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Tuesday, August 30, 2022
August 30, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:56 PM :: 2102 Views

HECO Warns of Rolling Blackouts on Big Island

Tourist Count Reaches 92.4% of Pre-COVID Number

Increase In ‘Violent, Brazen’ Crime On Oahu

CB: … The number of murders, aggravated assaults, forcible sex assaults and robberies on the island climbed about 5.6% in the first seven months of the year compared to the same period a year earlier, according to the statistics….

officials expressed concern about some worrisome trends on the island, with recent headline-grabbing events displaying a disturbing quality: panicked tourists on Waikiki Beach fleeing a man brandishing a gun; a pregnant woman shot dead at a Chinatown bus stop; a 7-Eleven employee charged with attempted murder after lopping off a customer’s hand with a sword.

(Translation: It could be bad for tourism.)

“Violent crime is increasing, absolutely,” said Bobby Cavaco, president of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, who blamed the problem on the dwindling police presence on the streets. He also cited the growth in drug use and mental illness, along with the reopening of bars, which has led to a return of boozy brawls….

Crimes of aggression “occur now daily or almost daily,” Cavaco said, compared to five or 10 years ago. The incidents also are odder, too, he said, such as the man who was murdered and encased in concrete in a bathtub.

There is some good news: The statistics indicate that property crime declined 18% in that same period. Burglaries, thefts from cars and car thefts also dropped. Historically, that was the major source of crime in Hawaii, and one that experts have linked in large part to drug use.

Murders rose 28.6% on Oahu, from 14 in the first seven months of 2021 to 18 through July of this year…. 

read … An Increase In ‘Violent, Brazen’ Crime Raises Concerns On Oahu

Hawaii’s meth trade resembles ‘Breaking Bad’

KHON: … A federal agent said the meth scene in Hawaii is like a scene out of the hit television show Breaking Bad: labs in Mexico making potent, cheap meth and sending it across the United States, including here in the islands….

“It’s never been worse. For the past four decades. Meth has been Hawaii’s greatest drug threat,” Hawaii High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Executive Director Gary Yabuta said.

He said crystal meth far outpaces any other kind of overdose-causing drugs in Hawaii.

Officials said 184 of the 226 drug-related deaths in Hawaii in 2021 were meth. The problem might be getting worse.

“This year alone we have seized, law enforcement has seized in Hawaii 1,230 pounds of methamphetamine and that exceeds last year’s total in 2021 with law enforcement seizing 966 pounds,” Yabuta said.

It has been the same story in treatment facilities.

“Most of the people that come to us from Hawaii have methamphetamine problems, I would say about 70% of the people on our program have struggled with meth use,” Habilitat Executive Director Jeff Nash said.

According to Nash, much of the problem with treatment in the islands is funding.

“It’s crazy to me, but there’s not really a detox center on the island,” Nash said. “The only way you can get detox from a drug is to go to the hospital, which is obviously very, very expensive to do that. So we don’t have a detox center and in my opinion, we need a much more robust effort to do prevention with children, young children in schools, and then I think we need to fund the treatment programs that do exist.”

According to Yabuta, the last reported meth lab in Hawaii was seven years ago. He said it now comes in through cartels because it’s higher quality and cheaper. HIDTA said heroin costs about $120 to $160 a gram while meth can be as low as $40….

KHON: Woman accused of having 2lbs of meth in carry-on posts $30K bail

read … Hawaii’s meth trade resembles ‘Breaking Bad’

Manoa community on edge after Meth-Addled neighbor fires dozens of gunshots into walls of home

HNN: … An Oahu community is on edge and worried that a dangerous neighbor with a drug addiction could be released from jail.

The man’s family is among those who want him to stay locked up after, they say, he went berserk with a gun.

At around 7:15 p.m. Thursday, police responded to a home on Halelani Drive in Manoa and arrested a 46-year-old man.

According to the suspect’s family, the man fired dozens of shots into the walls of his home….

His family also says he was high on meth.

HPD said the case was reclassified to second-degree reckless endangering, which is a misdemeanor after conferring with the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney.

His bail was set at $2,000….

The man’s family said they begged police for a mental health evaluation.

They said they later learned an on-call judge refused to confine him for his mental health condition.

HPD wouldn’t confirm that or if this case could qualify for Hawaii’s new “red flag” law allowing a court to remove a person’s guns….

(Suddenly HPD finds the one person whose 2nd Amendment rights they want to protect!)

read … Manoa community on edge after neighbor fires dozens of gunshots into walls of home

August on Oahu: 1000+ robberies, burglaries, theft reports

KHON: … CrimeMapping.com shows data of common crimes that take place throughout the island of Oahu detailing the location of the crime and the time it took place.

From Aug. 1 through Aug. 28 there were 186 cases of burglary, 61 reported cases of robbery and more than 1,000 reports of thefts or larceny on Oahu….

read … 1000+ robberies, burglaries, theft reports on Oahu

Soft on Crime: Child Kidnapper Does it Again

HNN: … A 29-year-old man has been charged in connection with kidnapping of a minor at a school in Honaunau last Wednesday, Hawaii Island police said.

Police said the man went into Honaunau Elementary School with a weapon, followed a student into a restroom and trapped her inside.

However, a bystander who heard the commotion was able to open the restroom door and the student was able to escape.

Police arrested Christopher Estoy, of Kailua-Kona, on suspicion of kidnapping, custodial interference, terroristic threatening and unlawful imprisonment.

He was also charged for unrelated offenses in a separate burglary at the Dolphin Bay Hotel in Hilo on Aug. 8 as well as an outstanding Circuit Court bench warrant.

Police said Estoy already has a prior felony kidnapping conviction ….

UPDATE: Bail reduced for kidnapping, burglary suspect

Oahu: ‘This guy’s trying to kidnap me’: Scary encounter leaves 9-year-old, parents shaken

read … Hawaii Island police arrest man accused of trapping student inside school bathroom

COVID Economy Continues: SNAP benefit payouts increase 79% on Kaua‘i

TGI: … From 2020 to 2021, the total SNAP benefits on Kaua‘i spiked nearly 79%, from a total of $25.6 million to a record high of $45.8 million.

The number of SNAP beneficiaries rose from 3,570 households to another record high of 5,357 households over that time frame.

This number has remained high through 2022, with the average monthly benefits reaching $4 million, more than double the $1.9 million average in 2020, and the number of households falling slightly to 5,221.

Public Information Officer for the State Department of Human Services Amanda Stevens attributed the increased caseload largely to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic across the entire state.

“Prior to that, caseloads were declining for several years due to the good economy,” said Stevens.

Those who were eligible also received emergency supplemental allotments, which allowed “issuance of full SNAP allotment amounts to all active SNAP recipients regardless of their income.”

These allotments have continued through today.

Stevens also attributed the increases to a modernization of the Thrifty Food Plan — used to determine SNAP benefit amounts — which resulted in a substantial increase of approximately 21% in the monthly SNAP allotment….

read … SNAP benefit increase shines light on Kaua‘i food insecurity

Without Bribes, DPP Slows Down Building Permits -- Tupola Demands Investigation

KITV: … Hawaii residents who want to build or renovate their home wait three times longer for permits, on average, than those in other states, according to a University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization Brief.

That's why a Honolulu City Council member is requesting an investigation into the City Department of Planning and Permitting's backlog of permits.

The investigation follows a townhall meeting with the City Department of Planning and Permitting plus local builders. Council member Andria Tupola held the townhall meeting to address frustrations with residential and commercial permit wait times, which are said to take up to 24 months.

Following the meeting, the DPP released this requested report of permits. About 35-hundred applications are in the pre-screening phase, almost 48-hundred permits are in planning review .. and more than 11-hundred permits have been approved.

"Every week, I get calls from people who have a permit stuck in the permitting process," says Andria Tupola, City Council Member District 1. "These are people building affordable housing; doing renovations on their home; who own restaurants. These are people frustrated that businesses are operating without a permit. So there is not a day we don't have to deal with a permit issue.

Compounding its image as an agency mired in bureaucratic inefficiency: nearly 2 years ago, five DPP employees were arrested on federal bribery charges.

"Since that happened and the audits happened, things have really slowed down dramatically.. but obviously COVID is probably a big factor as well. Those two things weighing out, permits are taking 12 months to 16 to 18 months now for our projects. Still not only challenging in itself but a lot of those time frames are in the dark, " says Richie Breaux of ATN Construction.

May 14, 2022: Measuring the Burden of Housing Regulation in Hawaii

HB: Hawai‘i’s Building Permit Delays Top the Nation, Study Shows

read … Building permit backlogs create problems for homeowners, renovation plans

Prosecutors say the evidence supports keeping this Miske co-defendant behind bars until trial

ILind: … The government memo reviews Young’s prior convictions for 2nd degree robbery and three counts of 1st degree terroristic threatening, and his history of drug use, reporting that “Young had a history of marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin use, and that he attended outpatient treatment with Care Hawaii in 2020 but was unsuccessfully discharged due to a probation violation.”

… YOUNG was intercepted on Title III wiretaps engaging in drug trafficking activity and even conspiring to commit a robbery. Those interceptions provide strong corroboration of the testimony of expected cooperating witnesses, who will explain that YOUNG distributed drugs and participated in robberies with other associates of the Miske Enterprise….

PDF: US Memo in opposition to Jarrin Young's motion to reconsider release pending trial

read … Prosecutors say the evidence supports keeping this Miske co-defendant behind bars until trial

B.J. Penn is officially contesting the Hawaii Governor Primary election results, citing voter suppression

SA: … winning candidates have now been elected, though the Hawaii Supreme Court must still consider five complaints filed this week contesting the election results.

These challenges were filed by four candidates, including BJ Penn and a group of voters on Kauai who met Friday’s deadline to contest election results.

Penn, a retired mixed martial arts fighting champion who finished second in a race among 10 Republicans running for governor, filed a 123-page complaint with the court Friday.

“There is an appearance of inaccurate reporting, ballot mishandling, ballot design components, breaches at counting centers and ballot deposit sites, discrimination, voter suppression, and media violations are the main catalysts for this inquiry,” Penn’s complaint states….

A fourth candidate in this year’s primary challenging election results is Gary Cordery, who finished third among Republicans seeking to be governor. Cordery’s complaint filed Monday largely takes issue with ballot instructions and format, and he does not contend that such things benefited his competitors over himself.

On Kauai, 70 voters led by construction company owner Ralph Cushnie filed an election challenge Friday contending that election officials failed to properly audit vote results for Kauai, in part by not allowing volunteer observers to randomly select ballots for audit….

Another challenge was filed by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Kim, who finished fifth among seven contenders.

Kim, who describes himself on his campaign website as a musician and self-taught legal expert with a dental surgery degree, received a relatively minuscule 991 votes compared with 158,161 votes for the winner, Lt. Gov. Josh Green.

His 58-page complaint, filed Tuesday, contends in part that manipulated computer programming transferred about 98,500 votes for Kim to Green, and that he would have been the victor had tabulation machines not been compromised….

read … No new winners after final Hawaii primary election tally

How Often Will Hawaii Windfarms Catch on Fire?

IM: … The Auwahi Wind turbines went online in 2012. Four years later the blades, hub, and nacelle of one of eight turbines fell from the tower.

The Kahuku community raised the issue of blade throw but AES denied its validity….

Caithness Windfarm Information Forum (CWIF) reported on 160 turbine accidents in 2011-12 and on 200 reported fire incidents between 1995 and 2012. The top three causes of accidents were Blade failure (19%), Fire (15%), and Structural failure (9.7%).

Unlike many rural windfarms, the AES Kahuku wind farm towers over the Kahuku community….

read … Transformative Hawai`i Renewable Energy Projects Have Risks

Biden ‘IRA’ Porks up Solar Subsidies

SA: … The typical $16,000 rooftop solar energy project for an Oahu family of four would be reduced to just $6,000 to $7,000 through a new, 30% federal income tax credit and a state tax credit of an additional 35%. The federal income tax credit will be available for the next 10 years….

The cost benefits to consumers through the federal Inflation Reduction Act represents a new phase for Hawaii’s rooftop solar industry and consumers, who were once able to sell their excess energy back to Hawaiian Electric and recoup their out-of-pocket costs. The elimination of selling back energy represented “a significant hit to our industry,” Mould said.

Oahu saw a peak of 16,000 installations in 2013. The annual count later plummeted to 2,000….

HNN: Despite low percentage of Hawaii students in debt, Biden’s plan will still have big impact

read … Landmark law lowers solar costs, creates ‘green-collar’ jobs

3 Years Later--Honolulu Prosecutor Will Not Charge Officers Who Killed Criminal At Kapolei Gas Station

CB: … Police officers who shot and killed a man at a Kapolei gas station in 2019 will not be charged, following an investigation by the Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney’s Office that took almost a year and a half and concluded that officers were justified in their use of deadly force.

Prosecutor Steve Alm said Monday that officers had reason to believe that 30-year-old Michael Kahalehoe was armed and dangerous when they approached him at around 11 p.m. on Nov. 12, 2019.

(And this has been hanging over officers’ heads for 3 years….)

Kahalehoe and Melvin Spillner, then 24, were suspects in a string of armed vehicle thefts that had occurred two days prior….

read … Honolulu Prosecutor Will Not Charge Officers Who Killed Man At Kapolei Gas Station

New body-cam video shows events that led to HPD chase ahead of serious crash

HNN: … Other video from a bus shows the white Honda pass in the left lane on Farrington Highway. A few seconds later, the subsidized SUV and then two patrol cars. None of the cars have their lights on, and no sirens can be heard.

The white Honda crashes, rolling through a field, hurdling a wall and resting on its side in the front yard of a home.

All five people inside the car, some juveniles, were thrown across the crash scene.

Witnesses say the police officers did not stop after the crash. Instead, they circled the neighborhood, returning after the 911 calls started coming in from neighbors.

Officer Jake Bartolome, Erik Smith and Joshua Nahulu all show up after EMS and fire are already treating and loading up the victims.

Bartolome’s own body camera showed him talking to an eye witness.

“You guys seen who was driving?” Bartolome asked.

The witness responded, “We seen one cop push them off the road and these guys wen ...”

Bartolome’s camera shows he turned and walked away as the witness was still talking.

Body camera video from another officer, R. Lewis, shows Bartolome peeking into the ambulance with the most seriously injured — the driver who was in a coma for more than a month….

read … New body-cam video shows events that led to HPD chase ahead of serious crash

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