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Friday, February 18, 2022
February 18, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:47 PM :: 3329 Views

Chief Investigator: State Attorney General Refusing to Indict Government Corruption Cases

On the Move in the Senate: SB2422 Would End Foster Care Abuse Coverups

Red Hill: Senate Approves $350M

Ige Nominates Five to BLNR

Student Press Freedom: Hawaii considers ‘New Voices’ legislation as Senate version clears first legislative hurdles

UPW Scores 14% Raise in Contract

SA: State labor negotiators have come to terms with one of Hawaii’s larger public workforce unions on a new four-year contract that provides roughly 4% to 5% pay raises in each of the next three fiscal years.

The deal was reached with a United Public Workers unit representing around 6,000 blue-collar, nonsupervisory workers whose representatives began negotiating with Gov. David Ige’s administration almost two years ago shortly after the coronavirus pandemic emerged….

The new collective bargaining contract for the UPW unit is retroactive to July 1, given that the prior contract’s scheduled end was June 30. Members working at that time are set to receive a one-time $1,000 payment under terms of the new deal.

Then pay raises would kick in starting with a 3.72% increase effective Oct. 1, followed by 5% on July 1, 2023, and 5% on July 1, 2024….

UPW reported that 93% of unit members ratified the deal last week. Ige notified state lawmakers about the agreement Wednesday in a memo outlining total costs over the contract term.

Most other local public-­sector labor unions representing state and county workers have either current two-year or unsettled contracts….

read … Pay raises negotiated for Hawaii public worker union

Hawaii businessman at center of bribery probe to enter guilty plea in separate case     

SA: … The wastewater executive at the center of an ongoing federal bribery investigation that resulted in guilty pleas by two former state lawmakers will be charged and accept responsibility in a separate criminal case, his attorney confirmed.

Milton J. Choy, owner of H20 Process Systems and Fluid Technologies, began cooperating with the U.S. Department of Justice after he got caught in a separate investigation. Acting on tips, federal investigators found evidence of financial transactions from Choy’s businesses that allegedly implicate him in a pay-to-play scheme, according to sources with knowledge of the incident.

Once confronted with the evidence, Choy opted to cooperate. It is unclear what, if anything, Choy will receive for his help making cases….

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser is not reporting the details of the alleged scheme that drew the attention of law enforcement due to an ongoing federal investigation.

Choy’s attorney, Michael Green, declined to comment on the circumstances that led Choy to cooperate or how long he has been helping law enforcement. Green told the Star-Advertiser he expects his client to enter a guilty plea and take full responsibility for his actions sometime in the next 90 days. His client understands the penalties could include a federal prison sentence, Green said.

“There is a reckoning, and normally it is not ‘thank you for your apology, please don’t do it again,” said Green…. 

Flashback: Secret Arbitration Revealed: How DPS Official Kept Crooked Cop On The Job After FBI Raid

Flashback: HGEA Protects Sheriff Deputy

read … Hawaii businessman at center of bribery probe to enter guilty plea in separate case

AG: HART ‘Confidentiality Agreement’ is Illegal 

SA: … The state Department of the Attorney General has issued an opinion that the board overseeing the city’s troubled rail project has no legal authority to treat board members differently and require legislative appointees to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation to sign new confidentiality agreements.

But the city’s Department of the Corporation Counsel disagrees and has proposed that board member Natalie Iwasa sign “a temporary confidentiality agreement” through March as part of potential “paths forward.”

Iwasa told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Thursday that the terms of the temporary agreement remain the same — especially the potential for criminal penalties — and that she won’t sign it…

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

read … Lawyers disagree over legality of HART board’s confidentiality rules

Deputy sheriff who was fired after nearly 40 years of service files wrongful termination suit

HNN: … An award-winning deputy sheriff is suing the state Department of Public Safety, alleging he was wrongfully terminated.

In the lawsuit, deputy Sheriff Tommy Cayetano alleged that former DPS Director Nolan Espinda fired him in 2020 ― despite having 38 years of service without any disciplinary actions.

The suit also alleges that an internal affair investigation found no wrongdoing….

The DPS began investigating Cayetano for alleged misconduct after he testified in the public corruption trial of Katherine and Louis Kealoha in 2019.

On the stand, he admitted that in 2011 he used state vehicles while on duty to transport Katherine’s uncle Gerard Puana to meet with her while he was in custody.

An arbitrator gave Cayetano back his job with back pay last year, saying the DPS didn’t include interviews of any witnesses and that Cayetano was conducting his duties in assisting another law enforcement agency….

read … Deputy sheriff who was fired after nearly 40 years of service files wrongful termination suit

Murder of Woman Outside Police Station Made Possible by Doubly-Failed Mental Health System

HNN: … When Fong met her close to two decades ago she was homeless, suffering untreated mental illness and addiction. He was part of a team that helped her get off the street, into treatment and eventually stabilized. For nearly 15 years, she’d been living in various care homes.

“Two weeks ago from today she decided she wanted to leave,” Fong said.

On Sunday, Johnson was arrested in Waikiki for being on the beach after hours. Fong says she was released from the Kapolei substation about 4:30 a.m. on Monday.

“A lieutenant from the police department had given me a call Monday late evening after 10 p.m. that was the first time I had been made aware Linda had been picked up,” Fong said….

Fong says if he had been contacted while she was still in lock up he likely would have been able to get her into an emergency room for a psychiatric evaluation.

“It would have also given me the opportunity to inform them of what had most recently been going on about how she did have a care home to return to,” he said….

At 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Johnson was beaten to death feet from the front steps of the Kapolei substation.

Police say the suspect, Michael Armstrong, had just been released from jail after allegedly punching a police officer the day before.

(Despite being a dangerous and violent lunatic) he was on conditional release from the State Hospital after years of his own mental health struggle….

(SOLUTION: Reopen the insane asylums.  Forcibly incarcerate the insane inside.)

read … Woman murdered outside Kapolei police station remembered for her ‘infectious personality’

Kona teacher charged with sex assault of minor

WHT: … A Konawaena Middle School teacher facing three counts of sexual assault against a minor made his initial court appearance Thursday in Kona District Court.

John Lee Franks, 43, of Ocean View, is charged with two counts of first-degree sexual assault of a minor and one count of continuous sexual assault of a minor stemming from alleged incidents committed against a girl between November 2021 and mid-February. The court records indicate Franks also goes by the name John Pryor….

According to the complaint filed Thursday, Franks knowingly engaged in “sexual penetration” with a minor female born in 2009, who was less than 14 years old, on Nov. 9, 2021, and Feb. 10 and 14 of this year.

Nanea Kalani, communications director for the state Department of Education, confirmed Franks’ employment as a student services coordinator at Konawaena Middle School in South Kona. Franks was first employed with the department in 2008 as a special education teacher….

Kalani said she was still working on “verifying the status” of Franks’ employment in a Thursday afternoon email. No update was provided as of press-time. The department did not address questions regarding when Franks was last at the campus or if he is allowed to be at the school going forward.

A check of the Department of Education’s Hawaii Teacher Standards Board shows John Franks is licensed in “SPED/Severe Profound K-6.” The license, as of Thursday afternoon, was active with a June 2026 expiration date.

Franks was arrested Wednesday and bail was set at $150,000.

During his initial court appearance in Kona District Court Thursday, Judge Kimberly Taniyama reduced bail to $50,000 with the stipulation he have no contact with the victim….

read … Kona teacher charged with sex assault of minor 

Hawaii businesses face challenging economic climate

SA: … Some are still struggling to pay back rent incurred during pandemic-related closures, she said, including two that occurred on Oahu in 2020. During those closures, businesses still had to foot rent and utilities, along with taxes.

Those who are renego­tiating or renewing their leases are looking at how much debt has been incurred, she said, and whether they can afford to keep their doors open.

In addition, visitors have not really returned at pre- pandemic levels, and the ones who are coming are not spending as much, based on what she’s hearing from members.

She knows a few other retailers considering whether to give up their leases and transition to online as well, but who have not pulled the trigger yet.

Ryan Tanaka, president of financial consulting firm Island Business Management, said the economic climate for small businesses in Hawaii is still challenging. Tanaka conducted several surveys of businesses during the pandemic that found many could not pay rent in full.

Small businesses now also have to contend with inflation, supply chain disruptions and the impacts of the omicron variant, he said. Additionally, all eyes are also on Amazon moving into Honolulu and how that will affect the market here. The online retail giant has plans in the works for a $120 million “delivery station” in Kalihi Kai.

Meanwhile, for some small businesses, “there’s still back rent, and we’re still in these pre-COVID lease agreements,” Tanaka said. “And landlords are up against their own shareholders, whether they’re private or publicly held, so they also have a fiduciary duty to do what they can to get things back on track to pre-COVID levels.”…

Revenues had dropped as much as 70% during the height of the pandemic, said Ah Chick-Hopkins, but in recent times remained down 25% to 30%….

read … Hawaii businesses face challenging economic climate

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