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Monday, November 30, 2020
November 30, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:44 PM :: 2322 Views

Bridge Aina Lea: US Supreme Court Demands Response from State

State to Pay 50 'Remote Workers' to Move to Hawaii

Katherine Kea­loha sentenced to 13 years in prison

SA: … Former Deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha was sentenced to 13 years in prison this morning for her role in master-minding a reverse mortgage scheme that cost her grandmother her house and then concocted a botched cover-up that led to federal convictions for herself, former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and two Honolulu police officers who reported to him.

(CORRECTION: Federal system -- 54 days per year off for good behavior, 1 year already served = out in 10 years)

Katherine Kealoha also must pay $454,984.78 plus $700 in an assessment to make restitution and serve nine years of supervised release once she is freed.

Her estranged husband, Louis Kealoha, is scheduled for sentencing before Seabright this afternoon.

He currently receives a pension (thanks to Kirk Caldwell's Police Commissioners) and U.S. District Court Judge J. Michael Seabright told Katherine Kealoha that he did not know how any potential settlement in the couple’s pending divorce may affect Katherine Kealoha’s financial ability to make restitution.

Two Honolulu Police Department officers who were simultaneously convicted by a federal jury in June 2019 along with the Kealohas — Lt. Derek Wayne Hahn and officer “Bobby” Minh-Hung Nguyen — face their own sentences in separate hearings before Judge Seabright on Tuesday….

KWO 2010: “I loved to just run around and get dirty and have fun.” – Katherine Kealoha  

Coverage:

read … Katherine Kea­loha sentenced to 13 years in prison

Hawaii elections not yet certified

SA: … Hawaii is not among the states that already certified elections, owing to three complaints before the Hawaii Supreme Court.

The one most likely to pose a delay is the complaint by Office of Hawaiian Affairs candidate Justin P. Keoni Souza, who lost by 0.27% of the total votes cast; he is seeking a hand recount.

All legal issues must be settled for the Electoral College to vote in the presidential race. The vote is scheduled for Dec. 14…

read … Hawaii elections not yet certified

Furloughs And Layoffs Are Looking More Likely

CB: … Lawmakers and Gov. David Ige are planning initiatives to “restructure” government to cut costs to cope with the state budget crisis. The Ige administration is setting a goal of cutting a whopping $600 million from next year’s operating budget.

House Finance Chair Sylvia Luke, meanwhile, is predicting the state can save $130 million or more per year by freezing positions as state workers retire.

Luke, one of the most powerful members of the Legislature, indicated she is inclined to shield the University of Hawaii and the public education systems from the brunt of those cuts…

Randy Perreira, executive director of the Hawaii Government Employees Association, told his members in a video message on Nov. 20 that those cuts “are going to be difficult to achieve without shutting down some programs and potentially cutting staff.”

In a recent disclosure to bond investors, the Ige administration announced it is taking a “two-phase” approach to managing the state budget crisis…

The administration has also proposed two-day-per-month furloughs for unionized state workers in most collective bargaining units, a step Ige hopes will save the state about $300 million per year. But some of the unions have publicly criticized that idea, and the furlough plan has been delayed until at least Jan. 1.

Perreira, who leads the state’s largest union, warned his members in the video message that the state budget scenario is truly dire.

“As we go forward, I just hope that everybody can become clear. We’ve already been asked in some cases why we wouldn’t agree to a furlough that would then take the place of layoffs, or prevent layoffs,” Perreira said in his message to union members. “Guys, I hate to say it, but the revenue picture is so bad that absent any additional federal help, we likely face the prospect of both furloughs and layoffs.”…

The Employees Retirement System processes an average of 2,300 retirements from the state and counties each year, and about 1,620 people had filed for retirement through the end of November. The ERS expects to have at least an average number of applications for retirement through the end of December, since the end of the year is usually a busy time for retirements.

But Luke said about 6,600 state employees are now eligible for retirement — excluding teachers and UH system professors….

In some cases lawmakers may want to restructure or consolidate agencies, or “based on how the outlook will be for the next four-plus years, we may have to just eliminate that as part of our government function. So, it really depends, but those are serious discussions we are having right now,” she said….

House Republican Minority Leader Gene Ward said in a written statement that “with 50% of our budget dependent upon the (general excise) tax, we need to move the mindset of this government from being rated the most anti-business state in the nation to being at least in the top twenty in the nation if we expect to raise enough money to fund our huge state budget and try to get out of the $2-3 billion debt we’re incurring.”

State government has tried to impose layoffs during economic downturns in the past, but a process known as “bumping” under civil services rules limits the savings from layoffs. Those rules dictate that when a senior employee is laid off, that senior worker is then allowed to “bump” a more junior employee, and can take the junior employee’s job at the senior employee’s original, higher pay rate.

That can then trigger a disruptive chain reaction of bumping from one job to the next that results in lower paid, less experienced employees losing their jobs, and little savings to the state….

read … Furloughs And Layoffs Are Looking More Likely

Billions in private construction projects stall during pandemic

HNN: … Construction activity has been one of the economic bright spots during the pandemic. But in recent months, a number of high-profile projects have run into delays.

Not since the early 1990s, when the Japanese bubble burst, have there been so many stalled projects in Hawaii, real estate experts say.

They estimate the value of construction projects now in limbo is in the billions of dollars.

“I’d say it’s above $5 billion, easily when you count it all up. And I could go a little bit above that,” said real estate analyst Ricky Cassiday.

Among the stalled or delayed projects include:

--The Honolulu rail project, in which tens of millions of dollars in work along Dillingham Boulevard has hit a nine-month snag due to the lack of city permits and variance to relocate utilities;

--The $1.5 billion Atlantis Resort in Ko Olina, which was behind schedule even before the pandemic;

--The $370 million renovation of the Kaanapali Golf Course in Maui, which was recently shelved by the owner, the Hawaii Employees Retirement System.

Cassiday said the delay in building the rail line could also affect the construction schedules of affordable housing projects along the rail project’s 20-mile route….

CB: The outgoing mayor of Honolulu is gifting the incoming mayor with a slew of problems

read … Billions in private construction projects stall during pandemic

Exposed: Kauai Quarantine a money-spinner designed to Trap Tourists in ‘Resort Bubble’

KITV: … On December 2nd, Kauai County is opting out of Hawaii's pre-travel testing program.

That means that anyone coming from either the mainland or another island will be required to do the mandatory 14-day quarantine regardless of COVID-19 test result.

That strict travel restriction leaves only 'resort bubbles' as alternatives for travelers.

The 'resort bubble' concept allows guests to stay within the confines of the resort for their entire day, and they cannot leave the property or else they can face arrest or fines.

One of the resort bubbles on Kauai is Kauai Timbers Resort.  Manager Gary Moore says they've been doing the program since October and it's been successful.

"We have 450 acres, pools, golfing, and restaurants," he explains.  Until now, most of the visitors doing the resort bubble are those who tested for COVID-19 at the wrong site or never got results back.

But now, starting Wednesday, the program will expand to any visitor coming to the resort. Moore says they've purchased more bracelet monitors for enforcement of the rules.  "This is something we saw coming," he says….

Their rates on the website start around 800 dollars per night with a 4 night minimum….

HNN: Kauai resorts under bubble program hopeful travel restrictions won’t hurt business

read … Kauai 'resort bubble' prepares for new travel restrictions

Prosecutors flip two more who now agree to testify against Miske

ILind: … Another couple of pieces of the prosecution’s case against Kamaaina Termite and Pest Control owner Mike Miske have fallen into place. One defendants in a seemingly unrelated case has accepted a deal and pleaded guilty to have carried out criminal acts as part of what prosecutor’s allege was a broad racketeering conspiracy controlled and directed by the Honolulu businessman. As part of the deal, he has agreed to testify against Miske and his do-defendants. A second man is scheduled to be in court this week to make a similar guilty plea.

A third was in court earlier this month and also agreed to testify.

I was able to locate these two latest cases while combing through court records.

Prosecutors have previously referred to “the grand jury testimony of dozens of witnesses including numerous cooperating defendants, several of whom have either already pled guilty or have agreed to do so in the future.”

I take that to mean that there are likely others out there who have agreed to testify.….

CB: Court records reveal two more men who are cooperating with federal authorities

read … Prosecutors flip two more who now agree to testify against Miske

Unfunded Commission Wants to Make Prisons less Punitive for Criminals

CB: … The commission got off to a slow start in 2019 before finally holding its first meeting in January. And although the Legislature set aside more than $388,000 spread across the last two years for the commission to use on research, staffing and travel — the members have not been able to tap into any of it.

The Department of the Attorney General, which houses the commission, asked to use some of that funding to hire an oversight coordinator in July. But the state department in charge of the budget declined to release those funds.

The commission sent names of candidates for the director position to the governor, but without any funding, it’s not likely one would be chosen.

The oversight coordinator would oversee the corrections system and ensure it transitions to a model that is rehabilitative instead of punitive….

read … No Funding for This

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