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Friday, June 10, 2016
June 10, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:08 PM :: 4800 Views

Kamehameha: The Founding of the Hawaiian Kingdom

Peruta v San Diego: 9th Circuit Finds No Right to Carry Concealed Firearms in Hawaii, California

HART Consultant: Nobody Knows What Rail Will Cost

Tulsi Gabbard Launches Campaign for DNC Chair

Caldwell machine might find it hard to defeat Djou

Borreca: …Djou’s entry prompted support from the oddest pairing: both former Gov. Ben Cayetano, as blue a Democrat as Hawaii can offer, and Aiona, who comes from the conservative Christian wing of the Republican Party.

“Djou is not beholden to union leaders, real estate developers and other special interests,” Cayetano said on his Facebook page.

Having that sort of a dichotomy of support is what Djou hopes will provide a formula to win.

Obviously a big issue, as it has been in the last two mayoral campaigns, is rail: how to build it and how to pay for it. Djou figures that unlike Caldwell and Carlisle, he was never a supporter, but now that it is started, he thinks it should be finished, though he stopped short of saying how far down the route he is willing to go.

“The problem is not with the leadership at HART (the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation) or the rail board. The problem is leadership from the mayor’s office,” Djou said.

“Rail is going to happen, but those in the pro-rail segment need to understand we cannot cash an unlimited amount of blank checks for rail,” said Djou. “My position is different from both Kirk and Peter.”

That may sound better as campaign rhetoric than as a realistic plan, but it will be popular, and Djou’s call to not spend any more will be setting much of the agenda for the rail debate this campaign season….

read … Hard to Beat Djou

Wife’s Banking Connections Key to Forcing Groups to Support Caldwell in spite of his Disastrous Record of Failure

HNN: Many think of her as "the mayor's wife," but after you hear about Donna Tanoue's accomplishments, you'll realize she is so much more.

Bank of Hawaii Foundation president Donna Tanoue has helped to raise millions of dollars for local nonprofits….

She is also a vice chair at the Bank of Hawaii….

After graduating from UH and then Georgetown Law, she worked her way up to a huge, national job: Chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which required Senate confirmation.

Despite the intimidating hearing, she got a confidence boost with the backing of a political powerhouse, Senators Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka.

Her husband, current Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, was also at the hearing….

CB: Schatz: ‘We Feel Good’ About Coming Election

read … Bank on Political Control

Rail: Hanabusa Leads Rats Jumping Sinking Ship

PBN: Colleen Hanabusa, a former Hawaii congresswoman who is running for a congressional seat in the upcoming election, said she will step down as chair of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board of directors when her campaign heats up.

Hanabusa was reappointed to a second full term on the board and named chair in April. Her current term is set to finish on June 30 and the second, five-year term would end on June 30, 2021….

“I will step down when my campaign heats up,” she told Paciic Business News in an interview. “I had been planning to end my term at the end of June anyway, but the mayor persuaded me.”

Hanabusa’s absence will mean Mayor Kirk Caldwell will have to appoint another person to fill her seat, and the HART board will have to select another chairperson.

The Honolulu City Council is also looking to fill a seat on the board, as former chairman Ivan Lui-Kwan said he will leave when his term ends at the end of the month.

The City Council has proposed that John Henry Felix take Kwan’s place. Felix's confirmation is expected to be on the council’s July 7 agenda, Mark Segami, the media director for the council, told PBN….

read … Hanabusa will resign

Honolulu Is Short $1.4 Billion To Cover Retirees’ Pension Benefits, Caldwell Says ‘Let Them Eat Rail’

CB: City officials, still grappling with how to pay the soaring costs of the Honolulu rail project, face another looming budgetary chasm.

Honolulu is short more than $1.4 billion in what it must pay to cover future public-employee retirement benefits. And, according to city financial reports, Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration has not set aside any money to cover that shortfall in Honolulu’s account at the Hawaii Employees’ Retirement System.

Catching up on those required pension payments could force the city to make big budget cuts elsewhere, or raise fees or taxes. 

Honolulu’s Department of Budget and Fiscal Services told Civil Beat that the $1.4 billion shortfall, stated in its 2015 financial report, is based on retirement system calculations from 2014. That total is expected to climb another $100 million or more when the department adjusts pension liabilities in its 2016 report, based on more recent retirement system calculations.…

SA: Hawaii Medical Association director eager to reduce health care costs but has no easy solutions

read … $1.4B

Hawaii Election Hot Spots

SA: …Rising to the top of a crowded field of also-rans, former congressman and City Councilman Charles Djou has thrown his hat in the ring for the top job at Honolulu Hale, bumping up against the current Mayor Kirk Caldwell and his predecessor in the job, Peter Carlisle.

Djou has positioned himself as the most restrictive about spending on the rail project, a posture consistent with the general skepticism he voiced about rail while on the Council. But it also makes tactical sense, given that Caldwell and Carlisle will be competing for the more pro-rail voters.

Those watching from the sidelines can expect the debate to be an assessment of how Caldwell has done in connection with that enterprise, as well as with homelessness, street repairs and other key Oahu concerns.

To some extent this kind of unrest extends to the Honolulu City Council races as well. Windward Councilman Ikaika Anderson is unopposed, but there are challenges to incumbents in four Honolulu City Council districts, where development, as well as homelessness and the rail project, persist as major worries.

Kymberly Pine is defending her Council Ewa district seat against three challengers: longtime development critic Kioni Dudley, former Councilman Tom Berg and Marc Anthony. Council members Ann Kobayashi, Joey Manahan and Ron Menor also have rivals.

The Legislature is supposed to be a more accessible entry point into elected politics, but this year there are only scattered races of note. Republicans are making even fewer than usual knocks at the door, with the GOP waving off roughly half the legislative races. Party officials said they want to concentrate on defending the seven seats the minority holds in the House and the one in the Senate.

It’s unfortunate that the only significant opposition party to the Democrats believes that’s the best it can do, because hopes for true competition of ideas are dimmed as a result.

Three Democrats, including former Councilman Stanley Chang, seek to pick off the sole GOP state senator, Sam Slom.

Rod Tam — the former lawmaker whose years on the City Council culminated in a guilty plea to 26 misdemeanor and petty misdemeanor counts of theft and falsifying documents — is trying to make a comeback, this time as a Republican in Senate District 13. Surely the GOP can’t be counting him as a recruitment victory.

Karl Rhoads is leaving his House seat to vie for that same Senate post, vacated by longtime incumbent Suzanne Chun Oakland. Two other Democrats and a Libertarian are joining them on the ballot.

And Rhoads’ House opening has inspired a half-dozen political newcomers, five Democrats and a Republican, to take their shot….

Greater uncertainty may lie in the City Charter amendments, still being hammered out, to go on the general election ballot. …on the list is likely to be a question about the future management of the rail project….

read … Let the 2016 election games begin

Supreme Court Ruling May Increase Transparency In Police Misconduct

CB: The Hawaii Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Honolulu police officers don’t have an absolute right of confidentiality regarding their disciplinary suspension records, and that their privacy interests should be weighed against the public interest in determining whether to release their names and details of their misconduct.

The decision came three years after the online publication Honolulu Civil Beat, represented by attorney Brian Black of the Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest, filed a lawsuit seeking the names of 12 officers who were suspended for at least 20 days for issues ranging from falsifying police reports to assault.

The city and the local police union, the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, defended the secrecy, contending that providing the information would invade officers’ privacy. Civil Beat argued the officers didn’t have a privacy interest in their disciplinary suspension records.

Circuit Court Judge Karl Sakamoto ruled in Civil Beat’s favor in 2014 and called for the release of the records. The city was willing to let that decision stand, but SHOPO appealed the case to the state Supreme Court.

Neither side won an outright victory Thursday. The justices vacated Sakamoto’s decision and sent the case back to him to review the records and determine whether the public interest in releasing them outweighs officers’ privacy concerns….

read … Ruling

Questions raised about how HPD handled manhunt for wanted officer

HNN: …The officer fled Tuesday night, after he was caught sexually assaulting a teen.

On Wednesday morning, Hawaii News News sought details from police about the manhunt.

It wasn't until noon, more than 12 hours after the search for Laconsay began, that HPD let the public know that the officer was on the run and that he might be driving his HPD-subsidized vehicle.

"The decision made to withhold crucial information of a rogue police officer for 12 hours by the police administration has a lot of criminologists scratching their heads," said University of Hawaii criminology instructor Aaron Hunger.

State Sen. Will Espero, who has been a vocal critic of HPD's administration, also has questions about what information the public got -- and when.

"Certainly this incident is going to be highly scrutinized," said Espero, chairman of the Senate Public Safety Committee. "We're going to see what steps were taken to actually catch the police officer and arrest him."

About noon Wednesday, HPD issued a brief statement confirming that Laconsay took off in his police-subsidized vehicle, equipped with a police radio, lights and a siren. Sources say when Laconsay fled he was driving erratically, even into oncoming traffic.

About an hour after the HPD statement was issued, Laconsay was found near near Dillingham Airfield with cuts to his wrists.

Hunger, who is a former police officer, said Laconsay could have posed a threat to the community -- one the public should have been told about sooner.

He could have "pulled over somebody from the public, endangered them, kidnapped somebody or held somebody for hostage should they have felt threatened," Hunger said….

read … Questions

GMOs: Pirates, Posers and Protectors

KE: …If you ask kanaka, “What's the most pressing issue facing you and the Islands right now?” I'm pretty sure — like 99.9% certain — the answer won't be seed crop pesticides.

But hey, if you use enough Hawaiian words, cop a line from a David Malo chant, plan a poi-pounding event at Iolani Palace and call the participants “Aina Protectors,” you can speak for kanaka — and everybody else. Right?

So believe the usual cast of motley characters — led by the oh-so-indigenous luxury Realtor-founded Maui SHAKA group and D.C.-based Center for Food Safety — that are hosting the “E hui ana na moku: 'Aina Protectors United” march and rally on Sunday….

read … Musings: Pirates, Posers and Protectors

Hawaii One of Only 10 States Requiring Government Review Prior to Hospital Merger

BHR: Hospitals in most states can close or scale back services without government review, allowing health services to disappear from some areas without giving local residents the chance to weigh in.

MergerWatch, which analyzes the hospital industry and opposes faith-based healthcare restrictions,surveyed healthcare statutes and regulations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It found only 10 states require government review before a hospital closes or discontinues services: Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Tennessee. Only nine require consumer representation on the reviewing body that decides whether hospitals can merge, downsize or close.

"In a number of states, there is no oversight at all. So hospitals are just doing what makes business sense for them," Lois Uttley, one of the report's co-authors and the director of MergerWatch told ProPublica….

read … Merger

Hawaii agency wants Huena geothermal energy complaint dismissed

PBN: A Hawaii agency agrees with a Hawaiian Electric Co. subsidiary that is asking state regulators to dismiss a complaint filed by a Big Island geothermal energy developer regarding planned geothermal expansion on that island, Pacific Business News has learned.

In February, Huena Power inc., formed by Innovations Development Group, a Native Hawaiian renewable energy firm founded in 1998 by Roberta Cabral, filed a complaint with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission asking it to find that Hawaii Electric Light Co.’s request for proposals process for a 50-megawatt geothermal project on the Big Island was unfair….

Huena Power also is asking the PUC to mandate HELCO to negotiate with its firm for the 25-megawatt geothermal project.

In May, HELCO asked the PUC to dismiss Huena Power’s complaint because of an alleged procedural defect.

This week, in a filing with the PUC, the state Division of Consumer Advocacy said that HELCO “should not be required to take geothermal energy at any cost and developers seeking to supply geothermal energy to HELCO should bear the risk of costs related to bidding processes.”

Huena Power has said it already has invested a several million dollars in preparation for this development contract, including a television commercial blitz featuring community leaders.

read … Geothermal

747 Homeless Vets Get Housing

SA: Some 747 homeless military veterans on Oahu have found housing since January 2015, but the pipeline refills at a rate of 24 new homeless veterans each month.

That leaves 221 homeless veterans on Oahu currently in need of housing, said Nate French, an improvement adviser for the New York-based nonprofit group Community Solutions, who is in town this week working with social service agencies and state and county officials to reduce the highest per capita rate of homelessness in America.

Out of the 221 current homeless veterans, 68 have been homeless a year or more, meaning they fit one of the definitions of being “chronically” homeless.

“They’re a priority,” French said.

Oahu’s homeless veterans have access to federal housing vouchers to cover their rent, but getting more veterans off the streets relies on finding more landlords to take a chance on them, he said.

“You’ve got 221 vets that need to be housed,” French said during a break Wednesday at a two-day conference organized by Catholic Charities Hawaii. “They’ve got all the subsidies they need. They just need to find the units. How do we find rental units more quickly?”

French, who is based in Los Angeles and works with other cities, said Honolulu is making impressive strides in reducing island homelessness.

The 221 known homeless veterans represent a 33 percent drop from the start of the year, when 330 veterans were homeless on Oahu, French said….

HNN: "On a monthly basis, there were about 50 to 70 new veterans entering the system. Now, for the last six months, we're seeing it's about 24."

read … City makes headway getting vets off streets

City to Foreclose on Illegal TVR With $300K Unpaid Fines

HNN: Over the past five years, the city has issued more than $300,000 in fines against the owner of an illegal vacation rental in Kailua.

Now, the city is seeking to initiate foreclosure proceedings on the home after the owner has failed to pay the fines.

"The city needs to make an example of folks who continue to thumb their nose not only at the city but also at the community," said City Councilman Ikaika Anderson.

In fact, the six bedroom home at 424-D North Kalaheo Ave. was still listed Thursday on a vacation rental website, offered for $995 a day.

"Folks like this, if they've wracked up $300,000 in fines, I don't even think we need to wait to the $300,000 level," Anderson said.

The stiff fines come as the city has begun to crack down on the problem of illegal vacation rentals.

Earlier this year, the city cited dozens of illegal rentals. But many note that there are at least 3,700 of these kinds of units in operation…

read … Foreclose

June 27 is Governor’s Veto Deadline

SA: June 27 is the deadline for the governor to notify the Legislature of his intent to veto a bill. July 12 is the last day for the governor to sign a bill into law, veto it or allow it to become law without his signature.

read … Deadlines

Rod Tam is Baaaack

Cataluna: …Tam is a small-time offender, but he is offensive nevertheless. His greatest hits were so outlandish they made national news under headings like “Weird News.”

Remember the bill to authorize naps and snacks for state workers? That was Rod Tam. As a state senator he introduced the bill, saying it would help state workers feel appreciated.

Remember the smelly-bus-rider bill? That was Rod Tam. In 2009 he introduced a measure at the City Council to punish riders who stunk up public transportation with a fine of up to $500 and six months in jail.

Oh, then there was the time he blithely used the “wetbacks” slur. That was in 2008, blazing an ignorant, bigoted trail by insulting Mexicans long before Trump was talking about building a wall.

“We don’t want any, uh, wetbacks, basically,” Tam said back then. “OK. We’ve been receiving (reports about) developers or contractors been bringing in wetbacks from New Mexico. Uh, Mexico. I’m sorry. Mexico. OK. Illegal aliens. And that’s a problem here, basically. We don’t want that type.”

Then there was the time he wanted to turn Koko Crater into a dump. After months of study and discussion of various sites, Tam shocked the rest of the City Council by suggesting a place that wasn’t on the list, is home to endangered plants and is geologically ill-suited for a long-term landfill.

After that came the meals. Lots of them, paid for with taxpayer money….

Though Hawaii Democrats never disavowed Tam, the head of the Hawaii Republican Party was quoted as saying they’re “thrilled” to have the convicted thief, proven liar and all-purpose goofball on their team. What’s worse? Not kicking him out or welcoming him in?

read … Back

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