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Monday, March 02, 2020
March 2, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 11:48 AM :: 1744 Views

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted February 29, 2020

Hawaii Republican Legislative Update

Hawaii Welfare Rolls Decline Sharply

Latest PRP Trick--New school facilities agency for Hawaii would dodge legal safeguards

SA: …The School Facilities Agency would be responsible for development, planning and construction of capital improvement projects at public schools. It would take over that job from the Department of Education and have wide discretion in its work, as outlined in Senate Bill 3103, SD 2.

The agency would be exempt from all county ordinances other than building codes, as well as from state laws on historic preservation, environmental protection, budgeting, civil service and parts of the procurement code and Sunshine Law.

Instead, the agency is supposed to adopt rules “substantially similar” to the environmental impact statement law as well as “transparency initiatives … to deter fraud and malfeasance and allow for public input,” according to the bill.

The proposal is backed by a powerful coalition of legislators, Gov. David Ige and organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, Bank of Hawaii, Hui for Excellence in Education, Pacific Resource Partnership and Aloha United Way….

The new agency would be able to make and execute contracts, acquire or condemn property, construct or reconstruct any project, hold title, sell, lease and dispose of any project. It could issue its own bond financing and enter into public-private partnerships.

The governor would appoint its executive director and five members of an advisory School Facilities Board, which would also include the schools superintendent and a representative of the Board of Education….

The bill is poised for passage by the full Senate and has broad support in the House, with 45 of 51 representatives listed as sponsors on a companion measure.

Kishimoto said in an interview that neither she nor the Board of Education was included in developing the proposal….

Public worker unions strongly objected to the exemption from civil-service rules in the bill, which the United Public Workers characterized as “privatization at its fullest.”… 

HNN:  Hawaii school building agency could be exempted from laws

Related: HB1990: $1.5B GE Tax Hike

read … New school facilities agency for Hawaii would dodge legal safeguards

UPW Bosses Spent $319K on Meals, Airline Tix—$4.5M on Lawyers

SA: … Over the course of the months reviewed in the report, Nakanelua spent nearly $293,000 on airfare and nearly $26,660 on meals. That breaks down to about $325 on airfare and $30 on meals every single day for 30 months — all on the union’s dime….

Among other flagged concerns: UPW’s spending of more than $5.6 million in union dues on legal fees from 2017 to mid-2019, which the report described as “exceedingly high.” What’s more, the record-keeping was not at the ready.

Most of the legal fees — nearly $4.5 million — went to a single firm. But when auditors asked for documentation, “there were no retainer agreements on file nor signed contracts that detail their rate and the type of services they perform” for the local union, according to the audit….

In 2002 UPW state director, Gary Rodrigues, was convicted on 101 felony counts including embezzling union money, money laundering and health care fraud. Rodrigues served more than four years in federal prison and paid $378,000 in restitution to the union….

read … UPW leaders must explain spending

Honolulu Ethics Commission Scrubs Financial Disclosures From Website

CB: … The records are now only available for inspection at Honolulu Hale and officials are charging for copies — even if that’s just taking photos with your phone…..

Where there used to be at least two year’s worth of forms from Mayor Kirk Caldwell, his cabinet and Honolulu City Council members, the site directs people to the city clerk’s office where the documents can only be viewed in person during business hours.

Honolulu Ethics Commission Director Jan Yamane declined to discuss the decision by phone. Ethics Chair Vicky Marks did not return a request for comment on Friday.  “The Clerk is the custodian of record for forms filed at their office,” Yamane wrote by email. “Not much else to add.”…

Financial disclosure forms, completed every year, provide important information about city officials’ interests outside of their public roles. Caldwell’s most recent form revealed he took in at least $155,638 from Territorial Savings Bank in 2019 – a result of his earnings as a bank director and exercising stock options.

On the state level, financial disclosure forms are posted online....

CB: Ethics Commissioner: Its up to the Clerk

UPDATE: Honolulu Agrees To Post Financial Disclosures Online

read … Honolulu Ethics Commission Scrubs Financial Disclosures From Website

Kauai Can’t Figure out that Selling Meth is Un-Ethical

TGIL … Brun is, as a practical matter, in his official capacity as a sitting councilmember, beyond the reach of the County Charter and Hawai‘i statutes for several reasons.  (The editors are about to contradict themselves.)

First, nothing in the descriptions of the duties of councilmembers in the charter prohibits them from engaging in criminal activity unless it involves financial or related crimes in which the county could be seen as the victim. Not even sexual or domestic assault will require that a member be thrown off the council. Running a meth ring is no different.

(Genius Level Wisdom: Selling meth is a financial crime even if you trade some of it for sex.  Since kids on Kauai get hooked and the KPD has to chase tweekers, Kauai County is a victim.)

The county Code of Ethics, enforced by the Board of Ethics, likewise is powerless to address the crimes of which Brun is accused. The code and the board can only focus on conflicts of interest, financial misconduct, failure to disclose business connections and using one’s office for personal gain. Nothing in the Brun indictment intersects that kind of misconduct….

(Genius Level Wisdom: Brun did not disclose that he was running a methamphetamines business.  Overseeing the police as a councilmember while running a secret meth business is an undisclosed conflict of interest.)

Kauai Board of Ethics “It may also, on its own, file impeachment proceedings in the Circuit Court.”  (See pg 40 Kauai Co Charter)

TGI: Pass a resolution telling Brun to step down

Totally Unrelated: Office of Hawaiian Affairs Blocks Kauai Drug Treatment Facility

read … Arthur Brun should resign from County Council

SB42 Dead: Bill would have Blocked AG Investigation of Telescope Protesters

CB: … Senate Bill 42 would have prohibited the Attorney General’s Office from investigating a nonprofit if the investigation conflicts with Native Hawaiian cultural rights protected under the state constitution.

The bill was written as a reaction to the AG’s subpoena of bank records from KAHEA: The Hawaiian Environmental Alliance. The probe is related to a wider investigation conducted by the AG into financial support of the protest on Mauna Kea that has blocked construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope.

SB 42 needed to clear a joint vote from the Senate Judiciary and Ways and Means committees by Friday….

read … KAHEA Bill Dies

Kauai Hollowing Out Population

CB: … Between 2010 and 2018, Kauai has seen a 1.85% decrease in residents from 0-29 years of age, a 1% increase in people 30-39, a 4.6% decrease for 40-59 year-olds, and 5.4% increase for people over 60 years of age….

DBEDT cites three primary sources for Kauai’s growth. Among new Kauai residents, 49% are transplants from the U.S. mainland, 30% are moving from other counties within Hawaii, and the remaining 21% are arrivals from other countries….

The Kauai median household income has increased 20% over the last eight years, from $75,200 in 2011 to $90,000 in 2019.

Generally, this isn’t because we are making more money. DEBDT reports that average wages in 2019 actually decreased….

read … Demographic Shifts Pose Tremendous Risks For Kauai

Stop Enabling Homelessness

MN: … There are two gentlemen, Tom and Jerry (not their real names) living on the streets in Central Maui. They are both disabled, with wheelchairs being their complete living space. This whole scenario is extremely depressing, especially when you consider it doesn’t have to be this way. Most people don’t realize that an immense amount of energy and time has been spent on these two. Case managers visit them regularly, hoping that just maybe this will be the time when one or both will be convinced to move into a home. But so far to no avail. Why is that?

When asked this question, they have two answers. First, there are people who daily bring them pretty much everything they want, and second, they want to spend their money on booze, not rent.

It was a few months ago when the Maui police stopped to check on these two, and both were in such bad shape that an ambulance had to be called. But when the ambulance arrived, the EMTs were overwhelmed by the filth and strong smell of urine and feces. They were incapable of transporting them to the hospital as they were. Tom and Jerry desperately needed to be cleaned up. After a quick phone call, caseworkers quickly arrived and drove them (in their own personal cars) to a shower.

Both of their bodies were horribly infected with what looked like staph and while Jerry was being washed in the shower, one of his toes fell off. It was horrific, but the workers didn’t stop. They managed to endure, and both were delivered to the hospital quickly for treatment. It took a few weeks before either of them were healthy enough to be released.

As senseless as it seems, they each returned to their old spot on the street. Housing was offered, but Tom, who has his own income, made it clear that he would rather buy booze than spend $400 dollars to pay rent, and Jerry just outright refuses all services that lead to a stable home.

There is an old saying: If you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. A few weeks back, I was driving by when I saw two ladies giving Tom and Jerry plates of food. A couple days later, it was raining and they each had new waterproof tarps and umbrellas. I realize that the people delivering these supplies only want to help, but the question is, are they part of the solution or are they part of the problem?

When housing is offered, Tom and Jerry both answer, “Why would I do that? People bring me everything I need right here.”…

read … Some people unwittingly enable the homeless in Maui County

Homeless Return to Their Chop Shop, Torch it

SA: … Honolulu police opened an arson investigation today after several abandoned vehicles were set ablaze on a parcel of vacant state land near Whitmore Village that has been plagued by crime, including a murder in January.

About 30 Honolulu Fire Department firefighters battled the blaze today, which started just before 6 a.m. near Kamehameha Highway and Nui Avenue on land managed by the state’s Agribusiness Development Corporation.

An HFD helicopter crew and about 10 Federal Fire Department firefighters also assisted with containment efforts, said HFD Battalion Chief David Morgan. He said firefighters were hampered by the location of the fire, which spread down into a ravine, away from any water sources, and also by rain that muddied the access roads.

Morgan said arriving firefighters found numerous locations set on fire with discarded vehicles, homeless camps, and rubbish burning. He said the biggest area that burned was about one acre in size with some 20 vehicles on it, including abandoned fire trucks. Some of the burned items were shop equipment for what appeared to be makeshift workshops. He said the fire was in the same place where authorities conducted a sweep last week.

The Agribusiness Development Corporation, which is part of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, said during that sweep on Thursday, three people were arrested for outstanding warrants and 11 trespass warnings were issued. The corporation described the 230-acre agricultural parcel as a “hotbed for criminal activity” that has troubled the Whitmore and Poamoho communities for years.  (Because the Agribusiness Development Corp refused to allow police to clear it out.)…

The corporation said in a news release on Friday that it “will be ramping up its efforts immediately to secure and prepare the lands for agricultural production by hiring around-the-clock security and clearing the brush, trash, and abandoned vehicles.”

(Two days later--Not so impressive security.)

read … Police open arson investigation after criminal ‘hotbed’ burns in Central Oahu

New voting changes require Democrats to register with the party to vote

KITV: … Interim Democratic primary Chair Kate Stanley says there are only 65,000 registered Democrats on the books, much lower than the 276,000 who voted blue in 2018. "Some of them probably think that means they're enrolled in the party, and it does not," she warns.

If you're not enrolled, you can't vote in the presidential primary. Here's what to do: make sure you're registered to vote in Hawaii, then go online to hawaiidemocrats.org and click "Join."

If you do both of those by March 8, you'll get a ballot in the mail. If not, you can still show up in person on election day, April 4, at sites the party is getting up around the state.

Once you do go to vote, there's something else new this year: ranked choice voting. That means you get three choices; you can also put down numbers for your second and third choice. If your top choice doesn't get at least 15 percent, your vote can be rolled over to your second or your third choice….

Related: Ranked Choice Voting: Who Gets Disenfranchised?

read … New voting changes require Democrats to register with the party to vote

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