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Saturday, July 2, 2022
July 2, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:22 PM :: 2687 Views

Judicial Vacancy – Associate Judge, Intermediate Court of Appeals

Honolulu Auditor Releases Annual Citizen Centric Report

Ethics: Honolulu City Board Member Refuses to File Financial Disclosure

Governor tells HSTA he will OK $164.5M teacher pay funds 

English not Cooperating? Feds Want Lawmaker Who Took Bribes To Spend More Than 3 Years In Prison

CB: … Federal prosecutors want former Hawaii lawmaker J. Kalani ‘Powdernose’ English to serve a three-and-a-half year sentence for accepting bribes from a wastewater executive to influence wastewater and cesspool legislation.

English pleaded guilty in February and admitted to accepting cash and other payments totaling more than $18,000 from Honolulu businessman Milton Choy. English leaked documents related to a wastewater working group to Choy in exchange for cash payments. He also accepted more money to first introduce, and then kill a bill that could have benefitted Choy’s business.

“As the investigation progressed it became astoundingly clear that no matter the legislative ask, the answer from English would almost certainly be ‘yes.’ English’s behavior signaled that it was systemically normal for him to accept, and indeed expect, financial benefits in return for legislative favors,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Sorenson wrote in a sentencing memorandum Friday.

Federal prosecutors plan to ask for a sentence of 42 months and are also seeking a fine of $100,000. The U.S. Probation Office recommended a 37-month sentence for English, who asked the courts this week to lower that sentence to 30 months….

A mitigating factor was his cooperation with law enforcement, although prosecutors say he “failed to provide either the quantum or quality of assistance sufficient to warrant a downward departure” from sentencing guidelines….

(Translation: Powdernose isn’t telling all the stories.  He is protecting somebody.)

Because he pleaded guilty and cooperated with law enforcement, English could be eligible for a reduced sentence. But it’s up to U.S. District Judge Susan Mollway to decide how long English stays behind bars.

English is set to be sentenced on Tuesday. Another former legislator, Ty Cullen, has also pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from Choy. His sentencing has been pushed off until October….

Federal investigators apparently weren’t looking into English until he unwittingly tipped off the FBI by asking Choy for Las Vegas hotel rooms. Choy, who is referred to in court documents as Person A, was already working as an informant. English’s willingness on multiple occasions to take legislative action for payment was an aggravating factor….

SA: Federal prosecutors seek prison term for former state Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English


read … Feds Want Former Hawaii Lawmaker Who Took Bribes To Spend More Than 3 Years In Prison

Rolling Blackouts Begin Sept 1: Blame Legislature, DPP or Both?

SA Editorial: … The challenge is well-known to the city Department of Planning and Permitting, which grapples with the broad permitting-delay problem on multiple fronts. Two years ago it engaged in an effort to streamline the solar-power process specifically.

The Honolulu City Council passed a bill enacted as Ordinance 20-44 to allow for an online “self-certification and automatic approval” of solar PV systems for multifamily and commercial projects, said Dean Uchida, DPP director.

However, some applications do get flagged, in many cases due to errors or missing information.

But then the floodgates opened. At a Council meeting, Uchida said the demand for permits shot up, due in part to the state Public Utilities Commission decision to enable a “battery bonus program.” Enrollees in this Hawaiian Electric Co. program could be paid if they add their own solar energy battery storage to the grid.

There is also the state law ordering the shutdown of the coal-fired electric plant owned by AES Corp. The looming Sept. 1 deadline to close the Kapolei coal-burning operation drove Hawaiian Electric to boost large-scale solar projects, which, Uchida said, adds to the backlog….

Background: Rolling Blackouts Begin Sept 1: Power cost hike, supply crunch ahead as last Hawaii coal plant closes

read … Backlog on solar permits

BWS chief engineer: Navy’s proposed timeline for emptying Red Hill fuel tanks is ‘unacceptable’

HNN: … In a news conference Friday, Lau noted that the Navy’s suggested timeline includes a long list of needed repairs to the deteriorating WWII-era tanks and “stands in stark contrast to repeated assurances from the Navy over the last several years that the Red Hill tanks and pipelines are properly designed ... and that each tank can be emptied in less than 24 hours.” …

read … BWS chief engineer: Navy’s proposed timeline for emptying Red Hill fuel tanks is ‘unacceptable’

Hawaii Tourism Authority and the gut-replace

SA Editorial: … HB 1147 started out as a capital improvement projects bill, but in conference committee, lawmakers gutted its contents and replaced them with operating appropriations for HTA, the Hawai‘i Convention Center special fund, the State Office of Planning and Sustainable Development, and the University of Hawaii — six days before the end of the session, and with no public input.

Now, with Ige’s veto threat, funding for HTA is in doubt. The governor is considering using federal funds, but those come with their own strings attached…

Last year, lawmakers reduced HTA’s budget, from $79 million to $60 million, and eliminated its dedicated source of funding. This year, they cut HTA’s funding out of the supplemental budget and debated two alternative bills.

HB 1785 would have made major changes to the organization of HTA, while Senate Bill 775, HD 1 — itself the product of gut-and-replace — would have funded HTA without strings but also would’ve created an additional agency, the Natural Resource Management Commission, to help manage natural resources important to residents and the visitor industry.

There were some useful things in both bills, but lawmakers failed to find common ground through the normal course of legislating, with a full public vetting.

Instead, it was business as usual: closed-door conferences, gutting and replacing, patching together a legally questionable frankenbill at the last minute. That speaks volumes about the Legislature’s ability — or willingness — to manage the public’s business in a responsible and transparent way….

read … Hawaii Tourism Authority and the gut-replace

6 arrests made as authorities seek to evict paramilitary group from Kunia property

HNN: … Six people were arrested for trespassing Friday amid a bitter dispute between a Kunia landowner and members of the paramilitary “Occupied Forces Hawaii Army” group.

Attorneys for the landowner say the group’s members have been squatting on agricultural land near the Hawaii Country Club since September. Earlier this month, the group was served with eviction papers.

On Friday morning, police officers, deputy sheriffs and investigators with the state Attorney General’s Office converged on the area and told the group’s members they would need to leave immediately.

Four men and two women were arrested on second-degree trespassing charges….

A group of about a dozen women and children voluntarily left the property.

Members of Occupied Forces Hawaii identify themselves as a Hawaiian sovereignty group, dress in military outfits and claim military titles….

SA: Occupied Forces Hawaii Army members arrested at Kunia property

read … 6 arrests made as authorities seek to evict paramilitary group from Kunia property

FBI investigating HPD officers accused of brutality that sent suspect to hospital

HNN: … Two Honolulu police officers are on restricted duty after a suspected case of excessive force that sent a burglary suspect to the hospital.

Souriya Xoumanivong was arrested in the overnight hours of June 2020 at a home near Diamond Head Road.

Police were called for a possible burglary in progress.

According to court records, officers found Xoumanivong and another man in the attic of the vacant home.

By the time Xoumanivong was put into a police car and arrested for burglary, he had a broken orbital bone, a cut above his eye that required stitches and other injuries to his face.

In a court filing, his public defender wrote that Xoumanivong was “assaulted by Officer Corey Morgan while he was helpless, handcuffed, and totally compliant.”….

read … FBI investigating HPD officers accused of brutality that sent suspect to hospital

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