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Tuesday, August 13, 2019
August 13, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:07 PM :: 3587 Views

Critical observation made on Maunakea during first night of return to operations

Lehua Island Rat Eradication -- Two Years After the Mindless Hysteria

SHOPO: Police plans to arrest TMT protesters Disrupted by ‘Politics’

HNN: … On July 17, Honolulu and Maui police officers with batons, helmets and pepper spray arrived at the TMT protest camp at the base of Mauna Kea.

It was the third day of the Thirty Meter Telescope protest, and about 1,000 people were there….

By the time police arrived, state land officers had already arrested 38 people, mostly kupuna. In all, there were 56 Honolulu and 27 Maui officers.

They took orders from the state and Big Island police, according to SHOPO.

Officers say their orders were to clear the road as a human blockade of women grew to about 150 ― all prepared to be arrested.

“I believe from the front line of ladies with their arms locked, an expectation that they were going to be arrested that day. There was some understanding that that was going to occur,” said Smith.

But around 4:15 p.m., officers were suddenly told to retreat.

“It was still unclear as the direction to which we were moving," Smith said.

“We were going to clear the road that day and for whatever reason information that filtered between the command personnel on site did not come back down to us on the road. At some point, the decision was made to have us depart.”…

SHOPO president Sgt. Malcolm Lutu says the reason law enforcement deviated from the plan is still unclear. He thinks it’s political.

"I think if they kept to the original plan, it probably would have been solved already," said Lutu….

Meanwhile, SHOPO says it’s looking into reports that there was only one tow truck available the day of the arrests. Other officers complained about their living conditions including lack of food….

read … Officers: Police plans to arrest TMT protesters, clear road abruptly fell through

Longest period of downtime in the 50-year history of Mauna Kea astronomy.

SA: … That telescope and the rest of the Mauna Kea observatories Friday reached an understanding with the Thirty Meter Telescope protesters and law enforcement agencies over access to Mauna Kea Access Road, allowing for safe passage to the summit for astronomy crews.

The agreement led observatory officials to announce that they would ramp up their operations on the summit, ending the longest period of downtime in the 50-year history of Mauna Kea astronomy.

“Nearly every observatory had one crew go up (Monday),” said Jessica Dempsey, deputy director of the East Asian Observatory, which operates the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope. “By midweek most of the telescopes will be on sky, at least on a limited basis.”

Dempsey said one “semifunctional” instrument was tested at the JCMT telescope Sunday night, while another will be out of action for three weeks….

read … Mauna Kea telescopes coming back to life

Threats effective at silencing pro-TMT Hawaiians

WHT: … The polls conducted so far on the TMT show overwhelming support from the people of Hawaii for TMT.

In 2018, 72% of Native Hawaiians supported TMT. A recent Civil Beat poll found that 64% of Hawaii supports TMT. Support among Native Hawaiians dropped, however, to 44%. What happened? And if nearly half of Native Hawaiians still support the project, why are they not speaking out, especially online? The answer is obvious: They don’t want to deal with the “backlash….

Any Native Hawaiian supporter of TMT that has posted online can regale you with stories of being called a traitor, not Hawaiian, a fake Hawaiian, or had their very Native Hawaiian identity challenged. In a recent five-hour text conversation I had with one protector, TMT was barely discussed but there was extensive discussion about whether or not I was a real Native Hawaiian. Kalepa Baybayan, one of the original Native Hawaiian Hokulea navigators, was called a traitor in the comments to one recent interview. There are also threats of physical violence, such as kidnapping or having one’s throat slit. This is the language of bullies.

Need more examples? There is an entire Instagram feed dedicated to it.

Some of these threats have been reported to police. However, the protesters intimidation campaign is smart and dynamic. Most online threats are just on the edge of illegal. Social and peer pressure on Native Hawaiians offline is not strictly illegal. The protesters even tried to create a fake TMT supporter account to post violent rhetoric in an attempt to show that TMT supporters are equally vitriolic online….

read … Threats effective at silencing pro-TMT Hawaiians

How much time will the Kealohas spend in prison? The answer is not easy to figure out

HNN: … Former deputy prosecutor Katherine Kealoha has already spent 45 days behind bars. Time that will be credited once she is sentenced for obstruction and conspiracy on Oct. 7.

Kealoha was ordered detained and legal experts believe that is a sign the judge sees her as the ringleader of the public corruption scandal.

There is no parole in the federal system, but it is difficult to determine exactly how much time she and her husband, ex police chief Louis Kealoha, and two other police officers will serve for framing an innocent man for a mailbox theft.

The federal sentencing guidelines is based on a points system. The more points you have, the longer your sentence. And the judge has discretion.

Obstruction starts with 14 points. That equates to a sentence of 15-21 months. But the long list of enhancements could mean more than five times that amount.

If the judge finds there was substantial interference in the administration of justice, that adds three points.

Kealoha will likely be seen as having what’s called an aggravating role, as the organizer of the conspiracy. That tacks on another four points.

Abuse of position, because she was a high ranking deputy prosecutor and the rest are police officers, also adds two points.

Other increases the judge will consider, vulnerable victim, because one of the victims was Katherine Kealoha’s elderly grandmother.

Add perjury and other bad behavior to the list and legal experts believe Katherine could serve about a decade behind bars.

“She’s going to be Aunty Kathy in the federal system for a long time,” legal expert Michael Green said. He believes Louis Kealoha could get slightly less, but will still see significant time in prison.

“You don’t get a reduction for being stupid," Green says, "Louis, don’t make any plans for a few years.”

In the federal system accepting responsibility for your crimes helps, but none of the defendants did, they all went to trial….

read … How much time will the Kealohas spend in prison? The answer is not easy to figure out

Rail: DAGS Refuses to Pay $11.2M Claim for Delay Caused by Contract Language Errors

SA: … DAGS has declined to reimburse HART for $11.2 million that didn’t qualify as capital costs. In one incident, Otaguro found a delay claim was related to poor coordination between two contractors on the project, Nan Inc. and Kiewit Infrastructure West Co.

Nan Inc. was supposed to take over a job site, but Kiewit was still on property on the contractual start date, so job costs mounted until the issue was resolved. Otaguro found, rightly, that this was a contractual error that shouldn’t be used to tap state taxpayer funds….

read … State has key role in HART oversight

Extra Board Members Were Meant To Add Scrutiny On HART — But They Rarely Show Up

CB: … Only one Legislature-appointed member has attended a board meeting since February, making it hard for the Honolulu rail project to get routine business done….

In 2017, state leaders touted the extra scrutiny that would come from adding four seats to the Honolulu rail board as part of the troubled transit project’s $2.4 billion bailout package.

Two years on, however, those state board members have largely stopped showing up. Amid languishing vacancies and dismal attendance, they haven’t offered much scrutiny or oversight during Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation meetings this year.

Only one state appointee — Michele Brunngraber — has attended a HART board meeting since February, agency records show.

Two other seats have been vacant for more than eight months. Senate officials say it’s been a challenge filling them.

The fourth seat’s appointee, Kamani Kuala’au, formally resigned last week on the same day Civil Beat reached out about his status on the board. Kuala’au had not attended a meeting since January, although he did attend a rail site tour in March, HART officials say…. 

PBN: Hawaii state oversight of Honolulu rail project inconsistent

read … Extra Board Members Were Meant To Add Scrutiny On HART — But They Rarely Show Up

Hawaii Legislature’s Top-Paid Officials Never Run For Office

CB: … there are Senate and House employees were are already making plenty more. They include:

• Brian Takeshita, chief clerk and highest-paid House employee at $149,676.

• Nandana Kalupahana, House Finance Committee clerk, $134,988.

• Casey Hines, Senate majority office director, $134,328.

• Rod Tanonaka, House sergeant-at-arms, $133,656.

• Ruperto Juarez, House assistant chief clerk, $129,804.

• Carol Taniguchi, Senate chief clerk, $125,652….

The updated database also includes 39 employees of the Legislative Reference Bureau, an agency that conducts research and provides a variety of services to legislators, legislative committees, and in some cases, the public.

The bureau’s director, Charlotte Carter-Yamauchi, earns $154,812 annually.

The next highest paid are Shawn Nakama, first assistant director, $142,416; and John Morsey, assistant director for revision of statutes, $122,000.

The pay of the bureau’s 11 research attorneys ranges widely from $62,400 to $100,000.

read … Hawaii Legislature’s Top-Paid Officials Never Run For Office

Priests of Eco-Religion Lose Funding to Brainwash Kids

CB: … Eight schools applied for funding under a new state law aimed at expanding campus composting programs, but the DOE awarded the grant money to an engineering firm instead….

Every day for the past 14 years, Mindy Jaffe has thought about worms….

HB2025 was signed into law in July 2018. It provided $300,000 for schools, organizations or the DOE to set up composting and other “zero waste” programs….

The DOE said it signed a contract with Okahara and Associates Inc., an engineering firm, to “assist in establishing the framework for a composting pilot program and campus composting guidelines.”

Okahara and Associates said the $285,000 contract was signed on July 27. Lindsey Whitcomb, the fundraising lead for Windward Zero Waste School Hui, said this was after the DOE told her funding for the program had lapsed.

“All this money is getting diverted before it’s getting to the mouth it’s supposed to feed,” she said. …

(Procurement law: I lobbied for bill so I get money.)

Jaffe said “…need to be paid.”

read … State Religion

After Five Years of Paper Shuffling--Holiday Inn to get signs

WHT: …More than five years later, the Holiday Inn in Kailua-Kona is about to get its signs.

The County Council Public Works and Mass Transit Committee voted 9-0 to advance the hotel’s sign variance, Resolution 92, to the council, where it faces one final vote. That marks the end of a long saga, where the application gathered dust in the Department of Public Works, was postponed by a previous council, took two trips to the Kailua Village Design Commission and has now returned for a final approval….

“Councilwoman Lee Loy was instrumental getting this through and I applaud her for that,” Glade said. “But I still don’t understand why it took five years. … There was no apology; no one took responsibility.”…

read … Holiday Inn to get signs

Rate Increases Now Tied to Alt Energy--Hawai`i Public Utilities Commission Transforming Utility Business Model

IM: …Historically, utilities rely on Cost of Service (COS) regulation….

For the first time in memorable history, the Public Utilities Commission has identified a single proceeding as their top priority. Between a quarter and a third of the Commission`s budget is being spent on Performance-Based Regulation….

The Commission started down this road with the decoupling docket in 2013, whereby utilities would theoretically not profit from increased sales. The “Commission's Inclinations on the Future of Hawaii's Electric Utilities: Aligning the Utility Business Model with Customer Interests and Public Policy Goals” was released in April 2014….

read … Hawai`i Public Utilities Commission Transforming Utility Business Model

Tax exemption creates incentive to Keep Your Title Cloudy

TGI: … The value of land on Kauai, particularly beachfront properties, has soared over the years.

Family members who have lived on these properties for generations but whose names are not on title could soon qualify for real property tax exemptions. A public hearing for a bill that proposes an amendment to alter the definition of property owners to include family members will be held on Wednesday….

Some families have lived on properties located in areas like Haena, Hanalei, Anini, Kekaha and Poipu, for years, but can’t lay claim to any property rights because their name is not on title….

A grandparent or other relative, for example, could have died prior to establishing a will or transferring rights. While the bill does not clear title for ownership, which can also be cost-prohibitive, family members residing on the premises may be eligible for tax relief.

If the bill passes, a family member, for example, could potentially assign a real property tax rate classification of homestead or commercialized home use.

“Which are very valuable exemptions offered by the county,” said Kauai County Finance Director Reiko Matsuyama.

Additionally, if an applicant can prove they are a lineal descendant of the original titleholder, and if they can prove there is no living person on title, they can apply for the kuleana exemption, rather than paying higher “residential” or “residential investor” rates. But even if they can’t meet the first criteria, they would still be eligible to apply for other provisions, such as the homestead class.

“It gives them a chance to hold on to their land,” Cowden said. “The goal behind this is to help our long-standing population not get taxed off their land because of clouded titles.”…

read … Tax exemption amendment goes to council

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