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Thursday, November 3, 2022
November 3, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:03 PM :: 2577 Views

Aiona: DLNR Holomua Marine Initiative 'Copying California'

Hawaii COVID Spending: $1M for Sea Urchins

Community health workers don’t need licensing, auditor says; is Legislature listening?

DEA Intercepts 9 lbs of Heroin and Meth Heading for HOPE Probationer

Hanabusa: Rail’s Limited Passenger Service Start Date Could Be Pushed To Summer

CB: … The opening date for limited passenger service on the Honolulu rail has steadily been pushed back in recent years (saving the City $160M in operating funds per year). On Wednesday, the chair of the volunteer board overseeing that transit project said it might be pushed back several months further.

Colleen Hanabusa, the former Hawaii congresswoman who’s now serving her second stint as rail board chair, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Spotlight Hawaii program that she expects passenger service to begin early summer 2023….

(Translation: In the next Fiscal Year.)

“Bar nothing else unexpected happening, I would like to see it before early summer,” Hanabusa said Wednesday. “But, you know, that’s a perfect-world situation.”…

read … Hanabusa: Rail’s Limited Passenger Service Start Date Could Be Pushed To Summer

Hearing set for motion to reconsider LoPresti’s dismissed drunk driving case--would be his 2nd DUI

KITV: … A date is now set for a hearing to reconsider a state lawmaker's drunk driving case that was thrown out.

Rep. Matthew LoPresti, who covers Ewa and Ewa Beach, was arrested on suspicion of impaired driving back in June.

(This would be his 2nd DUI.  His first was in 2001.)

LoPresti took a drug test three hours after his arrest but police have not released those results….

In October, an Oahu judge granted LoPresti's motion to dismiss the case with prejudice, meaning it cannot be refiled.

Attorney David Fanelli explained the ruling further means that prosecutors are barred from filing a motion to reconsider the case. However, the Honolulu Prosecutor's office did file and was granted a hearing for the motion on Nov. 14.

The hearing will be in front of the same judge who dropped LoPresti's case in the first place.

"So on many occasions, those motions are, I wouldn't go as far to say futile, but they're going to be in front of the same judge," Fanelli said.

But doing so, Faneli added, pushes back a final disposition and extends the deadline to file an appeal.

"So it appears the prosecutors are working on just buying themselves some more time," Fanelli said. "It seems like a reasonable, legitimate strategy."

In the event of an appeal, attorney Doug Chin said, "then what the prosecutors will do, likely, is they'll be asking a higher court to take a look at the trial court judge's decision to throw out the case and decide whether that decision was proper or improper."…

REALITY: Bodycam Video Rep Matt LoPresti DUI Arrest

Years of Alcoholic Rage:

read … Hearing set for motion to reconsider in lawmaker's dismissed drunk driving case

Witness details alleged vote rigging in Ahakuelo trial

KHON: … Testimony in the trial for former union boss Brian Ahakuelo highlights more details in the alleged vote rigging to raise union dues.

Ahakuelo was the former business manager at IBEW Local 1260. He and his wife Marilyn Ahakuelo and his sister-in-law Jennifer Estencion face multiple charges which include conspiracy, money laundering, wire fraud and embezzlement. Prosecutors say they also rigged a vote with members in Guam to approve a proposal to raise union dues….

In federal court on Wednesday, Kenneth Laguana, a union representative from Guam testified for the government. He said he was told by Estencion to round up as many members in Guam to come to the union meeting on January 2015 to vote on the proposal to raise union dues.

Laguana testified, “I was told my job depended on the turnout.”

Laguana also testified that he was told that only Hawaii union members will be affected by raise in union dues. But he was told not to tell the members in Guam about it.

Laguana told the court, “I wasn’t supposed to tell anybody.”

The feds say the vote rigging scheme also involved other union officials hiding in a car outside while the members voted, swapping real ballots for fake ones and tossing the originals in the trash in a park in Guam. And the hike in dues raked in $3.7 million in just over a year….

read … Witness details alleged vote rigging in Ahakuelo trial

Voting Is Solidly Underway In Hawaii As General Election Approaches

CB: … With a week to go before general election voting comes to an end in Hawaii, state and county elections officials report about 195,000 ballots have been returned.

That’s out of more than 731,000 ballots distributed so far, a return rate of about 27%. …

Officials recommend mailing in ballots at least five days early to ensure they arrive by Election Day, though also note that voters can place their ballots in dropboxes any time up to when the polls close at 7 p.m. that day. A full list of dropbox and voter service center locations is located on the elections website by county. …

read … Voting Is Solidly Underway In Hawaii As General Election Approaches

Hawaii Lawmakers May Soon Be Asked To Bolster Citizen Rights

CB: … The Commission to Improve Standards of Conduct on Wednesday unanimously agreed to present the 2023 Legislature with a proposal to guarantee citizens better access to the legislative process and better behavior between lawmakers and toward the public.

Jim Shon, a retired lawmaker and educator, introduced the proposal, a so-called “Citizen’s Bill of Rights” after seeing how business conducted at the Legislature has changed over the years….

PDF: Citizen’s Bill of Rights

read … A More Civil Legislature? Hawaii Lawmakers May Soon Be Asked To Bolster Citizen Rights

‘Affordable Housing’ -- $1350/mo for a 300 sq foot single

SA: … Department of Land Management Director Scott Hayashi estimated that rent for the units would likely be around $1,350 for the studios and $1,500 for the one-bedrooms.

Currently, the dorm rooms are about 300 square feet and do not have kitchens or refrigerators installed. However, a city spokesperson said the Department of Community Serv­ices will discuss with prospective contractors how the building will be reconfigured and whether the rooms will have kitchen appliances. They added that those decisions also will be influenced by the targeted population of the affordable units….

The city has acquired a building that Hawaii Pacific University currently uses for dorms and classrooms in hopes of adding another 100 units to its 1,500-unit affordable housing portfolio.

The Waikiki Vista property came at a cost of about $37.7 million and was purchased using federal American Rescue Act funds, which brought in $386 million to city coffers to combat public health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic….

($37.7M/100 = $377K/unit $377K/300 = $1257 psf without renovation costs.)

(CLUE: These units were affordable dorms for students.  Now they are allegedly affordable apartments.  Therefore there is ZERO net gain of affordable units.  Que bono?)  

2019: Kennedy Wilson, Hawaii hotel exec Ben Rafter put Honolulu student dorm building on the market--Bought for $35M in 2017

read … ‘Affordable Housing’

More Homeless Mayhem: Legislators’ Failed Special Fund Raid snags delays dilapidated Hilo hotel’s demolition

SA Editorial: … A state-owned blight in Hilo’s oceanfront resort district might not disappear as soon as hoped despite the Legislature appropriating funds for the job in May.

Lawmakers agreed to include $13.5 million in the state budget to demolish the long-decaying, vandalized and partially burned-out former Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Hotel on Banyan Drive where taxpayers have been paying about $14,000 a month to keep out squatters.

The demolition money, however, was designated to come from a special state Department of Land and Natural Resources fund the agency uses to pay basic land management expenses and other operating needs, including conservation programs and payroll.

DLNR officials said no “extra” money was added to its Special Land and Development Fund to demolish Uncle Billy’s, and that the fund cannot support the demolition expense..

As a result the agency plans to ask lawmakers next year to provide $12.5 million for demolition, and in the interim intends to spend $1 million from its fund to hire a consultant to begin planning and permitting work and, if needed, produce an environmental assessment before demolition can begin.

If the Legislature provides $12.5 million next year to demolish Uncle Billy’s, DLNR would proceed to issue a request for proposals to find a contractor to do the work four years after lawmakers rejected a request to pay for the same thing at a much lower price….

read … Funding snag delays dilapidated Hilo hotel’s demolition

Council kills property tax relief

HTH: … A measure that would have provided property tax relief for properties not currently under assessment caps was soundly defeated Wednesday by a County Council majority.

Bill 156 would have capped the value of property classified as apartment, hotel and resort, commercial, industrial, agricultural, native forests or conservation at 15% of the previous year’s assessed value for that property. Property values in the homeowner and affordable rental classes are already capped at 3%….

read … Council kills property tax relief

Honolulu lags other counties on concealed-carry gun licenses

SA: … The Kauai Police Department will begin issuing concealed carry weapons licenses to gun owners this week, leaving Honolulu as the last county to finalize rules and process the 575 pending applications to carry a gun in public.

The Honolulu Police Department held a public hearing Oct. 4 on proposed changes to the Rules of the Chief of Police and collected oral and written testimony from more than 400 people. Police are working with the city Department of the Corporation Counsel to consider changes to reflect concerns that were raised. Rules are expected to be finalized soon, according to police.

The Hawaii Rifle Association expressed concern about the pace of the process in Honolulu and contends that the indefinite closure of the Koko Head Shooting Complex makes live-fire proficiency testing by HPD-authorized instructors almost impossible….

Maui has the best process for approving concealed weapons licenses, Kaku said, and HPD could have started issuing permits to Oahu applicants much earlier by following a similar process of requiring notarized proficiency tests by trained firearm instructors….

In August, Maui became the first county to issue concealed weapons licences in Hawaii and as of Oct. 28 has handed out 462 applications, issued 14 licenses and has 62 submitted applications pending….

Hawaii County was next to issue licenses, and as of Wednesday had received 79 applications, and handed out 19 licenses. The Hawaii Police Department is considering 60 applications….

The Kauai Police Department will begin issuing concealed weapons licenses this week with 39 applicants applying for 53 total licenses. Some applicants made more than one request….

Big Q: What do you think of the Honolulu Police Department’s pace of issuing concealed-carry gun permits?

HNN: HPD last in state to finalize concealed carry rules as applications pile up

read … Honolulu lags other counties on concealed-carry gun licenses

After much debate, Hawaii County gun bill advances

SA: … After hours of considering, approving and rejecting more than half a dozen amendments, the County Council voted Wednesday in favor of a bill prohibiting concealed firearms in certain places.

Bill 220 would, if passed, define certain areas on the Big Island as “sensitive places” where most people would be prohibited from carrying a concealed or unconcealed firearm. Those places would include hospitals and other medical facilities, schools, child-centric areas such as playgrounds and day care centers, religious centers, government buildings and more… 

read … After much debate, gun bill advances

Hospice Closing Due to Lack of Business

HTH: … After a decade of service, Pohai Malama Care Center, a 12-bed inpatient hospice facility owned and operated by Hawaii Care Choices, will cease operations starting Nov. 18.

“Over 95% of our patients are in their homes or in the places they reside,” said Hawaii Care Choices CEO Brenda Ho. “We just see less and less folks having the desire to go into the facility. People really want to be home, and if they need acute care, they want to go to the hospital and then come back home.”

Over the last year, Ho said the facility has been about 40% occupied and averages roughly five patients…..

read … Hawaii Care Choices shutting down in-patient care facility

Waikiki’s largest resort Hilton Hawaiian Village to get bigger

SA: … Hilton Hawaiian Village is in the early stages of the permitting process for a new 36-floor Ala Moana Boulevard Tower that will add approximately 515 rooms to what is already Waikiki’s largest resort property and has the most rooms of any Hilton in the world.

The tower, which is adjacent to the Grand Waikikian Tower and near the Kalia Tower, is planned for a half-acre parcel currently occupied by a rental car business, two-story retail buildings and the shuttered Kobe Japanese Steakhouse restaurant.

The new 350-foot tower would have a main porte-cochere entry off Ala Moana Boulevard, an open lobby, ground-floor retail, food and beverage offerings, pool, fitness center and walkways linking it to surrounding towers. Development costs have not been disclosed, but are expected to be provided in the project’s supplemental environmental impact statement, or SEIS…. 

SA Editorial: Making progress on vacation rentals (see how this works?)

read … Waikiki’s largest resort Hilton Hawaiian Village to get bigger

Nonprofit helping kids in foster care find forever homes

KITV: … In Hawaii in 2021, there were 1,418 kids in foster care, and 244 who were looking for a family to adopt them.

272 kids were adopted in 2021, which is an increase from the previous 10 years….

read … Nonprofit helping kids in foster care find forever homes

Father who confessed to killing toddler delays trial with games while alleged accomplice walks free

SA: … The man who confessed to killing his 18-month-old daughter, Kytana Ancog, in 2021 was apparently trying to delay trial when he repeatedly refused to meet with a three-member panel of mental health professionals.

Dennis Donovan, one of the three examiners, found that Travis Rodrigues’ unwillingness to participate in interviews is not due to a “compromising mental disorder,” but seems voluntary, Circuit Judge Christine Kuriyama read.

The judge found Rodrigues fit to proceed to trial on the charge of second-­degree murder in the Feb. 4, 2021, death of his daughter, and ordered proceedings to resume before Judge Rowena Somerville. She set trial for Jan. 2 and reinstated his bail at $2 million….

Rodrigues was indicted Feb. 17, 2021, and pleaded not guilty March 18, 2021. His lawyer asked for a mental health evaluation Aug. 2, 2021.

On March 3, examiners were unable to render an opinion since Rodrigues refused to cooperate in the evaluation. On May 19 he refused to be taken to a hearing room. A July 14 hearing was rescheduled to Sept. 29, when he again defied the court’s order to appear….

Rodrigues admitted to hitting, shaking and squeezing the toddler until she was unconscious, then placing her body in a duffel bag. He brought the bag with him into the car of Scott Michael Carter and left it with him.

Rodrigues said Carter told him he would take care of disposing of the body.

Carter, who was charged in February 2021 with first-degree hindering prosecution, was released from custody Aug. 24 when his case was dismissed without prejudice. The judge found that because the state was not prepared to go to trial, his right to a speedy trial was violated.

The state has yet to recharge Carter….

read … Father who confessed to killing toddler found mentally fit for trial

Police arrest at least 10 ‘habitual’ offenders in Waikiki as part of crackdown on crime

HNN: … Since September, when the Safe and Sound Waikiki program was launched, police have arrested 10 people near Kuhio Beach ― mostly on drug charges.

Court records show those 10 people have at least 54 prior felony and misdemeanor convictions combined. Some of the offenses date back to the late 1980s….

Under the Safe and Sound Waikiki program, judges can order habitual offenders to stay out of Waikiki for six months or a year. If they’re seen in the area, they can be arrested on sight….

“What happens when they’re released? They’re going to have to go somewhere.”

(IDEA: Longer sentences.)

Law enforcement and area businesses agree that more affordable housing and mental health services will help solve the crime problem over the long-term….

(IQ Test: Are you laughing?)

HNN: Kaneohe man recovering from brutal Halloween night attack in Waikiki

read … Police arrest at least 10 ‘habitual’ offenders in Waikiki as part of crackdown on crime

Another HPD officer involved in chase, crash asks for taxpayer-funded legal defense

HNN: … The Honolulu Police Commission wants more information before deciding if taxpayers should pay the legal bills for a third officer involved in a crash that seriously injured six people.

Officer Joshua Nahulu is part of three civil lawsuits that stem from the Sept. 12, 2021 incident in which he and two other officers, Jake Bartolome and Erik Smith, are accused of improperly chasing a white sedan before the driver crashed in Makaha.

Instead of stopping to help the patients, witnesses said the officers left the scene, returning after the 911 calls came in.

Police commissioners approved civil attorneys for Bartolome and Smith last month, but that vote was close ― with four commissioner in favor and three opposed….

read … Another HPD officer involved in chase, crash asks for taxpayer-funded legal defense

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