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Thursday, January 9, 2014
January 9, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:04 PM :: 4721 Views

Abercrombie: Less Revenue--What, Me Worry?

Resort Fees: SB1201 Proposes Massive Hike in TAT

Hawaii Ag Law Conference Tackles GMO Issues

Abercrombie Hosts Nursery School Sales Pitch for Legislators

Rep Ward Proposes Bill to Eliminate Prepaid College Tuition

Ed Week: Hawaii DoE scores 77.3% Chance for Success

Hawaii Supreme Court: Indigent Parents Have the Right to Court-Appointed Counsel During Child Welfare Proceedings

Insurance Div Submits Four Reports to Legislature

House Finance Committee to Look at Public Safety Department 

Go Back To Law School: UH "J-Term" Classes Open To The Public

Public Housing Deal to be Modeled on Ewa Villages Debacle?

SA: “We are considering deferring some portion of the lease payments to provide time for the buyer to secure all of their required financing,” Caldwell spokesman Jesse Broder Van Dyke said.

How long the buyer would benefit from deferred payments is part of the negotiations, said city Community Services Director Pam Witty-Oakland.

The city gave similar help to two nonprofit organizations when they, separately, purchased bulk parcels in Ewa Villages after pledging to provide affordable housing on the lots in the early 2000s, Witty-Oakland said.

“We carried the mortgage on a portion of the sales price for a limited amount of time,” she said.

read ... Officials reject loaning buyer money

Unionized Contraflow Keeps Oahu Jammed

CB: Advocates say that more contraflow lanes are needed, but they need to be done right.

Panos Prevedouros, a civil and environmental engineering professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, is in favor of contraflow, but he argues that the practice of manually coning lanes is wasteful and out of date. The way that contraflow is done in Honolulu, he says, "is the unionized way of expending a lot of money."

"(We're) paying people to block lanes ... (and) spending money for reasons that we don’t really have to."

Honolulu is one of the only places in the country that still uses cones for contraflow — and it has been one of the select few since at least 2008, according to Federal Highway Administration data from that year, which is the latest available.

Panos:  Honolulu Traffic Contraflow Operations

read ... Unionized Contraflow

Caldwell Continues to Block Ethics Investigators

SA: Rachel Wong, commission vice chairwoman, said telling city employees that city attorneys would also issue advice on ethics "seems like a duplication of services" that could lead to "mixed messages" from the two offices.

"The commission was created for this very role," she said. "This is what we do. This is what our staff does." ....

Leong said city employees "are free" to seek the advice of the commission.

"We've never said ‘don't go to the Ethics Commission.'"

Commission member Jeffrey Burroughs said he was troubled by that remark.

"I guess what I'd like to hear you say is that it's your policy to encourage people to go to the Ethics Commission," he said.

When several commission members raised a concern that city attorneys issuing advice to city employees would constitute an attorney-client situation, Leong responded: "My guiding light is to do what's in the best interest of the people of the City and County of Hono­lulu."

On a separate issue, city Human Resources Director Carolee Kubo agreed to work out the details of what type of employee emails would be given to Totto's staff provided her office is given "proper justification" for the request, a specified time frame and scope of work.

Kubo had taken issue with providing unfettered access to employee email by the ethics office....

Commission member Michael Lilly said it should be up to the ethics panel to determine what it should investigate and what emails would be relevant.

read ... Counsel won't back down on ethics advice

Forbes: Fracking, Frankenfoods, and Antoinettes

F: opponents are like modern-day Marie Antoinettes, saying, “Let them eat organic cake, made by hippies in Vermont.” Fracking opponents would add, “…and pay three times as much for the renewable electricity to bake it.”

read ... Fracking, Frankenfoods, and Antoinettes

Ethnic divisions will take a central role in Senate Race

TH: “It’s wrapped up in a bit of grief,” one state Democrat said. “It’s one of those things that could have been very possible to extend his dying wish. Now, it’s voters’ jobs to grant him that.”

There are many other factors at play in the race — ethnic divisions will take a central role, progressive and environmental groups have lined up behind Schatz, while EMILY’s List is backing Hanabusa.

Whoever prevails though, Republicans have no chance of winning in the heavily Democratic Hawaii.

read ... Seeking a say from beyond the grave

State to Sue Online Travel Companies for More Unpaid Taxes

HNN: After slapping the nation's largest online tour companies with a $750 million bill for back taxes, the state says the companies owe another $40 million.

State Tax Court filings indicate that Priceline.com, Expedia and eight other Internet travel providers booked tens of millions of dollars in rental car business but paid no taxes on them.

"This is a new round of assessments issued to the online travel companies involving their rental motor vehicle transactions in Hawaii," said Deputy Attorney General Hugh Jones

The latest assessments come a year after state Tax Judge Gary Chang ordered the online companies to pay the state nearly $650 million in general excise and hotel room taxes.

read ... Online travel tax dispute grows

Abercrombie: Now or Never for land preservation deal with Turtle Bay

SA: The state Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee and the Senate Water and Land Committee held an informational briefing today to hear an update on negotiations.

The state and Turtle Bay are in talks over price. The state's appraisal is between $31 million and $38 million, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, while the resort's figure is higher, mostly due to fixed infrastructure costs that are being worked out with the city.

The state is waiting to hear from the resort's developers -- likely in February -- on a reduced infrastructure plan that reflects lesser development because of the land conservation. A land preservation agreement could prevent the development of 750 homes. The resort, however, could still move forward with two new oceanfront hotels.

CB: Abercrombie to Legislature: Turtle Bay Issue Needs to Be Resolved This Year

read ... Now or Never

Atta: Honolulu Is Not 'Neglecting' Shoreline Development Issues

CB: I’d like to clarify a few points in Sophie Cocke’s article, “Honolulu Forgoes Federal Funds to Manage Coastal Development” (Jan. 6, 2014), particularly her statement that the city’s “inaction is part of a pattern of neglect when it comes to dealing with homes, businesses and infrastructure that are too close to the ocean.”

Although we do not receive federal funds for the Coastal Zone Management program, this does not mean that we are not monitoring or handling coastal zone issues; it just means that we’re doing it without federal funding. As I stated in the interview with Ms. Cocke, the Department of Planning and Permitting (DPP) has staff dedicated to the CZM issues (i.e., coastal flooding, erosion, and sea level rise), and applications are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. To conclude that the city is neglecting these issues is not true and unfair to the DPP staff involved in the CZM.

read ... Correcting Civil Beat Again

Judge Slams Prosecutors Because Rat List Denied to Multi-Kilo Meth Ring

KITV: U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi ruled that she won't dismiss the case against the six men who are on trial but will allow certain witnesses to be recalled.  The jury will be told it's because of government misconduct.

The judge is also referring Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Loo to the Department of Justice's office of professional responsibility.

The trial resumes Thursday.  An 18-count indictment alleges the men were part of a conspiracy involving hundreds of pounds of crystal meth.

Defense attorneys sought dismissal because prosecutors didn't provide discovery material for cooperating witnesses until after some of them testified.

read ... Federal judge slams prosecutors with meth ring ruling

Kauai Man gets Jail, Faces Lawsuit for Beating up Knife-Wielding Drug Pusher

KGI: Rodelo learned from his children that Heron was giving them marijuana and getting high with them.

Rodelo asked Heron to leave the rental when an argument followed, Soong added. The victim (sic) pulled a knife, the two wrestled, and a chase ensued throughout the neighborhood in which Heron became injured....

Rodelo was originally charged with first-degree burglary and first-degree assault. A conviction could have meant a 10-year prison sentence.

After the arraignment on May 1, 2012, Soong filed a motion to dismiss the indictment based on a claim of false testimony to the grand jury and preindictment delay....

Judge Kathleen Watanabe sentenced Rodelo to six months jail. She suspended all but 30 days for the duration of the five-year felony probation....

Soong noted the victim may be pursuing financial matters through a separate civil action....

read ... Criminal Rewarded for Crimes Against Children

Feds Bust Gang of Mainland Pimps Working Hawaii

CN: The three female defendants were known as "bottom bitches," and assisted the BMS pimps, according to the indictment. They allegedly recruited and trained prostitutes and provided logistical support such as computers, online accounts and prepaid credit cards to new recruits and their pimps.

The pimps and bottoms frequented areas where minors congregate, and also used social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to connect with new recruits. They plied girls with alcohol to "manipulate their loyalty and increase productivity," the indictment states.

Once the girls had been trained, the gang's pimps took them to known areas for prostitution, private homes, hotels, and professional sporting events - anywhere with a large customer base. They transported the women and girls all over the United States: Alaska, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, Colorado, Texas, New Jersey, New York, Washington D.C., Idaho, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Utah, Washington, Florida, Virginia and Kansas, according to the Justice Department.

They branded many of the women with tattoos of their gang monikers, bar codes or pimp names, and traded the women like cattle. All of the 60 sex trafficking victims, including 11 minors, have been offered resources to start their lives over again, according to U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy.

read ... Pimps

Board member wants HPD on campuses

KHON: About 15 years ago, the federal government started a school resource officer program, in which funds were provided to pay for a police officer on school campuses on the Neighbor Islands. Although the federal funding stopped about eight years ago, the counties have continued to pay for officers with their own funds.

Right now, high schools on Maui and Kauai are using their own funds to hire police officers. On the Big Island, the county has assigned officers to middle schools.

But there's no school on Oahu that has a special-duty officer on campus. According to HPD's website, that would cost at least $36 an hour.

read ...  HPD on Campus

Pinky Ring: 3 accused of altering computer records

SA: The state attorney general said in court documents that the principal, elementary school vice principal and school secretary at Myron B. Thompson Academy likely accessed the state Department of Education's computer system to change employee attendance records to match false changes they made to the school's paper records.

That was among a number of allegations the attorney general used to justify the seizure of scores of boxes of paper records and computer files from the school last month. Investigators raided the school's administrative offices at the Richards Street YWCA in downtown Honolulu on Dec. 16.

The search warrant authorized the seizure of all school meeting, contract, financial, payroll and tax records. The search warrant also authorized the seizure of records relating to all employees, their friends, associates and relatives employed at the academy and specifically names Principal Diana Oshiro, Oshiro's sister, Kurumi Kaapana-Aki, who is vice principal of the elementary school, and school secretary Gwendolynn Higgins.

The attorney general revealed in state court in November that it is conducting a felony theft investigation at the academy.

read ... Myron B 'Pinky' Thompson

Ethics: Hawaii Co Appraisers Cannot Appraise their own Homes

HTH: The county Finance Department violated the ethics code when it allowed staff appraisers to set the tax value of their own property, the Board of Ethics said Wednesday.

The board voted 4-0 that county appraiser Marilyn Veincent violated the section of the ethics code that prohibits county employees from taking any official action directly affecting areas where they have a substantial financial interest. In doing so, the board made it clear it wasn’t recommending sanctions against the employee, and it urged the Finance Department to revise its policy so appraisers aren’t assigned to appraise their own neighborhoods.

read ... Ethics board votes

True Lies: State Violates Procurement Code in Hiring of Polygraph Examiners

KGI: Elizabeth Freitas and her Lihue-based company Freitas & Freitas Investigations LLC filed the suit on Dec. 30, 2013, against Leanne Gillespie, coordinator of the Sex Offender Management Team, and Ted Saka as director of the state Department of Public Safety.

Freitas is a polygraph examination specialist who performed under contract with DPS and other state agencies on all islands since 2004.

She claims that starting in 2008, the DPS stopped issuing polygraph contracts under the Procurement Code and she stopped receiving work to provide routine polygraphs for sex offenders.

Most assignments came through the Community Assistance Center and to Gillespie’s spouse, who is also a polygraph examiner, the suit alleges.

“There is an obvious conflict,” said attorney Margery Bronster who filed the suit on behalf of Freitas. “It is disturbing that the DPS would allow someone be in charge be directing all polygraph work to her husband.”

read ... Investigator sues state for polygraph work

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