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Monday, March 8, 2021
March 8, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:19 PM :: 3075 Views

Hawaii Family Forum Legislative Week in Review

Grassroot Institute supports Alaska bid seeking exemption from cruising ban

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted March 6, 2021

Nurses at Maui Health System Vote to Approve Contract

VIDEO: Have Medical Professionals Been Forgotten Now That the Vaccine Has Arrived?

Cannabis Production on Oahu -- Dirtiest in the USA

Rail Board Believed HART’s Former Director Misled On Costs, Records Show

CB: … In the spring of 2016, Dan Grabauskas was in the hot seat. Rail costs kept climbing. City leaders were fretting.

Within several months, he would resign as the Honolulu Authority for Transportation’s executive director under an agreement with the agency’s board, collecting a severance worth nearly $300,000.

“He believed, with the board, that it was time to move on,” former U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, then serving as the HART board’s chairwoman, said the day Grabauskas left the agency.

Privately, however, Hanabusa and several other board members were incensed. They believed Grabauskas had withheld critical budget details from them — and that he had committed fireable offenses, newly released records of the board’s executive session meetings reveal.

They were further convinced he had misled city and state lawmakers about those budget numbers during hearings on the project’s mounting financial problems.

In fact, the records show HART’s board spent several months behind closed doors weighing whether to fire Grabauskas before they ultimately — and unanimously — settled on a $282,250 severance deal.

If they fired him, the board expected that Grabauskas would sue. “Ms. Hanabusa indicated that paying the severance would be inexpensive compared with other executive termination lawsuits,” minutes from the board’s June 16 executive session state.

A month after her comments, Hanabusa’s chief ally on the board, then-city Transportation Services Director Michael Formby, recommended that Grabuaskas “be let go without cause with the honor of resigning.” He left on Aug. 18.

The minutes of those rail executive session meetings, from April to August 2016, were recently released by the city because of the legal wrangling in a separate matter: the scandal involving Honolulu’s disgraced former police chief, Louis Kealoha….

The minutes of those rail executive session meetings, from April to August 2016, were recently released by the city because of the legal wrangling in a separate matter: the scandal involving Honolulu’s disgraced former police chief, Louis Kealoha.

In 2017, the Honolulu Police Commission deliberated on Kealoha’s controversial severance package in private. After the Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest sued to make those meeting details public, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that the commission had not been required to hold those discussions in executive session.

That ruling also applied to the approximately 17 hours that the HART board spent behind closed doors in the spring and summer of 2016 discussing Grabuaskas’ job performance and whether to fire him….

SA Editorial: Stop plan to sell Sand Island land

MEANWHILE: OHA Sacrifices $3.2M to Hide Lawyer’s Conflict of Interest?

MEANWHILE: Hiding LLC Records: OHA Lawsuit not Laughed out of Court

read … Rail Board Believed HART’s Former Director Misled On Costs, Records Show

SB176: Ex-Tweeker Milton Holt and Sen Delacruz advance bill to facilitate sale of Sand Island Industrial Park

SA: … SB176 aimed at facilitating the sale of public lands in Oahu’s Sand Island Industrial Park passed the Senate Ways and Means Committee last week despite strong objections from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Department of Land and Natural Resources, which relies on lease revenue from Sand Island.

The measure was introduced in the Legislature at the request of the Sand Island Business Association, which has tried in the past to get the state to sell the land. Milton Holt, SIBA’s executive director, said selling the 70-acre industrial park could bring in $200 million in revenue for the state….

“Any further diminishment of the ‘ceded’ lands corpus will negatively impact reconciliation efforts between Native Hawaiians and the state, and will severely inhibit their ability to achieve a comprehensive, just, and lasting resolution of the historic injustices experienced by the Native Hawaiian people,” the Office of Hawaiian Affairs wrote in testimony against the measure.

Senate Ways and Means Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz amended the bill Thursday to give SIBA a major break on its rent in the absence of a sale. The changes, which were requested by SIBA, would decrease its lease payments by 30% from June 2022 through June 2057, provided the lease is extended. Instead of paying the state a total of $137.2 million, SIBA would pay $95.7 million.

Nine out of 11 members of the Senate Ways and Means Committee voted in favor of the bill, with four senators expressing reservations. Sen. Sharon Moriwaki (D, Kakaako-McCully-Waikiki) and Sen. Kurt Fevella (R, Ewa Beach-Iroquois Point) voted against the bill.

The measure was supposed to be first heard in the Senate Water and Land Committee but never got a hearing. It was saved at the final hour when Dela Cruz (D, Wahiawa-Whitmore-Mililani Mauka) pushed it through his committee. It’s likely to face opposition in the House of Representatives, where a similar bill was shelved….

read … Bill would facilitate sale of Sand Island Industrial Park

DEA: Jalisco Cartel takes Hawaii from Sinaloa Cartel

YT: … From Hawaii to Puerto Rico: how the CJNG expanded in the U.S. over five years. The “Mencho’s” forces have entrenched themselves to challenge the Mexican state and flood the United States with narcotics from the Pacific to the American Caribbean….

In 2015, the Jalisco Cartel – New Generation was vying for San Ysidro against the Sinaloa Cartel and Los Moicas and areas such as Riverside, Bakersfield Sacramento, and Reno on the East Coast. Their influence was barely perceptible in Dallas, Texas, Gulfport, Mississippi, and Atlanta, Georgia, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

The DEA was already noticing how quickly the CJNG was expanding in the U.S. and, despite the dominance of the Sinaloa Cartel, was beginning to compete in narcotics distribution and operations in Asia, Europe, and Oceania. By that time, the Hawaiian archipelago was dominated by Sinaloa, including parts of Alaska….

In 2018 and 2019, the agency did not report on Mexican cartels’ influence in the U.S.

But in 2020, according to the latest DEA report, the four-letter cartel reached as far as Honolulu, Hawaii, and supplied the market forgotten by the Sinaloa Cartel for two years. It also expanded to the other end, in the Caribbean, with influences in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Orange County was taken from the Sinaloa Cartel, Modesto, but the fight is on in San Diego, Santa Rosa, Imperial, and Los Angeles….

read … Jalisco New Generation Cartel’s expansion throughout the world. Part II

Settlement reached in lawsuit against an HPD officer accused of abusing his power

HNN: … The city has settled a lawsuit accusing a Honolulu Police officer of improperly arresting a Kaneohe teenager who got into a fight with his son.

Lawyers said Officer Kirk Uemura had a clear conflict of interest when he arrested the boy back in Nov. 2018 on the Kalaheo High School campus.

They said the blatant conflict explains why the city settled the case just three months after it was filed….

The terms of the settlement remain confidential until the Honolulu City Council approves the deal….

read … Settlement reached in lawsuit against an HPD officer accused of abusing his power

Hawaii County plan will buy homes destroyed in 2018 eruption

AP: … People whose homes were destroyed in 2018 by the eruption of Kilauea volcano on Hawaii Island will be able to sell them to Hawaii County for up to $230,000, thanks to a federal grant.

The Hawaii County Council unanimously voted Wednesday to provide about $84 million in funding for recovery projects.

“These programs will help Puna residents displaced by the eruption secure stable housing and recover financially,” Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth said in a statement Wednesday. “In addition to these programs, the county will continue to apply recovery dollars to support initiatives that help the community recover and become more resilient.” I’d move this quote up much higher.

About $78 million will be used for the voluntary housing buyout program, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported. The sales price will be determined by the property’s value before the eruption.

Lava from the eruption destroyed 612 homes, including 294 primary residences in Puna….

Related: HRS 171-93: Law Allows Swap of Lava-Covered Lots for State Property in Zone 3

read … Hawaii County plan will buy homes destroyed in 2018 eruption

In Hawaii, Reimagining Tourism for a Post-Pandemic World

NYT: … Before Covid, ‘tourism was at this point where everything was about tourists.’ With the one-year anniversary of travel’s collapse, the state, like other overtouristed places, is hoping for a reset….

SA Column: Charge tourists annual fees to use parks and beaches

read … In Hawaii, Reimagining Tourism for a Post-Pandemic World

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