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Thursday, February 17, 2022
February 17, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:57 PM :: 2122 Views

Bribery: Saiki Reopens Capitol, Creates 'Commission' to Stall Reform Until Next Session

Change in Long-Term Care Costs in Hawaii Mixed

Waipahu HS Team Wins Hawaii Lifesmarts Competition 

SB2282: Allow Nurses to Abort Babies Up to Viability

SB2916: Prohibit Governor from Suspending UIPA During 'Emergency'

Schizophrenic with 18 Priors ‘Released Pending Investigation’ -- Allegedly Murders Woman While Leaving Police Lockup       

HNN: … The suspect accused of murdering an apparent stranger steps from Kapolei police station Tuesday night had just been released from custody, authorities said.

Interim Police Chief Rade Vanic told Honolulu police commissioners the attack happened shortly after the suspect walked out of the cellblock.

(NOTE: This is a completely typical story about the State justice system.  Only the close proximity of the subsequent crime is unusual.)

“He was arrested the day before ... (and) was being held at the police station. Charges were not filed so we released him pending investigation,” Vanic said, at a meeting Wednesday.

“Very shortly after release, he committed this murder.”

Honolulu police records identified the suspect as 35-year-old Michael Kalama Armstrong….

Police sources told Hawaii News Now that the suspect’s weapon was a tree trunk.

He had been arrested Monday night for assaulting a police officer. The officer was responding to a call that Armstrong had assaulted a worker at a halfway house.

“I heard a lot of yelling, unusual yelling for that time of night,” said Kristin Kobayashi, who checked her Ring security camera, which showed HPD cars at the halfway house across the street.

Armstrong was arrested for felony assault on a law enforcement officer, but authorities confirmed he was released after the city Prosecutor’s Office declined to charge him.

In a statement Wednesday afternoon, the city Prosecutor’s Office said the suspect was released Tuesday night rather than charged with a felony because more information was needed.

“We did not want to immediately charge Armstrong with a misdemeanor because he would have gone to court the next day and likely pled guilty, which would have foreclosed us from later charging him with felony assault of the HPD officer,” city Prosecutor Steve Alm said, in the statement.

“As is routinely done when more investigation is needed on felony charges, HPD and the Department agreed that Armstrong would be released pending that further investigation.”

Cavaco disagreed with the decision.

“They made a decision to release this dangerous person,” he said.

Armstrong has 18 prior arrests for crimes including weapons possession and burglary. He has a long history of mental illness related offenses.

A doctor reported in a previous evaluation that he “was exhibiting bizarre and dangerous behavior”. Armstrong had “fashioned a dangerous bladed instrument out of a boar’s jawbone”.

The doctor also warned, he was “a threat to others and cannot be safely managed in the community”.

Armstrong has been in and out of the State Hospital and community treatment since 2007….

read … Suspect accused of murdering woman steps from police substation had just been released from cellblock

HART Seeks ‘Criminal Penalties’ for Whistle-Blowers--Board Members Excluded from Executive Session

SA: … Two members of the board that oversees the city’s troubled rail project have declined to sign a new confidentiality agreement that calls for “criminal penalties” for violating the agreement.

The confidentiality agreement is part of new directives that appear aimed at the four board members who were appointed by the state Legislature, said board member Natalie Iwasa.

She was appointed by House Speaker Scott Saiki and has not signed the confidentiality agreement, along with Jeoffrey S. Cudiamat, who was appointed by Sen. President Ron Kouchi….

“This became an issue on Friday,” Iwasa told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

The board was preparing to go into executive session to discuss a performance evaluation of Lori Kahikina, the new executive director and CEO of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, when Iwasa was told she could not attend because she had not signed the confidentiality agreement. Cudiamat, who did not respond to a request for comment, did not attend the meeting.

Asked why she had not signed the agreement, Iwasa told the Star-Advertiser: “I have some significant concerns about it.”

“One of them is that it’s a crime to release confidential information according to this agreement,” Iwasa said….

The confidentiality agreement for HART board members follows an effort in November to impose a new code of conduct for members of the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s board of directors.

One requirement that drew pushback from some HTA board members would require a board member to “resign his/her position as a board member if she/he intends to publicly oppose a board action before doing so.”

The HTA board failed to adopt the policy….

read … Honolulu rail board appointees decline to sign confidentiality agreement

After Feds Arrest Two Legislators, House Chickens Out on Auditor Attack

SA: … House Government Reform Chairman Angus McKelvey, (D, Lahaina­-Kaanapali-Honokahau), announced that the two committees would defer HB 2419 and 2420, which would require the state Auditor to disclose confidential “working papers” to an investigative committee and require the auditor to “follow best auditing practices and standards,” respectively….

The bills represented the third salvo in less than a year from House leadership aimed at what Kondo has called the Auditor’s Constitutionally assured independence….

Rep. Gene Ward, (R, Hawaii Kai-Kalama Valley),who serves on the Committee on Government Reform, on Wednesday called the bills aimed at Kondo the “‘Get Kondo’ bills.” He added, “That’s what they were, just another way of poking him in the eye. I’m glad they put it aside.”…

read … Bills on transparency pass, others focused on state Auditor die

Choy’s Small-Time Bribery Interferes with Big Time Influence Peddling

CB: … A direct, obvious quid pro quo exchange — the hallmark of a small-time political operator. That’s Choy the First, a small-timer.

In another way, though, Choy aspired to and for a time made the Big-Time Player list. He has given, depending on how you calculate it, between $160,000 and $300,000 in legitimate, publicly listed political contributions.

And he has spread this money around, much of it to legislators — as well as Gov. David Ige — many of whom have had no direct contact and who he probably never asked directly for favors.

That’s a typical way that large Hawaii donors like construction and engineering firms do it. No fuss, no grime. Good citizens spreading it around.

That’s Choy the Second. Choy the Small-Timer when he bribed, Choy the Big-Timer when he donated.

His small-time activities were blatant and illegal. His donor activities? That’s something more ambiguous, because Big-Time Player donations, of course, don’t come with any direct quid pro quo as in, “I give you campaign money and you then give me a lucrative contract.”

But when, say, construction companies donate to politicians, they aren’t exactly giving a generous gift as altruistic citizens, manifesting their patriotic largesse to fortify the democratic process that makes America great.

They do this to become members of an amorphous, informal but powerful mix of politicians, policymakers and some (really few) of the rest of us called the political class.

Like this: being connected; knowing what’s really going on; getting in touch with the right people; knowing how to develop a reputation as trustworthy, competent and discrete. Making yourself valuable if not indispensable. They become members of strategically important social networks.

And they often have lobbyists to help their cause.

Max Sword of Honolulu Police Commission fame is an example of a Big-Timer.

A recent Civil Beat profile described Sword as “a member of the political class’s inner circle” with “the resume to prove it.”

“For decades,” the profile continued, “when Hawaii governors, mayors and legislators needed to fill a seat on a powerful board or commission, they called Max Sword.”

Now, when Choy was behaving like a member of this political upper class and making all those campaign donations, he was awarded several lucrative government no-bid contracts.

There is no indication that he got them by bribing anyone. He did not have to because his campaign donations made him a presence, someone that important people heard of.

Not as well-known and indispensable as Sword, but at least a burgeoning member of the political class.

But then Choy went off the rails, behaved like a small-timer, ditched his subtlety credentials, bribed, and got nailed.

Lesson: Don’t be stupid, be subtle. Don’t be a caddy. Be a member….

ILind: Two former state legislators plead guilty

KITV: What is needed to cut down on corruption in Hawaii?

CB: Kim Coco Iwamoto, House District 26: There Are Many Ways To Stop Corruption

read … Bribery Is Shameful But Legal Influence Peddling Is A Bigger Problem

Pay Hike? Maui Chief’s Morale Improves, SHOPO not so much

MN: … Pelletier and the commission have been in the public spotlight recently after he gave a presentation to the commission Feb. 2 and said that an increased annual salary from $158,851 to $195,000 would be “fair” based on his comparisons with salaries of police chiefs of departments of similar populations in California. The commission voted unanimously on Feb. 2 to recommend a 29 percent salary increase to $205,000.

Police Commission Chairman Frank De Rego said last week that the commission and police chief didn’t initiate the discussion but were invited by the Salary Commission to make a “benchmark” recommendation for the police chief’s salary. The Salary Commission is still mulling possible salary increases for the chief and other county department heads.

The Police Commission and chief’s recommendations upset some in the community who noted Pelletier had just started his job. Community members also said morale is at a low point at the department and said that officers, especially high-ranking ones, were leaving under the new leadership.

“I can tell you that morale is at an all-time low,” Maui police Sgt. Nick Krau, who is Maui chapter chairperson of the Maui Chapter Board of Directors of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers union, said at a Salary Commission online meeting Feb. 11. “We’re losing senior leadership at a very alarming rate.”

According to data presented Wednesday by the department, there were 99 vacancies among sworn staff as of Jan. 31, for a 75 percent staffing rate.

Commissioner Emmett Rodrigues on Wednesday asked Pelletier how he felt morale was in the department.

“If you were to ask me what I really think, I think the morale is good,” Pelletier said.

He praised the department and pointed out that officers have volunteered their time to be part of a recruitment council to try to attract more officers.….

CB: HPD Chief Disputes ‘Inaccurate’ SHOPO Patrol Staffing Criticism

read … Police chief shares work done in first 60 days, says morale is good

Hawaii has highest monthly household bills in the nation

KHON: … Lisa Marie Cruz said rent eats up half of her household income every month.

It's the highest monthly bill for her family at $2,000 for a three-bedroom apartment.

The Honolulu resident said that's the reason her family of six is considering moving to the mainland, where cost of living is cheaper.

"That's not including your electric, your cable, phones, all your necessities you gotta buy -- groceries, gas for your car, car insurance," she said. "Living here is expensive. …."

It's so expensive she's forced to work two jobs to supplement her husband's income….

read … Hawaii has highest monthly household bills in the nation

SB2282: Trannies Can Have Abortions, Too

CB: … Senate Bill 2282 would clear up a section of the law that allows advanced practice registered nurses to perform abortions. Last year, lawmakers gave those nurses the ability to perform abortions. SB 2282 removes a line from the law that restricts nurses from performing abortions after the first trimester of pregnancy.

The bill also clarifies that abortion rights are not only extended to females but also transgender and gender non-binary individuals….

read … Senate Bill 2282 also opens up abortions to individuals regardless of their gender identity.

Legislative Agenda: 

Corona Virus News:




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