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Tuesday, December 3, 2019
December 3, 2019 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:31 PM :: 2724 Views

Common Cause: Vote by Mail 'Will be a Disaster'

How to Defraud the DoD--GAO Publishes Handy Guide

Plastics ban proposals a disaster for Oahu food companies

SA: … On Wednesday, the City Council will choose between two horrendous versions of Bill 40, the proposed ban on disposable polystyrene (PS) foam and plastics. Both would likely devastate Oahu’s food supply.

This debacle should come as no surprise since the Council has hastily and continually bungled the drafting of Bill 40, creating the prospect of massive unintended consequences along the way. Throughout, they’ve failed to recognize or avoid the adverse effects the bill would have on nearly all food products made locally.

Recently, over 200 people and scores of Oahu companies had to stage a public rally to prevent a massive shutdown of local businesses and draw attention to the fact that Spam musubi, POG and other cherished local foods would have been completely banned under earlier proposed language.

Now the City Council is offering two proposals of the bill for final passage: one by Tommy Waters, another by Ron Menor. Both versions feature worthless exemptions to the ban that will eliminate many local foods.

Waters’ proposal is harmful because all prepared foods in plastic or foam are banned except for “prepackaged” products. However, the definition is so broad and confusing it can’t be upheld.

It states that exempted food must be packaged prior to being provided for sale. The problem is that all prepared food, including takeout, is packaged before sale since a transaction cannot be legally consummated until a customer receives the item they purchased. “Provided” has no legal standard and therefore becomes a confusing benchmark: must items be packaged before a TV ad is aired or a newspaper circular is printed or a sign posted?

This flaw renders the exemption ineffective or exposes it to legal challenge — either way, foods such as tofu, kim chi and noodles requiring plastic or foam would be eliminated.

Menor’s version, meanwhile, lists a slew of individual exemptions to the ban, including poi, tofu, catering, “grab and go” and “shelf stable” products.

However, these carve-outs are absolutely meaningless. That’s because this draft seems to prohibit all businesses on Oahu except food vendors from selling PS foam or plastic disposable food containers and utensils.

That means everyone selling food — from producers and wholesalers to stores and restaurants — may not be able to procure packaging on the island even with exemptions. Without trays for raw meat, salad containers, or tubs for tofu made from plastic or PS foam on Oahu, food vendors would be left to buy these items directly from overseas at great expense and limited quantities.

Since Bill 40 primarily applies to local products, it falls hardest on the businesses that produce them and consumers who treasure the specialty foods that make Hawaii cuisine so unique….

read … Plastics ban proposals a disaster for Oahu food companies

Former UH regent sues state over ‘gut and replace’ maneuver to push him off board

SA: … A former University of Hawaii regent is suing the state over a bill signed into law this year by Gov. David Ige that downsized the Board of Regents from 15 to 11 members.

Jeff Portnoy, in a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court of Hawaii, argues that passage of Act 172 was unconstitutional because the contents of the measure didn’t receive three readings in the House and Senate as required under the Hawaii Constitution. Rather, the bill underwent what is referred to as a “gut and replace” late in this year’s legislative session. The controversial, though not unusual tactic, is when the original contents of a bill are replaced with completely new language.

In this case, the bill was stripped 48 hours before passage….

Portnoy and Seitz told reporters today that the Legislature has a long history of attacking the independence of the university — such as inserting earmarks into the university’s budget and pressuring it to relocate or open schools in certain areas.

Portnoy said he repeatedly spoke out about the Legislature’s undue influence on the university during the five years that he served as a regent.

“There were multiple things that happened that I thought we needed to poke the bear and I was told by other regents and administrators, ‘Don’t poke the bear,’” said Portnoy. “And I said, you know what the bear’s been poked and the bear is eating us alive. So I got the opportunity when this bill passed to do something that I couldn’t do as a regent.”

Portnoy was actively seeking reappointment this year when Act 172 became law, eliminating the seat he was seeking…. 

HPR: Suit Challenges Legislature's Downsizing of UH Board, Cites 'Attack' On University Autonomy

HNN: The suit is asking that a judge void the new law.

KITV: Hearings on the matter could happen as early as next February.

PDF: Portnoy Complaint

read … Former UH regent sues state over ‘gut and replace’ maneuver to downsize board

Tax Hike Two-Step: B&B tax bill up for final vote

SA: …  The Honolulu City Council on Wednesday is scheduled to take a final vote on a bill establishing how owners of vacation rentals are to be taxed, and three Council members have introduced different floor draft proposals to help ease the burden on those now operating previously permitted “whole home” transient vacation units.

Bill 55 calls for creating a new tax classification for properties where vacation rentals considered bed-and-breakfast establishments are operating. Properties where vacation rentals are identified as transient vacation units would be put into the hotel-resort tax classification.

The bill does not determine exactly how much those operating vacation rentals pay — that’s determined annually by the assessed value derived by the city Real Property Assessment Division multiplied by a rate in each tax classification as determined by the Council each June….

(First cut them off.  The kill them.)

read … B&B tax bill up for final vote

Hawaii County ready to prosecute old rape cases

HTH: … Hawaii Island’s decade-long backlog of rape test kits have all been processed, and now it’s time to move onto the next step — investigating and prosecuting the cases.

Of the 189 test kits submitted for analysis, 47 had DNA profiles loaded to CODIS, the federal Combined DNA Index System database. Of those, 11 resulted in hits against known suspects, according to the state Department of the Attorney General.

That compares to 441 DNA profiles statewide loaded to CODIS from 1,512 test kits, with 173 resulting in hits from known suspects.

The County Council is set Wednesday to approve $769,895 in federal funds to prosecute the cases, including hiring and training an investigator and a prosecutor in the county Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. The project is expected to be completed by September 2021, said Finance Committee Chairwoman Maile David.

First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Dale Ross said the office is finalizing its required federal paperwork and working with the county Human Resources Department to recruit for the positions….

read … County ready to prosecute old rape cases

Soft on Crazy: Suspect with checkered legal past assaults woman in own home because he was out on release

WHT: … A 56-year-old Hawaiian Beaches woman told police a man entered her Kawakawa Street home Saturday morning as she was having coffee, assaulted her, stole her cordless house phone and took a swing at her husband and missed….

Police arrested 34-year-old Phillip Jon Richardson of Pahoa for that incident and another at a nearby home. Richardson was charged with two counts each of strong-arm robbery and fourth-degree theft, and single counts of first-degree burglary and third-degree property damage….

According to the complaint, Richardson tried to take a motor vehicle from a 70-year-old man by force, damaged the vehicle in an amount exceeding $500 and took the man’s car keys.

Richardson was acquitted by reason of insanity on June 17 of strong arm robbery, second-degree criminal tampering and fourth-degree theft charges. He was also acquitted on July 12 of burglary of a dwelling during a civil emergency or disaster declaration, trespassing on a school property and two counts each of unauthorized entry to a motor vehicle, fourth-degree theft and second-degree trespassing by reason of penal irresponsibility, which means the court found Richardson didn’t have the mental capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions at the time of the alleged incident.

He was committed at Kona Community Hospital’s psychiatric ward and later placed on court-supervised conditional release at outpatient facilities — first in Kona, then in Pahoa. At a court hearing Nov. 29, a case manager told Acting Hilo Circuit Judge Jeffrey Hawk that Richardson had been discharged from the Pahoa home for behavior issues.

A bench warrant was issued with a motion requesting Richardson’s conditional release.

After learning Richardson was being held on bail and pending a mental examination, the state withdrew its motion to revoke conditional release Monday afternoon in Hilo Circuit Court.

According to court records, Richardson was convicted in 2005 and sentenced to 10 years in prison for two counts of kidnapping, four counts each of unauthorized entry to a motor vehicle, unauthorized control of a motor vehicle and credit card theft, two counts of first-degree property damage and three counts of second-degree property damage. He also has misdemeanor assault, domestic abuse, property damage and TRO violation convictions from 2015….

read … Suspect with checkered legal past assaults woman in own home while out on release

Time running out for those hoping to oust city prosecutor with special election

HNN: … Kiuchi and his client, Tracy Yoshimura, have also asked the state Supreme Court as well as the state Attorney General’s Office to intervene. If that doesn’t happen, the deadline will pass because the appeals court hearing isn’t scheduled until January.

“We’re running out of time really quickly here,” Yoshimura said….

“The point is, the voters should have a right to decide who goes into the office given that the allegations of what that office has done is very serious,” Kiuchi said.

The same federal investigators already sent Kaneshiro’s former high ranking deputy prosecutor, Katherine Kealoha, to prison for obstruction, conspiracy, bank fraud, identity theft, and failing to report a federal crime. Acting city Prosecutor Dwight Nadamoto has also been brought into the mix. He was called to testify to the federal grand jury in the case last month, emerging after three hours.

The actual election for city prosecutor is next August, but Yoshimura wants Kaneshiro out sooner.

“Frankly, given what’s gone on, there has to be a new start and the new start starts not with the election that happens in 2020, it starts with a special election now,” Kiuchi said….

Kaneshiro’s attorney told Hawaii News Now his client has no plans to resign….

Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s office has publicly said numerous times that Nadamoto is qualified to take over until the next election….

read … Time running out for those hoping to oust city prosecutor with special election

How to Use ‘Infrastructure Needs’ as Excuse for Lack of Affordable Housing

HPR: … “These kind of large programs, large wastewater projects, they do take time. What we need to know is ‘where is the development happening?’”

In some cases, new housing development can’t even get approved until increased sewer capacity is installed. In some cases, those projects can take the better part of a decade to complete.

Even when new sewer capacity is installed, those homes still need water. 40 percent of the state’s new housing need is on Oahu, where according to regulators, like the Board of Water Supply’s Barry Usagawa, there is plenty of water to meet demand.

“You’ve got one million people on this island, using half the water. So there are enough resources, but not quite in the Honolulu are where we are pumping close to the sustainable yield,” Usagawa said.

Water regulators have established pumping limits for each of Oahu’s 24 aquifers, to make sure they aren’t depleted. Keeping everyone supplied without going over those sustainable limits takes 2-thousand miles of pipeline distributing water across the island.

That infrastructure is already in-place, so when it comes to new development, Usagawa says location is critical. Building near established infrastructure avoids costly delays the need to expand water lines.

But all those pumps and treatment plants won’t work without electricity….

2016: Second sewage digester built at Sand Island plant – “The new digester serves the sewer needs of residents from Kuliouou to Red Hill and will allow the city to approve new housing units in Honolulu’s dense urban core and avoid development in the country.”….

read … Hawaii's Housing Shortage Can't Be Solved Until Infrastructure Needs Are Addressed

Hawaii lawmaker says letting lots and lots of criminals back out on street is key to easing overcrowding in Hawaii jails

HNN: … After the riot at MCCC in March, Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda blamed overcrowding.

But as the legislature prepares for a new session of budget requests, the chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee says more funding alone won’t solve the problem.

"Looking at pre-trial detainees and how we can make the system better to get them not held if not necessary. It would reduce some of the numbers we got in there,” said Senator Clarence Nishihara.

(The reason they are in jail is that NOBODY in their family wants to pay $100 to get them out.  THEIR FAMILIES WANT THEM IN JAIL.  Its the first break their families have had in years.)

"I think throwing money is not always the answer,” said Kat Brady, the coordinator for Community Alliance on Prisons. “We need to look at who's in there and right now we know that 74-percent are in for the lowest felonies and below."

(Translation: As always the usual suspects say let the criminals back out.  What a surprise.) 

Inmates rights advocate Kat Brady believes too many non-violent offenders are locked up.

She says costly incarcerations can be prevented with education and addiction treatment…

(Sure.  If they didn’t get hooked on meth they wouldn’t be doing crimes to pay for the meth.  But some genius let the meth dealers back out on to the streets.  Duh!)

Bipartisan Stupidity--Nov 22, 2019: Crime surges in Oklahoma as Republicans continue to open prison doors

read … Hawaii lawmaker says money alone won’t ease the overcrowding in Hawaii jails

What Will Happen If the Minimum Wage Goes Up?

HB: … We asked that question and others in two statewide surveys: the BOSS Survey of 405 local business leaders and the 808 Poll of 547 members of the general public ….

read … What Will Happen If the Minimum Wage Goes Up?

Enviros Begin Looking for Ways to make Air Travel More Expensive

SA: … Representatives of the major airlines serving Hawaii will join local environmental and transportation industry officials in Honolulu Tuesday for a first-of-its-kind summit to discuss actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Hawaii Aviation and Climate Action Summit will convene Tues Dec 3 from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the State Capitol and is open free to the public.

One of the event’s sponsors is Hawaiian Airlines….

Alaska, Southwest and United Airlines are expected to send representatives to the event.

Also attending is the state of Hawaii’s chief energy officer, Scott Glenn, who will be representing the state at the U.N. Climate Change Conference COP25 in Madrid next week.  (He’ll paddle a canoe to Spain.)

Summit speakers include representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aviation Sustainability Center, the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuel Initiative, the state of Oregon’s Clean Fuel Program and the U.S. Low Carbon Fuel Coalition.

Event sponsors include Hawaii Bioeconomy Trade Organization, Island Energy Services, Hawaiian Airlines, Ulupono Initiative, Perkins Coie LLP, the state House of Representatives Committee for Energy and Environment, and the Hawaii State Energy Office….

(They want fewer of the little people clogging up their airplanes.  This means higher ticket prices.  No more and no less.)

Register for the summit here.

IM: TODAY -- Hawai`i Aviation and Climate Action Summit

read … Ticket Prices Going Up

Maui: ‘Community Facilities District' Allows Residents to Take Control of  Erosion Projects

MN: … A new county financing tool could be used to pay for a multimillion dollar project to restore the Kahana Bay coastline, which is being severely eroded by sea level rise, frequent storms and seawalls built to protect condominiums.

The Kahana Bay Steering Committee, which represents nine oceanfront condominiums and one kuleana parcel in the area, and the county Planning Department are looking at establishing a Community Facilities District to help fund the beach nourishment project, whose cost is now in the $19 million to $30 million range, according to information presented at a council committee meeting Monday afternoon.

The district would help fund the project through a special tax on property owners within its boundaries….

The districts can significantly lower the upfront cost of public infrastructure needed to support new developments and may allow for the construction of lower cost homes and additional community amenities. It’s a form of public/private partnership, according to information from Columbia Capital Management, which presented information on the topic at a Nov. 18 committee meeting.

All four counties in Hawaii have adopted ordinances enabling the creation of Community Facilities Districts, although only one has been formed in the state, according to county documents. The Kukui Ula Project on Kauai was formed in 2008, and Kauai County sold its first bonds in 2012. The district helped fund road and intersection construction and improvements, as well as expansion of the county’s potable water system….

The Community Facilities District law took effect a year ago and allows neighborhoods and community associations to fund public infrastructure projects, such as the sand project. More typical uses might be for streets, bike paths, parks and open spaces, according to council documents.

The extra payment would be included in a owners’ property tax bill.

Formation of a special district must be initiated by either property owners or Maui County Council. The council would vote on a resolution outlining the intention to form the special district and schedule a public hearing to approve the special tax….

Related: Kahuku and Waimanalo Protests show why Hawaii Needs Municipal Government

read … District tax could help fund erosion project

Rehabilitation Hospital of Pacific Struggles In The Wake Of Sexual Misconduct Allegations

CB: … Dr. Jason Chang was the chief medical officer at the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific in Honolulu. He was fired from the top job in June after two women filed complaints against him for inappropriate conduct and sexual harassment. He quickly sued the hospital. After a judge ruled against him, Chang resigned his physician privileges.

Chang’s alleged sexual misconduct set off a chain reaction that affected hundreds of patients and continues to hamper the hospital’s ability to serve patients….

An entire hospital division dealing with medical equipment shut down in mid-April when both complainants went on leave. The hospital’s chief executive officer says at least 200 patients were affected by the staff exodus when their cases were left in temporary limbo. The hospital has stopped doing intake for some services, so the actual number of affected patients could be even higher.

“What happened continues to limit our ability to provide certain services in the outpatient clinic,” says Timothy Roe, the hospital’s CEO. “Those services haven’t been re-established yet. We’re still scrambling. We’ve made some adaptations which allows us to cover some of the activities of that area but not all.”…

Chang admitted to having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a subordinate on hospital grounds but maintains that it was consensual. An independent investigator hired by the hospital concluded the relationship was more than likely non-consensual.

Although Chang was fired from his job as chief medical officer, he resigned his role as a physician at the hospital. He continues to practice medicine at Hawaii Pacific Neuroscience, another health center with an office less than a mile away from his previous employer, according to Ashley Bass from the human resources office at the medical facility….

read … Oahu Hospital Struggles In The Wake Of Sexual Misconduct Allegations

Massachusetts EBT cards used at posh hotels in Hawaii

BH: … EBT card holders from Massachusetts have spent their tax-funded benefits in almost every state — including popular vacation spots like Hawaii where welfare money was withdrawn at hotels in “paradise,” right on Waikiki Beach and the “best address” on Hanalei Bay, records show.

A Herald review of more than 2 million EBT expenditures in fiscal year 2019 found the cards being used in Hawaii on 18 different occasions. Thousands of other out-of-state transactions included cash withdrawals in Las Vegas, and numerous card uses in Alaska, California, Florida and Louisiana….

In Hawaii, records show a state-issued EBT card was used twice at the Princeville Resort on the island of Kauai for a total of $400 in November of last year. The resort bills itself as “a sanctuary for the modern luminary” and Hawaii’s “best address.”…

Another EBT card from Massachusetts was used in January at the Sheraton Waikiki in Honolulu, records show.

That expenditure was $140 at a destination called “paradise” and “priceless,” according to guest reviews online….

The cash used came from EBT cards from the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children and Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children ….

BH: DTA said “after the (Princeville) transaction, the household was asked to verify residency and did not, so the case was closed and benefits expunged from the card.”

read … Massachusetts EBT cards used at posh hotels in Hawaii

Analysis: The average rent for a one-bedroom in Honolulu is down 10%

HNN: … The average rent for a one-bedroom in Honolulu dropped 10% in November compared to a year ago, according to a new analysis from real estate site Zumper.

The site said the average rent for a one-bedroom in Honolulu last month was $1,600.

The average rent for a two-bedroom was $2,100, down about 4.5% from a year ago.

Zumper said the 10% decline is the fourth largest in the nation. Honolulu also dropped in the rankings of most expensive cities for rent, from no. 11 to no. 13.

The decline in rents come as the city continues a crackdown on illegal vacation rentals ….

CB: Security Deposits Put Housing Out Of Reach For Some In Hawaii

read … Analysis: The average rent for a one-bedroom in Honolulu is down 10%

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