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Wednesday, March 21, 2018
March 21, 2018 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:40 PM :: 3984 Views

Sex harassment: Souki Resigns--Three More Legislators Remain Hidden

Last Public Hearing Set for Assisted Suicide Bill

Keli'i Akina Interviews Rowena Akana: OHA Audit

HB2117: HSTA Pushes Bill to Outlaw Standardized Testing

Hawaii Among Least Innovative States Thanks to Failing Schools

Concealed Carry: Anti-Reciprocity Resolutions to Be Heard

King: Make Akina OHA Chair – Other Trustees, Crabbe Should Resign

CB: …On March 8, and again on March 20, it was reported that the Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees are now being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

This comes on the tail of the audit of OHA that showed extensive potential breaches of the Trustees’ fiduciary duties to spend OHA’s funds properly for the benefit of the OHA beneficiaries (as previously discussed here and here). Ideally, CEO Kamana’opono Crabbe and all the Trustees, except Trustee Keli’i Akina, would resign so that a new slate of trustees could be elected with a new CEO.

At the very least, CEO Crabbe should be replaced, Trustee Colette Machado should resign as chairwoman, and Trustee Akina should be made the chairman by the end of the week….

read … What Are The Next Steps At OHA?

House Budget Would Close All Homeless Shelters and Send Homeless to Massive festering Tent Cities

SA: …House members have decimated Gov. David Ige’s budget request for programs benefiting the homeless and that prioritize finding permanent housing, and instead want to spend $30 million to create an unknown number of zones sanctioned for homeless encampments across the islands.

The current version of HB 1900 — Ige’s budget request through June 30, 2019 — would wipe out more than $8 million requested by Ige for homeless-related programs such as Housing First, which takes homeless people off the street and places them into permanent homes and provides resources to cope with various issues, including mental health and substance abuse. Other programs also would lose funding, including first month’s rent or utility deposits to help working homeless families get into permanent housing.

(Translation: Legislators want to spend more money for a plan which would DOUBLE the number of homeless on the streets.)

At a cost of $22 million more than Ige’s request, HB 1900 would provide $30 million for the new concept of “ohana zones,” or safe zones, which would create government-sanctioned, temporary living sites across the state….

Until Tuesday, Camp Kikaha on Hawaii island represented the state’s only current version of an ohana zone. It housed 20 homeless adults who had access to tents, portable toilets, showers and a water spigot.

But Hawaii County officials late Tuesday announced that they had closed Camp Kikaha earlier in the day after eight months because the emergency proclamation that exempted the camp from zoning, building and fire codes had expired. … “a few of the occupants refused to be relocated,” Managing Director Wil Okabe said in a statement….

Federal officials continue to push the Housing First concept across the nation and say that so-called tent cities — now re-branded in Hawaii as “ohana zones” — do not provide permanent housing and typically distract communities in disputes over in whose neighborhood they should be located.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee is scheduled to take up HB 1900 Thursday morning.

The current version of HB 1900 has social service agencies worried about what will happen to current tenants living in Housing First rental units — and those who might follow them off the street — if the money runs out in the middle of next year.

“I’m very concerned, and I think some of my colleagues are equally concerned,” said Connie Mitchell, executive director of the Institute for Human Services, which runs the state’s largest homeless shelters and several homeless programs for the city. “If these programs won’t be funded, a lot of people are going to become homeless again, and that just saddens me a lot. Moving that much money away from services that work and into ohana zones, I think, is not a good idea.”

“It’s not a smart move,” said Jen Stasch, director of Partners in Care, which helps organize Hawaii’s annual homeless census. “When everybody talked about homeless priorities for 2018, we knew we had to look at out-of-the-box thinking. But nobody ever said to reduce funding for programs that we know work, like Housing First.”…

read … House bill defunds existing homeless programs

Hawaii County Homeless Tent City Shut Down due to Fire Danger

WHT: …a lack of running water and fire hazards due to the canopies and pallets used to set up and separate individual living units factored heavily into the decision to shut the camp down.

(Yeah.  Imagine a homeless dude goes back to the tent after a hard night scrounging for copper.  He tries to fire up his meth pipe.  The lighter, turned up on high to get the best burn, catches the tent on fire and then the tents next door go up in flames.  This is very dangerous.)

“We’ve been saying for months that this camp, everything as it is, isn’t designed to be permanent, isn’t sustainable to be permanent, and we stretched it out as long as we could,” Vandervoort explained. “It would take quite a bit of work to bring us up to code and make this as safe as it could be, and we were just not able to do that.”….

Niimi added the decision to shut down Camp Kikaha was ultimately his, with approval from Kim. Money, Niimi explained, was definitely a concern.

Overall cost for the camp was substantial in the early going until the county dispatched with security services that totaled $15,400 per month for the first three months of the camp’s existence.

The county then shifted gears to self-management. Costs after that dropped to $500 a month for portable toilets and smaller additional amounts for cleaning supplies and the like, as needed….

NR: Temporary homeless facility in Kona closes

read … Dangerous…

Paid family leave bill passes Hawaii's House Labor Committee

PBN: …Chamber of Commerce Hawaii President and CEO Sherry Menor-McNamara called on the committee to take into consideration the potential impact on the state’s small businesses, and Tina Yamaki, president of Retail Merchants of Hawaii, warned of potential job cuts in the retail industry should the bill pass.

“When mandates like this happen, there’s only so much that the retailer can absorb,” Yamaki said before the committee. “When we can’t absorb it any more, we pass it on to our customers and that raises prices. Everyone is already complaining of high cost of living in Hawaii.

"When we can’t pass it on to our customers anymore because we have to stay price competitive, and price sensitive, we start looking at employees. That’s when you’re going to see people being cut from jobs.”…  

Big Q: What do you think about the Legislature approving a state managed paid family leave program for all Hawaii workers?  (‘Skeptical’ = 71%)

Ige Statement“Paid family leave would benefit Hawaiʻi’s working families, and I fully support the Legislature’s efforts to establish a plan for moving it forward.” —David Y. Ige

SA: Lawmakers proposing paid family leave for all employees

read … Paid family leave bill passes Hawaii's House Labor Committee

DOE Official Slapped With Ethics Fine Scores Principal Gig

CB: …Suzanne Mulcahy, who was an assistant superintendent on the central leadership team, was shifted to an interim principal position at Waipahu Community School for Adults….

(Translation: She has her ‘top three’ and now just needs a few more years to get her pension.)

The reassignment of Suzanne Mulcahy, former assistant superintendent of the Office of Curriculum, Instruction and Student Support, comes two months after the DOE official reached a settlement with the Hawaii State Ethics Commission after admitting to using departmental staff and resources for her doctoral work at University of Hawaii Manoa.

Mulcahy’s new role as interim principal of Waipuhu Community School, an adult education center whose main campus is housed at Waipahu High School, was detailed in a memo sent to the complex area superintendents Monday afternoon by Deputy Superintendent Phyllis Unebasami….

“I will be redirecting and refocusing the work of the OCISS team over the next three months,” Kishimoto wrote in the memo. She added that she will be “running an internal search for a permanent replacement effective July 1.”

Mulcahy’s transfer has no nexus with the state ethics commission case, DOE spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz said. “To claim it is a demotion is inaccurate and unfair,” she said to Civil Beat in an email.  (The truth is inaccurate and unfair.)

Background: Ethics: DoE Ass't Sup't Pursues UH Degree While on the Job

read … Reassigned

New Honolulu Council Committee Chairs Announced

SA: …Honolulu City Councilman Trevor Ozawa takes over as chairman of the critical Budget Committee under the leadership team headed by newly reinstalled Council Chairman Ernie Martin.

Ozawa takes over from Councilman Joey Manahan, who assumed the Budget Committee reins last year. Manahan will now head the Transportation Committee.

Councilman Brandon Elefante, who had headed Transportation, will now take over the Public Health, Safety and Welfare Committee. The Public Health, Safety and Economic Development Committee was previously headed by Ozawa….

The heads of five other committees will remain the same…

Due to the impending leadership shake-up, the traditional, weeklong series of agency-by-agency budget briefings that had been scheduled for last week were canceled abruptly March 12. Ozawa, in a memo Tuesday, said he will have one overall budget briefing day on Tuesday.

read … Shakeup

Honolulu Rail Built by Company Behind failed Florida bridge

KITV: …The first segment of the rail project was designed by FIGG Bridge Engineers, who also designed the Miami bridge that collapsed with deadly results.  The initial seven miles of Honolulu's rail stretches from Kapolei to Pearl Highlands. Concrete columns and guide way are already in place, as construction continues further down along the line….

The settling of support towers can also bring down a bridge, a concern raised by Prevedouros because of weak soils along the rail line in areas like Waipahu.

"If that were to happen, those two nearby segments would likely collapse. That happened in a similar project designed by FIGG, a toll road in Tampa."

Another concern is the long term effects of water on rail's support structure. The project is essentially a series of bridges spanning the length of the route. Early HART reports noted water intrusion which could cause corrosion long term.

"Protection from leakage and water is significant for the bridge to stay good for decades."…

According to HART, there is concern about the long term impacts on the metal tensioners along the West Oahu/Farrington Highway route. It hopes to have the contractor who installed them, pay for that monitoring….

SA: Oahu rail project not using same process as FIU bridge

read … Hawaii connection to failed Florida bridge

Ex-police chief, wife refuse to cooperate with civil suit they filed — and that's cost taxpayers $500K

HNN: The former police chief and his deputy prosecutor wife are refusing to cooperate with a lawsuit they initiated against the Honolulu Ethics Commission.

The suit was filed on June 17, 2016 against the commission's former director, Chuck Totto, and investigator Letha Decaires.

At the time, Louis and Katherine Kealoha accused the city and the two employees of defamation. Already, the civil case has cost taxpayers more than $543,000 in attorneys' fees to defend the agency, Totto and Decaires.

The suit was filed after the commission started investigating financial transactions that the Kealohas did not report on public disclosure forms.

Joachim Cox, Totto's attorney, said the city's investigation was on track to find the same alleged crimes the Kealohas have since been indicted for by a federal grand jury.

"They were right on the verge," Cox said. "They were hot on the trail of what was going wrong in this situation and what did they get for that? In our minds, wrongly removed from their positions because the Kealohas were putting that pressure on them."

Cox said it is obvious that the real purpose of the civil lawsuit was to stop the investigation into the power couple and gain information on the evidence the FBI had against them. …

Now that they have been indicted and the evidence has been revealed, Cox said the Kealohas are refusing to go froward with the civil suit, so it has stalled.

Cox got a letter last month from Sumida, saying they will not appear for scheduled depositions.  Cox is now asking a judge to throw out the civil case until the Kealohas are willing to cooperate.  …

While Totto's attorney wants the case dropped altogether, the Kealohas want it put on hold.

A judge will hear from both sides at a hearing this week.

SA: Kealoha foreclosure moves to federal court

read … Ex-police chief, wife refuse to cooperate with civil suit they filed — and that's cost taxpayers $500K

AG to Transfer Prosecution of Hawaii County Cop

WHT: The Hawaii County Prosecutor’s Office will not handle a case involving a Hawaii police officer as a person of interest in a missing drug evidence investigation within the department.

The decision to forward the case to another other prosecutor’s office was made Tuesday. The Hawaii Police Department forwarded the case to prosecutors on March 2 for review of possible charges. After reviewing the pages-long investigation, Hawaii County Prosecutor Mitch Roth said conflicts were identified.

“We’re referring it to avoid even the appearance of impropriety or conflicts,” Roth said.

The state Department of the Attorney General will determine which county will prosecute the case. Once that decision is made, Roth said his office will mail the report to that prosecuting agency….

The officer has since retired from the department. Roth said he believed the individual retired this year; however, it could have been at the end of 2017. Roth didn’t know if the former employee was receiving retirement benefits.

In an interview on Hawaii Public Radio, Police Chief Paul K. Ferreira said the officer held the rank of detective. The former officer’s years of service were not disclosed. The officer’s identity was also not released, nor was the amount of drugs missing.

WHT: Honolulu prosecutors receive Big Island police evidence theft case

read … Hawaii County prosecutor seeks outside review of evidence theft case

State: Burial backlog at veterans cemetery better, but long-term fixes needed

HNN:  …The cemetery can only accommodate three to five burials per day, but Han hopes to increase that by re-examining staffing, training and getting approval for an $8 million Veteran Affairs grant for new pre-cast concrete crypts.

"If we were to get support for 4,000 new crypts over two years, they'll help tremendously with timeliness. It'll help tremendously with capacity," he said….

"I met with everyone from the front office to the grave diggers to the guys who cut the grass to get to the bottom of what was going on out there," he said….

HNN: WWII vet brings mission to honor Gold Star Families to Hawaii

read … State: Burial backlog at veterans cemetery better, but long-term fixes needed

NRA Funds Shooting Sports, Gun Safety Classes at Hawaii Schools

CB:…Hawaii’s grant allotment of more than $100,000 but less than $150,000

 …The Hawaii public schools receiving NRA grants during this period included Hilo, Maui and Kailua high schools. Private schools included Kamehameha Schools, St. Joseph School of Hilo, Christian Liberty Academy, Saint Louis School and Island Pacific Academy.

Honolulu-based entities received most of the grants, followed by Hawaii County and then Maui County.

Other youth-oriented groups have received NRA funding, including the Maui County Council Boy Scouts of America for gun safety training….

read … The NRA Is Giving Hawaii Schools A Lot Of Money

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