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Monday, May 3, 2021
May 3, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:34 PM :: 3006 Views

Fraud at Olelo leads to Investigations at Aloha United Way and UH

SA: … After leaving Olelo in May 2019, Aipoalani got a job at the nonprofit Aloha United Way, where he headed human resources before leaving in June 2020.

“While none of the charges brought against Mr. Aipoalani were related to work at Aloha United Way, the alleged activity detailed in the indictment is deeply disturbing,” AUW CEO John Fink said. “We have already conducted reviews of our financial and program records for the period that Mr. Aipoalani was employed at AUW.

“However, in light of the new information recently released by the Department of Justice about Mr. Aipoalani’s activities at other agencies, we are engaging outside professionals to perform additional reviews of AUW books and records.”

Prior to hiring Aipoalani, AUW did criminal background and employment checks on him, as is done for all new hires, AUW said in an email….

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington declined to say whether charges are pending against Higa, the Na Leo president, and what triggered the investigation of Aipoalani.

Higa served as executive director for the organization that administers AmeriCorps programs in the state — the Hawaii Commission for National and Community Serv­ice — from 2011 until May 31, when he resigned to run for mayor on the Big Island.

University of Hawaii spokesman Dan Meisenzahl said steps have been taken with the commission, which is attached to UH, for greater oversight.

UH has started an internal review of the AmeriCorps programs in Hawaii.

Aipoalani said in a court document that he expected to be paid $60,000 a year in exchange for helping Higa get approval last year for CARES Act funds when Aipoalani was the temporary CARES Act program administrator for the City and County of Honolulu. Aipoa­lani helped Higa get approval for two fraudulent CARES Act grants totaling $845,000.

Aipoalani, in the court document, said he and Higa discussed “opening LLCs on Oahu, using their wives as principles in order to launder the money.”

In October the FBI raided Na Leo’s Hilo offices, but Higa continued in his position, which he began Jan. 9, 2015….

read … Fraud at Olelo is a hard lesson for nonprofits

Oahu’s international visitor market isn’t expected to fully recover until 2024

SA: … Hawaii’s visitor industry cannot make a full recovery until international visitors, which make up nearly half of Oahu’s tourism market, return.

Hawaii’s visitor industry has been slowly coming back from pandemic lows. But while domestic visitors to Hawaii rose 32% in March, international visitors to Hawaii fell more than 98%.

The problem is that most international travelers still aren’t allowed to come to Hawaii without quarantining, and those who do face onerous COVID-19 restrictions upon their return home. That’s not expected to change until the world sees much greater vaccine distribution and far fewer infections…. 

read … Oahu’s international visitor market isn’t expected to fully recover until 2024

UC should continue supporting Thirty Meter Telescope on Maunakea

DC: … We agree with The Daily Californian’s editorial board that astronomy on Maunakea is an important topic for the UC system. However, the editorial opposing the Thirty Meter Telescope, or TMT, project massively misinforms readers and marginalizes the voices of Hawaiians and lifelong and recent Hawai’i residents who support this telescope, despite pressure to stay silent — voices like ours.

The editorial begins with a highly incendiary illustration, implying that the construction of the TMT project either completely removes a pu’u (cinder cone) on Maunakea or the top of the mauna itself (with conspicuously white hands). Neither implication is true. As shown in this figure, the site of the TMT project is a flat lava plain far away from culturally significant sites on Maunakea. Its area is roughly equal to the UC system-supported Keck Observatory, minuscule compared to the adze quarry complex created by ancient Hawaiians on Maunakea and dwarfed by Maunakea itself.

read … UC should continue supporting Thirty Meter Telescope on Maunakea

Measure Criminalizing ‘Coercive Control’ Faces Opposition From Public Defender, Prosecutor and Law Enforcement

CB: … Kreidman said House Bill 566 extends the tools available to law enforcement to allow them to address nonphysical forms of domestic abuse.

The state defines coercive control as “a pattern of behavior that seeks to take away the individual’s liberty or freedom and strip away the individual’s sense of self, including bodily integrity and human rights.”

The pattern is “designed to make an individual dependent by isolating them from support, exploiting them, depriving them of independence, and regulating their everyday behavior.”

California allows coercive control to be used as evidence for a domestic violence restraining order, but it’s unclear if any other states have made the behavior a petty misdemeanor.

“So this is legendary,” Kreidman said.

The House passed the measure unanimously on April 22. The Senate had already passed the bill earlier on March 29. Twenty-four senators voted yes on the bill, except for Sen. Laura Acasio who voted no. Sen. Kurt Fevella voted yes with reservations.

But the bill still needs to pass legal review before it can become law, and that may not happen due to strong objections from the public defender’s office, prosecutor’s office and police departments.

Ige has until July 6 to sign the measure, veto it or let it become law without his signature….

read … Measure Criminalizing ‘Coercive Control’ Faces Opposition From Law Enforcement

Under a new plan, landlords could remove tenants if alternative actions do not work out

SA: … Hawaii’s rental housing market has new guardrails almost in place to prevent a future pileup of tenant evictions.

State lawmakers gave final approval last week to a bill that would allow landlords to gradually pursue evictions against tenants for unpaid rent, but only after Gov. David Ige’s existing eviction moratorium expires and after tenants get an opportunity to have a trained neutral mediator explore possible better alternatives to eviction for landlords and tenants.

The measure, House Bill 1376, aims to dampen potentially thousands of evictions for households suffering financially amid the coronavirus pandemic. The concern is that evictions, if left unchecked, could increase homelessness, clog the state court system and leave many landlords without tenants who might be able to repay delinquent rent over more time….

read … Under a new plan, landlords could remove tenants if alternative actions do not work out

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