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Sunday, February 20, 2022
February 20, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:21 PM :: 3325 Views

Election year or not, higher taxes are on the Legislature’s agenda

Auditor: OHA Created $15M Special Fund, Did not Report to Legislature

SB2819: $26K Pay Hike for Teachers Outside Collective Bargaining

Physician Shortage: The further from Honolulu the worse it gets

​SB555: Ban Fundraisers During Session

Honolulu COVID Restrictions to End March 5

KHON: … Maui County will no longer require proof of vaccination for restaurants, bars and gyms starting Monday, Feb. 21.

Mayor Rick Blangiardi said Honolulu will see the same rules lifted less than two weeks later.

“On March 5, we’re going to drop the very last restriction in the city enforced under our last emergency proclamation, which is Safe Access Oahu,” Blangiardi explained. “That’s the only thing I can control in this situation.”

Lt. Gov. Josh Green said many other rules will likely change at the end of March.

“When we get to March 25, which is when the emergency proclamation expires, that would be a sensible time, as long as we’re still doing things well, to get rid of restrictions.”

But ultimately, that decision is up to Gov. Ige and the Hawaii Department of Health.

If Ige does not extend the emergency proclamation, Green said it will likely be the end of the Safe Travels program, which requires travelers to show proof of vaccination or a negative test to bypass quarantine.

It also impacts exemptions for things like extensions for licensing and processes for buying personal protection equipment (PPE)….

read … Officials say COVID restrictions will loosen up in the coming weeks

Red Hill:  Its the Pipes, not the Tanks

SA: … For years, environmental regulators have zeroed in on the risks posed by the Navy’s aging Red Hill fuel tanks, which have been the source of dozens of leaks since they were built in the 1940s.

But the pipelines transporting that fuel from 18 active tanks to fueling piers at Pearl Harbor are just as old and, according to Navy documents, also suffering from corrosion and other wear and tear that increase the risk of fuel spills.

A comprehensive assessment ordered by defense officials of the pipeline system, which was conducted in 2015 and 2016, found that the pipelines were in need of 350 repairs to address corrosion and dents, many of them urgent, according to Navy documents turned over to the Hawaii Department of Health this month….

read … Navy documents from 2016 raised concerns about Red Hill pipeline system

Mauna Kea: Will House Advance HB2024 to Abolish Telescopes?

SA: … Lawmakers from three state House committees heard a mix of reviews about a proposal to create a new entity to oversee the state-managed lands of Mauna Kea during a special meeting Saturday.

Decision-making on House Bill 2024, which would replace the University of Hawaii with an independent Mauna Kea Stewardship Authority, was postponed until 1 1 a.m. Wednesday….

If approved, the legislation would replace UH oversight with a nine-member governing board tasked with developing a plan for managing land uses, human activities, access, stewardship and overall operations on the mountain, among other things.

The bill requires the new entity to develop a framework to limit astronomy development, prohibit certain commercial uses and create a plan to return the summit to its natural state.

The new authority board would be composed of at least three Native Hawaiian members but no one specifically from the astronomy community and would take full control following a three-year transition period….

Background: Calling OHA’s Bluff:  HB2024 Would Strip Mountain of Telescopes, Hand it over to Hawaiian Activists

read … House members listen to mix of reviews for new Mauna Kea management

To fix Hawaii’s corruption, start with legislative term limits

Shapiro: … In its frenzy to show concern after the bribery scandal involving state Sen. J. Kalani English and Rep. Ty Cullen, the House named an advisory commission to suggest improvements to the state’s ethics, lobbying and campaign finance laws.

These laws certainly need more teeth and independent enforcers, and the panel’s excellent members, led by retired Judge Daniel Foley, could do much good if they’re willing to make the lawmakers who appointed them uncomfortable.

But there’s something missing from the scope given commissioners — state election laws that unreasonably protect incumbent legislators and foster a corrupt pay-to-play culture….

Voters get blamed for choosing the same legislators election after election, but there’s often little choice.

In 2020, Republicans fielded candidates for only half the 64 House and Senate seats up for election, many fatally unappealing; in the Waikiki House district, the GOP offered a Proud Boys leader who was later arrested in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Few sitting Democratic legislators faced credible challenges in their party’s primary and cruised to reelection.

It’s a rigged system in which incumbents, propped up by the legalized bribery of special-interest campaign donations, are virtually unaccountable.

No wonder entitled legislators act more like lords and masters than public servants, expecting bended-knee supplication from those appearing before them.

read … To fix Hawaii’s corruption, start with legislative term limits

How Honolulu’s Ex-City Attorney Went From Obscurity To A Federal Indictment

CB: … The problem, according to her indictment, is that city law required the Honolulu City Council’s approval in this case. It’s up to council members to settle legal claims over $5,000 and to transfer funds “from an activity” if the cumulative total exceeds $100,000. 

Federal prosecutors say that Leong and her co-defendants arranged the agreement on their own, conspired to raid a Honolulu Police Department fund intended for vacant positions to pay for it and tried to cover up the deal. Leong and her co-defendants, former police commissioner Max Sword and former managing director Roy Amemiya, have pleaded not guilty…..

read … How Honolulu’s Ex-City Attorney Went From Obscurity To A Federal Indictment

SB2092: Make Corporal Punishment of Child a Felony

KHON: … Senate Bill 2092 would make the torture of a minor a felony.

This measure comes in the aftermath of the investigation into Isabella “Ariel” Kalua’s foster parents, who are accused of locking the young girl in a kennel and starving her.

The bill has a broad definition of torture, including withholding food and causing injury to a child by restraining them.

“The existing statutes regarding abuse simply don’t account for those unfortunately tragic instances of generally caretakers, parents who are doing things to their children,” said Deputy Prosecutor Tricia Nakamatsu.

“That simply may not rise to the level of physical assault, but whose actions are clearly not properly accounted for deterred or even punished by a misdemeanor charge under our current abuse statutes.”

The public defender is worried the definition of torture in the bill is too broad.

“When a parent uses acceptable corporal punishment to teach a lesson to a child, they could be recklessly creating mental anguish as well. And so, you know, a parent is trying to do the right thing, but they may be subject to be prosecuted,” said Deputy Public Defender William Bento….

The measure passed the Senate Judiciary Committee Friday afternoon. The next hearing has not been scheduled….

read … Lawmakers advance bill aimed at increasing penalty for those who torture children

Owners scramble to find funds, meet deadlines as city requires high-rises to install sprinklers

HNN: … The Honolulu Fire Department said there are over 300 high-rise buildings affected by the ordinance, but apartment owners are fighting for a fair solution as funding and meeting city deadlines pose issues….

President of the Hawaii Council of Community Associations, Jane Sugimura said the Marco Polo finished installing fire sprinklers last October, costing them $5.4 million.

Meanwhile, HFD said out of the 184 safety evaluations submitted, only a dozen have passed.

“Our personnel routinely create pre-plans for these areas, especially for those high-risk occupancies,” said Honolulu Fire Chief Sheldon Hao. “And again, they go in and work with the high-rise owners to make sure that we have a solid plan and identify all of the risk for each different location.”

The rest must make improvements to pass or install sprinklers….

“My building with 300 units, our insurance went up 30% in 2020 to $44,000,” said Sugimura. “And the owners of my building are going to have to pay for that and it’s happening all over town.”…

“In our posted Feb. 24 meeting agenda, the public can see that we are posing questions to the city administration about these fire safety measures, especially relating to funding,” said Fukunaga….

read … Owners scramble to find funds, meet deadlines as city requires high-rises to install sprinklers

Gerard Puana, Katherine Kealoha's uncle, charged with terroristic threatening after incident in Salt Lake

KITV: … According to that report, Gerard Kalani Puana, 61, was arrested at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, after police were called to a parking lot on Ala Napunani Street in Salt Lake.

The victim, a 37-year-old man, wrote in his statement, "...male that threatened me three days ago threatened me again, said he had a .38 in his trunk. The other day he had a huge knife and brandished a gun. Threatened to kill me."

The victim went on to say in his statement, "Everyone heard him say that he wanted to shoot me."

And that, "...he kept saying he has automatic weapons in his trunk, he kept saying he had a gun. He said it multiple times to where everyone could hear. Agressively [sic] and threw his soda at me and soda on me."

The report didn't state what led up to the incident.

Puana was charged with second-degree terroristic threatening -- a misdemeanor. He was released after posting $100 bail, and is scheduled to be in court on Mar. 15.

KITV4 asked a police spokesperson why it wasn't instead classified as first-degree terroristic threatening -- a felony -- since Puana allegedly threatened the victim on more than one occasion. We have not yet received a response….

read … Gerard Puana, Katherine Kealoha's uncle, charged with terroristic threatening after incident in Salt Lake

A Brutal Killing Says So Much About What Honolulu Is Doing Wrong

Cataluna: … There has to be a better way to deal with mentally ill homeless people than ignoring them or arresting them. We’ve now had decades of practice, spent tens of millions of dollars and we still haven’t figured it out.

A person arrested for violent behavior needs to be evaluated by a professional for the potential to be a danger to self, danger to others or gravely disabled before being turned loose with nothing in place to help them or prevent them from hurting others.

The city prosecutor’s office needs a reset. It’s like a computer that got overloaded with software and is now glitchy. Steve Alm was elected to rid the stink left behind by the former administration, but it’s not clear that ’90s-era programs like Chinatown Weed and Seed can be effective in the 2020s, especially considering his office’s now toxic relationship with the police department….

Cataluna: An Anguished Father Calls For Mental Health Reform After Murder

read … A Brutal Killing Says So Much About What Honolulu Is Doing Wrong

Another run at the campaign finance data

ILind: … Here’s a list of the top noncandidate committees ranked by total contributions received. ….

read … Another run at the campaign finance data

Legislative Agenda:

Corona Virus News:



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