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Thursday, November 2, 2017
November 2, 2017 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 9:44 PM :: 4520 Views

16 Years of Litigation: Sierra Club Directly Responsible for Lack of Affordable Housing

Video: ERS not out of woods yet

Four Judges Appointed to Oahu Courts

New HDoT Website Maps Pavement Conditions, Traffic Counts, Fatal Crashes

Aid for tenants, landlords program expands to Kauai

Ponzi Scheme Blues?  Fukumoto will not run for Reelection—Claims to be Considering Run for Congress

AP: Rep. Beth Fukumoto announced Thursday in an email to supporters that she was exploring a possible run for Congress in 2018, telling NBC News, "It's become very, very clear that we need women in government."…

(Translation: Send me money.)

“From Hollywood to the White House, it has become clear that women will face constant threats to our health and our livelihoods until we achieve economic and political parity,” Fukumoto wrote in her announcement email. “Over 80% of Congressional seats are held by men. And, a similar disparity exists in State Legislatures. We need more women in government, and I’m working hard to make that happen."….

(Translation: Send me money.)

If she decides to run, Fukumoto would join the race as a Democrat to represent Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District, a seat currently held by Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. The declared candidates for the seat so far are Democratic State Sen. Donna Kim and singer Brian Evans, who will run as a Republican after previously running for the U.S. Senate as a Democrat.  (And don’t for get Kihei Rep Kaniela Ing!)

(Completely Unrelated Observation: Ponzi scammers love it when you send them money.)

read … Hawaii State Rep. Beth Fukumoto Could Take Her Fight Against Trump to Washington

Telescope permit decision appealed to Hawaii Supreme Court

AP: …Richard Wurdeman, an attorney representing some of the opponents, filed a notice of appeal with the state Supreme Court on Monday….

The opponents appealed directly to the state Supreme Court because of a law that allows certain contested-case hearing decisions to bypass the Intermediate Court of Appeals.

Kealoha Pisciotta, one of the leaders fighting the telescope, says other participants opposing the project are expected to also file appeals this week.

read … Appeal

Privacy claim shouldn’t block disclosure of Airbnb contract

ILind: The Star-Advertiser’s Allison Schaefers reported today on attempts by Gov. David Ige’s to privately negotiate a contract with Airbnb to collect taxes and pay them to the state.

The article contains one startling statement jumped out of the story.

“Ige is working with Airbnb and other online retailers of short-term rentals to negotiate voluntary collection agreements,” said Ige’s spokeswoman Cindy McMillan in an email. “Ultimately, the state wants to collect the taxes it is owed without encouraging illegal activity.”

Mike McCartney, Ige’s chief of staff, said privacy laws prevent the state from releasing details of the agreement, which must be signed off on by Ige and Airbnb before it takes effect. McCartney declined to say when that might happen.

What? Did we just jump back in time to the bad old days of 1985, when the state was refusing to release copies contracts because public disclosure the names of those signing off on the contract was claimed to be a violation of their personal privacy.

That claim was one of the things that led the legislature to adopt Chapter 92F, which now governs release of government documents, including contracts.

SA: Let public review Airbnb tax deal

Big Q: Should Gov. David Ige sign a deal with Airbnb and other online vacation rental firms to collect taxes from their operations?

read … Privacy claim shouldn’t block disclosure of Airbnb contract

Lawsuit: Ballard Altered Test Scores at Police Academy

CB: …One person who didn’t join the chorus of praise for Ballard was Honolulu attorney Carl Varady. He noted that during her tenure at the police academy, she and other officials were accused of altering test scores of some recruits to help fill HPD’s persistent vacancies.

In 2009, Varady filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Deeann Koanui, then an HPD sergeant, alleging that she faced retaliation and harassment for reporting the altered test scores to the Internal Affairs Division.

“My client was punished for revealing the fact that officers who could not fulfill the requirements to become a sworn officer were nevertheless passed, and the standards were ignored,” Varady said.

“Punishing somebody for enforcing the department’s own standards seems to me to be the epitome of what’s wrong with the department now — that is, department managers think they’re above the law and think that the rules don’t apply to them. That doesn’t seem to me to be the kind of leadership this department needs,” Varady said.

Police commissioners Loretta Sheehan and Steven Levinson say they were well aware of Koanui’s lawsuit during the selection process, but still voted to promote Ballard.

Sheehan points out that, even though it’s been pending for eight years, the lawsuit has made little progress in court, and Koanui has yet to provide any proof that the test scores were altered.

read … Lawsuit

It Turns Out We Owe Chuck Totto A Big Thank-You

CB: Federal indictments in the Honolulu police corruption case…appear to provide vindication for Charles “Chuck” Totto, former executive director and chief legal counsel for the Honolulu Ethics Commission, who resigned under pressure last year, as well as retired HPD Capt. Letha DeCaires, who was the commission’s sole investigator until her contract expired and was not renewed.

In a series of lawsuits, the chief and his prosecutor wife claimed they were being illegally targeted and smeared by Totto, DeCaires and the commission. Pressure from the Kealohas, on top of pressure from the administration of Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, combined to force Totto out of the position he had held with the commission since 2000….

In May 2015, six months after the mailbox theft case against Puana was thrown out of court and corruption allegations submitted to the FBI by Puana’s federal defender, Hawaii News Now reported Totto was investigating whether Chief Kealoha had violated the city’s ethics code by assigning officers from the elite CIU to investigate the alleged mailbox theft. This investigation apparently expanded to include allegations against Katherine Kealoha, a supervising attorney in County Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro’s office….

Little was publicly known about the ethics commission’s Kealoha investigation until the couple began to publicly push back against the investigations. They complained to the commission. They reportedly filed a federal civil rights complaint. And they filed a pair of lawsuits in 2015, one seeking to block the ethics cases from proceeding, another to force disclosure of any complaints in which they were named.

And in April 2016, they announced they would be filing a new lawsuit accusing Totto, DeCaires and the commission of illegally targeting them. The case was eventually filed in June 2016, and is still pending.

In statements to the media and in documents filed in court, the Kealohas disclosed they had been hit with at least 16 separate ethics investigations since 2014. They called the ethics probes “unfounded, unsubstantiated and illegal,” and characterized them as “grotesque abuses of power and process” which had hampered the work of police and prosecutors….

Although long on rhetorical excess and clearly intended more to impact public opinion than win on its legal merits, these claims by the Kealohas fell on fertile ground at the ethics commission, where a majority of new members appointed by Mayor Caldwell responded by removing Totto from the Kealoha investigations, proposing a policy that would have prevented the commission’s executive director from answering questions from the news media, and eventually hitting Totto with a 30-day suspension.

On Wednesday, June 15, 2016, Totto resigned from his ethics position after 16 years….

read … It Turns Out We Owe Chuck Totto A Big Thank-You

Judge Dismisses Suit Challenging Secret Meetings About Police Chief

CB: The Police Commission didn’t have to go behind closed doors to talk about Louis Kealoha’s future, but it had the right, the judge ruled….

read … Dismissed

Council Confirms Two New Honolulu Police Commission Members

CB: Jerry Gibson and Karen Chang will join the seven-member panel that oversees the embattled police department….

read … Confirmed

Trump Visit: Caldwell Senses Opportunity for Chaos in Waikiki, 10,000 HGEA members given day off

SA: City and state officials warned residents and visitors to expect massive rush-hour traffic delays Friday and possibly Saturday during President Donald Trump’s visit to Oahu.

With Trump expected to use the H1 freeway starting at 2 p.m. and to visit Waikiki, the Honolulu Police Department is bringing on hundreds of extra officers to provide security and shut down presidential motorcade routes.

At least three anti-Trump protests are expected, including a march from Ala Moana to Thomas Square, officials said….

Caldwell said the city is asking its 10,000 employees to be aware of the delays and is authorizing vacation for Friday for any worker who wants to take it…..

read … Chaos

State Finds no Sites for Massive Festering Homeless Tent Cities

SA: …Act 212, which became law over the summer without Gov. David Ige’s signature, directed the state Hawaii Interagency Council on Homelessness to form a working group to revisit the idea of safe zones, sometimes referred to as tent cities, and produce a list of potential sites within Honolulu’s urban core.

The working group earlier this month ruled out three initial sites in Kakaako, Kalihi and near the Nimitz Highway viaduct due to various issues and asked the Department of Land and Natural Resources, which manages state-owned lands, to expand the search for vacant parcels islandwide beyond the urban core….

…safe zones aren’t cost-effective and divert resources from service providers. The practice is discouraged by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homeless, and a previous working group of the state interagency council recommended against designating “safe facilities” in a 2012 report.

State Rep. Tom Brower, chairman of the House Committee on Housing, said he’s been advocating for safe zones since 2010. Brower helped draw awareness to the homeless crisis two years ago after he was (got himself) attacked at a Kakaako homeless encampment (identical to the ones he wants to establish)….

read … Good News

Matson Hawaii Shipments Drop 6% as Construction Boom Ends

SA: …In Hawaii, Matson container volume declined 6 percent, and automobile shipments slipped 2 percent.

Matson said the decline in Hawaii container volume was primarily due to less construction-related materials being shipped to the state as fewer high-rise projects are ongoing now compared with a year ago….

read … Matson earnings jump 35 percent

$7M Stolen from ARC—Nobody Noticed for 20 Years

HNN: …A grand jury has filed a superseding indictment against a former accountant for a Hawaii nonprofit, adding an additional $1 million in fraud charges.

The new charges bring the total that Lola Jean Amorin is alleged to have stolen from the Arc in Hawaii to nearly $7 million.

It's the largest white collar crime case the city prosecutor's office has handled, officials said.

Amorin is charged with five counts of theft, computer fraud, money laundering.

And prosecutors allege she started embezzling from the agency as far back as January 1998. The theft allegedly continued until January.

The superseding indictment filed Thursday also names Amorin's husband, 71-year-old Albert Amorin…..

read … Accountant is now accused of stealing $7M from Hawaii nonprofit

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