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Friday, December 5, 2014
December 5, 2014 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:09 PM :: 4605 Views

Hawaiians Lost Land, Homes in Scam: Sovereignty Activist Ordered to Pay Reparations

Ige's Commitment: 'No Hidden Agendas, Avoid Raising Taxes'

DoE Leaders Embrace Education Reform Proposals

182 Days: BOE Adopts Teacher-Proposed School Calendar for School Year 2015-2016

Report: 63% of Hawaii Charter Schools Fall Below Academic Performance Standards

Audit: AG, DBEDT Did Not Report Millions in Funds

National Right to Life President to Speak in Hawaii

The Jones Act’s Costly Impact

The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Opportunities for International Trade and Internal Growth

Lawyer: HPD Chief Purposefully Causes Mistrial

HNN: ..."The chief blurted out... a rogue answer," says Alexander Silvert, the attorney for the defendant, "We were all shocked when he said it."

Chief Louis Kealoha was on the stand describing to the jury surveillance video taken from his Kahala home in June of last year. The grainy video shows a man taking the mailbox and driving off, a federal crime.

Kealoha identified the thief as Gerard Puana, the uncle of the chief's wife.

But the man on video looks much thinner than the defendant.  (Fascinating factoid: The Chief himself is kinda slim.  Hmmmmm....)

The prosecutor asked Kealoha about that, how the chief was able to compare the appearance of Puana because of the weight difference.

Kealoha responded by saying that he remembered Puana being that thin when he was arrested and convicted of a previous burglary.

Silvert slammed both hands on the table, Puana became angry because the statement wasn't true, and the Judge called for an immediate recess.

"I believe that he did it intentionally," says Silvert....

read ... Purposeful

Officer altered report about surveillance footage taken from Kealoha home

AP: ...Silvert said the Kealohas framed Puana to discredit him in a lawsuit he and his 95-year-old mother filed claiming Katherine Kealoha stole money from them.

Katherine Kealoha is on personal leave as head of the career criminal unit of the Honolulu prosecutor's office.

According to the lawsuit, Katherine Kealoha helped her grandmother get a reverse mortgage on her home to pay for a condo for Puana. There were disbursements into an account Kealoha shared with her grandmother of more than $513,000, while the apartment cost about $376,000. She has failed to account for the difference, the lawsuit says.

Records in the lawsuit show expenditures for things like more than $2,000 for Elton John tickets, $4,000 for a Mercedes Benz lease payment and nearly $24,000 for her husband's police chief induction breakfast at the Sheraton Waikiki.

Katherine Kealoha denies the allegations.

Outside of court, Silvert said Louis Kealoha intentionally caused a mistrial to protect his wife in the civil case, which is scheduled to go to trial in state court this month. Losing the case could end her career, Silvert said.

"A not guilty verdict in this case would have gone a long way in clearing Mr. Puana's name in helping his case against the chief of police's wife, Katherine Kealoha," Silvert said.

Silvert's opening statement in the trial raised allegations of misconduct in the mailbox investigation, including falsified reports and off-the-books surveillance.

The first witness, retired Officer Niall Silva, conceded that he altered a report about the surveillance footage taken from the Kealoha home. When Silvert asked him if what he did was proper, he said: "What's done is done, sir."

The new trial promises to expose "a lot of misconduct in this case ... from the top to the bottom," Silvert said. "This is only the tip of the iceberg."....

read … Frame Up?

Leahi Hospital at Risk of Closing, 260 Patients may be Thrown into Street

PBN: The agency that oversees state-owned hospitals in Hawaii may be forced to close one of its two long-term-care facilities on Oahu if legislative funding is not secured, officials are warning.

The Oahu region of the Hawaii Health Systems Corp. is facing a $4.9 million deficit for the 2015 fiscal year, which ends next June 30. The deficit is projected to rise to about $9.5 million in FY 2016 and to $13 million in FY 2017.

State agency labor costs (HGEA job trust) and federal mandates (Obamacare, EMRs) are prominent drivers of the projected deficit, CFO Edward Chu said.  (Thanks unions, thanks Obama.)

If funding is not secured and a facility is closed, more than 100 patients could be displaced by the middle of next year and an additional 160 patients could be displaced the following year, HHSC is warning....

read ... Leahi Closing 

Charter Schools:  "Student Centered School" is an old idea whose time has come

CB: It may seem hard to believe, but a high-powered vehicle for public school reform is here and ready to move.  It’s been waiting to go out cruising after being tucked away in the garage since 1995, for the most part.  Now more than ever, it is time to go for a ride.

Back in 1995, two young rookie Hawaii state legislators, Mike McCarthy and David Ige, introduced and helped pass into law the most sweeping reform in the history of Hawaii public education.  This was quite an accomplishment for these two new kids on the block working among the capitol’s established power structure.  It was called the “Student Centered Schools” law.

For many, it went unnoticed. Few people understood its potential power to enabled community control of schools.  Even today with the call by the new Education Institute of Hawaii for greater school level control, few people understand that the DOE system can be radically reformed today, and this has been possible for almost 20 years.

The “Student Centered School” law morphed at times into other strange names like “New Century School.”  The name means little, but these public schools’ independence from the DOE’s control and top-down decision making is of utmost importance.  They should simply be called “Community Governed Schools,” or “Local Community Controlled Schools.”

The law basically allows schools to govern themselves and be in control of their own decisions, free of the mandates and requirements of the Hawaii DOE, with a few small exceptions.  The complex area superintendent, the state superintendent, and the assistant superintendents, cannot tell these schools what to do. The community hires and monitors the performance of the school administrator, not the complex area superintendent.  The most current version of this law can be found section 302D of the Hawaii Revised Statutes....

SA: Report shows kids in charter schools lagging

read ... Student Centered Charter Schools

Star-Adv: Legalize below-radar housing

SA: The city has within its reach a way to expand the inventory of affordable units suited to the singles and smaller households that are increasingly typical would-be tenants in Oahu's rental market. It can do so without spending government funds on them and likely would improve city revenues by regulating what is now an underground industry.

The City Council proposal is to reform Honolulu's underutilized "ohana unit" program, which for decades has allowed homeowners to build small units in tandem with their main house to accommodate family members.

Under Resolution 14-200, that provision would regulate "accessory dwelling units" (ADUs) that are rentable to anyone, related or not.

This is a promising development, because it would give homeowners a way to legitimately gain rental income from their property instead of trying to stay below the radar....

read ... Legalize

Tulsi Gabbard Co-Sponsors Bill to Help Casino Magnate

Slate: ...Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino magnate, and his wife, Miriam, contributed almost $100 million to Republican candidates and related organizations in 2012, and another $5 million in 2014. Not surprisingly, the billionaire wants something in return. That something is legislation to outlaw online gambling....

Earlier this year, the odds on Adelson’s online gambling ban looked good. In March, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. Jason Chaffetz introduced the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, a bill to make online gambling illegal, and did so with solid bipartisan support, including Democrats Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii as co-sponsors. House Speaker John Boehner appears to have been on board, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was on board, too. (Reid always had a detente with Adelson, given their mutual interest in the Nevada travel and tourism business.) But the bill lingered. Then, a House hearing was scheduled for December. The idea, it seems, was to get it passed quietly....

read ... Bought n Paid For

Ten Days to Hawaii Health Connector Deadline

WHT: Dec. 15 is the deadline for residents to enroll through the Hawaii Health Connector for health insurance coverage to take effect by Jan. 1....

The Connector fell short of its goal last year for enrollees for the inaugural year of coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act after a number of technical difficulties complicated access for residents. While many of those problems have been ironed out, the Connector is still a work in progress, Kissel admitted.

“We are a long way down the road,” he said, “but we still have work to do.”

That’s why the Connector has “wrapped human beings around our technology,” Kissel said....

read ... Nobody Wants Obamacare

Will Ige Select AG Who Champions Transparency?

Borreca: ...During the campaign, Ige was quick to criticize Abercrombie, who questioned the need for a bill that would put more state board and commission members under the Ethics Commission public reporting laws.

"If I were governor, I would have signed this bill immediately because I believe in an open government that is held accountable," Ige said earlier this year.

There is a lot Ige can do quickly to speed up transparency in his administration and leave a legacy of openness.

First, he needs to search for state lawyers who can champion open government and realize that in the end, the client they serve is the public and not a fumbling bureaucrat with dirty laundry....

MN: Quiet and competent

read ... Open?

Transparency: Will Ige Withdraw State's Appeal of Act 230?

MW: ...By my reckoning, the best better-governance law to come out of this year’s Legislature — by unanimous vote, too — is Act 230.

It requires members of state boards and commissions (such as UH regents and Land Use Commission) to let the public inspect their money and property holdings, income sources, memberships on other boards, and creditors.

My reaction has been “good riddance” to those who don’t want to disclose and have quit. We should not be served by people shunning transparency.

My hope is that incoming governor David Ige will instruct his attorney general to withdraw the state AG’s appeal of Act 230....

read ... Bob Jones

Hawaii's state government prioritizes 'cloud first' for new IT projects

PBN: The state of Hawaii has implemented a "cloud first" policy across all state departments for all new information technology projects and migrating existing applications, the governor's office announced Thursday.

The policy sets a preference for the Hawaii Government Private Cloud, developed as part of Hawaii's technology transformation plan, over existing and often outdated legacy systems.

"Hawaii is among the first states in the nation to implement a 'cloud first' policy for IT projects," Gov. David Ige said in a statement. "This is core to Hawaii's cloud computing and IT consolidation initiatives and will help our state conduct business in a more modern and efficient, business-like way."

State departments have been asked to develop a formal plan by 2015....

read ... Cloud First

45 Year Old Computer Systems Running State Departments

SA: But there are still systems out there that are over 45 years old.

Q: For example?

A: Inventory management system. Physical inventory. So like, desk chairs, furniture, office stuff, that system is nearly 50 years old.  There's only one person who knows how to run it....

Q: And how old is this person?

A: Oh, he's got his max years of service already. When he inherited this system it was already 20 years old, and he's put 30 years into it. ...

That's the attrition problem, right? ... The folks who work on it started here as interns 35, 37 years ago. And they've worked their way up through branch chiefs and they're experts on this stuff. And they're ready to retire. The last people to touch this thing.

read ... Hawaii's CIO is in a race against time to upgrade the state's ancient computer systems

Ige Inauguration Sold Out

PR: The event -- "Inauguration Celebration 2014, Honoring the Past, Charting a New Tomorrow" -- is being held from 4:30 to 9 p.m. Friday at the Hawaii Convention Center. Tickets were $75 each, or $2,500 for a table of 10.

read ... Sold Out

Maui News: Give Abercrombie Credit for Making Hawaii Run Better

MN: This year, Hawaii ranks as the 12th-best run-state in the nation. Frankly, we think former Gov. Neil Abercrombie should share some credit for this. Certainly, his insistence that the state face its unfunded pensions and health guarantees for public employees changed the dynamic on the subject. He was among the first governors in the U.S. to confront that sleeping giant.

Abercrombie and his budget director, Kalbert Young, also fiercely protected the state's credit rating. That, too, is reflected in the state's ranking.

We also have the eighth-lowest unemployment rate, fifth-lowest poverty rate and the fourth-highest median household income.

All in all, the rankings show Hawaii is well run when compared to other states.

read ... Credit?

Honolulu among U.S. counties with least affordable homes, RealtyTrac says

PBN: The City and County of Honolulu is one of 30 county housing markets in the United States that are unaffordable by historical standards and have rising foreclosure rates, RealtyTrac said in a Home Price Bubble Report, which analyzed early warning signs of home pricing bubbles.

The October median price of a home, which includes single-family home and condos, topped $475,000, according to the report, which translates into an affordability percentage rate of 48 percent. That means buying a median-priced home in Honolulu require 48 percent of the median income, said Jennifer von Pohlmann, a RealtyTrac spokeswoman,

read ... Expensive...

Usual Suspects Push State Tax Credit for EV Buyers

PBN: ...But one big factor that has kept some from driving away with an EV is the lack of a state tax credit, which disappeared about two years ago. It had been funded with federal stimulus money through the state Energy Office.

"We are basically the only state not offering a subsidy today, which is a little strange, because we are also the state with the least cost savings versus petroleum, and have the most to gain from having more controllable electric loads like EVs," said Jeff Mikulina, executive director of the Blue Planet Foundation, a Honolulu-based nonprofit focused on the development of renewable energy.

The base price for a Leaf is about $30,000, but it can drop to between $18,000 and $19,000 after a federal tax credit and rebates, Speas said....

PBN: More EV Agit Prop

read ... Usual Suspects

Hawaii Among Six States Where Politicians are 100% Behind Gay Agenda

WaPo: In Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont, 100 percent of governors and members of Congress support marriage for same-sex couples. In Maryland, there is more than 90 percent support, and in Maine, New Hampshire and New York, there is at least 80 percent support.

WaPo: Map of One Party Rule

read ... Domination

Three Years Later McKinley Softball Stadium Not Completely Ready

KHON: KHON2 first reported the problems back in May and was told then that they should be open by the start of the school year.

But September came and went and since then, we’ve continued to get questions about what’s happening with the project, which cost nearly $5 million to build and was supposed to be ready a year ago.

No other Hawaii public school has ever had its own softball stadium, so having one that cost nearly $3 million at McKinley was a source of pride.

But that pride turned to frustration after constant delays. After breaking ground in 2012, the project was expected to finish a year later.

But it failed a safety inspection due to a water main without enough pressure. Work was done in August to fix it and a new projected finish date was set for September.

“It was just sad to see some things new just sitting there and not being used and over time you’re just not using it,” said athletic director Bob Morikuni, who likened it to getting a brand-new car and all you got to do was look at it.

Then, “just a few minutes ago, my (athletic director) said, ‘Hey we got the email saying that we got the certificate for occupancy,’ so the softball stadium is now ready to go,” said principal Ron Okamura.

But there’s also the girls’ locker room which had a price tag of $1.7 million. It failed inspection because the fire alarm wasn’t connected properly.

KITV: Farrington auditorium: Two years later, collapsed roof not fixed yet

read ... That’s still waiting for approval

Cop Body Cams: A No-Brainer for Hawaii

CB: Video recording of police behavior protects citizens and police officers alike....

read ... Cop Body Cams: A No-Brainer for Hawaii

Hawaii FBI Received 3 Mine Resistant Vehicles Worth $1.2M

CB: Hawaii’s FBI agency received $1.2 million worth of equipment in the form of three mine-resistant vehicles. The FBI’s Crime Drug Squad also received $15,572.62 for a night vision image intensifier, infrared illuminator and “close quarters batt.” Immigration and Naturalization Service also received four utility trucks.

The Marshall Project created a handy tool below, breaking down what each state and county (including Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands) received from the program.

read ... Mine Resistant

Bike Lane: Rules vs Reality

KHON: The main thing they want to get across, is that the cycle track is a thru lane and cyclists are expected to follow the rules of the road.

“Just as with the cross walk, the motorist is expected to yield right of way. But in reality it turns into where it’s a give and a take,” said Daniel Alexander of the Hawaii Bicycling League.

WHT: Accelerator lanes giving way to bikes in Kailua-Kona

read ... Reality?

Former Certified Hawaii CEO Charged with 14 Felony Counts of Theft

CB: Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro announced Friday that his office is charging the former CEO of Certified Hawaii, now called Associa Hawaii, with 14 counts of felony theft in the first degree and theft in the second degree.

A felony information document filed Thursday charges Toni Ann Floerke with stealing almost $127,000 from three condo associations on Oahu between 2003 and 2012.

The prosecutor alleges that Floerke, who is innocent until proven guilty, created and used false documents and deception to steal money that belonged to Kekuilani Villas Association of Apartment Owners, Kulana Knolls AOAO, Aeloa Terrance AOAO and the owners of those units....

The charges come more than two years after Floerke was fired from Certified over the thefts, which Ian Lind reported in March 2012.

read ... Nine Years

Mismanagement allegations at Pearl Harbor memorial

WHT: An internal report from the National Park Service, which operates a visitors’ center for a memorial at the battleship, said tour companies sold tickets with the knowledge of park officials even though tickets are supposed to be free.

Another pointed to substandard maintenance, including scuffed museum walls that languished unrepaired and bird droppings that weren’t removed.

The revelations in documents released last month come just before crowds gather at Pearl Harbor on Sunday for an annual ceremony remembering more than 2,400 sailors, Marines and soldiers killed 73 years ago.

read ... Mismanagement allegations at Pearl Harbor memorial

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