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Friday, November 6, 2015
November 6, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:44 PM :: 4409 Views

McDermott: Get the Politicians out of School Construction

Ige Seeking Applicants for 185 Boards and Commissions

Video: Russia Greets 'Hawaii Comrade Lanny Sinkin'

Ward, Oshiro: 10 things you need to know about Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Hawaii Gets 'C' on March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card

With Horizon Gone, Matson Profits Soar

Auditor: Hawaii Hurricane Relief Fund not used for established purpose

Franklin Graham Prayer Rally Coming to Honolulu

Council: Grabauskas Must Go for HART to get Rail Tax Money

CB: Honolulu City Council Chairman Ernie Martin is questioning whether there needs to be a shake-up at the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation to get the $6.6 billion rail project back on track.

Martin broached the subject during a special Budget Committee meeting in Kapolei on Wednesday to consider a bill that would extend by five years a general excise tax surcharge to cover most rail costs....

While Martin didn’t directly say that HART Executive Director and CEO Dan Grabauskas needed to go, he did insinuate that some change in project management might be necessary....

The Budget Committee did not vote on the rail tax extension. Another special meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday at Washington Middle School in Honolulu to discuss the proposal, as well as Martin’s proposed cap.

read ... Heads Must Roll

Authorities ‘very close’ to indictment in ‘Peter Boy’ Kema case

KHON: Hawaii County police and prosecutors say they are finally coming close to proving who’s responsible.

Prosecutors reopened the case last year and told us Thursday there’s been significant progress.

Kema’s parents, Peter Kema Sr. and Jaylin Kema, have been the prime suspects, but they’ve never been indicted.

Lt. Greg Esteban, Hawaii Police Department, told KHON2, “at this point, we ruled out any other suspects.”

The couple was arrested this week and remain in custody on suspicion of welfare fraud, firearms and illegal drugs. Prosecutors say that case is separate from the disappearance of “Peter Boy.” ...

Police arrested Jaylin Kema at a home in the Puna district on Tuesday for welfare fraud.

Peter Kema Sr. was arrested at a boat manufacturing business in Hilo on Wednesday. The owner of the business told KHON2 Peter Kema Sr. had been working there for seven years, and that he was always a good worker and never had any problems there.

Sources say it was because Peter Kema Sr. was employed there that led to the fraud case.

read ... Close to Indictment

Hawaii Sen. Brickwood Galuteria Still Not Off The Hook On Residency Question

CB: ...Two hearings on the issues are scheduled this month, and the ultimate answer could help determine if he is allowed to retain his Senate seat.

A special Senate investigative committee appeared close to settling the issue in April when it announced it planned to recommend that Galuteria be allowed to remain a senator. But the committee decided not to disband pending action by the city Board of Registration, which determines voter residency eligibility.

Even before that, the Honolulu city clerk conducted an investigation that determined that Galuteria and his wife, Abigail, did indeed spend at least half of their time at a Kakaako apartment to help take care of the senator’s ailing mother. But that ruling was appealed by Portlock resident Richard Baker, who campaigned for the senator’s political opponent last year.

Now the Board of Registration has rejected Galuteria’s motion to dismiss Baker’s appeal....

But his residency remains in question after the Board of Registration issued an order Oct. 16 contending there are “material issues of fact” that prevent the dismissal of the Baker’s appeal.

The board said there is no proof that Galuteria has paid back the taxes that he owes on his Palolo Valley property and that “the most recent rental agreement for the Curtis Street apartment appears to have been predated subsequent to Baker’s challenge.”

The board also wrote that Galuteria’s wife didn’t issue a declaration indicating her residence was at the Curtis Street apartment, and that the couple’s reason for staying there — the mental incapacitation of the senator’s mother — is in dispute.

A pre-hearing at the Department of the Attorney General is scheduled for Monday at 10:30 a.m. at 425 Queen St. in the second-floor conference room. A full hearing is scheduled at the same time and place on Monday, Nov. 30....

PDF: Board of Registration Galuteria Hawaii

read ... Residency

Former PUC chair Morita--Latest to Come out in favor of NextEra Energy-Hawaiian Electric sale

PBN: “I believe NextEra’s culture of continuous improvement can accelerate and enhance the transformation needed at the HECO Cos. to improve its analytical capacity, performance and overall organizational culture as it evolves into the utility of the future,” said Morita, a Kauai-native, who started Hanalei-based Energy Dynamics in May. “There are obvious issues like the ring of fencing to protect the Hawaii ratepayer, but with the HECO Cos.' important roles to implement clean energy policies, I find the B-Corp model to be an interesting tool to benchmark the performance of the HECO Cos., not only as a regulated entity, but also to evaluate social, environmental and economic performance, given its formidable role as a corporate leader and responsible corporate entity in Hawaii.”

read ... Former PUC chair in favor of NextEra Energy-Hawaiian Electric sale

At the Legislature, HECO loses some of its influence

Borreca: ...There was a time when Hawaiian Electric political juice was lighting up the state Capitol as bright as its electricity.

HECO had the political power to make sure that the public utilities were well represented in legislative offices.

Rep. Bert Kobayashi, a veteran of both the state House and Senate, said in an interview: “When I first came into office (1978) it was pretty standard that someone in the Legislature would be representing the power company.”

Kobayashi recalled that Alm, a former HECO executive vice president, banker and state department director, was also part of HECO’s previously all-star lobbying team.

“When HECO had Robbie, along with Andy Chang, the former city managing director and state human services director, and Garen Deweese, who used to be the HGEA spokesman, I thought it was the best in town,” Kobayashi said.

Now Deweese is the only one of the trio still lobbying for HECO and Kobayashi said the clout is not the same....

Abercrombie was also the big winner in contributions from NextEra-related companies including NextEra Energy, NextEra Energy Resources, NextEra Energy Political Action Committee, NextEra Energy Transmission, LLC and NextEra Energy Infrastructure. All total, those companies gave Abercrombie $20,400. Ige after the primary got $1,000 from NextEra Energy Transmission.

Money aside, there now is a sense that HECO already lost the political battle with its high rates and sporadic support for rooftop solar.

read ... Clout?

Hawaiian Electric Understated Cash Flow by $110M

PBN: Hawaiian Electric Industries (NYSE:HEI) and Hawaiian Electric Co. said they “intend to restate management’s report on internal control over financial reporting and its evaluation of disclosure controls and procedures and expect to receive an adverse opinion on the internal controls over financial reporting as of Dec. 31, 2014, from Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLP,” the statement said.

PwC revealed that cash flows were not correctly accounted and so previous financial statements can no longer be relied on. As a result of the misstatements by HEI and Hawaiian Electric, the net cash provided by operating activities were understated between 2012 and 2014 by $45 million, $40 million and $25 million respectively....

The group confirmed the costs associated for Hawaiian Electric Co.'s pending acquisition by NextEra Energy Inc. and the spin off of its banking group, American Savings Bank, were $1.7 million and $400,000 respectively.

CB: PUC to Utilities: Your Power Plans Fall Short

read ... Helps Justify Rate Hikes

Evaluation of their teachers gives isle students their say

SA: Classroom teachers in Hawaii public schools are evaluated by their students every year.

When you think about it, this is quite an empowering thing for students. Few professionals are regularly evaluated by the people they serve, and children are rarely asked in a formal way whether the adults in their lives are doing right by them....

read ... Their Say

Homeless Need Psychiatric Help

MN: ...In any event, it sounds terrific to set up sanctuaries, provide security and restroom facilities and get the homeless some food. The only problem is these measures only address the symptoms and the conditions of homelessness - not the root problems.

Until we realize that many of the homeless need psychiatric help, that all of them need to be taught life skills, we are simply going to be setting up another system similar to our criminal justice system - an ever-growing population of homeless costing massive amounts to service and poor outcomes for those served....

read ... Seeing the root of the problem

Anti-GMO Activist on County Manager Committee After Declaring Candidacy for Mayor a Joke

MN: Maui County ocean safety officer Tamara Paltin will not run again for Maui County mayor, despite a Facebook posting announcing a 2018 candidacy.

"Someone set that up for me. I think it was kind of a joke. I'm not running for political office again," Paltin said Thursday.  (Uh-huh.)

In the 2014 general election, Paltin unsuccessfully challenged Mayor Alan Arakawa, who easily won re-election and an unprecedented third four-year term in office as mayor.

Paltin said she would ask her friend to take down the Facebook page.

Questions over Paltin seeking the mayoral seat were raised Wednesday at the Maui County Council's Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee. Council members nominated people from their districts to sit on a special committee on county governance, which is being formed explore the idea of having a county manager form of government.

MN: "There is nothing wrong with being political."

read ... A Ridiculous Story

DLNR chief passes buck on protection of TMT contractors

HTH: The contractors building the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea have a right to be up there, the chairwoman of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources said Thursday, adding that the state will enforce the laws over which it has jurisdiction to ensure they are unmolested by protesters.

DLNR chairwoman Suzanne Case was speaking to a mainly sympathetic audience at a luncheon in Hilo sponsored by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Hawaii.

“TMT has a right to move forward with its preliminary site work,” Case said. “They’ve gone up there two times; they have a right to continue. Our job is to make sure our enforcement personnel, as far as DLNR is concerned, our laws are upheld.”

Protesters, who have raised issues of Hawaiian sovereignty and concerns about environmental impacts, have blocked construction vehicles several times since late March. Dozens have been arrested on the mountain.

Case said enforcement to keep the road open is the county Police Department’s jurisdiction. (Pass buck #1) The department did not respond to a detailed email and telephone message by press time Thursday.

“Obviously, it’s illegal for anyone to block roads,” Case said. “The county is responsible for enforcing that.”

The controversy has put a hold on grubbing and grading work by the TMT International Observatory.

Meanwhile, the Hawaii Supreme Court is considering a legal challenge of the project’s Conservation District land use permit. Following oral arguments in August, it’s unknown when the court will issue its ruling.

Asked if the state has assured the TMT contractors that their equipment and safety will be protected if they go back to work, Case referred the question to the governor’s office. (Pass buck #2)

read ... Protect

Kauai GMO 'Joint Fact-Finding Group' Enters Final Phase

KE: The Joint Fact Fact Finding Group — charged with reviewing biotech crops and their pesticide use on Kauai — is entering the last phase of its work, with a final report due out Jan. 31....

While I'm hopeful that this process will diffuse some of the hysteria associated with biotech crop production on Kauai, I still can't help but wonder why GE crops have been singled out for scrutiny, in terms of measuring impacts on human and environmental health. Not tourism, not termite treatment, not petroleum-based transportation, not health care, not substance abuse, not domestic violence, not residential use of pesticides. Only agriculture.

Automobile accidents, medical malpractice, drownings, drugs, alcohol and random violence kill and maim people each and every year on Kauai, while kids are regularly sickened in their homes by improper pesticide use. Yet the focus is solely on possible harm caused by a very specific component of agriculture, which thus far doesn't have a body count of even one.

This is not meant as a criticism of Peter Adler, whom I respect immensely, or even the JFF process, but the politics, propaganda, fear-mongering and warped mindset that prompted this exercise.

As a friend noted, when I forwarded him the report:

It may be coincidence, but I find it interesting that completion and release of the report is timed to get the maximum amount of attention as the legislative session opens....

read ... Musings: Bully Pulpit

First two Mauna Kea protesters convicted, sentenced

SA: ...Fujiyoshi asked for a jail sentence instead of community service, and was sentenced to five days. He will serve one day in jail, with credit for time served; six months’ probation; and was ordered to remain off the access road.

Lindsey-Kaapuni argued against probation, and was sentenced to 100 hours of community service.

Bailey said there are 20 to 25 trials remaining 16 of which are scheduled....

read ... Convicted

At the state's largest public school, overcrowding and no relief in sight

HNN: ...The plot of land has been picked out. But the money to pay for the new classroom building Campbell High School needs isn't yet in the budget.

"We have too many students, not enough classrooms," said Campbell Principal John Henry Lee.

It's a problem the largest public high school in the state has been dealing with for some time, and with new families continuing to move into the area, enrollment is only forecast to grow. This school year, enrollment at the campus stands at 3,049 students. That's up 15 percent from 2010, when the school had 2,639 students. And it's 1,000 students more than the school had in 2005.

The school was built for 1,700 students....

read ... Overcrowding

Police investigate illicit Maui kitchen charged to taxpayers

KHON: ...It has been about six months since Always Investigating first reported that your taxpayer dollars had funded some very costly and unapproved expenses on county credit cards and purchase orders, things like a commercial kitchen or unapproved automotive expenses.

A Public Works district supervisor had been caught spending tens of thousands on a commercial kitchen that rivals a restaurant, tucked away inside a Wailuku baseyard building. Sources say side-business catering was going on out of there.

The suspect has since retired from the county.

Always Investigating tried to get a look at that kitchen last spring, but they wouldn’t let us inside at the time. Now, we still can’t get inside, and still can’t get the line-item spending details, because the county says that it’s been referred for criminal investigation and it’s locked up as evidence....

read ... Illicit

City Having a hard time Filling UPW Positions

SA: ...Honolulu’s solid-waste crew has about 20 automated routes per day, which require 35 refuse collection equipment operators to cover, Owens said. There are currently 25 operators assigned to the Honolulu yard, and “we are in the process of recruiting six more … which will give them a total of 31,” he said.

Owens said there is no one reason for the sudden shortage of refuse workers, but said there have promotions, retirements, deactivated positions and general attrition.

The positions, which require a commercial driver’s license, pay a base of $50,000 annually. It takes between five to six weeks to train drivers and put them in the field, Owens said.

read ... UPW

Senate panel votes approval of a trio of judicial nominees

SA: The appointees today will be the subject of a confirmation ballot on the chamber floor....

read ... Nominees

Soft on Crime: 70 Priors Out on Street Doing it Again

HNN: ...Among the alleged fugitives was Gus Lum Won. He is accused of violating his probation. Lum Won, who has 70 prior arrests and six felony convictions, was arrested in a similar raid in 2011 for allegedly failing to appear in court.

The fugitives, who were arrested from locations in Kona to South Kohala, were wanted for “crimes of violence to include homicide, assault, robbery, firearms and explosives, sex offenses, narcotics, and gang and organized crime affiliations,” according to a press release by the U.S. Marshals Service.

Overall, 42 outstanding state arrest warrants were executed among the 25 alleged fugitives, generating a total bail amount of $686,750, according to the press release.

In addition, authorities say other seizures were made. Officials said nearly four pounds of “processed and packaged marijuana, 18 marijuana plants, and various amounts of acetaminophen with hydrocodone and hashish, with supplies for narcotics distribution was seized from a residence where a fugitive was located and arrested on a firearms and narcotics warrant.”

read ... Soft on Crime

Sen. Breene Harimoto back on job after battling pancreatic cancer

KITV: "I finished my surgery and am into chemo now, and will l have radiation after that," said Harimoto....

He dropped down to less than a 100 pounds at one point this summer.

read ... Cancer

Dengue: 19 on Big Island, One on Oahu

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