Unanimous: US Senate Rebukes Anti-Catholic Bigot Mazie Hirono
City Auditor: HART Cost Overruns Will Continue
Hawaii Construction Employment Down 4.8% for 2018
How we can keep our children in Hawaii?
Video: Gabbard's First Week Ends With Apology to Gays
Ige Announces More Second Tier Appointments
Video: Marshall Resigns After Fake Atooi King Teams up With Developer to Chase Protesters Off Land
It Begins: Sen. Kai Kahele challenges Tulsi Gabbard for her seat
SA: … State Sen. Kai Kahele plans to challenge U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard for her congressional seat, sources have confirmed….
Kahele, who represents Hilo, is expected to announce his plans Monday in Hilo. Kahele is chairman of the Senate Land and Water Committee and has served in the Senate since 2016. He’s the son of the late state Sen. Gil Kahele.
Kahele is also a combat veteran, a major in the Hawaii Air National Guard and a pilot for Hawaiian Airlines….
U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono suggested in an interview with MSNBC this week that she would not be supporting Gabbard’s presidential run.
Shortly before announcing her White House bid, Gabbard penned a piece in The Hill in which she accused Democratic U.S. Sens. Hirono, Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein of religious bigotry in their questioning of judicial nominees, angering some members of the Democratic Party.
On Thursday former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean told CNN that he thought all of the party’s candidates are qualified to be president except for Gabbard.
“I don’t think she knows what she’s doing, and I don’t think she … is qualified. She’s not qualified,” Dean said.
Dean referenced Gabbard’s trip to Syria where she met with President Bashar al-Assad and her past statements about gay people. “I don’t know what she thinks she’s doing,” he said….
Michael Golojuch, chairman of the LGBT caucus of the Hawaii Democratic Party, said he wasn’t convinced that Gabbard had truly changed her personal views on homosexuality. “Her evolution doesn’t ring true,” he said.
Golojuch said he was glad to hear Kahele was challenging Gabbard.
“I think it would be amazing to have Kai in that seat,” he said ….
KITV: State Sen. Kai Kahele to announce bid for Congress, challenging U.S. Rep Tulsi Gabbard
Last Week: Candidates Already Lining up to Run for Gabbard's Congressional Seat
read … Sen. Kai Kahele challenges Tulsi Gabbard for her seat
Property tax bill could help some Oahu homeowners
KHON: … Bill 3 would increase the basic property tax exemption from $80,000 to $100,000. …
The last time the property tax exemption increased was back in 2006, when it went from $40,000 to what it is today. …
The exemption would also increase $20,000 for seniors 65-years-old and older, from $120,000 to $140,000. …
So how would the new bill affect the city's revenue?
“Due to the increasing values of our properties the city is seeing increases in our revenues,” Tsuneyoshi said.
She says all the development has also helped push the property value numbers up.
"I believe this is a good time to talk about providing some relief to our homeowners so they can see some benefit from the increase in development and also see some relief from the valuation continuing to go up without seeing a relief on their taxes,” she said.
If approved, the bill was go into effect July 1, 2020. …
read … Property tax bill could help some Oahu homeowners
Corrupt Lyon Contract with DHHL at Anahola?
ILind: … Frank James Lyon, known as Jim Lyon, is listed in business registration records as president and director of Lyon Associates, Incorporated. The Star-Advertiser, in an article this morning, further identified Lyon as a current member of the city’s 5-member Zoning Board of Appeals, with a term that expires at the end of June 2019. He was appointed by Mayor Caldwell in 2014.
The Hawaii payoffs went to an unnamed co-conspirator working in an as-yet unnamed state agency. The money was then channeled to other agency employees in a position to influence the selection of the contractor. The payment disclosed in the indictment was about 10% of the total contract price, about what the rumor mill said was the standard kickback in the wild old days of state procurement.
The indictment alleges the government has records of emails, telephone calls, and other evidence of the bribes, including email specifically acknowledging that some of the payments were illegal and that there was a need to be careful….
LINK: DLNR Approval of Lyon Contract work on DHHL Land—is this the one?
read … Another piece of Hawaii’s corruption puzzle
Bribery: Will Caldwell Remove Federal Felon from Zoning Board?
SA: The owner of a local civil engineering company who is also a member of the Honolulu Zoning Board of Appeals is scheduled to admit in U.S. District Court next week that he bribed government officials of the Federated States of Micronesia and a state of Hawaii agency to secure contracts worth millions for his company.
Lyon is expected to admit that he paid approximately $200,000 in bribes between 2006 and 2016 to obtain FSM contracts worth $7.8 million. The bribes included cash, travel expenses to Las Vegas for an FSM official and the official’s wife, a car and truck for the official, sending the truck to Pohnpei and paying the University of Hawaii tuition for the official’s relative. Lyon also allegedly paid for the apartment of another FSM official.
The papers do not name the FSM officials. They say one administered FSM’s aviation programs, including the management of its airports, at the FSM Department of Transportation, Communications and Infrastructure. The papers describe the other as a member of the FSM Congress who served on the congressional committee that oversaw Lyon Associates’ FSM contracts.
Lyon is also expected to admit that he paid cash bribes of at least $240,000 to a co-conspirator, who was a state agency employee, to secure a $2.5 million contract. The money was supposed to be shared with certain state agency officials who, in 2012, awarded the contract to Lyon Associates.
The papers say Lyon had three unnamed co-conspirators: the state agency employee, another who is a U.S. citizen but lived in FSM and a third, who along with Lyon, controlled Lyon Associates. The papers did not identify the $2.5 million contract.
Lyon did not respond to a request for comment. He is scheduled to plead guilty Tuesday.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell appointed Lyon to the Zoning Board of Appeals in 2014. Board Chairman Lyle Ishida said he doesn’t know whether Lyon will serve until the end of his term in June. The board’s next meeting is scheduled for Thursday….
read … Honolulu executive charged with paying $240,000 bribe to state official to gain big contract
Labor Board: Police Chief Did Nothing Wrong When She Transferred SHOPO President
SA: … In a ruling issued Thursday, the HLRB said the case turned on whether Ballard made the work changes to damage Ma’afala’s ability to lead the union.
“At the core of these arguments, SHOPO is asking the Board to conclude that Chief Ballard’s statements about the PSU and Maʻafala’s leadership of the PSU were consciously, knowingly, and deliberately made with the intention of undermining Maʻafala in his role as SHOPO president,” the three-judge panel wrote. “Based on the evidence presented to the Board, the Board cannot make such a determination.”
To the contrary, the board said, the change was merely a personnel change.
“The evidence shows that Chief Ballard simply reassigned these Officers,” the board wrote. “There was no evidence that in doing so, Chief Ballard made any ‘threat of reprisal or force or promise of benefit.’
“Additionally,” the board’s order continued, “as noted above, the only one of the Officers to testify, Maʻafala, stated that he had no problem with the transfer, and he did not state that the transfer in any way prohibited him from continuing as SHOPO President. Therefore, the Board must find against SHOPO.”
Ma’afala retired in October 2018 after nearly 30 years on the department. He’d been president of the union for 18 years.
Ma’afala was replaced as SHOPO president by Lutu…
read … Labor Board: Police Chief Did Nothing Wrong When She Transferred SHOPO President
Judge rejects Katherine Kealoha’s request to postpone trial
SA: … A federal judge today denied a request by former city Deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha to postpone her upcoming trial because of the partial government shutdown.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard L. Puglisi told Kealoha’s court-appointed attorney Cynthia Kagiwada that there was not an adequate foundation to convince him that Kealoha and the other defendants with court-appointed lawyers cannot receive competent counsel consistent with the Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial.
Pulglisi noted that almost all the bills submitted to date in the case have been paid and that lawyers tend to be paid on a lagging basis anyway….
read … Judge rejects Katherine Kealoha’s request to postpone trial
Hawaii County Police Department releases discipline report
KHON: … Missing drugs, assault of a juvenile suspect, and false violations on traffic tickets. That's among the low-lights of the past year at the Big Island Police Department.
Police departments in all four counties have to give state lawmakers every year a list of disciplinary actions. Hawaii County is first in this session.
The Hawaii County Police discipline report lists things that got HPD officers fired or suspended. The year before that there had been no firings, but this year's list had three….
Topping the list was a tampering case involving drugs in a Hilo evidence room. It came to light when cocaine in lockup was found to be lighter than when it was first busted. More cross-checks found some marijuana had gotten lighter too. County prosecutors were alerted, and they punted to the attorney general over a conflict of interest….
Despite no charges or convictions, Chief Ferreira told Always Investigating, "We did make adjustments to our procedures, we did also do additional training to our officers and to our evidence room. So any time something like this happens, any kind of discipline happens in the department, we take a look at it. Do we have to adjust our procedures? Do we have to adjust our policies?"
A firing over assault of a juvenile suspect also was referred for charges; the chief says that one did go to court.
A whole bunch of other conduct was not referred for criminal review and was handled only with internal discipline, including an officer caught writing traffic citations for false violations. The chief tells us it was not systemic.
"It was putting information on a ticket that didn't match the violation," Ferreira said.
Always Investigating clarified whether it was a ghost ticket-writing situation.
"No," Ferreira said….
read … Hawaii County Police Department releases discipline report
New proposal would ban hotel guests in Hawaii to bring firearms or ammunition into rooms
KHON: …A bill Rep Brower introduced Friday in the state legislature would prohibit hotel guests from having firearms and ammunition in their rooms. Brower says he got the idea from watching a report on KHON2 in May 2018….
His proposal gives exceptions to law enforcement officers and military members.
"I understand hunters may go from island to island and there are people who get involved in gun shows. But this is good to bring that conversation to the public. But I think there's a right to know what that person in the hotel room next door has in their room," he added. ….
read … New proposal would ban hotel guests in Hawaii to bring firearms or ammunition into rooms
West Maui hospital ‘on hold’
MN: … The West Maui Hospital Foundation has reached out to four major health systems in Hawaii in hopes of finding a partner to help build the long-awaited hospital in Kaanapali.
Board President Brian Hoyle said the foundation has sent out request for proposals to Hawaii Pacific Health, The Queen’s Health Systems, Adventist HealthCare and Kaiser Permanente, and is now awaiting responses.
“At this point, we’re on hold,” Hoyle said Friday. “We’ve tried to finance it twice through municipal bond issuances, and that has not proven successful.”
Hoyle said the foundation offered to donate the 15-acre site, which has been appraised at $12.7 million, to a health system, which would then develop and run the hospital. The proposals were sent out in late October and early November, and Hoyle said Kaiser is the only health system that the foundation has spoken with since then.
Plans for the West Maui Hospital and Medical Center call for a 25-bed, full-service hospital, including a 24-hour emergency room, three operating rooms, a 40-bed skilled nursing facility and a 40-unit assisted-living facility. The 53,000-square-foot medical complex also would include two medical office buildings and a 40-bed drug-and-alcohol rehabilitation facility….
The state awarded the project a certificate of need in March 2009, and the developer, Newport Hospital Corp., purchased the property in September 2014. However, the hospital has run into a number of obstacles since breaking ground in August 2016.
The foundation attempted bond floats with Ziegler Investments in 2017 and with Bank of America Merrill Lynch in 2018, but neither felt comfortable investing in the project without backing from a major hospital system or tax support from the county or state, Hoyle said. That’s what prompted the foundation to seek out a major health care system that could “either use their own internal cash funds or have the ability to borrow at dramatically low interest rates and not be required to put up the reserves that we were required to do.”…
Queen’s issued a statement Friday saying that it is “always looking at new ways to provide quality health care to the people of Hawaii, but we are currently not pursuing this.”….
read … West Maui hospital ‘on hold’
Hawaii DOE to explore redevelopment sites
SA: … The department narrowed down the potential locations to the former Queen Liliuokalani Elementary School on 2.7 acres at 3633 Waialae Ave.; a 6.5-acre parcel at 475 22nd Ave. in Kahala used for curricular staff; and a 4.6-acre plot at 4087 Diamond Head Road, a facilities maintenance base yard. No students are at any of the sites….
Board member Bruce Voss said he thought that the 22nd Avenue and Diamond Head sites “both make great sense,” but not the Waialae site. That property now houses the department’s $6 million data center, school facilities and support services, and security and emergency preparedness services. The Department of Education spent $1.6 million to convert the former school from classroom to office space and also invested $1.3 million in a pilot photovoltaic microgrid system.
Voss pointed to those investments as well as the challenges of getting the parcel up-zoned to business-mixed use.
“I just don’t see how Waialae even makes sense as a pilot project,” he said. “You’ve got huge sunk costs.”…
Evan Anderson, principal of Voyager PCS, urged the board to consider letting charter schools get first crack at unused facilities such as Liliuokalani School….
Act 155 requires the board to hold at least one public meeting in each affected community during the identification and selection process.
Superintendent Christina Kishimoto noted that the law restricts lease terms to 55 years and that potential investors want to change that to a maximum lease term of 99 years….
read … Hawaii DOE to explore redevelopment sites
Only 50 Years behind the Times--DMV Adopts Take-a-Number System
KGI: … Kauai residents no longer have to stand in line to register their cars. The Motor Vehicle Registration office recently installed a new take-a-number system.
After spending his first day in office at the MVR last month, Mayor Derek Kawakami decided to do something about the notorious long lines that have aggravated many over the years. …
read … End of the line
Shook Up: Women’s March Splits over Muslim Anti-Semitism, Misogyny
AP: … This year’s march has been roiled by an intense ideological debate.
In November, Teresa Shook, one of the movement’s founders, accused the four main leaders of the national march organization of anti-Semitism. The accusation was leveled at two primary leaders: Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian-American who has criticized Israeli policy, and Tamika Mallory, who has maintained an association with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
Shook, a retired lawyer from Hawaii, has been credited with sparking the movement by creating a Facebook event that went viral and snowballed into the massive protest on Jan. 21, 2017. In a Facebook post, she claimed Sarsour and Mallory, along with fellow organizers Bob Bland and Carmen Perez, had “steered the Movement away from its true course” and called for all four to step down.
The four march organizers have denied the charge, but Sarsour has publicly expressed regret that they were not “faster and clearer in helping people understand our values.”
Despite pleas for unity, an alternate women’s march has sprung up in protest and planned a parallel rally in New York on Saturday a few blocks away from the official New York Women’s March protest….
read … Women’s March Returns to DC Amid Shutdown and Controversy