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Friday, November 13, 2015
November 13, 2015 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:04 PM :: 6451 Views

Protest Na’i Aupuni at State Capitol

UK citizen with green card sues Honolulu police over denial of firearm permit

Feds: Race to the Top Empowers Hawaii to Transform Education

How Do You Design an Electric Train without Considering the Electricity?

Organics: Another Fine Government Mess

First Hawaii Women Veterans Conference Set for Saturday

‘Time of Use’ Rates to top out at $0.479 per kwh

Na’i Aupuni "You're all f---ing liars"

MN: Maui candidates vying for three seats to a constitutional convention to draft a document allowing Native Hawaiians to govern themselves spoke about their vision and skills to about 50 people Wednesday night at the Queen Lili'uokalani Children's Center….

Six of the 13 candidates attended the information session and candidate panel for the election that is already underway and ends Nov. 30….

Sovereign Councils of the Hawaiian Homelands Assembly Chairwoman Robin Puanani Danner gave the presentation….

…a man in the audience stood up and began shouting at delegates and retired 2nd Circuit Court Judge Boyd Mossman, who acted as moderator. The man tore apart papers that were handed out during a question-and-answer session and threw them on the ground and on the table in front of delegates, while shouting "you're all f---ing liars" and "full of s--t." He was escorted out of the meeting and about half the audience followed him out to show support….

Some Maui candidates have questioned the election process and convention, complaining about its lack of organization and feeling "rushed." Two Maui candidates have dropped out of the race, as well as Molokai activist Walter Ritte, who called for a boycott of the election….

Meheula said "The list (of eligible voters) may not be up to date, some information may be stale….”

Campbell, a law clerk in 2nd Circuit Court, said he agrees with some audience members that the election is being "rushed" and asked that voting and registration be extended to include more Native Hawaiians who may have recently turned 18 years old.

Sousa, a management consultant, added that the election process is not entirely clear, and said that he had tried multiple times to contact Na'i Aupuni with questions.

Kamekona, who served 22 years in the Navy, also believed the election was being rushed, which may explain why some candidates have opted out….

SA: Fluff Piece on Kuhio Assam

read … you're all f---ing liars

Na’i Aupuni?  This has all happened Before

CB: In recent weeks, individuals running as delegates for Na`i Aupuni have attempted to represent Ka Lāhui Hawai`i. This response was prepared to correct the record and is submitted by the three Kia`āina (governors) elected by Hawaiians statewide and on the U.S. continent….

… in 1993, the state established the Hawaiian Sovereignty Advisory Commission in Act 359. Under this legislation, the state appropriated $420,000 to hold “a referendum to determine the will of the native Hawaiian people to call a democratically convened convention for the purpose of achieving consensus on an organic document that will propose the means for native Hawaiians to operate under a government of their own choosing.”

The next year, the state amended Act 359 with the passage of Act 200 creating the Hawaiian Sovereignty Elections Council. The state appropriated up to $1.8 million to HSEC to hold “a plebiscite in 1995, to determine the will of the indigenous Hawaiian people to restore a nation of their own choosing.” …

After Ka Lāhui Hawai`i and other community organizations called to boycott the process for nearly two years, a month before the election was to be held, the state amended Act 200 by passing Act 140 in 1996. The new state law specifically changed the requirement that the plebiscite be approved by a majority of “qualified voters” to “ballots cast.” In other words, the state first created a process that required a majority of the approximately 85,000 Native Hawaiians to approve. However, the new law required only a majority of all votes cast in order to approve the plebiscite.

On July 15, 1996, HSEC sent out ballots to approximately 85,000 Native Hawaiians. 30,423 ballots were returned, of these ballots, 22,294 voted yes to the question “Shall the Hawaiian People elect delegates to propose a Native Hawaiian government.” Ka Lāhui Hawai`i and other community groups claimed a victory due to the low turnout. However, the state claimed a victory by looking at the majority of the ballots cast….

read … Mililani Trask

Investigating Chief, Federal subpoenas issued to HPD's top brass

HNN: Police sources say FBI agents met with Honolulu Police Department brass recently to deliver subpoenas in the case against the department's top cop….

The subpoenas were received by an assistant chief who runs HPD's Finance Division, which might indicate that the orders were for documents and records.

As Hawaii News Now first reported, a special prosecutor from the mainland was assigned to oversee the case. Michael Wheat is a California based federal prosecutor who has 30-years of experience with a track record of taking on public corruption.    

Hunger said the issuance of subpoenas means the case is moving forward. "This is the beginning of the criminal trial," he said. "This is a big thing."…

Sources tell me subpoenas have gone out to other agencies, but this is the first set for the chief's department. There could be more subpoenas sent out before an investigative grand jury hears the case….

Oct 17: Double-standard allows Chief Kealoha to continue while under FBI Investigation

read … No Longer Able to Deny Investigation Exists

HART Puts Jesse Souki on Payroll

CB: Grabauskas also announced Thursday that Jesse Souki has been hired as the new director of planning and right of way. Souki is the former head of the State Office of Planning and deputy director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

He now works at the law firm, Imanaka Asato, as part of its transit-oriented development division. Souki is also the (former) chairman of the Honolulu Charter Commission, which is currently considering several proposals to amend the city’s constitution. 

(Correction: According to Jesse Souki, he stepped down from the Charter Comm after the most recent meeting to avoid conflict of interest stemming from his new HART position.) 

Souki will be replacing Elizabeth Scanlon, who was hired to a position at Caltrain in California. Scanlon had been named to Mass Transit magazine’s “Top 40 Under 40” while working at HART.

(According to Jesse, House speaker Joe Souki is the cousin of Jesse Souki's grandfather.)

read … Political Connections

Caldwell Claims Feds Withholding $250M until Council Raises Taxes

HART Demands Council Approve $350M Loan

With the pace of construction picking up and major new contract awards on the horizon, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation on Thursday launched its plan to borrow up to $350 million to help cover the ongoing cost of the city's 20-mile rail project.

If HART receives the proceeds from the short-term commercial debt, it will mark the first time the rail authority has borrowed to help finance the controversial rail project. Up to this point, rail has been financed with federal grant money and taxes collected from Oahu's 0.5 percent excise tax surcharge.

Don Horner, chairman of the board of directors, said HART has been paying about $50 million per month to contractors working on the project, and that pace will accelerate early next year to approach $100 million per month at the peak of construction.

The rail contracts generally require more money as they approach completion, and "we have multiple contracts going at the moment," Horner said. "We'll have stations under construction, track under construction, the operations center under construction, all at the same time and drawing toward completion."

The HART board voted unanimously yesterday to approve a resolution asking the Honolulu City Council to authorize the sale of commercial paper by the city to help finance the project so HART can draw down money as needed up to the $350 million limit.

HART expects to begin tapping that money in the first three months of 2016 to help with cash flow, and expects to pay an interest rate of about 0.5 percent. It will be short-term debt that is to be repaid in 270 days.

read … $350M

Seven Months Later Ige Admin Develops Coherent Position on Mauna Kea telescope

Borreca: To show how deep a hole the Ige administration has dug itself over construction of the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea, state leaders are still having to say contractors have a right to be there and build the world's most powerful telescope.

In the face of protests, demonstrations and eventually arrests, Ige in April announced a one-week "time out" on construction at the mountain summit that Native Hawaiians claim as sacred land.

"I thank TMT for its willingness to be respectful and sensitive to all of Hawaii — its special people, its sense of place and its unique host culture," Ige said at the time.

Now, seven months later, it appears TMT and the Ige administration have a more coherent position regarding the telescope: Build it.

Suzanne Case, director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, which has control over Mauna Kea, traveled last week to Hilo, in part to promise that the state would enforce the law allowing access to the construction area….

read … Ige seems yet to be fully aboard TMT bandwagon

No Contractor Will Clean Up Homeless Mess

KHON: So what’s stopping the state from taking action? We’ve been told everything is in place except for one thing. Officials can’t find a vendor that will clean up and throw away the trash that will be left behind.

Scott Morishige, the state’s homeless coordinator, says the Hawaii Community Development Authority, which has jurisdiction over the park, contacted eight different companies to bid on the job.

Not one of them is interested.

As far as everything else needed to move the homeless out of the growing encampment in Kakaako, the state says outreach coordinators have been working with the families, and sheriffs are in place to move out the homeless. But the state has run into an unexpected obstacle.

“Trying to identify a vendor to assist with the disposal of items is a big barrier, but we’re hoping that if there are any potential vendors that do see this and want to contact the state, we’d be interested in opening a dialogue with them,” Morishige said.

When the homeless were moved out of Kakaako Makai last month, crews had to haul away 67 tons of rubbish, which included 106 cubic yards of metal, 41 shopping carts, and hundreds of hypodermic needles.

“There was a significant amount of items that were removed. I know that it does take a lot of time and effort,” said Morishige.

KHON2 spoke with some of the companies that turned down the job, and it’s not just the volume that drove them off. Some are worried about the safety of their workers.

read … Make the Homeless Clean Up Their Own Mess

Priced out of Paradise: When the cost of living gets too high, some Hawaii families call it quits

HNN: According to a Bloomberg News analysis of Census data, from 2013 to 2014, Honolulu ranked fourth in the nation for the percentage of residents leaving for other parts of the country.

The report indicated .74 percent of Honolulu's population left that year -- that amounts to 7,400 people.

read … 7,400 Leave

It’s The ‘Entitled’ Land That Really Drives Up Honolulu’s Home Prices

CB: University of Hawaii economist Sumner La Croix looked at 55 years of real estate data for Honolulu to find an answer. His conclusion: Increasingly, it is about the land beneath our homes. La Croix calculated that an average of 65 percent to 75 percent of the cost of a common home in Honolulu is based on the price of the land it sits on….

At a time when Mayor Kirk Caldwell is calling for generating more housing units that locals can afford, La Croix’s analysis and conclusions may prove instructive — especially to policymakers looking to make housing more accessible to Hawaii’s middle class.

Developer and affordable-housing advocate Chuck Wathen said that La Croix’s numbers jibe with his own examinations of housing costs in Honolulu. It’s a good thing that an expert is nailing them down, he said.

“This gets at the crux of the problem in affordable housing, the cost of entitled land,” said Wathen. “We have a scarcity of entitled land, which is what is going up the fastest; entitled land with infrastructure is going up faster than the total home value.”

Precisely as Explained: How A&B Wins Big From Environmental Litigation

read … It’s The Land That Really Drives Up Honolulu’s Home Prices

Minimum Wage Hike Forces 41% Price Hike in A+ after-school program

HNN: …The state is proposing to raise the price for the A+ after-school program by $35 a month over the next three years, bringing the monthly fee to $120 per child.

Department of Education officials say the increase is needed so the program remains financially self-sufficient, a requirement under state law.

The hike, which will go before the Board of Education on Tuesday, will cover rising operational and labor costs, including an increase in the minimum wage.

Without the fee increase, the program would run a deficit of nearly $400,000 in fiscal year 2018, the DOE said….

If approved, parents would see the first fee increase in 2016, when they'd pay $15 more a month. The monthly fee would then increase by $10 in 2017, and another $10 in 2018. …

read … Price of Minimum Wage

GMOs: From Anti to Advocate

KE: For me, it all started because I got mad and sad — about the fear-mongering, the celebration of ignorance, the bullying, the rending of my community, the polarization that still lingers….

read … Musings: From Anti to Advocate

Legislation to Toughen Hawaii Medical Review Board

SA: As Star-Advertiser reporters Rob Perez and Dana Williams detailed in a three-part series that began Sunday, the state is slow to act in cases in which physicians lost their credentials in other states for misconduct.

The findings showed those physicians were able to keep their licenses — for years in some cases — until the Hawaii Medical Board took action, its hands tied by sluggish investigation by the state Regulatory Industries Complaints Office (RICO)….

The Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) is working with the Hawaii Medical Board on proposed legislation to expedite the disciplinary process when the board has evidence of a doctor being sanctioned in another state. A 2013 law that allows the board to summarily suspend a physician's license to deter a public-safety threat does not specify out-of-state discipline as a trigger….

Hawaii's 2013 law — or an improved version of it — should be robustly used by the medical board to automatically suspend the sanctioned doctor. It seems duplicative that RICO conducts its own lengthy investigation in such cases. Full vetting by another state's medical board should be reason enough to take action locally, in the interest of public safety.

Among the more egregious cases was that of Dr. Robert Ricketson. Less than a year after his Texas license was revoked, Ricketson in 2001 implanted the sawed-off shaft of a screwdriver into the back of an elderly Big Island patient. The patient fell at least once after the surgery, shattering the shaft into his spine, and within a week Ricketson performed a second operation to implant the correct titanium rods. The man died two years later and a jury later awarded $5 million to his family.

It wasn't until 2007 that Ricketson's Hawaii license was revoked….

read … Credentials

State Senator Vows To Reform Hawaii Asset Forfeiture Laws

CB: State Sen. Will Espero says the current system is unfair because it opens citizens up to having their property taken even if they aren’t convicted of a crime….

Background: Hawaii earns a D- for Civil Forfeiture Laws

read … Reform

State Overlooked Labor Violations Until New Ala Moana Wing Opened

HNN: On the same day Ala Moana Center opened its new Ewa wing of 30 new shops, the state Labor Department said construction companies that built those shops were guilty of widespread violations of basic labor laws and requirements.

A state Labor Department investigation found 28 contractors and subcontractors working on high-end stores in the new wing were violating the law by not paying unemployment taxes….

Chu Takayama said seven of those construction firms also failed to pay pre-paid health insurance and temporary disability insurance for their workers….

Informants for the Hawaii Construction Alliance – a coalition of five construction unions – shot undercover video of workers getting paid “off the books” in cash. Informants said they were paid $30 in cash an hour and never filled out tax forms or were given a pay stub, as required by law.

A project manager told one worker in the undercover video he was under tremendous pressure to finish by Nov. 12, since their original target date was Sept. 2, and they were running behind.

Penalties for some of these violations are incredibly low, just $1 per employee per day for a minimum of $25 for not paying temporary disability insurance. Those TDI fines haven't increased since they were established in 1969.

Chu Takayama said her department will ask state lawmakers to increase those fines next year.

"We'd like to move it to $100 per employee per day with a minimum of $500. And maybe that will cause some companies to sit up and take notice," Chu Takayama said.

read … Subsidy?

Two months of prep left for Hawaii medical marijuana dispensary licensee hopefuls

PBN: The groups getting ready to apply for one of Hawaii’s first eight medical marijuana dispensary licenses still have two months left to prepare, but they’re working with limited guidance.

The Hawaii State Department of Health’s interim rules for the new industry won't be published until Jan. 4, and then, applicants have a week before the application period runs, between Jan. 11 and Jan. 29, to compete for a chance to open the first of Hawaii’s dispensaries in mid-2016.

The Hawaii Dispensary Alliance has been in talks with at least three dozen different groups preparing to apply, according to Executive Director Christopher Garth.

There could be anywhere from 40 to 160 applicants statewide applying for a Hawaii dispensary license, based on what happened in Washington state, he said….

Some details, such as fees, are already outlined in the statute passed by the Hawaii state Legislature in May. But many mysteries remain.

“There are details about lab testing, components for cultivation, and other aspects that an applicant is going to have to figure out, and they won’t know [those details] until a week before,” said Robert Morgan, an attorney with the Chicago-based law firm Much Shelist.

The former manager of the Illinois medical cannabis program said Hawaii does have an advantage: a mature 15-year old home-grown medical marijuana program. The Islands are home to more than 13,000 medical marijuana patients and that basis is better than building a medical cannabis industry from scratch, he said….

“There are a lot of different efforts from high caliber individuals in Hawaii (ie political insiders) looking to bring a certain level of quality, regulation and standardization into the [Hawaii] marketplace,” he said….

read … Two Months

County sales tax surcharge on marijuana?

WHT: Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille wants the county to be able to levy a sales tax on medical marijuana, and she wants the counties to have authority over where it can be grown.

Wille is sponsoring two nonbinding resolutions asking the state Legislature to amend its new medical marijuana dispensaries law to give the counties more home rule on these issues. She also wants the Legislature to remove the ban that starts in 2019 on patients assigning “primary caregivers” to grow their pot for them.

A county sales tax of up to 5 percent is needed for the local government ….

Rep. Della Au Belotti, the Oahu Democrat who led a task force on dispensaries and was a co-sponsor of the bill, said she doesn’t expect much movement this session on changes to the new law, as the dispensaries will not yet be put in place….

She added, however, that attempts earlier this year by some lawmakers to add a surcharge to sales was met with great resistance. While some mainland dispensaries have surcharges, they are primarily for recreational marijuana use, not medical, she said, grinning widely…. 

read … Government as Business Partner

Hawaii sees growth in drug addicts using 'vape pens' to get high

HNN: "Vaping is becoming really big here for illicit drugs because we have a smokable culture," said Alan Johnson, president and CEO of Hina Mauka drug treatment facility in Kaneohe.

The facility helps more than 2,500 people annually, and is seeing a growing number of patients who report they were vaping methamphetamine and other dangerous drugs.

Johnson said the biggest concern about the trend is that vaping can be done anywhere -- out in the open -- without drawing concern.

"Parents have no idea what's going on," Johnson said.

He added that almost any drug that can be turned into a liquid can be vaped. That includes cocaine and marijuana.

"If you see a lot of cough syrup in your teenager's car, you should be concerned," he said.

Johnson says vaping Nyquil, in particular, has become popular among students. It causes users to hallucinate.

HNN: Kona Realtor who refused to stop vaping on flight sentenced to probation

read … Vaping

Students rally for ‘free’ education; Dozens at UH-Hilo

HTH: About 50 students assembled Thursday on the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s library lanai to demand cancellation of debt from student loans and rally for tuition-free public higher education and a $15 minimum hourly wage for student workers.

The protest was part of a national rally called the Million Student March. The demonstrations at schools from Massachusetts to Hawaii were inspired by remarks Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders made during an interview with Katie Couric in June….

Jennifer Ruggles, a member of the UH Student Union, a registered independent student organization at UH-Hilo and HCC with a website that heralds “mobilizing change,” said one way to mobilize the change students seek is “by spreading awareness of the issue among students and the community.”

“It’s an issue that should be on the platform of people running for office,” she said….

Hawaii’s average student debt, $24,554, is the ninth-lowest nationally.

Related: Reporters threatened by campus security at public meeting at UH Hilo

read … Free

UH hires Carleton Ching to lead its land development

SA: The University of Hawaii says its new director of land development will be Carleton Ching, whose controversial appointment to lead the state Department of Land & Natural Resources was withdrawn in March amid outspoken opposition.

News Release: Carleton Ching selected for UH Director of Land Development

read … Hired

Questions surround city’s cost estimate to fix Kailua fountain

KHON: In September, the city told us the fountain would need to be knocked down to the foundation and completely rebuilt at a cost of $425,000.

After our report aired, we heard from several contractors who said the price was considerably over-inflated.

One local contractor who’s built hundreds of pools and dozens of fountains at both private homes and major resorts including the fountain at Hilton Hawaiian Village, says after inspecting the Kailua fountain, he sees no reason why it needs to be demolished.

He said he could completely refurbish the structure for about $125,000 or do a complete demo and rebuild for about $250,000.

So we reached out to the city again, asking how they arrived at their number.

The city Department of Parks and Recreation sent the following statement: “The $425,000 figure is a preliminary estimate for budgeting purposes only. A thorough inspection of the site will need to be carried out and engineering plans drawn up before a final cost estimate determined.”

KHON: Community fights to bring life back to decades-old Kailua landmark

read … Fountain of Cash

Peter Boy’s Mom Pleads Not Guilty, Trial Set

HTH: Jaylin Kema pleaded not guilty Thursday in a welfare fraud case.

Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura ordered the 45-year-old Pahoa woman to appear for trial at 8:30 a.m. March 7 before Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn Hara. Deputy Prosecutor Rick Damerville estimated trial would take four days.

read … Trial

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