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Thursday, December 8, 2022
December 8, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:28 PM :: 2757 Views

DHHL Publishes $600 Million Act 279 Plan

Liberal Talk Radio Founder Gets 82 Month Sentence for Guam Frauds

Jail Assault: Guards, Inmates Sentenced to Spend More Time Together

City to accept applications for $30 million in relief for non-profits affected by Covid-19

Kahele Skips out on Final Congressional Session with Another Proxy Letter

Kouchi: Anti Corruption Proposals Dead on Arrival

TGI: … Senate President Ron Kouchi (D-8, Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau) declined to discuss specifics from the commission report with The Garden Island, instead issuing the following statement:

“As with all other reports received from similarly created advisory committees, the Senate will review and consider all issues and concerns raised in the report and duly consider any resulting proposed legislation that may be introduced based upon the report,” Kouchi wrote….

(Translation: ‘Dead on arrival.’  Knowing this, the House is free to pander.)

“With time comes entrenchment,” said former state Senator and reform advocate Gary Hooser, who listed the proposal as one of the most significant to come out of the report. “So I think it’s good to get fresh ideas and move over and let new leadership step in and grow. Sixteen years is a good compromise. It allows people to gain experience, but yet it doesn’t allow them to make it a lifetime job.”

(Key Word: ‘Former’)

State Rep. Dee Morikawa, who represents west and south Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau and is majority floor leader, praised the commission report, and expressed confidence that the Legislature would address some of the proposals next session. But Morikawa also threw cold water on some of the more aggressive proposals, including term limits.

“As far as term limits, we representatives run for office every two years and can be voted out at any time,” she said. “Experience is valuable, and when it comes to policies, I’m sure our constituents want representation they can trust.”

(Translation: ‘Dead on arrival.’)

Tokioka, who has represented Lihu‘e, portions of Wailua and the South Shore for 16 years, didn’t give an opinion on the proposed term limits, but said that House members tend to naturally retire before their 16 years, and that losing politicians with institutional knowledge to term limits could open up avenues for corruption among unelected staff….

(Translation: ‘Dead on arrival.’)

RELATED: 31 Proposals to Stop Fraud, Drug Trafficking, and Bribery by Public Officials

read … Kaua‘i lawmakers on anti-corruption proposals: Transparency and term limits

“Do we really need HTA?”    

HNN: … “Where we could start to better manage tourism in a way that it’s balanced and focused on people of Hawaii versus visitor,” Lewis said.

“But I think that we need to revisit as to whether that’s a priority of HTA.”

And that’s the bigger question being asked: Whether a board of mostly visitor executives has the will or ability to reform the industry.

State Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz’s Ways and Means committee held an informational hearing last week, where McCartney first revealed plans to potentially rebid the contracts.

Dela Cruz said having the state department take over the procurement raised the question of whether HTA is still relevant.

“What’s the purpose of HTA?” Dela Cruz asked. “Do we really need HTA?”

Dela Cruz said the state Legislature removed HTA’s automatic funding from hotel taxes and its ability to contract without state oversight at the last legislative session, and now he said the mistakes in this contract made him wonder how many discrepancies have happened in the past.

“One of my concerns is how long has this been going on previously in in the way it’s being conducted, when the legislature was not included,” he said.

He’s planning another hearing to discuss that issue.

Meanwhile, even some in the industry are asking the same thing.

“I think there’s a role for what they do,” Vieira said. “But that should be under state government. That shouldn’t be someone that’s contracting out, that just doesn’t have the experience and knowledge to do it right.”

HTA CEO John DeFries said the organization is willing to work with all parties to reach a settlement or move on with a new procurement process.

The authority has scheduled an emergency meeting for Wednesday afternoon. Gov. Josh Green says he will be there to try and salvage a solution — before it all falls into the courts….

read … ‘Shocking’ contract cancellation raises doubts about tourism management agency

Kahele Wants Federal Probe Of Winer’s Lobbying Efforts For DHHL Lease Extension

CB: … Federal lobbying disclosures show that the plaza hired two different lobbying firms, Arnold & Porter Kay Scholer and Strategies 360, to represent its interests in Washington….

In particular, the plaza is trying to influence decision-making at the U.S. Interior Department, which has questioned whether granting a lease extension to the mall would be legal without congressional approval.

At issue is Hawaii Act 236, which became law in 2021 and allows the state to extend public land leases by up to 40 years….

While Kahele noted that the lobbyists for Arnold & Porter Kay Scholer and Strategies 360 had all filed paperwork in 2022 stating that they were working on behalf of the plaza, he said he had received information from DOI employees that lobbying conversations about Act 236 may have begun as early as 2021.

“I believe it is in the Department’s best interest to make any outside influence on this matter publicly transparent as the current action violates Federal law and could shortchange beneficiaries,” Kahele wrote. “I also request that you assess to what extent these improper or undisclosed lobbying efforts have affected Department of Interior personnel.”…

Hawaii Ethics Commission records show the mall’s parent company spent more than $72,000 in 2021 on lobbyists, including John Sabas of Carlsmith Ball.

Among the federal lobbyists working for the plaza is Andy Winer, the former chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz.

Winer’s involvement is noteworthy in part because Schatz is the current chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, which provides oversight of Native Hawaiian issues and the Interior Department.

Winer also has political ties to Kahele.

He was a key adviser to Kahele’s congressional campaign in 2020 when Kahele sought to supplant U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who decided not to seek reelection so she could focus on a run for president as a Democrat. Their relationship soured, however, when Kahele decided to run for governor this year against Lt. Gov. Josh Green, whom Winer was already backing.

Winer declined to comment for this story.

Robin Danner, the Washington, D.C.-based chair of the Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations, said she was surprised to learn just how far the lobbying efforts have gone….

Aug 24, 2022: Delusional Kai Kahele Thought Andy Winer Would Make Him Governor

read … Kahele Wants Federal Probe Of Lobbying Efforts For DHHL Lease Extension

‘A Huge Mess’: Hawaii County Cracks Down On Hu Honua Permit Violations

CB: … The department issued a violation notice to Hu Honua on Nov. 18. The notice, obtained through a public records request, says numerous structures at the plant were built without required permits, have lapsed permits or are behind on building inspections.

The out-of-compliance structures include an above ground biodiesel tank, fuel handling area, fuel yard conveyor, air quality control systems and buildings for turbines, chip storage, maintenance and boilers, according to the county.

The company faces deadlines in February and March to take corrective actions or start incurring daily fines of $1,000 per violation….

Pause said he was “troubled that a project that garners so much public attention, being overseen by you, the former director of County DPW, would have been completed on an undocumented ‘verbal agreement’ with County officials.”

He added: “No formal or written agreement was ever signed in order to allow your construction to be completed as a design-build project.”

Pause is dumbfounded that a high-profile project like Hu Honua, into which investors say they’ve sunk around $500 million, could possibly be this far along and be out of compliance with so many permits….

PDF: Read the county’s notice of violation and correspondence with Hu Honua

read … ‘A Huge Mess’: Hawaii County Cracks Down On Hu Honua Permit Violations

Safe and Sound?  Hawaii Judiciary Mostly Allows Criminals to go Back to Scene of Crime Again and Again

KHON: … The initiative identifies repeated offenders and prioritizes charging them to keep them off the streets. It also seeks to set geographical restrictions to keep certain offenders out of the area.

Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm said only a fraction of those geographical restriction requests is being applied.

Alm said, “There have been 18, geographic restrictions granted 115 had been denied.”

The Hawaii State Judiciary shared slightly different numbers with KHON, a spokesperson said the District Court received 125 requests for geographical restrictions and imposed them in 29 cases. Meanwhile, seven requests were made in Circuit Court and of the seven, five remain in custody, a geographical restriction was not necessary. The other two remaining cases were granted supervised release.

read … Geographical restrictions imposed in select cases under Safe and Sound

Police Commission Fiddles with Budget, Hiring Process

CB: … In an effort to reduce the hiring time when searching for a new police chief, the Honolulu Police Commission is reviewing the city’s procurement process to see if potential bidders for recruitment services could be approved in advance….

During the commission meeting Wednesday, chairperson Shannon Alivado said members are in discussions with the city Department of Budget and Fiscal Services to see if recruitment consultants could be approved to bid on an annual basis, similar to the city’s process when hiring outside engineers or attorneys….

The commission also reviewed a report from its Permitted Interaction Group formed to make recommendations on Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s fiscal year 2024 budget for the Honolulu Police Department. The department was budgeted $312 million fiscal year 2023 budget (July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2024), up from $300 million in fiscal year 2022.

Alivado said in previous budgets the commission looked at more of the big picture items including overtime claimed by police employees, allocation of police resources, recruiting and retaining officers as well as improving data collecting and public reporting.

She said all of those issues are important but this year’s report is focusing more on the immediate needs of the department. That includes cutting down on HPD’s gas bill by spending $563,500 to replace its outdated fuel management system to track vehicle mileage and fuel use; $10,000 to update the department’s Live Scan Identification system to meet the increased need to fingerprint people applying for concealed carry gun permits and provide Live Scan equipment for the Waianae police station and $90,000 to purchase 60 new mountain bicycles and related equipment for use during law enforcement activities including general patrol and coverage of specific events such as parades and protests….

read … Police Commission Moves To Speed Up Hiring Process Next Time New Chief Needed

Honolulu Is Slow To Hire New Lifeguards And That Is Putting Swimmers At Risk, Official Says

CB: … In August, according to John Titchen, chief of Honolulu’s ocean safety and lifeguard services division, the department decided to promote four qualified ocean safety officers, all city employees, to the level of lieutenant, which would in turn allow them to bring on four more lower-level ocean safety officers to fill their jobs.

A Honolulu ocean safety lifeguard, perched on a jet ski, monitors beachgoers at Waikiki Beach. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

But higher-level administrators and officials in the city’s human resources department have kicked the paperwork back 10 times, Titchen said.

He said that personnel officials have requested additional documentation of various kinds over and over, asking for items such as proof of certifications and driver’s licenses, slowing down the process. In addition, about a dozen people will be required to sign off on the hirings, a process he fears will be further delayed over the holidays.

“I’m at the end of my rope, I’m just so frustrated,” Titchen said in an interview.

He said that he is a lawyer and understands what he calls “rules and procedures” but that the process has dragged on for five months….

read … Honolulu Is Slow To Hire New Lifeguards And That Is Putting Swimmers At Risk, Official Says

Honolulu City Council unanimously approves cap for bus fares

SA: … The Honolulu City Council unanimously approved a bill Wednesday that would benefit low-income public transportation riders and others looking to save money on frequent trips.

The bill, passing its third reading and sent to the mayor for approval, would establish daily and monthly limits to the cost of transit fares that can be charged to a city payment card used for the bus, paratransit and rail.

For additional rides that would otherwise exceed the limit, no extra fares would be charged. Any additional rides within 2-1/2 hours of first tapping the card would not be charged if the same card is used.

read … Honolulu City Council unanimously approves cap for bus fares

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