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Thursday, October 10, 2019
October 10, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:40 PM :: 955 Views

Council approves PLAs despite many concerns

Caldwell Jets off to Europe for Some Climate Change Make-Believe

Best Cities for People with Disabilities -- Honolulu 93rd

Kia'i Chicken? No Response to Telescope Panel Invite

Robotics League Expands into Micronesian Island of Kosrae

Led by Telescope Protester, Burial council finds ‘no cause for alarm’ on controversial Sherwoods project

HNN: … After a presentation by city project managers and contracted archaeologists on the controversial Sherwoods park development, the Oahu Island Burial Council advocated for updated testing and study of the area, but took no formal position on the project despite public pressure to take a stand against it.

“From the information that you have presented to us today, we do not have any serious cause for alarm,” said Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, chair of the Oahu Island Burial Council. (Wong organized the recent ‘unity’ march in Waikiki.)

Despite multiple arrests, concerns about Hawaiian burials, a lawsuit and protesters who vow to block the city’s heavy equipment, she said the conflict is between Hawaiian residents in Waimanalo. She’s urging caution.

"Iwi kupuna should not be used as a scapegoat and a means to the end if they are not the actual reason that something should not happen," she said.

City project managers and archaeologists told the burial council there are no burials in the phase one of the Sherwoods project at Waimanalo Bay Beach Park which includes a multi-purpose sports field, playground and 11 stall parking lot.

"To date we have found no burials or human remains. We have found a few glass bottles that date back to the 1940's," said Paul Cleghorn of Pacific Legacy, the city's contracted archaeology firm.

Archaeologists say four burials were discovered in the 1970′s, but Pacific Legacy says they were discovered around the beach area which is more than one-thousand feet from the project site at at the entrance of the park….

SA: Burial Council accepts finding of no ancestral remains at Sherwood

read … Burial council finds ‘no cause for alarm’ on controversial Sherwoods project

A federal judge will decide whether the Kealohas are guilty of alleged financial crimes

HNN: … A federal judge has approved the Kealohas’ request to waive their right to a jury trial in an upcoming case on alleged financial crimes.

The decision means that federal Judge Michael Seabright will listen to the facts in the trial and decide whether they’re guilty or not….

Legal expert Ken Lawson of the University of Hawaii Law School says this is a good move for Katherine, but not for Louis.

It’s widely known that the Kealohas are negotiating with federal prosecutors for a plea deal.

One of Katherine’s attorneys, Earle Partington, says she wants her husband dropped from the financial case so he will be out of prison sooner for their adult daughter.

Because a plea deal hasn’t happened yet, Lawson says a bench trial could be an alternative, by allowing Katherine to try and take sole responsibility for the alleged crimes….

Katherine Kealoha, who is behind bars as she awaits sentencing, was in a white Federal Detention Center jumpsuit.

Louis Kealoha left the courthouse after the decision without making a comment. He did appear to be in good spirits, though, smiling and waving to reporters as he walked to his car….

SA: Kealohas waive right to jury trial and continue negotiations

read … A federal judge will decide whether the Kealohas are guilty of alleged financial crimes

Telescope: Hawaii County Ethics Board quizzes Prosecutor (virtue signaling opportunity)

HTH: … Armed with a letter from county Corporation Counsel Joe Kamelamela, an oral assurance from the state attorney general and his own understanding of the law based on readings provided by the state Office of Disciplinary Counsel, county Prosecuting Attorney Mitch Roth told the Board of Ethics on Wednesday he’s confident there would be no conflict of interest if he prosecuted protesters arrested on Maunakea.

Roth, who turned 30 cases over to the attorney general pending the board’s opinion, said the question of the appearance of a conflict, or his ability to be impartial under the principle of procedural justice, is more difficult to define, but he thinks he meets those requirements as well….

At issue is the employment of Roth’s 22-year-old son at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, administered by the California Institute of Technology, and Roth’s wife’s employment at Subaru Telescope, operated by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan. The two organizations are among six partners in the Thirty Meter Telescope project.

In addition, Roth’s wife’s employer is the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii, which is attached to the university for administrative purposes. The university, through its master plan and its appointed Maunakea Management Board, manages the Maunakea Science Reserve, where the mountain’s 13 telescopes are located.

Also, Roth said, he’s on the board for The Success Factory’s NexTech STEM Programs, which received a grant from TMT’s THINK fund, that donates $1 million annually for science, technology, engineering and math programs for youth….

Just three members of the five-member Board of Ethics were present for the discussion Wednesday, which was scheduled after Roth asked for an opinion….

read … Ethics Board quizzes Roth

Bus ridership plummets, putting rail forecast in limbo

KHON: … A decade ago when Honolulu’s rail project planning hit high gear, bus ridership was in high gear, too. In 2012 when the feds and city signed the grant agreement to build it, TheBus logged one of its best years ever — more than 76 million rides.

It’s been downhill every year since then.

This past fiscal year the tally hovered just above 60 million rides. That’s a 21 percent drop, 5 percent in just the past year, which saw the biggest single-year exodus of 3.4 million fewer rides.

“This is happening in a lot of places,” said rail critic Randy Roth. “What’s surprising here in Hawaii is that the rail supporters, HART and the city haven’t adjusted their bus ridership projections.”

TheBus maintains it will carry more than 330,000 bus and HandiVan daily riders a decade from now, in 2030. But just over 193,000 rides a day happen now. Hitting the 2030 target of 330,000 daily riders would be a 74% increase, counter to all local and national trends.

HART even notched up its projected daily ridership by 2030, from 116,000 in the original EIS to 121,000 when they went to a four-car configuration. Rail forecasts say most train riders will get to stations by bus….

read … Bus ridership plummets, putting rail forecast in limbo

Hawaii – 99% of Vehicles are NOT Electric

KITV: … By the end of September the number of registered electric vehicles hit the 10,000 mark. That's only about 1% of vehicles…

read … Hawaii now has over 10K electric vehicles on the road

Star-Adv: Ala Wai Redevelopment Should not Include Condos

SA: … it’s encouraging that also moving forward is competitive bidding for a lease of up to 55 years to redevelop the run-down area. It includes harbor parking, public restrooms, a former fuel dock, a former boat repair site and submerged lands extending off the fuel dock and boat repair sites.

Some area residents are rightly opposing any plan that envisions high-rise condominiums or dense development that blocks views, diminishes the harbor’s boating mission or interferes with the public access to the shoreline area. The state should heed that input, and opt to build a low-rise project that helps revitalize the prime waterfront area.

Earlier this year, the state initiated solicitation of developer proposals — 11 years after making a similar attempt that failed amid much public criticism. In that case, Honey Bee USA Inc. — picked to lease and improve two parcels — failed to execute even the bare bones of a makeover.

This time around, the reasoning for establishing a public-private venture remains sound in that it could provide taxpayers with needed services without draining state coffers. If the agency’s current timeline holds, evaluation of proposals and state Land Board approval of a redevelopment plan could wrap up within the next few months….

Background: Ala Wai Development Plan Serves OHA, not Boaters

read … Fee hike justified to fix boat harbor

Competition Brings Hawaii Airfares Down To Earth

CB: … Since Southwest Airlines began flying from California to Hawaii, average airfares have dropped 17%….

read … Competition Brings Hawaii Airfares Down To Earth

Lunatics Assault Hospital Worker 50 Times

SA: … Nurse manager Robert Burns navigates his way through the pale hallways of the Hawaii State Hospital in Kaneohe with a partially blinded left eye from being injured twice in the same area during assaults while working with psychiatric patients.

Burns, who wears dark glasses indoors because his eyes are now sensitive to light due to his injuries, has been assaulted an estimated 50 times in the nearly 19 years he’s worked at the state’s only public adult psychiatric hospital for serious mental illness.

The building Burns works in was built in the 1950s with a nurses’ station behind a plexiglass wall. Staff at the station can see only a portion of the psychiatric ward he manages, while another hallway and common areas are blind spots where workers like Burns frequently get into trouble when a patient becomes violent.

A new 144-bed hospital building currently under construction is designed to minimize blind spots with hallways and corridors in the line of sight of the nurses stations and digital cameras installed throughout the facility.

“It’s a dangerous job so I was in the cross hairs so to speak. I’m really looking forward to getting into that building because it will be much safer for us,” said Burns, who has worked at the hospital since 2000.

Construction of the new building began in August and is slated to be completed by the end of 2020. Patients are expected to be relocated by October 2021. This week hospital officials gave a tour of the new facility to the Honolulu Star- Advertiser.

The new hospital will house the most dangerous, high-risk patients….

Staffing has been a significant concern with the increase in court-ordered patients at the hospital, which spent $6.6 million, or 8.6% of its $75.6 million budget in fiscal 2019 on overtime. Overworked employees (HGEA Members) often call in sick, exacerbating the shortage. There are about 60 open positions.

“It’s just this big vicious cycle with sick leave. Staffing is always a problem,” Burns said. “It’s been an issue for the last 30 years I’ve been a nurse.”

Reality:

read … Safety is top goal of makeover at state hospital

Lawsuit: Deranged Killer Released from Psych Ward Just Before Fatal Crash

CB: …A Maui woman who was acquitted of murder by reason of insanity for causing a fatal crash in 2016 is now suing the hospital that discharged her a day before.

On Oct. 8, 2016, Ashley Wellman drove more than 120 miles per hour on Haleakala Highway through a red light, killing Debi Wylie, 63, and Traci Winegarner, 57.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday on her behalf alleges that Kaiser Permanente’s Wailuku facility improperly discharged Wellman after she sought psychological treatment and medical assistance for depression and suicidal thoughts a day before the crash.

Wellman was acquitted of murder charges after doctors testified that she was physically and mentally impaired at the time of the crash, and was sent to be confined to the Hawaii State Hospital on Oahu….

read … Maui Woman Involved In Fatal Crash Sues Kaiser Permanente

With calls for mental health emergencies on the rise, HPD launches crisis intervention team

HNN: … With calls for mental health emergencies on the rise, Honolulu police have launched a new crisis intervention team.

It’s made up of 58 officers ― all with specific training on how to defuse volatile situations that can turn deadly.

Officer Nicholas Schlapak says he responds to calls for people in mental health crisis at least twice a week….

HPD’s psychologist, Alicia Rodriguez, is urging lawmakers to focus on mental health treatment by creating more places for people to get help.

“There’s a lot of gaps in the system," she said. “Once an officer de-escalates somebody, where can we take them to? We need more crisis intervention resources.”

She said the goal is to expand the crisis intervention team to include close to 400 officers so when someone calls 911 to report a mental health emergency one of these specially-trained officers can be dispatched 24 hours a day….

read … With calls for mental health emergencies on the rise, HPD launches crisis intervention team 

Homeless Dude Allegedly Destroys Paper Cutter to Get Blade to Slash other Homeless Dude

MN: … After being confronted about damaging a paper cutter in a Kahului store, a man swung the tool against a post, breaking off the blade and holding it while stepping toward a store employee, according to testimony Wednesday.

The man was identified as Eugene Bingham, 57, who was arrested shortly after the confrontation Sunday afternoon in OfficeMax at the Maui Marketplace….

Officer Nichole Paclib, who took a statement from Bingham after he was arrested, said the defendant reported getting into a dispute with another man at Kahului Harbor earlier in the day.

“He said that was the whole reason he went looking for a piece of machete or some kind of knife,” Paclib testified. “He said he needed to protect himself, and he also wanted to hurt the male.”

She said Bingham reported going to two other stores before ending up at OfficeMax.

He said he didn’t have money to buy a machete or knife when he went into the store and saw the paper cutter, Paclib said. Bingham reported disassembling the paper cutter by smashing it to the ground, with the blade coming off after the second strike, Paclib said.

She said Bingham acknowledged having the blade in his hand when he told a man who approached him, “Don’t try and stop me.”

Bingham said he left the store with the blade and knew police were on the way when he ran across the street to McDonald’s and hid in the bushes, Paclib said.

Judge Kirstin Hamman ruled there was probable cause to support felony charges of first-degree robbery and first-degree terroristic threatening against Bingham. He also is charged with fourth-degree theft.

Bail remains at $56,000 for Bingham, who is homeless….

read … More Homeless Mayhem

Another Company Creates Gig for OHA Insider

SA: … AlohaCare has hired L. Kealoha Fox as its Native Hawaiian Cultural Liaison for a newly created position designed to help the nonprofit health plan enhance care for its Native Hawaiian members.

In her most recent role at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, she led strategic efforts and directed agency initiatives related to Mauli Ola (Native Hawaiian health). At AlohaCare, Fox is responsible for developing partnerships and programs to support culturally relevant health care for Native Hawaiian members….

read … Gig

DHHL Decides to Start Answering the Phone

CB: … The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands is launching a new “contact center” to improve communication with Native Hawaiian beneficiaries by prioritizing calls and referring callers to the appropriate division.

The agency gets an average of 13,556 calls per month, and people have complained in the past that their calls would ring with no answer.

“If that phone rings down there, they’ll pick it up after the first ring,” says Cedric Duarte, the agency’s spokesman, adding that the center is in a “soft launch” phase. “They’re there to answer the phone and direct beneficiaries to the appropriate department and make sure that phone calls are followed up on.” …

read … DHHL Seeks To Improve Communication With Native Hawaiians Awaiting Homes

Pension Debt Accounts for Over Half of All Debt for US States

CIO: … the biggest so-called sinkhole state was New Jersey, which had a burden of $65,100 per taxpayer, followed by Illinois and Connecticut, at $52,600 and $51,800 respectively. Behind them were Massachusetts and Hawaii, each of which had a debt of approximately $31,200 per taxpayer….

read … Pension Debt Accounts for Over Half of All Debt for US States

Hawaii personal debt is among highest in U.S.

SA: … Residents in Hawaii have the eighth-highest per capita debt in the country, according to a study by LendingTree.

The online lender reported Wednesday that Hawaii’s debt per capita is $40,700. The study said that 90% of Hawaii residents have credit card debt with an average balance of $4,489. The average mortgage debt balance in Hawaii is $162,534….

read … Hawaii debt is among highest in U.S.

26% of Hawaii DoE HS Students are Proficient—at Vaping

KITV: … Hawaii has the highest use of vaping among high school students at 26%.

Health experts will be apart of a first-ever anti-vaping symposium on Maui.

Clearing the Cloud symposium is set for Friday. Parents, students, educators, lawmakers and more will also be part of the symposium….

read … Hawaii has the highest use of vaping among high school students at 26%.

Republicans Set to Lose Another Seat?

SA: … The first 2020 campaign for the state House of Representatives may have just begun, with Kailua’s Rep. Cynthia Thielen announcing she would not seek re-election.

Thielen’s party has not fared well at the Capitol lately — she is one of only five Republicans remaining in the chamber, with one more in the Senate — but she herself has had a solid following since her arrival there in 1990.

Democrats have tried to unseat her, and now there are sure to be hopefuls mulling the race — from the GOP, too….

read … Who can replace Cynthia Thielen?

Rep. Gabbard Plays Up Military Service But Says Little About It

CB: … Gabbard is not shy about boasting of her military record and going on cable television to share her views on international affairs, but when Civil Beat has tried to speak with the congresswoman about her service she’s remained quiet.

In March, Civil Beat asked Gabbard’s longtime aide and campaign spokeswoman, Erika Tsuji, for details about Gabbard’s military record, including ranks held, places of deployment and lists of commendations. Civil Beat also asked for an interview with Gabbard to discuss her military career and how it informed her views on foreign policy, which is the main plank of her presidential platform.

There was no response.

Civil Beat then turned to the Hawaii National Guard to see what public information it could provide to illuminate Gabbard’s military service.

Jeff Hickman, the director of public affairs, initially said it would be up to Gabbard’s campaign to release the materials. Months later, after additional inquiry from Civil Beat, Hickman provided basic details about the Gabbard’s service record, including her job title as a military police officer, the locations of her two deployments and the list of medals, badges and commendations she’s received, for everything from good conduct to being enlisted during the global war on terror.

Hickman highlighted Gabbard’s “Combat Medical Badge,” which Gabbard earned when she was part of a medical unit within the Hawaii Army National Guard’s 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team that was called up for deployment to Iraq in 2004. The badge was awarded to a large group after “an indirect fire event that occurred on base.”

Hickman said he did not have any more information about the incident, such as the award citation, because Gabbard’s records were sent to the National Guard Bureau in Arlington, Virginia, after she announced her campaign for president.

He added that the eligibility requirements to earn a Combat Medical Badge had evolved since Gabbard’s time in Iraq and that it is now “tougher to get.” ….

read … Rep. Gabbard Plays Up Military Service But Says Little About It

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