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Saturday, January 7, 2023
January 7, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:28 PM :: 1897 Views

Fleeing From Feds: Hawaii Jones Act Shipbuilder Arrested at Sea

Hawaii Most Expensive Pizza in USA

Sunshine Law Violation? OHA Town Halls to Discuss Kakaako Makai Development

Notice of Judicial Vacancy – District Judge, District Court of the First Circuit (island of O’ahu)

Optimism About Astronomy on Mauna Kea

Former Navatek CEO Indicted Again--Second Jones Act Shipbuilder Arrested This Week

HNN: … Another grand jury indictment has been filed against Martin Kao, the former head of Martin Defense Group, once known as Navatek.

In it, federal authorities accuse Kao of committing bank fraud in a real estate deal for his $4.5 million Kahala home. The home on Kahala Avenue was purchased in June 2020….

Last year, Kao pleaded guilty to eight counts, including fraud and money laundering for a scheme to steal nearly $13 million in pandemic relief funds from the Paycheck Protection Program, meant to help those left unemployed during COVID-19 shutdowns.

He also pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations for funneling more than $200,000 to a U.S. Senator from Maine, who awarded his defense firm a contract in her state.

“It is rare to see the government bring a separate indictment after someone has pled guilty,” said legal expert Megan Kau….

ILind: Former defense contractor inflated value of investments by up to 1,600 times

2022: Three Navatek Execs Indicted for Unlawful Campaign Contributions

2020: Navatek CEO Arrested for CARES Act Fraud--Got Help from 'Senator'

read … Federal authorities: Ex-defense contractor lied to purchase $4.5M mansion

Leaky Hawaii Convention Center--It seems like Aloha Stadium all over again

SA Editorial: … The Hawaii Convention Center’s roof has been leaking for years, causing water intrusion, cracks, rust and calcium leaching from concrete. Patching up the damage after major rains has cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, while rendering parts of the center unsightly or worse, unusable — in particular the rooftop terrace deck, a popular spot for conventioneers.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) has asked the Legislature for an estimated $64 million to repair its roof deck and install shades over part of the terrace — a permanent fix that presumably would stop the decay and restore full use of the facility. That doesn’t even include an estimated $80 million in other deferred maintenance.

Instead, the Legislature in its last session provided $15 million for temporary repairs that would prevent the use of the terrace deck and last about two to five years.

Why? Because lawmakers want to think about it some more, according to HTA board chair George Kam. Last session, the Legislature appropriated $500,000 to study the center’s future, including adding a hotel or developing the surrounding area.

“What you don’t want to do is spend all the money and then build a hotel right where you just built a brand-new roof,” Kam said….

read … Leaky Hawaii Convention Center--It seems like Aloha Stadium all over again

Another Giveaway to HSTA: Hawaii governor to propose $500 tax credit for teachers

SA: … After denying Hawaii’s public school teachers the two extra paid workdays off that he offered to salaried state employees for the holidays, Gov. Josh Green now says he will propose a $500 annual tax credit in their place.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association confirmed that Green told the union he intends to propose the tax credit to the state Legislature, which opens Jan. 18.

A post on the HSTA website on Friday said Green told the union, “I appreciate everything our teachers do for our keiki and realize that the current federal $300 teacher tax deduction doesn’t nearly cover what our teachers spend out of their own pockets for their classes. In my upcoming legislative package, I will propose creating a non- refundable state tax credit for teachers worth $500 to account for a portion of those out-of-pocket expenses.”…

read … Hawaii governor to propose $500 tax credit for teachers

Downturn gripped 2022’s Oahu home sales

SA: … The number of sales for previously owned single- family homes sank 23% in 2022 to 3,474 from 4,526 — the biggest year-over-year decline since 2008 amid a recession, according to Honolulu Board of Realtors data released Friday.

Condominium sales also dropped, by 12% to 6,353 from 7,203, and represented the second double- digit decline in three years for the condo market.

The sale volume slumps were driven in large part by surging mortgage rates and prices rising to new peaks.

Single-family homes on Oahu sold for a record median $1,105,000 in 2022, up 12% from $990,000 the year before, while the condo median sale price rose 7% to a record $510,000 from $475,000.

Interest rates, meanwhile, more than doubled from about 3% on average at the beginning of 2022 for a 30-year fixed-rate loan to 6.4% at the end of the year after hitting 7.1% in November, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac….

read … Downturn gripped 2022’s Oahu home sales

Experts say cesspool conversion too costly for most

MN: … Most Hawaii residents will be “financially burdened” with cesspool upgrade requirements, even as members of a task force urge the state to move up the deadline from 2050 to 2030 to convert cesspools in the most crucial areas.

About 22 percent of households in Maui County have cesspools, and about 98 percent of Maui residents and 100 percent of Molokai residents cannot afford the conversions based on average annual income, said Cari Ishida of Carollo Engineers.

Hawaii County would have the greatest affordability challenges — it has the most cesspools of all the counties, but the least access to centralized sewers. In Kauai County, 54 percent of households have cesspools and 95 percent would not be able to afford the conversions.

Oahu is the most affluent, but has significant poverty, Ishida added….

read … Experts say cesspool conversion too costly for most

Hawaii retailers say shoplifters are a growing threat to their bottom lines

HNN: … James Gieschen, owner of Sugar Sugar Hawaii, said shoplifting is one of the top things eating into her bottom line.

Across all four of their locations, he said, between 30 to 40 items are stolen a week….

“Target has lost over $90 million in 2022, based on shrinkage, people stealing,” said Sofos. “And that affected their bottom line, and they don’t have profits.”…

read … Hawaii retailers say shoplifters are a growing threat to their bottom lines

‘The Color of Money’ -- City’s Homeless Resource Center remains empty due to funding complications

KHON: … Construction wrapped up on the City’s $17.2 million Affordable Housing and Homeless Resource Center in February 2022. Now, the facility sits empty behind locked gates….

“The issue is the funding that was used. So when you have certain colors of money involved in the building, then you have to respect those colors of money,” said Anton Krucky, Honolulu Department of Community Services Director. “As example, you might have a requirement like affordable housing. So if it’s affordable housing, it can’t be a shelter.”

The Homeless Resource Center includes a 27-unit affordable housing section, a shelter and an industrial kitchen to serve those in need. The City is hoping an agreement with the state will get the affordable housing units running while is secures multiple sets of funding for the other features.

The City told KHON2 there’s no timeframe of when the Homeless Resource Center might open.

read … City’s Homeless Resource Center remains empty due to funding complications

Hawaii approved controversial ‘FCKBLM’ license plate. It can’t get it back.

SFG: … In September 2022, Odquina filed a lawsuit against the City of Honolulu and the state attorney general in federal court, claiming that his freedom of speech under the First Amendment was being violated. Honolulu County filed a countersuit asking for the return of the two plates.

“Odquina’s messages include one that is strong, personal, and others may find it offensive and the first amendment protects messages that are strong, personal and that others may find offensive,” Odquina’s suit says. “His intent to advertise is tied to grabbing a viewer’s attention and a person being inquisitive about its meaning when seeing the plate.”

The court documents also reveal how Odquina’s plate was originally approved in the first place.

The city says it “mistakenly” issued the plate. The license plate violates state and city rules, which assert that specialty plates shall not have letter and number combinations that are “publicly objectionable.”

The application was first flagged by a supervisor, who called Odquina on the phone and asked him what it meant. The supervisor did not know what BLM stood for at the time. When asked, Odquina said that it was an acronym for his business, so it was approved.

When Odquina went to pick up the plate at city hall, it was flagged once again, by a representative who saw it and immediately knew it violated policy.

“It didn’t matter what he said it stood for, since ‘FCK’ is an abbreviation for a swear word and that’s not allowed,” the representative testified.

The representative went to her supervisor, who was “directed to issue the plate anyway because [the supervisor's manager] was ‘concerned that Mr. Odquina may become aggressive or out of hand,’” explained the court documents. “‘He would rather have the plate issued and then recall it’ so that he ‘could thereafter deal with Mr. Odquina directly rather than have him be aggressive to Satellite City Hall staff.’”

SFGATE reached out to Honolulu County for comment but did not get a response in time for publication.

Contrary to what Odquina told the supervisor, he did not have a business with those initials until months later. The business Film Consulting Krav MAGA Bloomberg LLC was formed on Aug. 13, 2021, according to Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs documents. Its mission? “Rebuilding American patriotism.” He also started a nonprofit with the name Fight Communism and Knucklehead Bitch Liberal Marxists on Sept. 22, 2021. It's not clear how his organization received nonprofit status, but it is currently not in good standing as it has not filed an annual report….

DM: Hawaii MAGA supporter sues state for right to keep crude license plate attacking Black Lives Matter which DMV staff have repeatedly tried to retract after insisting it was issued by mistake

read … Hawaii approved controversial ‘FCKBLM’ license plate. It can’t get it back.

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