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Monday, June 1, 2015
June 1, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:35 PM :: 3554 Views

Hawaii Congressional Delegation: How They Voted June 1, 2015

Why Unions Want Exemption from the Minimum Wage Hikes They Fought For

Antiquated Law Spares Rail Lobbyists in Honolulu Ethics Scandal

CB: ...Lobbyists are afforded a pass even when the commission does find wrongdoing. The commission doesn’t publicly release the names of lobbyists when an investigation is completed.

In both the Cachola and Garcia cases, the Ethics Commission withheld the names of lobbyists to encourage openness during the investigations. Even though the commission subpoenaed expense reports from the lobbyists, the commission found that identifying them would have a “chilling effect on witness cooperation for future cases.”

Totto says this is important to ensure that lobbyists cooperate with commission investigations without fear of reprisal from the people they get paid to influence....

...Cachola helped shine a light on the shadowy lobbying world when he got caught accepting dozens of unlawful gifts over a six-year span from lobbyists who had business before the city. The former councilman said he wasn’t alone, and he pointed the finger at several of his colleagues who he said had accepted perks from lobbyists.

Cachola named names, too. He said he accepted gifts from representatives of James Campbell Co., its development arm, Aina Nui Corp., and the Pacific Resource Partnership, a labor group that spent millions of dollars to help pro-rail candidates get elected, most notably Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

The lobbyists Cachola outed included Mike Kido, David Rae, Steve Kelly and Cameron Nekota. According to documents provided by Cachola, they spent nearly $10,000 wining and dining council members and their spouses from 2006 to 2012....

read ... Lobbyists Walk Free

Media Ethics: Why is Nestor Garcia Still a TV Reporter?

CB: The former city councilman's $8,100 payment last week to settle another big round of alleged ethics violations leaves a cloud over him and his employer, KHON.

(Here's another question: Why is gay activist Todd Simmons a Civil Beat editor?)

read ... Ethics

High standards of ethics needed

SA: ...That seems to be the question now being asked, on one level, among state Ethics Commission members as they ponder the fate of their executive director, Les Kondo, who has ruffled some prominent feathers with his strict rulings. But plumb the question deeper, and it reveals the unsettling probability that Kondo’s ouster is being sought because he’s rightly shaking the status quo by raising the bar against potential misconduct.

To be sure, some of Kondo’s rulings have been politically unpopular — including one that angered some legislators soon after his 2011 hiring that prohibited acceptance of free tickets from lobbyists to attend expensive charitable fundraisers. Just this February, he enforced bans and fines against high-ranking state employees accepting free golf outings and other gifts from government contractors. Rather than being derided, these actions should be hailed as positive strides for better, more open government. The laudable goals were to cultivate an open, fairer field for all, not just for those who use fancy events and gifts to gain access to decision-makers and curry favor....

Kondo’s forceful directives have drawn the ire of powerful people, notably House Speaker Joe Souki. In a troubling four-page April 27 letter to the Ethics Commission, Souki wrote: “I continue to see unilateral imposition of restrictions, often based neither on historical practices nor prior Commission opinions, but justified on the basis that the Ethics Code is to be liberally construed.”

But for Kondo to advise the commission with liberal interpretations of the state ethics code is exactly what state law prescribes: “This chapter shall be liberally construed to promote high standards of ethical conduct in state government.”

read ... High standards of ethics needed

Explanation is required from HSTA Bosses

MN: The Hawaii State Teachers Association board of directors needs to be more forthcoming about why it rejected the results of the recently concluded election for union officers....

Outgoing President Wil Okabe said the results were not certified because of "serious discrepancies that were reported in the election and voting process." The Maui News reported that Okabe believes there were problems in ballot handling and in the way some candidates conducted their campaigns.

Okabe and the board need to specify what those "discrepancies" were and who mishandled the ballots or conducted campaigns improperly. Rejecting the results of an election is serious business and every member of HSTA deserves to know exactly why the board is taking such a drastic action.

It's a mistake to rush another election until the HSTA board clearly explains why the last one was rejected....

read ... Required

Kahuku residents express concerns surrounding new proposed wind farm

KHON: The area right next to Kahuku Wind Farm could be home to “Na Pua Makani,” the proposed 24-megawatt wind energy generation facility.

But those KHON spoke with say the existing 12 wind turbines are already “bad enough.”

“It’s not benefiting us in any way,” said Kahuku resident Mona Ikakoula. “Our electric bill skyrocketed. I don’t see where we’re benefiting from these turbines.” ...

“The argument is the proximity to residential neighborhoods.”

Fonoimoana wants to see the new wind farm somewhere else.

“These 12 turbines, they supposedly create enough energy for 7,700 homes on this island of Oahu,” said Fonoimoana. “If we’re providing 7,700 homes with renewable energy, some of us feel it’s time for other communities to step up.”

read ... Windfarm

Want to Fill Up Your Homeless Shelter? Ditch Some of the Rules

CB: Next Step shelter's lenient approach leads to a higher occupancy rate than other Oahu facilities. But some question whether that's best for the long term.

read ... Ditch the Rules

Kakaako Population up 474%

KITV: According to census data, in 1990 2,249 people called Kakaako home.  By 2000, 6,239 were there.  In 2010, the number of residents increased to 10,673.

With thousands of condo units under construction and even more being planned, experts believe it won't be long before the number of residents doubles.

When it comes to the housing boom in Kakaako, not everyone is buying in.

In fact, 54% rent, rather than own their own place.

So who has been moving in?

"Many of them, we believe, are younger, educated, who want to create a lifestyle," said Anthony Ching, with the Hawaii Community Development Authority.

According to the latest study, roughly half of Kakaako residents over 25 years old have a college degree.  A majority work in retail, finance, and other service areas.

"62% of the population is between 25-62 years old, so there is a working sense there," said Ching.  15% walk to work, which is one of the reasons future changes to Kakaako include plans to make it even more pedestrian-friendly.

SA: HCDA decision reflects long-run view

read ... Kakaako

Eased housing rules may breathe life into project

MN: The economic downturn in 2007 sparked a series of delays for a proposed 103-unit condominium project in Kahului, but Alexander & Baldwin Properties executives said they're optimistic that the project will come to fruition now that the Maui County Council has relaxed workforce housing requirements.

"In December 2014, the County Council made what we think are some very positive changes to the residential workforce ordinance, and that's breathed new life into this project in terms of its feasibility," A&B Properties Vice President Grant Chun told the Maui Planning Commission at its meeting Tuesday afternoon. The council passed the measure last year in hopes of encouraging developers to build more housing on Maui. The new ordinance reduces the number of affordable housing units developers must provide from 50 percent of residential developments to between 20 and 25 percent. The new ordinance also allows developers to build workforce housing projects in a community plan area outside of the main project.

"That allows us to take a different look at the project with different lands," Chun said.

read ... Project

Family pursues lawsuit alleging Handi-Van fault

SA: ...Robello's wheelchair was not secured and her seat belt not fastened for that morning Handi-Van ride through downtown. During the trip, Robello, a 70-year-old Oahu native, was thrown from the chair and down the van's front stairwell.

She hit her head against the passenger door and a handrail. She would spend most of the next seven months in a hospital before dying in April 2013....

read ... Lawsuit

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