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Monday, February 14, 2022
February 14, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:07 PM :: 2543 Views

More sunshine would help combat corruption in Hawaii Legislature

HB2278 Carbon Tax Fails to Change Environment 

Laughing at You: After committing Felony, Sen English voted to Amend Bill So He Could Keep Full Pension

HNN: … Back in April 2021, former Senate Majority Leader Kalani English voted with his fellow senators on a bill that would force government employees to lose their pension benefits if they were convicted of a felony.

It was a reform measure introduced in wake of the Kealoha scandal. But the bill English voted on was a watered down Senate version — allowing a judge to garnish only half of a government worker’s pension if convicted.

It also exempted English because it only applied to public employees who committed felonies after June 2021….

According to the legislative history of HB670, the Senate inserted the language placing a 50% limit on the pension benefits. The Senate also insert language in the bill, saying it “shall not apply to felonies committed prior to the effective date.”

That law took effect in June 2021 — or about six months after Choy allegedly paid his final bribe to English.

Anderson believes English had a conflict of interest when he voted on the measure. “Certainly, you don’t vote on legislation that would affect you,” he said….

HB670: Text, Status

read … Laughing At You

Nothing Surprising About Legislative Corruption: A Walk Down Memory Lane

SA: … former state Sen. Marshall Ige received a six-month prison term in 2002 for taking $7,000 from an Oahu farmer in 1999 after threatening to evict the farmer from leased land. Ige plead guilty to the second- degree theft charge and four counts having to do with taxes.

Ige served in the Legislature representing Kaneohe in the House and Senate from 1982 to 2000.

As part of Ige’s plea deal (yup, this is State court), other charges were dismissed. These included Ige refusing to return $30,000 to a California couple who paid him for legal work he didn’t accomplish and then hiding the money from tax authorities by having it parceled out to him in small amounts through a businessman….

In 2005 certified public accountant Nathan Suzuki, who represented the Alia­manu-Moanalua Valley-Salt Lake area in the House from 1992 to 2002, received a three-year prison sentence for conspiring with a Honolulu businessman to defraud the IRS by setting up offshore corporations and bank accounts to shield his client from tax liability while Suzuki was a lawmaker.

Former state House Speaker Daniel Kihano received a two-year prison sentence in 1998 for 17 criminal counts that included money laundering, obstruction of justice and filing a false income tax return after he diverted $27,000 from his campaign fund for personal use after retiring in 1992 from a 22-year career in the Legislature.

Kihano, who had represented the Crestview- Waipahu area, testified that he took $20,000 from his campaign account after he left office because he was broke, but intended to pay it back.

Another lawmaker imprisoned following alleged personal use of campaign funds was Milton Holt, who in 1999 accepted a plea agreement limited to mail fraud.

Holt, a state legislator for 18 years representing Kalihi and Kamehameha Heights until 1996, served about six months in prison.

In a case of voter fraud, onetime Senate Majority Leader Clifford “Chip” Uwaine was convicted in 1986 of plotting to illegally register voters to help a protege, Ross Segawa, win a House seat in 1982.

The scheme involved recruiting people to vote outside the district in which they lived to boost votes for Segawa’s primary bid for a seat representing the Moiliili- Makiki area. Segawa served two months in jail. Uwaine, who represented the Moiliili- Sheridan-McCully area, served 88 days of a 90-day prison sentence.

Another lawmaker convicted in a similar scheme was Gene Albano, who served 18 months of a five-year sentence stemming from a 1982 reelection effort in his Kalihi House district.

One of the most contentious and high-profile criminal cases involving Hawaii lawmakers involved theft indictments brought in 1999 against former House Speaker Henry Peters and former Senate President Richard “Dickie” Wong in connection with their work approving a Hawaii Kai condominium project land sale by Kamehameha Schools as trustees of the organization then known as Bishop Estate.

However, the indictments were thrown out by a state judge Michael Town and upheld by the Hawaii Supreme Court on grounds that (the state judiciary exists to protect this type of activity, not prosecute it)….

read … New stain at Hawaii Legislature could be its worst

Hawaii’s no stranger to corruption

Borreca: …It is English’s second brush with the law.

He was indicted by an Oahu grand jury on April 20, 1988, on a charge of promoting a dangerous drug in the third degree. He was arrested on the cocaine possession charge May 4, 1988, according to court records. English pleaded guilty to the charge, but Oahu Circuit Judge Wendell Huddy (the State judiciary at work) deferred acceptance of the guilty plea if English kept out of trouble. In 1990, Huddy determined that English complied with the conditions and dismissed the charge….

The late Rod Tam, a former Honolulu City Councilman and state lawmaker, was busted for 26 counts of overcharging the city for meals with constituents.

Former Councilman Andy Mirikitani was convicted in 2001 of federal theft and bribery for paying bonuses to former aides for kicking back a portion of their salary to him and his campaign.

Former Councilwoman Rene Mansho served a year in prison for felony theft convictions for misusing campaign funds. Former state Senate President James Aki was convicted of first-degree promotion of gambling and unlawful ownership or operation of a business, but was granted a deferred acceptance of no-contest plea, which means he would not be convicted of felony gambling charges.

And former House Speaker Daniel Kihano was found guilty of 15 of 23 counts, including money laundering, obstruction of justice and filing a false income tax return. He was granted “compassionate release” from prison after he suffered a near-fatal heart attack while serving a two-year sentence in Lompoc, Calif.

This wave of criminality is not a new thing. In 1955 Anthony Baptiste Jr., then the Kauai County chairman, equivalent to being mayor, was sentenced to a year in federal prison for failure to file a federal tax return….

read … Hawaii’s no stranger to corruption

SB3347: $2000/mo Retirement Pension for Prostitutes

SA: … Victims of sex trafficking in Hawaii would receive $2,000 a month to leave the life in what proponents call the first pilot project of its kind through a bill in the Legislature.

Senate Bill 3347 passed out of the Senate Committee on Human Serv­ices on Tuesday.

SB 3347 and House Bill 2463 would establish a one-year pilot program within the Department of Human Services to provide monthly income of $2,000 to people “who are verified victims of sex trafficking, or who are female or sexual and gender minority individuals seeking to exit the sex trade.” …

“We would be the first in the nation to do this,” said Khara Jabola-Carolus, executive director of the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women….

Roland said she escaped a sex-trafficking scheme to turn her into a Las Vegas streetwalker as a new graduate out of Delaware State University. At separate part-time banking and retail jobs, Roland had no health care and was offered cash for sex from her bosses, she said.

Even when seeking medical care for injuries from a dog bite, Roland said her physician propositioned her for sex in exchange for treatment and antibiotics….

(That story is enough to get you $2000/mo!) 

SA Column: Give sex-trafficking survivors the ability to leave the trade

KHON: The target number of program applicants will be 250 and they propose starting this pilot-program on July 1, 2022. 

read … Hawaii legislation would help victims exit sex trade with $2,000 per month

Red Hill’s Firefighting System Was Damaged Long Before Contamination Crisis

CB: … In December 2019, one part of the fire suppression system that was installed in the 1980s suffered a pump failure, according to a publicly available Navy memo. Another part of the system, installed in 2017 and expanded in 2019, had a leak that required repair last year, but the Navy didn’t know where the leak was, the memo said.

As of March, both parts of the system had experienced “unexpected operational failure” and would deploy only water – not firefighting foam – on a fuel fire, according to the Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command memo, which was written to justify the hiring of a contractor to fix the problems.

Such a scenario would cause “catastrophic” damage to the World War II-era facility, the Navy said.

“Operating this fuel facility without a reliable fire protection system is not an acceptable course of action,” the memo said….

read … Red Hill’s Firefighting System Was Damaged Long Before Contamination Crisis

Copying California: Another Way to Make Housing Unaffordable--Require Sprinklers in Single-Family residences

CB: … Hawaii counties were initially prohibited from requiring one or two family homes to install sprinklers in 2012, but the act was due to be repealed at the end of June 2017. Instead, lawmakers voted to extend the ban for a decade.

The State Fire Council is pushing for a measure that would overturn the current law – known as Act 53 – which prohibits counties from adopting codes and regulations that require new one-or-two-family dwellings to include sprinklers.

“The sprinkler system will save lives and last as long as the house,” said Gary Lum, administrative specialist at the fire council.

High-rise residential complexes are required to install fire sprinklers following the Marco Polo fire in 2017. A bill moving through the Legislature would repeal a ban that keeps counties from mandating fire sprinklers in single-family homes. Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat/2017

Since 2008, the International Residential Code has recommended that new single family homes and duplexes add fire sprinklers. So far California and Maryland require sprinklers in such homes, according to the State Fire Council’s testimony. Eighteen states do not have a statewide mandate and 26 states prohibit fire sprinklers through legislation or a code. ..

read … Should Hawaii Counties Be Allowed To Require Fire Sprinklers In New Homes?

Copying California: Kauai Council to Abolish Single Family Zoning

TGI: … Kaua‘i County Councilmember Luke Evslin, who introduced Bill No. 2834 alongside Councilmember Bernard Carvalho Jr. in December, has repeatedly promoted it as a tool needed to fix the Kaua‘i housing crisis.

“Community covenants — especially common in new developments — often end up mandating that only one single-family home can be built per lot,” Evslin wrote on Facebook following the bill’s passage out of the council Planning Committee on Wednesday.

Kaua‘i zoning permits a minimum of four units on virtually every residential lot, according to Evslin, in a bid to promote housing availability and affordability through additional dwelling units (ADUs) and additional rental units (ARUs).

But CC&Rs can preclude these options….

Bill No. 2834 does not apply to existing covenants, or to CC&Rs limiting ADUs within Vacation Destination Areas (VDAs).

That’s because ADUs can be used as vacation-rental units, Evslin said during Wednesday’s council meeting….

RELATED: How Cato Sold Out California Property Owners

read … CC&R bill continues through Kaua‘i County Council

HB2512: More housing for the homeless

SA Editorial: … House Bill 2512, which would extend and streamline the pilot “Ohana Zones” program for transitional housing, is the principle vehicle for this initiative and should move ahead. It would provide $15 million for the 2022-23 fiscal year and extend the program, due to lapse at the end of fiscal 2023, through June 30, 2026.

Ohana Zones were authorized in 2018 as a way to provide flexible funding to help the homeless access permanent housing. Projects may be built on state or county land. They have included the Homeless Outreach and Navigation for Unsheltered (HONU) program on Oahu, and various permanent housing projects such as Kamaoku Kauhale in Kalaeloa and Huliau in Kahului….

>> Senate Bill 3018 would create a formal “kauhale” program under the Hawaii Public Housing Authority (HPHA), making use of “tiny homes” assembled in village-type configurations to house chronically homeless people….

>> Measures seeking improved mental and behavioral supports for some of the most chronically homeless. One that has backing from social service agencies is SB 2034, which would require assessments of emergency-room patients to ensure their capacity to make decisions; if they lack that capacity, a guardian could be sought.

This would help prevent the repeated cycles through hospital emergency rooms by patients, many of them homeless, who get only short-term medical intervention….

read …  More housing for the homeless

Isle transition to electric vehicles slow

HTH: … The Big Island has a long way to go before all its vehicles are fully electric.

In 2017, then-Mayor Harry Kim and the other mayors in the state issued a proclamation promising to fully transition all of Hawaii’s public and private transportation to operate only on renewable resources by 2045.

Nearly five years later, that transition has been slow. As of January, there were 1,272 electric vehicles on Big Island roads, said Noel Morin, president of the Big Island Electric Vehicle Association. That accounts for less than 1% of all the vehicles in Hawaii County.

Morin said there are about 18,000 EVs statewide, about 14,000 of which are on Oahu.

In particular, Morin said he sees three primary problems discouraging widespread adoption of EVs on the island.

“First, there’s the cost,” Morin said. “And then there’s the perception that EVs can’t travel too far. People have range anxiety. And third, there’s the lack of public charging infrastructure.” …

read … Isle transition to electric vehicles slow

Legislative Agenda:

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