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Thursday, June 16, 2016
June 16, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:09 PM :: 4023 Views

Cayetano, Kobayashi Endorse Djou for Mayor--Heen to Head Campaign

Frustrated with Caldwell: Ethics Director Resigns after 16 Years

Na’i Aupuni Constitution Ratification End Run

State GOP Files Challenge to Sen Laura Thielen Nomination Papers

UH launches whistleblower hotline

Rogue Systems: Top Solar Contractor Busted for Lying to Hawaii Consumers

Criminals at Heart of Drive for Fake Indian Tribe Plead ‘No Contest’—Avoid Prison

SA: Diana Oshiro, principal of the public charter school, pleaded no contest to one count of tampering with a government record; and her sister, vice principal Kurumi Kaapani-Aki, pleaded no contest to one count of theft in the second degree and one count of tampering with a government record. They appeared in court today before Circuit Judge Richard K. Perkins.

Because neither Oshiro nor Kaapani-Aki has a prior criminal record, prosecutors did not oppose their request for deferral of their sentences, which suspends jail time but imposes supervision. They will have the opportunity to have their guilty pleas and sentences cleared from their records (which is normal for politically-connected criminals).

Under a plea bargain, Oshiro was sentenced to one year deferral supervision. She must also complete 40 hours of community service, write a letter of apology to the governing board of the school, and pay court fees.

Kaapani-Aki was sentenced to four years deferral supervision for the felony theft charge and one year deferral supervision for tampering with a government record. She must also complete 75 hours of community service, write a letter of apology to the governing board, and pay court fees.

Background: Two Arrests: Corruption Bust Strikes at Heart of Drive for Fake Indian Tribe

read … Corruption at Heart of Fake Tribe

Hanabusa: HART can just take $20M City ‘Loan’ – and Another $330M After That Without Permission

KHON: …At first, HART planned to ask the board this week to sign off on borrowing $20 million from the city’s line of credit as its cash runs short in July.

Then, a few hours after we reported it, HART said there had been a change. It wouldn’t have to ask, but still needed the money.

On Wednesday, the city and HART board chairwoman Colleen Hanabusa explained what changed.

HART says it will likely need $20 million when its cash balance dips to the minimum reserve around the end of July. Its plan to patch the gap is to use city commercial paper like a line of credit.

“The money that we’re borrowing today, we know we’re going to have more than enough GET (general excise tax surcharge) and federal money to be able to pay back the amount,” said Dan Grabauskas, HART CEO….

“The authorization is there,” said Hanabusa, “and remember, it’s not authorization HART gives per se. It’s the City Council who had to authorize it because it’s the city council money. It’s the city money, not HART, per se.”

City council budget chairwoman Ann Kobayashi wants to take a second look.

“Some of the other councilmembers, they’re getting concerned because they thought that using the commercial paper would require HART to come back to us for approval,” Kobayashi said. “We’re having a discussion to see what we should do about it.”

Hanabusa says approval aside, the board still wants to know when HART wants to borrow….

“We don’t have any major contracts out there right now,” she said. “We haven’t issued the airport section, and we don’t believe we can go to City Center because of just the constraints of what funding is there.”

She added HART came close to needing to borrow once before.

“It was last year, sometime in 2015 towards the ending of the year, and they thought we would go below the minimum,” Hanabusa said.

HART also plans to borrow another form of money within about a year.

“Some of that short-term money that we’re borrowing for short-term purposes will probably be put into longer-term bonds, the expiration of which would be coincident with the sunset of the GET (surcharge) in 2027,” Grabauskas said. “If there are favorable rates, we may want to try to take out more of that next summer.”…

If HART does borrow, there are some conditions, like prepaying the interest and having a big reserve in place by 2018 of about 40 percent of its maximum borrowing. The city can also take HART assets to help toward repaying the debt if it comes to that, before having to dip into general funds.

The city’s line of short-term commercial paper is $450 million. HART can access $350 million of that.

The city points out it still has plenty available for other municipal needs, but says it’s not being used right now….

Documentation from HART:

read … HART board says no new approval needed for borrowing, but will watch

Honolulu Ethics Commission ‘Completely Void of Key Personnel’

SA: …Honolulu Ethics Commission office completely void of the key personnel needed to investigate complaints brought against city officials, or to give officials advice and routine training on ethics matters, its former employees say.

“There’s no one to conduct investigations or to give legal advice and so on at this point,” Totto said Wednesday, minutes after the Ethics Commission emerged from executive session to announce it had unanimously approved a “separation from employment” agreement with him. The commissioners had met for more than an hour in closed session discussing a “possible civil claim” by Totto against them.

Totto, who has written advisory opinions against mayors, Council members and other powerful people over a span of more than a decade, listened to the announcement in person.  He was flanked by his lawyer, Peter Carlisle….

…Supporters…contend the director should have the authority to conduct investigations without fear of political influence.

“There have been many many problems dealing with the Caldwell administration,” Totto said Wednesday. When Caldwell took office, it marked the first time that the managing director and corporation counsel started to “really focus in on what we were doing, all the way down to whether we could buy a GPS tracking device,” or “unilaterally changing our budget,” he explained.

Totto also said the administration eliminated some $6,000 in ethics training for city employees from the commission’s budget, and that that reflected “how low of a priority they consider ethics.” ….

The city Ethics Commission office in fiscal year 2016 had a budget of $427,527, and it requires at least an executive director, an associate legal counsel and an investigator in order to be effective, Totto said.

Now, it has none of those positions filled. The office opened cases for 43 of the complaints brought to it in fiscal year 2016, Totto said. Most of those are still open, and currently no one is pursuing them, he added.

Its last investigator, Bill Shanafelt, left in May after about nine months on the job. He said Wednesday after the meeting that “micromanaging” by the commission against Totto and the office staff became counterproductive and intolerable….

read … Caldwell at Work

Maui Hospital: Blackmailed by 9th Circuit, State Begins Capitulating to UPW

MN: …A joint filing with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals by the state and the United Public Workers on Wednesday reports "productive discussions" on a possible settlement of a dispute stemming from Kaiser Permanente taking over operations of Maui County public hospitals.

The state also requested that the appeals court narrow an injunction it issued on May 17 and modified on June 2 that ordered a halt to activities related to the transition of Maui Memorial Medical Center and Kula and Lanai Community hospitals, which are operated by the quasi-government Hawaii Health Systems Corp. Maui Region, to Kaiser's Maui Health Systems. The switchover was to take place July 1.

The state seeks to allow continued transition work but would be prohibited from "unilaterally changing the public employment status or the rights and benefits of UPW's bargaining unit members . . . or from closing the transaction," the appeals court document said.

The joint filing said that the UPW would not oppose the proposal and requests that the appeals court order another joint filing no later than June 30….

Leverage: Judges Lobby to Pause Hospital Privatization

read … Negotiations

Bronster: Anti-GMO Activists Have Not Claimed Any Injury from GM Crops

KE: The highlight of yesterday's court hearings on the Hawaii anti-GMO bills came at the very end.

That's when former state Attorney General Margery Bronster, now representing the seed industry, asked the federal judges to dismiss SHAKA's appeal of the overturned Maui County moratorium:

They're attempting to pursue the appeal simply to force the government to pass a certain type of law, and we don't believe that they have that right. They have not asserted an injury in fact. Instead, their injury is general to the population at large or it is purely conjectural and hypothetical.

GE plants and the parties here have been together for decades in Maui. And yet they have not asserted any specific injury or established any specific injury that would be redressed by allowing this ordinance to go into effect.

That pretty much sums it all up. And it goes for Kauai and the Big Island, too. We've heard ample accusations and anecdotes, choke complaints and concerns. But we've yet to see any specific injury, or harm, established anywhere in the Islands to warrant any of this legislation.

Hawaii has expended so much time, energy and money on this issue, and for what? So activists can move a couple of pawns in their anti-GMO chess game?

Civil Beat has finally recognized — and only because it was spelled out for them by Andrew Kimbrell, director of the Center for Food Safety — that the Hawaii anti-GMO laws have national ramifications. Unfortunately, it has not yet occurred to reporter Anita Hofschneider to then question, gee, is that perhaps why mainland anti-GMO groups are drumming up all this huhu and humbug in Hawaii?

Of course, it's very hard for Civil Beat to report fairly on any of this when its founder-funder, Pierre Omidyar, also funds two of the litigants: Center for Food Safety and Surfrider. It's a conflict that editor Patti Epler refuses to acknowledge, much less disclose. She knows where her bread is buttered….

read … Musings: True Democracy

U.S. Air Force colonel Shirlene Ostrov is “a candidate who can win.”

CB: The only Republican woman who Hawaii voters have ever sent to represent them in Washington, D.C., believes she has found the right candidate to follow in her stead.

On Tuesday at GOP headquarters in Honolulu, Pat Saiki announced her pick: Shirlene Ostrov, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel.

“I want to introduce to you my candidate for the United States Congress, because I am sure that one day — if not this time, the next time or the next time, whenever it’s going to be — eventually she is going to be there to take over my seat,” said Saiki, with Ostrov at her side.

Related: Meet Col Shirlene Ostrov, Republican Candidate for Congressional District 1

read … Ostrov

Teachers on Ethics Agenda June 16

ILind: The state Ethics Commission is about to add to its unpopularity by again targeting public school teachers with a new set of proposed guidelines explaining that certain stipends paid to teachers by outside organizations or agencies appear to be “inconsistent with the State Ethics Code.”

The guidelines are due to be discussed and possibly acted on by the commission at its regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday, June 16….

read … State Ethics Commission again targets public teacher stipends

PUC Approves Slight Reduction in Money Wasted on GEMS

SA: The Public Utilities Commission approved the 17-cent reduction Monday. Come July, residential customers will pay $1.13 a month for the Green Infrastructure Fee, which finances the state’s Green Energy Market Securitization, or GEMS, program. The new amount begins July 1 and ends Dec. 31….

HECO customers are currently paying $1.30 a month to repay the GEMS bonds.

When it launched, the program was expected to have distributed all of the $150 million to applicants by November 2016. But less than six months remains until November, and more than 99 percent of the funds sits unused….

HECO acts as the agent for the state to calculate the fee every six months, and it submits a proposal to the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism for approval. DBEDT reviews the draft and files it to the PUC…..

Related: HECO Customers Keep Paying On Unused $144 Million GEMS Fund

read … GEMS

Star-Adv: Sacrament or no, marijuana use will grow

SA: Whether or not Roger and Sherryanne Christie ultimately win their appeal, let’s consider what has happened since they were indicted in 2010….

…much has changed in six years. Hawaii is about to launch its medical marijuana dispensaries. When it comes to marijuana usage and laws, things will surely get a whole lot hazier….

read … Sacrament or no, marijuana use will grow

Victim of indicted corrections officer describes ordeal

SA: A woman told police that Anthony F. Pereira II, an Oahu Community Correctional Center sergeant, had held her captive for three days, was high on drugs and had not slept for three days when he shot his 66-year-old mother in his Maili home Friday.

An Oahu grand jury returned an indictment Wednesday charging Pereira, 44, with second-degree murder, kidnapping, terroristic threatening, using a firearm to commit the crimes and drug possession.

Pereira remains in custody at Halawa Correctional Facility. Circuit Judge Richard Perkins confirmed his bail Wednesday at $1 million.

Deputy Prosecutor Scott Spallina told Perkins that Pereira met the 48-year-old woman on June 8 and kept her in his home until Friday, when Pereira’s mother stopped by. When Barbara Pereira indicated she wanted to leave, Pereira said no and shot her in the thigh, Spallina said.

Pereira refused pleas to have his mother taken to a hospital and kept her in the home bleeding for several hours, Spallina said. During that time he fired a shot at the other woman’s head and told her, “I’ll finish (his mother) off … cut her up. We’ll make soup out of her. It’ll taste good,” Spallina said.

read … Murder, Kidnapping

Jailed city police officer indicted on rape charges

SA: Jessie Laconsay is being held at Oahu Community Correctional Center unable to post bail of $500,000. An Oahu grand jury returned an indictment Wednesday, charging Laconsay with two counts of sexual assault and one count of third-degree sexual assault.

According to a police affidavit in Honolulu District Court, at 6 p.m. June 7, Laconsay’s 32-year-old girlfriend arrived at the home in Kapolei, where she had been living with the suspect, to find him engaged in sexual intercourse with a relative on a living room couch. Under state law, sexual contact with a person under 16 years old is considered sexual assault. The suspect admitted to his girlfriend, whom he had been living with for the past eight years, that he had sex with the juvenile female on two other occasions, court documents say….

Laconsay, a 10-year veteran of the Honolulu Police Department, is on unpaid administrative leave.

read … Rape

Kamehameha Schools graduating seniors sit through national anthem, sparking debate

HNN: …Last month, 444 seniors graduated in the 2016 Kamehameha Schools Kapalama class. And about 12 of them chose to remain seated during the "Star Spangled Banner" -- only standing to join their classmates in song for "Hawai'i Pono'i."

Their decision to not participate in the national anthem at commencement has sparked a heated debate about protest, Hawaiian sovereignty and discipline.

"It's really about kanaka maoli finding themselves and being comfortable with who they are and not being afraid to just be kanaka," said Ka'ipu Baker, 18, one of the graduates who didn't stand for the anthem.

But Kamehameha Schools' administrators have described their act of protest "as surprising and unexpected as it was unacceptable."

A letter from interim Po'okula Debbie Lindsey to faculty and staff said the incident "created a noticeable disturbance to the commencement exercises" and "the ceremony was blemished by the poor choice of a few."

The letter continues: "The behavior of that small group of students was disrespectful to our school and our country. It was particularly unfortunate that this occurred over Memorial Day weekend, knowing that thousands of KS Kapalama family members, faculty, staff and alumni have served our country's military to defend and uphold the freedoms we enjoy today."….

read … Anthem

Hawaii businessman Duane Kurisu to partner with city, state on homeless housing project

PBN: Hawaii businessman Duane Kurisu’s planned development of 200-plus affordable homes for homeless families now includes a partnership with the state of Hawaii and the City and County of Honolulu, he confirmed to Pacific Business News this week.

Kurisu’s Kahauiki Village project, which includes single-family homes and duplexes to be built on reclaimed land off the Nimitz Highway between Keehi Lagoon Park and Sand Island in Honolulu, is inspired by the sugar plantation towns of the past.

Architect Lloyd Sueda, who has designed several projects for The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, is the inspiring force behind the project.

Last week, the state Board of Land and Natural Resources approved an arrangement whereby the city would take ownership of the 13.1 acres of land and lease it back to Kurisu’s Aio Foundation for 10 years, with an option to extend for another 10 years. The rent charged for the lease would be $1 per year.

The city also was granted an easement across the state-owned land to install water and sewer services at the project. Hawaiian Electric Co. was granted access to install power lines and utility poles at the property….

The homes would be rented out for $500 a month, with families responsible for their own utility costs….

The wife of former Gov. Ben Cayetano said she will hire all homeless adults that need work. United Laundry is only a few minutes walk away from the village….

read … Housing

OHA Forces homeless people out of campsites in Wahiawa

KHON: OHA tells us approximately 17 campsites were found on the property and, besides being illegal, a spokesman says they pose a health and safety hazard.

We saw structures complete with rooms, doorways, and even a tunnel that led to another bedroom, which was filled with linens and towels and plenty of other items.

There is even a sign for the restroom….

The 511-acre property used to be former agriculture land, but has most recently been used as a campsite for homeless people.  (Its government land now.  It’ll never be used for anything.)

“It’s hard to track the population but we did count, at one point, about 17 or so tents or structures,” said Kamemoto.

We are told it’s going to take a week to clean everything up. We walked around the property and saw thousands of items.

OHA says many of the tents appeared to be abandoned.

One woman who didn’t want to go on camera told us some people have living there for nearly two years. Another person said he plans to move to another location once the cleanup is done….

Crews say they took approximately 4,000 pounds from the site Wednesday….

Another spot filled with homeless in Wahiawa will be cleaned up this month — a camp under Karston Thot Bridge.  Later this month, volunteers will remove garbage from the lake….

read … 4000 lbs of trash

Meet the Hilo Students Who Will Lose Science Scholarships When TMT Leaves

HTH: University of Hawaii at Hilo’s Science and Technology Building was about as quiet as could be expected Wednesday given the summer break.

That’s except for two rooms on the second floor where nearly 30 students were busy at work solving problems related to renewable energy and optics. And this was just the one-week preparatory course.

The students from across Hawaii next will spend seven weeks at telescopes or technology businesses in the state working with mentors and gaining some valuable real-world experience.

It’s all part of the Akamai Internship Program that for 14 years has acted as a launching pad for aspiring scientists and engineers in Hawaii.

Akamai director Lisa Hunter estimates 81 percent of the 328 students who have come through the program have jobs in science and technology fields or are continuing their education.

But despite its track record, Hunter said the program could face significant cutbacks.

Since 2009, she said the program’s largest contributor has been the TMT International Observatory, the nonprofit organization behind the Thirty Meter Telescope, a controversial $1.4 billion project proposed for Mauna Kea….

read … Internship program relies on TMT

Land and Power: Charter Commission Considers PLDC for Honolulu

CB: …Agenda Item Number III and the “new” version of the hybrid of Charter Proposals 51 and 61 at the Honolulu Charter Commission meeting on Friday at 3:30 p.m. in the committee meeting room at Honolulu Hale.

The new charter proposal embodies a significant reorganization of the City and County of Honolulu and is overly ambitious given the lack of serious research and analysis that the Charter Commission has brought to bear.

Moreover, the commission has not conveyed the significance of the proposed reorganization and the implications of a city department focused on “land disposal or joint development of city lands” to the public and elected officials.

There are clear parallels between the lofty language in the new proposal and the language utilized by development proponents during the short life of the ill-fated Public Land Development Corporation.

read … Reject This Ill-Advised Attempt to Restructure City’s Land Management

Hawaii's general tax fund deposits up 7.1 percent during first 11 months of fiscal year

PBN: The total general fund was at $5.6 billion so far this fiscal year, which ends June 30, compared with $5.3 billion at the same point during the last fiscal year.

The largest single category of tax collections, general excise and use taxes, increased by 4.9 percent to $2.9 billion. In April alone, the amount collected was $258.6 million.

The collection of hotel tax, or transient accommodation tax, rose 6.2 percent in the first 11 months to $411.9 million.

read … Taxes

Union head allegedly oversaw tainted vote to double dues

HNN: …In a letter to members, IBEW International President Lonnie Stephenson said his office "discovered serious improprieties with respect to last year's vote to increase local union dues."

Stephenson said Local 1260 will continue to operate under trusteeship until the union's finances improve.

The international did not provide details on the voting irregularities. But sources said the dues were doubled by a vote that included a large number of voters from the union's Guam unit, even though the dues increase didn't apply to them.

"I hate to say I'm not surprised that that's the level he went to," said Morrison, who left the union in 2011.

The dues hike came as the union's payroll swelled by more than half a million dollars last year, creating an operating deficit of nearly $100,000, filings with the U.S. Labor Department show.

The union's payroll expenses include more than $201,000 paid to Ahakuelo, $143,000 to his son, Brandon, and $105,000 to his wife, Marilyn.

In addition, the union employed at least three other relatives.

Stephenson said he overturned the dues increase and will issue refunds. But the union's parent has to loan the money because the local didn't have enough cash for the refunds.…

PDF: Letter to IBEW members

read … Double the Take

Soft on Crime: Meth Dealer Arrested 58 Times in 13 Years—Out on Streets, Now Charged with 24 More Felonies

KGI: A Lihue woman has racked up six felony drug cases in less than a month….

In total, Numazawa is facing 24 drug-related felonies for incidents dating back to 2013 and 2016….

Numazawa has been arrested 58 times since 2003, with the most recent arrest being on June 2, according to the arrest history provided by the Kauai Police Department.

Her arrest history includes 28 felonies, 18 misdemeanors and 12 petty misdemeanors….

WHT: Family of Criminals Making Money by Suing Police over Jailhouse Collapses

read … Maybe She’ll get Community Service

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