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Wednesday, February 19, 2020
February 19, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:21 PM :: 2975 Views

Prosecutor Candidates Forum Set for Leeward Comm College

Tailspin! How to defuse Hawaii's $88 billion debt bomb

Nanakuli: From Hardship to Hope

5 Ways to Fix Hawaii Gun Laws

HB1902: Gun Magazine Ban Heads to Floor Vote

Who’s to blame for high housing costs? It’s more complicated than you think.

Hawaii one of the top 10 population losers

Vehicle Mileage Taxes are not Ready for Primetime

Vaping and Tobacco Harm Reduction in Hawaii

Hawaii County Council Love Triangle? Husband of councilwoman arrested for allegedly assaulting county official

HTH: … A retired Hawaii Police Department detective has been charged with allegedly assaulting a county official while still a member of the department.

The felony information complaint filed Feb. 7 in Hilo Circuit Court charges Ian Lee Loy with second-degree assault, a Class C felony that carries a possible five-year prison sentence upon conviction.

Lee Loy is the husband of Hilo Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy, a two-term lawmaker running for re-election this year.

The complaint alleges that on July 25, 2019, Ian Lee Loy “did recklessly cause serious bodily injury to Neal Tanaka … .” Tanaka, according to the County of Hawaii website, is the acting deputy director of the Public Works Department’s Building Division….

It’s not known which judge signed off on the information charge, but a bench warrant setting Lee Loy’s bail at $1,000 and ordering him to stay away from Tanaka was signed by Judge Jeffrey Hawk.

Hawk is a per diem judge in the 3rd Circuit district and family courts who is on the Judicial Selection Commission’s short list of nominees forwarded to Gov. David Ige to replace Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura, who retired late last year.

The felony complaint lists Kauai County Prosecutor Justin Kollar and Kauai Deputy County Prosecutor Keola Siu as the attorneys of record for the state….

A court document supporting the charge — which originally was sealed, but later unsealed Feb. 13 by Acting Hilo Circuit Judge Kanani Laubach — said police responded at about 2:32 p.m. July 25 to the report of an assault on a county employee at the Hilo Lagoon Center.

The document states Tanaka went to the Hilo Lagoon Center for a meeting and encountered Lee Loy in the walkway.

Tanaka reportedly told an officer that Lee Loy told him, “I told you to keep (it) above board!”

Lee Loy then, according to Tanaka, struck him on the right side of the face with an open left hand, causing pain to his right ear, according to the document. Tanaka told the officer he fell backwards, and Lee Loy told him, “There is so much more I wanna do to you,” before driving off in a silver Ford Exhibition sport-utility vehicle.

The document states Christopher Palacios, a certified physician assistant at Aloha Kona Urgent Care, documented “a perforation of Tanaka’s right tympanic membrane, resulting in rupture of about 1/4 (to) 1/3 of the ear drum.” Palacios further noted that “long term hearing impairment” could result from the injury.

The document states that at about 1:37 p.m. on July 25, police Capt. Reed Mahuna noticed a missed call on his cellphone from Sue Lee Loy. He then received two text messages from her, the first stating “please call me back,” and the second saying, “Ian punched someone I work with.”

Mahuna then called Sue Lee Loy who, according to the document, “told him her husband saw text messages that appear to show a relationship with this co-worker, but it is not true.”…

Background:

ead … Ex-cop charged in attack: Husband of councilwoman arrested for allegedly assaulting county official

House cuts funding for TMT enforcement from state budget—Ige Wanted $65M to Not Enforce Law on Mauna Kea

SA: … House lawmakers approved a rough draft of the new state operating budget Tuesday that cut more than $65 million in funding that Gov. David Ige requested for law enforcement operations to cope with disturbances such as the ongoing protests over the Thirty Meter Telescope, according to House Finance Committee Chairwoman Sylvia Luke.

When Ige presented his budget proposal to reporters in December, he declined to say how much money he had set aside for dealing with the ongoing TMT impasse but acknowledged he tucked away money in the budgets of various departments to cope with protests.

It turns out the amounts he set aside to deal with protests were huge….

For this year and next year, the administration budgeted $8.7 million for the Attorney General’s Office, nearly $36 million for the state Department of Defense, $8.7 million for the Department of Land and Natural Resources, $8.4 million for the Department of Public Safety and $18.4 million for the Department of Transportation, according to data provided by Luke.

Ige’s chief of staff, Linda Chu Takayama, said in a written statement that the money Ige requested was “a contingency amount for any upcoming projects that may attract community activism, including but not limited to Mauna Kea.”

The Ige administration has reported spending about $15 million already on law enforcement operations to cope with the anti-TMT protests on Mauna Kea, and Luke said lawmakers are still uncertain exactly which programs had to give up portions of their budgets to cover that tab.

The draft budget approved Tuesday by the House therefore includes $15 million for the state Department of Defense that can be distributed to state departments this year to ensure they all have enough money to operate, but the budget doesn’t include anywhere near the entire amount Ige wanted.

“From what we know right now, we cannot commit that type of public funds for future TMT enforcement, but we’re hopeful that there is a path forward that the governor and the mayor and the interested parties can at least let the Legislature know what they want to do in the future,” said Luke (D, Punchbowl-Pauoa-Nuu­anu).

Luke said that does not mean lawmakers are giving up on TMT…

The draft budget approved Tuesday by the House totals more than $15.57 billion for this year and $15.67 billion for next year, but those sums do not include separate spending measures lawmakers are advancing separately to cope with housing, homelessness, to provide more money for college scholarships and other issues.

The draft budget does include more than $7.7 million for health and safety repairs to Aloha Stadium, and another $980,000 to fund a new complex litigation, fraud and compliance unit. Attorney General Clare Connors has said the new unit will investigate and prosecute government corruption, program theft, fraud, campaign spending fraud, bribery “and other matters that could erode the public’s confidence in government.”…

read … House cuts funding for TMT enforcement from state budget

Protesters: We Will Be back Without Extension of Moratorium—Will TMT Decide to Relocate?

SA: …Hawaii Mayor Harry Kim has asked the Thirty Meter Telescope for a two-month extension of the current moratorium that has kept the peace on Mauna Kea over the last few months….

TMT International Observatory Executive Director Ed Stone gave his assurances the project’s board of governors would take up the request at the group’s quarterly meeting last week, Kim said….

Andre Perez, one of the protest leaders, said the kiai, or “protectors,” have not been contacted by Kim or anyone else regarding the possibility of an additional moratorium period. But, he said, they would be open to the extension as long as it is not tied to construction or desecration of the mountain….

However, if Kim doesn’t come up with a new moratorium by the end of this month, the opposition will again take up positions at the protest camp at the intersection of Mauna Kea Access Road and Daniel K. Inouye Highway, Perez said….

Kim said he’d like to see all parties get together to discuss how to move forward. He said he’s “elated” the state Legislature is looking at creating a blue-ribbon commission to address Hawaiian issues….

A recent newspaper report in the Canary Islands, home of the TMT backup site, indicated that a decision by the TMT board about whether it would switch locations for the telescope was expected in February….

HPR: Hawaii Island Mayor Seeks Further Delay In Telescope Construction, TMT Says It Has No Timeline

read … TMT truce might be extended 2 months

Enviros Panic Over Bill Stifling their Efforts to Block Affordable Housing

CB: … “After all these protests, it is unbelievable that legislative leaders want to reduce public participation in decision making,” said David Frankel, an attorney who has worked extensively on environmental and land use issues. “It’s incredibly frustrating and disappointing.”

The original form of the bill, Senate Bill 3104, would allow developers to petition the county instead of the commission for projects up to 25 acres, increased from the current 15 acres, if the majority of the development is for affordable housing. The bill provides no definition for “affordable.”

As it is now, going before both the county and the LUC is duplicative, according to David Arakawa, executive director of the Land Use Research Foundation, a group that advocates for major landowners and developers.…

This year’s proposal should be taken seriously, Frankel said. It’s baked into the joint legislative package the House and Senate leadership, along with Gov. David Ige, unveiled in a rare display of apparent consensus last month.

In other words, Hawaii’s most powerful politicians appear to agree that this is a good move. Another measure, Senate Bill 2620, addresses the Land Use Commission independently from the rest of the joint housing package. 

The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii and the Building Industry Association are both in support of the bill….

Background: How A&B Wins Big From Environmental Litigation

read … Want To Build Affordable Housing More Quickly? This Bill Would Sidestep Public Input

Affordable? Lawmakers considering imposing tax on housing built along Honolulu rail line

KITV: State lawmakers are considering a new tax for future developments along the Honolulu rail line. It's for properties within a mile of any rail-stations. The bill was introduced by four state senators, looking for money to pay for infrastructure improvements like sewage and water lines. But many people find the way it's written, confusing.

"I think what the state is trying to do is get a jump start on getting infrastructure around the transit stations to support future development," Dean Uchida, Building Industry Association of Hawaii board member, said. "The counties have the power to do it. I guess the state is not happy with how fast it's going so the state wants to implement their own taxing system to try and raise revenue to try and pay for the infrastructure."

The idea is officially introduced as an amendment to the state constitution to establish a new property surcharge. But the watch-dog group Tax Foundation of Hawaii worries about the way it's written.

"There's some language in the judiciary report is what we really want to do is surcharge properties in the area but the way the actual amendment is worded. Some people can interpret it to surcharge real property tax everywhere in the state to help pay for Honolulu rail infrastructure," Tom Yamachika, Tax Foundation of Hawaii, said….

… If the bill gets the green light, voters would ultimately make the final decision and a question would appear on the ballot in the General Election, reading: "Shall the exclusive authority of the counties to tax real property provided in the constitution be amended to also provide authority to the state legislature to establish a surcharge on real property taxes for real property located near rapid transit stations for the purpose of funding infrastructure improvements in those areas?"

The four senators who introduced the bill are Donovan Dela Cruz, Gilbert Keith Agaren, Michelle Kidani and Maile Shimabukuro. It's scheduled to be heard in the Ways and Means committee meeting Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. the State Capitol conference room 211….

WHT: Hawaii Co Council committee advances Kaloko sewer improvement district

read … Lawmakers considering surcharge for future developments along Honolulu rail line

Worries of misdirected funds swirl as trial over Princess Kawananakoa’s fortune set to begin

HNN: … As the fight for Hawaiian royalty descendant Abigail Kawananakoa’s fortune heads to trial next month, both sides are accusing each other of racketing up their legal fees, which are now approaching $7 million.

Megan Kau, an attorney for Kawananakoa’s former housekeepers, alleges that a big chunk of the money is being paid to Kawananakoa’s wife Gail’s attorneys and CPA -- from money that’s supposed to pay the couple’s personal expenses and taxes.

"It looks like a small portion of it is being used to benefit Ms. Kawananakoa, which is extremely unfortunate,” Kau said.

"I've been worried about undue influence the whole time I've been in this case. It's been my client's position that Miss Kawananakoa has been isolated, abused and taken advantage by the people who surround her."

In a letter to the Probate Court, Kau said Gail Kawananakoa’s law firm – MacDonald, Rudy, O’Neill & Yamauchi – was paid $498,000 while another $273,000 went to personal injury attorney David Brustein.

Kau said only $79,000 was spent by Abigail Kawananakoa.

But Michael Rudy, Gail Kawananakoa’s lawyer, said that’s nonsense.

He said most of the legal fees -- more than $5.2 million – went to pay for law firms hired by Kawananakoa's former trustee James Wright.

"To sit there and say, that somehow the money has been diverted by Ms. Worth, is just absolutely incredulous. It’s absolutely false,” he said.

A hearing on whether Kawanakakoa can manage her own fortune will be held March 3.…. 

CB: Judge: Hawaiian Princess Can Testify In Public But Info About Finances, Medical Issues Will Be Kept Secret

Background: Kawananakoa Estate: Sex, Drugs, and Inequality

read … Worries of misdirected funds swirl as trial over Princess Kawananakoa’s fortune set to begin

OHA Operatives Harass Wailuku Water Co in Effort to Seize Control of its Land

MN: … Wailuku Water Co. is facing nearly $25,000 in state fines over claims of wasting a “considerable amount” of state-protected water from its ditch system that poured into a gulch in multiple incidents late last year into January.

The state Commission on Water Resource Management heard a staff report Tuesday that recommended $24,500 in fines for 16 alleged water-wasting incidents documented by Hui o Na Wai ‘Eha, a local nonprofit that advocates for the protection of Wailuku, Waihee, Waikapu and Waiehu waterways (“Four Great Waters”)….

Wailuku Water Co. owns most of the watershed land around the waterways and a water delivery system, which feeds landowners, companies and the county. However, the water itself is regulated and protected by state mandated interim in-stream flow standards meant to keep water in the river for Native Hawaiian cultural practices and ecological health.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Wailuku Water Co. President Avery Chumbley refuted the state commission staff report and recommendations and instead called for a contested case proceeding.

“There is a lot I would like to say,” Chumbley told the panel at its meeting in Honolulu. “Wailuku Water Co. disagrees with all the conclusions in the staff submittal.”…

The Hui and Office of Hawaiian Affairs requested to be parties in the contested case.

All three parties must follow up in writing 10 days from the meeting. Then the panel hears the requests and determines whether to go into a contested case proceeding….

In responding to the Hui in November, Chumbley confirmed that water was released from Waihee Ditch into Paleaahu Gulch.

“WWC only releases water in Paleaahu Gulch when deliveries to users after Waikapu Stream are less than the historical deliveries to those users,” Chumbley said. “To decrease the number of times that a release might occur, WWC will request expected delivery requirements from users on a more frequent basis. While the events described above are not expected to occur regularly, WWC will use its best efforts to reduce release.”

He also pointed to several events that led to the recent releases, which included large user MMK Maui LP shutting down a reservoir to reline it….

Nov, 2019: UPDATE: Activists Sabotage Wailuku River Diversion Gates, Responsible for Fish Kill

read … Company faces $25K fine over alleged water wasting

Young Brothers’ livestock shipping changes raise concerns

HTH: … Proposed changes to livestock shipping procedures by interisland ocean shipper Young Brothers have some concerned that all but the largest ranchers might be priced out of the market.

Those affected, according to testifiers at a state Public Utilities Commission conference Feb. 4 in Honolulu, include those who ship less than a container load of cattle, those who ship smaller animals such as sheep, goats and swine, and those who ship only one animal at a time, such as high school rodeo athletes.

The proposed changes come amid PUC consideration of the shipper’s request for a 34% increase in shipping rates.

Starting April 1, those changes include a decision by Young Brothers to only ship livestock in 20- and 40-foot certified livestock containers and trailers, and the shipper will stop transporting animals in wooden crates called box stalls. And effective as of Feb. 1, the company eliminated the transfer at the dock of livestock into containers.

A Young Brothers document also said it will no longer store livestock containers at its facilities, and any privately owned containers at Hawaii ports have to be moved by April 1.

Keith Kiyotoki, Young Brothers sales and marketing manager, said livestock shipping represents “under 1% of our total revenue.” …

Kea Among, who owns Kea’s Horse Trailering Service on Oahu, testified she and other stakeholders weren’t included in the Jan. 31 meeting. She said Young Brothers is “the only game in town” for Neighbor Island high school rodeo athletes to get their horses to the state finals.

“They work so hard all year long, and then, for them go to state finals and have to pay an arm and a leg, they can’t do it,” Among said.

Maui rancher Brendan Balthazar said the cost for those who have to trade box-stall crates for certified containers and trailers will be “astronomical.”

“All of those trailers … are going to have to be retrofitted,” he said. “The rule changes changes the cost of shipping.”

Hawaii County Councilman Tim Richards of Kohala, a veterinarian and rancher who chairs the council’s Committee on Agriculture, Water, Energy and Environmental Management, said he’s concerned about “orphan commodities that we still have to move.”

“We’ve got to pay attention to the little guy that doesn’t have enough to fill a full container, or cowtainer, as it might be,” Richards said.

Saying he’s helped formulate the parameters of interstate shipping of livestock, Richards added he’s “willing to work with the protocols and come up with best management practices and all that.”

“I don’t want to commit to more regulations, because too many regulations are going to defeat us,” he said. “… If we look at the annual (gross domestic product) from agriculture, it’s less than 1%. Statewide, it’s about the same. … That is one of those industries … that really doesn’t produce a large amount of net cash, but truly, we’d die without it. We’d starve. So we’ve got to take care of agriculture.”…

AWI: NEW RULES WOULD PROTECT FARM ANIMALS TRANSPORTED BY SEA IN HAWAII

read … Young Brothers’ livestock shipping changes raise concerns

Chemophobia Attack Targets Beef -- Hawaii's cattlemen take issue with marketing behind plant-based, meat-less products

KITV: … You may have seen the commercials for the "Impossible Burger," or other meat-less products. It's a food craze at grocery stores and restaurants -- pushing people away from meat toward better health and for a cleaner environment.

Cattle ranchers in Hawaii see messages used to sell plant-based or meat-substitute products as ways of putting their businesses and lifestyle at stake….

"The concern is some of the marketing that the plant-based industry is putting out there, as far as some of the derogatory terms that are being used against the cattle industry to promote their product," said Unger. "It's a huge topic for the industry. Somewhat worrisome."

He mentioned "Impossible Foods," a company that makes substitute meat, dairy, and fish products out of plants.

KITV4 spoke with Rebekah Moses, Head of Impact at Impossible Foods.

"We targeted beef because its the biggest environmental offender in terms of land use, water use, emissions," said Moses.

According to the Impossible Foods website,  animal agriculture occupies nearly half of the world's land, is responsible for 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions and consumes 25% of the world's freshwater.

"That system is fundamentally broken and at too large of a scale for our planet to sustain it," said Moses. …

read … What's the beef over beef? Hawaii's cattlemen take issue with marketing behind plant-based, meat-less products

Kauai Mayor moves to prohibit disposable plastics

TGI: … Just one day before the Kauai County Council is set to consider a bill that would ban most polystyrene food containers from sale and use on Kauai, Mayor Derek Kawakami signed an administrative policy aimed at the same thing.

Tuesday, Kawakami signed the policy to prohibit the purchase, use, or distribution of disposable plastics on County property.

The policy declares that county agencies and other entities using county facilities will no longer be able to purchase and distribute disposable plastics including bottled water, plastic beverage straws, stirrers, cutlery, food service ware, and plastic bags. This includes purchases made for county offices, facilities, county events, and events funded by the county through grants or other means.

“Through this policy our county departments will no longer purchase these one-time-use plastics for meetings and events,” said Kawakami during the Thursday signing. “And through our facility permits, we will prohibit its use and distribution by the public and event organizers at our county facilities such as the Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall, our neighborhood centers, and park pavilions.”…

read … Mayor moves to prohibit disposable plastics

Lawmakers Want More Transparency About Prosecutors’ Charging Decisions

CB: … If passed, the bill would require a prosecutor’s office to collect and publish data about a defendant’s race, gender, disability status, where they were arrested, whether diversion was offered, bail or bond information, pleas offered and substance abuse history screening, among other things.

It would also require a recently established criminal justice research institute to collect that data from all the prosecuting attorneys’ offices and publish that data online every year, as well as producing an annual report….

HB2749:  Text, Status

read … Lawmakers Want More Transparency About Prosecutors’ Charging Decisions 

Giving up on Homelessness by Decriminalizing Meth

Cataluna: … The frustration is so pervasive and the solutions so unknowable that something like a proposal to reduce penalties for possessing a small amount of crystal meth or heroin are bouncing through the Legislature like that might be a helpful thing in our community. Or maybe it’s a sign of giving up.

While it is true that prison time doesn’t end drug problems, the threat of prison time can certainly serve as a deterrent to drug use. Prison time might not help the drug user, but it sure can make the crime victim of that drug user feel better and it can make it easier for law enforcement to put a criminal who has evaded capture in larger crimes behind bars….

Related: SB2793: Decriminalize Methamphetamines, Heroin, Cocaine

read … Legislature losing focus on fixing problems

Homeless Drug Addicts Torch House Three Times – it finally burns down

KHON: … “We’ve had two previous smaller fires last year,” said the neighbor. “They both happened in December kind of right back-to-back.”

KHON2 spoke to the homeowner who also asked not to be identified. He said he’s been dealing with squatters for some time now.

“There were a lot of squatters, like maybe four or five, I told them to leave,” the homeowner shared. “When I’m gone for work, they usually come back.”

He says he confronted them Monday morning and told them to leave hours before the fire.

The neighbor says she saw one of them right before the blaze started.

“I saw one of the squatters that stays next door leave the property,” said a neighbor. “And then about 10 minutes later I come from my house upstairs and there’s a big fire just burning.”

“I feel like if they passed by they definitely would have noticed something but he didn’t seem concerned,” said a witness. “He just rode off calmly on his moped.”

The homeowner and the witness want more to be done about squatters in the area.

The homeowner as well as neighbors say that there have been problems with squatters for more than a year, and that this isn’t the first time there’s been a fire set on the property….

read … More Homeless Mayhem

Gabbard Campaign Funnels Money to Cult Members

CB: … Gabbard raised $12.6 million in 2019….

Gabbard’s campaign continues to funnel money to a vendor based in Stehekin, Washington, a remote mountain village only accessible by foot, horseback, ferry or float plane.

Kris Robinson and his company, Northwest Digital, were paid nearly $490,000 by Gabbard’s campaign in 2019 for website management, internet advertising and polling….Like Gabbard, he grew up in the Science of Identity Foundation, a fringe sect of Hare Krishna founded by Chris Butler….

Robinson isn’t alone. There are others with ties to Butler and the Science of Identify Foundation who are taking in campaign cash.

Among them is Abraham Williams, Gabbard’s husband, who works as a campaign cinematographer. Records show the campaign paid Williams $3,119.

A Hawaii-based video production company he used to work for, Blue River Productions, which is run by affiliates of the Science of Identity Foundation, received another $158,763 from the campaign….

According to Gabbard’s FEC reports, a man by the name of Geoffrey Silva received more than $8,000 for travel, supplies and fieldwork.

A Des Moines Register article in August 2019 profiled Silva and his wife, Kareen, two volunteers who said they moved from Arizona to Iowa to help with the congresswoman’s presidential campaign….

What Geoffrey Silva didn’t say, at least not in the article, was that he and his wife were closely linked to Butler and his organization.

In fact, business records from Arizona show Kareen Silva was named as the registered agent for the Science of Identity Foundation when it was incorporated there in 1989. Gabbard’s mother, Carol, is listed in those documents as the secretary….

Gabbard’s campaign sent nearly half a million dollars to people and firms in the Aloha State, with much of it going to Blue River Productions.

Her longtime campaign advisor, Erika Tsuji, was also on the payroll, receiving more than $33,000 in 2019. The congresswoman also sent another $33,000 to Cristina Moon of MHodge LLC, which lists an address at the Chozen-ji International Zen Dojo of Hawaii in Kalihi….

Among the other consultants working for Gabbard in 2019 were Henry De Sio, who was the chief operating officer of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, and Shomik Chaudhuri, whose firm specializes in helping businesses and candidates make inroads with Asian Indians.

Gabbard, who is a practicing Hindu, does particularly well with Indian Americans, more so than other candidates still in the race. According to early 2019 fundraising figures, the congresswoman has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from Indian Americans during her run for president.

Her campaign even offered donors the chance to win a round-trip ticket to India, a promotion that was advertised with an image of Gabbard draping Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a lei….

read … Tulsi Gabbard Continues To Spend Heavily On Long-Shot Presidential Bid

Selection Unopposed: State’s largest public worker union endorses Kai Kahele for U.S. House

SA: … Surprisingly, none of the top-tier political figures in Hawaii have announced yet that they plan to challenge Kahele for that seat in the Congress, and Kahele is using his early entry into what is now a wide-open race to steadily build political support for his campaign.

(Translation: This is a fait accompli.  Votes will have no say in an open seat election.  A fed-wreck operative will be anointed.)

Former Hawaii Democratic Governors Ben Cayetano, John Waihee and Neil Abercrombie have all endorsed Kahele, 45.

Randy Perreira, executive director of the HGEA, described Kahele as a fellow union member ….

read … State’s largest public worker union endorses Kai Kahele for U.S. House

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