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Sunday, November 29, 2020
November 29, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:53 PM :: 4144 Views

Dick Rowland, founder and chairman emeritus of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, dies at age 90

OHA Check Register: First Year After Crabbe--Insiders Still Rake in Millions

Eighth Amendment Protects Us from Massive Tax Penalties

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted November 27, 2020

JSC: Two Judicial Openings on First Circuit, One Retention Petition

Kealoha sentencing Monday: Feds Will be Leaving Soon--Crooks, Cronies can Get Back to Business

SA Editorial: …The fate of Honolulu’s once most powerful law enforcement couple — former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and former Deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kea­loha — is scheduled to be announced in federal court on Monday, writing a final chapter to one of Hawaii’s most stunning public corruption cases that embarrassed island law enforcement and shocked the community for the depths of its betrayal….

The Kealohas, who are now estranged, are scheduled to be sentenced separately on Monday. Hahn and Nguyen face their own sentencings in separate hearings on Tuesday….

After their convictions, only Katherine Kealoha was remanded into custody at the Federal Detention Center near Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, where she remains. The others were released on bond until sentencing….

… Louis Kealoha said the couple spent more than $591,000 derived from the stolen proceeds from Florence Puana’s reverse mortgage, fraudulently obtained loans and funds stolen from the two children Katherine Kealoha was supposed to protect….

(CLUE: With Trump gone, Federal Prosecutor Kenji Price will be going.  He will be replaced by a Biden-appointed Democrat hand picked by Schatz and Hirono who will not pursue these corruption investigations any further than the Miske case.)

read … Kealoha corruption case nears end with upcoming sentencings

After Wasting Billions to Build Rail, is it worth $160 million a year to operate?

SA Editorial: … there’s really no sense in the city government rushing to add more delays that are not absolutely necessary. There is real work to do in coordinating Oahu’s multi-modal transportation network, and the public ultimately will not be served by prolonged postponement of working out the problems that are sure to come up….

(Translation: The City should burn $160M to run an empty railroad back and forth during COVID.)

The Honolulu City Council was contemplating the notion of a delay last week. Yes, the budget crisis is severe. But so would be the long-term repercussions of indefinitely postponing the partial opening of the completed segment from East Kapolei (COVID-affected UHWO) to Aloha Stadium (empty due to COVID)…

Those plans include the test engineers for Hitachi Rail Honolulu (HRH), the operators of rail, who must be on hand to make sure the line can open safely — and inbound travel to Hawaii has been anything but a simple matter.

These complications may indeed push the “soft-opening” date to July 2021, Jon Nouchi, acting director of the city Department of Transportation Services, said in a letter to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser….

(Translation: Start date in the next fiscal year.).

This delay issue is only one of the myriad fault lines that underlie the project, some dating back months or years but still bedeviling progress in 2020.

HART is still awaiting the release of the remaining $744 million in federal subsidy, and the Federal Transit Administration won’t clear that until it approves the revised financial plan for construction.

And that financial reconfiguration was upended when Caldwell recently decided to withdraw the city as a party to the public-private partnership (P3) proposed contract on the final segment, ending at Ala Moana Center…

The construction of the problematic Dillingham Boulevard segment has bogged down in unanticipated engineering delays and, to cap everything, Robbins has come under fire from the HART board, so his tenure is uncertain.

The entire troubled project desperately needs the forward progress that a partial reopening would bring. The city must see that this, too, doesn’t slip into a murky future.

(Translation: Waste money operating empty rail line to keep project inertia moving.)

Nov 19, 2020: “City to budget, for the first time, an estimated $140 million to $160 million for operations and maintenance of the rail line”

read … Keep Honolulu rail project moving forward

Kirk Caldwell’s career, it’s hard to avoid misses and near-misses

Borreca: … Remember when Caldwell had visions of revamping the city’s Blaisdell Center complex with its iconic dome, comfortable if snug performance hall and exhibition hall? The price for replacing the municipal facilities plus adding a gym and some community centers was pegged at north of $700 million.

“The planning and design for a modernized Neal Blaisdell Center resulted in an excellent and exciting vision for this facility,” a starry- eyed but cashless Caldwell said, adding that he hoped the new administration would take up the culture cause.

Meanwhile, Mayor-elect Rick Blangiardi has bigger problems than polishing up the symphony’s home. Just last week Manny Valbuena, the city’s acting Budget and Fiscal Services director, said it appears the city operating budget — the money used to run the city every day — is short $400 million.

“We’re trying to fix the budget so that we don’t have to have layoffs, furloughs or cuts in services,” Valbuena told the City Council’s Budget Committee, as reported in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

But wait, if it’s budget deficits you want, Caldwell and company can do better than $400 million. Consider what is happening to the Honolulu rail project, now estimated to be soaring to $11 billion with its start date possibly pushed back six years, to 2033….

Caldwell was mayor in 2016 when those first trains were delivered at Honolulu Harbor. If those trains don’t run until 2033, they will be 17 years old and the question will be whether to drive them on the completed route or to Bishop Museum….

In reviewing Caldwell’s city career, the biggest cancellation has been his popularity. Back in January 2015 the Manoa Democrat was enjoying 64% job performance approval, according to the Star-Advertiser’s Hawaii Poll. Last year, before the latest budget and rail fumbles, only 31% of those polled approved of Caldwell’s job performance, while 59% disapproved,…

read … Kirk Caldwell’s career, it’s hard to avoid misses and near-misses

Spinning the Numbers: Kauai’s Last best chance to Kill Off Tourism

KITV: … Starting December 2nd, Kauai will no longer be part of the state's pretravel testing program -- meaning anyone traveling there has to quarantine for two weeks regardless of COVID-19 test results. The move comes after the Garden Isle reported travel-related cases went from zero to about 50 since October 15th, sparking an outcry from some in the medical community.

Among them is Dr. Lee Evslin, a physician in Kapa'a and past CEO of Wilcox Hospital and Kauai Medical Group. He and other local experts believe the number of infected not detected by the state's pretravel testing program is somewhere between 3 to 8 out of 1,000 and possibly greater with surges on the mainland. ‘Studies have shown’ a single test misses 30-40% of infected people and the estimates of infected people range from 1% to 3% of those flying.

(IQ Test: 30% to 40% – Do you believe ‘studies have shown’ this?)

State officials, led by Lt. Gov. Josh Green, say the program is working and that it misses only 1 in 1,000 infections….

Dr. Evslin points to just the 1,340 tests that were done on day 4 after arrival, which show 6-7 out of 1,000 positive cases were missed by the single pretest. The numbers on Kauai are even more alarming -- out of 331 tested, 5 were positive, showing 15 out of 1,000 infected and not detected.

According to Dr. Evslin and other experts, Kauai's data shows the state could be tracking a similar trend seen in Alaska and Tahiti, where a single pretravel test system resulted in a surge in positive cases, doubling in about 40 days. …

(Reality: Rich people on Kauai believe this is their last best chance to strangle the tourism industry and take the island for themselves.)

read … Kauai doctor: State's pretravel testing program misses 15 out of 1,000 COVID-19 cases

Big Island transpacific travelers must provide negative COVID test upon arrival through 2020

KHON: … Transpacific travelers to the Big Island will need to provide a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival or face a 14-day quarantine, according to a Nov. 28 emergency rule from Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim.

Emergency Rule 13 will remain in effect through Dec. 31, and Mayor Kim says Gov. David Ige signed the rule on Nov. 27. Transpacific travelers that were waiting for their results under the previous rule were only required to quarantine until their negative results arrived.

The rule also allows Hawaii County to conduct post-arrival testing on 25% to 100% of travelers that have a negative test exception. Randomly-selected travelers must take a second COVID-19 test — paid for by Hawaii County — upon arriving on Hawaii Island at a County-designated facility near the airport….

Shapiro: There’s no safety for David Ige in Safe Travels Hawaii

read … Big Island transpacific travelers must provide negative COVID test upon arrival through 2020

CoC: To save Hawaii’s economy, beat COVID

SA: .. Our state has one of the highest rates of COVID-related business closures in the nation. With hundreds of local businesses having to shut their doors, many of them may never reopen. Long-standing establishments like Like Like Drive Inn and Alan Wong’s are no more.

There has been a great deal of discussion regarding the balance between protecting the health of our community and protecting our economy. Our ultimate path to economic recovery is through minimizing the spread of the virus.

We must first heed the necessary health and safety protocols: Wear a mask, watch our physical distancing, wash our hands and refrain from large gatherings. These measures will protect your personal health.

But it is also the foundation for our economic health. Everyone in our community must take this effort seriously as we fight the pandemic together. Only then can our businesses and employment opportunities stabilize and get back on track….

read … To save Hawaii’s economy, beat COVID

KFD Pension Spiking—Sparky Trailer, Rank to Rank, and Training

TGI: … The performance audit, conducted by external auditor Spire Hawai‘i, LLP, covered from July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2018. The Kaua‘i County Council requested the audit in May 2019, and got the report back on Wednesday.

In 2018, the county assessed about $2.4 million for excess pension payments to the Hawai‘i Employees’ Retirement System, which makes up over 10% of the county’s budget. Of that, the KFD was responsible for $2.2 million of excess pension costs in FY2018 for 13 personnel who retired in 2017.

The increase, the report said, was due in part to county employees whose retirement pay was increased by significant additions to pay, such as overtime, other forms of premium pay or salary increases.

A major issue is pension-spiking, when employees maximize overtime as they near retirement, usually in the last few years of employment, to raise their average annual income. Many pensions are based on employees’ total earnings for the last three years before they retire, meaning extra overtime can increase the base of pension payments.

The report found that KFD personnel “heavily” utilized overtime opportunities due to collective bargaining and “lax administrative practices and oversight.” The “major sources” of overtime included rank-to-rank recall, the Sparky Trailer and training.

Rank-to-rank, the practice of calling in personnel of the same level or position when one is out, accounted for 67% of overtime costs for the retirees of 2017. This type of recall is used primarily when somebody takes a vacation, sick leave or has to attend training.

In July 2014, firefighters were allowed to work up to 12 shifts at 288 hours of rank-for-rank per year. In the assessed 2014-2018 period, firefighters used about 89% of these hours. In 2015, this accounted for $835,642 and, in 2018, just over $1 million.

The audit notes one instance of an employee earning more than 288 hours, and 10 instances of firefighters earning more than 144 hours in a half-year period. Both of these practices are not allowed under KFD policies….

read … KFD overtime audit findings

How Many Crimes Does a Clerical Error Outweigh?

HTH: … Dominick Gavin Paul Gonzado, 26, was arrested Tuesday morning after a vehicle that was reported stolen 1 earlier this month was seen being driven in Hawaiian Paradise Park. When officers approached the vehicle to investigate, the driver reportedly sped toward the police vehicle, striking it 2 and then colliding with a stone wall.

The vehicle then apparently became disabled, and the driver, Gonzado, was arrested without subsequent incident. Nobody was injured during the encounter.

During the investigation, police detectives linked Gonzado to a burglary that took place Nov. 10 at a Hawaiian Paradise Park residence 3, as well as a series of incidents in Hilo where gasoline was stolen from vehicles 4,5,6.

A search of the stolen vehicle also allegedly found property that was reported stolen after a Nov. 22 burglary in Papaaloa 7 as well as a glass smoking pipe with some residue inside. 8

Gonzado was charged with three counts of unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle, two counts of first-degree criminal property damage, two counts of unauthorized entry into a vehicle, two counts of burglary during an emergency period, two counts of driving without a valid license, and one count each of first-degree theft, third-degree promotion of a dangerous drug, drug paraphernalia and resisting an order to stop. Gonzado’s bail was set at $196,000.

Gonzado pleaded not guilty at his initial court appearance Friday. However, an apparent clerical error led to his bail being reduced by nearly $80,000.

When reviewing the Judicial Determination of Probable Cause for seven of Gonzado’s charges – specifically, the first-degree theft, unlicensed driving, property damage and two of the unauthorized control of a vehicle charges — judge Darien Nagata discovered a discrepancy on the document that listed the time of Gonzado’s arrest as more than 48 hours before the filing of the document.

Because that time discrepancy meant the document had not been filed in a timely fashion, Nagata released Gonzado on his own recognizance regarding those seven charges, and reduced his bail to $118,000. However, the court still found probable cause on the remaining charges.

Defense attorney Ivan Van Leer submitted a motion to allow Gonzado’s supervised release, but prosecuting attorney Nathan Wersal argued that Gonzado’s charges indicate that he constitutes a threat to public safety. He added that several of the eight victims in the case — two police officers and six civilians — are already questioning the court’s judgment, given that Gonzado was granted supervised release in a similar criminal case earlier this month, only for him to fail to appear for a scheduled court hearing….

read … Clerical error results in bail reduction for theft suspect

Doo-Gooders bail Suspects out to they can get back to being homeless

KITV: … In honor of La Ku'oko'a, or Hawaiian Independence Day, CoronaCare is teaming up with the Hawai'i Community Bail Fund to bail out 10 Native Hawaiian detainees from the O'ahu Community Correctional Center…..

(Clue: These guys are in jail because their family doesn’t want them out.)

To help smoothly reintegrate detainees, Phillips said volunteers will give them supplies once released, including prepaid cell phones, bus passes, and gift cards to purchase clothing (or trade for meth rocks). 

CoronaCare plans to post bail for the first round of detainees on Monday, with dismissal set for Tuesday.

More information on how Coronacare is available here. Click here for more information on the Hawai'i Community Bail Fund. ..

AP: Group raises bail for Hawaii inmates to help slow COVID-19 spread

read … Citing concerns over COVID spread among Hawai'i inmates, volunteers generate bail funds for pretrial detainees

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