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Friday, July 15, 2022
July 15, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:48 PM :: 4262 Views

DOH: Masking optional in updated school guidance

Governor comes through on ‘gut and replace’ but disappoints on emergency powers reform

Convicted Felon Sentenced to 80 Months in Prison for Firearm Possession During Drug Crime

$1.8M Bribes Net $10.9M affordable housing credits--Feds Bust Former County Employee

HTH: … Alan Scott Rudo, a housing community development specialist from 2006 to 2018, is set to appear before Magistrate Judge Rom Trader in Honolulu for initial appearance, waiver of indictment, arraignment and plea to the felony information provided by federal prosecutors, according to court records.

Prosecutors charge that Rudo worked with two attorneys and one other individual to create three limited liability companies to benefit from fraudulently putting the companies forward as developers of affordable housing. Those three companies, as well as at least two other limited liability companies and two trusts, were used to distribute affordable housing credits, land and money. The companies are not named in the federal information document filed in court.

The scheme netted at least $10.9 million in affordable housing credits and a land conveyance, which were then sold, with the proceeds distributed among the conspirators, with Rudo’s share of at least $1.8 million “constituting bribes and kickbacks received in return for his official acts in obtaining the County’s approval,” prosecutors said in a July 11 document.

The properties included three lots totaling 13 acres in Kealakehe Homesteads in Kailua-Kona, 11.8 acres in Waikoloa and 4.6 acres in South Kohala.

“Rudo took official acts that allowed those companies to receive land and (affordable housing credits), all while concealing his personal interest and involvement in the companies, and the fact that he would receive proceeds derived from (affordable housing agreements) and transactions approved by the County,” the prosecutors charge.

County Housing Administrator Susan Kunz, formerly known as Susan Akiyama, who signed off on two of the three affordable housing agreements cited in the federal documents, said her office has been cooperating with federal investigators …. 

KHON: Rudo is cooperating with prosecutors

PDF: US v Rudo

PDF: “Rajesh Budhabhatti is a subject of a public corruption/wire fraud case.”

June 29, 2022: He Owned the Land for Just a Day, But Received 212 Credits from County

June, 2022: Fatal Building Collapse in South Dakota Laid to LLC Owned by Honua‘ula Officer  --  “The property in Kona that is being leased by Honua‘ula is owned by West View Developments, LLC, an entity registered with the state in 2014. Its manager is Rajesh Budhabhatti of Pahoa. In the company’s 2020 filing, he was still listed as the sole manager, but the address had shifted to a post office box in Kona, one that is shared with Alan Rudo, a former employee of the county housing office. West View did not file the required annual report for 2021 and the state’s Business Registration Division considers the company to be not in good standing.”

read … Former county employee charged in affordable housing credit scheme

Hawaii law could break years-long astronomy impasse

Nature: … Many steps remain. The first is to identify individuals to make up the new Maunakea management authority — they are likely to be appointed by the governor — and then get it set up to take over all the administrative and management tasks that the university has been overseeing. The state legislature will also need to provide money to fund the group beyond the US$14 million allocated for its first year.

And then there is still the question of the TMT. It has a permit to proceed with construction but has not yet done so, given tensions on the mountain. Last November, the project got a much-needed boost when the US decadal survey of funding priorities in astronomy and astrophysics recommended that it move forwards. The US National Science Foundation (NSF) is now considering whether to provide funding for the project, which does not have enough money to completely build the telescope with its partners in the United States, China, Canada, India and Japan.

If the NSF decides to join the TMT, at an estimated cost of $800 million, at least one-quarter of the telescope’s time would be open to observers from around the United States. It would also trigger a federal review of how the telescope’s construction could affect Maunakea that would need to be completed before the work could begin….

read … Hawaii law could break years-long astronomy impasse

Does Our State Government Have Too Many Boxes?

CB: … Is the way in which government is organized smart? How do organization boxes affect government operations? ….

read … Does Our State Government Have Too Many Boxes? 

Media warned over 'drowning islands' climate change narrative

RNZ: …The media has been taken to task for doom-laden climate crisis presentations, in a speech at an international workshop, and told to tell the full story.

Former Marshall Islands president Hilda Heine made the comments as the keynote speaker at the East West Centre's international media conference in Hawaii.

She said the media could sharpen people's awareness about climate change, but too often the audience was overwhelmed with the problem, while there was little discussion of the solutions.

This could leave the public with an overall sense of powerlessness, she said, and suggested media should also uncover stories about sustainability.

"For example, in the dry and frequently drought-ridden northern Marshall Islands, families there place high value on sun-dried food preservation processes - for seafood as well as seasonal local food plants, including pulp from the pandanus fruit - we call it nogun."…

read … Media warned over 'drowning islands' climate change narrative

Board of Education approves superintendent’s $240,000 annual contract

SA: … The formal contract officially making Keith Hayashi the next state superintendent of Hawaii’s massive public school system was approved Thursday by the state Board of Education.

In separate actions, the board also elected Damien “Kaimana” Barcarse its new vice chair and added its approval to previously bargained salary increases for principals and other school leaders.

Hayashi’s contract is for a three-year term retroactive to July 1, with an annual salary of $240,000, the same salary earned by his predecessor, Christina Kishimoto. The state Legislature has set the maximum compensation for the state superintendent at $250,000….

read … Board of Education approves superintendent’s $240,000 annual contract

Niu Valley man, 20, gets life in prison for attempted murder in Kahala Beach stabbing

SA: … A Circuit Court judge sentenced Erik Willis, the 20-year-old Niu Valley man convicted of attempted murder in the 2020 stabbing of a 17-year-old girl on Kahala Beach, to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Judge Kevin Souza also ordered Willis to pay $83,689.82 in restitution to the state’s MedQuest Division to cover the victim’s medical bills.

A jury found Willis guilty on April 7 of second-degree attempted murder in the apparently random attack of Melia Kalahiki. She was alone on the beach and testified she did not know Willis….

Seitz said he would file an appeal. He also requested the judge exclude and redact from the presentencing report the attached police report, which contains evidence that was suppressed by the court.

The judge ordered that the police report attached to the July 1 presentencing report be stricken, so that a parole board or anyone else would not use that evidence.

The evidence of Kalahiki’s blood found on a shoe taken from the home was not allowed into evidence because the search by police of Willis’ home was warrantless.

Seitz, in a declaration he made on Nov. 16, 2020, said that police entered Willis’ grandparents’ home without a warrant….

RELATED: Kahala Beach Stabber is Grandson of former Judicial Selection Chair--Did he get special treatment?

read …. Niu Valley man, 20, gets life in prison for attempted murder in Kahala Beach stabbing

Homeless Kick Beach Boys out of Waikiki Pavilion

KITV: … Henski's sense of security while strolling along the strip, however, has faded over the years due to what many consider rampant homelessness and drug activity in the area….

Surfboard rental company Pacific Island Beach Boys used to operate out of Pavilion 4 and still rents another pavilion and beach stand.

But on June 30, the owners formally notified the city it was pulling out of pavilion 4. One of the company's owners told KITV-4 they vacated the property due to the homeless issue. …

read … City looks to replace vendor for Waikiki pavilion plagued by homelessness

Survey: Big Isle Needs Lots of Psychiatrists Badly

HTH: … Psychiatry and mental health counseling are the Big Island’s two most needed types of health care, according to an islandwide survey completed in March by Community First Hawaii, a nonprofit with a goal of improving access to health care throughout the state.

The survey polled more than 2,248 community members and health care professionals from Hawaii County, revealing staffing shortages and low morale within the medical community. The results are intended to help expand access and guide potential improvements for the Big Island’s health care industry….

“The takeaway is that the time for talk is long past,” Community First Hawaii Executive Director Randy Kurohara said about the results. “Our community is calling for urgent action to improve access to care for all of us.”

Roughly 76% of health care professionals believed there was a short supply of mental health counseling, and 70% reported an ongoing need for psychiatrists.

“It’s an imbalance that is deeply troubling,” said Kurohara. “Especially as the need for services continues to grow in the fallout of the unprecedented strain and trauma of the pandemic that many experienced.”

The survey also addressed medical staffing shortages, with 76% of those polled believing a lack of physicians was the biggest barrier when accessing health care services.

“The physician shortage is a tremendous problem, and one of the highest priorities for us to address as a community,” Kurohara said. “It’s particularly acute on the neighbor islands and in rural communities, which is also where folks have the biggest barriers around transportation.”…

read … Survey IDs deficiencies in Big Isle health care

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