The Senate says 'yes' to marijuana and 'no' to anti-GMO protesters
Hawaii State Senate Announces New Committee Chairs
Rail: It’s Going to Be a Bumpy Ride
OHA Telescope Neutrality: Do You Smell Something Fishy?
Honolulu 86th Worst Small Business Environment
Over 14,000 ballots cast in the 2015 Neighborhood Board elections -- Voting Open One More Week
Rep. McDermott critical of new state budget for ignoring pressing needs at Campbell High School
Kilauea Largest Source of SO2 Pollution in USA
Ige says he is not sold on the need for a law extending the rail transit tax
SA: As for the bill to extend the half-percent excise tax surcharge to provide an extra $1.8 billion to support the Honolulu rail project, Ige said he needs to study the issue more. Ige reminded reporters that earlier this year he asked for more information about the $910 million in cost overruns for the project, on the causes of those overruns, and what the city has done to manage them.
Now that lawmakers have passed a bill extending the excise tax for an additional five years, Ige said he plans to review the facts and talk to city officials to "really understand what the need is, and whether it's appropriate for that bill to become law."
Ige has until July 14 to veto the bill if he chooses to do so....
Gov. David Ige dropped hints Wednesday he is likely to sign bills allowing for the privatization of state-owned medical facilities in Maui County and providing state funds to acquire land at Turtle Bay to protect it from development.
And while Ige said he has not seen the final bill lawmakers will vote on Thursday to create dispensaries to distribute medical marijuana to legally registered patients, his staff tells him the measure "has the components" his administration wanted to see.
read ... Not Sold
Job Trust Being Dismantled: Thanks to Perriera's Incompetence, 300 HGEA, UPW Members to be Laid Off at Hospitals
SA: Hawaii Health Systems Corp. plans to cut 300 workers as early as July 1 at its 12 public hospitals statewide.
Officials of HHSC said Wednesday the cuts are necessary to offset an estimated $50 million deficit in fiscal 2016. (Caused by Perriera.)
Lawmakers recently appropriated about $106 million in general funds for the fiscal year beginning July 1 and had given HHSC $117 million, including a $15 million emergency appropriation, to help the system break even this year.
The cuts are “extremely serious,” said Ed Chu, HHSC’s chief financial officer. “Services in many cases may be reduced or even closed because we’re having to deal with the size of this deficit. The real tipping point right now is 2016.”
HHSC is burdened with having to absorb the cost of state employee retiree health benefits and collective bargaining pay increases, which the Legislature hasn’t completely funded, he said.
(Yup. With layoffs, they took away the contract HGEA negotiated. Just like they tried to take away the pensions with the pension tax. Note to Perriera: If you were a competent union president, you would know better than to negotiate something the State cannot afford to pay. Now your members are suffering due to your ignorance. The only honorable course would be to resign.)
Lawmakers also granted HHSC $85 million for fiscal 2017, but the hospital group projects it will still be short $90 million that year.
Maui Memorial Medical Center and two other state-owned medical facilities recently received legislative approval for privatization, clearing the way for a possible takeover by the nonprofit Hawaii Pacific Health, which already operates Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children, Pali Momi Medical Center, Straub Clinic & Hospital and Wilcox Memorial Hospital on Kauai.
However, the legislation requires that other Hawaii hospital operators also be allowed to compete for the opportunity to operate the facilities, which include Kula Hospital and Clinic and Lanai Community Hospital, before privatization can be completed.
The Maui County hospitals meanwhile are moving forward on a plan to cut $28 million in services and jobs starting July 1.
“The privatization won’t take place for several months at a minimum,” Chu said. “Until that happens, Maui is going to be facing the same deficits the rest of us are facing.”
SA: Kaiser re-emerges as bidder for Maui hospitals
read ... Thanks HGEA, UPW
Anti-GMO Crowd Ousted in Senate Shakeup
KauaiEclectic May 7, 2015: In yet another indication that Hawaii progressives have suffered under the influence of the anti-GMO movement, Kauai Sen. Ron Kouchi assumed presidency of the state Senate just two days before the session is set to end.
Those who voted against a resolution replacing Donna Mercado-Kim with Kouchi — Sens. Les Ihara, Gil Riviere, Russell Ruderman, Sam Slom and Laura Thielen — were among the most active in seeking to control the biotech industry and defeat Carleton Ching's nomination to the Department of Land and Natural Resources.
As a result, Ruderman is likely to lose chairmanship of the Agriculture Committee to Clarence Nishihara, who supports biotech and general ag. Thielen is also expected to be ousted as chair of the powerful Water and Land Committee, while anti-GMO advocate Josh Green will lose control of the Health Committee.
In an interesting twist of fate, Kouchi replaced Gary Hooser when he quit the Senate to make an ill-fated run for Lieutenant Governor. Now Kouchi, a 22-year veteran of the Kauai County Council, is the powerful Senate president while Hooser is attempting to advance the anti-GMO movement from his position as last-place Council member.
NOTE: Since the Shakeup also allowed for the passage of marijuana legislation which Green had obstructed, we now have the answer to a question that has been bothering us for a long time: Marijuana is a GMO, so which will the they quit? Obviously the Senate has chosen to keep the marijuana and quit the anti-GMO protesters. They couldn't have it both ways, thus an end to hypocrisy is noted.
HTH: Big Island loses power positions in Senate shakeup
2013: How to Use Anti-GMO Ordinances to Seize Marijuana Plants: A Guide for Police Departments
read ... Musings: Interesting Twists
Kouchi 'More Friendly to Development'
KGI: Many viewed the Ching nomination as a battle between environmentalists and developers, and the Senate faction Kouchi is a part of — called the Opihi group, named for the resilient sea creature — is considered more friendly to development.
read ... Sen. Ron Kouchi vows to represent Garden Isle issues in new role as Senate president
Grant in Aid: Politicians Give Themselves Money
CB: The informational briefing March 20 was the only public meeting on grants-in-aid. The rest of the decision-making process happened behind closed doors, just as it has for years in the Legislature.
House Finance Chair Sylvia Luke and Senate Ways and Means Chair Jill Tokuda approved the final list of grants-in-aid last week after finishing their work on the overall state budget....
Rep. Ty Cullen was tasked with sifting through the applications and preparing a final list for Luke to consider this session. On the Senate side, Tokuda handled the operating grants and Sen. Ron Kouchi handled the CIP grants....
But lobbyists, nonprofit presidents and even legislators say they remain dissatisfied with the process, which they called “mysterious” and “political.”
While some improvements have been made over the years, such as posting the applications online, the Legislature has ignored calls to create an outside body to review and recommend what grants should be approved.
The city of Honolulu has an independent commission that vets the applications but even that has been subject to political infighting between the Mayor’s Office and City Council. Voters created Honolulu’s grants-in-aid program in 2012, which calls for setting aside 0.5 percent of the city’s general fund revenues for charities and nonprofits....
“The main thing is too many people now see this as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and they line up and they tell other people, people that are starting businesses or starting nonprofits, ‘Hey, you can get the money down there, you just have to do a good lobbying job or you have to know somebody,’” Sen. Sam Slom said in an interview earlier this week....
The Estria Foundation was awarded all $226,500 it requested for next year. Its advisory board includes Sen. Will Espero and Rep. Della Au Belatti. Espero also serves on the group’s “Fundraising Cabinet.”
Founded in 2010, Estria creates art in public spaces throughout the world and works to empower local communities, according to its website....
Below is a list of operating and CIP grants-in-aid that were approved for 2016. View the applications of all the groups that applied and details of each request here.
read ... Profitable Nonprofits
How Will Kenoi Appointees Sabotage Ethics Investigation?
HTH: Hawaii County will pay travel expenses but not legal fees for a deputy corporation counsel to come from Maui to advise the Board of Ethics on charges against Mayor Billy Kenoi, following a vote Wednesday by the County Council. (Translation: He will be motivated to show up and make it look good, not motivated to work hard.)
But it remains to be seen whether the Board of Ethics, down to just three members from its legal complement of five, will be able to hear the case when it meets Wednesday. If just one member recuses him or herself, the board will not have a quorum to continue its work, said Acting Chairwoman Ku Kahakalau. (That's one way Kenoi's cronies could sabotage the hearing, but....)
“I don’t know if anyone is going to or not. It’s always a question,” Kahakalau said. (Maybe they would rather go thru the motions, let Kenoi off with a slap on wrist, and act like its all OK....)
Members of the Board of Ethics are appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the County Council. All three of the current members are Kenoi appointees.
...recusal by Kenoi’s appointees to the Board of Ethics...could put the complaint in limbo. If the Board of Ethics waits until a new mayor appoints members, Kenoi, who is term-limited after 2016, would then be out of office, and outside the reach of the Board of Ethics....
Council action on Wednesday, first scheduled to be behind closed doors in executive session, was brought out in public at the request of Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille.
“We all talk abut transparency and open government and this should be an open discussion,” Wille said. “I don’t think we should be just jumping into executive session. … This is all part of the problem and why we’re here.”
Wille pushed Corporation Counsel Molly Stebbins about what would happen if a Board of Ethics member recuses from the case. And, she questioned whether the council could get involved under a section of the county ethics code that allows the council to set penalties by ordinance.
“I’m also concerned … if everything gets pushed off and we’re just a spineless entity,” Wille said.
read ... Sabotage Strategies
Maui County Employee Uses PCard to Build Catering Business at Baseyard, County Covers it Up
KHON: On Tuesday, we told you about a Maui County public works supervisor whose pCard spending on pricey kitchen equipment got him into hot water.
We uncovered the case of Raynard Oshiro, who sources say swiped his pCard for appliance after appliance in what became a commercial-grade kitchen plus catering-type supplies at the Wailuku Public Works Baseyard.
So far, the county has been handling the public works case administratively after discovering tens of thousands of dollars were spent inappropriately.
We asked many, including Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa, to show us the kitchen taxpayers bought, but they say it’s all locked up as evidence.
“We don’t want to allow anyone to get in there and mess up whatever is there. We want to make sure that the evidence is clean,” Arakawa said.
Sources say the administrative investigation resulted in a deal with the county with Oshiro retiring and agreeing to pay the county back toward what he spent.
Over on the Big Island, where Kenoi paid back his personal charges, the county prosecutor deferred to the state, which is now investigating whether it was a crime.
So for the Maui kitchen, what says the Maui County prosecutor John D. Kim?
“The police would have to start from scratch and open up a criminal investigation,” he said.
read ... Criminal Charges?
Arch of Hysteria Wanes: People Losing Interest in Telescope Protest
CB: With construction of the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope indefinitely suspended, the social media movement protesting it has, understandably, come to something of a standstill.
In early April, more than 1,500 tweets used the hashtag #WeAreMaunaKea in a single day. These days, fewer than 200 do.
“We don’t want this to be a fad,” protest leader Lanakila Mangauil told his fellow demonstrators back in early April. (Know them by what they deny!)
Regardless of what happens with the construction of the TMT, it’s safe to say that #WeAreMaunaKea will not go down in history as a passing fad, the Internet equivalent of a one-hit wonder.
Reality: Telescope: For OHA, it’s all About the Rent Money
read ... Arch of Hysteria
Hardest Days of Fiery Testimony, Anger Over Federal Grab for Control of Hawaii Waters
KGI: Three days of fiery testimony on federally proposed changes to the humpback whale sanctuary concluded in Lihue Wednesday with 50 residents voicing their opinions.
The Kauai meetings, part of a statewide tour, marked the “hardest days I’ve ever had in my life,” said Malia Chow, Sanctuary Superintendent for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Hard because Chow and her colleagues were on the receiving end of widespread anger in the public comments of captains, fishermen, surfers and local business owners, who made it clear they will do whatever it takes to fend off what they view as the increasing oversight of state waters by a federal government they don’t trust.
“I see you coming in with your invisible cape, and some of us are trying to lift it up,” said Kilauea resident Mitchell Alapa, who apologized repeatedly for his profanity-laced protests that caused a ruckus at the first public hearing in his hometown Monday night.
At issue is a new management plan for the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. The crux of the proposal is a sanctuary boundary expansion to include 235 square miles of new state and federal waters around Kauai, Niihau and Oahu, bringing the total sanctuary area to 1,601 square miles. The plan would also extend the sanctuary’s focus from just whales to other marine species and generate new opportunities to work closely with community groups on priority resource protection issues.
Much like during the first two meetings — Nearly 100 people testified in Waimea Tuesday while a couple dozen spoke Monday in Kilauea — Wednesday’s gathering was dominated by people who opposed the plan. The scheduled three-hour meeting was still going on as of press time.
KE: Musings: Damage Done
read ... Feds Out
Council passes sit-lie bill over Objections of Activists Who Want to Keep the Homeless Homeless
SA: A plan to expand the city's existing sit-lie law was approved 7-2 by the Honolulu City Council on Wednesday, despite lingering worries that it may not pass constitutional muster.
Council members Brandon Elefante and Kymberly Pine, who have consistently opposed all sit-lie measures, voted against Bill 6. Councilman Ron Menor voted "yes" with reservations.
Corporation Counsel Donna Leong, the city's top civil attorney, said that her office submitted to the Council a suggested, amended version of the bill that would have cleared up some of the legal concerns. But no Council member offered it for consideration before Wednesday's vote.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell said after the vote that he wants to review Leong's concerns before deciding whether to sign the bill, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature. He has 10 working days, from the time he officially receives the bill, to decide.
The measure passed Wednesday does two things. First, it shores up Bill 48 (2014), the business district sit-lie law that was passed last year, by applying the prohibition to both sides of streets along the borders of existing sit-lie zones.
Second, Bill 6 adds portions of McCully, Aala, Punchbowl and Kapalama Canal to the list of zones where restrictions on sitting and lying are applied.
Star-Adv: Politics plagues housing initiatives
read ... Sit - Lie
Homeless Parents Continue to Refuse Shelter, Keep Children on Streets
HNN: Public concern continues to rise over child safety and welfare in and around two major homeless encampments along Kapalama Canal and in the Kakaako area of Oahu.
According to the state Department of Human Services, 285 families are homeless living unsheltered on Oahu, or approximately 12 percent of the 2,340 homeless families counted in the January 25, 2015 point-in-time count report survey on Oahu.
Among resident complaints are seeing children unattended, often playing in traffic areas without adult supervision, and drug activity taking place near tents where children live.
In an email response to questions submitted, DHS spokeswoman Kayla Rosenfeld said that those types of complaints are a "serious concern, especially for the children."
Rosenfeld said that the agency "greatly appreciates (and relies on) community notifications whenever a questionable abuse and/or a neglect situation arises." But she reminds the public that "homelessness, in and of itself, is not child abuse."
read ... Child Abuse
Legislators Approve $80M Loan Guarantee for Hawaiian Electric
PBN: ...Hawaii lawmakers have approved a bill that would allow the state to issue up to $80 million in special purpose revenue bonds to Hawaiian Electric Co. for capital improvement projects, including land acquisitions and the construction of facilities.
Senate Bill 1214, which will be sent to Gov.David Ige for his signature, would allow Hawaiian Electric to use up to $70 million in revenue bonds, Maui Electric Co. up to $7.5 million and Hawaii Electric Light Co. up to $2.5 million.
The Legislature said that the issuance of special purpose revenue bonds under this bill “is in the public interest and for the public health, safety and general welfare.”
The authorization to issue special purpose revenue bonds to Hawaiian Electric ends on June 30, 2020.
PBN first reported last month that Hawaiian Electric expects to spend nearly double what it spent on capital expenditures last year in each of the next two years. The utility is being acquired by Florida-based NextEra Energy Inc. (NYSE: NEE) from parent Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc.(NYSE: HE) in a $4.3 billion deal expected to close by the end of this year or early 2016.
The state’s largest utility’s capital expenditures are forecast to be $800 million in both 2016 and 2017.
Background: Legislators Consider $800M Loan for Hawaiian Electric
read ... Worth $80M?
Two Alternatives are Floated to replace HECO and NextEra
IM: A new organization has been formed in Hawai`i called Keep our Utilities Locally Owned and Locally Operated (KULOLO).
"Kulolo is a hui of concerned groups, such as The Alliance for Solar Choice, and individuals who believe we need to start a conversation about public ownership of our utilities.” ...
Meanwhile the County of Maui Mayor’s Office of Economic Development has just posted a Request For Proposals (RFP), “For an Options Analysis of the Alternative Forms of Ownership and the Alternative Utility Business Models for Maui County’s Electric Utility Company.”
read ... Two Alternatives are Floated to replace HECO and NextEra
Hawaii Second State to Dump Ethanol Mandate
AP: Hawaii lawmakers have put the state at the front of a national discussion over the future of ethanol in gasoline by passing a bill that puts an end to a requirement that the corn-based additive be mixed into fuel sold in the state.
The move comes as Congress faces pressure to review a federal mandate that calls for ethanol and other renewables in the nation's fuel supply.
Hawaii has required a 10 percent ethanol blend in its gas since 2006. The order was intended to support alternative energy and boost local agriculture.
Opponents, however, say those benefits haven't come, since Hawaii has been importing blended fuel. "Hawaii embarked on a grand experiment to figure out if we can help establish a local renewable ethanol industry, producing ethanol from locally grown feed stocks," Rep. Chris Lee said. "Unfortunately, it just never materialized."
Lee's proposal cleared the Legislature late Tuesday. Gov. David Ige hasn't yet made a decision on the bill, spokeswoman Cindy McMillan said.
The bill passed amid support from an odd coalition of environmentalists, fuel manufacturers and poultry farmers who blamed ethanol for cutting into their profits by raising the cost of feed.
"Diversion of corn for ethanol is causing corn prices to skyrocket," Rep. Angus McKelvey said.
More than a dozen states have ethanol mandates, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks state government activity. No similar bills have been introduced elsewhere this year, the group said Wednesday, making Hawaii the second state to pass such a bill.
Florida ended its mandate in 2013, the same year the Environmental Protection Agency proposed reducing the amount of ethanol in fuel, acknowledging that a federal push wasn't working as well as expected.
read ... 50 Shades of Ethanol
Maui County RFP for Electric Co-op Conversion
KHON: The request says the $30,000 analysis is in response to the County’s concerns about the looming NextEra/Hawaiian Electric Industries merger before the Public Utilities Commission, and how it may affect area residents and businesses.
It will look at alternative forms of ownership and the alternative utility business models for Maui County’s electric utility company.
“We must look at our options, but to do that and have a constructive conversation about the matter we need more information,” Arakawa said. “This study will provide us that information, and will tell us if it would be best to start our own utility, form a co-op as Kauai did, allow the NextEra deal to go through or some other option. We need to make an informed decision as a community.”
The RFP gives the company or firm with the winning proposal four months to provide a preliminary appraisal of the costs associated with purchasing the electric utility company in its entirety and also certain parts of the utility.
It also requests a preliminary assessment of the benefits associated with public power and energy cooperative forms of ownership. In addition, the RFP asks for a preliminary recommendation of the utility structure and ownership option that would best support the transformation of the island grids on Maui, Molokai, and Lanai into near 100 percent renewable energy smart grids and micro-grids.
The deadline to submit proposals is 4 p.m. on Friday, June 5, 2015....
read ... Maui County to explore new electric utility model
Rail Construction Behind Massive West Oahu Traffic Jams
MW: On Tuesday, March 31, she drove into town, taught her mid-afternoon Chaminade class, then, around 4 p.m., departed the college’s Kaimuki campus for home.
Robyn resides in Ewa Beach. She drove there non-stop. It took her six-and-one half hours....
Traffic jams are as common to Leeward residents as sunsets over the Waianae range. But this one was the mother of all traffic jams, occasioned by the breakdown of the ZipMobile on the H-1 freeway.
Think about those six-anda-half hours, feel them, as you inch along, mile after mile, hour after hour, accompanied by a few cookies and fellow sufferers in a traffic hell numbered H-1.
Because that’s what it’s become, and it’s the future of every Leeward resident, Leeward not just of Red Hill, but of Ala Moana Center, the current planned terminus of Hawaii’s elevated rail transit.
Every Leeward resident I know has a traffic story, most not as horrific as the ZipMobile disaster, but bad nonetheless.
Rail construction, most often, gets the blame. Freeway lanes are reduced during the day, more often from 8 p.m. till dawn’s early light.
Currently Waipahu and Pearl City are absorbing, and causing, most of the pain. The alternative routes available there, Moanalua Road and Kamehameha Highway, have become traffic traps themselves.
The pain will spread, wave-like, with Kiewit’s construction cranes.
We need to deal with it, to own rail and the consequences of its construction. That’s going to require leadership that has been so far nonexistent....
read ... Own Rail?
City council unanimously approves Hoopili project in West Oahu
KITV: Hoopili supporters say Oahu is in desperate need of more affordable housing, and the project will provide 3,525 affordable units as well as 230 affordable rentals.
"I have been in support of this project since the beginning," said Georgette Stevens, a West Oahu resident. "Here we are 10 years later with the housing shortage, which as you know drives the price of home prices even higher."
Before the 9-0 vote, Councilman Ikaika Anderson reminded Hoopili opponents that the project falls within Oahu's urban growth boundary and is part of the island's general plan.
"If Hoopili were not within the urban growth boundary I would not be supporting this project," Anderson said.
Under a unilateral agreement between the city's Department of Planning and Permitting and DR Horton, the developer must fund construction of an extra lane of traffic on both sides of the H1 Freeway from Kunia Road to the Waiawa Interchange. The extra freeway lanes are required before the last of the first 5,000 homes is built. The agreement also calls on the developer to update a traffic impact analysis review, or TIAR, before the construction of 3,373 residential units and more than 1,040,000 square feet of commercial space.
Still, local attorney and former state lawmaker John Carroll, 85, said he's considering a lawsuit against the city now that Bill 3 has been passed by the council. Caroll says his lawsuit would be based on Article XI, Section 3 of the Hawaii Constitution, which says the "State shall conserve and protect agricultural lands."
PBN: D.R. Horton gets OK for 11,750-home Hoopili project in West Oahu
read ... Hoopili
Council Votes to Hike Taxes on Waikiki Businesses
SA: ... adopted by the Honolulu City Council Wednesday. Bills 81 (2014) and 82 (2014) establish a special improvement district that charges businesses and property owners a fee that goes to a fund to pay for shoreline improvement, restoration and protection projects carried out by the state, city and other entities....
The initial plan calls for the district to charge the owners of all commercial properties in Waikiki 7.63 cents per $1,000 of the assessed value of their land with the goal of collecting $600,000 annually.
References to areas east of Kapahulu Avenue were deleted from the bills after concerns were raised by advocates for Kapiolani Park, Kaimana Beach and the Natatorium War Memorial. Even so, Kapiolani Park preservationists continued to oppose the improvement district.
read ... Tax Hike
Hawaii Nursing Care Costs 4th Highest in USA
SA: Hawaii seniors on average pay more than double the daily cost of most other states for a shared nursing home room at $302, the fourth-highest in the nation.
The average annual cost of a nursing home in the islands is $139,098, according to new Medicare data compiled by Caregiverlist Inc., a Chicago-based company that connects seniors and professional caregivers with elder care services. Hawaii has 52 nursing homes.
LINK: Hawaii Nursing Home Costs
read ... We're Number 4
Bungling State Destroys Yet Another Small Business
SA: The Hawaii State Art Museum will lose its second restaurant operator this month since 2012.
The resurrected Grand Cafe & Bakery will close May 22 after about two years in the historic building.
An email sent by Grand Cafe to customers Tuesday indicated the restaurant would close, citing "unresolvable problems" with the state and the Friends of Hawaii State Art Museum (HiSAM).
"We are unable to continue our business due to their lack of support and the untenable atmosphere," the email said....
Chef and restaurateur Ed Kenney, who ran his restaurant Downtown @ HiSAM in the space from 2007 to 2012...on his Twitter timeline said, "The SFCA and Friends of HiSAM strike again," referring to the impending closure.
read ... Another One
Federal charges filed against Honolulu police officer after alleged beating (#1)
KHON: Witnesses say police officers, including the Special Services Division or SWAT, raided the place because it was suspected as an illegal gambling hall.
Multiple sources said two men were beaten inside, the officer behind it caught on video.
Officer Vincent Morre, 37, was charged with two counts of “Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law,” which is a civil rights violation....
Charges were filed following an investigation by the FBI and HPD.
In a negotiated agreement with his attorney and pursuant to a criminal summons, Morre will surrender himself for fingerprinting and processing at his arraignment in federal court next week.
In a statement, Morre’s attorney, David Hayakawa, said “Vince Morre deeply regrets the impact his actions have caused the victims, his fellow Honolulu police officers and his family. The public is rightfully shocked by the video of the incident. Mr. Morre will not make any excuses for his actions. He will take full responsibility.”
KHON2 also spoke with the victims’ attorney, Myles Breiner, who said, “The arrogance of the police officers is what did themselves in. They have no one to blame but themselves. They arrogantly entered the premises. The video reflects the barbarity of their behavior, hitting people, beating people injuring people.”
If convicted, Morre faces a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in prison per count.
He is still working at HPD, where he has been for the past nine years.
SA: Officer Morre Will Plead Guilty
read ... Federal Charges
HPD will fire officer accused of fondling girl during traffic stop (#2)
HNN: The Honolulu Police Department plans to fire an officer accused of fondling an underage girl's breasts during a traffic stop, sources told Hawaii News Now Wednesday.
Patrol officer Kramer Aoki -- who's 35 -- was indicted on a felony sex assault charge last November.
Prosecutors said he fondled the breasts of a 17-year-old girl he had pulled over for speeding on the H2 Freeway last September. Aoki didn't give the girl a speeding ticket, but let her go with a warning.
He pleaded not guilty in Circuit Court.
In January, Circuit Judge Glenn Kim dismissed the sex assault case against him on a technicality.
Aoki's defense attorney, Thomas Otake, convinced Kim that the indictment claiming his client had sexual contact with the girl "in custody" did not legally apply to his case, because the girl was not arrested or in custody, but had been pulled over for speeding....
Sources said the girl and her parents want prosecutors to go after Aoki again, even if it's a misdemeanor sex assault charge. His case was thrown out "with prejudice,” meaning he can't be indicted on that felony charge again....
read ... Fired
Maui cop (Falsely) accused in hit and run (#3)
HNN: "I felt this car hit me and then my car had moved about a foot into the intersection after being rear-ended so I slowly pulled over...and I guess she was going to pull over…but she didn't and she proceeded to pull out from behind me and drive past my car slowly and look at me and then speed off," the woman said.
She said she chased the car down East Kamehameha Avenue until she got a good look at the license plate number.
"I'm like repeating the license plate number to myself in my head and I'm repeating it over and over in my head and as soon as I pull over, I call 911 and dispatch asks me, ‘Do you have an emergency?' And I said, “I need to report a hit and run and I need to say this number before I lose it in my head,'” she said.
She said the number she saw is LBD 470.
Multiple police sources tell us the registered owner of that car is the County of Maui Police Department.
UPDATE: The witness apparently got the plate number wrong, the alleged hit and run driver has been identified, not a cop, not a police undercover car.
The woman says police officers kept questioning her at the scene.
“'Are you sure that was the license plate number?'” And I said, 'As sure as I can be at this point.' And they said, 'Because that's the number of an unmarked cop car, an unmarked cop vehicle.'"
We asked Maui Police Department for confirmation and were given this statement: There were no incident of a "hit and run" involving any equipment or vehicle owned by the Maui Police Department on Sunday."
read ... Hit n Run
Maui: Homosexual Child Molester Gets 10 Years
MN: ...Strike "groomed" the 9-year-old boy, first with toys and junk food, before introducing the child to nudity and sexual molestation that escalated.
She said Strike had been a property caretaker for the boy's family when the sexual molestation occurred during a year and a half period from 2010 to 2012.
In February 2012, the boy "finally found the courage to tell his mother, and then the courage to tell the police," Whitworth said.
She said he told a police detective about what occurred and testified before two grand juries that indicted Strike.
Strike, who had been living in Paia, absconded to Thailand, where the U.S. Marshal's service tracked him down in a resort area famous for child sex exploitation, Whitworth said.
She described Strike as a "highly educated, manipulative and conniving pedophile, prolific and proven in the art of grooming a small child and an entire family."
"He stands before you arrogant and unremorseful," Whitworth said. "Until he comes to terms with his inner demons and pedophilia, our children in our community will not be safe."....
read ... Another One
Lawyer Tries to Knock Down Massage Parlor Charges
HNN: During the past week, Honolulu Police have arrested sixteen women at local massage parlors and relaxation spas for sexual assault but not for prostitution. The assault charge is because the women allegedly groped the officers.
But attorney Myles Breiner, who represents several of the women, said his clients were forced to touch the men after they refused the officers' solicitations for sex.
"To charge (the women) with sex assault in the fourth degree is so ludicrous it's such an abuse of authority," said attorney Myles Breiner.
"They're being compelled to engage in a crime they never engaged in." (He did not then burst out in uncontrollable laughter nor did he start rolling on the floor. He is a lawyer.)
The charge, sexual assault in the fourth degree is punishable by up to a year in jail. It's a charge that's usually applied when someone is accused of groping another person.
The women are expected to be in court at the end of the month and will likely plead not guilty. Breiner said he will ask for a jury trial.
He said they want contest their cases because many are not U.S. citizens and can have their green cards revoked.
A conviction also requires them to register as sex offenders.
SA: Anti-trafficking advocate decries HPD's use of sex assault charge in sting
read ... Massage
King Street bike path design flaw creates handicap parking problems
HNN: "I noticed that it would be very difficult for me to get out on King Street because there are these berms that separate the bike lane from the parking spaces," said Patricio.
Patricio is the staff attorney at the Hawaii Disability Rights Center. She also lives with cerebral palsy.
"I use a walker and a motorized wheelchair for my own mobility issues," said Patricio.
For the past couple months, Patricio has been investigating complaints regarding handicap accessibility along the cycle track. Since then her office has been working with the city to find a fix....
read ... Handicap