her patient was “presently unable to perform any sustained activity which requires mental focus or concentration, such as going to court or answering questions in a deposition,” Ito wrote….

Court records show Kea­loha from October to December 2013 attended five hearings about gambling machines that were seized by the city.

In October, November and December of that year, Kealoha did not take any sick days, city records show. She did use nearly nine vacation days over those three months, according to the records.

Even as Kealoha was preparing for and participating in the gambling case, the resumption of her Puana deposition on dates in August, September and November 2013 were postponed, with her legal representatives saying she was on medical leave or that they could not contact her, according to correspondence from attorney Bill McCorriston’s office that Kurashima provided to the Star-Advertiser. McCorriston represented Kealoha at the time.

(Perjury, anyone?)

“If she was suffering from a debilitating condition, what was she doing getting a 414-count grand jury indictment?” said Keith Kiuchi, attorney for Tracy Yoshimura, one of the nine who were charged in the now-­dismissed indictment. “Either the doctor was not telling the truth or (Kealoha) clearly was in no condition to get that indictment.”

Brooks Baehr, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, told the Star-Advertiser that no evidence was found in that office’s files showing that Kealoha presented a letter from Ito about being treated for a condition that could affect her ability to perform in court….

Because Kealoha used the Ito letter to raise the issue of her mental capacity in the civil case, Alexander Silvert, the deputy federal public defender who represented Gerard Puana in the criminal case, cited the same letter to question Kealoha’s credibility in identifying his client in June 2013 as the mailbox thief, according to court documents that were unsealed by Kobayashi’s order.

Silvert also raised the possibility that the letter was bogus, noting that Kealoha and Ito were longtime friends and Ito’s brother, Brandon Ito, had worked with Kealoha, invested in at least one financial hui with her and was an officer with Kealoha in a limited liability company, according to the May 29, 2014, court filing by Silvert.

Given those personal relationships, Silvert questioned whether Ito’s diagnosis and letter were fraudulent, “designed to allow Mrs. Kealoha to stop any further deposition in the civil case … which is exactly what has occurred,” he wrote….

The fallout from Kealoha’s medical condition can be traced to a June 19, 2013, civil deposition that was not completed.

Although Kealoha was answering questions about a lawsuit that was unrelated to her city job, Kealoha did not take any leave that day, according to city records…..

read … Bogus

Last Stadium was a Boondoggle, Too

SA: … A 2023-24 finish line has been held up by some as a target, something a prominent stadium construction industry figure Friday described as “an aggressive timeline” given the scope of what the state is seeking. “Really aggressive, but not impossible,” he said.

For a stadium of the size, tentatively 32,000- to 35,000-seat capacity, envisioned for the new stadium, the industry figure, who declined to be named because his firm may seek business with the state, said a two- to three-year timeline would be common.

But the state is seeking to build more than just a replacement for the soon-to-be 45-year-old stadium. It envisions the stadium as a centerpiece of an entertainment district that could include restaurants, shops and, possibly, a hotel. All planned to better capitalize on the revenue potential of the 98.6-acre footprint and entice developers to help fund stadium construction in a precedent-setting public-private partnership here.

An environmental impact study and master plan are currently underway and could be completed in late 2020 or early 2021. The results will then be offered with the issuance of a request for proposals from prospective development partners, which could require additional infrastructure upgrades.

The building of the current Aloha Stadium began with lofty expectations, too., and eventually took just over four years from its controversial July 1, 1971 groundbreaking to its Sept. 12, 1975 opening.

Due to 127 change orders, a 10-week metal workers strike, an exceptionally rainy period in 1974 and other complications, the stadium finished two years behind schedule and nearly $10 million above its initial $27 million “ceiling.”

That, however, was only the beginning on a price tag that soared when the stadium, whose steel components were supposed to rust to “a protective patina,” did not stabilize and continued to corrode.

Only later, an environmental assessment reported, was it discovered “that weathering steel is sensitive to salt-laden air environments” resulting in more than $100 million in repair and remediation efforts that continue to this day.

In addition, the highly touted revolutionary air cushions that were to allow the stadium to easily switch between football and baseball configurations became too cumbersome and expensive to operate and the facility had to be locked into football format.

read … New stadium aiming to finish faster than Honolulu’s rail

$50M a Year for Hollywood Movie Moguls

SA: … Ige backed away from his threat to veto a bill to increase tax credits for the film and digital media industry. Ige allowed Senate Bill 33 to become law without his signature. The measure will increase the annual cap on tax credits from $35 million to $50 million. ….

read … A break for Hawaii film and TV industry

Hawaii not among 21 states with FBI photo-search agreements

SA: … Question: The Washington Post reported over the weekend that federal authorities “have turned state driver’s license databases into a facial-recognition gold mine, scanning through millions of Americans’ photos without their knowledge or consent” and have made DMVs “the bedrock of an unprecedented surveillance infrastructure.” The story said 21 states have agreements with the FBI about this, but it didn’t list the states. Is Hawaii one?

Answer: No, Hawaii is not among states that have partnered with the FBI on FACE Services requests, nor is it negotiating to do so, according to a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued last month. That report, which you can read at 808ne.ws/gaoreport, says the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI must do more to ensure privacy and accuracy when using facial recognition technology in investigations. Unlike mugshot databases of people who have been arrested, driver’s license databases contain photos of people who have never been accused of a crime.

The GAO report was cited in the Washington Post story you mentioned, which was published Sunday (808ne.ws/wapo). The story also cited public records obtained by Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy and Technology….

That’s not to say, however, that Hawaii’s data is completely off-limits; requests are considered on a case-by-case basis….

read … Hawaii not among 21 states with FBI photo-search agreements

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