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Friday, January 10, 2020
January 10, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:21 PM :: 2912 Views

In Hawaii $100 Buys Only $84 Worth of Goods

Governor's budget exceeds spending cap — again

Audit: Handi-Van Phone System May be ADA Violation

Audit: Property Assessments Inconsistent and Inequitable

A Native Hawaiian’s response to SACNAS letter implying Native Hawaiian culture opposes TMT

Shakeup at Honolulu Police Commission -- Anti-Kealoha Chair Ousted by Pro-Corruption Forces

CB: … Sheehan, an attorney and former federal prosecutor, was voted out 5-2 and replaced with Shannon Alivado, the director of the Waimanalo Health Center (government relations director of the General Contractors Association of Hawaii​ until 2018)  (correction: Manager of Government Relations for Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc.) who laid out a different vision for the commission. Sheehan’s sole supporter was Steve Levinson, a retired Hawaii Supreme Court justice.

“I don’t want to dwell on the past,” Alivado said.

The focus should be more on the new chief and how she’s doing, Alivado said. The commission should also have more aloha, she added.

(Translation: Stop making crooked cops feel unwelcome.)

Sheehan said the commission should remain vigilant on public corruption and be tough on legal issues.

Sheehan was the only commissioner to vote to fire Kealoha instead of approving a $250,000 retirement deal, which the city now wants to sue him to get back.

(And the others just got rid of here.  What more is there to say?)

She drafted a letter laying out various charges against the former chief that she believed warranted his removal from his post, including dwindling morale in the department, excessive use of force and HPD’s struggles in addressing domestic violence within the ranks.

“I don’t think we can forget the past,” said Levinson, who re-nominated Sheehan. “Because the public doesn’t want us to do that.”

The public expects the commission to be aware of problems within the department, he said.

“The only way the commission can keep as abreast as it can on the state of the department is by asking questions, and sometimes asking probing questions and sometimes asking questions that may not be particularly welcome,” he said, suggesting Sheehan was the one to do so….

Alivado was nominated by Carrie Okinaga, a former city attorney who now works as the vice president of legal affairs for the University of Hawaii. Okinaga said she wanted leadership that focused on the future instead of the past, and (insert warm fuzzy words here).

Commissioner Karen Chang said that what happened in the past was “unfortunate.” 

(No.  It was ‘typical’.)

“We learned a lesson,” she said. “Publicly and privately. We all have.”

(And the lesson is: Take this opportunity to shut down the reformers and return to the same old same old.)

Former state Sen. Will Espero, who supported Sheehan when she wanted to fire Kealoha, agreed that a change in leadership is not necessarily a bad thing, but said the commission should not move on from the past.

The corruption was a major breach of public trust in law enforcement and it was “extremely damaging,” he said.

“There’s still a lot to be done,” he said. “And the story’s not even over.”

Alexander Zannes, a spokesman for Mayor Kirk Caldwell, said Sheehan would remain on the commission until Caldwell either reappoints her or makes an alternative appointment….  (Translation: She’s doomed.)  

Pine: High Profile Ousters Cast Shadow on Government Transparency

SA: Sheehan is replaced as Honolulu Police Commission chairwoman  

SA: Sheehan put panel on right path

Related? Shakeup afoot at the federal office that exposed the Kealohas’ criminal behavior

read … Stop Looking for More Corruption

Meth-Head Convicted, Still Employed as Prison Guard—will be allowed to retire with pension soon

HTH: A state corrections officer pleaded no contest last month to possessing methamphetamine.  Ricky R. Espejo, 59, of Pahala was sentenced Dec. 19 by acting Hilo Circuit Judge Kanani Laubach to four years court supervision and granted a deferred acceptance of his plea….

… Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Toni Schwartz on Wednesday said Espejo, who has been with DPS since Sept. 16, 1996, remains “employed with the department pending the outcome of our ongoing due process internal investigative procedure.”…

According to police, Espejo — who is assigned to Hale Nani Correctional Facility, a minimum-security jail on the southern outskirts of Hilo — was pulled over by a Hilo patrol officer just after midnight May 2 because the pickup truck he was driving had a defective brake light.

Police say the officer also discovered the weight tax and safety check stickers on the truck were expired.

The officer also saw drug paraphernalia in plain view. The officer arrested Espejo and a then-29-year-old woman passenger — identified in a police log as Krystal Kahalioumi of Hilo — and impounded the truck as evidence.

A search warrant was executed on the truck, and officers found paraphernalia items with methamphetamine residue, police said….

Tavares requested the deferral so Espejo could maintain his employment until retirement, the documents state.

Deputy Prosecutor Joseph Lee remained silent on the matter of deferral, documents state, but put on the record that there has been criticism about this case.

read … Another Day in the DPS

Telescope Protesters Leave Mountain of Trash on Mauna Kea  

KITV: … While kia'i, or protectors, are busy on O'ahu for American Astronomical Society Conference this week, multiple viewers have sent in photos to KITV4 showing what appears to be trash on Mauna Kea.

Photos show what appear to be dilapidated tents, chairs and various rubbish where kia'i had set up camp….

Another viewer wrote in to KITV4 saying, "The place looks like a homeless camp to me, not a sacred site for worship."… 

KITV: 'Tents being moved' on Mauna Kea some say as photos surface on social media

read … Kia'i questioned: Viewers send in photos of what appears to be trash on Mauna Kea

Island ranchers, businesses oppose 34% hike to YB shipping rates

MN: … Testifiers on Tuesday night were strongly opposed to Young Brothers’ request for a general rate increase of 34 percent, saying it would have “astronomical impacts” on farming communities and local businesses.

During a public hearing before the state Public Utilities Commission that drew more than 40 people to the Velma McWayne Santos Community Center, 12 Maui County residents and business owners spoke for an hour on how the burdens of a price hike would fall on the community.

“We are writing to oppose Young Brothers’ proposal to increase shipping rates,” said James Gomes, vice president of Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council Inc. “We appreciate Young Brothers being open to communication in finding solutions, but there are still many concerns we have regarding proficiency for customer service. A price increase is not ideal in most situations.”

Gomes said that the HCC is composed of five county-level Cattlemen’s Associations, which include more than 150 ranchers who represent more than 60,000 beef cows, over 75 percent of all beef cows in the state, and a price increase would be “detrimental for all interisland shipping.”

Ranchers are the stewards of more than 25 percent of Hawaii’s total land mass, so “it’s unreasonable to burden customers with such a large increase at one time,” he added….

Dylan Beesley of Young Brothers said the company’s tentative time line for a decision by the PUC is August to September….

read … Island ranchers, businesses oppose hike to shipping rates

Will Feds Save us from Hawaii’s Failed Effort to Solve Homelessness?

CB: … some dude from DC wants you to resist this because of Trump or something ….

CL: Trump’s Plan to Criminalize Homelessness Is Taking Shape (see?)

read … Trump Blames States For Homeless. Don’t Take The Bait, Former Official Warns Hawaii

Money to Burn: Hawaii government might collect an additional $74M in taxes

SA:  … A panel of experts tasked with projecting how much the state will collect in taxes has boosted its projection for next year by 1 percentage point, which means lawmakers should have an extra $74 million to spend.

The state Council on Revenues met Thursday to discuss the latest trends in the Hawaii economy, and opted to increase its estimate of how much state tax collections will grow in the year that begins July 1 to 4% from 3%.

That might not sound like much, but it works out to significant money because the total take from Hawaii excise taxes, income taxes, hotel room taxes and other taxes is expected to amount to about $7.43 billion this year.….

(Bring marshmallows.)

PEW: Decade After Recession, Tax Revenue Higher in 45 States

read … Money to Burn

Waimea Middle Will Get Back Withheld Settlement Money

CB: … The Hawaii State Pubic Charter School Commission on Thursday unanimously voted to reinstate $75,000 in per pupil funding to Waimea Middle School, quickly patching a temporary budget concern that had steep implications for other charter schools.

It’s likely the money will come directly from the Legislature, as the commissioners have been speaking to lawmakers about the inability of small charter school budgets to absorb the cost of such liability claims.

According to one commission member, lawmakers assured her “they will go ahead and fund those settlements,” she said at the meeting. “They understand charter schools are funded separately, that they’re not traditional state agencies.” ….

read … Waimea Middle Will Get Back Withheld Settlement Money

3 years Late Oahu Finally Gets Its Joint Traffic Management Center

CB: … Local leaders had originally hoped to open the facility in June 2017, but the city encountered what it said were construction problems with the original contractor, Watts Construction LLC, and eventually filed a notice of default in February 2018.

Watts’ parent company reached a deal with the city several months after the default to resume construction….

read … Oahu Finally Gets Its Joint Traffic Management Center

After months-long delay, EPA to begin removing toxic soil under Kalihi street this month

HNN: … On Thursday, the EPA announced the long-delayed work to remove the toxic soil under Factory Street will start the week of Jan. 20.

The project was supposed to happen in October, but the agency needed more time to find a disposal site. They’ve decided to use a licensed facility on the mainland….

Officials with the EPA have said the levels of lead on the street are so high someone could potentially be exposed by simply walking down the street.

It’s believed the soil was polluted by a company that manufactured lead fishing weights.

Normal levels of lead found in someone’s backyard are around 200 mg/kg.

Samples taken by the state in 2017 revealed concentrations of more than 24,000 mg/kg under the road and along the shoulder of Factory Street.….

read … After months-long delay, EPA to begin removing toxic soil under Kalihi street this month

Soft on Crime Policies behind recent violent crime wave in Hawaii

KHON: … some of it is what are the odds of me getting caught, slim to none. If I do get caught what’s the penalty, I’ll get probation. I’ll plead whatever. There’s no punishment. There’s no incentive for me to not do something like this.”….

HNN: Roving van of men linked to 2 armed robberies that were minutes apart

KITV: Honolulu Police are investigating several burglaries that happened over the winter break on the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus.

MN: 10-days jail for purposefully running into cop with motorcycle

read … Digging deeper into the recent violent crime wave in Hawaii

Waiwa: Kamehameha Schools project looks to develop 11,000 homes and cost $4B

SA: … About 2,000 acres in Waiawa once largely planted in sugar cane is envisioned for a community with 11,109 homes under a conceptual plan by the state’s largest private landowner.

Kamehameha Schools is seeking to develop the project — which also includes five public schools, parks, more than a half-million square feet of commercial space and 51 farm lots — with a partner over nearly 50 years.

Described as “a community for a better tomorrow,” the project rivals the size of Ho‘opili … 

SA Editorial: Hopes high in Waiawa for housing, energy

Reality for those few who can handle it: How A&B Wins Big From Environmental Litigation

read … Kamehameha Schools project looks to develop 11,000 homes and cost $4B

DOBOR vs County – 16 Years Spent Deciding Who Regulates Surf Schools

WHT: … The state is now taking the lead on permitting commercial surf schools at Kahaluu Bay, a recently filed report to the state Legislature shows.

The agreement for the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation to take charge followed a meeting between state and county officials in June 2019 held at the request of last year’s legislative body….

The DLNR, Hawaii County and other stakeholders have been discussing since at least 2015 the issue of regulating commercial surf instruction at Kahaluu Bay, though the issue comes up in West Hawaii Today archives as early as 2004-05.

The area is under dual government oversight with the DLNR’s DOBOR jurisdiction ending at the high-water mark and the county’s jurisdiction covering land.

Initially, Hawaii County was to take the lead in limiting access to Kahaluu Bay ocean waters and enforcing those limitations. The county proposed — and the DLNR accepted — a limit of four permits for commercial surf schools for the beach park and bay.

Amendments to Hawaii Administrative Rules were drafted and adopted in 2016 to allow for four commercial surf instruction operators to receive permits for activities at Kahaluu.

Moving forward with its Kahaluu Beach Park Commercial Surfing Instruction Program, the county selected nonprofit The Kohala Center in 2017 to manage the program. In spring 2018, bids were solicited, however, no permits were awarded and operators were left in the dark until last spring when the county said it was not the permitting authority and the state confirmed it was handling permitting….

Per the agreement, after the DOBOR drafts and implements rules to “issue a limited number of commercial surfing instruction permits,” Hawaii County will develop its own administrative rules to ensure that rules for both jurisdictions are in alignment, Case stated.

Commercial surf instruction permittees approved by DOBOR will receive accompanying permits from the county to operate on land at Kahaluu. Case noted that the division believes auctioning of commercial use permits is a “fair method of issuance” that may need statutory authorization.

“DOBOR is in the process of determining a fair and equitable method to issue the limited number of commercial surfing instruction permits for Kahaluu ocean waters,” Case wrote.

Amended rules are anticipated to be implemented by year’s end, “barring any unforeseen delays,” Case’s report states….

Ossian Farmer, sole proprietor of FBI Surf School, said the surf schools operating at Kahaluu remain in the dark on the issue as they haven’t been kept in the loop unless speaking with one another or pressing the DLNR. He thinks the previous determination of four schools with eight students each was correct.

“That’s 32 people in the water — not including instructors — already that’s pretty crowded,” said Farmer. “Right now, there’s probably 10 surf schools taking out as many people as they want. We just need to do something….

(Some HGEA members have spent 50% of their career on this issue.  What will they do for an encore?)

read … State taking over Kahaluu surf school setup

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