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Tuesday, August 9, 2022
August 9, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:59 PM :: 3346 Views

Mental Health Pandemic for Youth

EPA fine leads to Hawaii DLNR acting on illegal cesspools

Campaign Spending Commission investigates COVID testing company that got big city contract

HNN: … The state Campaign Spending Commission is investigating one of the companies that was awarded a multi-million dollar COVID testing contract by former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration.

Hawaii News Now has learned that the commission has subpoenaed the bank records of two employees of Capture Diagnostics, which is part of a consortium awarded a $19.5 million emergency contract in 2020 for the city’s testing program at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.

The commission is looking at whether the company reimbursed the employees who gave a total of $10,000 to the Caldwell campaign in November 2021.

Campaign finance experts said the allegations are serious.

An attorney for one of the Capture Diagnostic employees — Wes Yonamine — said the commission subpoenaed his client’s bank records back in April. He said he hasn’t had any communications with the commission since.

The commission has also subpoenaed the bank accounts of another employee Jordan Kurokawa, who works as compliance administrator and project coordinator for Capture Diagnostics.

Kurokawa’s father is Gary Kurokawa who was Caldwell’s former chief of staff. Gary Kurokawa signed off on the airport testing contract….

He said his son’s contribution to the Caldwell campaign came from a joint account that he and Jordan Kurokawa share for their real estate appraisal business….

read … Campaign Spending Commission investigates COVID testing company that got big city contract

District Two Campaign Money Flows to Crime Families

CB: … In the District 2 race, which covers the North Shore, Makua Rothman is the front-runner for fundraising and spending.

He reported spending $25,048 last month on entertainment for rallies and professional services, for a total of $98,126 in the entire election period. In the past seven months, he spent $20,000 on professional services from Hawaii Leadership Solutions and $12,440 on professional services at Wilkerson Public Affairs.

Rothman also raised $17,061 in July for a total of $117,877. 

(Makua’s father is Eddie Rothman. Confused?  Read “Interview: Drug Dealing N. Shore Anti-GMO Leader Has 'Penchant for Violence'”)

But Weyer stepped up his game in July, spending $42,848 and raising $26,112 for election totals of $78,409  and $87,277 so far. Weyer's campaign spent most of the money last month on printing and mailing literature as well as newspaper ads.

Chad Tsuneyoshi, outgoing Council member Heidi Tsuneyoshi’s ex-husband, reported raising $36,900 last month, totaling $60,010 for the election. He spent $6,656 on radio ads, mailers, a fundraiser and banner supplies.

(Read about Chad's behind the scenes political efforts in previous campaigns: "Cocaine: Another Tsuneyoshi Running for Honolulu Council.")

Laie Community Association member Lupe Funaki reported raising $1,543 and spending $60 last month.

Farmer and North Shore Neighborhood Board Vice-Chair Racquel Achiu reported raising $4,374 and spending $5,648 last month….

Background: Cocaine News Update: Is Council District 2 Reserved for Crime Families?

read … Honolulu City Council Candidates Spend Big Bucks On Campaigns As Primary Nears

Armed Robber Running for State House 14 - Lahaina

MN: … A grassroots Kahana resident goes head-to-head with a longtime West Maui council member in the Democratic primary for the House District 14 seat, a new district created from the state’s reapportionment process that encompasses nearly all of West Maui.

Kanamu Balinbin, a father of four and business owner, ran for political office and lost to incumbent Angus McKelvey in the 2020 race for District 10, but says he is running again to be the voice for the community and maintain the integrity of the people, land and coastal areas.

Former Maui County Council Member Elle Cochran, (the former armed robber) who held the West Maui residency seat from 2011 to 2019 and fell short in the mayoral election against Michael Victorino in 2018, says she is focused on preserving community traditions, protecting the environment and growing a circular economy to create opportunity for the next generations.

In 2016, (convicted armed robber) Cochran successfully defended her council seat against Balinbin; the winner of this year’s rematch will move on to the general election to face Republican Kelly Armstrong and Aloha Aina candidate Leonard “Junya” Nakoa III, both of whom have no opponent in the primary….

2018: Former Armed Robber Running for Maui Mayor

read … Balinbin, Cochran face off again, this time for the House

Bribery: 31 Hawaii lawmakers return $142,000 from besieged executive

SA: … The former vice chair of the House Committee on Finance who pleaded guilty in February to accepting bribes in the form of cash and casino chips from a Honolulu wastewater systems executive is among 31 state and county lawmakers to return more than $142,000 in campaign contributions from the owner of H20 Process Systems, according to the state Campaign Spending Commission.

Ty J.K. Cullen, 41, pleaded guilty in federal court Feb. 15 to a single felony count of honest services wire fraud for failing to report the alleged bribes in his electronic legislative gift disclosure report.

On Monday, Cullen joined a list of current and former lawmakers by returning $9,000 in campaign contributions from Milton J. Choy, owner of H20 Process Systems and Fluid Technologies….

In all, 31 current or former lawmakers have returned $142,650 to the commission. House Finance Committee Chair Sylvia Luke returned the most money, $25,100, followed by Senate President Ron Kouchi, who gave $14,000 to the commission, and state Senate Vice President Michelle Kidani, who gave back $11,950, according to state records.

Current and former county mayors also returned money donated by Choy.

Former Mayor Kirk Caldwell returned $8,500 to the state Campaign Spending Commission, followed by Honolulu Mayor Rick Blan­giardi, whose campaign gave back $7,500, and Maui Mayor Mike Victorino, who gave back $6,000….

Milton Choy, Jarret Choy, two other family members and two business managers of wastewater and industrial equipment companies H2O Process Systems LLC and Fluid Technologies, owned by Choy, have donated $268,046 to candidates for Hawaii office since 2014.

Choy has been represented by Honolulu attorney Michael Green for several years….

PDF: Milton Choy Contributions

read … Hawaii lawmakers return $142,000 from besieged executive

Political attack ads draw the attention of the state Campaign Spending Commission

KITV: … A complaint was filed against Victory Calls.

It has targeted attack ads against Josh Green, who is running for Governor.

Which it is allowed to do as a Super PAC.

But the complaint alleges the effort is a coordinated one as some of the largest donors to the Super PAC have also donated to Vicky Cayetano's campaign for Governor.

When asked about the allegations, Cayetano's Communications Director told KITV:

"The Vicky Cayetano for Governor Campaign is not a party to the complaint, and therefore has no comment."

If the commission finds there is coordination it could cost the candidate. Those ads would be considered contributions and would likely be over the contribution limit. The commission will hear the complaint Wednesday but if there is a resulting investigation, any results may not come until after the primary election….

read … Political attack ads draw the attention of the state Campaign Spending Commission

Total Fail: After Giving Millions to HSTA, Teacher shortage in Hawaii could reach up to a thousand vacancies

KITV: …  Thousands of public school teachers will be getting a pay raise -- anywhere from $7,000 to $26,000 a year -- which is helping to prevent some teachers from retiring. Despite that, the Hawaii State Teacher's Association still predicts a major shortage of teachers this year.

HSTA President Osa Tui Jr. says that although the official numbers from the Department of Education will be released in October, he says the number of teachers needed could reach 1,000. The Hawaii State Teachers Association represents 13,500 educators on campuses in state, with the majority being teachers….

read … Teacher shortage in Hawaii could reach up to a thousand vacancies

Rolling Blackouts: Wakai says, ‘I told you so’

KITV: … Seven of Hawaii’s renewable energy projects that were supposed to replace coal were delayed until at least 2023, meaning Honolulu will be running that portion of the electric grid on oil and its volatile market.

Government data for May showed that Hawaii pays 37% more than the second most expensive state, California, when it comes to electricity. Hawaii’s rates are 65% higher than the national average.

When the AES coal plant closes on Sept. 1, there will be a puka for HECO customers on Oahu to pay an anticipated 7% more on their bills starting in October.

Sen. Wakai said he tried to get Act 23, which banned the extension of the AES plant to use coal, to make concessions as he saw renewable projects being delayed.

“I talked to AES, I talked to HECO I talked to the environmentalists I got no traction on the idea of not repealing the law but giving HECO some flexibility to extend past September of this year,” Sen. Wakai said. “There was no interest back then.”…

(Translation: ‘I told you so.’)

Many of the renewable projects have been delayed by COVID shutdowns in China, (and Muslim slaves in Xinjiang, ooops!) but also permitting hurdles.

“For the long term, we really need to put our foot on the accelerator and get these renewable projects out the door quicker. The permitting process is too cumbersome and HECO is partially to blame too,” Sen. Wakai said. “There’s this issue called interconnection, once you put the power plant up it takes HECO a while to say yes developer you can send me your surge of power, HECO still holds the key to that part of it. We need to hasten the permitting process and hasten the interconnection process.” ….

PBN: Business reacts to electric bill bump following coal plant shutdown

Big Q: What’s your reaction to Oahu energy bills rising by about $15 monthly — 7% on average — due to shutdown of the AES coal power plant?

read … Wakai calls for accelerated permitting as rates skyrocket

Honolulu businesses wait eight months or more for building permits

PBN: … I learned a lot by sitting in on reporter Christina O’Connor’s recent roundtable with folks from the restaurant industry.

Among their top concerns is the length of time it takes to get a building permit out of the City & County of Honolulu’s Department of Planning Permitting. One restaurateur has been paying his monthly lease, and some staff so he doesn’t lose them in the current labor shortage, for eight months while waiting for the permit to start the construction he needs to open.

I’ll repeat that, for emphasis: Eight. Months.

Small businesses are desperately trying to get back to something like normal and local government is holding them back instead of helping….

read … Honolulu businesses wait eight months or more for building permits

Why can’t EUTF process my enrollment?

SA: … EUTF “went live” with a new benefits administration system May 5, and the rollout has been rocky, affecting not only recent retirees like you, but also existing employees and new hires. EUTF couldn’t process enrollment forms between April 6 and May 5, causing a backlog, and once the new system did launch, various problems arose with the new software, compounding the delays, EUTF said in notices posted on its website….

KHON: Thousands of retired public workers without coverage after glitch in system

read … Why can’t EUTF process my enrollment?

Fueled by doubts, hundreds of Hawaii Republicans sign up as election observers

HNN: … “Some of them (observers) came in thinking there was a lot of fraud, corruption and conspiracy,” said Kam.

“Once they saw the process, once they saw how we opened the envelopes ... how we stacked the ballots up, how we processed it, it kind of opened their eyes and they said, ‘oh yeah, well this is good,’” he added.

Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago said the Republican Party of Hawaii sent about 200 people to be volunteer observers this year. In a typical year, the state Office of Elections would be lucky to get only 50. Officials say they have heard some people think the 2020 election was stolen, but they don’t have an official number….

read … Fueled by doubts, hundreds of Hawaii Republicans sign up as election observers 

Deadline to mail election ballots

KHON: … With five days until the Primary Election, expect to see a finish push from the candidates….

So far, more than 166,000 mail-in ballots have been collected statewide as of Saturday. On Oahu, officials received 275,000 ballots in the 2020 Primary Election.

“At this point in time with about five days to go, we’re about 130,000 returned ballots on Oahu through today. So it is lagging a bit behind,” said Glen Takahashi, City Clerk….

Elections officials are advising voters to mail in ballots by Tuesday. After that, the best bet is to drop off ballots at various voter service centers like Kapolei Hale or Honolulu Hale. There are 15 total places of deposit on Oahu including the pop-up voter service center in Wahiawa that opened Monday and will close on Friday….

Individuals that don’t mail their ballots on time, may place their ballot in a ballot drop at their designated county locations before 7 p.m. on primary day.

“If you’re not registered the only way to vote is to go to a voter service center and you can register in person as well as vote in person at the same time,” Nago said.

The primary election is on Saturday, Aug. 13.

On Oahu, the Honolulu Hale and Kapolei Hale locations will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and on Saturday, August 13 from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

On Oahu, there is a pop-up Voter Service Center open from Monday, Aug. 8 to Friday, Aug. 12 at the George Fred Wright Wahiawa District Park.

“It’s important that ballots be received by 7 p.m. on Aug. 13 not postmarked,” said Nago.

For a list of locations visit the elections website….

read … Deadline to mail election ballots

RIMPAC: Tankers central as military looks beyond Red Hill

SA: … During previous RIMPAC exercises, the Red Hill fuel reserve was tapped. In 2018 the facility provided upward of 19 million gallons of fuel to participating U.S. and foreign ships and aircraft, according to a Navy news release at the time. This year participating troops had to make due without Red Hill fuel, instead relying on military oilers and commercially contracted tankers.

“The silver lining is it forced us to hone … at-sea skills,” said Vice Adm. Michael Boyle, commander of the Navy’s San Diego-based 3rd Fleet and the officer who led Combined Task Force RIMPAC during this year’s exercise….

SA Editorial: Get Facts Straight on Red Hill Water

read … RIMPAC: Tankers central as military looks beyond Red Hill

Skin Cancer News: Hawaii County joins Maui with passage of law banning nonmineral sunscreens

SA: … dermatologists such as Dr. Robert Shapiro of Hilo, who specializes in skin cancer, oppose the Hawaii County ban on all nonmineral sunscreens, citing health concerns.

“I am very concerned about how this ban will affect the number of people who may develop skin cancers on Hawaii Island,” said Shapiro in a statement. “As dermatologists, we always encourage our patients to use sunscreen daily, not only at the beach, but when doing anything outside, like running, cycling, yardwork, or playing sports.”

He continued, “With only mineral sunscreens available to Hawaii Island residents, I’m especially concerned that this bill will take away the sunscreens that people use most often, which will cause people to skip sunscreen all together.”

Shapiro said Hawaii already has the highest rate of UV-caused melanoma in the nation and that the ban will likely exacerbate the problem….

read … Hawaii County joins Maui with passage of law banning nonmineral sunscreens

Sources: Gun scare in Waikiki may have stemmed from drug deal

HNN: … The witness, who asked to remain anonymous, told HNN just minutes prior to all the chaos she was relaxing on the beach with her family ― within earshot of the suspect.

Sources say he was arguing with a known drug dealer next to one of the pavilions.

“They were just cussing at each other,” the woman told HNN.

“The gentleman wearing the black beanie was wearing a black backpack. He took it off. He put it in front of him. I just heard him saying, ‘I’m just so tired of you disrespecting me.’”

She says she saw the suspect put his hand into the backpack.

“I saw him just pulling the gun. Not fully. But just holding the handle,” she said. “And I was just worried that if he, you know, shoots the guy and misses that I was going to take that bullet.”

That’s when she got her family out of there and told a lifeguard what she saw.

She says police were there almost immediately.

When officers confronted the suspect the witness said he started to run.

“And then he pulled the gun out,” she said….

(CLUE: Reactive policing.  Do nothing about the ongoing crime until one criminal does something that cannot be ignored.)

read … Sources: Gun scare in Waikiki may have stemmed from drug deal

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