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Saturday, October 22, 2022
October 22, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:24 PM :: 2727 Views

Two Nights in a Row -- Lack of Wind Threatens Rolling Blackouts for Big Island

EPA ordering closure of three illegal cesspools

Maritime panel urged Jones Act critics be charged with treason

Legislators Show Little Interest in Cleaning up Corruption

SA Editorial: … After English and Cullen were arrested for taking bribes, Hawaii’s Legislature authorized a state Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct, formed in the first quarter of 2022. The standards commission will deliver a final report and recommendations to the Legislature, including draft legislation, on Dec. 2.

To the extent that these recommendations will increase transparency, make corrupt acts more difficult and less likely, remove opportunities for “pay to play” arrangements that may now be classified as legal, and increase the penalties for corrupt behavior, the 2023 Legislature must act aggressively to turn this tide and discourage both criminal and quid pro quo behavior by our public servants.

The commission brought preliminary recommendations to legislators earlier this year. The reaction, though, was disappointingly tepid. The 2022 Legislature did ban fundraising events for state and county officials during legislative sessions, but failed to ban all forms of fundraising.

A complete ban on accepting donations during state legislative sessions will be recommended again, and we urge adoption. This ban would also apply to the lieutenant governor and the governor, elected county council members and mayors, and elected Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees.

Also under consideration are expansion of the open-meetings law as applied to the Legislature, term limits — sure to be hotly debated — and increased mandatory disclosure of lobbyists’ and lobbying organizations’ financial interests, all worthwhile.

To see the commission’s work and submit comments, go to 808ne.ws/Standards.

read … Cleaning up corruption

NYT: Sex Discrimination Case in Hawaii Exposes DoE Retaliation Against Plaintiffs

NYT: … When it comes to Title IX, the 1972 federal law that prohibited sex-based discrimination in educational settings, much of the attention has focused on opportunities for women to participate in college sports. Among high schools, parents often push administrators to offer equal opportunities. When school officials are accused in lawsuits of not doing so, districts frequently settle without cases going to trial.

The Hawaii case, though, is pushing forward and goes beyond questions of systematic problems of participation and unequal treatment: It also accuses Campbell officials of retaliating against the girls for raising concerns by identifying the plaintiffs, who had used only their initials in the lawsuit, and by warning faculty members to speak carefully around them.

It was unnerving, too, Badis said, when school officials repeatedly threatened to cancel the girls’ water polo season, then claimed that half of the program’s paperwork, like medical and consent forms, was missing even though it had been submitted.

And now, in the wake of a federal judge’s ruling in July that the case can proceed as a class action, the outcome of the trial could affect generations of girls in Hawaii and act as a wider stress test for the promises and responsibilities of Title IX….

Several plaintiffs and their families are speaking out publicly for the first time, in interviews with The New York Times. What makes the case especially poignant is the timing of the class certification — the 50th anniversary of the enactment of Title IX — and the location of the dispute — the home of the former U.S. Representative Patsy T. Mink, one of the architects of the measure…

“What strikes me in this 50th anniversary year is just how little we actually know about what is going on in the high school space,” said Ellen J. Staurowsky, a professor of sports media at Ithaca College and the principal investigator for a recent Title IX report published by the Women’s Sports Foundation. “I think this case is important, foundationally. It has the potential to really be a wake-up call for schools that continue to ignore the law and don’t take it seriously.”

Referring to Mink, Staurowsky added: “If we can’t get it right in a state that she represented, then we have some really serious thinking to do.”…

The defendants include the Hawaii Department of Education and the Oahu Interscholastic Association, which oversees high school sports. The athletic association’s inclusion in the lawsuit is notable because groups that do not directly receive federal funding often have not been required to comply with Title IX. But Judge Leslie E. Kobayashi of Federal District Court in Hawaii ruled that the plaintiffs had “provided sufficient factual matter to plausibly allege” that the association “may be subject to the anti-discrimination provisions of Title IX.”…

female athletes had not had a locker room since the school was constructed in 1962….14 schools statewide with athletic lockers for male athletes did not have them for females…

“The irony is that the month we were there to file in 2018, the state of Hawaii was dedicating a statue to Patsy Mink,”…

the Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act, passed in 1994, requires colleges to publish data on gender equity on their athletic programs, there is no comparable federal law at the K-12 level….

read … Sex Discrimination Case in Hawaii Could Change High School Sports Across the U.S.

Honolulu prosecutor's office files extension in State Rep. Matt Lopresti DUI case

KHON: … The Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney's Office has filed a motion to extend in the DUI case of State Representative Matt LoPresti.

The motion to extend, if granted, will allow prosecutors to file an appeal in the case. No date for a hearing on that motion has yet been set….

FLASHBACK: Bodycam Video Rep Matt LoPresti DUI Arrest

FLASHBACK: Just Like Sharon Har--Rep. Matt LoPresti's drunk driving case dismissed

read … Honolulu prosecutor's office files extension in State Rep. Matt Lopresti DUI case

Will Killer of Security Guard be Freed?

KITV: … Some judges are keeping defendants behind bars for up to 90 days so prosecutors can take the cases to a grand jury to be indicted.

But public defenders are now arguing that violates federal and state laws -- and asking the state Supreme Court to free their clients….

A judge is considering throwing out a case against Razi White who was charged in the May killing of downtown security guard Michael Stubbs.

And now prosecutors are scrambling to get a grand jury to indict him after first charging him through a preliminary hearing -- a process now considered unlawful.

"It is devastating and it sucks -- I gotta live with it every day," said Stubbs' son Erik. "We should definitely be careful. Because there's going to be a lot of guys out there right now that are going to be probably on the loose."  

UPDATE Oct 28, 2022: Oahu grand jury indicts suspect in fatal downtown attack

read … Hawaii public defenders fighting for alleged criminals to be freed

After failed deal, state goes back to drawing board on housing project’s makeover

HNN: … The state public housing agency and an affordable housing developer have reached an agreement over the failed plan to redevelop a public housing complex.

Eight years after the ambitious redevelopment was announced, Mayor Wright Housing in Liliha looks pretty much like it did when it was built 70 years ago.

The dream for 2,500 homes for all incomes never got much beyond the pretty renderings.

The Hawaii Public Housing Agency terminated its agreement with Hunt Development 27 months ago, citing costs overruns, missed deadlines and design disagreements….

Hunt said it was owed $5 million, but the state complained Hunt was claiming reimbursement for $800 dinners, fine liquor, inflated mileage charges and disputed construction fees.

In the end, Public Housing Director Hakim Ouansafi told his board Thursday that Hunt had agreed to accept $3.1 million for six years of work product….

Housing expert Ricky Cassiday, who did a required market study for the project, said he feels the state and Hunt could have worked out their differences and had people in new homes by now.

“Look at all the benefit you get by housing all these people, it stabilizes the community,” Cassiday said. “One in five of us needs public housing it’s shameful and it hurtful and these guys are suffering.”

Cassiday said that the public housing agency is good at maintaining existing inventory and managing its tenants, but doesn’t understand the complexities of developing new housing or trust the private developers with whom they must partner to make the subsidized housing affordable.

“Over time, construction costs always go up and the sooner you do it the better you are off,” Cassiday said….

read … After failed deal, state goes back to drawing board on housing project’s makeover

Making strides toward affordable housing for local residents

MN: … I am proud of the work council has accomplished during my time as chairman of the Affordable Housing Committee. The first legislation I introduced as chairman was Bill 111, now Ordinance 5315, an omnibus bill that tackled several much-needed recommendations from the Comprehensive Affordable Housing Plan to change the way we handle the sale of affordable-housing units….

This legislation creates a county-managed centralized database of residents interested in workforce-housing units, putting the onus on the county–not developers–to ensure fairness. This new system will be used to publicize workforce-housing developments, their requirements and eligibility criteria and, importantly, available resources to help residents better prepare for home ownership or rental opportunities.

Another piece of legislation that I’m proud of is Ordinance 5369, which follows recommendations from the plan’s Policy Priority 2. Through this law, the council expanded the possibility of using the Affordable Housing Fund for a broader range of costs associated with developing dwelling units.

Infrastructure improvements are a major roadblock to building affordable housing. Ordinance 5369 allows the county to provide comprehensive infrastructure assessments, taking the burden off developers and allowing them to keep home prices as low as possible….

Bill 107 creates new methods of determining the sales price of affordable dwelling units ensuring homebuyers access to Federal Housing Administration loans, that are more forgiving of lower credit scores and smaller down payments.

Homebuyers of affordable units, starting May 2023, will pay no more than 31 percent of their gross annual income on total housing costs including principal, interest, real property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, mortgage insurance and homeowners’ association dues….

read … Making strides toward affordable housing for local residents

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