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Saturday, July 25, 2015
July 25, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:32 PM :: 4668 Views

Clean Energy Fail: While Most States Clean Up, Hawaii CO2 Emissions Rise Since '08

Former Attorney General Says Rail votes invalid

HNN: More than three miles of the Honolulu rail transit system has already been built. But now, a Honolulu Ethics Commission member is raising questions about the validity of dozens of City Council votes that went into approving the project.

Michael Lilly, a former state Attorney General and vice chair of the Ethics Commission, cited a 1983 appellate court decision that said that any votes taken by a council member who has a conflict of interest -- and does not disclose that conflict -- is automatically disqualified.

Lilly said no lawsuit or court action is needed to set aside the vote.

"If you vote as a board member or as a commissioner or council member without disclosing a conflict, that vote is null and void. It didn't happen," he said.

That could derail any of number of rail-related votes by a half dozen current and former Council members, including Romy Cachola, Donovan Dela Cruz, Nestor Garcia, Todd Apo, Ikaika Anderson and Ann Kobayashi.

Each is accused of receiving hundreds of dollars in free meals and drinks from pro-rail lobbyists.

SA: Critic persists with Hoopili challenge

read ... Invalid

DHHL Phone Service Provide by Criminal Hee, Now What? 

SA: The criminal convictions of politically connected telecommunications entrepreneur Albert Hee on federal tax charges this month has triggered a “review and assessment” by the state Department of Hawaiian Homes Lands to determine whether legal problems linked to Hee could affect services for homesteaders.

Hee in 1995 founded Sandwich Isles Communications Inc., which has the statewide license to provide telecommunications services on all Hawaiian homelands.

Over the years, Sandwich Isles has borrowed millions of dollars from the U.S. Department Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service to install buried fiber-optic cable to serve Hawaiian Homes customers, and federal records show the company received more than $242 million in federal subsidies since 2003 to support its phone and data network.

Hee has been a generous source of funding for federal political campaigns over the years, donating more than $45,000 to federal candidates and their committees since 2000, and contributing more than $60,000 to the Obama Victory Fund in 2011 and 2012. He also donated more than $50,000 to various Democratic Party organizations since 2008, with most of that money going to the DNC Services Corp., which supports the Democratic National Committee.

On July 13 Hee was convicted in federal court in Honolulu of six counts of filing false income tax returns and one count that he corruptly impeded the IRS from correctly calculating and collecting his taxes, offenses that could draw prison terms of up to three years on each count....

Paula Aila, DHHL information and community relations officer, said in a written statement that the agency “is reviewing the impact of the case on DHHL and its beneficiaries and will withhold comment until its review and assessment is concluded.”

DHHL does not have any formal reporting requirements for Sandwich Isles, Aila said, but Hee has appeared before the Hawaiian Homes Commission several times in recent years to discuss issues with the commission.

read ... DHHL looks for fallout from Al Hee's crimes

Hee's Inter-Island, Oahu Cables May be Repossessed for Non-Payment

SA: ...Last year Deutsche Bank Trust Co. Americas sued Sandwich Isles for allegedly failing to pay rent for an interisland fiber-optic cable the company leases from a firm called Paniolo Cable Co.. As of early 2014, Sandwich Isles had fallen $20 million behind on its quarterly lease payments to Paniolo, according to the lawsuit.

That case stems from plans Sandwich Isles launched in 2007 to build and operate a 358-mile interisland fiber-optic cable linking the islands of Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Maui and Hawaii, according to federal court records. Paniolo borrowed more than $180 million from lenders represented by Deutsche Bank to finance the interisland cable project, according to the lawsuit.

Paniolo completed the fiber system in 2009 and leased it out to Sandwich Isles for 20 years, but the two companies are closely affiliated. Sandwich Isles is a subsidiary of Hee’s company Waimana Enterprises, and Paniolo is owned by a company called Blue Ivory Corp. Shares in Blue Ivory are held by private trusts established for the benefit of Hee’s three children, according to FCC records.

Sandwich Isles reported to the FCC in 2010 that its lease of the fiber from Paniolo cost Sandwich Isles $15 million a year, with those lease payments scheduled to increase over time. Paniolo relied on Sandwich Isles’ lease payments to repay the loans to Deutsche Bank, but Sandwich Isles fell behind on those lease payments, according to the Deutsche Bank lawsuit and FCC records.

Olds said in a written statement that Sandwich Isles was dismissed from the Deutsche Bank lawsuit in 2014 and is no longer involved in the case. When asked through her spokesman about the status of the $20 million in lease rent payments that Sandwich Isles allegedly failed to pay to Paniolo, Olds did not respond.

>> Sandwich Isles filed with the National Exchange Carrier Association to try to recoup much or all of its lease payments to Paniolo for the interisland fiber system but also ran into problems there. NECA administers a system of federal subsidies that are paid out to small, rural telecommunications exchanges.

The FCC ruled in 2010 that “only a very small portion of the capacity” of the fiber that Sandwich Isles leased from Paniolo was actually being used, and decided that NECA should only be required to pay half of the annual cost of the lease, according to FCC records.

NECA later complained to the FCC it had discovered it was paying subsidies to Sandwich Isles for lease rent payments that Sandwich Isles had not actually made to Paniolo in 2012 and 2013, according to a filing this year with the FCC.

>> The federal indictment of Hee on tax charges last year also revealed details of a dispute between a company affiliated with Sandwich Isles called ClearCom Inc. and the Honolulu Board of Water Supply. That disagreement involves lease payments that ClearCom allegedly failed to make to BWS.

The FCC in 2013 specifically flagged payments by Sandwich Isles to ClearCom that the FCC said appeared to be “excessive and therefore unreasonable,” but the details of those payments were redacted from the documents made public by the FCC.

According to federal records, Hee created ClearCom Inc. in 1997, and the company signed a lease with BWS in 2002 for the right to run telecommunications lines through abandoned water mains owned by the city. That license required ClearCom to pay the Water Board $48.75 million over 30 years for use of the abandoned water mains, according to federal court records.

Shawn Nakamoto, information officer for BWS, said in a statement that the license agreement between ClearCom and BWS has a “guaranteed fee” of $5 million during the first five years of the agreement, but ClearCom so far has paid the Water Board only $1.24 million....

read ... Repossession

Honolulu Council resolution calls for study of Municipally-Owned Utility--Pretends it is a Co-op

KITV: Expressing concern over the proposed buyout of Hawaiian Electric Co. by NextEra of Florida, City Council Chairman Ernie Martin has introduced a resolution (15-214) that calls on Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration to study the possibility of creating a utility co-op municipally-owned utility on Oahu.

"Of course it'll be a challenge, I mean it will be quite significant,” Martin said Friday in an interview with KITV4. “But, I think there are other municipalities who have done it of similar size to Honolulu, Sacramento comes to mind. This would not by unlike the situation with the Board of Water Supply, which is almost a co-op so to speak. I mean it's a public entity." ...

Martin’s resolution has yet to be referred to a committee, but will likely be heard during the next full City Council meeting on Aug. 5.  If approved, the city’s Department of Budget and Fiscal Services would be tasked with investigating the creation of a co-op, with input from the Board of Water Supply.

(A municipal utility is NOT a co-op.  A co-op is controlled exclusively by rate-payers.  A municipal utility is controlled by the same crooked politicians who have ruined everything else.  It would be milked to death.)

read ... Not a Co-op, a Feeding Trough for Politicians

Kauai Average electric bill $214 lower than previous year

KGI: ...The Anahola solar project, when completed, will combine with the Koloa project which was dedicated in August 2014 to provide nearly half of the electricity on Kauai, KIUC CEO David Bissell said.

By the end of 2015, KIUC expects to produce 38 percent of Kauai’s electricity use through renewable sources, an improvement over the 9 percent produced in 2009.

In 2009, oil was used to produce 91 percent of Kauai’s electricity. By the end of the year, that will fall to 62 percent. Other sources producing electricity are solar, 17 percent, biomass, 12 percent, and hydro, 9 percent.

Jan TenBruggencate, chair of the KIUC board of directors, said the average residential electric bill was $214 lower than the previous year due to greater energy efficiency and lower fuel costs.

KIUC members also enjoyed $2.1 million in patronage capital for fiscal year 2014, or an average of $24 for each residential customer. TenBruggencate said this is the 12th straight year of patronage capital and bill credits in the cooperative’s 13-year life....

SA: Kauai co-op sets pace among isle electricity providers

read ... Co-op

Electric Vehicle Catches Fire, Destroys Warehouse

SA: A malfunctioning lithium battery on the second-floor storage room of a Kalihi warehouse on Rose Street was pinpointed as the cause of a three-alarm fire Monday.

The battery, used to power a motorcycle, was not connected to anything at the time of the fire, said HFD spokesman Kendall Ching.

That fire at Wholesale Equipment warehouse caused an estimated $330,000 in total damage, with an estimated $230,000 in damage to the structure and $100,000 to its contents.

Kelly Brezina, the 59-year-old owner, who was inside the first-floor office with his daughter, 23, and granddaughter, 20 months, when the fire broke out, was taken to the hospital and treated for smoke inhalation.

read ... Batteries are not safe

Convention center preparing security plan for possible protests at upcoming astronomy conference

ILind: Back in 2009, Hawaii won the bid to host this year’s International Astronomical Union (IAU) General Assembly. Landing this prestigious global conference, which will involve over 2,500 astronomers from 75 countries, was a big coup for the state.

The meetings are scheduled to take place August 3-14 at the Hawaii Convention Center.

Now, of course, the protests against the Thirty Meter Telescope project on Mauna Kea have introduced a new dynamic with the likelihood of protests at the conference itself.

In a letter sent to neighboring properties this week, convention center general manager Teri Orton, said security plans are now underway involving the convention center and law enforcement agencies.

read ... Conference

Signs up, no enforcement of rules on Mauna Kea

HTH: On Tuesday, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources distributed an “educational handout” to protesters explaining the rules, according to department spokeswoman Deborah Ward.

Asked if DLNR has given protesters, who call themselves protectors of the mountain they consider sacred, a certain amount of time to break down their camp, Ward declined to comment.

“Enforcement may proceed at any time,” she wrote in an email, adding she’s not aware of any citations being issued so far.

Five large signs were installed Tuesday along Mauna Kea Access Road, below, at and above Hale Pohaku mid-level facilities, and eight more will be placed along the road above Hale Pohaku to the summit in the days to come, according to officials.

Meanwhile, Williamson Chang, a professor of law at the University of Hawaii Richardson School of Law and TMT opponent, has filed an amended petition seeking to repeal the rule on behalf of two Big Island residents. He argues it prevents telescope opponents from legally exercising their rights to peacefully protest.

“The rule is not neutral as it is designed to thwart what has been a successful and peaceful protest for the past 100 or so days, while clearing the way for restarting construction of the TMT,” Chang writes in his request, which was received by DLNR July 15.

Land Board Secretary Ku‘ulei Moses said Thursday that while Chang’s request for a contested case hearing could be taken up by the board during its Aug. 14 meeting, the agenda won’t be confirmed until the week prior.

MN: Inouye telescope builders will try another parts run

(NOTE: Aug 14 is the end of the big Astronomy Conference.   Is this all being timed by OHA to avoid a big showdown at the conference.)

read ... Signs up, no enforcement of rules on Mauna Kea

Willie: Post P-Card Records on Line

WHT: Councilwoman Margaret Wille said she appreciates Ilagan starting the conversation, but the proposed bill is not nearly enough.

“It’s really sort of a do-nothing,” she said, adding it simply attempts to clarify current policy.“I’m not impressed.”

Instead, Wille said she intends to introduce her own legislation requiring all pCard records to be posted online for public review.

“I think we need to do more,” she said.

Ilagan said he’s open to other council members’ ideas and feedback, and expects additional bills related to pCards will be introduced.

read ... Do Nothing

HHSC Kauai cuts 30 jobs--HGEA Member Admits Privatization is inevitable

KGI: Thirty employees in the Hawaii Health Systems Corp., Kauai Region were notified of their pending layoffs on Friday....

Keyes-Saiki said the Kauai region layoffs involve 30 employees — 20 from Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital and West Kauai Clinics, and 10 from Mahelona Memorial Hospital. She said the positions are a combination of full time, part time and temporary.

One employee at the Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital told The Garden Island on condition of anonymity that she knew layoffs were going to happen sooner or later as the hospital system had been facing budget shortfalls for years....

The West Kauai Medical Center, including the Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital, a hospital outpatient clinic in Port Allen, and a free-standing clinic in Kalaheo with a new clinic scheduled to open at The Shops at Kukuiula, employs 276 people, according to HHSC.

The Mahelona Hospital, including its 24-hour emergency services, employs about 145 people.

Earlier this month, the Oahu region announced plans to cut 64 positions at Leahi Hospital and Maluia as it faces an estimated $3.7 million deficit in fiscal year 2016....

The employee expressed concern about privatization of the hospitals.

“It’s been floating around — privatization — but hopefully not for the near future,” she said. “I think that it’s going to happen, sooner or later.”

(Yup.  Even HGEA knows privatization is inevitable.)

read ... Thanks to HGEA

Alkies Choose Homelessness, Refuse Shelter

HNN: "Since the sit-lie ban has taken effect in Waikiki, there have been noticeable improvements in Waikiki. The ban has helped to improve the visual impact and visitor experiences along Kalakaua Avenue. "

Many of the people left are chronically homeless. Phillips says they fall into a few different categories. Some are older and can't afford housing, a handful of severely mentally ill.  But a good number of the folks they deal with are alcoholics.

"People are choosing to be homeless.  They're choosing not to accept services and alcohol is a big barrier there," said Phillips....

Tim Hickey has been homeless on and off for 15-years.  Friday was his first time getting on the shuttle.

" I'm doing it because I ran into what's his name and I thought, I need a shower," said Hickey.

A total 12 people got on the IHS shuttle Friday morning....

read ... Alkies

Homeless Begin Opening Convenience Stores in Kakaako Camp

KHON: The homeless camp in Kakaako is getting so big, KHON2 has learned stores are being run out of some of the tents.

People can buy water, soda, chips, even cigarettes.

People who live in nearby tents say it’s convenient and the prices are cheap.

Sharon Rose, who is homeless, told KHON2 “sodas are 50 cents, cigarettes 50 cents” at a tent near the Children’s Discovery Center.

We walked into the tent and those inside said that people can purchase drinks and snacks from them. There is also a second tent that sells goods.

“It is very convenient that it is here nearby and yes, I will use this. It is nice that it is here, we need that,” said Josue Cordova, who is also homeless.

In March, there were 146 tents in Kakaako. Now, there are 183....

KITV: Homeless safe zone in Kakaako that would be available within the next month

read ... Entrepreneurs 

Big Island Charter School -- Students 70% Homeless

HNN: Na Wai Ola Public Charter School in Mountain View is one of the first four campuses to offer a free pre-kindergarten program this coming school year using the federal funds.

"It will help them to grow, it will help them to learn. Preschool will also help them prior to going into kindergarten. They will know a lot of things," said Abigail Kunewa, the lead preschool teacher.

"I'd say over 60% to 70% of our children are homeless, living with extended family members, living in vehicles," said principal Daniel Caluya.

read ... 70% Homeless

Attorney for former mental hospital employees speaks out after third recent patient-related attack

KHON: There has been another reported attack at the state hospital in Windward Oahu.  This is the third attack this week.

The newest case involves 44-year-old Charles Lines who was arrested yesterday for allegedly assaulting a 42-year-old hospital worker on Wednesday.

This comes after KHON2’s story last night about two other assaults at the hospital this week....

“I have one guy who has been injured 60 times,” said Green. “I am just appalled that it doesn’t look like it is getting any better than it was before, we went after them, then the senate went after them, and you would think they were embarrassed publicly by the hearings.”

KHON2 was told that a new facility could help with the hospital’s safety issues and overcrowding, and while there are plans it could take up to six years before anything happens.

“There has to be a new forensic facility,” said Senator Josh Green. “It’s just a matter of how much time we want to have these stories be told and god forbid somebody is going to die one day at the hospital or there is going to be such a severe injury that that person will never be the same.”

read ... Attack

$4M HPD computer, dispatch upgrade doesn't work

HNN: A $4 million contract to upgrade the Honolulu Police Department’s dispatch and records systems has been an expensive failure and is 20 months behind schedule, sources told Hawaii News Now.

Police officers who refused to be identified said their work is hindered now because HPD's computer system does not easily tie together reports completed by patrol officers in districts with detectives working investigations.

It's so antiquated that important attachments such as witness statements sometimes wait months to be scanned into HPD's current computer system, sources said.

In the final days of 2011, the police department signed a contract with communications giant Motorola Solutions for a little more than $4 million.

The plan was to upgrade HPD's computer-aided dispatch and records management system to electronically link all aspects of police work from dispatching, to mobile computers in police cars to the reports written by patrol officers and detectives.

The upgrade was supposed to be finished by November 2013, HPD said, but the contract has been extended four times since then.  Sources said the reliability rate during practice runs of the new system never passed 10 percent....

read ... Another IT Failure

Case highlights shortage of Micronesian court interpreters in Hawaii

AP: According to the state's court system, in 2008 about 6,800 cases required interpreting services, and that figured jumped to nearly 7,700 in 2012. There were more than 8,100 interpreted proceedings in 2013, the most recent year complete data are available.

Marshallese is the third most frequently requested language, after Chuukese, spoken by those in Micronesia's Chuuk state, and Ilocano, a Filipino language, Tulang-De Silva said.

About 15,000 people in Hawaii speak Chuukese, said Robin Fritz, foreign service officer for the Federated States of Micronesia Consulate in Honolulu. The Republic of Marshall Islands Consulate in Honolulu estimates 3,000 to 4,000 people in Hawaii speak Marshallese.

"I hear a lot of complaints," about court interpreter problems, Fritz said. The complaints are about frustrations with delays or some people not trusting that they're receiving accurate interpretation, especially for complex legal matters.

Interpreters work on a freelance basis, accepting assignments as requested. Since many of them have other jobs, they might not be available when needed.

There are nine Chuukese interpreters statewide that the Judiciary can call upon, but they're all on Oahu, so it's a logistical challenge to get them to the other islands, Tulang De-Silva said. There are six Marshallese interpreters — two on Oahu and four on the Big Island.

read ... Case highlights shortage of Micronesian court interpreters in Hawaii

Interisland ferry research should begin early and needs to be done well

DN: Come the 2016 legislative session, there may be renewed proposals in the form of legislative bills to create an interisland ferry system. This past session two resolutions were introduced asking the Department of Transportation to study the feasibility of an interisland ferry system modeled after the Puget Sound ferries....

read ... Interisland ferry research should begin early and needs to be done well

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