Legislative Preview: Week 8
Another Poll Puts Gabbard at 0% in Iowa
Honolulu Council Special Election: Thursday Deadline to Register to Vote
557 Candidates Register for Honolulu Neighborhood Board Elections
I Was America’s First ‘Nonbinary’ Person. It Was All a Sham.
Nishihara: Senate Will Vote on Espinda When I Have 13 Votes Against Him
CB: … Ige submitted Espinda’s name to the Senate on February 1. But Sen. Clarence Nishihara, who leads the public safety committee, told Civil Beat he’s waiting for more information from the Department of Public Safety before scheduling a hearing….
… Two senators said Nishihara told the Senate Majority Caucus last week that he expects to have 13 votes in the 25-person Senate against Espinda’s nomination by the time he holds a hearing….
Jodi Leong, a spokeswoman for Ige, said Monday that the governor is in the process of drafting up the nominations for Jobie Masagatani to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and Rod Becker to the Department of Budget and Finance.
The governor has until March 29 to submit the names, according to Cindy McMillan, Ige’s communications director….
HTH: Police: ‘Dangerous’ inmate on lam
read … Gov. Ige’s Re-Appointment Of Public Safety Director Is Meeting Resistance
Criminals Light Fire in Maui Jail because TV Broken
SA: … Authorities say three staff members sustained minor injuries in a disturbance at Maui Community Correctional Center that began Monday afternoon when inmates allegedly started a small fire after refusing to return to their cells from the recreation yard.
“Inmates who refused the order began breaking fire sprinklers, which began shooting water out in the common area. Maintenance was informed to shut off the water system. Non-compliant inmates started a small fire in the common area and smoke drifted to an adjacent module where inmates there started a lesser disturbance,” the Hawaii Department of Public Safety said in a press release this morning.
The disturbance occurred in two modules in one of the living units just before 3 p.m., when 52 inmates returned to their cells after recreation time but 42 of them refused, officials said. DPS said the damage to two modules was “significant,” though estimates are pending….
At about 4:24 p.m., DPS said, staff and Maui police officers began negotiations with inmates in one of the modules, and the staff was able to gain entry into the area through an emergency exit door. Staff then turned attention to the second module “that created a lesser disturbance,” and by 6:26 p.m. had “contained” the situation.
DPS said while no inmates were injured, three staff members who have since returned to duty were treated for “minor injuries including an injured finger, a cut to one foot from shattered glass and skin irritation from pepper spray exposure.”…
HNN: Video of Aftermath
KITV: Video of Aftermath
HNN: The second inmate uprising at the aging facility in less than a year
KHON: Officials say the module where the disturbance took place is not useable because of the extensive damage.
HNN: Last year, the state estimated that MCCC was about 60 percent over capacity, with 301 beds but more than 470 inmates.
And in September, the state was slapped with $24,000 in fines for safety violations at the 40-year-old facility….
Maui Time: “Monday at about 2pm, inmates in Module A at the Maui Community Correctional Center were told to go to their cells for a headcount,” Schwartz told me. “The inmates refused the order and said they wanted to express their frustration with the phone system, a damaged television in the common area of their module, and the absence of rice with some of their meals over the past few days.”…
“Schwartz said that seven inmates face possible misconduct charges for their part in the demonstration. Charges will include inciting a disturbance, interfering with the performance of a correctional officer and threatening a correctional officer. Schwartz added that DPS officials are conducting an internal investigation, and more charges may be filed against additional inmates.”…
MN: Standoff at Maui jail: ‘Disturbance’ at MCCC resolved after 3 1/2 hours
MN: Jail lockdown lifted morning after disturbance
CB: Maui Riot Just The Latest Sign Of Trouble In State’s Overcrowded Jails
Cost to transport, house Hawaii inmates on the mainland is skyrocketing—But its Still Cheaper than UPW-Controlled Halawa Prison
HNN: … (look at all the stuff we can pay for and still save money compared to the UPW prison)…
Hawaii taxpayers spent almost $2 million last year to move prisoners back and forth from Saguaro Correctional Center in Arizona.
That comes out to about $1,800 for each, one-way ticket….
A caravan of sheriff’s deputies escorted the rented tour buses with inmates. K-9 units and heavily-armed officers guarded the tarmac as each prisoner, wearing shackles and belly chains, walked up the staircase into the plane.
State records show the cost to transport prisoners to and from the mainland ― and to house them ― have grown tremendously.
In 2016, the state flew a total of 650 inmates to or from Saguaro at a cost of $871,213, which works out to about $1,300 each way per inmate.
In 2017, the cost doubled. More than 1,000 took a flight, pushing up travel costs to $1.6 million….
Last year, 1,167 inmates were moved at a cost of almost $2.2 million.
And those costs are just for air transportation.
To house the prisoners, Hawaii taxpayers are also seeing the bill steadily rise.
In fiscal year 2016, the price tag was $38 million.
In fiscal year 2017, it shot up to $44 million, and then $45 million last fiscal year….
“If you start factoring in that they’re separated from their families, and they probably are going to get out at some point, then the straight dollars and cents analysis starts to break down," said Rhoads….
(Idea: Criminal families should move to Yuma.)
read … Cost to transport, house Hawaii inmates on the mainland is skyrocketing
Shining Sunlight On The Honolulu Police Chief’s Performance
CB: … When Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard receives her inaugural job evaluation next week, the Honolulu Police Commission will for the first time in memory make public the details of a chief’s annual review.
In a move intended to boost transparency and restore public confidence in the review process, the commissioners assessed Ballard’s performance using a new, more inclusive process. It draws on the input of more than two dozen government and community organizations, as well as interviews with police officers and self-evaluation materials provided by Ballard. …
read … Shining Sunlight On The Honolulu Police Chief’s Performance
Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro’s paid leave approved by his appointee
SA: … The decision to pay Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro his full $170,712 annual salary and benefits while he is on leave during a federal corruption investigation was made by the man Kaneshiro appointed to replace him.
Kaneshiro selected Dwight Nadamoto to be acting prosecuting attorney, and then Nadamoto approved Kaneshiro’s paid-leave status.
Kaneshiro placed himself on administrative leave Thursday, following calls for him to step aside while his office is being investigated for possible corrupt practices….
“But how can they take leave with pay while under criminal investigation?” Lilly asked in an email to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “They draw pay and accrue benefits without coming to work? I can’t believe that’s possible,” said Lilly, a member of the Honolulu Ethics Commission. “I’m outraged that not only are they being paid but no one is asking the question — why? And that our taxes are being spent on employees who are entitled to stop coming to work but continue to draw paychecks.”….
CO: ‘Persecuted’ Sweepstakes Operator Spearheads Impeachment of Honolulu’s Embattled Top Prosecutor
CB: Why Is Keith Kaneshiro Still Getting A Paycheck?
read … Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro’s paid leave approved by his appointee
City attorney to help hammer out how process for impeachment petition works
HNN: … The proceedings came just a few days after Kaneshiro placed himself on paid leave after refusing to do so for months while under a federal investigation.
In the Circuit Court hearing, the issue of how to verify the impeachment petition was discussed, and a meeting between the attorneys and Paul Aoki, acting corporation counsel, will be scheduled to hammer out the verification process.
The impeachment effort is led by Tracy Yoshimura — who Kaneshiro’s office unsuccessfully prosecuted twice for distributing game machines.
Yoshimura says he will be filing an amended impeachment petition this month.
After collecting 900 signatures online, Yoshimura’s attorney, Keith Kiuchi, says it was unclear if the city would accept electronic signatures.
“We couldn’t get that answer,” said Kiuchi. “What we decided to do, so there was no issue, no questions raised, is go about it the old fashioned way. We got hard signatures on hard petitions.”….
Kiuchi says they have about 200 signatures on paper right now, but he’s confident they’ll collect the 500 needed to continue the process.
The next hearing in the case was set for April 30 at 9 a.m. Kiuchi says the judge blocked off most of the day so there may be a chance evidence in the impeachment case will be presented.
On Friday, the City Council approved $75,000 to fund Kaneshiro’s legal defense in the impeachment case with taxpayer dollars….
read … City attorney to help hammer out how process for impeachment petition works
Maui Councilmember Calls for Top Lawyer’s Resignation
HNN: … The mayor said he was disappointed by the arrest.
“Mr. Wong and I have met. It is an unfortunate incident ― for me, not an incident that I can tolerate,” said Victorino.
“He gave me his side and I have been able to meet with the other party and she gave me her side and I’m waiting for the police to put all the facts on the table.” …
Councilwoman Alice Lee, who voted in favor of Wong, said she was shocked and dismayed by the abuse allegation.
“We need to get on with the county’s business and I would surmise that the investigation into the allegations against Mr. Wong would take quite some time,” she said.
“I believe in the best interest of moving the county forward, perhaps he should consider stepping down.”…
read … State will handle domestic abuse case against Maui County’s top civil attorney
HPD Lieutenant who investigated financial crimes pleads guilty to tax charges
HNN: … A Honolulu Police Department lieutenant who investigated financial crimes for decades pleaded guilty Monday to three counts of filing false and fraudulent tax returns.
Lt. Eric Yiu has been with the department for nearly 30 years.
He was arrested and charged last year after an investigation that involved multiple county, state and federal agencies.
He faces up to three years behind bars for each count, and fines of up to $300,000….
read … Lieutenant who investigated financial crimes pleads guilty to tax charges
Illegal immigrant sanctuary bill dies in state legislature
AP: …A bill that would have made Hawaii the third so-called sanctuary state for immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally has died at the state Legislature.
The state Senate passed the bill and sent it to the House. But Rep. Gregg Takayama, the chairman of the House Public Safety Committee, said Tuesday he won’t be hearing it in his committee. That effectively kills the bill.
Takayama said that because most law enforcement occurs at the county level, he believes it would be more appropriate for the counties and not the state to consider creating sanctuaries. He noted local jurisdictions on the mainland have done so.
“I didn’t think there is a compelling need for a state law in this area,” Takayama said.
Oregon was the first to become a sanctuary state in the 1980s. California followed in 2017….
read … Hawaii immigrant sanctuary bill dies in state legislature
SB663: Robot Cops to Give Tickets at Red Lights
HNN: … If Senate Bill 663 goes through and a motorist does run a red light, a camera mounted above the light will capture the driver’s face and license number.
Opponents say it could cause more crashes when people stop suddenly or speed up to avoid being ticketed.
“I don’t support that because of people’s privacy,” said pedestrian Erika Swartzkopf.
“And also, in other states, they have done this and what comes back sometimes is false positives and then you get all these people getting tickets and they actually weren’t even there at the time in some instances."
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Chris Lee agrees something needs to be done about the recent traffic fatalities.
However, he says there is a lot to be cautious about when it comes to these cameras.
“In some places, where private vendors have been brought in to run the camera system, we know that there is a financial incentive there where there is more people running red lights,” he said. “So in some cases, folks have shortened the yellow light timers to actually catch more people which have ironically led to more accidents.”
read … Red Light Cameras
HB593: Replacing Prime Agricultural Land With Solar Panels
IM: … HB593 HD1 would allow industrial-scale photovoltaic facilities on the three percent of all Hawai`i agriculturally-zoned lands that are prime agricultural lands, the best land in the State for growing food. The bill will be heard on Wednesday, March 13, 2019…
The Senate leadership did not send the bill to the agriculture committee since three of the five members would have voted it down. Instead, the bill is being sent to a committee that will pass the bill….
(Clue: HB593 exists to make Hoohana Solar farm possible on Kunia Ag Land.)
Related: Solar Bid Rigging: Yamamoto Caliboso Secretly Represented All 7 Winning Bids
read … Food vs. Electricity -- Replacing Prime Agricultural Land With Solar Panels
Homebuyers should not be forced to choose solar over gas
SA: … It’s clear that we have our share of cloudy days and rain — especially in windward and mauka areas. I serve a number of customers in these areas. It seems that there’s a lack of discussion about the realities of why homeowners need an instantaneous gas water heater as an option.
I disagree with the arguments by the Sierra Club and the Hawaii Solar Energy Association that the state DBEDT (Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism) is “rubber-stamping” nearly all variances to a solar-water requirement (“Hawaii Gas files motion for solar water heater ruling,” Star-Advertiser, Feb. 26). It is not. I advise clients on various heating sources and they determine which best serves their needs. They elect to apply for these variances, which were being approved by DBEDT up until this case was heard. For many of my clients, forcing solar water heaters over other available options would not be their choice.
The argument that solar water heaters are completely independent from fossil fuels and generate enough savings to make it on par with a gas water heater does not add up. What consumers should be offered are choices to meet their needs. An instantaneous gas water heater is cost-effective, energy-efficient and reliable, which is why people choose it. However, it seems that choice is not an option.
Permits for gas water heating are already being rejected.
I’ve had to call clients who had gas in their plans and now have to go to solar. They are upset and tell me this puts a financial burden and adds more costs for an architect to redraw plans, which are now interrupted by a court’s decision.
This decision will increase the cost of homes and will put home ownership further out of reach.
Solar costs are four times higher than gas. Also, it’s not a simple heating process: For example, an extended family typically would run out of hot water and be forced to use electric. Solar heating also has a slow recovery time for general use….
read … Column: Homebuyers should not be forced to choose solar over gas
Honolulu Diocese Should Identify All Credibly Accused Priests
CB: … My latest disappointment is the Honolulu Diocese’s staunch refusal to release a list of clergy and church employees in Hawaii who have been credibly accused.
“Such information exists, “ says attorney Randall Rosenberg, who has successfully sued the Honolulu Diocese on behalf of dozens of plaintiffs.
In his investigations for his clients, he says he has obtained information from the diocese about alleged sexual abusers that church officials originally claimed did not exist….
Catholic dioceses around the country are starting to release lists of their credibly accused offenders although there is no agreed-upon standard of what constitutes “credibly accused.”
The Arlington, Virginia, diocese said it defines a “credibly accused” priest as someone who has met at least one of the following criteria: the accused admitted guilt; there has been a determination of guilt in a criminal court, civil court or by a church process; or one of that state’s two diocesan review boards has found the allegation to be credible.
When I called the Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu on Friday to ask why it has not released its own list, the first response was in an emailed statement from diocese public relations specialist Laurie LaGrange: “The names of clergy accused in litigation of sexual abuse are already matters of public record.”.
Of 178 Catholic dioceses in the United States, the nonprofit bishopaccoutability.org says 113, as well as 11 religious orders, have released the names of their credibly-accused clergy. Some have done so voluntarily, others after they were sued….
read … Honolulu Diocese Should Identify All Credibly Accused Priests
Soft on Crime: Incompetent Prosecutors Let Homeless Lunatic Get Away With Murder—Literally
HNN: … An Oahu judge on Monday dismissed all charges against the suspect in a years-old Maili homicide because of persistent delays in the man’s prosecution.
Derrick Hernandez was 39-years-old when he was arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder in March of 2014. Hernandez, police officials said at the time, was responsible for the alleged stabbing death of a 42-year-old man at a Maili homeless encampment.
Court documents filed shortly after the incident indicated that Hernandez had become angry when he saw the victim, later identified as Frankie Feliciano, sitting on a beach mat that belonged to Hernandez.
The alleged altercation led to the stabbing, and Feliciano died at the hospital a short time later.
Bail in the case was set at $1 million, and Feliciano has remained in custody since his 2014 arrest. But the case has never been taken to trial, and one of the state’s Rules of Penal Procedure now dictate that Hernandez be released — because it’s taken too long to prosecute him.
(Fortunately a high bail led to 5 years jail--the only justice that will ever be done in this case.)
At least ten times, according to court documents obtained by Hawaii News Now, have trial dates in the case been set.
Twice, after psychiatric evaluations in December 2014 and March 2017, Hernandez has been found mentally unfit to stand trial and committed to the Hawaii State Hospital. And twice, in the years after those diagnoses were made, has the decision been overturned the trial been ordered to proceed….
HNN: Because the case was dismissed without prejudice, prosecutors can still try to charge Hernandez again for second degree murder
read … Lunatic
Downtown Bumfights Leave two Stabbed
HNN: … Police officials say an 18-year-old man was stabbed at around 5:10 a.m. Sunday morning by a suspect who was described as a heavy-set male who has not yet been identified.
The 18-year-old victim was taken to the hospital in critical condition.
A separate stabbing incident was reported Sunday on Beretania Street in an area near Aala Park. Investigators say a 34-year-old homeless woman reported a male had entered her tent and stabbed her, but that she was reported to be in good condition….
read … Bums are expensive
Rich Tweeker Has 25-year Criminal Record—Keeps Getting Bail
KGI: … The 44-year-old Kilauea resident has a criminal record that dates back over 25 years. The arresting officer’s declaration describes Lawhead as a “career criminal” and “an admitted heroin and crystal methamphetamine addict,” with a propensity for drug-related and violent crime, who has “extreme financial resources” and contacts in California, Oregon and “throughout the state of Hawaii.”
Aside from his most recent arrest, Lawhead faces a slew of charges in multiple separate cases….
After his arrest on drug-related charges in 2018, Lawhead posted bail and left Kauai for the mainland. He was picked up by Oregon State Police in October for possession of heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and a restricted weapon, according to police, who claim phone calls Lawhead made from jail in Oregon show he “was aware that he had a pending warrant and fled to Oregon on the belief that they would not extradite to Hawaii.”
Shortly after his arrest in Oregon, Lawhead posted bail and was extradited back to Kauai, where he once again bailed out and was released pending trial. His freedom was short-lived….
On Feb. 8, KPD officers arrested Lawhead for allegedly stabbing a man “as a result of an altercation related to vehicle sales/mechanical work,” according to the KPD officer’s statement, which also says Lawhead “immediately bailed out using cash that he had on his person in the amount of $10,000.”
Less than a month later, Lawhead and his girlfriend were arrested again, after KPD vice officers allegedly caught the pair with narcotics in their carry-on luggage at Lihue Airport, and at some point prior to that incident, a few grams of crystal meth were found in a sedan Lawhead was authorized to pick up from a shipping company in Lihue…
Kauai Police Department officers pulled over Kameron Lawhead Thursday afternoon, after a woman called KPD dispatch to report he was driving near Lihue with drugs in his vehicle…..Lawhead was charged with promoting a dangerous drug in the second degree and is being held on $500,000 bail….
KGI: ‘Jesus Bandit’ freed again so he can reoffend
read … Rich Tweeker