Telescope: For OHA, it’s all About the Rent Money
Suzanne Case Pays for Aerial Shooting and Eradication: Can Hunters Trust Her?
Marijuana, Gender-Opinion Birth Certificates, and Unsafe Places Head for Final Votes
Star-Adv: Telescope Protests Show that Buying Off OHA is a Waste of Money
SA: The intensifying outcry from protesters at the Mauna Kea site of the Thirty Meter Telescope could have been anticipated long before it flamed up in recent weeks, as heavy construction equipment started to arrive. The core group of opponents has never budged from its position, and now that some of the regulatory requirements for this promising installation have been met, they have dug in.
What was unexpected and unfortunate is the way a contingent of celebrities has taken to social media to fan the flames. The demonstrations on Hawaii island, in the days before the annual Merrie Monarch hula competition, became even more contentious.
Just as unfortunately, but perhaps more predictably, the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs has started wavering on its own stance in favor of the TMT siting.
Last year OHA contemplated pursuing a contested case hearing before the Board of Land and Natural Resources, which had granted a sublease for the $1.4 billion project.
The intent, OHA officials said at the time, was to preserve the right to challenge the sublease if it later chose to do so. The OHA Board of Trustees decided finally against seeking a contested case hearing.
But now the trustees have told opponents they would review their position. This won't decide the fate of the project, which faces lingering legal hurdles.
What it does do is demonstrate a lack of leadership from OHA. (Translation: If buying off OHA won't stop these protesters, then why bother buying off OHA?)
The agency should be reasserting its earlier justifications in support of the telescope as having educational and economic benefits for Hawaii island and the state as a whole.
Instead, the board seems now to be siding with opponents, instead of with a state-of-the-art boon to astronomical research. (So why would we give OHA even more money with the 2033 lease? We aren't getting anything for what we've paid so far.)
Related: Telescope: For OHA, it’s all About the Rent Money
read ... OHA's been paid but it won't dance
OHA Trustee Thanks Telescope Protesters for Helping with Rent Hike
CB: “I’m only one of nine trustees but I have a loud voice,” Hulu Lindsey said. “And I will do whatever I can to support the protection of our Mauna.”
Lindsey said OHA lent its support to the project in 2009, but the board plans to reconsider its approval at its meeting next month.
That may come too late for the demonstrators, who are expecting construction to resume as soon as Monday.
Sandra Dawson, who manages Hawaii Community Affairs for the Thirty Meter Telescope, said in a phone interview Friday that she’s not sure when construction will resume.
read ... Collecting Rent
Kenoi Paid for Promotional TV Shows with County Funds, County Hiding His Emails
KITV: Kapaau resident Lanric Hyland filed the complaint last week after it was revealed Kenoi racked up tens of thousands of dollars in personal purchases on his county-issued credit card, also known as a pCard. It was also revealed that county officials repeatedly warned Kenoi to cease his personal purchases.
"He's been charging arrogantly taxpayers’ money since 2009 and only the day after it's recorded in the newspaper does he pay back anything," Hyland said last week in an interview with KITV4.
Although Kenoi paid back some of his pCard purchases in a timely manner, the reimbursement of $7,503.90 came after it was revealed the mayor had visited two hostess bars on Oahu, in 2009 and 2013. Still, it’s likely the ethics board will look at all of Kenoi’s spending since he was sworn into office in December 2008. According to the mayor’s spokesperson Peter Boylan, Kenoi has reimbursed the county $31,112.59 for personal purchases, but has yet to file gift disclosure forms as required by the county.
“The gift disclosures have not been filed, but we are working to address this," Boylan wrote in an email.
When the Hawaii County Ethics Board takes up the complaint against Kenoi, a Maui County attorney will be on hand to avoid any appearance of collusion. Maui County spokesman Rod Antone said the attorney’s job will be to answer legal questions, but not much else.
"The Hawaii County Ethics Board is still handling everything," said Antone. “This is being treated the way they would handle anything else, except when they have to turn to somebody for legal advice, you’re going to see one of our attorneys instead of one of theirs.”
With the Hawaii County Ethics Board still heading up the complaint against Kenoi, any evidence gathering, such as emails to and from the mayor, will still be handled by local officials.
However, it's unknown just how many of Kenoi’s emails are available since he was first sworn into office in December 2008. Hawaii County Information Technology Director Donald Jacobs said email retrieval may only go back 90 days.
"It depends on how they're stored,” Jacobs said Friday. “If they're stored in one format, we might be able to get them; if they're stored in another, it might be limited to 90 days." (Translation: He is deciding how many emails to reveal.)
Kenoi's office and the Office of the Corporation Counsel could not say Friday how long the mayor's emails are supposed to be archived. But, according to a spokesperson with the City and County of Honolulu, there’s no requirement or policy for an elected county official to archive emails, although emails can be restored for up to three months and are kept on a county server.
Meanwhile, other expenditures by Kenoi have peaked interest on the Big Island.
According to videographer Baron Sekiya of the website Hawaii 24/7, the mayor paid him $15,000 in 2010 to produce roughly 10 episodes of the TV show This Week with Mayor Billy Kenoi. The shows aired every Thursday and Sunday on public access television Na Leo O Hawaii, but are no longer being produced or shown. However, unlike the mayor’s pCard purchases, funds to produce the show came directly from money already allotted to Kenoi's office.
read ... Kenoi Ethics Hearing May 13
Kenoi fails to file gift disclosures, State Cancels his P-Card
SA: Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi on Friday reimbursed his employer an additional $2,000 for past travel purchases on his government-issued credit card, bringing his total reimbursements to more than $31,000, according to his spokesman.
The latest revelation comes in the wake of more unsettling news about the mayor's activities.
Since taking office in December 2008, Kenoi has not filed any annual gift disclosure statements, even though the documents he released after the so-called pCard scandal that erupted recently show he received gifts valued at $100 or more — the threshold for requiring reporting.
Kenoi, for instance, had the $3,656 cost of a trip to Japan picked up by the Hawaii Island Visitors Bureau, according to the records, but he did not disclose that on a gift disclosure form. The trip was to discuss an effort to maintain direct flights from Japan to Kona, according to a travel summary Kenoi's office released Friday evening.
The Hawaii County Board of Ethics, whose members are appointed by Kenoi, will discuss at its May 13 meeting his failure to file the annual gift disclosure statements and whether an investigation of that issue should be pursued, according to Ku Kahakalau, acting chairwoman for the group.
No complaint had been filed as of Friday on that issue, but the board has the power to initiate investigations on its own, she said.
The panel also will discuss at that meeting a recent complaint filed over Kenoi's use of his government purchasing card, called a pCard, for personal expenses, such as a $1,200 surfboard and a nearly $900 tab at a Honolulu hostess club.
Because of the potential conflict of interest, the board will be advised on both matters by an attorney from the Maui County Corporation Counsel's Office, rather than one from the counterpart office in Hawaii County.
The question of whether the Hawaii island board should be involved in these cases — given that the members are appointed by the mayor but confirmed by the County Council — could also be raised at the meeting, though Kahakalau is unsure where that discussion might go, given the uniqueness of this situation.
To complicate matters, the current board barely has a quorum to conduct business. Two of the five seats are vacant — two members' terms expired since the March meeting — and Kenoi has yet to nominate replacements....
Sarah Allen, administrator of the State Procurement Office, which has broad administrative responsibility for the statewide program, said her agency canceled Kenoi's account Tuesday after her office became aware through the media coverage of the personal purchases he was making....
read ... Kenoi fails to file gift disclosures
Caldwell: Honolulu Rail Tax Is Not ‘Chump Change’
CB: Watch Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell argue with state Sen. Sam Slom over his word choices during a recent legislative hearing on a possible extension of the rail tax.
read ... Caldwell vs Slom
Ige Negotiates with Feds to Shunt Failed Health Connector into DCCA
SA: Gov. David Ige is hoping to keep Hawaii's health insurance exchange under state control and is in discussions with the federal government to negotiate a "corrective action plan."
"The federal government has requested discussions with the governor and/or his representatives to address their concerns about the Hawaii Health Connector," said Laurel Johnston, Ige's deputy chief of staff, in an email Friday. "We wish to maintain a state-based marketplace and we wish to protect the Prepaid Health Care Act."
(Connector boss Kissel claims) the federal government is threatening to take over the state exchange within months (but there is no independent evidence of this) and has restricted grant money to support operations of the Hawaii Health Connector created by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
One option Ige's administration is considering is to turn the nonprofit exchange into a state agency attached to the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, according to an email to state officials from Betsy Kim, special adviser to the governor. Another option would be to move the Connector to the federal marketplace if the first option fails, the email said.
The restriction is affecting the Connector's ability to improve its technology, which has been a problem for users since its inception in October 2013.
"Our system works but it's not 100 percent, and I believe that's what the Feds want," said Sen. Roz Baker (D, West Maui-South Maui). "Sustainability is the other piece, but part of what will get us to that point is for the Feds to allow us to use some of the grant funds they are sitting on to do the tech pieces that need to be done."
Lawmakers appropriated $1.5 million for exchange operations through June 30.
The Legislature also is considering a bill that would allow the Connector to borrow as much as $28 million in bonds backed by the state over six years. The Connector projects it will need the $28 million to operate through 2022, when it anticipates becoming self-sustaining.
"If the Feds are going to deal with us fairly and openly, then there needs to be negotiations, not an ultimatum — that's what it seems they're trying to give us," Baker said. "The time frame doesn't give us an opportunity to move everything inside (the state) to create a new arrangement with the Connector. I don't believe at this point we should be bullied by the federal government. There is no reason for Hawaii's Health Connector to go to the federal exchange because it puts Prepaid at risk (and) it opens us to lesser health care for our people."
read ... Not Fooled by Kissel
Feds Won't Confirm Health Connector Takeover Claims
AP: Kissel's request for approval to issue $28 million in bonds or loans was stripped out of a bill by a joint meeting of two House committees, but Consumer Protection and Commerce Committee Chairman Angus McKelvey said his intent was to work with state budget officials on concerns about the funding mechanism, not to deny the request altogether.
"The Legislature is totally committed. We are speaking with one voice," McKelvey said. "To put us in the federal marketplace puts us in all forms of chaos."
To make that clear, McKelvey drafted an email on the fly, with Kissel in his office, telling the Hawaii Health Connector that the Legislature will do what it takes to keep the exchange sustainable. Kissel then passed the letter along to Gov. David Ige's administration for their conversations with the federal government, he said.
Ige wants to maintain a state-based marketplace and protect the Prepaid Health Care Act, and his administration is working with the federal government on a corrective action plan, said Laurel Johnston, Ige's deputy chief of staff, in an emailed statement.
Tasha Bradley from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services would not confirm what plans are under consideration for Hawaii, but she said in an email that federal officials are having "discussions with the state on the options and steps they need to take to best serve their state's consumers."
The Hawaii Health Connector will need about $28 million to maintain operations through 2022. At that point, it's expected to break even and to begin paying off interest for a loan.
The deadline for submitting the funded sustainability plan to the federal government is May 11, a few days after the 2015 legislative session ends, Kissel said. But lawmakers had different impressions of the deadline.
"Everybody has a different version. It's like a telephone game," McKelvey said.
read ... Liar's Poker
Pathetic Anti-GMO Activists Reduced to Whining About 'Red Dust'
SA: Waimea Valley resident Susan Arquette testified that red dust allegedly from DuPont Pioneer's fields damaged her appliances, furniture and electronics. Among items she replaced were a refrigerator at a cost of approximately $2,500, vacuum cleaner at $1,400, stove at $800, dishwasher at $700, washing machine at $800 and dryer at $700.
The jury trial resumes Tuesday.
read ... News From Kauai
Bill 6: Council Pushes Harder on Homeless Who Continue to Refuse Shelter
SA: Bill 6, passed out of the Council Zoning and Planning Committee on April 2, does two things.
First, it allows the sit-lie ordinance to shore up Bill 48, the business district sit-lie law passed last year, by applying the prohibition to both sides of the streets in existing sit-lie areas. Supporters of the sit-lie law say Bill 48, which prohibits sitting and lying on sidewalks in 15 different business districts around Oahu from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, allows the homeless or others who camp along a sidewalk to simply cross a street into an area outside a designated no-sit-lie ordinance.
Second, Bill 6 calls for the sit-lie prohibition to be in place in three new areas — all of which have seen influxes of homeless campers in recent months:
» McCully Street, from South Beretania Street to Algaroba Street; and Makahiki Way from Algaroba Street to South King Street.
» A new Aala zone that is bounded by North Beretania, Aala, River and North Kukui streets.
» The sidewalks that border Aala Park itself, bounded by North Beretania, North King and River streets.
read ... Force them into shelters
Pothead Distressed at Changes to Marijuana Dispensing Bill
WHT: The basic House Bill 321 was great, now some of the changes in the HD1 and SD1 are very distressing to me and should be to you as well as all Hawaii residents. This is the good dispensary bill and we have to get it passed in its original version, because SB682 is insidious.
First off, it is obvious that the definition of “dispensary” has been changed by certain members of the Legislature being tempted from outside lobbyists who want to be the ones rewarded with precious licenses, and they are greedy and want control of more than one operation. Why else would the definition have changed to an “entity that holds a dispensary license and operates one or more cultivation sites, manufacturing sites, and retail dispensing locations.”
Please keep the licenses for only one thing each — dispensary, production center or cultivation site — and awarded to one person each to give as many Hawaii residents as possible an opportunity here.
Do not reward big, rich growers from the mainland or tobacco or pharmaceutical companies. The big, rich growers already make enough, and the tobacco and pharmaceutical companies have been killing people for decades — do not reward these entities by giving them Hawaii dispensary licenses.
Secondly, to own a dispensary, you should not need to be a licensed health care provider. That is discrimination plain and simple, as even the “lowliest” patient can grow and decide how to consume their own medicine for the last 15 years, the licensed health care provider is overkill and an impossible condition to meet for most anyone besides a licensed health care provider.
Thirdly, you as our Hawaii legislators know better than anyone that Hawaii needs jobs, taxes and income kept here at home and we have been waiting since the year 2000 for a dispensary bill. And the job opportunities need to be offered only to longtime Hawaii residents, and please consider them, medical patients, and cannabis felons be given top priority....
read ... Pothead
Drunk Prosecutor Loses License for Two Years
SA: A state agency has sustained the revocation of the driver's license of former Deputy Prosecutor Jon Riki Karamatsu for failing to submit to a breath, blood or urine test in a traffic stop April 4.
His license was taken away, and he was issued a temporary permit shortly after his arrest.
The Administrative Driver's License Revocation Office said Karamatsu's license and privilege to drive a vehicle are revoked for two years starting May 5....
Karamatsu, 40, who resigned as deputy prosecutor after his arrest, is scheduled to make an initial appearance in Honolulu District Court at 8:30 a.m. May 1 on a charge of operating a vehicle while under the influence.
When he was a state House member in 2007, Karamatsu was convicted of drunken driving.
At 12:56 a.m. April 4, Karamatsu was driving a pickup truck when he was stopped at a police sobriety checkpoint at Ala Moana Boulevard and Hobron Lane, according to a police report filed with the license revocation office.
A police officer said the truck was parked at an angle not parallel to the sidewalk, and he instructed Karamatsu to move closer to the curb so the incoming vehicles in the checkpoint area wouldn't hit the back of his truck, the report said.
The police officer said Karamatsu appeared "dazed" and had bloodshot eyes, and his face was slightly red and shiny.
"I could also smell a strong odor of an alcoholic-type beverage … from within the truck," the officer said.
"When asked, he stated he had a few drinks early in the evening."
The officer said Karamatsu failed a standardized field sobriety test.
In one of the tests, Karamatsu's left and right eyes failed to smoothly track a pen held by the officer, the report alleged.
The officer said Karamatsu also failed to follow instructions and began a test that required walking before he was instructed to start.
read ... Drunk
DOE: Crackdown on chronic absenteeism Part of Strive HI Campaign
KHON: The state is sending a message to parents: Send your child to school or we may take you to court....
we went to DOE’s deputy superintendent Ronn Nozoe for answers.
“The research around excused or unexcused is basically the same children who are not in school achieve less,” he said.
Nozoe said the DOE started tracking chronic absenteeism last year as part of the Strive HI campaign and it has made a dramatic improvement in attendance.
Chronic absenteeism means 15 or more missed school days in one school year. Last year when DOE started cracking down, Nozoe says there were 5,000 fewer chronic absentee students, a drop of 39 percent, from the previous year.
The idea is for students to get better grades by not missing as much class time, and officials at the DOE say they’re already seeing positive results.
“Schools that have made significant improvements, they have become recognition schools, so it’s proven that if kids attend school, they will perform a lot better,” said Board of Education vice chairman Brian De Lima.
Schools will notify parents even before the 15 absences and try to work with them on how to prevent any more.
read ... Crackdown
HSTA Files Grievance at Honokaa HS
HTH: HSTA President Wil Okabe said Thursday that he had filed a grievance with the Department of Education and would be sending representatives to the school next week to investigate teachers’ claims that certified teachers are being asked to teach classes outside of the realm of their certifications.
“It’s about certified teachers teaching outside their certified lines,” he said. “That’s the concern. It’s about not having qualified teachers in specific areas. We’re very concerned. You want highly qualified teachers teaching in areas that they are certified to be teaching in.
“If you have a teacher certified in English, you want them teaching English, not math.”
read ... Grievance
Matlin's salary set at $1.45M+Bonuses, Inevitable Termination Pays $150K
SA: Incoming University of Hawaii athletic director David Matlin will be paid $290,016 per year for five years, plus bonuses, and has the possibility of a post-AD position in the school's Shidler College of Business, according to terms of his pending contract.
In addition, he may receive a "club membership" if the fees and dues are "covered by the University of Hawaii Foundation, ‘Ahahui Koa Anuenue or other non-University of Hawaii organizations."
The items are contained in a letter of employment scheduled to go before the UH Board of Regents for approval Thursday. If approved, Matlin will take over at UH on April 27....
The agreement says Matlin's initial appointment is for five years and subject to "satisfactory annual performance each year." Termination "will be for failure to earn satisfactory or better evaluation or for cause."
Termination compensation is three months salary during first two years of employment and six months thereafter.... ($150K)
Under terms of the bonus schedule, Matlin may receive up to $60,000 in bonuses his fourth and fifth years of the agreement, up from $25,000-$40,000 in earlier years. Bonuses are to be based upon academic and athletic performance by athletes and teams and the department's financial growth.
The agreement provides for Matlin's wife to accompany him on "up to eight events annually associated with official UH Manoa Athletic event/appearances at university expense, subject to Chancellor's approval."
read ... Ca-Ching
After Wasting $11M, State Launches 2.0 Version
SA: ...after the state spent $11 million developing SURF specs, the vendor proposals turned out to be much too expensive, causing Gov. David Ige last month to scrap the holistic SURF and instead, try to restrategize upgrades incrementally.
Now, it'll be up to Ige's CIO-designate, Todd Nacapuy, working with state Comptroller Doug Murdock, to advance the much-needed modernization. Meanwhile, IT geeks can review the new "OIMT Internal Evaluation & Analysis, FY13-15" report: http://1.usa.gov/1JxmlKM
read ... IT 2.0
PBS Interviews Hawaii Man Scammed by Solar Contractors
PBS: MIKE TAIBBI: So we drive up and you have these lovely solar panels on your roof. How’s that workin out for you?
CARLTON HO: It’s not!
MIKE TAIBBI: Not working out because by the time aircraft mechanic Carlton Ho joined the rooftop solar parade in September 2013, there were so many people in his area that had installed panels that the local utility company told him ‘don’t turn on that switch yet.’
Reality: No Blackout: RevoluSun Exposed
read ... Gridlocked by the power grid
State parks Use Illegal Hiking in Budget Pitch
KHON: State officials worry too many people are passing over parks in favor of more trendy and illegal spots.
read ... Parks
Former drug court clerk allegedly stole gift cards meant for participants
KHON: Filo Lise Atuatasi-Pouono is accused of using gift cards valued at $930 for her own personal use while working as a clerk between May 31 and Oct. 31, 2014.
The gift cards were purchased by the Judiciary as rewards for drug court participants.
Atuatasi-Pouono is scheduled to be arraigned in court next Thursday before Judge Richard Perkins.
read ... Steals
Woman's rental search meets Section 8 stigma
HNN: "They say, 'We do not take Section 8. Section 8 not accepted. No Section 8. Don't call for Section 8,'" she said.
Alexander and many other Section 8 holders in need of affordable rentals are casualties of a tight rental market, where landlords can pick and choose. But some hold the keys with an iron fist.
"I have been told the military pays more for rent, so they would rather rent to the military," she said.
read ... Woman's rental search meets Section 8 stigma
Family blames quarantine station for dog's death
KITV: One family is fighting to improve the living conditions for animals after their dog died four months after a stay at the Oahu Animal Quarantine Station.
read ... Quarantine