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Thursday, April 29, 2021
April 29, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:43 PM :: 4933 Views

Keep Your Eyes on These Three

Hawaii Individual Income Tax $1,711 per person

SB1329: Increase efficiency of State procurement

VIDEO: Squatters Take Over Uncle Billy's Hotel

HB891: Proposed Taser Law Would Outlaw Common Medical Devices

How Bad? Labor Underutilization in Hawaii During the Pandemic

Precisely as Predicted: Hanabusa Awarded $924K HART Consulting Contract  

CB: … On Tuesday, the agency awarded her an 18-month contract, valued at $216,000, to assist the board “in the development and implementation of short and long-term funding strategies” for the local transit project.

“Obviously we have a funding shortfall. We need to effectively communicate with the state Legislature, we need to solve that issue,” HART Chief Operations Officer Rick Keene said at a HART board meeting in March. Hanabusa will fill that role and work as a liaison with city leaders as well under the new contract.

Hanabusa could earn up to $924,000 over six years if her contract is extended, (it will be) according to HART officials….

(IQ Test: Are you laughing?)

(NOTE: This procurement is obviously illegal due to artificial restrictive requirements designed to steer the contract to Hanabusa.)

SA: Colleen Hanabusa, ex-chairwoman of the rail board, gets $924,000 HART contract

HNN: HART said Hanabusa was the only person who bid for the contract (because it was written for her specifically).

Precisely as Predicted March 12, 2021: “Rail Plan: Give Hanabusa a $1M Contract?” 


read … Hanabusa Awarded $200k HART Consulting Contract

Insider Information Behind Hanabusa Contract (Clue: Bid Tailoring is Illegal.)

SA: … Hanabusa’s contract raises questions about both HART’s spending priorities and the propriety of hiring a former HART board chairwoman, said HART board member Natalie Iwasa, a certified public accountant and certified fraud examiner.

“As far as perceptions, there are going to be people who are concerned about that, given she was a HART chair and a HART board member,” Iwasa said. “As a certified fraud examiner, we also look at whether there was insider information.”

(Yes.  The RFP itself was ‘insider information’.  It was narrowly tailored to ensure that only Hanabusa would be qualified.  This is Bid Tailoring, a specific type of bid rigging.  It is a Federal felony under the Sherman Antitrust Act.  Bid rigging doesn’t usually get more than a few months in prison, but, as a felon, Hanabusa would be disbarred.)

ACFE: Bid-Tailoring Schemes

Wiki: Bid rigging “is a federal felony criminal offense under Section 1 of the Sherman Act.”

PBS: Honolulu’s Rail System – Where Are We Now?

read … Hanabusa Fraud

Sacrifice? Hawaii lawmakers approve $2,200 one-time payments to all state teachers

KHON: … State lawmakers have approved a bill on Thursday, April 29, that would give Hawaii public school educators one-time $2,200 payments.

The payments aim for “workforce stabilization to retain teachers” and will be made to full- and half-time teachers….

(Translation: Incumbent stabilization to retain HSTA endorsement for 2022.)

In HB613, CD2, lawmakers direct the Hawaii State Department of Education to spend federal pandemic relief funds on specific programs and policies.

According to the bill, the sum of $29.7 million in federal COVID-19 stimulus funds may be expended for the fiscal year that starts July 1 “for the purpose of educator workforce stabilization to retain teachers; provided that moneys appropriated shall be used for a one-time stabilization payment of $2,200 for each teacher.”

The measure also calls for funds to be spent on the following: shortage differentials for special education, Hawaiian language immersion educators, improved indoor air quality and new air conditioning, along with food services, transportation and personal protective equipment….

CNBC: How this 38-year-old teacher earning $47,000 a year in Hawaii spends his money

read … Hawaii lawmakers approve $2,200 one-time payments to all state teachers

Hawaii schools, teachers, students scramble with thousands of seniors off-track to graduate

KHON: …  Always Investigating wanted to know what is being done to make sure at-risk seniors can catch up and graduate on time after facing nothing but hurdles since the end of their junior year when the COVID-19 emergency began.

The State Department of Education is tracking a huge range of frightening pandemic metrics, among the data: High school students on- or off-track for graduation. An astounding 26% of seniors are considered “off-track” — that is 2,856 students.

“The data is fearful for parents, and they should be scared,” said Chad Farias, Kau-Keaau-Pahoa complex area superintendent. “That’s why we put out these metrics and that’s why we do constant checks, because we need to approach this from all angles, and we need all our partners involved, not just the teachers and counselors and students.”

Some complex areas fare worse than others, with 67% of seniors off-track in the Hana-Lahainaluna-Lanai-Molokai; 40% in Kau-Keaau-Pahoa; 37% in Honokaa-Kealakehe-Kohala-Konawaena and 36% in both the Castle-Kahuku and Kailua-Kalaheo complexes.

“As a long-term teacher that taught seniors, there’s always this last-minute crunch,” said Corey Rosenlee, president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association. “Before we start pushing the panic button, we want to give our teachers, especially those teachers that work with seniors, the chance to make sure that they can get these kids to pass.” …

(Translation: HSTA will try to fake it and cover this up.)

The tally of off-track 12th graders statewide also includes thousands who opted to go fully online with third-party vendors.

“There’s no way for us to really check up on them,” Farias said. “The counselors do call and the kids say, ‘Yeah, yeah, I get ’em. I’m goin’ do it.’ And we remind them of the date: Graduation is May 21st, so we need those credits in our system a week before that so we can plan for that. We’ll know a week before, which is really scary.”

read … Hawaii schools, teachers, students scramble with thousands of seniors off-track to graduate

Kauai Mayor: ‘County Needs TAT Hike’

HNN: … Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth says the tax hike would deter tourists from visiting and affect local families.

“We’re going to add another tax to our tourists and actually that’s a gamble whether the tourists are going to come back,” Roth said.

“There’s a lot of people, especially in the hospitality industry, and a lot of people who have already been struggling. Are we going to ask them to struggle more? Are we going to gamble with their livelihoods and friends, their family’s livelihoods by putting this bill into effect?”

Kauai County’s mayor said his county needs that revenue.

“The county needs TAT revenue to balance our budget and provide critical services to both our residents and visitors — such as police, fire and ocean rescues,” said Mayor Derek Kawakami.

“We look forward to working with our state and county partners to determine the best way for our county to get our share of TAT.”

HTH:  Roth says bill that nixes TAT allocations places intolerable strain on isle’s hospitality industry

read … Counties eye increases to hotel room tax as state seeks to divert some revenues to general fund

Hidden Giveaway for Insiders who Bought ‘Affordable Housing?

SA: … The Hawaii Community Development Authority recently suggested to its board that the agency’s rules be amended to allow owners of certain condominiums in Kakaako to prepay an obligation they have to repay a portion of what essentially was a discount on the homes they bought at below-market prices that was subsidized by developers of market-priced housing in the area.

This debt, known as shared equity, isn’t due until the original buyers of a subsidized condo sell their home.

HCDA wants to give these owners an option to pay back the shared-equity debt before any future resale.

The agency’s total value of existing shared equity is roughly $90 million. And because many more new subsidized affordable condos are slated to be produced over the next few years, the value of shared equity is expected to jump to at least $170 million and perhaps closer to $200 million.

For example, 150 affordable condo units in the nearly finished ‘A‘ali‘i tower at Ward Village will contain about $20 million in shared equity for HCDA, or about $130,000 per unit.

Ward Village developer Howard Hughes Corp. also is seeking to build a 697-unit affordable tower called Ulana Ward Village that would provide roughly $50 million in shared equity for the agency, or about $72,000 per unit.

Another major Kakaako landowner, Kamehameha Schools, plans to produce a few additional condo towers that are expected to trigger requirements to provide below-­market units with shared-equity obligations.

Under HCDA rules, developers of high-density projects in Kakaako must make 20% of residential units affordable to households with below-moderate to high- moderate incomes. Shared equity also applies to homes built under a relatively new HCDA workforce housing rule in which two towers at 801 South St. were built several years ago….

a big question exists as to how many homeowners who owe shared equity to HCDA would opt to pay it before selling their home.

Neupane told the agency’s board at a meeting earlier this month that he expects 25% will pay early.

The agency’s proposed rule change would allow owners of subsidized condos to prepay as little as 25% of the entire obligation as a way to make it easier for more buyers to contribute. Prepayment would not be a requirement.

Neupane figures that many homeowners will want to prepay the debt simply to be rid of the obligation.

Prepaying also could represent a form of public serv­ice for homeowners helping others, especially those with lower incomes, obtain affordable housing.

One disincentive, however, is that waiting to pay back shared equity until required likely will be less costly to homeowners because the value of a dollar decreases with inflation….

Related: Amemiya Joins Pack of Insiders Grabbing ‘Affordable’ Housing Units for Themselves

read … State agency looks to juice up affordable-housing fund

PUC ‘Quite Concerned’ About Rolling Blackouts on Oahu, Maui

IM: … The Public Utilities Commission is quite concerned about whether there will be sufficient renewable energy systems online to replace the AES Coal plant on O`ahu when it ceases operations on September 1, 2022, and the Kahului Generation Station on Maui when it ceases operations in 2024….

read … Energy Policy Needs Greater Sunshine

House Creates Panel To Probe Land Fund, Agriculture Agency

CB: …In a rare move on the last day of session, House lawmakers voted Thursday to create an investigative committee to delve into the findings of state audits of the controversial Agribusiness Development Corporation and a state-controlled special land and development fund.

House Resolution 164 establishing the investigative committee cites critical findings of a 2019 audit of the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Special Land and Development Fund as well as this year’s audit of the ADC.

The committee will consist of at least five House members who will be appointed by Speaker Scott Saiki, and will have the power to issue subpoenas to compel testimony, according to the resolution….

read … House Creates Panel To Probe Land Fund, Agriculture Agency

Aloha Stadium Could Be Demolished In 2022

CB: … Aloha Stadium could meet its end sooner than expected.

The Stadium Authority, a nine-member panel that oversees the 45-year-old facility, has plans to consider demolishing the existing stadium to make way for a new, 30,000 seat stadium over the same spot as the existing 50,000 seat venue.

State officials had originally planned to keep the stadium operational while the new one was constructed just makai of it.

But that would have meant relocating gas, water and sewer lines, which could add costs to the project, Chris Kinimaka, administrator of the state’s public works division, told the stadium board at a meeting Thursday….

The board has plans to meet May 6 to further consider the financing of the new stadium, where exactly it should be located and whether to move forward with demolishing the existing stadium sometime in 2022 — a concept that seemed to gain traction among board members at the meeting Thursday.

Kinimaka said that demolishing the stadium early could save the state up to $10 million. It also means the state could cancel contracts totaling about $1.25 million for maintenance work already being performed on the stadium, according to Kinimaka.

She told the board that the decision to demolish the current stadium needs to be made by June to keep the project on track….

(Reality: Hawaii will have no stadium for a decade.)

SA:  Stage set for new Aloha Stadium redevelopment leadership

read … Aloha Stadium Could Be Demolished In 2022

HB1376 Paves Way to End Eviction Moratorium

CB: … The Hawaii Legislature has passed a bill that would make it easier for the state to lift its pandemic-related eviction moratorium this summer.

Gov. David Ige implemented an eviction moratorium a year ago that prevents landlords from kicking out tenants for not paying their rent. The state moratorium is scheduled to expire on June 8.

On Wednesday, the Legislature sent House Bill 1376 to Ige, who has until July 6 to sign it, veto it or allow it to become law without his signature.

Hawaii Rep. Troy Hashimoto, the bill’s main author, said he’s hopeful the governor will sign the measure and that the moratorium could be lifted by late July or early August.

Without the state moratorium, Hawaii tenants who lost their income sources during the pandemic might still be protected by a separate federal eviction moratorium that’s been extended through the end of June. But the removal of the more expansive state moratorium is still expected to trigger a flood of evictions.

Hashimoto hopes the bill, which focuses on providing and encouraging mediation, will help landlords and tenants work out their debt without going to court. But he said renters who are behind on rent should be tackling that now….

read … This Bill Aims To Prevent A Wave Of Evictions But Critics Say It Falls Short

Rep. Lynn Decoite announces intent to vie for Senate District 7 Vacancy

KHON: ... Rep. Lynn DeCoite announced her intent to vie for the Senate District 7 seat being vacated by Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English on Wednesday, April 28.

DeCoite currently represents House District 13 which includes Haʻikū, Hāna, Kaupō, Kīpahulu, Nāhiku, Pāʻia, Kahoʻolawe, Lānaʻi, Molokaʻi and Molokini….

Democratic Party officers from 15 precincts in Senate District 7 will send three names to Gov. David Ige for consideration. The governor has 60 days to fill the vacancy ….

MN: DeCoite seeks Senate seat with English retiring

read … Rep. Lynn Decoite announces intent to vie for Senate District 7 Vacancy

Judge rules lawsuit filed by Peter Boy Kema’s siblings can move ahead in court

HNN: … Circuit Judge John Tonaki ruled this week that because Peter Boy’s disappearance and death in 1997 was concealed by his parents for nearly two decades, the two-year statute of limitations to bring a civil suit did not expire.

“We hope that Judge Tonaki’s rulings are confirmed on appeal, and I think once that is done, we are within a hair’s breath of obtaining justice at that point,” said Randall Rosenberg, attorney for Kema’s siblings.

The siblings’ lawsuit alleged that the Department of Human Services and state Child Welfare officials bungled Peter Boy’s CPS case.

It said CPS officials received two reports — the first in January 1997 then in April of that year — that Peter Boy was being abused by his father.

Investigators were later assigned in June, but by that point, the child had gone missing, according to the suit.

“The protocol for the state of Hawaii is they are to assign an investigator within 24 hours of receiving a complaint. Two months is ridiculous,” said Rosenberg….

read … Judge rules lawsuit filed by Peter Boy Kema’s siblings can move ahead in court

Lawmakers Push BoE to Hire Local Superintendent

CB: … As Hawaii’s Board of Education prepares to choose a new school superintendent, the Legislature passed a bill requiring it to prioritize candidates with at least a decade of administrative experience and a “working understanding” of local leadership processes.

The measure, which now goes to the governor for his consideration, suggests lawmakers want to have influence over the selection process after a chaotic year that saw superintendent Christina Kishimoto announce she would not seek a new term after facing union-led criticism of her handling of the pandemic.

The Board of Education, which is appointed by the governor and in charge of selecting and hiring new superintendents, opposed the measure, expressing concern that it would set a precedent for legislative overreach in education policy.

“What we object to is the principle of having the Legislature define the qualifications of the superintendent whom the board is responsible for hiring,” BOE chairwoman Catherine Payne said Wednesday. “If this is allowed to continue, it opens up the door for them to be even more specific, as far as things that are not appropriate.”

CB:  Head Of Hawaii’s Teachers’ Union Is Vying To Be Interim Superintendent

read … Who Should Lead Hawaii Schools? State Lawmakers Have Some Ideas

Proposal seeks new buffer for wind farms, residents

SA: … A proposal to create a larger buffer zone between new wind turbine developments and neighboring properties was tabled by the Honolulu Planning Commission Wednesday pending further investigation into the matter.

But commissioners seemed inclined to go with a smaller buffer zone than the 5 miles originally proposed by Councilwoman Heidi Tsuneyoshi and approved by the City Council Zoning Committee last year in the wake of the arrests and controversy involving a wind farm in Kahuku.

That proposal, which targets utility-scale turbines with a minimum capacity of 100 kilowatts, essentially would eliminate future development of wind farms anywhere on Oahu.

As a compromise, the Department of Planning and Permitting proposed an alternative bill that increases the setback from the large turbines to a distance of only 1,500 feet — or a distance equal to no less than 2 feet for each foot of height, measured from the highest vertical sweep of the blades, whichever is greater….

On Wednesday, however, DPP Land Use Permits Division Chief Katia Balassiano presented a new proposal after receiving updated testimony from the Hawaii State Energy Office and from Tsuneyoshi. The proposal calls for a setback of 1.25 miles from any property line.

Balassiano said she felt the new proposal was “more workable” with a buffer zone significant enough to prevent neighbors from experiencing most of the impacts from utility-scale wind farms.

“We didn’t want to zone these out of existence,” she said. “We wanted to listen to concerns of the community. We wanted to take science into account. We wanted some regulations that were workable…. 

SA Off the News: Keeping windmills at a distance

read … Proposal seeks new buffer for wind farms, residents

Hawaii one of only 4 states that cannot take badges away from bad police officers

SA: … The International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training, an Idaho-based non-profit, has created a national response to the problem of wandering cops — the National Decertification Index (NDI). Forty-five states provide records of misconduct on 30,172 officers so that states can check the NDI database to see if an officer applying for a job has had previous problems….

The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, commissioned by President Barack Obama after a series of police killings in 2014, called for the federal government, through the Department of Justice, to follow Goldman’s recommendation to partner with and beef up the NDI database, making it truly national. Police unions, however, opposed this recommendation as unfair to officers who face false allegations. The reform hasn’t happened.

“It’s a real mess for chiefs of police departments,” says David A. Harris, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh and a police expert. “You go to any chiefs of police conference and every table has the same discussion: ‘I fired this guy and we got him back because it was overturned in union arbitration.’”

Red states such as Florida and Georgia lead the way in decertifying officers with past problems, while there is no decertification in two of the bluest and biggest in the country — California and New Jersey, accounting for about 15 percent of the U.S. population. Rhode Island also lacks decertification. Hawaii has a decertification law but doesn’t fund it. And Louisiana has a law but has had only half a dozen decertifications over the past decade.

The bluer states have lagged because their police unions are so strong and oppose expanding the database into a comprehensive repository of police misconduct, Goldman says….

read … Hawaii one of only 4 states that cannot take badges away from bad police officers

Sykap brothers indicted for assaulting, robbing a woman on Kalakaua Ave.

KITV: … Two brothers of the 16-year-old boy Honolulu Police officers shot and killed earlier this month have been indicted by a grand jury Wednesday for allegedly assaulting and robbing a woman on Kalakaua Avenue over the weekend.

21-year-old Maruo Sykap, was indicted and charged with Assault in the Second Degree. The indictment claims that on Saturday, Maruo intentionally or knowingly caused bodily injury to the woman with a dangerous instrument.

Maruo's bail has been set at $100,000. Police are still searching for him.

18-year-old Mark Sykap, was indicted and charged with Robbery in the Second Degree. Mark Sykap allegedly robbed the woman of her valuables after she was assaulted by Maruo….

read … Sykap brothers indicted for assaulting, robbing a woman on Kalakaua Ave.

Under state’s new red light camera program, tickets will follow car owners not drivers

HNN: …  Similar programs on the mainland have been banned after lawsuits and complaints were issued, in part, because the cameras don’t punish the driver but instead fault the vehicle owner.

That means people who loan their cars to relatives or friends could be hit with citations that amount to more than $100 each.

Attorney Jonathan Burge also said you cannot turn in the actual driver to avoid paying the ticket.

“The defenses I saw in there, funeral procession, the car was stolen, or it was sold,” Burge said.

Failing to pay the citation can end up with a collections company or the state could prevent you from renewing your driver’s license.

“They’ll put a license stopper on it, so if your license is up for renewal and you have a thousand dollars to pay, guess what, you’re not getting a license until you take care of that,” Burge said….

The state Department of Transportation is looking at 14 intersections on Oahu as possible sights to install cameras this summer.

read … Under state’s new red light camera program, tickets will follow car owners not drivers

Termination of Commander of Hawaii-based fast-attack submarine connected to recent Suicide

SAS: … On March 17, a 23-year-old torpedoman’s mate third class died from a self-inflicted gunshot while on nighttime watch aboard the Charlotte, according to the Navy.

Majewski ordered the command investigation as the result of both the suicide and the command climate and leadership issues, Pacific Fleet Submarine Force spokeswoman Cmdr. Cindy Fields told Stars and Stripes in a statement.

“Morale of the crew played a large factor in the decision to remove him from command,” she said….

read … Commander of Hawaii-based fast-attack submarine fired over ‘command climate’ problems

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