DoI New Rules to Evict Hawaiian Homesteaders
WSJ: "Hawaii Military Carve Out May Play Role in Voting District Case"
Hawaiian 'Aloha' movie foes are 'perpetually aggrieved' 'delicate flowers'
Video: Grassroot Forum on Government Transparency
HPD: Prostitute Arrests Lead to Pimp Arrests
USA Today: Inside Univ of Hawaii's secretive biolab
KHON Reporter Nestor Garcia fined for accepting illegal gifts as Councilman
SA: Former Honolulu City Councilman Nestor Garcia has reached an agreement with the Honolulu Ethics Commission to pay the city a civil fine of $8,100 to settle allegations that he accepted illegal gifts and failed to report them.
While Garcia is agreeing to pay the city the civil fine to close the case, the commission made no conclusion that he did violate ethics law.
However, “Garcia admitted and acknowledged the alleged violations, and agreed to pay the city treasury $8,100 in civil fines,” the advisory opinion said.
The case stems from an allegation made by former Councilman Romy Cachola — after he was fined last year by the commission — that he was being unfairly singled out.
Cachola alleged that besides himself, current Council members Ikaika Anderson and Ann Kobayashi received free meals and golf as did former Council members Todd Apo, state Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz and Garcia.
It’s not clear if other agreements are being reached in connection with the cases of the others. Commission Executive Director Chuck Totto declined to comment.
Garcia, a KHON TV news reporter, had no comment when reached Wednesday afternoon. He served on the Council from 2003 to 2013 then returned (thru the revolving door) to broadcast journalism.
read ... Illegal Gifts
Ethics: Rail Votes Illegal
SA: Chuck Totto, the executive director of the Ethics Commission, said Wednesday that his staff believes Garcia's votes on rail and Kapolei development projects should be invalidated because he had failed to disclose a potential conflict of interest related to those projects....
The ruling is raising eyebrows at Honolulu Hale about the validity of votes related to both projects because Garcia's case stems from allegations made by former Councilman Romy Cachola last fall that he was being unfairly signaled out when the Ethics Commission fined Cachola for accepting improper gifts.
Cachola said that besides himself and Garcia, four other current and former Council members also accepted free meals and golf rounds from Aina Nui Corp., master developer of Kapolei, and its predecessor, the former Campbell Estate, as well as Pacific Resource Partnership, the pro-rail political action group that spent millions to support pro-rail candidates.
Neither Cachola, Garcia or the other four Council members declared a potential conflict when voting on matters pertaining to the development of rail or Kapolei and as a result, Cachola said, those votes should be nullified.
Totto, in response to questions by the Star-Advertiser, agreed with Cachola that Garcia's votes should be invalidated.
"Because (Garcia) did not disclose the conflict before voting on the lobbyists' measures, his vote would be nullified," Totto said. "Then the Council would have to determine whether the subtraction of his vote would change whether the measure passed." ...
Michael Green, the attorney who represented Cachola in his Ethics Commission case, said it's clear to him and his client that the votes made by the Council members should be invalidated.
"You have to announce the potential conflict (before a vote)," Green said. "If you don't, your vote is void, not voidable, void."
Longtime rail opponent Cliff Slater maintains the commission's advisory opinion involving Garcia will ultimately lead to the Council's votes being invalidated.
But if the invalidated votes are the only issue, he said, the current Council today will likely vote again and advance the project "given political realities," he said....
read ... About something they will worm out of
'Internal Politics' in Call to Fire Kondo
HNN: After meeting behind closed doors in executive session to discuss Les Kondo's job evaluation for about four hours Wednesday afternoon, the commission reached no final conclusion and will schedule another special meeting to discuss Kondo's fate in June....
(This is what happens when the Governor and the legislature are in unison. Souki has shown his cards. As for Ige, keep reading....)
Sources said some of the five-member Ethics Commission wanted to fire Kondo after giving him an "average" job evaluation a month ago. His last evaluation three years ago by the panel, which had several different members in 2012, was "outstanding."
"It's not my job to make legislators and employees happy. It's not my job to tell people what they want to hear or let them do what they want to do. It's my job to do what right," Kondo told commissioners Wednesday.
Kondo took issue with the commission's finding that he did a poor job giving them legal advice.
"Frankly, I feel that I give you superior legal advice, solid legal analysis. Simply because you or others may disagree, does not mean my legal analysis is poor," Kondo said.
He said in the one case that commissioners rejected his advice and followed the Attorney General's office advice, a Circuit Court judge issued an order backing up Kondo's advice.
The commission also told him he had poor relations with other state departments but leaders of several key agencies spoke in his defense.
"He really cares about the community, wants to make a difference. He's not afraid to fight the fight that needs to be fought sometimes, because at the end of the day, we all have to go home and live with these decisions," said Kristin Izumi-Nitao, executive director of the state Campaign Spending Commission.
Representatives of the most recent former Democratic and Republican governors also spoke in support of Kondo and said he was always fair. (Translation: Ige does not support Kondo.)
Bruce Coppa, who served as chief of staff for former Gov. Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat, told commissioners, "I would ask that when you evaluate Mr. Kondo, you take into consideration the job that he has to do with the many government officials that he has to deal with both in the legislature and within the government itself, 18 departments."
Former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona, a Republican, said," He made decisions based on what was fair and what was right and what he believed was in accordance to the law. Not because of political pressure, not because of the friendships, not because of emotion or prejudice.” ...
Chuck Totto, the executive director of the city Ethics Commission for the last 15 years, told members of the state Ethics Commission Kondo's job is a difficult one.
"The commission acts on behalf of the public, not the legislature or the administration. (Translation: Totto knows what the score is.) Ethics decisions are based on what the law demands," Totto said.
read ... State Ethics Commission director fights effort to fire him
Hawaii Supreme Court: Gay Marriage Law is Unquestionable
AP: Republican state Rep. Bob McDermott is one of four people who sued to stop the state from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The circuit court denied their motion for a temporary restraining order. They appealed.
Deputy Attorney General Deirdre Marie-Iha argued before the high court in December, saying the plaintiffs have no standing. She argued no one is harmed by giving rights to more people.
McDermott says the state Supreme Court took the "cowardly" way out by throwing out the case based on the plaintiffs' standing....
read ... Bow Before Your Gay Lords
HSTA Old Guard Thinks it Can Win by Disallowing Mail-in Ballots, Insurgents File for Injunction
KHON: The man recently voted in to lead Hawaii’s public school teachers union has filed a temporary restraining order.
It’s all in an effort to stop the re-election from happening next Tuesday.
The HSTA board nullified last month’s election results claiming not all members got a ballot in the mail.
That’s why this time around, they plan to make the teachers vote in person.
Corey Rosenlee was just elected president of HSTA. and could have that title taken away if another election is held.
“What we’re expecting to do is to go in front of a judge tomorrow. We think we have an excellent case. The elections committee certified the election, it was a fair election and the results should stand,” HSTA candidate for president Corey Rosenlee.
read ... HSTA candidate files temporary restraining order to stop revote
Inside Hawaii activists' push to ditch HECO and transform the utility business model
UD: Doubts about the NextEra merger are fueling calls for a co-op or muni for each island ....
read ... Inside
GMO food bans pander to ignorance
USA Today: ...for decades, study after study has found that GMOs are no more dangerous than non-GMOs. The European Union concluded after looking at more than 130 research projects over 25 years that GMOs "are not per se more risky than … conventional plant breeding." The American Association for the Advancement of Science said, "The science is quite clear: Crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe."
This is not to say that all questions about GMOs have been answered or that research should stop. But GMOs now account for more than 90% of U.S. corn and soybeans, and hundreds of millions of people have eaten GMO foods for years without apparent ill effect.
Amid the GMO alarmism, some food companies are taking a stand against a much more serious threat. McDonald's, Costco, Tyson, Perdue and Chipotle have joined the move to phase out routine use of human antibiotics in poultry to promote faster growth. Overuse encourages the growth of drug-resistant super bugs that are a grave threat to human health.
That's the difference between solving a real problem and pandering to a made-up one, a distinction GMO renouncers apparently don't get....
SA: DuPont Pioneer proud to be a good neighbor in Waimea
read ... Wisdom
Anti-GMO Media Campaign Swamps 'Progressive' Websites
KE: ...anti-GMO folks are busy doing their own shilling. Most recently I saw a piece by Mike Ludwig on the Truthout website — as in, the truth is so often left out of these pieces — about Hawaiian activists venturing into the “belly of the beast” — Basel, Switzerland — to “confront Syngenta on its home turf.”
This is one of many pieces — we also saw articles in the Cascadian Times and Earth Island Journal — funded by the Food Integrity Campaign and Media Consortium. These two anti-biotech organizations launched a two-year project to swamp “progressive” publications and websites with stories about the Hawaii pesticide/GMO debate.
Though the articles have been short on facts and quick to report the discredited claims of people like Gary Hooser and Fern Rosenstiel, they've been quite effective in defining the discussion. I've seen bogus stats on seed company pesticide use from the Cascadian Times reprinted in Acres USA and other publications, even though the article's speculative figures were disproven when the seed companies disclosed their actual pesticide use.
And that's how it works when you're peddling propaganda and fear. Which brings to mind this strip from the Non Sequitur cartoon....
HPR: Why A Journalist Scammed The Media Into Spreading Bad Chocolate Science
read ... Musings: Imaginary Crisis
UH Administrators a Bunch of Racists or Sexists or Something
SA: Over the past 15 to 20 years, UH-Manoa has labored under an increasingly heavy layer of administration, even as programs are slashed and faculty numbers dwindle due to non-replacement of those who resign or retire.
It's worth asking what all this administration accomplishes....
read ... Or Something
Decommissioning Hawaii telescopes would Reduce OHA's Cash Flow
PBN: The expedited decommissioning of telescopes on the Big Island could have a detrimental impact on Hilo and its economy, Dr. Günther Hasinger, director of the UH Institute for Astronomy, told PBN Wednesday.
“To think about taking down five telescopes takes about 10 years, so now we’re discussing with the university how to accelerate that time scale," he said. “With TMT coming, we were hoping for a 25 percent increase of economic impact, but decommissioning would also cause a negative impact. We don’t know yet how much.” (Translation: Decommissioning = Less Money for OHA)
Hasinger also warned that increasing rents for existing observatories, which currently contribute about $1 a year for mountain upkeep, could jeopardize the university’s viewing time, a privilege that contributes to its top research ranking in the country. (Translation: Higher Ground Rents = Less Viewing Time to Re-sell)
read ... Costly
Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission burns last cash, cuts staff
PBN: This past legislative session, Hawaii lawmakers allocated $1 million per year for the next two fiscal years to the commission, which was established by the state Legislature to manage the smallest of Hawaii's eight main islands.
The problem is that the annual budget for the KIRC is $2.8 million, a figure that has already been sliced in half during the past several years.
“We need $1.8 million,” Kelly McHugh, spokeswoman for KIRC, told PBN Wednesday. “We have shaved half our staff to save less than $1 million. If we shut down base camp, that’s another $1 million. We really scaled back trips and infrastructure.”
(NOTE: The Commission controls an entire island, yet they cannot figure out how to make money by charging tourists to visit.)
CB: “We’re not the glamorous group that protests, that has the visuals of people being arrested anymore.”
read ... We Spent it all on Cush Do-nothing Jobs for our Cronies
HB600 Would Have Forced Out Home Care Patients
CB: But under current law, only three clients are allowed in a CCFFH. And two of the three must be on Medicaid — the low-income demographic that these state-regulated homes were created to serve.
House Bill 600 would have allowed the Department of Health to make an exception for private-pay couples who are married or in a civil union to live in a CCFFH.
But another consideration was at play. The care home Noboru lives in already has three clients, so someone would have to go. And that someone would be on Medicaid if the Kawamotos were both to live there.
“I was so focused on getting Elaine and Noboru back together, I didn’t think of that other Medicaid client,” said House Vice Speaker John Mizuno, who introduced the bill in January and championed it throughout the session.
read ... Care?
Sex Offender is Latest Escape from Work Release
SA: Daniel Seyler, 52, left at 5:15 a.m. Wednesday from the Laumaka Work Furlough Center to go to work. He was supposed to return at 10:30 p.m.
He is 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighs 205 pounds. He has hazel eyes and brown hair that is balding on top.
Seyler is serving time for second-degree assault and failure to comply with sex offender registration requirements.
A public safety spokeswoman said Seyler because he failed to update his sex offender registration to reflect the assault charge. He updated the registry and was in compliance before being allowed to participate in the furlough program.
His next parole hearing is scheduled for September of this year....
read ... Sex Offender
HPD Cachola investigation delayed while another officer was on leave
HNN: It's been 8 months since a Honolulu Police Sergeant was caught on video fighting with his girlfriend. The sergeant is still on desk duty because the internal investigation is still not done. The fight between Darren Cachola and the woman was on September 8.
Multiple surveillance cameras caught them both slapping, punching and wrestling inside and outside Kuni's Restaurant in Waipahu.
A grand jury refused to indict Sgt. Cachola one month later but HPD's internal case is still pending....
Police sources tell me one of the witnesses, another officer who responded to the restaurant, was recently involved in an off-duty accident. He was injured and had to go on medical leave for several months. Investigators could not interview him while he recovered and he is considered a key witness because he was the one who drove Cachola home that night.
HPD is looking into several issues with the case. Not only Cachola's actions, but also the actions of those responding officers. One problem, figuring out why a police report wasn't done even though policy mandates that one be completed.
read ... Investigation
Kauai Humane Society has Long History of Retaliation, Lawsuits
KGI: It’s not the first time there has been unrest with KHS leadership.
KHS has a history of personnel disputes that have spilled out into the public. Becky Rhoades suddenly stepped down from the executive director position five years ago amid a legal battle. In 2000, nearly the entire staff resigned and closed the animal shelter in protest of the board’s decision to oust then-executive director Sherry Hoe.
Hoe was removed by the board after inaccurate statistics about adoptions, services, education, complaints and the number of animals taken in were presented to the Kauai County Council.
“We have had employee concerns about prior leadership that were dealt with,” said Freitas, who has been a board member since 2001. “Because they are personnel issues I can’t give details because people have a right to their privacy there, but it has happened in the past.
read ... Retaliation Games
Impossible to Make Good Movie in Hawaii
GM: ...Conventional wisdom holds that it is difficult, if not impossible, to make a good movie in Hawaii. Filming in a tropical paradise tends to make filmmakers soft and scattered, more focused on how to spend their free time than the work at hand....
read ... Impossible
Ige proclaims May 28th as 'Azerbaijan National Day'
AZ News: Governors of the U.S. states of Hawaii and New Mexico, as well as Mayors and City Councils of seven California cities, and City Council of Salt Lake City, the capital of the State of Utah, have issued proclamations declaring May 28, 2015 as the Azerbaijan National Day in their respective states and cities.
All proclamations were sent to the Consulate General of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles.
In their proclamations, the Governors of Hawaii and New Mexico note that the Azerbaijani people established in 1918 the first-ever secular democracy in the entire Muslim world. The Governors stress that “during the short period of independence Azerbaijan granted all people the right to vote regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, and religion, becoming the first Muslim nation to grant women equal political rights with men, an accomplishment preceding the U.S.” They also highlight that after the restoration of its freedom and independence in 1991, “the Republic of Azerbaijan has consolidated its sovereignty and independence, and has become a staunch ally and strategic partner of the U.S. in the critically important Caspian region.”
read ... Azerbaijan Again