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Wednesday, August 17, 2022
August 17, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:01 PM :: 2765 Views

How to reduce permit delays for Hawaii homebuilding

GAO Study Looks at Shipping Rates to Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico, and other noncontiguous U.S. lands

Hawaii Homicides Double Over Last Decade

Death Rate for Hawaii Police Officers 13th-Highest in USA

5 arrests tied to theft, fraud probe at Honolulu airport--State AG Keeps Feds out of So-Called Investigation

SA: … At least five former and current state Department of Transportation workers assigned to Daniel K. Inouye International Airport have been arrested in connection with a long-running felony theft, conspiracy and procurement fraud probe conducted by investigators with the state Department of the Attorney General.

The first arrests appear to have occurred shortly after April 8, 2021, when investigators executed a search warrant at the airport’s Maintenance Section Airfield and Grounds Maintenance Unit Facility, also known as the base yard. The facility is operated by DOT’s Airport Division. Two workers with job titles “auto mechanic supervisor II” and “general construction &maintenance supervisor,” respectively, were arrested, according to the Attorney General’s Office and a booking log maintained at the airport by state sheriff’s deputies.

Both are no longer employed by the DOT; the auto mechanic supervisor departed in July, and the other supervisor separated in November.

Arrested next, on April 9, 2021, was an employee with the job title “automotive mechanic helper I,” followed by the arrest of a “purchasing technician I” on Nov. 9. Both are still employed by DOT.

The most recent arrest in the case occurred March 10 when an employee with the title “engineer III” was arrested. None of the five people — all arrested on suspicion of second-degree theft — have been charged. Second-degree theft is a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison…..

(If the feds were doing this, they would squeeze these manini charges for info on airport drug runners.)

“The DOT has three divisions and does discipline employees for misconduct, performance, or other reasons. In a general response, the DOT has disciplined employees for misconduct since January 2021 on all islands and all three divisions,” Jai Cunningham, public information officer for the Department of Trans‑ portation, told the Star- Advertiser.

Due to privacy reasons and appeals to issued discipline decisions being at “various stages of administrative processes,” Cunningham said, the DOT cannot release the names of employees until cases are settled by way of arbitration or a merit appeals board decision.

(Translation: They will be reinstated with back pay.)

In regard to the ongoing investigation, the FBI is poised to assist “if we receive a request from our partners,” special agent in charge of the FBI’s Honolulu division, Steven Merrill, told the Star-Advertiser.

(Translation: The AG is keeping the Feds out.)

He added, “However, our law enforcement partners often have the resources and specialized skills they need to investigate a matter and do not involve the FBI unless they develop information to suggest a violation of federal law.”

(Translation: The AG has been very careful to NOT find violations of federal law.)

Background: Mehau in Majuro – How the US Meth Epidemic Began

Background: Big Win for Mafia: Biden Appoints AG Connors US Attorney

read … 5 arrests tied to theft, fraud probe at Honolulu airport

Rail: Ige Outraged by Carpenter’s Election Takeover

CB: … Ige was also the subject of attack ads from Be Change Now, the super PAC backed by the construction industry and Pacific Resource Partnership. In 2018, the PAC backed Ige’s opponent Colleen Hanabusa, and ran ads reminding voters of the time Ige forgot his Twitter password during the false missile alert crisis in early 2018.

PRP, a partnership between the Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters and more than 200 local contractors, and its supporters typically back pro-rail candidates and others involved in the construction industry.

Ige said he never had PRP’s support and declined to speculate on what, if any, political motivations other than the rail project may cause PRP and its related PACs to support the candidates.

Be Change Now previously has said that it backs candidates with “strong records of supporting working families” and opposes those who don’t.

Although the super PAC’s advertising efforts may not have paid off in the LG’s race, eight other candidates it supports did win their primary elections including gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Josh Green, House Speaker Scott Saiki and a slate of county council candidates.

Although Ige and other policymakers may not like the presence of super PACs in Hawaii elections, elected officials have few options for dealing with them. The landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Citizens United v. FEC protects political donations made by private entities….

“The whole notion that companies and people can make unlimited contributions to these super PACs just distorts the whole campaign environment,” Ige said Tuesday…

As Explained: HCR29: Legislators Vote to Abolish ERS, End Free Speech for Star-Advertiser

read … Gov. David Ige Rails Against Super PAC Attacks During Hawaii’s Primary

Differences emerge between Aiona and new running mate

SA: …There are some ideological differences between Hawaii gubernatorial Republican running mates James “Duke” Aiona and Seaula Tupai Jr., especially when it comes to abortion and gun control.

Aiona, a two-time former lieutenant governor, is now making his third run for the governor’s office and told the Honolulu Star- Advertiser that he has met Tupai, a Hilo-based minister, who won the primary race for lieutenant governor.

“He’s more on the conservative side,” Aiona, 67, said of Tupai, calling him “new.”….

“In the state of Hawaii abortion is legal, and the Legislature will determine the future of abortion in Hawaii; that’s not the role of the governor,” Aiona said.

He called Tupai “a pro-life advocate. Some people are a little bit emotional on that, and I’m not sure what his emotions are.”

Asked about their views on gun control, especially in an island state with some of the strictest regulations in the nation, Aiona said, “While I might believe in the Second Amendment, I know there’s limitations. He might think I’m a little too restrictive.”

Tupai writes on his campaign website that women considering abortion should “save the lives they carry in their wombs by linking them with couples and individuals wanting to adopt as well as with adoption organizations.”

He also says that the Second Amendment “gives citizens the right to carry handguns outside their homes to protect themselves from deadly criminals. … We would come against red flag laws and ghost bans that don’t advocate for the people of Hawaii’s right to own and bear firearms.”….

read … Differences emerge between Aiona and new running mate

Committee postpones emergency management bill: Questions surround media suspension and civil disturbances

HTH: … Constitutional questions around suspension of electronic media coverage and what constitutes a civil disturbance had a County Council panel on Tuesday postpone a sweeping emergency management bill so it could be clarified.

Bill 195 aims to define the duties and responsibilities of the county Civil Defense Agency and the mayor’s authority and responsibility, while providing for coordination of mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery among county agencies and officials as well as state and federal governments and other private and quasi-official organizations.

Members of the council Committee on Parks and Recreation and Public Safety by and large praised the bill for being comprehensive and a necessary update of a part of county code last updated in the 1980s. The state law underwent a comprehensive update in 2017.

But a clause giving the mayor the power to, “suspend electronic media transmission,” “to the extent permitted by or under Federal law” under a declared emergency raised a number of questions, as did an introductory clause including “civil disturbances” as cause for emergency actions.

Puna Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz, who drafted the bill with input from Civil Defense and Corporation Counsel, asked that the bill be held in committee in order for her to present amendments when it comes back on Sept. 6….

RELATED: Emergency Management Bill raises eyebrows over power to suspend media coverage

read …  Committee postpones emergency management bill: Questions surround media suspension and civil disturbances

Ex-councilman sues county to recoup legal fees

HTH: …Former County Council Chairman Dominic Yagong is suing Hawaii County for $306,000 in legal fees he says he incurred successfully defending himself against a defamation lawsuit….

…The complaint stems from a 2012 lawsuit by two county employees, then-Elections Administrator Patricia Nakamoto and elections clerk Shyla Ayau, who claimed they were defamed and their reputations besmirched by Yagong, then the council chairman, and Jamae Kawauchi, then the county clerk.

At issue was a Jan. 12, 2012, newspaper article, written by then-Tribune-Herald reporter Jason Armstrong, in which Kawauchi identified Nakamoto, Ayau and two other county employees who were fired.

The case was appealed to the Hawaii Supreme Court, which dismissed the case against Kawauchi, saying the comments attributed to her in the article weren’t defamatory because they were true.

The county settled earlier this year with Nakamoto and Ayau and agreed to pay them $135,000, to be divided between the two how they deemed fit….

BACKGROUND:

read … Ex-councilman sues county to recoup legal fees

Sandwich Isles Communications Goes On War Path Against PUC and Consumer Advocate

IM: … Albert S.N. Hee, the former president of Sandwich Isles Communications, was convicted in federal court on seven counts of tax fraud, engaging in a 10-year scheme of corruptly interfering with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the calculation and collection of his taxes, and for filing six false individual tax returns.

Hee used his company to pay approximately $2.9 million of his personal expenses.

The Federal Communications Commission found that Sandwich Isles cost to provide service to 2439 DHHL customers was over $858 per line per month. “Sandwich Isles’ corporate expenses are 623 percent greater than the average for companies of similar size with the highest corporate operations expenses.”

The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission opened a proceeding on March 11, 2022, "Instituting an Emergency Investigative Proceeding Regarding Sandwich Isles Communications, Inc.’ s Fitness, Willingness, and Ability to Continue Providing Telecommunications Services to its Customers on Lands Administered by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands."…

"SIC must provide responsive information and/or documentation to the above IRs by no later than August 22, 2022."

CB: Sandwich Isles Communications says the state agency is on a “witch hunt” and is resisting providing information about its financial status.

read … Sandwich Isles Communications Goes On War Path Against PUC and Consumer Advocate

Honolulu Police Department reviewing results of personnel survey

SA: … Honolulu police leadership is reviewing the results of an internal survey sent to 1,820 officers and 400 civilian personnel to help shape the future of the department.

About 50% of the recipients returned their survey by the Aug. 15 deadline, Chief Arthur J. Logan told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in an interview.

Logan and his leadership team will spend the next 60 to 90 days reviewing the results and working them into Logan’s strategic vision for evolving the department to become what the community and officers want to see for the next five to 20 years, he said….

read … Honolulu Police Department reviewing results of personnel survey

Officers suspected in brutality case retain attorneys ahead of anticipated federal charges

HNN: … Two suspects are arrested and Morgan is escorting one of them, Souriya Xoumanivong, out of the home.

Xoumanivong is handcuffed, but Morgan is seen on multiple videos ― including his own ― shoving Xoumanivong’s head into a shelf and then punching him for no apparent reason.

Xoumanivong had to go to the hospital for stitches. He also had broken bones and other injuries to his face….

read … Officers suspected in brutality case retain attorneys ahead of anticipated federal charges

Dialysis clinics unable to keep up with demand as kidney disease grows in Hawaii

KITV: … Oahu's newest dialysis clinic -- Liberty Dialysis -- held an open house today on the Waianae Coast, the home of many Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders who comprise almost 20 percent of those with kidney failure in the islands….

Hawaii has more than 5,700 patients on dialysis and that population is growing at about 5% every year. And dialysis clinics are unable to keep up with the demand….

SA: New dialysis clinic in Nanakuli fills growing need

read … Dialysis clinics unable to keep up with demand as kidney disease grows in Hawaii

Latest Attack on Fishing Fleet Fails

CB: … A new Hawaii Supreme Court decision upholds the local longline fleet’s reliance on some 700 foreign fishermen who can’t legally leave the dock when their boats arrive in Honolulu Harbor.

Specifically, the opinion, released Thursday, ruled that it’s OK for state officials to grant commercial licenses to those fishermen confined to the pier, even though they have no legal status in the U.S.

It’s permissible, the court said, because Hawaii’s fleet of 140 or so longline vessels fish for ahi and other fresh seafood only in the deep ocean — not in the state-designated waters closer to shore…. 

SA: Fishing licenses allowed for longline boats with foreign workers, Hawaii Supreme Court says

read … State Supreme Court: Hawaii Longline Industry’s Use Of Foreign Crews OK

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