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Wednesday, February 22, 2017
February 22, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:38 PM :: 4333 Views

Earn $50K? Hawaii Takes More From Your Paycheck Than Any Other State

Local business owners speak out about the minimum wage

Governor Ige’s ‘cuts’ still result in big spending increases

Underreported: How Gun Silencers Became a Health Issue

Full circle about single-payer health insurance

Kauai Dairy Farm Withdraws Final EIS

Caldwell: My Latest Appointee Helped Deliver Lots of Muslims to Europe

OHA Insiders Plan to Neuter Audit

Jury finds HGEA President’s Son guilty of sex assault

HTH: A jury found a Department of Land and Natural Resources enforcement officer guilty Wednesday of raping a teenage girl on a Hilo beach on New Year’s Day 2016.

It took the panel of seven men and five woman less than three hours to convict 40-year-old Ethan Ferguson of two counts of second-degree sexual assault and three counts of fourth-degree sexual assault….

Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura ordered Ferguson to return for sentencing at 8 a.m. April 24. Deputy Prosecutor Haaheo Kahoohalahala asked the judge to revoke Ferguson’s $13,000 bail, describing him as a flight risk. The judge denied the motion….

The girl, now 17, and her family left the courtroom quickly after the verdict was read, while Ferguson hugged his wife and mother.  (The HGEA President was sitting in the courtroom watching this trial.)

Ferguson was fired for misconduct after almost 12 years as a Honolulu Police Department officer before being hired in 2013 by DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement. His mother, Jackie Ferguson-Miyamoto, is president of Hawaii Government Employees’ Association, the union representing DOCARE officers (which of course has nothing to do with him getting hired at DLNR).

Ferguson was on paid administrative leave by DLNR pending the outcome of the trial (and now?). 

UPDATE: DLNR Still Paying Rapist Cop—Claims HGEA President Had Nothing to do with Hiring

read … Jury finds state cop guilty of sex assault

Trump Admin has no Time to Talk to Hawaii Legislators About Rail

SA: State lawmakers say they’re unlikely to get the briefing they want from the city rail system’s federal partners before they must decide what to do about Oahu’s cash-strapped transit project.

The holdup, state leaders say, stems from recent turnover among top officials at the Federal Transit Administration.

Nonetheless, a briefing still could happen sometime this spring before the end of the legislative session and its pivotal conference meetings, according to the House majority leader. Conference committees are where some of the session’s most critical (tax hike) decision-making takes place, behind closed doors…. 

The city has a $1.55 billion funding deal with the federal agency, but it already has breached that contract by adding years of delay to rail’s scheduled completion. It would (allegedly) breach the deal even further if it doesn’t build the full 20-mile, 21-station route….

Last week the Trump administration’s new transportation secretary, Elaine Chao, put on hold some $647 million in federal funding for electrification upgrades to Caltrain, a Bay Area passenger rail service, amid calls by Republican members of California’s congressional delegation to withhold that cash, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

That project would allow Caltrain to connect to a larger high-speed rail system planned to run across the state, according to the paper.

In a statement emailed Tuesday, HART called Caltrain’s electrification issue “a totally different set of circumstances.”

“It would not be appropriate to compare or to comment on the two projects,” HART stated.

The local rail agency said that it remains in “regular contact” with the FTA and that “there has been no indication to date that funds already appropriated” through rail’s federal funding deal will be withheld if “we continue to meet the FTA’s requests to its satisfaction” (even though the Feds have been withholding HART funds since 2014)

read … Briefing from feds about rail appears doubtful

Inter-Island Cables and Rate Hike Hearings Today

IM: …Today the State Senate Committees on Consumer Protection and Health (CPH) and Transportation and Energy (TRE) hear Senator Baker`s bill to repeal the inter-island regulatory scheme.

SB376 is a very short bill barely containing 100 words.

“The legislature finds that Act 165, Session Laws of Hawaii 2012 … established the regulatory structure under which interisland undersea transmission cables could be developed, financed, and constructed.  However, the legislature notes that the current priorities of the legislature do not include an interisland transmission system.  The legislature notes that it is more appropriate to remove references to the interisland transmission system from the Hawaii Revised Statutes, until the time as a consensus on such a system can be reached.”

Later in the day, the Public Utilities Commission will hold a public hearing on HECO`s proposed rate hike

The hearing will be held at the Ala Wai Elementary School Cafeteria; 503 Kamoku Street, near Iolani School. The hearing starts at 6 pm and continues until the testimony is done, which could be as early as 6:20 pm.

The Public Utilities Commission, the Consumer Advocate, and HECO will make brief statements, and then the public will get a chance to speak. Motions to Intervene in the proceeding must be filed within 10 days….

SA: HECO Rate Hike to be Discussed at Hearing

read … Rate Hikes

Next Big Hawaii Tax Credit Scam Will Ban Gasoline, Diesel Vehicles

I: Hawaii Could Become an All-Renewable All-Electric Car Paradise by 2045

In 2015, Hawaii Governor David Ige signed a bill that set a big goal: convert the entire state’s energy grid to renewable sources by 2045. The bill was pushed for by the Blue Planet Foundation, an advocacy group working toward renewable energy (of tax credit schemers) which says Hawaii could be the best possible test case for going completely $$$$ green….

Part of the solution is that Hawaii has worked out is reliance on a lot of (fake) green energy startups (fed by tax credits) — because even though start-up tech tends to be more expensive (LOLROTF!) early in its life, Hawaii’s expensive electricity is also expensive (but that’s OK because the peasants just keep on paying those taxes while we the green elite take all the tax credits).

“Their technology can compete in our market before they can compete in other markets,” explains Lauren Tonokawa, head of communications at the Energy Excelerator, a Hawaiian green tech incubator (tax credit distributor).

The Energy Excelerator, which grew out of a government-funded program to get Hawaii to its renewable goal  (is that what they’re calling Act215/221 these days?), works to solve specific energy problems in the community. “The approach and the responsibility to continue moving toward clean energy falls on states and cities and communities,” says Tonokawa. “And it takes the people who know their places really well and know what types of problems and solutions (campaign contributions) are needed.”

read … Another Tax Credit Scam Being Cooked Up 

DLNR Scam-- Plans to Sell Carbon Credits

SA: The state Department of Land and Natural Resources recently announced that it will attempt to sell credits that recognize a major environmental benefit from new trees that sprout from seeds.

Selling these credits would generate income that pays for reforestation work.

And the envisioned buyers for such credits could include you.

“If you drive a car, fly in a plane, use air-conditioning to cool your home, or engage in other activity powered by fossil fuels that emit greenhouse gas, you may soon have new ways to offset your emissions locally, by supporting Hawaiian forest restoration,” the agency announced in a news release last month.

DLNR intends to earn and sell what are known as “carbon offset” credits.

Such credits have been created and used mainly in Europe but also in California. A credit represents a certain amount of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, either kept from entering or removed from the environment.

Almost anything that reduces CO2 emissions — windmills, electric cars, solar panels, landfill methane recovery and energy-efficient building designs — potentially can qualify for carbon credits. Trees also do the job because they absorb CO2 through their leaves and convert it to carbon stored in bark, wood and roots.

David Smith, administrator of DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife, said individuals and organizations that contribute to greenhouse gas pollution can remove CO2 from the atmosphere by purchasing carbon credits that finance tree planting.

“Ultimately this will give individuals, organizations and companies the opportunity to purchase credits directly from the state to offset their greenhouse gas emissions, which cause global warming,” he said in a statement.

DLNR intends to initially sell such credits for ongoing work on the upper slopes of Haleakala on Maui, where the agency — with public and private partners — has planted 71,000 trees and 45,500 native plant seedlings over the last three years after installing seven miles of fencing and removing 700 invasive animals….

SA: We Love Carbon Credit Scam

read … Another Scam

50% Failure Rate: Solar Installations ‘Falling Like Dominoes’

KGI: Two years into operation, 70-year-old Val Tsuchiya’s photovoltaic system started to falter.

His microinverter, a part of the solar panel that converts the sun’s energy into electricity, needed replacing.

Since installing his system through Islandwide Solar, a company now out of business, the Kalaheo resident said he needs to replace a fifth microinverter.

“A lot of these old timers might not know their system is working,” Tsuchiya said. “With my 10-panel system, I think I have a 50 percent failure rate in five years.”

Goran Rad, a solar consultant with Haleakala Solar on Kauai, received calls from over 20 former Islandwide Solar customers because the company went out of business.

From his company’s records, Rad said the wrong technology was installed in 2011 photovoltaic systems.

“These systems from about five years ago are starting to fall like dominoes,” he said. “I don’t know if every case is like this, but we found that the wrong inverter was installed for the panels the customer got.”

Tsuchiya is hesitant on replacing his next microinverter. He said he’d rather wait until multiple parts fail, so he doesn’t pay for additional labor….

read … Dominoes

Sen J Kalani English Accepted Junket From Turkish Opposition Group

CB: The watchdog Center for Public Integrity reported earlier this month that dozens of state legislators from throughout the country took trips to Turkey subsidized by a Turkish leader in exile in the United States.

Hawaii state Sen. J. Kalani English, the majority leader, was one of them.

“Just why exactly would 151 state legislators from places like Idaho and Texas accept subsidized junkets from a Turkish opposition group now blamed by that country’s government for an attempted coup last summer?” the center asked in a Feb. 9 report. “It’s puzzling that state legislators who rarely get involved in foreign policy matters have been courted with international trips.”

English, a Maui Democrat, said he was invited in 2013 as part of an intercultural dialogue program with the Republic of Turkey and the state of Hawaii “during the time when Fethullah Gulen was a close ally” of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan….

read … Powdernose

BOE approves findings from special review of charter school panel

HTH: …The committee said in its special review report the commission lacks a strategic vision and a regular system of self-evaluation. It also said the commission needs to improve communication with the schools it overseas and has unclear standards and conditions for charter school renewal.

It advised the commission to submit corrective action plans to address deficiencies and report to the BOE regularly about its progress. It gave the commission an overall “partially meets” rating.

Board Vice Chairman Brian De Lima, also a member of the investigative committee, said during Tuesday’s meeting the review process was difficult but he was pleased with the outcome. He praised the commission’s new executive director, Sione Thompson, calling him “the biggest bright spot” in the special review process and said Thompson “has a sincere desire” to work with schools.

“That positive spirit is exciting,” De Lima said. “ … I think commission staff will (now) be supportive and not punitive in (their) approach to problems charter schools may experience.”….

read … BOE approves findings from special review of charter school panel

HB407: Health Savings Accounts for Hawaii?

SR: In other insurance legislation, both versions of the bill to adapt ACA requirements to Hawaii law are moving forward (SB403/HB552).  Other insurance-related bills address minimum net worth (SB1077/HB917), prior authorization processes (SB287/HB248), and network adequacy (SB387/HB914).  Bills are moving that would allow health savings accounts in conjunction with a Prepaid-compliant plan (HB407).

A couple of innovative approaches to supporting health promotion and addressing social determinants were SB2, which called for insurance benefits to include housing and services related to homelessness, and SB1315, which would have insurers pay for Native Hawaiian cultural practices that improve health, such as hula, paddling, or lua.  The language in SB2 now calls for an auditor’s study of Medicaid-funded services for people who are homeless.  SB1315 was deferred but Senators plan to introduce a resolution asking insurers to support such practices in their community-benefit programs.

Other benefit expansions would make in vitro fertilization more readily available, including coverage for surrogates (SB502/HB664), and paying for at least 20 years’ worth of community reintegration services for people with brain injuries (SB225).

HB407: Text, Status

read … Hawaii bills at first lateral

Honolulu Airport Crasher was Brother of Convicted Murderer

MN: According to court records, Kosi was to be released from federal custody Feb. 7 to enter the Sand Island Treatment Center on Oahu for drug treatment. He had been in custody because he violated his supervised release last year.

A 2003 drug case involved selling, distributing or dispensing a controlled substance, records show….

The 48-year-old Kosi had 35 state convictions, according to the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center. Those happened from 1988 to 2003. Many were for driving without a license and criminal contempt of court. He also had been convicted of escape and assault, including assault on a police officer.

Kosi is also the older brother of convicted murderer Daniel B. Kosi, who was sentenced in 1999 to eight life terms in prison, one of them without parole. He was found guilty of shooting kickboxer Eric Vinge and the murder of teenager Aisha Tolentino who was stabbed during a standoff with police at a Kihei resort condominium….

In 1997, police were on a four-month manhunt for Charles Kosi Jr. He had been sought since July 30, 1997, when he was ‘mistakenly’ released by 2nd Circuit Court authorities following his arrest on drug charges.

When police surrounded the Kihei home of a relative, Kosi called The Maui News and was arrested without incident….

read …. Family

Open Borders Activists Come Up With New Argument: Hawaii Man Should be Granted US Citizenship BECAUSE He is Convicted Meth Dealer

HNN:  A Hawaii man convicted on drug charges a decade ago is fighting deportation to the Philippines, claiming that sending him back to the country he left when he was 9 would essentially be a death sentence given Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's bloody war on drugs.

Herbert Carino, 31, has been granted a reprieve — for now. A federal immigration judge agreed that he could face death in the Philippines, where the president has ordered police and death squads to kill thousands of drug suspects.

But that order is being appealed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

After high school, Carino started using crystal meth. And at 21, he was convicted of selling the drug. He served nearly eight years in federal prison and was released in 2011.

A year later, his immigration ordeal began.  (Yup, they’ve been blocking this meth dealer from deportation since 2012—5 years now—long before Duterte became President of the Phil.)

Carino said though his father was a U.S. citizen, his own immigration status was never addressed by his family. He holds a green card to lawfully reside in the United States.

"If you're a green card holder and a convicted felon you will get deported," said Gary Singh, Carino's attorney.

But Singh believes Carino has a right to U.S. citizenship and has been fighting the deportation for years.

And when Carino's latest attempt to gain citizenship was denied by an immigration appeals board, Singh made a new legal argument: That based on Carino's past — as a convicted drug dealer — he would be a target in Duterte's war on drugs.

read … America Needs More Tweekers

Peter Boy Case Solved When Competent Prosecutor Elected

KHON: Damerville is quick to acknowledge the 19 years of work that police and prosecutors put into the search for justice for Peter Boy.

“The police never stopped working this case, ever,” Damerville said.  (See what’s missing?)

Documents reveal Peter Boy endured horrific abuse in his six short years of life.

Even though his parents were suspects in his disappearance, there was never enough evidence to indict them — or was there?

Hawaii County Prosecutor Mitch Roth was determined to find out.

“Mr. Roth decided that someone needs to be doing that case full-time with no other distractions, and he persuaded the mayor to give him some money,” Damerville said. “So I came back and started working it 24/7 in the beginning of March (2016).”

That money, approved by then-Mayor Billy Kenoi, was also used to hire an investigator, retired police captain Billy Perreira.

Two sets of fresh eyes were dedicated solely to the case. Damerville and Perreira scrutinized some 6,000 reports accumulated over 19 years.

“When you come in without any preset views of any kind, then when you look at the facts, you may see things that other people didn’t see,” Damerville said. “That accumulation of stuff led to some other doors that maybe other people hadn’t looked at.”

After one month, in April, they had enough evidence for the indictment and arrests of Peter Kema Sr. and Jaylin Kema….

read … Competent

DAGS Doubletalk Collapsing Ceiling at Capitol

CB: Officials blame recent strong winds, but the tiles began to noticeably sag earlier this month.

The tiles — located on the mauka side of the Capitol — began to sag earlier this month. The building manager, Ernie Bautista, said at the time he did not know what was causing the sagging.

State Comptroller Rod Beckher told KITV that the tiles are decorative and “not a structural issue for second floor offices.”

KITV: Strong-winds-to-blame-for-damage-at-state-capitol

read … Ceiling Tiles Fall At Hawaii Capitol

Kalihi, Iwilei Stripped of Copper: Sit-Lie Expansion to Force Bums Westward

KHON: Bill 13 would prohibit anyone from sitting or lying on sidewalks in Kalihi and Iwilei.  Homeless encampments have grown exponentially in those neighborhoods for the past four years….

Surveillance video from an area automotive shop shows some of the behavior right outside their windows, including dumpster diving and what appears to be someone trying to look for a way in to the locked up business.

Many owners complain of having to clean urine and feces almost daily.

Cleaning up after the homeless has become a routine chore for Todd Nitta at NT Automotive.  The Kalihi business owner said sketchy activity leaves them and their customers on edge.  "Everyone's intimidated. They're afraid to walk by because you don't know if you're going to get stuck with something or mugged," Nitta said.

read … Proposal to expand sit lie ban to Kalihi, Iwilei on move

Anti-GMO Activists Squabble Over Celebrutard Access

KE: As the Kauai anti-GMO forces continue to shred one another over money and celebrity access, they're confirming everything I've reported about how Hawaii activists were used as pawns by mainland groups.

The most recent spat started when Fern Rosenstiel gushed over Pierce and Keely Brosnan at a sparsely-attended Los Angeles screening of an anti-GMO propaganda piece that Keely produced with attorney Teri Tico:

This folly earned the wrath of Kaiulani Mahuka, who rightly recalled how the Brosnans had diverted water from the late Cathy Ham Young's taro patch for their landscape ponds, leaving her loi high and dry….  Not to mention how the Bosnans blocked access by planting the public beach in front of their North Shore Kauai vacation rental….

While some of the actvists are waking up, others continue to pander and pose, most notably Maui Rep. Kaniela Ing. He and another anti-GMO pawn, Councilman Alika Atay, are quoted in a terribly biased Huffington Post piece that calls on people to “'bring your emotions and stories to overcome the political skill,' power, and government-corrupting influence of A&B” at the Commission on Water Resource and Management hearings later this week.

Yeah, no need bring facts. Just emotions and stories. Because that worked so well in demonizing the seed companies and frightening people about non-existent pesticide risks. Surely CWRM can be similarly swayed to make a bad decision, if enough folks cry and rant.

read … Musings: Hubris and Huhu

Molokai Finally Runs out of Answers

KE: I continue to be fascinated by the process of idealizing and romanticizing agriculture and sustainability in Hawaii. It's led to some really amazing revisionist history and super creative alternative facts, while deifying demagogues. Most recently, we see this dynamic at play in a short film eulogizing Molokai. The narrator intones:

Molokai is now positioned to chart the way forward for the planet by developing new models of sustainability based on the indigenous wisdom of ancient Hawaii.

Really? Is anyone anywhere actually looking at Molokai as the model for anything? If the planet's future depends on Molokai charting the way, we're really fucked.

The piece prominently features Molokai activist Walter Ritte, who is slated to be the subject of his very own documentary by the same filmmaker. It includes Walter's unintentionally amusing comment:

And then we have these outside forces coming in and they want to change things.

Funny to hear Walter grouse about that, seeing as how much money he's raked in from the “outside forces” funding Hawaii SEED. These same “outside forces” have also bankrolled AINA, Poisoning Paradise, Island Earth and the other anti-GMO, back to the 'o'o videos circulating among the “aloha aina” crowd, which is itself comprised largely of “outside forces” who moved to Hawaii looking for their little piece of paradise.

Of course, Walter has his cash cow — and in upcoming days I'll be delving deeper into the money that's flowing into the Hawaii anti-GMO movement. So why should he be concerned about destroying economic opportunities for his fellow Molokai residents, many of whom are acutely aware of the reality that the seed companies, government jobs and welfare are the three largest “employers?” As this Hawaii Business report noted:

“There was always something else. When pineapple closed, the resorts were there. When the ranch closed, Monsanto was still there. There was always an answer. We don’t have the answer now.” —Kimberly Mikami Svetin, Store owner

Guess she hasn't heard that Walter's got it all nailed down.

read … Musings: Reassigning Blame

Hawaii Eco Hypocrisy--Trump Will Let us be the Phonies That We Are

CB: …Given the unique challenges of our isolated state, Hawaii, perhaps more than anyplace else, has valued and depended on the EPA’s watchdog role. That’s why the islands must now find a way to compensate for the Trump administration’s systematic neutering of the EPA.

Hawaii has long prided itself on being a steward of the environment. We have the most ambitious renewable energy mandate in the country (100 percent by 2045), our state constitution mandates the right to a clean and healthy environment, and we give a collective stink eye to anyone who dares use disposable plastic forks at a beach barbecue.

But despite our best intentions, we don’t always get it right.

Just six months ago, for instance, the EPA called us out for some truly bad practices. The agency fined the Big Island, Maui, and the Department of Land and Natural Resources almost $200,000 for the existence of illegal, large cesspools, ordering them closed immediately.

Cesspools are common in Hawaii, and they allow untreated raw sewage to seep into the ground where it can contaminate groundwater, streams and the ocean.

“To make Hawaii’s coastal waters safe for both residents and visitors,” Alexis Strauss, EPA’s acting regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest, said in an August press release, “we must stop the flow of pollutants and pathogens from large capacity cesspools.”

The fact is, we’ve come to rely on the federal agency to both keep us honest and to lead us through some of our environmental challenges.

SD: Anti-Pipeline Protesters Light Their Own Camp on Fire

read … We Must stop being hypocrites now that Trump is here 

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