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Wednesday, November 2, 2016
November 2, 2016 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:39 PM :: 5154 Views

Mitsunaga Point by Point Expose of Pro-Caldwell Media Bias

Djou Unveils Plan for First 100 Days as Mayor

Island Energy Completes Acquisition Of Chevron's Hawaii Assets

Caldwell Commits Then Fails to Show for Filipino Press Debate

Revenge on Ige in 2018?  -- Kenoi Planning Political Comeback

KHON: Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi was considered a rising star in Hawaii politics before voters knew what pCards were.

With criminal charges now behind him, what could his political future hold?

KHON2 spoke with Hawaii Pacific University professor and political analyst John Hart, who says Kenoi still has a good chance of being elected into office.

But the whole pCard issue will probably never go away.

Hart says it’s not that surprising that the jury reached a not-guilty verdict….

(Note to Ige: If you aim at the Kenoi, you better not miss.)

Malu Motta: “I need one governor so he can pardon me.

HTH: Kenoi, who softly said “thank you” to jurors….

AG: “The crime of theft requires proof a person intended to permanently deprive his victim of what he stole.”  (Translation: Not only did we let the defense stack the jury, but we also chose to file the wrong charges.)

SA: Dull politicians better than Kenoi

VIDEO: Supporters Hug Kenoi After Not Guilty Verdict

read … Kenoi for Governor, 2018

Matayoshi: Governor Ordered BOE to Fire Me

KHON: …She says when the board talked with her, it praised the progress at schools, liked her initiatives and her executive team, but told her it would not renew her contract and would start a search process.

“Was it a surprise for you?” KHON2 asked.

“We’ve had differences of opinion from at least some criticism,” Matayoshi replied. “During the governor’s campaign, he made it clear there were things he wanted to change in the DOE. I think that he believes passionately in public education and he has now appointed most of the board members so I think that’s sort of the beginning.”

“Has the governor ever spoken with you about this?” KHON2 asked.

“I did speak with the governor and he did express a desire to have a new direction,” she said.

And so, in eight months she will leave after six years as superintendent.

“Does it make it more difficult for you to continue for the next several months?” KHON2 asked.

“It’s an awkward situation, because some people think I’m gone or I’m going to be leaving soon, and I really have until the end of June to stay focused on a certain key things that I want to make sure that we have very solidly in place,” she replied….

KITV: "I've told them I am willing to stay.”

read … Matayoshi addresses final months as Hawaii schools superintendent

Matayoshi Firing—Proof that Politics Trumps Results 

HNN: …at the board meeting, Matayoshi's supporters urged board members to reconsider.

"This is obviously politically driven and sends a sharp message that politics trumps results." DOE Public Charter School Commissioner Kalehua Cruz said.

Jessica Worchel, of the DOE Office of Hawaiian Education, said she's concerned "we decided too quickly that Superintendent Matayoshi is not the right fit without clearly knowing what direction we are heading."

CB Comments: “Achievement and innovation have risen over her term as leader. AND, the BOE rated her as being excellent. Pull the quarterback after putting our team up 2 touchdowns at the half. Good call coach.”   --   “One would hope that the BOE would be the student's advocate, not simply the bureaucratic mouthpiece of the "teachers".  Too many have forgotten the that the purpose of the public education system is to benefit the students, not the entrenched, entitled functionaries.”

HTH: “She has done an extraordinary job over the years,” De Lima said. “… There are some views of (board) members who believe that we are at a point in our state where public education needs to move and transition to a different point of emphasis.”

read … Politics

Rail: As Hanabusa, Formby Flee, Star-Adv Spins Temporary Hires as ‘Glimmer of Hope’

SA: The construction of Honolulu’s rail project, now carrying a price tag of $8.6 billion, has been stymied in the last year or more with debilitating cost increases and delays. And more recently, the spotlight has swiveled to illuminate harshly the mounting worries about the structural stability of the project, which could have even more catastrophic consequences.

The only positive news to emerge has been this: Efforts to bring better construction expertise into the top echelon of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation offer a glimmer of hope.  (WRONG: It means nobody wants to be responsible for this mess and the project will remain directionless and leaderless for years to come.)   Nobody can expect calm waters, but if HART must navigate the whitewater rapids ahead, at least the agency can do so with more expert guidance at the helm.

About a month ago, reports issued by HART and the project’s federal overseers pointed out cracks that were forming in the plastic padding used to give the rail tracks a level surface. In addition, according to the reports, strands in some of the tendons, or steel structural reinforcements, had snapped apart. And this is happening years before the first train car has even been set on the guideway….

On Sunday, more alarm bells were rung by Dennis Mitsunaga, president and CEO of Mitsunaga &Associates, an architectural, engineering and construction management firm. Mitsunaga took out a large ad in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in which he staked out a position as a structural engineer who sees clear safety issues with the project.

Whether or not the structural integrity of the project ultimately is compromised, a prominent professional going public with that concern, putting his reputation on the line, merits serious attention by HART’s newest executive officer, Krishniah Murthy.

Murthy, a consultant with credible and extensive experience in transit development, was hired Thursday on an interim basis to replace Dan Grabauskas, the agency’s former executive director and CEO. He becomes the city’s top-paid employee, with a base salary of $400,000, with promise of a bonus if he hits benchmarks.

That stunning figure is defensible for the short term, given the state of a project in critical need of a turnaround, with a funding shortfall of at least $1.8 billion and very little room for additional error. It’s virtually impossible to hire someone on the cheap who has the credentials for what is essentially a tryout position lasting only one year….

read … Delusional

Fewer voters opting to vote early for general election

HNN: …So far, the number of early walk-in voters on Oahu has reached over 10,800.

That's about 2,000 fewer walk-in voters compared to this same time in 2012, when President Barack Obama was up for re-election.

Meanwhile, some 64,0000 mail-in ballots are being counted.

Early voting runs through Saturday….

read … Fewer voters opting to vote early for general election

Maui Anti-GMO Activists Harass Workers in Effort to Save The Little Fire Ants

KE: …The Huffington Post recently published an article by an anti-GMO activist that focused on the goal of the “True Food” slate to unseat the current Maui County Council solely on the basis of the GMO issue. It prominently featured Council candidate Alika Atay, who has no political experience other than working with SHAKA and Babes Against Biotech to push the Maui GMO moratorium that was struck down by the courts.

And then there's the questionable character and scant qualifications of the “True Food” candidates.

Among them are Rep. Kaniela Ing, who is awaiting trial on charges of driving without insurance and failing to respond to a court summons to appear.

Kawika Crivello took to Facebook to defend his mother against name-calling by “True Food” candidates Alika Atay and Keani Rawlins-Fernandez, captured on a CFS video….

Meanwhile, Alika and Trinette Furtado, along with their campaign manager, Brian Bardellini, have been involved in a bizarre battle with the folks who are trying to eradicate the little fire ants (LFA) on Maui. One of the workers sought a restraining order against Brian after he and Alika verbally abused eradicators, prompting Brian to respond with his own TRO claim….

MN: Proposals to ban reusable plastic bags, polystryene deferred

read … Save the Fire Ants

Protesters are Anti-Transparency

CB: An angry protest shutting down a public meeting is just as bad as state officials choosing to have no meeting at all….

In 2014 I went to a Kauai Department of Water meeting on a proposed horizontal well on Waialeale.

Before the projector could even warm up, a group of activists began shouting that Waialeale is sacred and no water should be drawn from it. Within minutes, the middle school cafeteria devolved into a roaring echo chamber of protestors. And the meeting was adjourned before it really began.

The unseen presentation that night (of which I requested a copy afterwards) demonstrated how the new well would have turned the east side water system from one of the largest users of electricity on the island to one of the largest producers.

Because the well would’ve been tapped high on the side of the mountain, energy could be produced from turbines as the water flowed downhill. The combination of savings (by decommissioning wells) and production (through hydroelectricity) would eliminate about 4.3 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually. To put that into perspective, that’s the carbon equivalent of planting 50,000 trees every year. For a little island, that’s huge.

But none of that was ever presented. The protestors didn’t trust that the Department of Water would be good stewards of the mountain. Maybe they were right, or maybe we missed a tremendous opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint.

We will never know the answer because the public meeting was overthrown.

And now while the project gathers dust in some file cabinet, our east side water system continues to use 1.7 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year. That is the cost of mistrust….

read … No Sunshine

VA Bureaucracy Leaves Homeless Veterans on the Streets

HNN: …(since) two years ago, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has assisted in housing 860 veterans on Oahu.

But 237 veterans remain homeless -- either in shelters or on the streets.

The city says there's money to house all the homeless veterans, but apartments are so limited that even some veterans with federal housing vouchers remain unsheltered.

As of last week, there were 71 unsheltered veterans on Oahu. At least eight have federal vouchers that would cover the majority of their rents -- if they could find an affordable rental.

Mike Peacock, co-founder of Hawaii Vet to Vet, said the lack of affordable apartments is one of the reasons more vets aren't housed. Another has to do with access to the VA.

"They don't make it easy," said Peacock, whose organization helps homeless veterans navigate the system.

"They have a gatekeeper mentality where you have to go through one person. If that one person is on vacation, out of the office, off island it stops our veterans from engaging with the community services that are there for them."…

read … VA Bungling

More Hawaiian Airlines baggage handlers under investigation for theft

HNN: …Sources say 11 employees total are now on leave, some with pay and some without pay.

The FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms started investigating the case this summer, after two law enforcement officers had their guns stolen from their checked bags while at the Kahului Airport.

Three men were arrested, and subsequently released pending an investigation.

Since Hawaii News Now broke the story on October 9, eight more employees have been accused of stealing various items from the luggage of passengers including Vernon Ikeda.  The Wailuku man had hundreds of dollars in dried aku and fish hooks stolen from his cooler which he checked for the Honolulu to Kahului flight just days before the arrests. 

"It's a shame," says Ikeda, "They increase the bag fees and then our bags, our luggage get treated like this."  Ikeda says the airlines reimbursed him for the cost of the items taken, but he says that didn't make it better.  "What I really wanted was I wanted the products because I cannot get those products on Maui, those hooks nor the fish."

The eight additional employees being investigated have not been arrested.  Sources say they're all friends.  Some are lead ramp agents while others are ramp agents.

The FBI is reviewing more than 1,200 text messages sent within the suspected theft ring….

read … Your Bag Fees at Work

Building Permits Improvement Laughable

HTH: …It’s been a little more than a year since the county beefed up its staff and overhauled its building permit review process in an effort to speed up permits.

But about a dozen people — primarily design professionals and construction contractors — on Tuesday laughed off a Public Works official’s contention that things are much better now.

The group told the County Council Committee on Public Works and Parks and Recreation the process still leaves a lot to be desired. Long delays, a cumbersome process with conflicting requirements and multiple steps can mean six months or more to get a building permit, some said.

“The Building Division is being run like a dictatorship,” said Daniel Bona, a longtime plan designer.

More than half of the structures in lower Puna and rural areas of the county aren’t permitted, estimated Oshi Simsarian, a Puna resident.

“People want to be legal. People want to be permanent. But they’re afraid to even try,” Simsarian said.

Paul Bailey, of Paul Bailey Construction Ltd., has built homes on the island since 1971. In the old days, he said, he could draw up plans on an 8.5-by-11-inch sheet of paper, turn it in and get approval after lunch.

“Those buildings are still standing. … Families are still living in them,” Bailey said. “What are we trying to fix? Nothing’s being fixed here; it’s just being made more complex.”

read … Laughable

Abuse or Rehabilitation? Kauai Prison Trial Begins

AP: A former psychiatric social worker at Kauai Community Correctional Center was forced out of her job for trying to protect female inmates from a warden who allegedly subjected them to sexual humiliation and discrimination, her attorney told jurors at the start of trial in her lawsuit Tuesday.

Carolyn Ritchie’s 2014 lawsuit says female inmates complained to her about “fear, shame and feelings of psychological torture” from the warden forcing them to describe their sexual pasts while being videotaped as part of a program he created. The lawsuit against the state, the state Department of Public Safety and Neal Wagatsuma in his official capacity as warden of the Kauai correctional facility, alleges inmates were forced to watch rape films and female inmates were denied the same work furlough opportunities as male inmates.

The state denies her “wild allegations,” Deputy Attorney General Bosko Petricevic told jurors. Ritchie never witnessed any of it, he said, and there was nothing inappropriate about the program Wagatsuma created for lower-risk inmates.

No one was forced to talk about anything at daily meetings, though sometimes an inmate’s past abuse would come up, Petricevic said. Sometimes Wagatsuma would show “legitimate, mainstream artistic movies” in an effort to discourage male inmates from committing rape and to teach female inmates how to lower the risks of becoming victims, Petricevic said…..

read … Trial starts in lawsuit alleging female inmates mistreated

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