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Friday, January 31, 2020
January 31, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:37 PM :: 2455 Views

How to Restore OHA's Credibility

NRA Town Hall Set for Honolulu

Former Schofield Range Director Pleads Guilty In Bribery Scheme

HB1884: Right to Repair

Hawaii’s housing crisis, in 63 seconds

Crowds line streets to mark end of watch for fallen HPD officer Enriquez

SA: … Mourners from all over the country, including officers and first responders from as far away as Boston, California, Washington and New York, gathered to say goodbye in what was one of the most moving tributes to a fallen officer ever in Honolulu….

Officers and first responders marked the solemnity of the occasion by forming a “thin blue line” around Enriquez. First, they formed a single file line and walked one-by-one into the Diamond Head Mortuary to pay their respects to Enriquez, who was assigned to Waikiki and had spent seven years with HPD.

Later in the day, after attending a moving celebration of life ceremony at Diamond Head Memorial Park, law enforcement and first responders lined the street fronting the Honolulu Police Department Headquarters on Beretania Street to witness Enriquez’s end-of-watch ceremony. The “thin blue line” is an expression of solidarity and pride by law enforcement and first responders who recognize that they are part of only a very few who are responsible for holding back chaos….

read … Crowds line streets to mark end of watch for fallen HPD officer Enriquez

Spy Satellites provide so-called ‘data’ for possible storm runoff fee on Oahu

SA: … Question: Regarding the potential stormwater fee, how will they decide how “impervious” your property is? They’d better not use building permits. Too many cheaters out there with unpermitted structures.

Answer: The city says it can measure the amount of impervious cover on each Oahu property using aerial imagery from the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

A summary of the Aug. 19 meeting of the Storm Water Utility Stakeholder Advisory Group, which the city’s Department of Facility Maintenance formed to study a potential fee-based stormwater utility on Oahu, explains the process:

“Geographic information system (GIS) mapping and aerial imagery is used to calculate impervious area in square feet. That information combined with land-use information is used to calculate some unit for charting — either a set number of square feet of impervious surface, or a calculated measure called an ‘equivalent residential unit’ or ‘ERU.’ These units then form the basis for calculating fee proportionality.”….

Q: Who would pay this?

A: All Oahu property owners, including ones exempt from Honolulu County property taxes, according to the website. The monthly fee would be proportional and depend in part on how well the property mitigates storm runoff.

Q: How much would it be?

A: It’s impossible to say at this point. The most detailed estimates we could find were in a Jan. 13 pres­entation to the advisory group, which said that a median-size residence of 3,800 square feet might initially pay from $26.33 to $37.08 a month (or $315.96 to $444.96 a year), depending on how the fee was structured and the breadth of expenses the stormwater utility covered. However, the presentation emphasized that “costs are preliminary draft estimates for illustration only.” It also included rough estimates for other property types and sizes. Find links to the presentation and summaries of the advisory group’s other meetings at….

read … Aerial photos provide data for possible storm runoff fee on Oahu

Star-Adv: No Property Tax for BoE

SA: … In an effort to address Hawaii’s teacher pay problem, the Legislature is now weighing House Bill 2671, which proposes funding pay raises by giving the state Board of Education (BOE) joint authority with counties to levy property taxes. While the need for gains in teacher retention and recruitment is undeniable, this proposal is not the answer.

The bill aims to put a question on the 2020 general election ballot, with voters being asked whether the Hawaii Constitution should be amended by repealing the counties’ current exclusive jurisdiction over real property taxation, and giving concurrent jurisdiction to the counties and the BOE….

HB 2671 has echoes of the 2018 proposed constitutional amendment that would have given the Legislature authority to impose a surcharge on investment property to support public education. In that case, the counties prevailed in a legal challenge asserting that the ballot question was too vaguely worded.

This time around, the wording seems clear, but much of the criticism tied to the 2018 proposal is likely to resurface. The counties may again argue that such a move could cut into their revenues and hurt their bond ratings. And many taxpayers — especially those on Oahu bracing for the possibility of a property tax hike to cover the cost of rail transit operations — may view this separate pot of money for education as a double-dip levy.

Further, some critics contend that before pursuing this matter, the Education Department should first more clearly bear out that its $2 billion operating budget is spent efficiently and effectively.

In addition, giving the Board of Education authority to levy a tax is concerning because it consists of governor-appointed members. Elsewhere, school district board members are typically selected by voters, who have the option of casting members off the board….

looking to the state Constitution as a funding well creates problems of its own….

read … Find better ways to raise teacher pay

HART Shouldn’t Promise To Have Rail Ready In October

CB: … Rail’s federal partners in Washington aren’t confident “at all” that the trains will be ready to run in October for interim service and they want local rail officials to “step back” from that promise, according to the city’s top leadership.

The Federal Transit Administration is “extremely concerned that we may not be able to meet some of the goals that we’ve set” to open, Honolulu City Council Chairman Ikaika Anderson told rail board members Thursday.

(Translation: Stop trying to help Mufi.)

He was joined by Mayor Kirk Caldwell and Councilman Joey Manahan, and the trio of city leaders urged the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation to reconsider its bold, public promise to have the system ready to ride this year.

When they met with the FTA in Washington last week, the federal agency repeatedly asked them to “please cease overpromising and underdelivering,” Caldwell told the HART board. Local residents are eager to use even part of the transit line, but “If we don’t deliver on the promises made, what remaining trust we have is going to evaporate.”

Instead of aggressively working toward the interim opening, FTA believes that HART should be focusing the bulk of its efforts right now on locking in the long-anticipated public-private partnership to build the rail line’s last four miles and eight stations through town, Caldwell said.

The FTA is still worried about the decision to move to a so-called “P3 model” midway through construction, and ahead of the most difficult and challenging stretch to build through the urban core, he added. The deadline to submit bids for that work has been pushed back at least three times — now slated for April….

SA: Rail plan for stadium gets dose of reality

read … HART Shouldn’t Promise To Have Rail Ready In October

Kai Kahele’s Plan to Wipe out Mortgage Lending on DHHL

TGI: …The County Council on Wednesday passed unanimously a resolution to urge the state Legislature to fix defects in laws that govern the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands that have led to stubbornly high mortgage delinquency and foreclosure rates among Native Hawaiians living on DHHL lands.

The council action — the vote was 6-0, with Councilmember Arthur Brun absent — came only a day before state Senate Hawaiian Affairs Committee was scheduled to hold a hearing on SB2526, the first of three DHHL-reform bills that have been introduced in the new session. The hearing is today at 1:15 p.m.

State Sen. Kaiali‘i Kahele (D-Hawaii Island) is lead sponsor of all three bills. The others are SB2525 and SB2393….

(Why is this guy getting a free ride into Congress?)

the Honolulu City Council is preparing a similar resolution for introduction there. The Oahu version, however, is likely to call on the federal government to force DHHL mortgage-delinquency reforms rather than legislate changes at the state level.

That is because the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, which established DHHL, is a federal law that can only be substantively changed by Congress, Kuali‘i said. The act was passed in 1920, long before Hawaii achieved statehood in 1959….

(Translation: Turning DHHL into welfare requires Kahele to be elected to Congress.)

The three newly introduced Senate bills would:

• Mandate revision of DHHL’s lending manual and adoption of “loan loss mitigation policies, procedures and methods, including financial counseling, mitigation analysis, forbearance, loan modification, loan assumption, sale or transfer;”

(Translation: Nearly impossible to foreclose.)

• Ban DHHL from canceling a lease “based solely on a loan delinquency or default” unless DHHL provably followed all of its published mitigation procedures;

(Translation: Nearly impossible to foreclose.)

• Emphasize procedures designed to “avoid default, cure delinquencies and avoid cancellation or foreclosure;”

(Translation: Nearly impossible to foreclose.)

• Require a majority of members of the Hawaiian Homes Commission to be DHHL lessees and require “beneficiary consultations” before changing its procedures.

(Translation: Nearly impossible to foreclose.)

Reality: If these became law, mortgage lenders would stop lending on DHHL lands because they cannot foreclose.  As a result, very few DHHL homes would be awarded.  It would be the end of DHHL.

Ignore This: Prince Kuhio’s Fight to Americanize Hawaii 

read … County backs Hawaiian homesteaders

Committee: Full Senate Should Confirm Aila As DHHL Director

CB: … In a 3-2 vote, the Senate Hawaiian Affairs Committee recommended the full chamber approve Gov. David Ige’s nominations to lead the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands….Sens. Kurt Fevella and (Congressional candidate) Kai Kahele (still pandering) voted no, while Sens. Maile Shimabukuro, the chair of the Hawaiian Affairs Committee, Jarrett Keohokalole and Les Ihara voted yes….

SA: William Aila gets initial OK as DHHL chief

read … Committee: Full Senate Should Confirm Aila As DHHL Director

Property tax hike fails

TGI: … The Kauai County Council on Wednesday killed a proposal to increase property taxes for around 200 Kauai residents with rental properties.

Bill 2767 sought to close a loophole in county property tax laws that allows some short-term vacation rental property owners to pay about half the rates imposed upon other transient vacation rentals, according to the bill’s co-authors, Councilmembers Luke Evslin and Mason Chock.

The bill failed to garner support needed to pass second reading at Wednesday’s meeting after pushback from community members who testified against the bill at recent public hearings, saying the proposal would unintentionally impose an undue financial burden on hundreds of residents who rely on meager rental incomes to keep pace with ever increasing taxes.

“Over the years, our property taxes have doubled. And again, and again, always keeping our profitability in check. Now we stand to have our taxes double once again,” said Bruce Fehring, a farmer and 33-year resident of Kilauea, who spoke out against the bill….

read … Property tax bill fails

Bills About Nothing: Why Hawaii Legislators Write Measures With No Text

HPR: … Since short-form bills are meant to cover unexpected eventualities, naming them is something of a guessing game. Lawmakers use vague titles like “Relating to the Environment” or “Taxation.”

Vague titles and inserted language may sound similar to the often lambasted legislative technique called gut and replace; a process in which lawmakers take a bill that has not secured the necessary votes to advance, copy the text from that bill into another measure that is still moving.

There are multiple lawsuits underway challenging the legality of gut and replace, although it was ruled constitutional by a judge last year.

While there are some similarities, short-form bills are distinct from gut and replace….

read … Bills About Nothing: Why Hawaii Legislators Write Measures With No Text

Gun Rights Advocates: 2020 Bills Impact Law-Abiding Citizens, Don't Address Crimes

HPR: … Pro-gun advocates are voicing their opposition to several state bills that would add more restrictions on guns.

The Hawaiʻi Firearms Coalition hosted a rally Thursday at the state Capitol to challenge a majority of the measures.

Forty-three gun bills have been introduced this legislative session, the most bills relating to firearms introduced in a single session in recent years….


read … Gun Rights Advocates: 2020 Bills Impact Law-Abiding Citizens, Don't Address Crimes

Hawaii County PD: Five officers terminated in 2019

HTH: … Five Hawaii Police Department officers were terminated in 2019 and seven were suspended for disciplinary reasons, a department official said Thursday.

The actual numbers of firings and suspensions do not match the numbers contained in a disciplinary report recently provided to the state Legislature by Police Chief Paul Ferreira, as required by law.

“In some of these cases, an officer might have four charges filed against him. It could be that there are three where they recommend that he be suspended for a different numbers of days; the fourth charge could be … so egregious that the discipline decided on was termination or discharge. So that particular officer would show up three times for suspension and one time for discharge,” Thomas said.

Thomas added a particular officer could also show up more than once as “discharged” on the report, if the officer was found to have committed more than one offense that warranted termination.

The department has 417 officers, Thomas said.

The names of disciplined officers are confidential under state law. That could change if House Bill 285 is enacted this legislative session….

HB285: Text, Status

read … Five officers terminated in 2019

Purse Snatchers Linked Back to Homeless Camp

HNN: …Just last week around 9:00 a.m., a 61-year-old woman was sitting at the bus stop near the intersection of Hanakahi and Laupapa Streets in Ewa Beach when a man grabbed her purse, yanked her to the ground, injuring her and stealing her money and diabetes medication.

With the help of a Good Samaritan who was in the area, police were able to track down Tauilo Ala, 24, also known as "Troubles" and Brandi Carino, 25.

“Because I got a look at the car, they wanted to details of the car,” said the witness who asked not to be identified. “I kind of know models and makes of cars. So, I knew it was a certain car and I was able to report that. The color, it’s missing some hub caps and the tints.” The pair was arrested for robbery.

Sources say Ala has 16 prior arrests for drugs and stealing cars.

Carino has three prior felonies arrests for robbery and stealing cars.

Officers were also able to arrest Ala for reckless endangering after he was trying to sell a sawed-off shotgun at Oneula Beach Park the next day and was seen shooting the gun in the air during a fight.

Pine has been trying to rid the beach park of criminals and druggies for years and said this is exactly why the park needed to be closed.

"Because Hau Bush was one of the few beaches that were still open at night, it attracted every criminal on the island to end up there and begin their day. So, it was bringing a lot of crime and drug activity even sex trafficking to that beach," Pine said….

read … ‘Hau Bush’ now closed overnight after purse snatcher links to gunfire

Caldwell Has a Glass Jaw—Punched out in Chinatown

CB: … At the corner of Nuuanu Avenue and Hotel Street, Mayor Kirk Caldwell welcomes visitors to Honolulu. His disembodied voice emerges from a red, telephone booth-shaped box with a glass touchscreen.

Approach the box, and you’ll notice the glass is shattered, as if a passerby took offense to the mayor and punched him in the face.

When the box was installed, its camera allowed users to take selfies. The first time I walked by it last year, a homeless woman had parked her shopping cart and was making funny faces, delighted with the box.

At first, the box featured a touchscreen map of our historic Chinatown District. Unfortunately, the map is broken now. The assault on the booth gave it a concussion, and users risk cutting their fingers on the cracked screen….

read … It’s Time To Clean Up Chinatown

FAA employee blocked from inspecting Kauai tour chopper prior to crash

CBS: …  In December, a sightseeing helicopter crashed in Kauai, Hawaii, killing all seven people on board. A Federal Aviation Administration whistleblower now says he was prevented from inspecting the aircraft prior to the crash.

Joseph Monfort is a former Army helicopter pilot and FAA employee since 2009. He told Senate investigators his FAA bosses twice denied him travel authorizations to visit the helicopter company, making it next to impossible to perform adequate FAA oversight.

Another chopper crash in Hawaii in April that killed three people is also getting new scrutiny. The whistleblower claims the FAA did not provide adequate oversight that could have prevented the accident. Senator Roger Wicker is demanding the whistleblower's claims be investigated.  …


read … FAA employee blocked from inspecting Kauai tour chopper prior to crash

Hawaii Looks To The Philippines For Its Newest Teacher Recruits

CB: … In an effort to plug the teacher shortage, the Hawaii Department of Education sent two officials to Manila on its first-ever international recruiting effort….

read … Hawaii Looks To The Philippines For Its Newest Teacher Recruits

Al Hee’s Lawyer Now Represents Donald J Trump

CB: … Among his clients was Albert Hee, who was sentenced to federal prison in 2016 for tax fraud after federal prosecutors say he siphoned money from his telecommunications company to fuel a lavish lifestyle that included $90,000 in personal massages, salaries and benefits for his wife and kids, college tuition and family vacations to Disney World, Tahiti, France and Switzerland.

Hee is the brother of former state Sen. Clayton Hee.

Purpura has also represented Pioneer Hi Bred International in a lawsuit over pesticide drift from GMO test fields on Kauai, and Marc Hubbard, a North Carolina man who duped the University of Hawaii into paying him $250,000 after he lied about being able to book Stevie Wonder for an island concert to benefit the athletic program.

The case is infamously known now as the “Wonder Blunder.”

Purpura previously served in the White House Counsel’s Office under President George W. Bush. Purpura was considered the top contender by the Trump administration for Hawaii’s seat on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but he pulled his name from the running.

Trump then appointed former Hawaii Attorney General Mark Bennett to the post….

read … Meet The Former Hawaii Lawyer Who’s Defending President Donald Trump

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