India, co-builder of Hawaii telescope, wants it shifted out of proposed site
Making Prescriptions More Available
DoE Releases Annual School Quality Survey
Sen Taniguchi Blocks Bill Mandating Pension forfeiture after felony
KHON: … Pending legislation as written wouldn’t take Kealoha’s retirement money nor the benefits of anyone convicted prior to enactment, but it would make it clear going forward that if you break the law on the job on the public dime, you’d forfeit your retirement dollars.
Louis Kealoha currently gets a pension as a Honolulu Police Department retiree, estimated to be around $150,000 a year, in addition to benefits.
“It looks especially bad when it’s someone in that position of authority because presumably they’re getting paid pretty well,” said Sen. Karl Rhoads, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Dozens of other U.S. states block pensions of public workers if they get convicted of serious crimes connected to their jobs. Hawaii lawmakers have talked about it on and off, even back to when Honolulu City Councilmember Andy Mirikitani was convicted nearly two decades ago.
The House last spring passed bill HB1264, which would rescind pensions for felonies on state or county time or using public property; bribery; embezzlement of taxpayer money; or committed against an employee they oversee
No one in the House voted against it, but when it crossed over to the Senate it stalled in the Labor Committee….
“Normally we don’t do bills from the year before,” said Sen. Brian Taniguchi, chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Culture and the Arts. “I need to talk to my leadership. Normally somebody reintroduces the bills for the current session and those bills go through the process again.”…
read … Pension forfeitures after felonies awaits Senate action
Psychiatric Review Court Needed to Incarcerate Lunatics in Lunatic Asylum
SA: … The Hibiscus Drive address was one that Honolulu Police Department already knew well, remembering its earlier encounters with the alleged shooter,
… As Police Chief Susan Ballard acknowledged Sunday in addressing the tragedy, mental health service is a weakness in the social safety net. HPD patrols have been thrust into so many encounters with mental illness in the public, especially with the city’s acute homelessness crisis, that the department has added intervention to its special training.
Plainly, in investigating this case, the department will be reviewing how it’s been deploying its skills in this arena. The video record from past encounters does show signs of a problem that would set off alarm bells, and the alleged shooter’s various brushes with the residents were enough to support temporary restraining orders being issued.
But it’s already clear to professionals in the field that this is a struggle not only for the police, but for the community at large. The road to mental illness treatment for people caught up in law enforcement is a long and winding one, and some way to shorten it must be found.
Connie Mitchell, executive director of the Institute for Human Services, advocated for years to improve the system, largely because many among IHS homeless clientele suffer from mental illness among other health problems.
The result was legislation enabling assisted community treatment, which provides a protocol for directing a person to get mental health evaluation and treatment if they are found to be a danger to themselves and others. The law has been tweaked in the past few years and has begun to have results….
A psychiatric review board would be able to assess a patient with less delay; some states have “court clinics” to direct treatment…
Further system reform of this kind would be a wise pursuit for the Legislature.
Expansion now underway at the Hawaii State Hospital is needed for treatment capacity, but the state also must ensure that when the patient is released, he or she finds community treatment support as well….
Best Comment: If anything good comes of this tragedy, I hope the politicians look at the sorry state of mental health facilities in Hawaii and allocate funding to treating more people. I doubt it though, as it would point the finger right back at them. In Hawaii, the mentally ill has more rights than other residents, and they are free to terrorize their neighbors and put our first responders at risk. You can blame organizations like the ACLU and our lawmakers for not supporting and funding forced incarceration and institutionalization when the situation calls for it. The incident on Sunday was only a symptom of a much wider problem. Our lawmakers would rather have people offer condolences, then quickly sweep the problem under the rug again. Addressing the issue means they would need to admit to decades of mismanagement. They'd prefer to walk around with blood on their hands. Sad.
read … Intervene earlier against mental dangers
Involuntary Hospitalization Task Force Proposes a Few Timid Reforms
CB: … A key feature of the proposed reforms includes diverting the mentally ill from ERs into outpatient and residential programs more tailored to their needs….
read … Creating More Treatment Options in Hawaii’s Fractured Mental Health System
Dispelling myths about prison overcrowding
SA: … We would like to set the record straight on an often-repeated urban myth. The myth is that people being incarcerated solely for nonviolent marijuana offenses are taking up hundreds of beds in our jails and prisons, and if we would only release those identified people, we wouldn’t need to build any new jails/prisons (“Get nonviolent marijuana offenders out of overcrowded jails,” Star-Advertiser, Island Voices, Jan. 9). This is simply not true.
The state Department of Public Safety tallied the number of people incarcerated in our system solely for marijuana related offenses. The result, as of this writing: of the 5,100 currently incarcerated, only six people are in jail/prison solely for marijuana-related charges. These nonviolent, lower-level drug charges are rarely, if ever, the lone charge or conviction, and almost always have companion counts of higher-level, related, felony crimes such as Promoting a Dangerous Drug in the First, Second or Third Degree, and/or firearms related charges.
A broader urban myth is that Hawaii’s jails and prisons are filled with nonviolent offenders, whom if released, would again negate the need to build new prisons/jails. Again, not a true portrayal of the current incarcerated population. Did you know that burglary and theft are classified as nonviolent offenses? Although the crimes of burglary and theft are not the only crimes in the nonviolent category, each are examples of nonviolent crimes that seriously impacts our quality of life in Hawaii.
For example, currently there are 148 offenders in the prison and jail system with burglary as their highest listed offense. If released, it is a likely possibility that communities could experience an increase in the number of home, car and business break-ins….
read … Dispelling myths about prison overcrowding
Severe Doctor Shortage On The Big Island
CB: … Our docs get worked way too hard, and get paid way too little. As in any abusive relationship, eventually one leaves.
Medicare pays Hawaii docs near the bottom of the scale despite our highest cost of living in the nation. Alaska docs get 50% more, and even New York and California get more.
Then our state takes 4.2% of that for the general excise tax, which we are forbidden to charge the patients. So Hawaii docs actually get paid net the lowest rates in the nation. Ditto for Medicaid, Quest.
No other state taxes medical care. None. The counties voted an extra .5% to pay for the Honolulu train-to-nowhere, so a 4.7% hit is comin’ atcha, docs!…
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began penalizing us an additional 4% “negative adjustment” for not meeting “Meaningful Use Stage II” electronic heath record requirements. (It’s more like “Meaningful Abuse.”)
In two years this becomes a 9% hit. Many practices, including urgent care, can in no way meet those extra requirements without losing money. They’re already penalizing eight of our hospitals 0.3% for having too many re-admissions, due to collapse of primary care provider back-up in the community.
The Big Island is experiencing a critical physician shortage currently at 44%, worsening with demand climbing and our docs leaving, getting old, quitting, retiring and dying….
Last year 152 docs left Hawaii….
read … Severe Doctor Shortage On The Big Island
For 5th Year Running, Lawmakers Consider Giving Airports More Autonomy
HPR: … After years of failing to address infrastructure problems at state airports, lawmakers will once again consider making a change this session….
Hawaii’s airport system is an outlier in the United States. The islands’ 15 airports are owned and operated by the state government. The Hawaii Department of Transportation Airports Division administers the facilities, including oversight of maintenance and upgrades.
Hawaii is one of only three states with such an arrangement, along with Alaska and Maryland. Critics say it has proved incapable of producing facilities that compete with those administered privately.
Keli’i Akina, president of the pro-free market think tank Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, says when it comes to airports, the bureaucracy of state government is less efficient than private or independent management.
“If anything is going to get done, sometimes six to more than a dozen agencies have to sign off … in the real world, that costs time and that costs money,” Akina said in an interview.
Some at the state Capitol agree. For the past four years, Hawaii Island Sen. Lorraine Inouye has introduced measures to create an independent Airport Authority that would oversee management of the state’s airports.
S.B. 666, which stalled in the House of Representatives last year after passing the Senate, was carried over to the 2020 legislative session, making this the fifth straight year legislators will consider the idea.
Disagreements over how much freedom the proposed Airport Authority should have appear to be why its passage has been held up.
The sticking point is whether the awarding of construction contracts should follow stricter rules used by state agencies or looser rules for private companies.
Subcontractors like pipefitters and electricians submitted testimony specifically expressing concern about exempting the hypothetical Airport Authority from state procurement laws designed to protect subcontractors from a process called “bid shopping.” …
Related: Will 2020 be the year of an Hawaii Airport Corporation?
read … For 5th Year Running, Lawmakers Consider Giving Airports More Autonomy
DoT Proposing Laniakea Turtle Traffic Realignment
CB: … The project would bend the highway mauka from Laniakea to neighboring Chun’s Reef. That would involve moving the road through land owned by the city and Kamehameha Schools, including properties with significant cultural sites such as iwi kupuna (ancestral human remains) and heiau (ancient Hawaiian temple complexes).
“It would be an arduous process and take a lot of community engagement,” North Shore Rep. Sean Quinlan said last week.
The work is now estimated to cost $65 million. Notably, it appeared for the first time in years in Hawaii’s Transportation Improvement Program.
The obscure report is essentially the Bible of Hawaii’s large-scale, expensive transportation projects. Any capital improvements that aim to get federal funding must first go through the TIP. The multi-year document undergoes repeated, extensive reviews by local officials and community members.
A pretty big catch remains, however. DOT says it will only pursue the full realignment if it can put guardrails on the existing highway first.
The move would block locals and visitors from parking at Laniakea and darting across to the beach — often dodging cars in the process….
In August, a 10-year-old boy was seriously injured while crossing the highway at Laniakea when he was hit by a car and thrown as far as 15 feet. Officials say he was fortunate to fully recover from the collision….
read … Realignment Of Highway At Laniakea Could Be In The Works
Taxpayer Ripped off For Years—Denied Refund
TGI: … Davis mentioned that despite renting the condo only to permanent residents, she was being taxed at the transient vacation rental rate, which cost her over $4,000 a year.
“What am I to do?” she asked. “We DO NOT vacation rent! Never have. Never will. Our maintenance fees are $700 a month! We make nothing!”
By the following day, two county councilmembers, Luke Evslin and KipuKai Kualii, had responded to her post to confirm that her condo had been stuck in the wrong tax category and instructed her to inform the county’s Real Property Assessment Division.
Within days, Davis got a letter in the mail from the Department of Finance, notifying her that she would be receiving refunds on her 2017, 2018 and 2019 property taxes, due to “clerical error.” …
According to the Real Property Assessment Division’s online records, Davis paid over $10,000 in taxes on her Princeville condo from 2013 to 2016, roughly $3,500 more than the amount she was required to under the correct residential rates for those four years….
In response to TGI’s inquiries about the matter, Finance Director Reiko Matsuyama sent two sentences via email Friday: “Miss. Davis’s refund has been processed, which is due to her as a result of a clerical error on the part of the County of Kauai. Her refund will be sent out sometime next week.”
In the email below Matsuyama’s statement, a county spokesperson copied all of Section 5A-1.20 of the Kauai County Code. Subsection (a)(4) begins, “No such adjustment shall be entered on the records nor refund made except within two years after the end of the tax year in which the amount to be refunded was due and payable.”
read … Theft
UH Releases Pay Levels For Hundreds Of Graduate Assistants, Lecturers
SB: … the University of Hawaii has released pay information for its graduate assistants — more than 1,300 of them.
Their annual salaries range from $9,468 to $35,460….
read … UH Releases Pay Levels For Hundreds Of Graduate Assistants, Lecturers
Dude Allegedly Breaks in to Fasi Building, Starts Fire
SA: … Police arrested a 39-year-old man Sunday for allegedly starting a small fire inside an office at the Frank F. Fasi Municipal Building.
The man entered a secure public building and allegedly started a fire at about 2:48 a.m. to 4:02 a.m., police said….
(The fire consists of materials federal investigators will never get their hands on. Attention insiders: What materials would you like to retroactively include in this fire?)
HPD Blotter: Darius Maxwell (Google: Darius Maxwell Hawaii)
read … Man arrested for allegedly starting fire inside Honolulu office
Meth Bust reveals Multi-Generational Family of Tweekers at Kahului Library Homeless Camp
MN: … A woman who was arrested last month after police responded to community concerns about homeless drug-dealing activity near Kahului Public Library has been given a chance to keep a felony drug conviction off her record.
Sonia Davis, 62, was sentenced Tuesday when she pleaded guilty to second-degree promoting of a dangerous drug….
Davis was arrested Dec. 11 when community policing and Crime Reduction Unit officers went to the library based on a community complaint to Mayor Michael Victorino’s office about homeless drug-dealing activity in the area of the library, said Deputy Prosecutor Tracy Jones.
She said Davis had 13 packets containing methamphetamine in amounts ranging from 0.2 to 0.39 grams. The bags sell for $20 to $40 on the street, Jones said.
She said the total weight of the drugs was 3.81 grams or more than one-eighth ounce.
“She was living in her vehicle in an area where there were homeless people who use drugs,” Jones said. “It’s a vicious cycle of people using drugs there and living homeless, unable to get out of that lifestyle because of the choices they’re making based on the availability of drugs by people like Ms. Davis.”
Davis’ daughter and two granddaughters also were living in the area, Jones said….
As matriarch of the family, “you need to stay alive, stay healthy to be a leading example to them,” he told her.
“You’re very, very important for your family to have somebody to look up to, to have somebody they can follow as an example so they can be good, upright and law-abiding citizens.”… (Wow. Just … wow.)
read … Grandmother selling drugs near library gets break
Protesters Finally Shamed into Partially Cleaning up Mauna Kea
HTH: … About 15 volunteers gathered at the Maunakea Access Road last weekend to clean detritus left behind from the temporarily halted anti-Thirty Meter Telescope demonstrations.
Protest leader Andre Perez said that, after two days of cleanup, volunteers among the protesters filled a dumpster with unclaimed materials left behind after the 5-month-long occupation of the access road ended in a temporary truce in December.
“It’s not ideal, but there’s going to be stuff left behind at these things,” Perez said. “People who intend to come back and get their stuff, and they never do.”…
Perez said, adding that the weekend cleanup did not completely clear the area, but is a “big step forward” toward removing all the abandoned property…
Contrary to reports, the volunteers did not include TMT supporters, Perez said (without smirking)….
Just Ignore This: TMT Supporters Help Clean Up Protest Camp After Photos Expose Messy Mauna
read … Andre Perez Claims Protesters Cleaned up their own Mauna Kea Camp
Letter to Hawaii Tribune-Herald
Aloha Michael Brestovansky, Jan 21, 2020
My name is Lisa Malakaua. I am sorry to have to bring this to your attention, but your January 21 news article is incorrect.
TMT supporters (I being one of them) went up on the Mauna on Friday, January 17th to assist with the clean-up.
Your story reflects that the clean-up occurred over the weekend. That is not correct.
Andre Perez, quoted in your article, was no where on that mountain on Friday when we were there to assist in that clean-up. Perez fails to mention that a bus load of King Kamehameha school students came up on Friday for that clean-up as well. The Mauna was pretty much done by the time we left on Friday.
The unfortunate thing for mainstream/corporate media, is there are now too many other social media resources for people to get the true facts and actual story now. So it’s going to be more difficult for mainstream media to take a biased position without your readers/viewers knowing.
Attached is an actual video of our assisting with the clean-up that had already been circulating since Saturday morning—long before your newsprint story came out, and before Perez’s claims.
Therefore I am respectfully requesting you make a correction to your article.
Mahalo nui loa,