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Sunday, September 27, 2015
September 27, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:30 PM :: 6020 Views

UH Scientists: Pacific Sea Levels DROP, Causing Massive Coral Die off

Captive Insurance: The Clean Version

Public Comment Period Opens for 1st & 3rd Circuit Judicial Nominees

Hawaii AG Launches Charity Solicitor Database

Alaska Rep Young Files Bill to Prevent Presidential Marine Monument Designations

Al Hee Gave Stolen Money to Hawaii Congressmen, Senators

SA: Hee and executives from his companies together made thousands of dollars in contributions over the years to many of Hawaii’s leading Democratic politicians, including the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, former Gov. Neil Abercrombie, former U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, former U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, U.S. Sen Brian Schatz and former U.S. Rep. Ed Case.

Waimana executives also gave thousands of dollars to the Hawaii Democratic Party, and Hee personally made contributions to Democratic Party organizations in North Carolina, Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Virginia. He donated more than $60,000 to the Obama Victory Fund in 2011 and 2012.

Hee and his family enjoyed comfortable access to Hawaii’s politicians in Washington, D.C., and Hee’s daughter, Adrianne, testified during the tax trial that she accompanied her father on trips to visit with the Hawaii delegation.

“On those trips we would go down to visit the FCC, to visit the senators at the time, Inouye and Akaka, in their offices. We’d also meet with different lobbyists and lawyers,” she testified.

Waimana was a sponsor of the Hawaii State Society Inaugural Ball in 2009 in Washington, D.C., following President Barack Obama’s election, which was an event that Inouye also supported. Wendy Hee testified she made a point of calling on the senator when she attended the event to be sure he knew Waimana was “there to help support” the celebration.

Hee told Forbes in a 2002 interview he was friendly with then-FCC Chairman Michael Powell, and FCC records show Inouye at times would contact the FCC on Hee’s behalf.

Hee’s political connections also cropped up during the audit. Among the items questioned by the IRS was $44,644 that Waimana paid in 2005 in connection with the Washington, D.C., funeral for former U.S. Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Henry K. Giugni, who was a longtime aide to Inouye. Among other expenses, Waimana helped to pay for traffic control for the funeral procession for Giugni, according to federal court records....

Related: Al Hee’s Campaign Contributions—Money Stolen from Native Hawaiians

HJ: Tip of the Iceberg

read ... Hee's Pet Politicians

Al Hee paid $6000 'Consulting Fee' to masseuse Diane Doll

SA: Waimana, the holding company founded by telecommunications entrepreneur Albert Hee, had acquired $109,971 in paintings along with jewelry valued at $505,502. Hee’s accountants had been claiming depreciation of those assets for tax purposes, and Carey questioned that practice. She asked to see the items.

Hee obliged by showing Carey one ring valued at $123,070, and another worth $16,695. In written responses to IRS inquiries, the company asserted the jewelry purchases qualified as business expenses because Hee’s wife, Wendy, and his two daughters wore the items to company functions as representatives of Waimana Enterprises.

The IRS auditor disagreed, concluding the jewelry was evidence Hee used Waimana’s company funds to make personal purchases. In a report filed in federal court, Carey suggested that “the fact that only Mr. Hee’s family members wore the jewelry, and not other employees, merely demonstrates who the real owner of the jewelry is: Mr. Hee.”....

Sandwich Isles went on to borrow $165 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service to construct a telephone and data network to serve Hawaiian homelands, and obtained commitments from USDA for hundreds of millions of dollars in additional loans, according to data provided by Sandwich Isles.

Federal records show Sandwich Isles has also received $242 million in federal Universal Service Fund subsidies since 2003 to further support the construction and operations of its telephone and data network, which now serves about 3,600 homelands customers.

Despite those extraordinary federal contributions, the Sandwich Isles network is still only 10 percent complete on Oahu, and 20 percent complete on Hawaii island, according to data provided by Sandwich Isles last week. The system is 60 percent complete on Maui, and is 95 percent complete on Kauai, the company says....

In a document headlined “Badges of Fraud for Waimana Enterprises Inc.,” auditor Carey observed Hee would use two personal credit cards to pay both personal expenses and company expenses, but did not keep receipts “so there is no way to distinguish between personal and business expenses,” according to the report. “However, some expenses are clearly personal in nature such as purchases of purses, tennis shoes and other items of clothing.”

When the auditor questioned Hee about a $6,000 “consulting fee” paid to masseuse Diane Doll that had been deducted as a business expense, Hee replied: “You never know where you are going to get information about the competition from,” according to the auditor’s report....

Hee later declined to meet in person with auditors, and Carey reported she never got the chance to inspect other jewelry that Waimana had purchased such as “Ming’s Carved Ivory Jewelry” that included earrings, a necklace, brooches, cuff links, pendants and bracelets.

The auditor noted the company paid membership fees for officers Gilbert Tam and Randy Ho at Waialae Country Club, and also covered membership costs at another club for former Kamehameha Schools trustee Robert Kihune, according to the auditor’s report. Kihune, a retired vice admiral, is now chairman of the board for Sandwich Isles.

Season tickets were also provided to some employees for University of Hawaii football, women’s volleyball and basketball games. The company also provided company cars for its executives to use, according to federal court records.

The auditor’s report also noted Waimana failed to file taxes for the years 1997 to 2003 until 2005, which it described as “a significant issue of concern.”

read ... Jewelry, Art, and Doll

Politics plays important role in Kaiser's moves on Maui

Borreca: Picking a private entity to run the hospital has been a nearly decade-old fight at the Legislature. Public unions now staff the hospital, which is usually over budget, requiring emergency state subsidies. Replacing it with a private hospital threatens the union workers jobs, while not having adequate health care threatens everyone on Maui.

Gov. David Ige stepped into the latest debate during the last legislative session, according to legislative sources, at the behest of the Hawaii Government Employees Association and helped draft a bill that gave him responsibility for brokering a hospital deal. The announcement came from the Maui board, but Ige's office was handling much of the negotiations.

Within hours of the Maui hospital announcement, Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui, the former state Senate President and Maui Democrat, launched a press release asking Ige to "consider halting negotiations" and doubting whether Kaiser "possesses the same level of commitment to the well-being of the residents of Maui" as did the other suitor, Hawaii Pacific Health.

"I believe that greater transparency should take place," said Tsutsui.

Ige's administration is not yet a year old, but already there are signs of strains in the relationship between the governor and lieutenant governor.

Tsutsui, who is also a rumored candidate for Maui mayor in 2018, when his term as LG concludes, flatly said he would not run against Ige....

Tsutsui said, he wants first that both hospital candidates be kept in the running because it gives the state a strong negotiating position, and second, the state must open up....

"I don't have any concerns about Kaiser being chosen," said House speaker and Maui representative, Joe Souki. "The decision was unanimous and that was because they felt it was the better proposal."....

read ... Politics

Caldwell: My Sudden Interest in HART Budget is Aimed at Council Tax Hike Vote

SA: ...the City Council must take action on the bill to extend the GET surcharge.

The lack of action on this vote signals uncertainty to potential bidders for the remaining construction contracts. Uncertainty forces businesses to either increase their bids to protect themselves, or not bid at all. There is an additional threat that the FTA could withhold further federal funding for the project until the Council votes on the measure.

I ask the Council to take up the debate without further delay....

read ... Tax Hike Coming

Business Roundtable: DoE Should Stay the Course on Testing

SA: As Hawaii's largest employers, we care deeply about the abilities of Hawaii's public school students. So what are we to make of recent news that slightly less than 1 out of 2 public school students met the standard in 2015? After all, didn't nearly 3 out of 4 students just meet the standard the year prior? Have our schools and students really regressed that much?

In fact, just the opposite is true. Trying to gauge the performance of Hawaii public schools can admittedly be confusing. So here is the bottom line -- public school students in Hawaii did better than experts expected on a test that measures far more complex knowledge than the old test did....

We urge Hawaii's education board and department to stay the course while bringing the other half of our students up to speed.

HSTA: High-stakes testing has detrimental impact

read ... Business Roundtable

OHA's NHLC Lawsuit Against Pohakuloa Military Training Lease Goes to Trial

WHT: A lawsuit claiming the state breached its duties to protect public lands used for the Army’s Pohakuloa Training Area will go to trial this week.

Filed by Big Island residents Clarence Ching and Mary Kahaulelio, the suit says the Department of Land and Natural Resources failed to ensure that munitions are cleaned up after military exercises as the Army’s existing 65-year lease for the lands between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa requires.

The plaintiffs, represented by the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., are asking Oahu Circuit Court Judge Gary Chang to order DLNR to fulfill its trust duties and prevent the Army from receiving a new lease until it satisfactorily fulfills the terms of the existing agreement.

The complaint says it doesn’t allege the United States government violated its lease, but that violations may have occurred and the state has a “duty to investigate and take all necessary steps to ensure compliance with lease terms.” It alleges the state failed to fulfill this duty.

To support the plaintiffs’ concerns, the suit cites empty casings seen on the ground within 10 yards of Saddle Road and “rifle casings, machine gun cartridge links, unfired blanks and other rubbish on the ground at Pohakuloa Training Area.”

It also refers to environmental documents that state there is significant risk to encountering ordnance at the training area and that “past and current activities at PTA have resulted in contamination of soil by explosives and other chemicals.”

The trial starts Tuesday in Honolulu. Sharla Manley, NHLC litigation director, said she expects it to last about a week.

The Army leases 22,836 acres from the state to hold military training exercises at the cost of $1 for its duration.  (Translation: OHA wants money out of the next lease.)

The lease started in 1964 and expires Aug. 16, 2029.

SA: Mauna Kea dispute actually a clash of religions 

read ... OHA Wants Money

San Francisco Develops $100K Toilets to Keep the Homeless Comfy on the Streets

SA: ...an abandoned city bus that has been converted into a mobile hygiene station for homeless people....the old San Francisco “Muni” bus that had been painted powder blue, re-engineered and converted to operate two separate, private areas that each contain a single hot-water shower, toilet, sink, donated towels, soap and toiletry kits....

“They operate in challenging neighborhoods where there’s a lot of street behavior that’s not always positive to the environment: public drug use, drug dealing, inebriation, prostitution,” said Rachel Gordon, spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Public Works, which partners with various groups to run the rapidly expanding “Pit Stop” program.

Operating for just more than a year, Pit Stop is generating interest from housing officials in Honolulu, Denver, San Diego, Los Angeles and Portland, Gordon said.

The Pit Stop program goes far beyond traditional portable toilets found at public events and construction sites that can be little more than a private hole filled with urine and feces.

The Pit Stop toilets flush and include sinks with running water, soap, paper towels and toilet paper. They’re also staffed by employees who are often homeless themselves....

The Pit Stop sites are also outfitted with bags for pet poop. And the employees who monitor the toilets frequently have to dispose of used needles....

Each visit is logged and each pair of portable Pit Stop toilets averages about 100 uses per day, Gordon said.....

Each pair of toilets costs $100,000 per location to operate annually, including salaries....

Nearby Palo Alto — home to Stanford University and a red-hot, tech-fueled housing market — tows its new portable showers around on a trailer, much like San Francisco’s Pit Stop program.....

On a recent day on Ellis Street in the heart of the Tenderloin District, 10 people took showers in the first hour of operation and the waiting list already was more than 2-1/2 hours long.

Three employees from a nearby company called Akamai Technologies were busy volunteering to clean out the showers after every use.  (Yep.  Tech entrepreneurs take time off to clean up after the homeless who are much, much too busy to clean up after themselves.)

Jun Yang, Honolulu’s executive director for the Office of Housing, has been gathering information and ideas related to both the Pit Stop and shower-bus concepts over the past 18 months.

Even though neither would directly remove any of Honolulu’s homeless from city sidewalks, Yang considers them “great ideas” ....

read ... Programs give homeless care the top priority

Cash, Tax Credits Buy More Affordable Housing

SA: A partnership led by Kamehameha Schools will make a planned midrise Kakaako rental apartment complex affordable to residents with moderate incomes for twice as long as previously planned -- 30 years instead of 15 -- in return for general excise tax exemptions and state assistance financing the $90 million project.

read ... Affordable Housing

No sharing, no caring with sewage, ethics on the line

Shapiro: ...quote of the month … from Randall Iwase, chairman of the state Public Utilities Commission: “I’m not here to make everyone happy with a consensus opinion that’s so watered down it’s meaningless.” That’s Gov. David Ige’s job.....

read ... Sewage ethics on the line

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