Taxpayer Return on Investment: Hawaii Ranks 48th
Evenwel Ruling: States May, not Must, Count Everyone In Reapportionment
Ige Boosts DHHL Funding to $23.5M–Still Short of Court Order
Auditor: Every Special Fund Proposed in 2016 Legislature out of Compliance
Full Text: Honolulu Issues 2016 Citizen-Centric Report
College Readiness: How did your school Do?
Report Shows City Ethics Director Suspended for Exposing Illegal Rail Votes
CB: …What can be gleaned from the investigator’s redacted report is that at least one person in Totto’s office complained about his management style and his recent handling of an investigation of Honolulu City Council members for possible ethics violations related to lobbyist gifts and votes cast in favor of the $6.6 billion commuter rail project.
According to the documents, an Ethics Commission employee complained that Totto seemed to be pursuing the case too doggedly despite concerns that there wasn’t enough evidence or legal grounding.
That employee reportedly feared retaliation from Totto for not cooperating in pursuing the case, which was eventually dismissed by the commission.
Laurie Wong-Nowinski was the only attorney besides Totto on the five-member Ethics Commission staff at the time.
Wong-Nowinski is no longer working for the Ethics Commission. Her last day was Thursday…..
read … Why Was Ethics Director Suspended?
Aiona, Carlisle, Martin, Caldwell for Mayor, 2016?
SA: The Honolulu mayor’s race is slowly taking shape as three seasoned politicians appear to be positioning themselves for potential challenges to incumbent Kirk Caldwell.
Former Mayor Peter Carlisle, who Caldwell unseated two years ago, is sounding like a candidate, and two of City Council Chairman Ernie Martin’s public meetings sponsored by his campaign committee are being held outside his Council district….
Martin has been holding fundraisers, and disclosure forms he is required to file say he is running for Council even though he is barred from running for a third straight Council term in 2018.
“I’m keeping all of my options open,” he said. If he were to run for mayor, he said, he believes the state’s resign-to-run law would only require him to resign from his Council post when he files nomination papers, not after any public proclamation. The deadline to file to run for 2016 races is June 7.
Meantime, former Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona, who also has discussed the possibility of challenging Caldwell this fall, said he anticipates announcing a decision on his 2016 political plans soon.
“I haven’t set a date yet,” Aiona said. “Should be within a month or so.”
The announcement will likely be made during his weekday morning radio talk show on AM 940.
“What’s tugging at my heart, really, is the fact that there aren’t enough, how do I put, competitive races out there for a lot of races,” Aiona said. “And that’s what bothers me.” He declined to say which offices, other than the mayor’s, he is eyeing.
Whether Carlisle or Martin enter the fray won’t effect his decision, he said. Aiona’s campaign account, as of Jan. 1, had $18,872 in it.
Campaign spending reports show that at the beginning of 2016, Caldwell had $1.6 million in his campaign account while Martin had $492,510.
read … Possible mayoral challengers emerge
Caldwell, Martin Pretend to be Concerned About Mounting Rail Costs
Borreca: Honolulu’s $6.7 billion rail project is so far off track that it has managed to bring together the two Honolulu rivals, Mayor Kirk Caldwell and Council Chairman Ernie Martin.
The pair are united not in their admiration for the project, but in their fear that costs will continue to grow, that it will take more than the already extended six years to finish and, along the way, it will create an unprecedented traffic nightmare.
Last month both Martin and Caldwell wrote to Donald Horner, chairman of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, and Daniel Grabauskas, HART CEO and executive director, to say how much they didn’t like how the project is progressing….
Those letters may serve to inoculate Caldwell and Martin from this year’s irate voting public….
Big Q: When the rail’s first segment starts running from Kapolei, supposedly in 2018, how far should it go?
read … Caldwell, Martin step up questioning of rail costs
Star-Adv: We Will Start Covering Kealoha Grand Jury Investigation
SA: After months of speculation, (coverage by HNN, ignored by Star-Adv) there was finally confirmation last week (huh?) that a federal grand jury is investigating Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, city Deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha. (Confirmation = A Star-Adv article)
Corruption allegations stem from a June 2011 incident in which Katherine Kealoha’s uncle, Gerard Puana, was arrested for supposedly entering a neighbor’s screened-in porch. While Puana was at the police station, witnesses said, Katherine Kealoha and police officers entered Puana’s locked home, and Puana alleged items including documents and cash went missing, a federal public defender said.
Guess this means the Honolulu Police Commission can no longer say there isn’t evidence of any investigation into Chief Kealoha.
read … Won’t Ignore Anymore
Kauai: Anti-Antis Show up in Force
KE: One thing became clear at last night's public meeting of the Joint Fact Finding Group: there is no unity among its members.
Nor was their unity among the 150 persons in attendance, at least half of whom were anti-antis.
The NBC “Dateline” crew was also there, chasing the “poisoning our keiki” bogeyman that had been pitched to them by anti-GMO activist Marghee Maupin. In running down that ghost, they've missed a truly compelling and tragic story: the ice epidemic that actually is ravaging “paradise.” …
How much more and time and energy should be expended to ease fears that have been wildly fanned by the anti-GMO groups, to appease people who will never be satisfied, even (or especially) when the news is good?
We've been letting a small, but loud, group of people hold sway. Now it's time, in this election year, to hold people accountable for what they've done and said.
read … Musings: 'Nuff Already
HB2501: Bill Saving Maui Ag Water Heading for Conference Committee
CB: An agricultural giant would be allowed to continue diverting water from East Maui streams for three years under legislation that cleared a critical committee Monday at the Capitol.
But House Bill 2501 was amended considerably in the Senate Ways and Means Committee, and the panel’s chair, Sen. Jill Tokuda, said the measure would likely end up in House-Senate conference committee deliberations later this month.
HB 2501 would allow existing applications for the leasing of water rights on state lands by the Department of Land and Natural Resources to continue until the summer of 2019.
read … Three Years of Water
Students Not Fooled by UH Tuition Hike Sales Pitch
HNN: …Students … questioned UH's overall spending practices.
"We just paid a coach about $300,000 to leave. We had $100,000 go towards Dodge Chargers for the security team and we just had another maintenance proposal maybe five or 10 years ago and it didn't seem like it did a lot they just ended," said Jebediah Flink, a UH student from Washington state.
"We've gotten chances to fix this problem before and it didn't really go anywhere and so that's why I'd like to see where the budget is going now."….
Background: Tuition up 136%: UH Manoa Ranks #1 in USA—and Administration Wants More
read … Not Fooled
Hawaii County Employees Rack up $13.2M Overtime as Retirement Approaches
HTH: …Overtime pay is driving some Hawaii county employees’ salaries much higher than their bosses’ and even higher than the mayor’s, the chief elected official on the island. …
In fact, some Hawaii County employees make more than the governor. Gov. David Ige’s salary last year was $146,628.
The top-paid employee in the county last year was a battalion chief for the Hawaii County Fire Department, according to an analysis of 2015 salary records provided by the county departments of Finance, Human Resources, Corporation Counsel and Water Supply.
The county provided salary figures where allowed by state law, and salary ranges in other cases. The analysis used the top ends of the salary range, and looked at just the two top-paid officials in each department, with and without overtime.
The county’s top-paid employee, whose name and exact salary were withheld by the county because of state confidentiality laws, made up to $205,013 last year. The department has nine battalion chief positions, with one of them vacant and unfunded and two others being held for recruits….
A park planner, whose salary and overtime brought his or her paycheck to $157,654, was the top-paid employee in the Department of Parks and Recreation. In comparison, the planner’s boss, Director Clayton Honma, made $99,000….
Retiring Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira makes the most money in his department. His salary and overtime last year peaked at $146,489.
Grade VII civil engineers in the county departments of Environmental Management and Public Works topped $144,037 with overtime last year. The regular range for the position is $73,968 to $131,448.
With overtime, one of two assistant police chiefs pulled in up to $136,033 last year. In comparison, Police Chief Harry Kubojiri made $139,138….
Overtime costs for the fiscal year that ended July 1 were $13.2 million. That compares to $8.8 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2012, and $14.1 million in overtime paid in the 2007-08 fiscal year under former Mayor Harry Kim.
Specific statistics on overtime pay as a percentage of a government agency’s total operating budget are hard to come by, Schrage said. The most shocking statistic he found is that in one small town in Florida, overtime accounts for 7.1 percent of the operating budget for the entire city.
Hawaii County’s overtime costs last year accounted for 3 percent of its $438.8 million budget.
read … Top Three
Hawai`i Smart Grids: Smart Investments or a Smart Diversion
IM: The Sunday Editorial in the Honolulu Star Advertiser read “Moving ahead on `Smart Grid` a welcome move.”
The Editorial endorsed a non-publicly available 2,000 page Hawaiian Electric Company filing made two days earlier. Yesterday we obtained a copy from a HECO contact.
The Star Advertiser Editorial cited HECO, Smart Grid advocate Blue Planet Foundation, and analysis by the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative, a public-private pro Smart Grid entity with members including utilities, energy companies, smart meter companies, public utilities commissions and state consumer advocate organizations.
The Editorial went on to say that the HECO plan was endorsed by NextEra. “AN INTERESTING sidenote: HECO's plan appears to have passed muster with NextEra Energy Inc., which is awaiting PUC approval on its bid to buy the utility.”
But it had to be. …
Thomas Sowell is an American economist, social theorist, political philosopher, and author is currently Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution.
“Much of the self-righteous nonsense that abounds on so many subjects cannot stand up to three questions: (1) Compared to what? (2) At what cost? And (3) What are the hard facts?”
IM: HECO Files Smart Grid Application with Ten Interrelated Components
read … Smart?
Hawaii Bill would Allow Police to Clear Meth Addicts’ Camps off State Property
HNN: …Right now, criminal trespass laws don't apply to improved state lands — meaning land that's built or improved in some way — and it's unclear whether Hawaii's trespassing laws apply to state land under freeways or in boat harbors, Wisch said.
Officials are trying to combat problems like copper theft and arson, and the proposed trespassing law would apply to everyone, not just homeless people, Wisch said. Before someone is arrested for trespassing, the state follows federal case law which requires that the state would have to confirm that there's a shelter vacancy and would have to ask the person to leave, he added….
Hundreds of people (meth addicts) are living on state land near a boat harbor on Oahu's west side.
"On any given night, there's going to be at least one or two thousand unsheltered individuals, and only a couple of hundred available shelter beds," Finlay said. "So until there's sufficient housing for homeless individuals and families, we should not be expanding criminal trespass law to target homelessness."
(Translation: There are a couple of hundred of empty shelter beds because the homeless refuse to accept shelter. And that’s the excuse for not applying more pressure.)
The Department of Land and Natural Resources supported the bill, saying it would allow immediate removal of offenders trespassing or conducting illegal activities on state land. May of the state's small boat harbors, trails and forest reserves are used for illegal activities like unpermitted camping, illegal alcohol consumption and disorderly conduct, said Suzanne Case, chairwoman of the Board of Land and Natural Resources, in testimony supporting the bill. That trespassing can kill native wildlife, she said.
The Department of Transportation also supports the bill because it's been having a tremendous problem with copper theft on state land, Wisch said. (Your tax dollars at work.)
The House Committee on Judiciary will hold a public hearing on the bill Tuesday….
read … Hawaii bill would Apply More Pressure to Those Refusing Shelter
Proposal would bolster mental health services for chronically homeless
HNN: …A bill moving through the state Legislature would create four levels of psychiatric rehabilitation programs, ranging from short-term crisis care to long term residential treatment. The bill also provides funding for additional outreach services.
Currently, a person with mental health issues has to be arrested to qualify for long-term treatment at the Hawaii State Hospital.
Many service providers say the proposal would be a critical step toward getting the chronically homeless housed.
"I think it does a good job of really focusing on rehabilitation and residential services for a lot of folks," said Connie Mitchell, executive director of the Institute for Human Services, which runs the state's largest homeless shelter. "That's really saying we need places for homeless people to receive services and not be homeless anymore."
Trisha Kajimura, executive director of Mental Health America of Hawaii, said key to any proposal to bolster services is a recognition that the severely mentally ill need individualized care.
"It takes that one on one trusting relationship with an outreach worker for a homeless person to feel that shelter is a safe option for them," she said.
The proposal wouldn't be cheap. The bill initially called for a $1 million appropriation from the general fund….
Related: Mental Health: Can Reform Solve Hawaii’s Homeless, Prison and Unfunded Liability Problems?
read … Proposal would bolster mental health services for chronically homeless
Visitor to women's prison beat up inmates when Guard Accused of Drug-Smuggling left post
HNN: An investigation is underway after a visitor was able to walk into an unsecured module at the Women’s Community Corrections Center over the weekend and beat up two inmates, sources said.
This is the latest problem at the Kailua women's facility, wherefour guards are already under investigation for allegedly having sex with four inmates.
People who work at the women's prison said the warden is under pressure to run weekend visitations, even without adequate staffing, and that's happening at the cost of the safety and inmates and employees. Prison officials denied that charge.
Here's what sources said happened Sunday morning while visitors were allowed into the women's prison: A former inmate who got out last September was visiting a current inmate. A guard had gone on a smoke break, leaving two dorms in the Kaala unit unsupervised with their doors jammed open, sources said.
That's when the visitor went into a dorm and began beating up one inmate and then, sources said, inmates pulled them apart and the visitor began fighting with a second inmate, this time in front of families with kids who were inside the facility to visit their loved ones.
There were no guards around to intercede, sources said….
The incidents happened in a unit being supervised by a sergeant who'd been transferred to the women's prison from Oahu Community Correctional Center after he was accused of smuggling drugs and other contraband to male inmates there, sources said.
read … Just Another Day in the Nei
HPD Officer Accused of DUI Hit n Run
HNN: …Brent Sylvester, a 41-year-old motorcycle officer in the traffic division was arrested on Sunday morning for driving under the influence.
Sources say he caused an accident then left the scene. The victim reportedly followed him.
read … Another One
Hawaii is Last ‘Easy’ State for Paid Family Leave
S: Currently all of the states that have paid leave—which includes California, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and now New York—run or will run the benefit through their temporary disability insurance programs. (Pregnancy qualifies for disability payments thanks to the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act.) This gives them an already-built infrastructure for collecting funds, often done through a payroll tax on employees and/or employers, and for gathering and confirming data. Hawaii is the only other state with temporary disability insurance in place, which means other states will have to come up with a different way to facilitate their leave programs, should they wish to start them. This might mean running it through already existing programs, or coming up with an entirely new structure.
read … Easy
Rep. Thielen addresses SB2425 dealing with ethics code and school trips
Rep. Thielen questions A&B on the Industrial Hemp Bill, SB 2659
Kauai County Manager Nakamura files for HD14 seat
Giant hotel merger gets little attention in local news media
Trust for Public Land secures $6M easement with Turtle Bay Resort
Free charter school prekindergarten program benefits low-income families
Arlington-Based, Native Hawaiian-Owned Tech Firm Capitalizes on Agility
Hawaii secures grant to develop bold plan to improve career preparation systems for young people
DOE beefs up Mainland teacher recruiting efforts to tackle growing shortage
As HCF celebrates 100 years, Micah Kane brings vision, background in private, public sectors, as its president
County again urged to buy trail for public at Papaikou
Out of Work Kauai-based Al Jazeera Writer Whines about US Military
Nearly 500 acres of Oahu North Shore land permanently preserved for farming
Hawaii researchers focus on data to combat Zika virus
Trial to determine if Fitzwilliam library will recover Hawaiian artifacts
Hucksters Deploy More Hype for Hawaii Tech Schemers
Enforce rules at Hanauma Bay
Feeding the future of isle tourism
Commercial tech gives Navy smaller, cheaper SEAL subs