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Tuesday, February 2, 2021
February 2, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:06 PM :: 2765 Views

Lawsuit: OHA Employee Beaten up by Sovereignty Activists

Report: Gambling With Women’s Safety

Blangiardi appoints Roger Morton as Director of DTS

How tax hikes will harm economic recovery

HB1316: Hawaii Democrats Open New Front in War on Plastic

HTA Releases Results from Special Visitor COVID-19 Study

Hawaii: First Anti-Gun Hearing of the Session 

Naming Names: New Police Disciplinary Reports Reveal Serious Misconduct By Dozens Of Officers  

CB: … The department reprimanded, suspended or fired 56 officers in 58 different cases in 2020, a year in which the conduct of police across the U.S. drew intense scrutiny after several high profile cases of police killings on the mainland….

…The department fired 20 of those officers, though 10 cases are still going through a grievance and arbitration process while 10 officers were ultimately discharged….

HPD reported the names of 30 officers who were suspended or discharged in 2020, including two officers whose cases were pending from previous years.

Most of the officers named in the new HPD report were not previously named in news reports or lawsuits involving the cases for which they were disciplined.

The most high profile cases on the list include Minh-Hung “Bobby” Nguyen and Niall Silva, both of whom were members of the Criminal Investigation Unit and involved in the corruption and conspiracy case that resulted in federal charges against former Police Chief Louis Kealoha, his former deputy prosecutor wife and a number of officers and others. Nguyen and Silva have both been convicted in connection with the federal investigation.

This year’s HPD summary also includes former Ofc. John Rabago, who was sentenced to four years in prison for forcing a man to lick a urinal.

The report also lists about a dozen cases of officers falsifying records in relation to DUI roadblocks but gives no details as to what actually took place. Ofcs. John Bennett and John Rathjen were discharged and the cases sent to the prosecutor’s office.

Two other officers, Darius Evangelista and Sean Taoka, were also discharged for similar incidents, though summaries of those cases only note that they “falsified information on required federal grant documents” for operating those roadblocks.

Other officers involved in similar cases were suspended between five days and 10 days…..

While the annual reports to the Legislature now include names, the reports are still sparse on details that could give the public context for many of the cases.

For example, the report says that David Oh “conducted personal business by engaging in sexual activity while on duty and under the color of police authority.” He was unnamed in previous reports as his case moved through the arbitration process.

Oh’s case was finalized within the last year, according to the new report.

More information about Oh can be found in court records. In 2017, Oh allegedly sexually assaulted a woman while responding to a possible domestic violence incident. The woman sued in 2019, and a trial is set for August.

Last year, lawmakers passed Act 47, which removed an exemption in Hawaii’s records law that shielded details on officer misconduct from the public. The new law also requires that police departments disclose the names of officers who have been disciplined.

PDF: Report

read … New Police Disciplinary Reports Reveal Serious Misconduct By Dozens Of Officers

Money News: Hawaii House Speaker says UH should no longer manage Mauna Kea

KHON: … The University of Hawaii has held the master lease to manage the astronomy precinct and the natural, cultural and preservation area since 1968. The master lease is set to expire in 2033 and the University is currently working to extend it. The University has tried to manage Mauna Kea, but for too long the University’s work has been shrouded by its inability to appropriately manage cultural practices, resources and education. This is why the University of Hawaii must no longer manage Mauna Kea and it should seize its work to extend the master lease. – Speaker Saiki ….

SA Column: ‘O wai ke kū mai i luna no ka Mauna?

Precisely as Explained: Telescope: For OHA, it’s all About the Rent Money

read … Hawaii House Speaker says UH should no longer manage Mauna Kea

Start planning for easing COVID-19 restrictions

SA: … Since the first week of vaccine distribution in Hawaii, when fewer than 3,500 doses were administered, the count of vaccinations has been ramping up, a few supply-chain hiccups notwithstanding. Speaking Monday on “Spotlight Hawaii,” the Star-Advertiser’s webcast, Lt. Gov. Josh Green said shots can now be administered at a pace of 10,000 a day.

If distribution proceeds smoothly, Green said, some 350,000 doses will be in arms here by the end of February, moving Hawaii along the path toward “herd immunity” and a gradual return to larger gatherings for everything from potlucks to graduations — albeit with protocols such as mask-wearing and physical distancing still in place….

According to preliminary figures, 2020 saw just 2.7 million visitor arrivals — a free fall from 2019’s record-breaking count of 10.4 million — with losses in each county ranging from about 70% to 80%. An updated Safe Travels protocol that would allow vaccinated travelers to bypass quarantine — and perhaps even 72-hour pretravel testing — could bring gains toward a meaningful rebound. All, of course, if the science on vaccination efficacy and immunity hold up.

Green’s “Operation Vaccination Shield” strategy, as currently proposed, prompts a needed forward-looking discussion, as more vaccinations start changing the nuances of COVID. No shield is impervious to the spread of the virus — but when paired with other current tactics for fending off infection, it affords us opportunity to better balance public health and economic recovery….

HTH: Green: At current vaccination rates, larger events could return this spring

VIDEO: WATCH LIVE: Lt. Gov. Josh Green joins the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Spotlight Hawaii

read … Start planning for easing COVID-19 restrictions

Unemployed Fed Up with HGEA refusal to show up for Work

KITV: … "If they can open the state up for a tourist to come here, then they can open up the unemployment office," Camp said. "I would rather stand in line for a week straight and know that I'm going to get to see somebody as most people in that group, than to know that I've spent the last four months calling every single day and not getting anybody on the phone. And then when you do get somebody on the phone, they're told, well, we'll have a claims adjuster. I'm just an answerer. And then a claim adjuster, never calls."…

So where do people go if they can't get answers? The "Hawaii Unemployment Updates & Support Group" on Facebook has become a sort of de-facto resource for people trying to get answers about their claims.

Peter Yee is one of the administrators and a UI claimant himself. He and others compile research and members' experiences to help some of its 25,000 members, with issues like extensions.

"People are still stuck on being approved for PEUC 13 which is the first program and that's because there's this huge massive audit for overpayments. Claimants are getting red flagged if you know, their earnings report does not match with the employers report and it's a manual process," Yee said.

In addition to adjudications for job separation – he says examiners have to manually approve qualifications for every program available….

read … Unemployment claimants fed up with Hawaii's handling of extension programs

Hawaii has the slowest unemployment rate recovery in the US, survey finds

HPR: … Last month, Hawaii had a 9% unemployment rate, marking a 291% change from December 2019, according to the study. The change in unemployment rates between January and December of 2020 for Hawaii was also the highest of any state at 201%….

WH: States unemployment rates

read … Hawaii has the slowest unemployment rate recovery in the US, survey finds

HB1298: Scoop all Special Funds

KHON: … “I just introduced two bills. One of them is to repeal all special funds,” Rep. Sylvia Luke told Always Investigating, “And the second bill is to scoop all the unencumbered amounts from special funds.” (HB1298 and HB1299)

“We are also looking at Department of Transportation funds as well, not only airports, but also harbors and highway,” Luke said. “The airport special fund does not just include the airline landing fees. It also includes tons of other fees including concessionaires amounts that concessionaires pay, lease rent and other things that go into the operation of the airport.”

KHON2 asked Luke: What would you say to those who have pitched into those funds in one way or another that say, ‘Hey, wait, it’s a bait and switch. I thought I was paying for this. Now it’s being taken for that?’”

“So I’m saying similar to general excise tax and income tax, you and I both pay into the general excise tax and the income tax,,” Luke said. “Regardless of whether it’s for a specific purpose, or for a general purpose, every taxpayer is paying for all kinds of services. This is not the time to say, ‘Hey, you know what we paid into this fund, so they should be protected.’ Well then that goes for all the regular taxpayers to because they pay billions and billions of dollars into income tax.”

Luke says an alternative with the bigger funds is swap out some cash with construction bonds that keep the work going.

“Last year, we swapped out about $250 million to $300 million that went into Rental Housing Trust Fund,” Luke explained. “We swapped out cash with construction funds. Swapping out doesn’t slow down any work or any type of contract. They were very willing to swap it out because it didn’t interfere with some of the projects. They didn’t skip a beat. They continue to award commitments and contracts for a new project.” …

read … Special Funds

Sierra Club Lawyer Admits Navy Red Hill has Leaked only Once in last 4 Decades

SA: … From the beginning, the Navy’s Red Hill underground fuel tanks have leaked, said David Kimo Frankel, an attorney for the Sierra Club.

In 1949, Tank 16 was leaking 546 gallons a day. On some days that rose to more than 1,550 gallons, he said.

In 1958 a tank leaked 1,500 gallons of fuel. In 1971 there was a 20,000-gallon leak, and in 1980 another tank leaked more than 25,000 gallons, he said.

And there was the 2014 leak of 27,000 gallons, which the Navy said was the fault of a contractor….

The 2014 fuel release “was certainly unfortunate, but it was not from corrosion, or deterioration of the Red Hill tanks,” she said.

Contractor error that led to the release “would not be possible under the new and improved tank inspection, repair and maintenance protocol” that was approved by the state Health Department and EPA in 2017, Minnot said. Officials also faulted “ineffective response and oversight.”…  

KHON: Tanks that are currently being inspected and repaired have been found to have defects, according to the Sierra Club.

read … Admits

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