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Thursday, July 9, 2015
July 9, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:58 PM :: 3975 Views

Grassroot Institute Urges DOI to Refrain from Intruding in Native Hawaiian Affairs

U.S. Army Pacific announces force structure decisions--1,200 Cut from Schofield

Supreme Court Overturns Former Judge’s Ruling on Gambling Case

US Manufacturing Costs to Fall Below China

Kauai: Resounding 'No' to Federal Oversight of DHHL

KGI: More than 100 Native Hawaiians gathered at the Anahola Clubhouse Tuesday to hear Colleen Hanabusa trace the history of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, putting in context the significance of a pair of newly proposed federal rules that aim to govern its enforcement....

While many Hawaiians agree that their trust lands have been poorly managed, not all agree that creating new federal rules is a good solution.

A deep distrust of the federal government — born from the controversial 1893 overthrow of Hawaii’s monarchy — has many Hawaiians questioning the proposed rules’ intentions.

Homesteader Shane Cobb-Adams is one of them.

“The question we need to ask ourselves is, ‘Do we want to have a new bureaucratic layer where people in Washington, D.C., who aren’t elected by us, get the final say on our activities, land exchanges and whatever else they want to propose in the coming years?’” he said. “As a people, as kanaka, have we gotten treated fairly by America?”

For the first time that evening, there was an answer to which everyone could agree.

A resounding “No!” reverberated across the clubhouse.

Meanwhile: Peter Apo Pitches Nai Aupuni

read ... Everyone Agrees

Al Hee: I need Taxpayer-Subsidized 'Massage' to 'Function'

SA: Honolulu businessman Albert Hee says the two-hour, twice weekly massages he has been getting for the past 20 years have a legitimate business purpose because they “allowed me to function as CEO” of Waimana Enterprises Inc.

Hee testified in U.S. District Court on Wednesday that he gets the massages to help him deal with stress and other serious health issues and only started charging them to his company after he was convinced of their benefit.

The Internal Revenue Service says Hee falsely characterized the massage payments as health consulting fees, causing his company accountants to improperly deduct $92,000 as a business expense from 2002 to 2012.

Hee, 60, is on trial for allegedly having his company pay approximately $2.75 million of his personal expenses, improperly deducting the payments as business expenses, then failing to report the payments as personal income.

In addition to the cost of the massages, the personal expenses include $150,095 in credit card charges and cash withdrawals, $752,082 in college tuition payments for his three children and $1,755,855 in false wages and benefits for his wife and children, according to a March 2015 grand jury indictment.

The indictment also says Hee caused Waimana subsidiary Clearcom Inc. to falsely claim $28.8 million in business deductions in connection with a lease agreement with the Honolulu Board of Water Supply, resulting in the company underpaying $3.6 million in federal taxes, and had Waimana purchase a home in Santa Clara, Calif., for $1,313,261 for the exclusive use of two of his children while they attended college there....

Best Comment: "He is just a crook and needs to do time in prison."

(Fact: Al Hee indictment was handed down on the 2nd anniversary of Dan Inouye's death.)

read ... Massage Function

Star-Adv: Take action to restore control over Mauna Kea

SA: Finally, the state seems poised to take some action, albeit only a temporary restriction, to assert some needed controls over the summit zone of Mauna Kea. This could represent a pivot point if the pause can become an opportunity to restore more than a road. The state needs to rebuild a sense of order between the opposing interests, or the standoff will never end....

significantly this week, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources is seeking to hit the pause button. DLNR officials point to environmental threats posed by protesters camping on the mountain and damage to the access road caused by stone barriers erected by TMT opponents.

As a result, they have proposed an access restriction, which the land board should approve when it convenes on Friday. This would bolster Gov. David Ige’s less than full-throated defense of the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope project, which has been at the heart of the dispute with protesters for months....

It’s been a turbulent clash of values on the mountaintop over the course of several years, as the proposed TMT project wended its way through a seven-year process that resulted in building approval. Legal challenges of that process, though, as well as of the current proposed access restriction, have not been settled. The courts have upheld the Native Hawaiian rights of access to lands and resources. In this case, the court’s decision on the validity of the state’s review of the project could have far-reaching effects on future projects. It would be helpful if the court clarifies where the limits of Native Hawaiian claims may lie.

But meanwhile the state should exercise its custody of the summit zone, and modest restrictions should be part of that....

SA: Imagine mutual respect and accommodation on Mauna Kea

read ... Action

State, city say they will work together on homeless

SA: Discussions have already been underway with interested parties for a new shelter in the area, Whalen said. One area being looked at is a parcel next to the Next Step Shelter at 591 Ala Moana Blvd.

“That would make some sense because it’s still within that district and it doesn’t conflict so much with other public uses,” he said. “And it’s possible to focus the social services there because there’s already a shelter there.”

Whalen emphasized, however, that the site is not the only location being discussed.

During Wednesday’s HCDA meeting, board members received pleas from a nearby children’s museum, restaurant and medical school for help dealing with safety issues. A manager from a wedding planning company says a bride’s dress was spray-painted by a homeless camper.

“The violence in the area has escalated to the point where no one is safe,” said Loretta Yajima, chairwoman of the board of directors of the Children’s Discovery Center, who described people urinating on the museum’s premises while children were doing an art project outside.

Safety issues are threatening the future existence of the University of Hawaii medical school, said Virginia Hinshaw, a professor at the school.

“We are not lacking in empathy for the homeless,” Hinshaw said. “However, our patience is exhausted after many years of trying to fix it and watching this problem escalate in Kakaako.” ...

Additionally, the Council voted 6-2 to give second reading approval to Bill 44, which would include College Walk Mall and Kila Kalikimaka Mall (between College Walk Mall and Aala Street) in the sit-lie ban.

Council members Brandon Elefante and Kymberly Pine, who have voted against sit-lie bills in the past, were the two “no” votes on both bills. (Because they know the homeless are going to be pushed to their districts.)

DN: The “problem” in Kakaako is the city’s failure to deal with homelessness, housing and poverty

read ... State, city say they will work together on homeless

Hawaii County Ethics 1: Cronies Suddenly Reopen Complaint Against Kenoi

HTH: Hawaii County Finance Director Deanna Sako was cleared Wednesday of any wrongdoing in Mayor Billy Kenoi’s misuse of his county-issued credit card, while the county Board of Ethics reopened a case against Kenoi it had deferred pending an investigation by the state attorney general.

The Ethics Board is now in disagreement about whether it should continue its investigation into Kenoi’s pCard use or wait for Attorney General Doug Chin to complete his criminal investigation. The Attorney General’s Office recently has been tight-lipped about the progress of the case.

Member Douglass Adams said the Ethics Board is looking at a very narrow field of allegations and should be able to proceed with its work.

“If we defer, we’re foreclosing on our ability to investigate,” Adams said.

But member Ken Goodenow, an (old boy) attorney, disagreed. He said Kenoi has a right to a trial that’s not prejudiced by Ethics Board actions.... (Question: WHAT TRIAL?)

Sako was cleared after her attorney, Brian De Lima (school board member), told the board she began as finance director in January, while the allegations stem from the previous years of Kenoi’s term. Sako, who was deputy finance director before her promotion, was not the pCard administrator as deputy, he said....

“It is hardly an understatement that the conduct of Mayor William Kenoi has shaken the confidence of many citizens in the integrity of county government, and Ms. Sako must accept her share of responsibility for that loss of confidence,” Hyland said, adding Sako and her predecessor, former Finance Director Nancy Crawford, “aided and abetted his misuse of the card — his ongoing commission of the misdemeanor offense of misapplication of entrusted property and theft — over a period of years, from December 2008 through March 2015.”

Goodenow, meanwhile, appeared to take Chin to task for his comments quoted in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in May that there was no reason the Ethics Board couldn’t complete its work before a criminal investigation is complete. In fact, Chin said in the article, that’s the more common approach.

“Any attorney involved in an investigation of someone is obligated to refrain from making comments about anything that could have prejudicial pretrial publicity,” Goodenow said. “This is not an administrative license revocation matter.”

read ... Cronies Split?

Hawaii County Ethics 2: Cronies Dismiss Cronyism Complaint Against Kenoi

HTH: The Board of Ethics (Kenoi cronies all) on Wednesday dismissed a (cronyism) complaint against Mayor Billy Kenoi and his former campaign manager, Kimo Alameda, after receiving assurances from (Kenoi cronies in) the county Human Resources Department that Kenoi wasn’t involved in Alameda’s appointment as executive of the Office of Aging, and that Alameda had the requisite two years supervisory experience.

The complaint, filed by Kapaau resident Lanric Hyland, charged political favoritism in the hiring process that ended with Alameda being hired at the top of the salary range. The $110,000-plus position oversees a department of 12 employees....

“It’s a simple question,” Hyland said. “Who did Mr. Alameda spend two years hiring and firing?”....

Kenoi closed his campaign account June 23, after the complaint was filed, according to state records....

Documents show the salary range for the position is $63,228 to $110,988, but (so naturally) Alameda was hired at the top of the range.

read ... Cronies say no Cronyism Here

MECO Becomes Less Efficient In Order to Transfer More Money to Wind Farm Operators

MN: Maui Electric Co. dumped 7 percent of wind power produced in 2014, a significant improvement from 2013 when 17 percent of electricity generated from the three Maui wind farms went unused.

MECO filed its report on wind power use June 29 with the Public Utilities Commission, which has been critical of the utility in the past for amounts of wind power curtailed or unused. In the first few months of 2013, more than a quarter of wind power produced was being curtailed or dumped.

When it is windy outside, the utility relies more on wind energy and turns down its oil-fired generators at Kahului and Maalaea power plants, though the utility still keeps some generators running at all times to ensure that, if the wind suddenly stops blowing, customers will not lose electricity. When the amount of wind energy exceeds customers' demand for electricity at a given time, that energy is curtailed or dumped....

MECO attributed the improvements in wind power use to "extensive research and analysis" in 2013 and "significant operational changes and improvements," said Kau'i Awai-Dickson in an email.

These improvements included modifying generator control systems, reducing the use of the older generating units at the Kahului Power Plant and "changing the way we operate at Maalaea Power Plant," she said.

The changes allowed for more room on the grid for wind power but at the cost of generating units running less efficiently, Awai-Dickson said....

The work to incorporate more renewable energy continues, Awai-Dickson said. MECO's improvement plans call for replacing older generating units with newer, more nimble resources "capable of quicker response to accommodate variable renewable energy sources." The utility also has plans for modernizing the grid with smart technology that will allow MECO to control demand for energy as well as the supply.

Power from renewable energy sources, including wind and solar, made up 30 percent of the electricity produced by the utility at the end of 2014, Awai-Dickson said. The report to the PUC said that the utility produced 805.9 gwh of power by fossil fuel, which was three times more than wind power production in 2014.

IM: Reverse Engineering Study Proves Oahu Needs Gas

read ... Dumped

Friend or Foe? Kathryn Xian Has Become a Problem for Anti-Trafficking Advocates

CB: Hawaii human-trafficking activists say Kathryn Xian’s in-your-face style is hindering progress and hurting the victims they are trying to help. Now, she’s in danger of losing her seat on a statewide task force working to find solutions to the issue she’s so closely identified with.

PDF: Prosecutor Rejects Changes to Sex Trafficking Law

read ... Another Civil Beat Article Targeting One Person

Governor Ige wants state to buy office building

SA: Gov. David Ige has given the nod to plans to purchase upscale 25-story downtown office building Alii Place to provide more office space for state workers, but the purchase is not a done deal quite yet.

The state has been in discussions with building owners Bristol Alii Holdings LLC of San Francisco to buy Alii Place for about $90 million, an option some lawmakers say would be far cheaper than plans to build new office space in the planned Liliha Civic Center.

The state now rents more than 420,000 square feet of office space in the downtown area for $10.15 million a year, and has been considering paying an estimated $270 million to construct office space at the Liliha Civil Center site.

Instead, lawmakers this year proposed the Alii Place purchase as an alternative....

read ... Governor Ige wants state to buy office building

Leahi Hospital and Maluhia nursing home to cut 64 jobs

KHON: Two state-run long-term care facilities on Oahu are cutting 64 positions and temporarily halting new admissions to stay afloat.

Officials of Leahi Hospital and Maluhia, part of the public hospital system known as Hawaii Health Systems Corp., said the reductions are the “last resort to remain operational in the face of an estimated $3.7 million deficit” in fiscal year 2016, which began on July 1.

Both facilities employ a total of 430 workers. The reduction represents roughly 15 percent of the staff.

read ... HGEA Suffers because of Perreira

Homeless Harass Guests at Wedding

HNN: ...Dozens of homeless camps now surround the colorful buildings that make up the Children's Discovery Center, a kids’ museum. The latest State Health Department count showed there were 183 tents in the area, up from 116 tents two months ago.

The head of that museum told the Hawaii Community Development Authority her business is down 30 percent because of the homeless population.

Loretta Yajima, chair of the Children’s Discovery Center board of directors, said she fears attendance will plummet more because some parents have told her they won't bring their kids to the children's museum after State Rep. Tom Brower reported getting beaten up by homeless teens in the area last week.

"I implore our government leaders to take swift and immediate action to address this problem before we at the Children's Discovery Center are forced to close our doors," Yajima said....

Tony Castillo, the general manager of 52 By The Sea restaurant, in the oceanfront location of the former John Dominis restaurant, said wedding business there has suffered because of the homeless.

He said about 25 couples canceled their wedding plans in the first six months of the year after walking through the site and seeing homeless nearby. Castillo estimated that amounts to $125,000 in lost revenue for the restaurant.

"We have the homeless trespassing onto our property, disrupting weddings and other dining guests while they are enjoying themselves.  Coming onto our property and harassing our staff from the front employees at the valet all the way to sneaking into our garage and storage areas," Castillo told the board that oversees Kakaako....

KITV: Kakaako homeless camp : Unsafe, unsanitary

read ... Predators, not Victims

Hawaii ban on noncompetes Passes at Request of Hawaiian Airlines

FM: The state’s prohibition only applies to tech workers.

The debate over noncompete agreements—the fine print in employment contracts that keeps employees from working for competitors in their next job—has largely focused on the tech industry. Opponents of the policies point to California’s Silicon Valley as an example of the kind of innovation-rich environment that can flourish when noncompetes are removed from the mix, allowing talent and ideas to flow freely.

Duplicating that environment is what legislators in Hawaii likely had in mind when they introduced a bill to ban noncompete agreements earlier this year. Chris Lee, a state representative who helped sponsor the bill, told Fortune that noncompetes are “killing economic growth in [Hawaii’s] tech sector.” (It should be noted that the idea that eliminating noncompetes leads directly to innovation is—in some experts’ view—an open one.) Lee said a constituent who was having trouble hiring IT workers at Hawaiian Airlines tipped him off to the problem. Noncompete agreements make hiring especially difficult in Hawaii because of the state’s geography; its big island is 75 miles wide. Many noncompete policies restrict workers from finding new jobs within a certain distance, which in Hawaii can make much of the state off-limits. “People are moving out of the state,” Lee said....

Tech industry workers aren’t the only ones being subjected to noncompetes; employees in other fields must sign them too. Fast-food chain Jimmy John’s has come under fire for requiring some of its restaurant workers and delivery drivers to agree to noncompetes that prohibit them from working for a competitor—defined by the company as any business that’s near a Jimmy John’s location and derives 10% of its revenue from sandwiches—for two years following their tenure at the company. The New York Times has reported on noncompete agreements signed by summer camp workers, hair stylists, a pesticide sprayer, and a textbook editor. Non-competes for low-wage jobs are thought to deplete workers’ earnings by preventing them from jumping to a job that offers higher pay.

In early June, U.S. Senate Democrats proposed a bill to ban noncompetes nationwide for workers earning less than $15 per hour, $31,200 per year, or the minimum wage in the employee’s municipality. Non-competes in low-wage industries that dissuade workers from seeking better, higher-paying jobs within the same industry are “unfair,” the senators said in a statement, and they stifle low-wage workers’ ability to climb out of poverty.

read ... Fortune

'Study' Purports to Debunk Pro-Bowl Spending

CB: According to a study by economists Robert Baumann and Victor Matheson presented at the Western Economic Association International conference last week, the Pro Bowl actually has zero net increase on tourism-generated money....

Debunk by Ben Cayetano: "(1) I don't think the authors of the study were able to quantify the value of to Hawaii of nearly four hours of Pro Bowl television time viewed by millions on the mainland and the world. (2) The comparison to the Olympics is flawed. Nations hosting the Olympics are usually left with huge debt because of the billions they invest in new stadiums and other facilities. For example, Nagoya built a $300 million plus ice skating indoor arena for the Olympics which remains a white elephant today. By comparison, Hawaii did not build or need new infrastructures for the Pro Bowl -- the existing Aloha Stadium was sufficient. (3) Pro Bowl attendance in Hawaii were usually sell outs (50,000). However, HTA never claimed that the 50,000 were tourists who came to Hawaii just for the Pro Bowl. Rather a good number also included tourists who were already visiting and military personnel stationed here. (4) Finally, over the many years, the Pro Bowl has helped raise $millions for Hawaii based charitable organizations."

read ... Another 'Study'

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