Green: My Inauguration Unites State as One
Navy Shares Latest Red Hill Leak Video with EPA, not Public
Hawaii’s new Gov. Green aims to end tax on food, medication
AP: … Hawaii Gov. Josh Green took the oath of office on Monday and immediately vowed to address homelessness and housing, and ask the Legislature to help eliminate the state’s tax on food and medication.
Green said in his inaugural address that he wanted to get rid of regressive taxes. Hawaii’s general excise tax covers the sale of food and medication in addition to other goods.
“The poorest families are hit the worst, and those who are struggling to survive from paycheck to paycheck really can’t afford that tax,” Green, a Democrat, said to loud applause.
Green also vowed to encourage the construction of more housing for residents. He said he has “humbly suggested” to the mayors of each county that they all build “Kauhale Homes,” or small houses, for homeless individuals like those Green helped build on Oahu when he was lieutenant governor….
SA: New Hawaii gubernatorial leadership takes the reins “Noticeably absent were former Gov. Ben Cayetano, who was hospitalized earlier this year with heart issues, and former first lady Vicky Cayetano, who was beaten by Green in August following a bitter Democratic campaign for governor.”
SA Editorial: Green, Luke have a running start
Big Q: How optimistic are you for the new administration of Gov. Josh Green?
read … Hawaii’s new Gov. Green aims to end tax on food, medication
Luke: “They’re just happy to get rid of me.”
SA: … >> She called on House Speaker Scott Saiki, an ally during her 24 years in the House, and said, “It is really bittersweet. He’s smiling right now. You rarely see him smile.”
>> Her House colleagues, she said, “have trusted me. They have cared for me, but it’s odd that I walk out (onto the Blaisdell floor) and nobody greeted me. But I go to the Senate side and every one of them hugged and kissed me. I’m just very puzzled about our relationship. So I’m going to give a lot more love to you (Senate) folks. If you need my help on the fifth floor (of the state Capitol) … come any time. For Scott, you need to make an appointment. … They’re just happy to get rid of me.”
>> “But I have a request for the Senate: Please be kind to the House. Please do not roll them over just because I am gone.”
>> “I have a message for the House as well,” Luke said: “What are you going to do without me? Seriously. But, please, if you need my help, I am always open and available, and come and see me.” ….
read … Luke roasts Hawaii politicians, herself, on first day on the job
Retired Maui County Wastewater Employee Pleads Guilty To Taking Bribes
CB: … A retired Maui County wastewater maintenance mechanic pleaded guilty Monday to accepting bribes in the form of cash deposits and flights to Las Vegas from businessman Milton Choy in exchange for helping to direct contracts to Choy’s company, H2O Process Systems.
Wilfredo Savella, 71, could face up to 10 years in federal prison and up to $250,000 in fines. He also must pay $41,704, equal to the amount of bribes he’s accused of taking. In exchange for his guilty plea, federal prosecutors agreed not to bring additional charges of wire fraud and money laundering, which carry heftier penalties. He may also receive a reduction in his sentencing. Savella was released on a $50,000 unsecured bond.
Savella, who worked 34 years for Maui County, is the latest public employee to be charged as part of the Choy bribery scheme. A former state senator is serving prison time while another is set to be sentenced in January. Stewart Stant, a former director of the Maui Department of Environmental Management, pleaded guilty in September, as did Choy.
It’s unclear if Savella, who was a supervising maintenance mechanic until he retired in November 2020, will be the last Maui County employee to face criminal charges as part of the bribery scheme.
“I don’t know that we can identify anything as a final case,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Sorenson said. “Our investigations are continuing on a number of fronts.” ….
In the plea agreement, prosecutors write that Savella “played a minor role” in the bribery scheme compared to Choy and Stant.
Savella was the point of contact for no fewer than 30 of the more than 50 sole source contracts to went to H2O Process Systems since 2013….
MN: Wilfred Tamayo Savella is facing up to 10 years in prison as he awaits sentencing in April
read … Retired Maui County Wastewater Employee Pleads Guilty To Taking Bribes
Fired HCCC guard sentenced to 8 years in prison
SA: … Security camera footage of the assault in the Waianuenue Recreation Yard made clear who was dealing out the most punishment, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
“Tagaloa was the most violent of all the Defendants. In response to Inmate 1’s attempts to protect his face and tuck his arms under his body, Defendant Tagaloa repeatedly retaliated with lethal force by kicking him in the face, punching him in the face, and hammer-fist striking the back of his head,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig S. Nolan in a motion opposing Tagaloa’s request to be released from custody before sentencing to tend to his ailing mother.
Tagaloa’s conduct in the recreation yard was not an isolated incident, according to federal prosecutors.
“Although not presented at trial, the State of Hawaii entered a settlement agreement regarding claims that Defendant Tagaloa violently retaliated against another inmate,” wrote Nolan. “In Smith v. Espina et al. … then-HCCC inmate Zachary Smith filed a federal lawsuit accusing Defendant Tagaloa and fellow Alpha Dawg ACO Patrick Chong of assaulting him at HCCC in retaliation for stealing ACO Chong’s lunch.” …
Tagaloa, Craig Pinkney, 38, and Jonathan Taum, 50, were part of a group of adult corrections officers who called themselves Alpha Dawgs, big men who used violence against inmates to show others what would happen if they didn’t play the guards’ game….
read … Fired HCCC guard sentenced to 8 years in prison
HPD chief urges community to call 911 if legal guns not concealed
SA: … If you see a person walking around Oahu with a gun that is visible after the Honolulu Police Department begins issuing concealed-carry weapon licenses, please call 911, Honolulu Police Chief Arthur “Joe” Logan told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s “Spotlight Hawaii” livestream program Monday.
Officers will be dispatched and investigate, Logan said, and police will need a physical description of the alleged illegal gun carrier, what was seen, what time, a location and any other information that would aid the investigation.
“Obviously, concealed carry and the definition of ‘conceal’ means that you can’t see it or it is unrecognizable to the average person,” said Logan. “If it is noticed and you can see it, I would ask you to call 911.” ….
read … HPD chief urges community to call 911 if legal guns not concealed
Rep Kahele Demands Info About Navy Red Hill Contractors
CB: … The congressman, who will leave office in January following an unsuccessful run for governor, requested answers by Dec. 16 to a number of questions, including a full list of private contractors at Red Hill and details about how they are held accountable. The Navy said last week that its contractor Kinetix installed the valve that leaked the AFFF and was also running the system at the time of the incident ….
read … Kahele: Navy’s Latest Red Hill Leak Shows ‘Horrifying Negligence’
Hawaii DOT Advocates $100M Road Usage Tax for All Vehicles
TT: … Hawaii transportation officials advocate a road usage tax starting with 8 cents per mile for electric vehicles to address shortfalls in traditional gas tax revenue arising from more green vehicles on roads….
This gradual transition from a gas tax to charging per mile driven on roads would provide HDOT with “time for further development and improvement of systems for collecting this new fee.”
(Translation: They will come for non-electric cars next.)
Instead of paying a flat $50 annual EV fee, residents would have their EV odometer mileage assessed under the state’s current vehicle inspection program tied to vehicle registration….
HDOT estimates that by 2045, the 8 cents-per-mile rate could generate over $65 million on all EVs or $100 million if levied on all vehicles….
(See? Told you.)
In 2018, HDOT launched a pilot public demonstration project with 2,000 vehicles to evaluate replacing the gas tax with road usage charge based on payment for miles driven.
The final 150-page report for the 36-month demonstration project, funded with a $4 million grant from the Federal Highway Administration, was published in August….
read … Hawaii DOT Advocates Road Usage Tax for EVs
Controversial Big Island Solar Project in 12 Year Legal Battle
IM: … Twenty-six (26) Ocean View Project applications were submitted online to the HECO FIT Program website between December 2011 and January 2012.
Many small systems instead of one large system would enable the developer to get increased financial rewards from the utility.
SPI asserted that each of these FIT project applications were originally initiated by separate, unrelated, and competing solar project developers. The projects were acquired by of Calwaii Power Holdings, LLC, a subsidiary of Shanghai-based Solar Power Inc. (SPI) during a 22-month period from September 2011 to July 2013.
HELCO filed an application for a proposed overhead transmission for a new substation in Ocean View, Hawai`i Island to accommodate SPI`s proposal to build over two dozen small solar projects spread out over a rural area. ….
read … Controversial Big Island Solar Project in 12 Year Legal Battle