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Monday, September 16, 2019
September 16, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:33 PM :: 1348 Views

Most Traffic: Honolulu Ranks 9th

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted September 14, 2019

Unity House: After 70 Years, Corruption Comes to an End

PBN: … Unity House Inc., a nonprofit organization founded nearly 70 years ago by the late legendary labor leader Art Rutledge to benefit Hawaii union members and their families, closed its doors last month after dissolving the organization.

The organization filed articles of dissolution with the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs on July 31, and closed its office at 1701 Ala Wai Blvd. at the end of August, said Jim Boersema, who was the organization’s chairman.

Unity House had owned the building on Ala Wai Boulevard from the ‘80s until late 2014, when it was sold to former First Hawaiian Bank CEO Don Horner’s Malu Investments for $2.1 million. Unity House leased back its space, but then Horner sold the property to Japanese investors for $5.7 million in a deal that closed on July 1.

Unity House was founded in late 1951 by Arthur Rutledge, who at one time headed both Hawaii locals for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees unions. Rutledge died in 1997 at age 90.

His son, Tony Rutledge, ran Unity House until 2006, when he pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of falsifying a tax return and was sentenced to three years probation.

Boersema told Pacific Business News that Unity House hadn’t received any income from members since the 1990s. Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, Teamsters Local 996 and Unite HERE Local 5 members, retirees and their families had paid dues of as little as $1 a month to Unity House, he said.

“The last 15 years or so there was no income coming in,” he said, and the organization was slowly spending its reserves.

According to its 990 tax forms filed with the Internal Revenue service, the organization’s net assets dwindled from $2.14 million in 2014 down to $840,585 in 2017, the most recent year available. Boersema said the staff was down to about five people when the organization closed down last month.

He said the approximate $10,000 in funds that remained were donated to other nonprofit organizations, which he did not name.

Over the years, Unity House owned various real estate investments, including the Waikiki Marina Hotel, now known as the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Alana - Waikiki Beach, which the nonprofit sold 30 years ago for $43 million; Boersema said the money from those investments went back to the nonprofit's beneficiaries.

One of those investments was the former W Honolulu hotel along Waikiki's Gold Coast, which Unity House bought in 2009 at a foreclosure sale for $8.5 million and rebranded it as the Lotus at Diamond Head. Unity House then sold the hotel two years later to a Japanese investment group for $18.5 million. The MacNaughton Group bought the boutique hotel earlier this year for $30 million.

Meanwhile, a retiree center in Honolulu's Chinatown operated by Unity House has been funded through the end of the year, Boersema said. The center, at 171 N. Pauahi St., is located on a 3,021-square-foot property owned by the City and County of Honolulu….

PBN: Former First Hawaiian Bank CEO sells Waikiki property for $5.7M

Background:

read … Hawaii labor nonprofit Unity House shuts down after nearly 70 years

Kaneshiro, Kealoha fake investigation of Board of Water Supply aimed at Distracting Ethics Commission

HNN: … Kealoha met with a BWS employee who was supposed to be a key witness in a criminal case she claimed to have launched.

That witness does not want to be named but tells Hawaii News Now he met with Kealoha several times.

He snapped a quick picture of Kealoha with three ring binders at one of their meetings….

the whistleblower said he trusted Kealoha was working hard on the case, and that she had the support of her boss, Keith Kaneshiro, who attended one of their meetings….

The whistleblower met with Acting Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney, Dwight Nadamoto.

“I said what the hell is going on, what the hell is going on man.” He says Nadamoto told him they found no evidence that there ever was an investigation into BWS by Kealoha or anyone else in the office.

“He said they couldn’t find anything. He said, we can’t find anything.”

He fears the whole case was a fake, something Kealoha used to get back at the Honolulu Ethics Commission.

In a lawsuit Kealoha filed, she complains that issues at the BWS were being ignored because the Ethics Commission was wasting time investigating her and her husband.

“I’m completely disheartened with the system.” The man says he still hopes questionable practices at BWS will be looked into.

read … Katherine Kealoha led criminal case into Board of Water Supply’s billing practices, but was it real?

Protesters Latest Wheeze: Fake TMT Twitter Account

HPR: … An unverified Twitter account has closely copied the appearance of the official Thirty Meter Telescope account and is sending out derogatory and culturally insensitive posts.

The account calls itself TMT Hawaii Community Outreach and uses the handle @OutreachTMT. It has adopted deceptive practices like using the same avatar and banner of photos of the official TMT account and linking to the TMT Hawaii website.

The only discernible difference was the location tag “Not Mauna Kea” in its profile.

Tweets coming from the account, which by all appearances appear to originate from the TMT International Observatory organization, include a claim the TIO does not have the money to construct the planned telescope, a thank you to Gov. David Ige for his support of the project and a racially-tinged post of the character “Maui,” from the Disney film “Moana,” appearing to speak gibberish….

read … Twitter Troll Impersonates TMT Account

Lahaina Injection Wells: Enviros to Continue Circus Before Maui Co Council

SA: … The Maui County Council is set to receive public testimony Friday about a resolution to drop the county’s appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding its discharge of treated wastewater from its Lahaina plant.

The testimony will be received during the same Council meeting where the resolution will be recommended for adoption by the Council’s Governance, Ethics, and Transparency committee.

Councilwoman Tamara Paltin, who also sits on the governance committee, said by phone Sunday that whether the full Council adopts the resolution Friday could depend on how many people show up to testify and how much time the Council has. She said a hearing before the committee earlier this month about the resolution lasted 12 hours….

Related: Why Flushing the "Clean Water Rule" Was the Right Thing to Do

read … More testimony expected on Maui appeal to Supreme Court

UPW on the Job: Adult corrections officers work hard under intense pressure

SA: … Regarding the current severe staff shortage of adult correctional officers (ACOs) at Maui Community Correctional Center (MCCC), I would like to recognize our dedicated public servants who work in the jail and prison system statewide.

The ACOs are under intense psychological pressure to be hypervigilant at all times, protecting the inmates, other staff and themselves from physical and emotional harm. In some cases, ACOs work anywhere from 72-80 hours or more per week, while also being called on their days off to return to work. These ACOs are highly encouraged to continue working the long hours due to the staff shortage.

Consequently, staffers are short-tempered and exhausted while their immune system slowly crumbles and physical disease contributes to the mental anguish of developing a coping survival defense mechanism mentality while working in a very difficult situation, which fosters despair….

Aug 24, 2019: 113 UPW Members Have Stopped Showing up for Work at Maui Jail

read … Adult corrections officers work hard under intense pressure

HGEA on the Job: Backlog for Hawaii property title certificates now 6 years

SA: … Somewhere in the bowels of the Kalanimoku Building behind Hono­lulu Hale is a massive state government paperwork jam for certifying ownership of real estate in Hawaii.

About 180,000 property title certificates are caught up in processing, with the oldest cases stretching back six years, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

The backlog has mushroomed from what was a three-year lag in 2012 and a one-year delay in 2006 — despite complaints and efforts to resolve the issue over more than a decade.

Recently, state officials said they’re getting a handle on the problem, which they note does not delay the sale or transfer of property, but does bog down workers at DLNR’s Bureau of Conveyances while inconveniencing customers wanting timely title certificates.

Under a $1.3 million contract announced in August, a company will install a records management system with optical character recognition technology to improve bureau work….

read … Backlog for Hawaii property title certificates now 6 years

HGEA on the Job: Tech fix to Hawaii County’s ‘Beleaguered’ Permitting System?

WHT:  … Say the word “permitting” to anybody in Hawaii County who has had any interaction with our beleaguered system whatsoever, and blood pressures spike while words unfit for print arise out of the mouths of otherwise aloha-filled residents. Permitting on the Big Island is indeed an aloha-killer….

There are several fixes in the works, and one of the biggest is the county’s move to a new digital system for building permits and planning applications. This is not new information as the new system, EnerGov, a platform provided by Tyler Technologies currently being utilized by more than 600 government entities nationally, has been in the process of customization and in the news for quite a while now.

EnerGov was supposed to go live last year … the spring of this year … the summer … and now is scheduled to go live in mid-November, although “there is a risk” in considering that date to be written in stone, according to Project Manager Sheila Cadaoas.

read … Small Business Matters: On the path to permitting progress

Climate Lawsuits Increasing Globally & Locally

IM: …Joshua Hamilton Scott filed an administrative petition with the Hawai`i Department of Health in 2011 requesting the adoption of a rule that would reduce atmospheric CO2 concentrations to 350 ppm by 2100. The Joshua Scott & Kids vs. Global Warming legal effort failed.

Sierra Club sought to intervene in a Hawai`i Public Utilities Commission regulatory proceeding in 2015 involving the MECO-HC&S Power Purchase Agreement. The PUC rejected Sierra Club`s motion. The Hawai`i Supreme Court ruled in 2017 that Sierra Club was entitled to protect its constitutional right to a “clean and healthful environment.”

Life of the Land opposed the HELCO-Hu Honua proposal to burn forests to generate high-priced electricity. The PUC approved the contract. The Hawai`i Supreme Court rejected the approval in May 2019 and remanded the proceedings to the PUC. Tomorrow the parties will file a proposed draft procedural order.

The Hawai`i Supreme Court is currently reviewing a Life of the Land greenhouse gas appeal of the PUC approved Gas Company Rate Hike.

Life of the Land filed a third greenhouse gas action, this time before the PUC regarding the proposed Kahuku Wind Farm. The PUC has agreed to a public hearing on the motion. Lance Collins represented Life of the Land in all three legal actions….

CB: Civil Beat: We aren’t doing enough Global Warming Brainwashing

More Reality than Most can handle: Hawaii to Sue over Global Warming? UH Law School Debunked

read … Climate Lawsuits Increasing Globally & Locally

Former cop makes plea deal in domestic abuse case

HTH: … A former Hawaii Police Department officer pleaded no contest Tuesday to third-degree assault for an April 8 domestic abuse incident that resulted in his wife being treated at Hilo Medical Center for bruising to her throat area.

Hilo Circuit Judge Henry Nakamoto agreed to a deferred acceptance of Daniel R. Ulrich’s plea. In a deal with prosecutors, the assault charge was reduced to a misdemeanor from second-degree assault, a Class C felony. Dropped were two counts of domestic abuse. One was a misdemeanor charge, the other a felony charge with strangulation as an aggravating factor….

read … Former cop makes plea deal in domestic abuse case

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