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Sunday, August 21, 2016
August 21, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:00 PM :: 3617 Views

GEMS as a Target for Raiding?

Nut vs Nut in CD2 Republican Primary -- Hawaii GOP Chair Denounces Winner

Obesity? Hawaii 3rd-Slimmest State

‘All Natural Wild Harvest’ Scallops Behind Hepatitis Outbreak

HPD Misconduct: 16% of Officers arrested or prosecuted -- one every 5.7 weeks

SA: Nearly 1 of every 6 current Honolulu Police Department officers have been taken to court over criminal or civil allegations of wrongdoing, ranging from excessive force to domestic abuse, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Just since 2010, an officer has been arrested or prosecuted at the rate of one every 5.7 weeks.

Among the most recent examples was Keoki Duarte.

The eight-year police veteran was charged in June for allegedly assaulting an Oahu motorist in a road-rage incident.

Four years earlier, he was one of eight HPD officers sued by two hikers after the pair was allegedly beaten — one suffered broken facial bones — on a remote mountain trail. Police mistook them for burglary suspects….

Several national experts were alarmed by the Star-Advertiser’s findings.

“To have the percentage you found is really just astonishing to me,” said Samuel Walker, professor emeritus at the University of Nebraska’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice in Omaha….

The newspaper found that more than 330 officers, or nearly 16 percent of the 2,100-member squad, have been named as defendants in criminal cases, temporary restraining orders and wrongful-conduct lawsuits since joining the force. (That’s one per week.) Most of the lawsuits alleged on-duty civil rights violations, while most of the TROs involved off-duty conduct….

The analysis comes nearly six years after Chief Louis Kealoha, who was promoted to the top job in late 2009, met with reporters to deplore a spate of officer arrests at the time. Kealoha called the arrests unacceptable and vowed to continue efforts to address the problem.

But that has hardly disrupted the steady stream of unflattering news reports on rogue officers, raising questions about how effectively HPD is dealing with misconduct and whether its discipline serves as an adequate deterrent….

Of the 55 criminal cases from the past six years that the newspaper examined, more than half resulted in convictions or deferred pleas of guilty or no contest. The deferrals give the defendants the opportunity to keep their records clean if they stay out of trouble for a certain length of time.

Most of the 18 officers whose pleas were deferred remain on the job. Only one of the 14 who were convicted is still an HPD officer….

The Star-Advertiser analysis is the first to provide a systematic look at how often HPD officers are formally accused of wrongdoing….

Dennis Kenney, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said the newspaper’s finding that nearly 16 percent of officers have been accused of wrongdoing is high.

Most research, he said, suggests that about 5 percent of officers account for a disproportionate share of complaints against police. “You are talking about far more than just complaints if it is going to court,” Kenney said in an email….

read … Survey of Honolulu Police Department officer misconduct

Impunity Starts at the Top: Caldwell Bought and Paid for by Banksters

Shapiro: …Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s slippery defense of his more than $200,000-a-year side job as a director of Territorial Bancorp should set off more alarms than it silences.

Territorial pays Caldwell between $200,000 and $299,999 a year, according to his city financial disclosure, far more than his $164,928 mayoral salary.

For this rich compensation, Caldwell told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser he spends two hours a month attending bank board meetings, taking vacation from his city job.

This comes to between $8,333.33 and $12,499.95 an hour, raising troubling questions about what the bank gets for its money.

In a mayoral debate before the primary election, Caldwell fended off suggestions that Territorial is buying political influence by citing his banking expertise, saying he understands the business “very well.”

It’s true he’s represented banks as an attorney, but in that capacity he would have gotten maybe $500 or $600 an hour for his counsel; what makes his advice now worth as much as 20 times more?

Again, Caldwell dismisses concerns about influence-buying, saying he became a bank director before he was mayor and Territorial is “getting the same thing from me as when I served on the board prior to me becoming mayor.”

He leaves out that he was majority leader of the state House of Representatives when he joined Territorial in 2007 — a position nearly equal in political influence to the mayor.

So yeah, the bank is getting what it always got.….

Caldwell is relying heavily on his Democratic Party ties in this year’s election, and it’s curious that local progressive Democrats who joined Bernie Sanders in raising hell about the financial industry’s political influence have kept silent about their mayor being on a bank’s payroll.

The dismal quality of our local government will never improve as long as we let elected officials live with impunity on the ethical edge.

SA: Schatz Finnally Gets Around to Endorsing Caldwell

read … Caldwell’s--an example for HPD officers

Grabauskas Gone: Last Chance to Save Rail

SA:…Grabauskas’ contract renewal had languished in limbo for weeks longer than it had in previous job-performance evaluations. So it was hardly a surprise when he stepped down on Thursday, having plainly lost the HART board’s confidence.

But now the episode stands as a decision point, perhaps the last chance the agency will have to reset the project.

The decision the HART board must make without delay is on a new chief executive who is primed to hammer through the 20-mile, 21-station project to completion.

A qualified candidate needs deep experience with the construction industry and the ability to troubleshoot problems that arise, holding contractors accountable.

This is an awkward moment for such a transition. Colleen Hanabusa, who chaired the HART board for the past year, is likely to resume service in the U.S. House of Representatives, a forecast based on clear polling data.

Further, the project, now an estimated $1.3 billion short of anticipated tax revenues, occupies the starring role in the latest political drama.

That’s the showdown between Mayor Kirk Caldwell, seeking re-election in November, and his rival, former U.S. representative and City Council member Charles Djou.

While the search for Grabauskas’ replacement begins, Michael Formby will serve as HART acting director; he has stepped down from the HART board and from his position as director of the city Department of Transportation Services. It’s a reasonable appointment, given the circumstances. But the reassignment can’t erase Formby’s history as a Caldwell Cabinet member.

This added political component runs counter to the aim of a quasi-independent agency: keeping political considerations at bay.

HART must keep its distance from the coming general-election uproar.

Finally, hard deadlines loom in a few weeks. The Federal Transit Administration is demanding a “recovery plan” — a blueprint for closing a yawning gap in project funding.

The FTA doesn’t expect a final plan until year’s end, but HART will meet with FTA officials Aug. 29, crafting a preliminary version….

SA: Grabauskas chosen to fall on sword for rail

read … HART needs chief who can see rail line to completion

GE Tax Hike Coming -- Souki to remain House speaker with Unanimous Democrat Support

SA: Both Souki’s supporters and critics say he has firmly locked down all the votes he needs to remain as speaker for the next two years, quietly gathering that support with his allies even before lawmakers adjourned the last session in May.

Collecting firm political commitments that early effectively left no room for any would-be House dissidents to challenge Souki’s authority regardless of the outcome of the primary or general elections.

The House is also expected to retain much of the rest of its top leadership, including House Finance Chairwoman Sylvia Luke and House Majority Leader Scott Saiki.

Luke said the current House leadership initially agreed Souki would hold the speaker’s job for four years, and that four years has now expired. However, “Scott and I made it very clear to Joe that as long as he wants to be speaker, we’re committed to him because this was a mutual relationship, and we like working with each other,” she said.

At the close of the 2016 session, Saiki and Luke helped gather signatures in support of Souki on a petition that committed the House Democrats to retain him as speaker for the next biennium, and each of the Democrats who won their primary races on Aug. 13 have already signed that document, Luke said….

Souki supports another extension of the half-percent excise tax on Oahu to provide additional funding to complete the over-budget $8.1 billion Honolulu rail project, and also supports proposals by Gov. David Ige to increase the state’s gas tax, weight tax and vehicle registration fee to provide more money for highway construction and maintenance….

read … Souki to remain House speaker

Homeless chief warns against bypassing rules

SA: Gov. David Ige’s extension last week of his emergency homeless proclamation for the sixth time came a day after Hawaii’s homeless coordinator warned nearly 150 California officials about the dangers of bypassing normal requirements as they push for their own statewide emergency proclamation.

Ige’s original October emergency proclamation allows Hawaii officials to waive procurement and union labor agreements another 60 days — until Oct. 19 — to get projects to help the homeless online sometimes years ahead of the time it would normally take.

But Scott Morishige, Hawaii’s homeless coordinator, told county and city officials up and down California — from San Diego to San Francisco to Sacramento — in a Wednesday webinar that “the rules that are being waived exist for good public policy reasons,” said Phil Ansell, director of Los Angeles County’s Homeless Initiative who organized the webinar. “He said that although there’s an emergency now … it’s important for it not to become a long-term dependency. He was very candid about that.” ….

Hawaii officials have been overlooking normal bid procedures to get projects moving faster but Morishige said no labor agreements have been waived.

So far, Morishige said, 13 homeless-related construction projects have been sped up by Ige’s proclamations. And more than 4,800 people — including 1,353 island families — have received financial assistance to get them off the street or to stay in their homes, Morishige said.

Although the effects of a California emergency proclamation might turn out differently, Morishige’s comments were extremely helpful, Ansell said.

He emailed an audio clip of Morishige’s comments to 1,600 people who could not listen to the original webinar “because we thought it was so valuable,” Ansell said. “Scott’s presentation addressed the intent of the state of emergency, actions that have been taken, beneficial effects and how to assess the effects. He identified challenges and risks. He had really thought it through and had a lot of experience.”

Ansell added: “Hawaii is the only state in the union that has declared a homeless emergency. Therefore we thought information about Hawaii’s experience would be relevant to help maximize support for a California declaration.”

read … Homeless chief warns against bypassing rules

Hawaii DoE 1,600 Teachers Short

SA: …the persistent problem — some would call it a crisis — is that there are too few teachers like Arford coming down the education pipeline and too many of them calling it quits.

This has produced a rate of vacancies that, critics say, leaves substitute teachers and others who may lack subject-area mastery at the helm of too many classrooms.

In some areas, it’s been a longstanding problem. Bill Prescott, who hailed from Oahu’s Leeward coast, moved his family back to his home town while he served a tour in Vietnam. Even then, he said, he noted the challenge of keeping a stable teaching force in the region’s public school campuses.

“I didn’t realize how bad the quality of education was on the Waianae Coast,” said Prescott, who formerly served on a community coalition seeking school improvement. “The problem has been going on for decades.”

Many on faculty there are newly credentialed teachers, either from isle colleges or brought in from the mainland, he added; once they’re tenured, they’ll either seek a transfer to another district, or they’ll move away.

“Whenever there’s an opening in town, all of our teachers down here apply,” he said. Then emergency hires or substitutes fill in the blanks….

But about one week into the new semester for the interview with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Rosenlee’s estimate was that there were 1,600 openings to fill.

“We’re going to fill 375 positions with teachers mainly from Hawaii,” he said. “That still leaves us with a 1,200-plus gap.

“They’re going to grab a couple hundred more teachers from the mainland, and then they’re out.

“Next step is getting emergency hires,” Rosenlee said. “These are ones who haven’t passed their license, haven’t yet finished college, whatever the reason.”

These will fill a few hundred positions, he said, and the rest is left to substitutes.

SA: How to become a substitute teacher

read …  Teachers wanted: Public schools struggle to fill vacancies

Four New Councilmembers for Hawaii County

HTH: …Of the nine council members, five will be incumbents, while another four — two of whom will be decided in the Nov. 8 general election — will make up the freshman class.

The newbies so far include Jen Ruggles of Fern Acres, who beat District 5 council member Daniel Paleka in the Aug. 13 primary, and Tim Richards of Waimea, who unseated District 9 council member Margaret Wille.

The seats that went undecided in the primary are Hilo’s District 3 and Puna’s District 4. Both are open races without an incumbent running.

In District 3, Sue Lee Loy, a county Water Board member and planning consultant, and Moana Kelii, a Hawaii Government Employees Association union agent and former social worker, will face off in November.

The winner will replace council member Dennis “Fresh” Onishi, who is term-limited. He unsuccessfully ran for state Senate District 1 in the Democratic primary.

The District 4 race will see Eileen Ohara, a University of Hawaii at Hilo adjunct faculty member, versus Madie Greene, president of Nanawale Community Association.

That seat is now held by council member Greggor Ilagan, who lost to Sen. Russell Ruderman in the Senate District 2 Democratic primary….

HTH: The Comeback Kim

read … Four

Hawi: Seven Trump Signs Stolen

WHT: In the more than 30 years Sandy Gray and her husband Rob Biggerstaff have lived in North Kohala, they’ve never had trouble feeling safe at home.

“I have never felt any kind of anxiety or fear or anything, and we’ve lived here all these years,” Gray said.

The couple moved to the Big Island in 1984 from Houston, in part to get away from the poor air quality there and also in hope of finding a place to grow their own food….

In total, seven of their eight signs have been torn down from the fence or trees….

this isn’t the first time Gray and Biggerstaff have been the targets of signage theft. During the last election in 2014, a row of Margaret Wille signs was stolen from the couple’s property. Wille is the county councilwoman who represents North Kohala until the end of the year.

But, Gray said, when she set up another row of signs, there weren’t any more issues. Biggerstaff said the Wille signs they set up this year also were left untouched….

Biggerstaff said he spoke with police after his signs were stolen….

read … Couple feels targeted after Trump signs repeatedly stolen

$4.5M in Green: Waikiki Eco Confab Subsidized by Taxpayers

SA: Oahu residents will foot most of the city’s multimillion-dollar security tab to host the upcoming World Conservation Congress, a major international event next month in Waikiki, which may attract President Barack Obama as opening speaker.

“The estimate right now is that the WCC will cost the city $3 million to $4 million in support of the state,” said Melvin Kaku, director of the city Department of Emergency Management. The overtime bill alone for the Honolulu Police Department is expected to reach $455,000.

Coming to Hawaii Sept. 1-10, the premier conference of the International Union for Conservation of Nature is the state’s highest-profile international meeting since the 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. In fact, the event is often dubbed the “APEC of Conservation.”

Honolulu resident Edwyna Speigel said it’s “asinine” for the city and state to pay such high fees to bring more tourists to Hawaii when the state is already overrun with them.

“I am annoyed and dismayed at the dismal quality of life that results from overcrowding by tourists,” said Speigel ….

SA: Just in Time for Eco-Confab--Homeless blocked from traffic triangle

read … Asinine

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