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Sunday, March 31, 2019
March 31, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:19 PM :: 3202 Views

Judgments Aren’t Necessarily the End of Litigation

JSC Seeks Applicants for Judicial Vacancy – District Family Judge, First Circuit

Got Milk? DoH Consent Decree Requires Shut Down of Big Island Dairy

Trump Tax Cut Lowers Electric Bills--HECO Gave Back the Least

Hawaii Family Forum Legislative Week in Review

Legislators Raise Taxes to Boost State Workers Minimum to $17—in the middle of contract reopener

Borreca: … first, as is usually done, any Hawaii legislative session must start by paying the bill to run the place. This year the first bill signed into law by Gov. David Ige puts up more than $30 million to crank up the state House and Senate, plus the reference bureau, auditor, ombudsman and ethics commission.

Next is the easy job of doing nothing and getting paid more for it. The state Salary Commission recently came out recommending 10 percent increases for legislators. According to state law, if the legislators do nothing and don’t pass a resolution saying “Don’t give us a raise,” they will see salaries rise from $62,604 today to $74,160 in 2024. Nice work for standing in the shadows. The governor, other state executives and the Judiciary are also going to get more….

Another big bill in the “lurker” category deals with the controversial traffic cameras. The bill again tried to start up a plan to put cameras at traffic lights to photograph the license plates of red-light-running drivers. Car owners would be sent a ticket. Despite the rising number of pedestrian fatalities, passage is far from assured.

Ige’s attempt to raise gasoline tax, weight tax and vehicle registration fees for road repair is back again this year — and the $40 million tax increase is again hugely unpopular.

So despised was the idea that, according to a Hawaii News Now report on a Kapolei High School public hearing last week, “The rowdy reaction from the crowd was so harsh, police were called out as angry residents challenged state officials on their tax proposal.”…

Finally, the hardy legislative perennial, a minimum wage increase, appears to be thriving, with a broad base of support and the expected opposition from business interests.

The odd catch this year is including a requirement that state workers be guaranteed a minimum of $17 and gradual pay raise for other workers to $15 an hour….

read … Borreca

Legislative Pay Hike Needed to Attract More Layabouts

Shapiro: >> Senate President Ron Kouchi and House Speaker Scott Saiki applauded when the state Salary Commission, mostly appointed by them, gave legislators 18.5 percent pay raises. It’s necessary to attract more qualified layabouts.

>> State judges, noting the generous treatment of legislators and administrators, were unhappy to receive annual raises of barely 1 percent. They’ll have to equip the bench with tip jars….

read … Shapiro

Kim talks management during meeting with Ige, other officials about mountain’s future

HTH: … In addition to Ige, the mayor met with University of Hawaii President David Lassner, state Attorney General Clare Connors and others representing astronomy and UH-Hilo’s Office of Maunakea Management in his Hilo office.

What remains unclear is how or if Kim’s vision, which involves the mountain being a symbol of the Hawaiian people, international cooperation, the quest for knowledge and more, will be implemented. Most of Maunakea is state land.

Initiatives outlined by Kim include: creating a major cultural center, recognizing and preserving the “qualities of Maunakea that make it a premier place to expand our knowledge of the universe,” create educational programs that combine science and culture, review and reorganize the management authority, and “be a model for how people of the world can live together in harmony.”

Kim said he’d like it to lead to a new management structure for the mountain, currently overseen by UH, that would involve more organizations. He gave Kamehameha Schools and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs as examples….

“We’ll do what we have to by law,” Kim said, if there is conflict on the mountain.

“Now let’s work toward how to prevent it.” ….

read … Kim talks management during meeting with Ige, other officials about mountain’s future

HART work went off the rails, report says

SA: … One of the new Honolulu rail cars was damaged in an “incident,” and another work vehicle that runs on the rail line derailed twice in January, prompting the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation to issue a “safety stand-down” letter last month suspending vehicle operations, according to rail officials.

Hill International Inc., which is monitoring the Honolulu rail project for the Federal Transit Administration, reported that Ansaldo Honolulu Joint Venture “experienced several safety issues” in January that triggered a Feb. 12 letter ordering the rail contractor to halt vehicle operations until the safety hazards are resolved….

He said workers pushed a train onto a section of track where the energized third rail had been disassembled, and broke off the “shoes” under the car that connect to the third rail. He said Ansaldo will have to repair the damage at its own expense….

“After two derailments involving hi-rail vehicles and damage to train #3, HART sent a letter” to Ansaldo requiring the safety stand-down on vehicle operations, according to the federal monitor’s report….

According to Brennan’s statement, the safety stand-down for Ansaldo “was basically a call for Ansaldo Honolulu to stop train testing due to its lack of written safety rules and safety enforcement and to allow Ansaldo to address the deficiencies and improve its safety culture. Ansaldo has complied, and HART has since given Ansaldo the go-ahead to again perform train testing.”…

The rail operations center is supposed to be fully functional by Sunday…

read … HART work went off the rails, report says

MECO Another 3.8% Rate Hike—Utility Squeezed by Alt-Energy Schemers

MN: … The state Public Utilities Commission approved a base rate hike for Maui Electric Co. of 3.8 percent earlier this month while ordering the utility for the first time to assume a small portion of the cost of fossil fuels for power generation.

Currently, MECO passes on to customers 100 percent of the cost of oil — with all of its price ups and downs — that it consumes to fire up its generators. The Energy Cost Adjustment Clause appears as a separate item on bills.

With details still being worked out, the PUC has ordered MECO to assume 2 percent of the change in the cost of fossil fuels between base rate hikes, according to attorney Isaac Moriwake, who represented proceeding participant Blue Planet. The charges are capped at $633,000 annually, and the benchmarks still are being worked out, according MECO.

Blue Planet witness Ronald Binz of Denver-based Public Policy Consulting, whose testimony was cited in the decision and order, said that MECO should “fairly share the risk” of oil prices and “give MECO ‘skin in the game’ with respect to managing fossil fuel use and costs and moving to renewable energy.”

Blue Planet proposed that the rate be 5 percent but the PUC pared the figure to 2 percent.

SA Editorial: Manage costs of modernizing grid

read … Rate Hike

Bureaucratic Infighting, Money and Positions--Turf War over public preschools

SA: … how public preschool should be administered — is coming to a head in the Legislature, with a clearer definition of governance and an allotment of funds still awaiting a final decision.

Hanging in the balance is a plan, embraced by both the Executive Office on Early Learning (EOEL) and the state Department of Education (DOE) to carry out one of Gov. David Ige’s stated goals of expanding by 22 classrooms the on-campus availability of preschool for public school students….

What’s still unclear, though, is exactly which of these two agencies will have what authority, and how much money they will have to get things underway…. 

CB: DOE’s Early Education Power Grab Is Ill-Advised

read …  Political push and pull over public preschools

HB748: Reform Asset Forfeiture

SA: … House Bill 748 would allow cash and property to be seized only if the suspected crime is a felony and requires that it be returned if there is no conviction.

If lawmakers enact the measure, Hawaii will join a growing number of states in reforming their civil asset forfeiture programs, many of which grew out of the so-called war on drugs in the 1980s.

Sixteen states now require a criminal conviction to forfeit most or all types of property, according to the Institute for Justice, an advocacy organization based in Virginia that has been a leading critic of asset forfeiture. North Carolina, New Mexico and Nebraska have abolished their programs.

House Bill 748 also would divert half the proceeds from forfeitures into the state’s general fund and the other half to a community-based program that provides social services to offenders with behavioral health problems. The amendment aims to reduce any incentive for law enforcement to seize money and property for their department’s own financial benefit, although the attorney general’s office would be able to use some of the funds to cover the cost of administering the program.

Currently, half of the proceeds from civil asset forfeitures go to the law enforcement and prosecuting agencies that conducted the seizures. Another half is deposited into the attorney general’s criminal forfeiture fund, which can be used to support the asset forfeiture program, among other things.

The bill has passed three committees in the Senate and House, but still needs to be heard by the Senate Ways and Means Committee….

read … Reform

Police Could Save Millions by Dumping Subsidized Vehicles

HTH:… The issue of whether police officers on Hawaii Island should all use fleet vehicles — known as “blue and whites” — is being raised by the county’s Cost of Government Commission.

In a report recently submitted to the Mayor’s Office, the commission recommends conversion to fleet vehicles for the Police Department, which it estimates would save $2 million throughout a five-year conversion process. That assumes use of existing county facilities to maintain them.

Currently, officers are responsible for providing and maintaining their own vehicles that have to meet certain criteria set by the department, such as engine size. Chief Paul Ferreira said officers receive a monthly subsidy of $600, and are expected to have a vehicle available at all times.

He said the subsidy is not a net gain for the officers.

“With the mileage these offices put on these cars, these cars aren’t going to last,” Ferreira said. “So, it is a losing proposition for the officers having to use their own personal vehicles.”

The commission pegs the subsidy amount a bit lower, at $562 per month, in its report.

With 406 officers receiving the subsidy as of last October, the annual cost of the subsidy program is $2,738,064, the report states….

read … Commission sees savings in Police Department converting to fleet vehicles

Halawa: Prisoner Commits Suicide After Being Raped by Homosexual for 5th Time

SA: … The state is poised to pay out approximately $75,000 to the family of an inmate with a history of suicide attempts and mental health problems who killed himself at Halawa Correctional Facility six days after he reported being raped by his cellmate.

On March 11, 2013, 32-year-old Jonathan Ibana covered the window of his Halawa prison cell with toilet paper and wrote “using toilet” on it to prevent anyone from looking in.

About 25 minutes later, employees found him hanging by the neck from a noose made from his bed sheet.

Helen Coma, Ibana’s mother, filed a civil lawsuit against the state for not preventing his suicide. Prison workers failed to provide him with safe custody, proper medical and mental health treatment and proper housing placement given that he was known to be at risk of killing himself, according to the complaint.

The settlement agreement, which was submitted by the state Department of the Attorney General to the Legislature for approval, comes at a time when state lawmakers are considering establishing a commission to oversee Hawaii’s jails and prisons, in part because of ongoing suicides in state correctional facilities and a lack of transparency about whether internal policies and procedures are being followed by the Department of Public Safety to prevent them.

More than two dozen inmates have killed themselves in Hawaii jails and prisons since 2010, according to DPS….

Ibana had a history of threatening and attempting suicide and was described as suffering from “mental retardation, bipolar disorder, severe depression … and hallucinations.” He was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia, according to court documents filed on behalf of the plaintiff.

Ibana was flagged as a suicide risk as soon as he was arrested in 2001, at the age of 21, for attempted murder and sexual assault when he tried to stab his then-underage girlfriend. During screening, Kauai police found that he had tried to hang himself five years prior.

Ibana was repeatedly placed on suicide watch throughout his incarceration. In 2001, records show, he claimed that “spirits are going to kill him by hitting his head against the wall,” and later that year he was caught tying elastic around his neck. From 2006 to 2008 he repeatedly threatened to harm himself, according to court records, and at one point wrote a note saying “he wanted to hurt himself because he did not want to be in prison anymore, he wanted to be with Jesus.”

In 2010, Ibana was observed banging his head against the wall multiple times….

… Ibana also reported being sexually assaulted by other inmates multiple times while incarcerated at out-of-state facilities and in Hawaii. He was raped twice in 2007 while at Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility in Mississippi, once in 2008 while at Saguaro Correctional Center in Arizona, once in 2012 at Halawa prison and again on March 5, 2013, six days before he died, according to court documents. He had become suicidal after each incident, although he denied being depressed after the final assault.

(Question: Why weren’t any of these homosexual rapists on Glee?)

(Lesson: We closed the insane asylums and the insane are in our prisons.  We need to re-open the insane asylums and put the insane back in them.)

Best Comment: “The real victim is the original underage girl, whom this guy tried to kill and sexually assault. Where is her justice/compensation?” ….

read … State to pay $75K to family in prisoner suicide at Halawa Correctional Facility

Big Island: Where the Anti-Vaxxers Are

HTH: … Vaccination exemption rates vary throughout East Hawaii schools, according to the recently released numbers.

At Chiefess Kapiolani Elementary, for instance, just 0.3 percent of the school’s 363 students claim religious exemption, while Haaheo Elementary, with a student body of 196, has a religious exemption rate of 9.2 percent.

At Connections New Century Public Charter School, 14 percent of its 349 students requested a religious exemption and 0.3 percent have a medical exemption. Laupahoehoe Community Public Charter School, which has 339 students, has a religious exemption rate of 13.3 percent, and Malamalama Waldorf School/Kinderhale, a private school with a student enrollment of 95, has 46.3 percent religious exemption rate.

“The Hawaii State Department of Education supports the state Department of Health’s goal to protect Hawaii’s population from vaccine-preventable diseases,” said DOE Assistant Superintendent Heidi Armstrong….

Background: Just Shut Up: The Price of Pandering to Anti-Vaxxers

read … Anti-Vaxxers

Tour Boat operated by Anti-Superferry Activists Runs over (yet another) Baby Whale

MW: …NOAA received a report of a vessel colliding with a humpback whale in south Maui waters on Wednesday.

(A source informs Hawai’i Free Press this was yet another Pacific Whale Foundation whale strike.  PWF boats are primitive and deadly propeller-driven slaughter machines unlike the modern Superferry, opposed by PWF, which was operated by whale-safe water jet drives.)

Personnel with NOAA’s Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary responded to the reported location and observed a live humpback calf that had injuries that were consistent with a vessel collision.

The calf was accompanied by an adult humpback whale, which NOAA presumed to be its mother. 

The incident is currently under investigation by NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement.  …

(EDITOR’s NOTE:  The anti-Superferry Pacific Whale Foundation did not respond to a request for comment on this article.)

read … Tour Boat

Lihue: Mainland Homeless Build Tent City Next to Shopping Center

KGI: … Lisa Sullivan shows the extent of the problem after she goes into her office and retrieves a plastic baggy containing what she believes to be a crack pipe. The baggy has the date “Feb. 1, 2019,” written on it. It’s the day the Sullivans found it in front of their business. The clear glass smoking device is caked in residue on the business end. They say they have also found needles and feces before.

“As far as I know, there’s no plan for this,” Lisa Sullivan says with an ominous tone. “It’s just like we’re letting it go until something bad is going to have to happen.”

On Rice Street, just feet from the pedestrian sidewalk, a blue tarp sat until it was recently cleaned up. It served as a makeshift landfill the residents of the tent city are using to collect their garbage. It was in plain sight of the thousands of cars that pass the road everyday.

For people like Gayle, originally from Orange County, Calif., the tent city is her only option….

The Sullivans say they’ve had to call the police almost daily this year. It got to the point that Lisa Sullivan finally asked the police what moving the homeless camps from location to location accomplishes. She believes the problem itself needs to be addressed rather than the symptom of the problem….

Kauai has an estimated 400 to 500 homeless.

There were 38 incidents reported at Haleko Shops Complex from June 24, 2017 to Feb. 15, 2019, the county said. They ranged from burglary to trespassing to welfare checks to drug offenses….

“It’s been an ongoing problem for about a year as far as I can recollect,” said one business owner who preferred not to be named. “Before it was worse. They would come here at night and before there was a bunch of people dealing with drugs. We would come to work in the morning and somebody had done a number two on the welcome mat.”…

Garbage and empty liquor bottles line the perimeter of the city. Visiting the location three times in the day, there were no occupants during the first two visits during the day, but later in the evening there was activity….

The property the tent city is on is owned by an old mill trust, according to the Sullivans. They believe a number of the homeless are coming from Oahu and the mainland….

…the residents of the tent city say they aren’t going anywhere…. 

(And nobody is going to force them into shelter.)

read … Tent City

Legislative News: 




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