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Wednesday, April 20, 2022
April 20, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:40 PM :: 4056 Views

Ethics Complaint Nails Kahele

Hawaii Banks Charging More Than Payday Lenders for Small Loans

86% Of Renters Can’t Afford to Buy Home in Honolulu

Track Your Ballot: Ballottrax Service Launched in Hawaii

The cost of “excess inflation” in Hawaii

Former Maui Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Child Enticement Charge

FBI Arrests Miske Witness After Waianae Harbor Confrontation with Sovereignty Group

CB: … A confrontation early this year at Waianae Small Boat Harbor between state officers and the leader of a Hawaiian sovereignty group triggered a series of events leading to the arrest last week of a Windward Oahu man for allegedly threatening to behead three people, including the Waianae harbor master.

Lindsey Kinney, 43, was detained last week by the FBI and faces a federal charge of interstate transmission of threats via the social media platforms Instagram and Facebook. The charge, found in 18 US Code 875(c), carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison….

Waianae harbor master Joseph Simpliciano, reached by telephone at the harbor office on Monday, acknowledged his involvement in the incident but declined further comment, saying he was unaware of Kinney’s arrest or the charges against him.

Kinney is being held at the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu, and prosecutors have asked that he be held without bail because he poses “a serious risk” of threatening, injuring or intimidating prospective witnesses or jurors.

Kinney’s threats were part of long rants posted to Instagram and Facebook on Jan. 17, less than two weeks after Simpliciano, accompanied by armed Department of Land and Natural Resources enforcement officers, attempted to serve a written warning on the owner of a small sailboat, demanding it leave the harbor or be cited.

The boat owner, identified as Sam Lilikoi, was told to leave because he allegedly had already racked up about $30,000 in unpaid fees owed the state due to unauthorized mooring in various small boat harbors, as well as “disposal and demolition fees” for a sailboat he had owned that was previously impounded by DLNR’s Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation.

According to Tacket’s affidavit, Lilikoi is the leader of a “paramilitary group” whose members, “identify themselves by military titles/ranks, describe their efforts as ‘operations,’ don military uniforms, (and) carry illegitimate military documents.”

On social media, Lilikoi claims the rank of colonel, and touts his current status as “commander” of Occupied Forces Hawaii Army, a small group that says it doesn’t recognize the legitimacy of the state or federal governments….

Lindsey Kinney “characterizes himself” as a member of the group, according to the affidavit.

As DLNR agents approached the small sailboat, which Lilikoi refers to as the Occupied Forces’ “warship,” he shouted for them to stay away, calling them “traitors” and their actions illegal, while livestreaming the scene, according to the affidavit.

Soon after the Waianae incident, Lilikoi posted a video to his Facebook page asking his followers to identify the names and residences of the state employees, including Simpliciano, who appeared in the livestream video.

Kinney responded on Jan. 17 via his @can’t.stop.cowboy Instagram account by posting the social media profile photos of Simpliciano, his wife, and their friend, next to the beheading threats.

The threatening posts jumble together religious and violent imagery, conspiracy theories, Freemason references, anti-government statements and repeated mentions of beheading.

In a subsequent video, Kinney echoed a Q-anon-like conspiracy theory, accusing the Department of Land and Natural Resources of being “part of a human trafficking ring,” and stating his intent to overthrow Hawaii’s government.

“After I take there (sic) heads I will be king,” Kinney wrote.

Simpliciano, who spent 17 years in the Army, told FBI agents that he and his wife took the threats very seriously.

“They were at their highest threat level, locked their outdoor gates, kept loaded firearms ready and staged at the front door, and rehearsed security procedures with their children due to the threats and Kinney’s association with Michael Miske,” the FBI affidavit said….  

ILind: Introducing Occupied Forces Hawaii

ILind: Waianae harbor incident leads to arrest of man linked to the Mike Miske case

read … FBI Arrests Miske Witness After Waianae Harbor Confrontation 

62.3% of  Hawaii Middle school students fall one grade below--40% of High Need Students are Chronic Absentee

SA: … Percentages of students receiving a failing grade in English or math worsened in four out of six data categories in a comparison of the first quarter, from Aug. 3 to Oct. 8, and second quarter, from Oct. 18 to Dec. 17, which coincided with the COVID-19 delta variant surge and the start of the omicron variant wave.

In addition, the majority of students tested at one or more grades below their grade level in “universal screener” assessments in math and English for Hawaii public school students in kindergarten through grade 8, although there were consistent improvements in the second quarter over the first quarter….

>> In English, 52.9% of elementary students and 61.3% of middle school students tested at one grade or more below their grade level.

>> In math, 60.5% of elementary students and 62.3% of middle school students tested at one grade or more below their grade level.

The rest tested at grade level or above.

High absenteeism continues to plague the schools, and “the number of students at risk of being chronically absent continues to be greater than pre-COVID numbers,” a DOE report issued by state schools interim Superintendent Keith Hayashi said.

“At the end of Quarter 2, 31% of all students and 40% of high-needs students (students who receive special education services, are English learners or are economically disadvantaged) were at risk of being chronically absent.”

The data comes from DOE reports that will be presented Thursday by Hayashi at meetings of several state Board of Education committees…. 

SA Editorial: Pupils sorely need tutors, catch-up

read … Pandemic continues to hurt Hawaii public school students’ grades, attendance

HART May Not Get Federal Extension Without Another Tax Hike

HNN: … A plan to pause rail construction at South Street rather than building to Ala Moana Center could be gaining traction with the federal government.

Lori Kahikina, CEO of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, said she received a letter in December from Federal Transit Administration officials saying they were open to amending the Full Funding Grant Agreement, which calls for the rail to build 21 stations and 20 miles of guideway.

(Translation: This letter is old news.)

“This is unprecedented,” she said. “I believe ... this has only happened once before ― Puerto Rico.”

But the FTA is still worried that HART might run out of money before it even gets to South Street.

“They’re very worried about inflationary costs that are happening right now because of the Ukraine and Russian war,” Kahikina said.

Inflation not only increases the cost of building materials and labor but it also could increase what it costs HART to borrow money.

(Translation: Even Blangiardi’s shortened route may not be realistic.  That’s the new news.)

HART and the city are finalizing a recovery plan that includes the shortened route. The FTA has to approve the plan before it releases the remaining $744 million it has promised for the project.

“Maybe there’s an extension of the (general excise tax) and (transient accommodation tax). Right now, it sunsets in 2030. Maybe we can extend it,” Kahikina said….

(Translation: Without a tax hike, HART might lose the $744M.  Deadline: June 30.)

But HART board member Natalie Iwasa believes there’s little appetite in the state Legislature to extend the general excise or any other tax for rail.

“There is this idea out there that we can tax our tourists. But they’re already now at 13.5% ― plus the 4.5% on the GET,” she said. “You come to a point where the tourists .... are not going to want to pay that amount either.”…

read … HART head: Federal authorities appear receptive to ending rail project in Kakaako

The ‘Lost Tower’: Why Howard Hughes Has A Love-Hate Relationship With Rail

CB: … The city has spent several years and millions of dollars fighting the developer in court over land for rail. Now, the transit system might not reach the Hughes Kakaako properties….

Originally, the city looked to pay Howard Hughes some $13.5 million to take those two acres via eminent domain, based on the city’s own appraisals.

Now, it could pay as much as $23 million in legal fees alone in order to avoid paying Howard Hughes as much as $220 million in damages associated with taking the land, according to court documents. And that’s for a rail line that now might not even reach Kakaako….

read … The ‘Lost Tower’: Why Howard Hughes Has A Love-Hate Relationship With Rail

For Hawaii Democrats, the Sky’s the Limit

USNWR: … A few additional factors helped carry Hawaii Democrats to their current degree of dominance. In the 1980s, the state ended its system of multi-member legislative districts. The system had enabled the Republicans to win more seats. In 2008, native son Barack Obama ran for president, inspiring Hawaiians and burnishing the Democratic brand locally. And since Trump’s emergence, the state GOP has been beset by infighting….

Progressive Democrats have periodically tried to flex their muscles in Hawaii, and influential state House Speaker Scott Saiki came within 167 votes of losing a primary to Kim Coco Iwamoto in 2020.,,,

One downside of one-party domination is the risk of corruption. In February, former Sen. J. Kalani English and former Rep. Ty Cullen pleaded guilty to federal charges related to a bribery scheme with a wastewater company….

read … For Hawaii Democrats, the Sky’s the Limit

HB2399 Massive tax Increase on Product Packaging Materials

RR: … Hawaii’s HB 2399, which creates an EPR program with some island-specific twists, is getting close to the governor’s desk.

The bill would require producers to register and pay an annual fee into a fund based on the amount of packaging they use, but it would not require those producers to join a PRO. The bill also has a sunset date of June 30, 2028.

According to the bill, the purpose is to make sure the EPR program is particularly suited to Hawaii and prioritizes reuse strategies as the best way to eliminate packaging waste. Hawaii has tried to pass EPR bills in the past.

The bill has a set goal of reducing the volume of packaging sent to landfills or waste-to-fuel plants by 50%, and then by 80%. The deadlines for those goals are to be determined.

Producers would pay $150 for each metric ton of packaging placed in the market. That money would go into a fund, along with any other money appropriated by the legislature, grants or donations, and interest earned on the balance of the fund.

Any material used in the packaging of a product that is considered a drug, medical device or dietary supplement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would be exempt.

Then, each of Hawaii’s four counties (Hawaii, Kauai, Maui and Honolulu) would be allocated money to do a county needs assessment and for packaging reuse programs, specifically.

Any producer that violated the bill would get one warning, then fined up to $1,000 for the first violation and up to $2,000 for each subsequent violation, with each day of continued violation counting as a separate violation. Those fees would go back into the fund….

REALITY: Environmentalism is a Religion

read … Hawaii close to passing own take on EPR

Senate accused of ‘punitive’ funding plan for University of Hawaii

SA: … The state Senate’s budget proposal to give the University of Hawaii a $275 million funding increase comes with strings attached, including a $100,000 pay cut for the UH West Oahu chancellor and eliminating the positions of communications director and director of the Office of Equal Employment.

The 24 “provisos” dictating how some of the money for UH can be spent are unprecedented in the modern era, said Kalvert Young, UH’s chief financial affairs officer, who previously served as director of the state Department of Budget and Finance.

“The Senate version would be the most prescriptive and specific I’ve seen,” Young said. “It’s been an evolution that’s been occurring over the last three to five years.” …

The Senate version of House Bill 1600 would eliminate more than 90 positions across the entire system of seven community colleges, three four-year campuses and UH Board of Regents.

At the same time, the Senate plan calls for 128 new hires and funding for research that UH never requested, Young said.

“There’s a lot of funding for things that UH didn’t ask for — for UH to do studies on prison reform, cultural heritage, DOE (Department of Education) master planning, highway construction on the Big Island,” he said. “They’ve added positions in certain campuses that we didn’t ask for, primarily in the community colleges: landscapers, security guards, janitors … positions for lecturers, additional personnel for building and ground custodians, administrative support, food sciences faculty.”… 

HNN: In proposed budget increase for UH, some lawmakers call for firing of executives

UH News: Legislative update: Senate budget includes UH request and more

read … Senate accused of ‘punitive’ funding plan for University of Hawaii

Breakdown on Kauai Council Races

TGI: … After analyzing past elections the question for the Council race seems to boil down to who is fighting for the bottom. CM Evslin who has consistently finished at the top of the list, and CM former Mayor Carvalho are both solid. Former Council Chair Rapozo whose name has remained in the spotlight via the popular “Mel and Charlie Show” streamed live regularly on social media also seems to be set.

A review of the 2020 general election final results have DeCosta at No. 5, Cowden at No. 6 and Kuali‘i coming in at No. 7 — all clustered within a 600-vote margin of each other.

First-time candidate Addison Bulosan came in No. 8 in 2020, which clearly makes him the most likely of the existing challengers to “move up” into a winning slot. A drive around the island shows he is once again running a strong campaign with signs and banners going up island-wide….

The recent bribery charges against two sitting state legislators (Maui and O‘ahu), plus the fact that a former Kaua‘i county councilmember is facing 15 years in prison on charges that he led a methamphetamine ring, are sure to raise questions among voters as to who knew what and when.

It’s also possible, and if you are listening to the political rumor mill, highly likely that there may be movement, perhaps a retirement, at the state legislative level. If this occurs, it would likely motivate an incumbent councilmember to attempt to “move up.”

read … HOOSER: 2022 elections: Some speculation, some facts

Hawaii County Council Rejects Effort to Limit Business Property Tax Assessment Growth

HTH: … the County Council Finance Committee on Tuesday postponed a measure that would have capped increases in property values for most commercial classes.

Bill 156 would cap the value of property classified as apartment, hotel and resort, commercial, industrial, agricultural or native forests, or conservation at 15% of the previous year’s assessed value for that property.

Property values in the homeowner and affordable rental classes are already capped at 3%.

The council has the authority to adjust tax rates every year, so potential relief is still on the table, noted Hilo Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy, the bill sponsor.

“It doesn’t provide them initial relief on the August tax bill; the second step would be addressing rates,” Lee Loy said. “This cap would be relief in future years which requires us to also look at the rates. If we are able to estimate these guardrails where our businesses can better forecast, that’s better for the economy. … this is definitely something that our business community is looking for.”

read … Tax breaks postponed: Council wants more information before voting on tax credit, assessment cap

Big, Big News: 54 Time Loser May Actually Get 5 Year Sentence!

SA: … Narito was arrested and is being held on $11,000 bail.

The prosecuting attorney department said that Narito has 54 prior convictions, including five felony convictions, that are mostly for retail theft. The department said those prior convictions allowed it to charge Narito with habitual property crime — a felony that’s punishable by up to five years in prison.

“When convicted of misdemeanor theft, shoplifters face little or no jail time and they go right back to stealing from our businesses,” said Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm in a statement. “The Habitual Property Crime statute is a valuable tool that can help address the growing retail crime issue in Honolulu by attaching felony consequences to the actions of chronic thieves.” ….

MN: Inmate serving 10-year term for beating a MCCC jail guard--“is anxious to see the parole board,” 

read … Serial offender charged after allegedly stealing from Saks Fifth Avenue in Waikiki

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