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Sunday, February 19, 2023
February 19, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:36 PM :: 2439 Views

Debt: Honolulu 3rd-Worst Sinkhole City

PILOT for Real Property Tax

Legislative Week in Review: Abortion, Drugs, Suicide

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Judiciary Chair Tarnas ‘a key ingredient in the formula for corruption’

CB: … Tarnas has already raised some hackles by deferring bills in his committee without debate or votes by committee members. That’s within a committee chair’s purview, but still, it rankles some….

“The unilateral power of the chair to kill bills without holding a public vote is a key ingredient in the formula for corruption at the Hawaii Legislature,” former legislator Gary Hooser said in an email blast Tuesday. “This is why crooked businessmen can bribe crooked politicians to kill bills they don’t like. This is why big money gives big money to the chairs of big money committees.”

Tarnas has tried to blunt criticism of the chair’s power by publicly explaining why each bill was deferred.

That’s not enough for Hooser, who said, “The rules in the House and the Senate could be changed tomorrow to require a public vote in order to kill a bill.”…

Saiki and Tarnas have said felony charges against two of their own were especially “shocking and embarrassing,” as Tarnas put it….

(And they want to make sure the rest don’t get caught.)

read … House Judiciary Chair David Tarnas Is A ‘Gatekeeper’ For Sunshine Bills

Logan: I just found out I can’t fire dirty cops

CB: … Q: I saw that (Police Commissioner) Ann Botticelli asked at the Police Commission the question that I think a lot of people in the public might wonder: How come those Memphis guys got fired and they’re gone, and here, you guys try to discipline and fire and they never seem to leave until years later when SHOPO’s process is finally done. I think people do have that question about why other places something happens and officers are just gone and here they’re not.

Logan: One, collective bargaining agreement through the unions and us, we have a system for that. We have a four-step grievance process for discipline. And so that’s how our officers are engaged in that process. And that process takes a while. It just doesn’t happen — every week you start a new step, right? There’s time limits and things in between that happened.

Memphis was different. I just found out that the Memphis Police Department had an agreement with the city of Memphis to take certain actions in egregious events that occurred. We don’t have an agreement with our City and County of Honolulu that would allow me to terminate somebody that quick. And so we have to go through with our process, and that’s the way it’s set up. And so that’s the difference. So some departments have those agreements and are able to do that. In Honolulu, we don’t. I just found out about it. So how do we look into something like that….

2021: Secret Arbitration Revealed: How DPS Official Kept Crooked Cop On The Job After FBI Raid

read … Honolulu Police Chief Joe Logan

UH Power Game: Mercado Kim’s Next Move?

Shapiro: … Hawaii’s Constitution gives the UH Board of Regents and the president it appoints broad independence and “exclusive jurisdiction over the internal structure, management, and operation of the university.”

The Legislature’s role is “laws of statewide concern,” but Kim, Dela Cruz and Co. have sought to run UH from their committees, micromanaging to the point of dictating the hiring and firing of individual faculty and staff — enforced by threats to squeeze the UH budget, and by extension its students.

After Kim called for former President M.R.C. Greenwood’s resignation, the Legislature took the unusual step of refusing to fund negotiated faculty pay raises, putting her in an untenable budgetary bind.

After she left, the funding was restored. Look for a similar play on Lassner if other senators don’t grow the backbones to rein in this power-tripping trio….

read … Don’t let UH become a plaything for pernicious politicians

Star-Adv: HTA Problem is DeFries Bumbling of CNHA Bid Rigging

SA Editorial: … the Legislature seems determined to overhaul the tourism apparatus. Some lawmakers have concluded that the most recent challenges — including a botched procurement to handle both marketing and the HTA’s new push toward “destination management” — could be fixed by restructuring.

(Translation: Dump DeFries.)

It is not at all clear that bills now advancing in each chamber of the Capitol will accomplish what they intend. Neither makes the compelling case that this restructuring is even necessary. Both would repeal the HTA, as a start:

>> Senate Bill 1522 would replace HTA with an “Office of Tourism and Destination Management,” transferring HTA functions, funding and positions to the new agency, placed within the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT).

>> House Bill 1375 would replace HTA with a new “Destination Management Agency,” one that’s focused more on the effort to manage the level of tourism and its impact on Hawaii’s natural and cultural resources.

A third bill, HB 1381, which sought to commission a study of alternative governance setups before embarking on the change, has stalled….

In its RFP announcement, the authority split these two tasks into separate contracts. However, HTA President and CEO John De Fries told senators at Thursday’s Energy, Economic Development and Tourism Committee hearing that it was possible the procurement process could deliver a single entity holding both contracts. …

(CLUE: “C N H A”)

The more immediate result? Utter confusion.

Mufi Hannemann, president and CEO of the Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association, said association members would like to see “stronger, more laser-focused state tourism advocacy.

“Right now, it’s kind of unclear. Who is in charge? Is it DBEDT or is it HTA?” he said. “A lot of that is because of what has happened with the handling of the procurement contract.”

He’s right. Bringing needed clarity to the management of tourism — seen as the advantage of having HTA handle things — was not helped by all the back-and-forth….

State Sen. Glenn Wakai, majority floor leader, …addressed De Fries.  (Hint, hint.)  “I think the HTA model works,” the senator said. “I think the problem we are having today is the execution… it’s just been a litany of mistakes.”….

read … No good reason to eliminate Hawaii Tourism Authority

HB1049 Tax Relief: Invest in families to help them stay here

SA: … We can ensure lower- and middle- income families keep more of their hard-earned money so that they can afford to pay rent and buy food. House Bill 1049 is a comprehensive tax relief proposal that should not be watered down or cut back. It includes an increase in the earned income tax credit to give Hawaii families a larger tax refund. It also would give most families up to $10,000 a year to pay for child care, after-school care, or adult day care. We need this robust relief….

read … Invest in families to help them stay here

Kauai Council to Select Replacement for Evslin

CB: … A simple vote by the remaining six council members will determine Evslin’s successor. On Wednesday, the council will begin the process to nominate candidates and possibly conduct a vote.

If there’s a tie or if the council doesn’t appoint a new council member in 30 days, the mayor will make the appointment.

Council Chairman Mel Rapozo said he wants to fill the vacancy quickly so that a full council can start work on preparing a budget proposal in March....

TGI: The council will choose their new colleague on Wednesday morning by a simple majority vote, based on nominations from sitting members.   -- Two candidates have expressed interest in the role to The Garden Island — former council member Ross Kagawa and environmental scientist and community organizer Fern Anuenue Holland. In the November 2022 general election, Kagawa finished eighth with 9,967 votes. Holland finished ninth with 8,808.

HOOSER: A fair and open process, or not?

read … Evslin Leaves ‘Big Hole’ On Kauai Council As He Moves To State House

Big Island gun case tests high court ruling

HTH: … A Hilo judge on Monday dismissed three firearms-related charges against a 27-year-old Kurtistown man on the grounds that they violated his right to carry a firearm for self-defense under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

In what is believed to be a precedent in East Hawaii courts, Hilo Circuit Judge Peter Kubota dismissed charges of carrying a revolver, carrying a loaded firearm on a public roadway, and illegally carrying ammunition against Dallys Mello.

The revolver and loaded firearm charges are Class B felonies carrying a potential of 10 years imprisonment. The ammunition charge is a misdemeanor….

(CLUE: The Prosecutor charged ‘carry’ instead of charging use of gun in preparation for commission of a crime.  Here’s the rest…)

According to court documents filed by police, Mello was arrested on Sept. 17 at Pikake and Orchid streets in Fern Acres subdivision on suspicion of second-degree terroristic threatening.

Mello’s girlfriend allegedly reported to police that he had sent her a text message threatening to kill her dogs and her parent’s dogs. The 24-year-old woman told police she believed Mello to be in possession of her Smith and Wesson .22 magnum revolver.

The woman reportedly told police she had given Mello permission in the past to carry the handgun, and that he usually had it in his backpack while riding his motorcycle….

SA: Kokua Line: Are pepper ball launchers legal?

read … Big Island gun case tests high court ruling

Bills propose lowering drunken driving threshold to 0.05%

SA: …Casting a wider net for drunken driving also would overburden police departments and congest the courts, causing delays in processing more severe cases of impaired driving, the Public Defender’s Office wrote….

Two bills in the Senate — SB 365 SD1 Opens in a new tab and SB 160 Opens in a new tab — and two in the House — HB 1281 Opens in a new tab and HB 1469 Opens in a new tab — would lower the blood-alcohol concentration limit for the offense of operating a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant from 0.08% to 0.05%….

read … Bills propose lowering drunken driving threshold to 0.05%

Bum Removal: Waikiki Beach to be Closed 2AM-5AM to reduce feces and needles

SA: … The Waikiki Beach Special Improvement District Association is implementing a three-hour closure period from 2 to 5 a.m. daily for the Royal Hawaiian Beach to address a range of problems associated with overnight campers.

The new closure, supported by an amendment to the Waikiki Beach Management Plan, will start March 1 on the iconic stretch of sand that extends from the Royal Hawaiian groin to the start of Kuhio Beach Park beyond the Moana Surfrider.

Rick Egged, president of the association, said its board of directors approved the closure due to public safety concerns and to ensure “that Waikiki continues to be the magical place we know and love.”

On Friday, about a dozen campsites were sprawled across the swath of sand, which is privately owned land with public access. Some were built into the fence lines at some of Waikiki’s best beachfront hotels, where visitors pay a premium for ocean views.

Some campers were in the middle of the sand. Others were dangerously close to the tide or the Royal Hawaiian groin.

The stormy weather encouraged most campers to bundle up but one man was digging through a hotel trash can and another had created a pile of recyclables in the middle of the beach….

Waikiki stakeholders, including hotel management and beach concession operators, have said the absence of closure hours on Royal Hawaiian Beach drew overnight sleepers and created unsafe, unsanitary and sometimes dangerous situations.

“There are trash issues when we come in the morning around 6 a.m. or 7 a.m.,” said Dave Willard, interim executive director of the Waikiki Business Improvement District. “The trash is usually pulled out of the cans and scattered around and it just creates extra work. And it’s kind of a nuisance for a place that is supposed to be a beautiful tourist destination.”

He said staff also have to clean up human feces and occasionally other biohazards such as used syringes.

Hotel security officials have reported conflicts associated with occupation of the beach space for extended periods of time, as well as interactions, sometimes violent, with mentally unstable individuals.

“I think setting beach closure hours will be helpful,” Willard said. “The crowd that’s out there is pretty entrenched in homelessness or life on the street, so to speak, or life on the beach — you don’t have to follow rules and you can just kind of do what you want to do, which includes drugs or alcohol, unfortunately. It would be one less place that they could hang out.”

Willard said Waikiki stakeholders often run into resistance when trying to help connect people with housing and services.

“We are trying to come up with some ways to encourage, cajole or motivate people that are stuck and don’t want help to get some help,” he said….

read … Waikiki beach campers move officials to establish closure period

Legislative Agenda:



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