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Sunday, February 13, 2022
February 13, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:16 PM :: 2509 Views

DHHL, Spend Your Money!

The Legislature is still in session, and your property still is not safe

America’s Rising Housing Prices

SB2441: $58M Liquor Tax Hike

HB2026: Ease Interstate EMT hiring

HB1919: No GE Tax on Food, Medical Care and Feminine Hygiene Products

Audio: Grassroot Debates Living Wage Hawaii

Widespread corruption -- Estimated 100 Crooks Active in Hawaii Politics Right Now

SA: … “It happens in organizations where there’s not heavy accountability around money,” she said. “We’ve had waves of these where there’s a lot of money sloshing around and not much oversight. And then people get more and more casual about taking things they shouldn’t be taking.”

The temptation gets worse “when you see other people doing something unethical and corrupt and there are no consequences,” Chesney-Lind said. “Eventually you’re going to be tempted to try.”

Especially for politicians, Chesney-Lind said, “you begin to expect there’s deference. You get a lot of attention if you’re a local politician, and you get these markers of power that you begin to get accustomed to. It can start with a ‘free’ $200 lunch or a couple of tickets to a concert. That’s the slippery slope.”

The price of selling their elected offices can be a few thousand dollars or tens of thousands of dollars — as alleged in the charges against English — but the ultimate price will be far higher for English and Cullen and anyone else they may potentially provide evidence on to federal prosecutors, Chesney-Lind said….

Lee also suspects the federal charges against legislators English and Cullen are “just the tip of the iceberg.”…

With about 10,000 people working for the city or serving on city boards and commissions, “99% of people in government want to do the right thing, the right way,” Totto said.

Even if he’s right, that means about 100 others who represent the city have little interest in following ethical behavior, he said….

read … Widespread corruption begins with small, illegal behavior

Corruption: Where was Connors as Attorney General?

Shapiro:  … Hawaii U.S. Attorney Clare Connors had quite the introduction after a month on the job, presiding over the announcement of a federal wire fraud and bribery case she inherited against former state Sen. J. Kalani English and state Rep. Ty Cullen.

Connors said the charges “reflect the priority of the federal law enforcement community here in Hawaii to investigate and prosecute corrupt practices by our state public and elected officials.”

The obvious question was, where was Connors in her state attorney general job she just left in investigating wrongdoing involving state leaders?…

As with other recent corruption cases against Louis and Katherine Kealoha, three city officials accused of conspiracy in Louis Kealoha’s $250,000 buyout as police chief, six city employees charged with taking bribes for planning permits and a local engineer who bribed state officials, the feds cleaned up local graft while state and county prosecutors were missing in action.

It’s an alarming picture of public officials in a one-party state thinking they can act with impunity while intimidated local enforcers look away for fear of getting the Les Kondo treatment — the year of naked harassment the state auditor has received from the state House after Kondo’s watchdog agency somehow angered Speaker Scott Saiki and Majority Leader Della Au Belatti.

Kondo’s not the only one who’s been worked over after standing up to lawmakers.

Former University of Hawaii President M.R.C. Greenwood was hounded from office by vicious hearings and budget cuts after a dispute with Sen. Donna Mercado Kim that started with Kim’s displeasure that her son’s law school application moved too slow (it turned out he hadn’t applied).

Senate tourism chairman Glenn Wakai has been accused of repeatedly bullying the Hawaii Tourism Authority after his wife lost her job at the agency in a dispute with leadership.

The State Foundation on Culture and the Arts faced budgetary pressure and other harassment after staff complained about a racist tirade directed at them by a legislator….

The last attorney general to seriously probe public corruption, Margery Bronster vs. Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate trustees, was voted down for a second term by senators under the influence of the discredited trustees.

At the city, former Ethics Commission director Chuck Totto was forced out after asking too many questions about Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s inaugural funding and attempting to investigate the Kealohas.

Even the Judiciary can face retaliatory budget cuts for rulings legislators don’t like and lowball pay raises for judges from a salary commission appointed mostly by the Legislature.

When Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald dissented in a Supreme Court ruling striking down the Legislature’s corrupt gut-and-replace practice, you wondered if it was legal principles or trying to protect courts from retaliation….

Related: Big Win for Mafia: Biden Appoints AG Connors US Attorney

Related: Hawaii Ethics and Audit Function at Lowest Level in Years

read … When Hawaii lawmakers trade in bullying, bribery is little surprise

Corruption?  Saiki hasn’t even taken the first step

Cataluna: … “For those of us who were born and raised in Hawaii, we want to believe that these things only happen on the mainland, not in Hawaii.”…

in order to try for better, we have to acknowledge the reality that “it,” whatever it is, can indeed happen here, that it already has, and currently does….

read … Hawaii Is Not Immune To Political Corruption, But It's Still Shocking

Borreca: Comfortable with Loveable Rascals

Borreca: …There is just something about public corruption and Hawaii politics that just fits comfortably together….Still there are others who just view politicians as lovable rascals….Today we are at one end of the pendulum’s swing….Dirty Honolulu pols and prison just go together….Getting tough on crime is good. It is up to the current Legislature to see if that also means getting tough on politicians….

read … Hawaii’s no stranger to corruption, alas — so what are lawmakers going to do about it?

Proposal for Hawaii to build and sell leasehold condos judged unfeasible

SA: … State lawmakers recently received an updated study of a proposal to have a state agency develop and sell leasehold high-rise condominiums on state land at cost, under a model that could produce thousands of homes at affordable prices for buyers with lower- moderate incomes.

The analysis concluded that a key element in the plan — selling condos with 99-year land leases — isn’t workable despite some parts of the plan holding promise.

“Although there is an appetite for greater state involvement in expanding affordable home-ownership opportunities — evidenced by discussions with Hawaii residents for the purposes of this study — there are too many barriers to the concept for it to be feasible,” the report said.

The report was produced by the Hawaii Budget and Policy Center of the nonprofit Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law &Economic Justice at the direction of lawmakers after consideration of an initial bill in 2019 that proposed establishing a program for leasehold condo development on state land….

Dubbed ALOHA Homes (Affordable Locally Owned Homes for All), the plan led by Sen. Stanley Chang is modeled after a long- running similar program operated by the government of Singapore….

read … Proposal for Hawaii to build and sell leasehold condos judged unfeasible

Inflation’s effects on Kaua‘i’s cost of living

TGI: … Rising prices in Kaua‘i stores reflect a nationwide trend seen in a new federal Bureau of Labor Statistics report which showed that food-at-home prices jumped nationwide by 7.4% from Jan. 2021 to Jan. 2022. That’s the biggest increase since the 2008 financial crisis.

While BLS data released last week shows that wages also increased by 4.7%, this doesn’t keep pace with the rising cost of living.

The report shows large price spikes for beef (16%), chicken (10.3%), eggs (13.1%) and coffee (8.6%), among other commodities.

“You don’t want to raise the price too much because people get accustomed to paying what they pay,” said Scott Hailer, a chef at Kaua‘i Beer Company. “We used to do prime rib, but now it’s out of the question.”

Hailer reported that the price of prime rib at wholesale retailer Costco had ballooned from less than $9 to nearly $15 a pound. Pork butt used to be 99 cents, he said, but now it was around $2.50….

Meanwhile, gas prices have ballooned 40.8%, used-vehicle prices have increased 40.5% and tools, hardware, equipment and supplies have increased 10.7%….

read … Inflation’s effects on Kaua‘i’s cost of living

Police’s plan to change radio system raises concerns about transparency for the public

KHON: … Hawaii Professional Chapter of Society of Professional Journalist President Stirling Morita said, “it’s like taking away a major tool for telling the public what’s going on in their community. And I think public ought to be a little concerned about it.”

The new P25 digital radio system is replacing the enhanced digital access communication system, which is nearly 30 years old.

In a statement, an HPD spokesperson said it “provides for greater safety and security as well as interoperability between public safety agencies. It also allows for features such as GPS location and encryption.”

HPD isn’t the only one making the switch, this is happening nationwide and it’s not just police. Emergency services and fire departments are also switching over….

The conversion cost the city $15 million. Nine city departments will transition to the encrypted frequency.

The Honolulu Fire Department went fully encrypted on Aug. 17, 2020….

read … Police’s plan to change radio system raises concerns about transparency for the public

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