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Wednesday, February 23, 2022
February 23, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:44 PM :: 2282 Views

Cocaine News: Heidi Tsuneyoshi declares candidacy for Governor as Republican 

Conspiracy to Defraud Honolulu Homeless Program Nets Federal Prison Sentences

COVID Fraud: Stacy Higa Sentenced to 46 Months in Federal Prison

Dead Bats: Supreme Court Upholds BLNR Approval of Na Pua Makani Windfarm

Exempt Hawaii from Jones Act to ensure continued oil imports

Mauna Kea: UH Seeks Cultural Practitioners for 'Cultural Impact Assessment'

Ban Fundraisers During Session? SB555 Goes to Senate Floor

Navatek Execs Arrested by FBI

HNN: … The FBI Tuesday arrested two former employees of a local defense contractor for conspiring to funnel thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions.

Clifford Chen, former CFO of the Martin Defense Group (formerly Navatek), and former company accountant Lawrence “Kahele” Lum Kee turned themselves into the FBI’s offices in Kapolei this afternoon.

Both are accused of helping Martin Defense Group’s former CEO Martin Kao create a shell company to donate $150,000 to a political action committee supporting U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. They’re also accused of making contributions in the names of family members and reimbursing them….

SA: 3 former Hawaii defense contractors plead not guilty in illegal campaign scheme

Background:

read … Ex-employees of major Hawaii-based defense contractor arrested

Hirono Defends Decision Not To Back Bill That Would Shut Down Red Hill

CB: … U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele, Rep. Ed Case and Sen. Brian Schatz have all supported the Red Hill WAI Act which would require the Navy to empty the fuel from its World War II-era tanks and pipelines by the end of this year and permanently close the facility….

…Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono is standing by her decision not to support the federal legislation .

That position makes Hirono, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the lone holdout among Hawaii’s congressional delegation when it comes to the Red Hill Watershed and Aquifer Initiative Act.

Hirono reiterated on Tuesday she is counting on the Hawaii Department of Health to take action. DOH issued an emergency order in December requiring the defueling of Red Hill, but that order isn’t permanent and is being fought by the federal government….

The state order leaves open the possibility that the military could refuel its tanks in the future if it meets standards set by the state. Through a separate process, the DOH has permitting authority over the fuel facility, and Hirono has insisted DOH’s decision-making is the “fastest” way to resolve the Red Hill issue.

At the press conference, Hirono defended her stance as Mikey Inouye, an activist and filmmaker, repeatedly asked the senator to proclaim in clear terms that she supports the permanent shutdown of Red Hill.

Hirono said she is “working very hard to shut down Red Hill” but wouldn’t specify whether she believes it should be a permanent shutdown….

McDermott: Hirono Recognizing a Lost Cause

SA: U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono calls for closing Navy’s Red Hill fuel storage facility through state permitting process

HNN: Hirono: $100M appropriation just the start of expected price tag for emptying Red Hill tanks

read … Hirono Defends Decision Not To Back Bill That Would Shut Down Red Hill

Want To Run For Office? Filings Postponed

CB: … The Hawaii Office of Elections’ candidate deadline is June 7 ….

UPDATE: Candidate filing period put on hold due to lawsuit over redrawn voter maps

read … Want To Run For Office? 

An Anguished Father Calls For Mental Health Reform After Murder

Cataluna: … The parents of Michael Armstrong, the man accused of beating a woman to death outside the Kapolei police station, have been trying for 20 years to help their son.

His father describes Michael going in and out of the Hawaii State Hospital, doctors trying new medications, new group homes, new programs that just didn’t work, and always the fear of what might happen to him or what he might do.

On Feb. 14, Michael Armstrong, 35, was arrested in Mililani for punching a staff member at a group home, then punching a police officer who responded to the incident.

He was released from the Kapolei police station a day later, agitated and unstable, with nothing to keep him, or anyone he came in contact with, safe.

He is charged with second-degree murder in the beating death of 48-year-old Linda Johnson on the police station grounds.

“This wouldn’t have happened if he wasn’t released,” said Tony Armstrong, Michael’s father. “Linda Johnson would still have her life and my son would not be a murderer.”…

Meanwhile: HGEA Lunacy: Year after its completion, Union plans to keep state’s $160M psychiatric facility empty for two more years

read … An Anguished Father Calls For Mental Health Reform After Murder

$164M Property Tax Exemptions on the Line in ‘Vague’ Bill 42

SA: … The Oahu Real Property Tax Advisory Commission is considering changes to the city’s property tax rates and exemptions — notably, for historic homes, for-profit child care centers and primary residences.

The commission discussed the potential adjustments it will present to the City Council later this year at its meeting on Tuesday….

Because property tax exemptions reduce the valuation of property from which taxes are computed, they decrease the city’s tax base. Real property tax exemptions decreased revenue by about $164.1 million for fiscal year 2021-2022, which ends June 30, according to the city’s Budget and Fiscal Services Department.

The commission is considering changes to the city’s property tax exemptions after Council member Calvin Say introduced Bill 42, which aims to “repeal certain real property tax exemptions.”

Say, who is also chairman of the Council’s Budget Committee, explained that the bill is vague on purpose….

The commission agreed that there should also be changes in the exemptions currently granted for primary residences but said further discussion is needed.

Currently, $100,000 is deducted from the valuation of primary residences for owners under age 65. For those over 65, $140,000 is deducted from the valuation of a primary residence.

“It’s not so much about whether to do that; I think the writing’s on the wall,” said Mould. “We’re going to do something. The question is how.”

The commission is also still considering whether to repeal property tax exemptions for for-profit child care centers, which currently do not have to pay any property taxes….

read … Commission considers adjustment to property tax exemptions

ACLU Pushes to Abolish Samoan Way of Life

CB: …Honolulu resident Gingerlei Parker worries about what making American Samoans like her automatically U.S. citizens would mean for her children and her family’s communal land.

She herself became a U.S. citizen, but says that’s a decision she made for herself and is not one she’d make for her community. During a phone interview last week, she said it was hard to explain what land and culture mean to her because they’re the basis of her identity.

“Those things are significantly valuable to me as an American Samoan,” she said….

(Skip multiple paragraphs comparing American Samoa to US segregation, etcetcetc)

Line-Noue Kruse finds that perspective patronizing. Whether or not American Samoans become U.S. citizens, or change their land laws, should be based on a local plebiscite, not by a court ruling that treats all territories the same, she said….

(CLUE: The purpose of this exercise is to force American Samoa out of the US so it can be colonized by China.  Since the Chinese just failed in their effort to colonize Independent Samoa, they get a mulligan from ACLU.)

read … Some Civil Rights Groups Want Biden To Reject Racist Case Law

Driving up the Cost of Housing: Hawaii Co Council bill would require parking lots be 16% EV charging stations

HTH: … A Hawaii County Council member hopes to legally require developers to include electric vehicle charging stations in new parking lots.

Hamakua Councilwoman Heather Kimball introduced at Tuesday’s meeting of the Committee on Public Works and Mass Transit a bill that would require all new parking lots to include a certain number of electric vehicle charging stations….

Under the bill, the required number of charging stations would increase year-by-year. By the end of 2023, “all newly constructed places of public accommodation” would need to have at least two stalls for electric vehicle charging per 50 parking stalls. By the end of 2025, that requirement would be raised to four stalls per 50, and again to six stalls per 50 by the end of 2027, and finally 8 stalls per 50 by the end of 2029….

The bill also would make it a traffic offense for a non-EV to occupy a charging stall, or for an EV to do so without actively charging.

Kimball’s bill is the first in the state to be developed after a bill passed in the state Legislature last year authorized the counties to make such mandates. Kimball said most of the stipulations in her draft bill are taken directly from the state bill….

read … Hawaii Co Council bill would require EV charging stations for new parking lots

There Are Widespread Reports of Sex Trafficking, So Why No Convictions?

CB: … Although state agencies have received hundreds of reports of sex trafficking in Hawaii in recent years, state prosecutors have failed to convict a single person of the crime since legislators formally outlawed the practice in 2016, a review of state and local records by Civil Beat found.

The inability to win convictions has persisted despite ramped up state and local efforts to curb trafficking, including a federally funded human trafficking task force in Honolulu, and more than half a dozen legal reforms aimed at holding traffickers accountable….

In a report to the Legislature in December, then-state Attorney General Clare Connors made clear that although data on sex trafficking is “limited and disaggregated,” the problem is severe.

“Based on observations and experience, practitioners in the field conclude that incidents of (the commercial sexual exploitation of children) and human trafficking are widespread in Hawaii,” Connors wrote.

Reports from independent and state agencies underscore the point.

The Hawaii Department of Human Services, for example, received at least 183 reports of suspected child sex trafficking between 2018 and 2020. The department has yet to release its 2021 report.

Between February 2019 and June 2021, Hawaii’s Child Welfare Services agency, a branch within DHS, received 205 reports of children being trafficked, according to the attorney general’s report. At least 67 of those cases were ultimately confirmed.

The Suzannah Wesley Community Center, which is contracted by CWS to provide treatment to trafficking victims, reported treating 248 individuals referred to them between 2019 and 2020.

And the nonprofit National Human Trafficking Hotline reported that in 2020 it received 108 reports of human trafficking from people in Hawaii, including calls, texts, emails and online tips.

In addition, an oft-cited 2020 survey conducted by the nonprofit Child and Family Service organization, the Arizona State University School of Social Work’s Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research and the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women found in interviews with 363 individuals receiving social services across the state, that 97, or nearly 27%, reported being sex trafficked.

While reports of sex trafficking have piled up, police and prosecutors have taken up relatively few cases.

Between 2014 and 2020, the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center in the attorney general’s office reported 19 arrests statewide for sex trafficking or promoting prostitution in the first degree, the legal term for sex trafficking in Hawaii until 2016.

Only one of those arrests — which occurred in 2015 under the earlier statute — resulted in a conviction on the original charges….

read … There Are Widespread Reports of Sex Trafficking, So Why No Convictions?

Amid Navy water crisis, civilian families living on military housing face rent hike

HNN: … Single mom Christine Roberts rents a home at Radford Terrace owned by Hunt Military Community.

But for the last three months she and three of her kids have been living in a Waikiki hotel room. On Tuesday, she found out she still can’t return home because testing turned up a contaminant unrelated to the Red Hill incident.

“They’ve taken so much from us,” said Roberts. “But the worst thing that they’ve taken from us, is our sense of safety.”

All this time, Roberts said she has continued to pay her rent. And now she’s told if she signs a new lease to stay at Radford Terrace past March, her rent will go up by $175….

read … Amid Navy water crisis, civilian families living on military housing face rent hike

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