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Wednesday, April 26, 2017
April 26, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:06 PM :: 5010 Views

Trump Orders Interior Department to Review Obama Tuna Monuments

Free Speech Crackdown on Hawaii Pregnancy Centers Passes House Vote

City unveils new apartments for homeless

Second Lady Sees Art Therapy in Action at Hawaii Base

Hawaii: 4th-Highest Gambling Related Arrests Per Capita

Hawaii’s Best Public High Schools—How did your School Rank?

Hawaii Business Tax Burden -- 7th Highest in USA

HSTA Expensive?  Just Wait Until HGEA/UPW/UHPA Cash In

SA: …it should set off some alarm bells about the fiscal ripple effects of this contract, which is sure to result in other public-employee unions seeking at least a matched deal of their own.

Just by itself, the proposed HSTA contract costs total $115.4 million (more per year) over its four-year term for its 13,500 members. It combines pay-grade step increases and across-the-board 3.5 percent raises in alternating years….

The headaches surely will come later. Ever since then-Gov. Neil Abercrombie agreed to “favored nation” status for the teachers’ sister union, the Hawaii Government Employees Association, generous deals have tended to drive up contract costs for the other public worker unions.

On June 30, the contracts for HGEA, United Public Workers and the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly will be up for renewal, and lawmakers are rightly concerned about what other programs might feel the ax in order to balance the books….

Related: HSTA Contract Agreement: 13.6% Raise, ‘Streamlined Evaluations’

read … HSTA deal could prove expensive

Search for Hawaii public schools leader down to 2 finalists

SA: Two mainland schools chiefs are in the running to become the next superintendent of Hawaii’s public school system.

The Board of Education announced Linda Chen and Christina Kishimoto as the top candidates for the position at a meeting this morning….

Chen served as the chief academic officer for Baltimore City Public Schools in Maryland, and as deputy chief academic officer for Boston Public Schools. She is also a former assistant superintendent of schools for the Philadelphia school district….

Chen holds a doctorate in education from the Urban Education Leadership Program, a master’s degree in educational leadership, and a master’s degree in curriculum and teaching, all from Columbia University’s Teachers College.

Kishimoto, meanwhile, is superintendent of Gilbert Public Schools in Arizona, and previously served as superintendent of Hartford Public Schools in Connecticut. She also holds a doctorate in educational leadership from Columbia University’s Teachers College as well as a master’s degree in public affairs from the University of Connecticut….

HNN: Lawmakers 'disappointed' at lack of local finalists for DOE superintendent job

read … Search for Hawaii public schools leader down to 2 finalists

Hawaii threatened by North Korea now, U.S. commander tells Congress

MC: …The Pentagon needs to consider deploying new anti-ballistic missile systems and a defensive radar to Hawaii to protect against a growing threat from North Korea, the top U.S. military officer in the Pacific told Congress on Wednesday.

“Kim Jong-Un is clearly in a position to threaten Hawaii today, in my opinion,” Adm. Harry Harris, the chief of U.S. Pacific Command, told the House Armed Services Committee. “I have suggested that we consider putting interceptors in Hawaii that . . . defend (it) directly, and that we look at a defensive Hawaii radar.”

The U.S. currently has anti-missile interceptors at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and in Fort Greely, Alaska.

Harris was repeatedly questioned by lawmakers from Hawaii on the threat posed to their state.

The current defense architecture “is sufficient to protect Hawaii today, but it can be overwhelmed,” he cautioned. “Somewhere, we would have to make a decision about which missiles to take out, and that’s a hard decision.”

Harris warned that North Korea’s testing is picking up speed and becoming more aggressive; the country conducted more than 20 ballistic missile tests last year.

“North Korea vigorously pursued a strategic strike capability in 2016,” he told lawmakers on Wednesday. “Kim’s strategic capabilities are not yet an existential threat to the U.S., but if left unchecked, he will gain the capability to match his rhetoric.”

The chief of U.S. Pacific Command, which oversees all military operations in the region, testified a few hours before the entire U.S. Senate was scheduled to go to the White House for a rare classified meeting to discuss the North Korean threat.

Harris stressed to lawmakers that there is a sense of urgency. The USS Carl Vinson strike group, which has positioned itself in the Philippine Sea, can now reach North Korea in a two-hour flight, he said….

read … Missile Defense

Hanabusa: FTA will Give HART More Time to File Recovery Plan

HNN: The story about cost overruns at Honolulu's rail system is well known on Oahu, but the issue is new for millions of Fox News' national viewers.

And this was the conclusion of a recent report: "With the system years behind schedule and billions over budget, critics are calling it nothing more than a boondoggle at taxpayers expense," Fox anchor Heather Childers said.

Some say the bad publicity from the Fox story and the full ad in last Friday's Washington Post by former Gov. Ben Cayetano, who urged President Donald Trump to cut off the project, could hurt the rail project at a critical time…..

Rail officials must provide a new recovery plan to the Federal Transit Administration by Sunday. At stake, is the $1.5 billion in funding provided by the Feds.

And lawmakers meet Wednesday morning to discuss how long they will extend the rail tax surcharge.

But U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, a former member of the rail authority board, said she sees minimal impact.

That's because the Trump Administration hasn't appointed new leadership at the FTA. She said she expects the federal agency will give the city more time to come up with a plan.

Much of the criticisms raised by Cayetano and others is old news at the FTA, which has raised the issues itself in its reviews of the project, Hanabusa said….

read … At a critical time, Oahu's beleaguered rail project gets bad press nationally

Sick Leave: Legislators Advance Massive Unfunded Mandate Against Small Business

CB: …House and Senate lawmakers are negotiating a final version of  House Bill 4, along with House Bill 213, that would expand the state’s unpaid family leave law. But neither proponents or opponents are happy about the latest drafts of either bill.

HB 4 would allow workers to accrue up to five days of sick leave each year. There’s an exception for smaller companies and those that have more generous policies.

HB 213 would allow employees at large companies to take four weeks of unpaid leave to take care of sick siblings or after the death of a close family member. The current law lets workers take off time to care for sick children, spouses and parents….

the Hawaii Chamber of Commerce and the Hawaii Restaurants Association have been raising alarms about how even the weaker versions of the bill could harm the ability for small businesses to make a profit.

David Schell, the general manager for Island Princess Macadamia, submitted written testimony saying mandating that the company provide sick leave to its 60 employees would be damaging.

“This notion is ludicrous,” wrote Schell. “It penalizes those who remain healthy and come to work.

Both the sick leave and the family leave proposals will be heard in negotiating committees on Wednesday, but until then, advocates and opponents are being kept in the dark as legislators work on the bills behind closed doors. Lawmakers are in the midst of conference committee, a period at the end of the session when they no longer hear public testimony on bills and work out the details among themselves….

“It’s very confusing that a lot of things have been blanked out,” said Lauren Zirbel, a lobbyist for the Hawaii Food Industry Association. “So we’re not really sure what is happening.”….

read … Sick Leave

HB1580: Car Dealers Eager to Force You to Buy an Electric from Them

SA: There are about 5,000 electric vehicles on Hawaii’s roadways. This number is one-half of 1 percent of the approximately 1 million light vehicle passenger cars and trucks operating in Hawaii in 2017.

The lofty goal of House Bill 1580 seeks ways to foster the future customer uptake of the remaining 99.5 percent of vehicles on the roadways to be electric vehicles by 2045…..

read … Abolish Gasoline and Diesel

In Legislature’s Waning Days, Some Bills Vanish Without Explanation

CB: …Bills to increase public input about new seawalls, ensure media access in disaster zones and protect lifeguards from lawsuits may die without negotiations….

read … Vanish

Former Cocaine Dealer is Most Absentee Legislator

CB: The majority leader of the Hawaii state Senate has missed 12 legislative session days this year, twice as many as any other senator.

That included five straight days in March. Even if (convicted cocaine dealer) Sen. J. Kalani ‘Powdernose’ English attends the remaining session days (there are 60 in all), he will have missed one-fifth of them.

English’s office referred questions to a Senate spokeswoman, who said in an email that English was in Fiji in mid-March to attend a “high level” regional preparatory meeting for The Ocean Conference, a United Nations event that will be held in New York City in early June.

In late March, English traveled to Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia. He was invited by the United Nations Development Programme “to join a resource team of Pacific legislators in conducting a three-day legislative training orientation at the induction of the Chuuk Legislature,” wrote Jill Kuramoto, Senate director of communications.

On Feb. 13, English stayed in Maui to attend a Paia Community Association Meeting. He missed another day of the session that month “because he couldn’t get out of Hana due to the weather. And last week, Sen. English was sick,” Kuramoto said in the email.

English represents Senate District 7, which includes parts of Maui and all of Molokai and Lanai…..

read … Majority Leader Leads Senate In Absenteeism This Session

Soft on Crime: To Help Criminals Avoid Deportation, Honolulu eyes sanctuary city status

HNN: Should Honolulu become a sanctuary city?

That's the question the City Council will take up Wednesday as members review a resolution that would affirm the city's "steadfast commitment to uphold Honolulu as a haven of aloha."

"Hawaii is usually ahead of the curve, so I'm pleased that our state and a lot of community people are demanding that we stand up for our values and say that we are a welcoming state," said Amy Agbayani, chairwoman of the Filipino-American Advocacy Network.

The resolution will be discussed at the council's full meeting, which starts at 10 a.m.

It urges the city and police "not to expend county funds in working with the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement Division."

"If they're on the job, they're expending resources. To ask people not to enforce the law is rather ridiculous, quite frankly," said State Rep. Gene Ward, who opposes the resolution.

read … Amid immigration crackdown, Honolulu eyes sanctuary city status

Enviros Sue to Force Legally Present Foreign Fishermen out of Hawaii

HNN: …Efforts by lawmakers to change the rules failed this legislative session, but now Maui attorney Lance Collins is using another tactic.

Collins said the state's system for licensing the fishermen is illegal, and he's filed a petition with the state Land Board on behalf of Native Hawaiian waterman Malama Chun, who argues fishermen are the state's first line of defense when it comes to reporting law breakers or over-fishing….

Foreign fishermen only have permission to be in the water -- not on state land -- and come under the jurisdiction of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency under the Department of Homeland Security.

And each foreign crew member must get a state fishing license in their own name.

Collins said the state should stop issuing those licenses because the fishermen aren't lawfully in the United States…. 

(So does he support Honolulu becoming a sanctuary city?)  

PDF: BLNR Petition

read … No Sanctuary for Fishermen, eh?

Legislature’s attacks on judges tied to past failure to fund Hawaiian Homes

ILind: With a key legislative deadline looming Thursday at midnight, the Legislature still on a collision course with the State Supreme Court as it pursues an apparent game of chicken in a dispute over the power of the courts to enforce provisions of the state Constitution.

House and Senate conferees are scheduled to meet at 1:30 Thursday afternoon on a bill that would strip future state judges and justices of 1/3 of the retirement benefits they would earn under current law.

The conference committee meeting is set just hours before Thursday’s midnight deadline for final decking of non-budget bills, which have to be filed in their final form in order in order to be voted on before the annual legislative session wraps up next week.

The bill, SB 249, which faced virtually unanimous opposition during public hearings, is widely seen as a bargaining chip in a behind-the-scenes effort by legislative leaders to muscle the Hawaii Supreme Court into backing off from enforcing a constitutional provision requiring the legislature to provide “sufficient” funds for the administrative and operational budget of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.

The bill, introduced by Senator Gil Keith-Agaran, is the latest in a series of anti-Judiciary bills introduced over the past several years….

read … Legislature’s attacks on judges tied to past failure to fund Hawaiian Homes

HUD: $83,700 a year is now considered low-income in Honolulu

HNN: An Oahu family of four earning up to $83,700 this year is considered "low income" under new U.S. Housing and Urban Development calculations that take the cost of housing into account….

The HUD income limits are used to determine who can qualify for affordable and subsidized housing programs.

The guidelines consider a family of four earning up to $52,300 in 2017 "very low income."

Meanwhile, a single person earning up to $58,600 is deemed low income. (Anyone earning $35,200 or less is considered very low or extremely low income.)

And a family of seven can be considered low income, even if they're earning six figures. The low-income limit for the family size is up to $103,800.

Income limits are based on fair market rents.

One other concerning element of the new numbers: HUD showed Oahu's median income going down in 2017 by about $1,000 to $86,600….

HUD: Hawaii Income Stats

read ... $83,700

Father takes police to where he left Peter Boy’s body

SA: …Peter Kema Sr., as part of a condition of a plea deal, led police on Sunday to a site in Puna where he claims he dumped his 6-year-old son’s body in 1997.

“We took him out for a reconstruction, and he guided us out to the Puna District, and explained the conditions under which he disposed of his son’s body, and pointed out the general area where it is,” police Capt. Randall Medeiros said by telephone today. “We weren’t able to locate the body immediately.”

Medeiros said Kema took police out to a large area that he was familiar with, but not near the Nanawale home where the Kema family lived when Peter Boy went missing.

After a few hours, Medeiros said, police realized they did not have the expertise to determine the location on their own and will seek help.

“The method we’re going to need to employ is beyond our capabilities,” he said. In searching for Peter Boy’s body in the past, the Hawaii County Police Department used the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) and tools such as ground-penetrating radar, although that may not be used in this case.

“It has the potential to be quite an expansive area,” he said….

read … Father takes police to where he left Peter Boy’s body

Another Domestic Violence Case for Infamous Ex-HPD Officer?

HNN: ….Police were called to the Ewa home of former HPD Sgt. Darren Cachola over the weekend after his wife reported that he was choking her.

He was not arrested, but was instead given a 48-hour no-contact order.

The responding officer's report says that when he arrived, Cachola was still there with the wife and children. He noted that the wife changed her story, claiming it was just an argument and she did not have any injuries. 

The officer, though, made a different observation: "I did see redness around her neck," the report said. "Due to the fact that there was redness … I felt that there was a chance of another incident and I also felt that (she) was not being completely honest.”

Attorney Jeff Willard, a former deputy prosecutor in the Domestic Violence Unit, said even without the victim's cooperation, the officers could have taken Cachola in. "The 911 call and the officer's observations on the scene seems like there's plenty of evidence to do an arrest," he said.

Cachola was not arrested on Sept. 9, 2014 either, after he was caught on surveillance video fighting with his ex-girlfriend in a Waipahu restaurant.

He was later fired for unprofessional behavior but is currently trying to get his HPD job back.  He works as an armed, airport police officer with Securitas…..

read … Advocates question HPD's handling of domestic violence case involving former officer

Tour Busses to be Banned on North Shore

KHON: …The co-owner of Countryside Adventure Tours tells us he has been in the industry for three decades. He says he drops off tourists in designated spots, and says they contribute to the economy by spending money in Haleiwa town.

“The attitude has changed from when I first got started. The aloha spirit was really alive then, but basically, we have noticed the aloha spirit has basically gone down the drain,” he said. “We are not trying to ruffle anyone’s feathers, but it’s just that when we are out here and they come out here yelling profanities at us, and we kind of look at them and smile. We just say aloha. We bite our tongue.”

Martin says if there was a ban, it would be similar to the one on the windward side. It would specify places where buses could not park, and/or not travel to altogether.

Kent Cotton, operations manager for Hawaii Turtle Tours, says he wants to work with the community, and thinks designated parking spots or permits for tour buses could be the solution.

“We can’t just drive around an island for five hours and say, ‘Sorry we can’t stop here. We can’t stop there,’ especially in some of the most scenic spots,” he said….

ILind: North Shore Neighborhood Board considering tour limits

read … Residents, companies meet to discuss possible tour bus ban on Oahu’s North Shore

Is a DLNR officer harassing a North Shore businessman?

KITV: …Pavsek was pulled over along the busy H-2 freeway. Not by police or deputy sheriffs but by DLNR conservation resources and enforcement officer Nicholas Pergill.

DOCARE officers can write traffic tickets, but DLNR Communication Manager Dan Dennison states, "most are related to traffic, parking or moving violations on lands under DLNR jurisdiction."

Pavsek, who runs North Shore Shark Adventures, been cited by DLNR numerous times in the past, from expired registration on his boat to having a dive flag in the water, without any divers among the violations.

Pavsek said that time he felt threatened by Pergill, and reportedly asked DLNR not to have the officer interact with him again.
But that didn't happen.

According to Pavsek, a second incident occurred in January. When Pergill boarded some of Joe's boats for an inspection, even though they were Coast Guard Certified. No citations were issued.

Joe said he felt the State conservation officer was using his power to personally harass him.

Both sides agree the interactions came to a head last week. 
Pergill tracked down Pavsek because of harbormaster complaints of unpermitted structures at Haleiwa Harbor. 
Pavsek put up a kiosk about a month ago, which is allowed according to to DLNR documents.

So what were the unpermitted structures warranting citations? A few plants and a pair of picnic tables.

Instead of getting a citation, Pavsek was arrested and charged with assault on a law enforcement officer.

But Pavsek claims he was taken down and injured by Officer Pergill, with bruises and scrapes to show for it.

Because of the arrest, the traffic case was continued until next month as attorneys on both sides gather more evidence….

read … DLNR Harassment

Rat Lungworm: Suddenly the Antis Like Pesticide

KE: I feel a little sorry for Maui, having a chemtrail believer and anti-GMO campaigner leading its fight against the rat lungworm virus.

I'm talking about its state health officer, Dr. Lorrin Pang. He's been a bit distracted in recent years, which may help explain why he failed to recognize or head off a real and serious health threat on his island.

Still, as one friend observed upon seeing a news photo of him picking through leaves in search of the semi slugs that spread the disease, “Finally they have Lorrin Pang doing something productive.”

It's also been interesting to see some of the anti-pesticide folks avidly embrace poison — sales of rat traps and slug bait are booming — once they feel threatened by a pest…..

read … Musings: On the Gamut

Moved Here from Mainland, Homeless Drug Addict Allegedly Tries to Run Over Maui Bicyclist

MN: …“This man deliberately drove a van up onto a sidewalk and ran a bicycle down that was riding away from him,” Glen said. “He ended up running over the bicycle. The only reason the victim was not more severely injured was because he rolled out of the way.”

Police said the 47-year-old bicyclist was treated at the scene for injuries in the incident April 2 after he was hit by Becker’s van as he was riding a bicycle on the sidewalk along East Wakea Avenue in Kahului.

Glen said Becker is homeless and has prior convictions for felony drug-related convictions on the Mainland. In Hawaii, Becker has four convictions for contempt of court, as well as convictions for failure to appear and driving without a license, Glen said….

read … Imported Homeless

Big Island Residents Step Up Resistance To Solar Project

CB:  Residents of Hawaii Ocean View Estates are upset about having no formal way to oppose or have input into plans for a large solar farm in their subdivision.

read … Big Island Residents Step Up Resistance To Solar Project

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