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Friday, April 7, 2023
April 7, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:45 PM :: 1956 Views

Hawaii's Good Friday Holiday - What's Up With That?

OHA Rejects $100M Offer--Sees More Profit in Lying About Kakaako Makai

Green Names Guidry to Intermediate Court of Appeals

30 Years later First members Appointed to Oahu Historic Preservation Commission

Moody's Downgrade: Rail Debt Gimmick Comes Back To Bite Honolulu Taxpayers

Cullen Sings Like Canary: Will Other Legislators Run Like Chickens?

KHON: … During Thursday’s hearing, prosecutors asked the judge to hand out a lighter sentence for Cullen because of the substantial assistance he provided beyond the two cases already resolved.

“Substantial assistance always means the investigation of other criminal activity involving other individuals. I will tell you that we felt that it warranted the motion that we filed and we’re hopeful that it will result in more prosecutions,” said Sorenson.

Sorenson would not reveal any more details on the investigation. But, retired federal public defender Ali Silvert said prosecutors are sending a strong message.

“If I were a lawmaker, I would be concerned,” said Silvert.

He said Cullen’s cooperation can only add up to one or two scenarios.

“He’s providing information either of other lawmakers who might’ve been taking bribes or other businessman who are offering bribes or a combination of both,” said Silvert….

SA: Former Hawaii legislator Ty Cullen receives 2 years in federal prison

HNN: Ex-lawmaker in bribery scandal gets leniency for cooperating with FBI in separate probes

HHD: SPEAKER SCOTT K. SAIKI'S STATEMENT REGARDING SENTENCING OF FORMER REP. CULLEN

read … Ty Cullen sentenced 2 years in prison for role in bribery scheme

Back Behind Bars: Miske Co-Defendant Faces New Allegation Of Witness Tampering

CB:  … According to an FBI agent’s affidavit filed along with the criminal complaint, Kimoto held two meetings in December with a witness who he believed was, along with the witness’ relatives, the only people who could tie him to one of the offenses with which he was charged.

During the first meeting, on Dec. 16, “Kimoto told Victim-A that the FBI would likely be approaching Victim-A and that it would be better for Victim-A and his/her relatives if he/she told the FBI nothing.”

He then reminded Victim-A “that he knew where Victim-A lived, worked and where Victim-A’s children went to school.”

During a second meeting on Dec. 28, “Kimoto reiterated to Victim-A that he/she should not talk to law enforcement and then Victim-A would not have to worry about anyone coming to Victim-A’s home or the school Victim-A’s children attended.”

Federal investigators did not learn of these meetings until they were admitted by Victim-A during an interview on March 20. Prior to this time, Victim-A said she was fearful the safety of herself and her family “based on Kimoto’s threats and his history of violence.”…

Witness-A appears to be related to a third charge against Kimoto, who is alleged to have conspired with Miske and others to carry out the Oct. 17, 2017, kidnapping of a 72-year-old accountant who has been identified in court files only by the initials S.L….

additional details were made public when an unredacted copy of an FBI report was mistakenly filed in court as an exhibit by John Schum, who was then representing defendant Delia Fabro-Miske.

The FBI Form 302 report was publicly available for a brief time before being replaced by a redacted version. During that short window, the document made public details of a 2019 interview with Miller.

The unredacted version was filed in court on Dec. 27, one day before Kimoto met with Victim-A and attempted to show her a court document that mentioned her and her family. It seems likely this document was the same Form 302 filed in court. It isn’t clear how Kimoto had obtained a copy.

According to the unredacted document, Miller told investigators that a Honolulu businessman and investor solicited Miske and his group to kidnap and attempt to extort the accountant, S.L.

The kidnapping was apparently the result of a financial dispute stemming from the bankruptcy of a company headed by S.L., which resulted in the businessman losing several hundred thousand dollars he had loaned to the company, and which was not recovered in the bankruptcy.

When S.L.’s company filed for bankruptcy in 2013, it listed over $2.1 million in debt, with total assets of just $58,750.

According to Miller, Kimoto had known the businessman/investor and his daughter for about 10 years at the time of the kidnapping. It was apparently through that family connection that Kimoto was asked to bring the kidnapping request to Miske’s attention…. 

ILind: Miske co-defendant faces witness tampering charges

read … Back Behind Bars: Miske Co-Defendant Faces New Allegation Of Witness Tampering

In confidential letter, former DLNR chair said some allegations against boating chief ‘substantiated’

HNN: … As part of the settlement, the state and the accused denied all the claims and any wrongdoing.

But Hawaii News Now has viewed a confidential state letter, written by a top government official, that states some of the allegations *were substantiated.”

According to the lawsuit, in mid-2021 the female employee reported inappropriate conversations with Boating Division Administrator Ed Underwood.

After an investigation, then-state Land Chair Suzanne Case wrote a letter to the female employee surrounding the status of her accusations.

The December 2021 letter stated the following:

“the investigation substantiated some, but not all, of the conduct alleged in your complaint.”

“Mr. Underwood looked at your breasts when talking to you, possibly during conversations with you regarding your breast augmentation surgery.”

“Mr. Underwood used nicknames only for women, including you, in the DOBOR office. Certain nicknames were gender- and/or race-related.”

“Although it was not substantiated that you were uncomfortable discussing your breast augmentation survey with Mr. Underwood, it was substantiated that he inappropriately engaged in conversation with you about your breast augmentation on several occasions, including talking about his wife’s breast surgery.”

“I think the investigations prove that there was sexual harassment,” said the plaintiff’s attorney, William Sink….

BACKGROUND: Bra and Panty Birthday Parties: Lawsuit Details Work Life at Hawaii DOBOR

BACKGROUND: Hawaii County Mayor Reminds us of DOBOR ‘Retaliation, Shenanigans’

read … In confidential letter, former DLNR chair said some allegations against boating chief ‘substantiated’

Bill Allowing Agencies To Withhold Draft Documents Slipped Into Another Bill Late In The Session

CB: … House Bill 719 to cap copying fees for public records was abruptly amended to allow agencies to withhold certain ‘pre-decisional’ records from the public….

Lance Collins, a Maui lawyer who represented Common Cause Hawaii on a working group that studied the deliberative process privilege last year, argued in a report on that subject that no one ever produced any proof that the deliberative process privilege is necessary.

Collins said he recognizes the problem with the gigantic fees that government agencies sometimes try to charge for records, which he describes as “a weapon to block access to records.”

But he said the compromise in the HB 719 is disappointing because in trying to address the problem of excessive fees, the bill would essentially also create a new way for government to withhold information and “basically take away access.”…

read … Bill Allowing Agencies To Withhold Draft Documents Slipped Into Another Bill Late In The Session

Bill seeking to double the earned income tax credit in the state advances

HPR: … The Senate’s Ways and Means committee approved a new version of House Bill 1049 Tuesday. The version increases the food excise tax credit, doubling it from its current rate.

It also increases the earned income tax credit from 20% to 40% of the federal rate.

In addition to those raises, it also nearly quadruples the amount families receive from the child and dependent care tax credit — from $2,400 to $10,000 for one child.

HB 1049 originally included a new tax credit for teachers that could be used to purchase classroom supplies. But WAM chair Donovan Dela Cruz suggested moving that specific credit to HB 1327.

In its original form, HB 1049 would have also provided relief for renters. But Sen. Dela Cruz noted that increased financial support to the state Public Housing Authority's housing voucher program could be more effective.

The Senate’s Ways and Means committee will discuss the future of HB 1327 Wednesday….

read … Bill seeking to double the earned income tax credit in the state advances

House OKs campaign financing reform measure

HTH: … The state House Finance Committee on Wednesday unanimously passed Senate Bill 1543, which aims to create “clean elections” in Hawaii,

The bill would establish a statewide public financing election program to help minimize corruption and the influence of private donors in politics….

read … House OKs campaign financing reform measure

OHA’s 2021 strategic plan no longer emphasizes creating a governing entity. Is that off the table?

SA: … Q: OHA’s 2021 strategic plan no longer emphasizes creating a governing entity. Is that off the table?

A: OHA’s Strategic Plan, Mana i Mauli Ola (Strength to Well-being), includes three foundations: ‘ohana (family), mo‘omeheu (culture) and ‘aina (land and water), and four directions, in the areas of education, health, housing and economic stability. The plan was developed after listening to our beneficiaries via surveys and community meetings statewide.

The board-approved Lahui policy of E Ho‘omau, or more specifically, “e ho‘omau i ka lahui Hawai‘i (to perpetuate the Hawaiian nation),” expresses OHA’s recognition of the Lahui’s continued endeavor to persist into the far future as a body of people united by common descent, history, culture and language.

In practice, OHA supports a self-determinative governance framework, meaning that we should exercise our right to choose the mechanisms for governance, education, health, housing and economic stability that best supports our families and communities….

read … OHA head guides office to Ho‘olua Lahui Aloha

Family of Dead Criminal Show up at Police Station: Harass Police, then Sue

HNN: … The suit, which was filed in Hilo Circuit Court, alleges 32-year-old Kahele-Bishop posed no danger to Detectives Justin Gaspar and Chad Taniyama when they fired into the stolen Chevy Malibu that he was driving on March 10.

“When the police fired their guns, they had a guy who was just simply trying to evade them,” said the family’s lawyer, Eric Seitz….

the department previously said the detectives fired at Kahele-Bishop — a parole violator with past theft convictions — because he refused to show his hands then reached for an object.

Police also said they later recovered a sawed-off shotgun, an unloaded rifle, and more than 25 rounds of ammunition in the car.

Seitz also alleged that police officers harassed family members at the crime scene and at the Kona Police Station.

Cell phone video provided by the family shows the family driving to the police station to file a harassment complaint against Gaspar as they followed the officer’s white SUV into the parking lot.

The video then shows Gaspar pointing a gun at their car, whose passengers included a young child. The video also shows police officers assisting Gaspar in arresting a male passenger, Kahele-Bishop’s brother Jake.

Jake Kahele-Bishop was later indicted for threatening Gaspar and resisting arrest….

SA: Family files wrongful death lawsuit after fatal police shooting in Kona

CB: Bodycams Are Becoming ‘Second Nature’ For Cops But Piling On Work For Prosecutors

read … Amid harassment claims, family of Hawaii Island man fatally shot by police files wrongful death suit

State (purposefully) loses bid to have lawsuit filed by young climate activists thrown out

HNN: … In January, Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Crabtree heard arguments on both sides.

He denied the state Department of Transportation’s motion to dismiss the case on Thursday.

They want the state to work toward making more environmentally-friendly transportation options, like bike lanes, sidewalks, and greater safety measures.

In addition, they’re calling for more charging stations for electric vehicles (moving the smokestack) and for airports and boat harbors to make biofuel (bulldoze Borneo and kill orangutans) and other alternative energy sources more available….

read … State loses bid to have lawsuit filed by young climate activists thrown out

‘It’s horrendous’: After 24 years, $64 million approved for major repairs at Hawaii Convention Center

KHON: … the Convention Center’s biggest project which is the rooftop that is said to have been leaking since 1999.

“This is the area that has the $64 million repair which has leaks under this sport court surface, and there’s cracks in the tile,” Orton said.

“You can’t market Hawaii and that Convention Center if these are some of the things occurring along with ponding, along with the water running down the side and mold,” said Sen. Lynn DeCoite, (D) Senate Committee on Energy, Economic Development and Tourism Chair. “It is horrendous.”…

“Last year, we put in $15 million for temporary repairs and that’s so they can come back this year and ask for more repairs,” said Rep. Adrian Tam, (D) Waikiki.

On Thursday, April 6, the Senate Ways and Means Committee approved $64 million in funding for roof repairs for the Hawaii Convention Center. Lawmakers said it’s important to keep the center (DTL/WCIT cash flow) up and running for the economy and the community.

read … ‘It’s horrendous’

DPP -- We can slow permits down by Shifting Blame to State Agencies

KHON: … The City’s Department of Planning and Permitting director said it is improving turnaround time for permit applications but said they could be even faster if the department delegated some of the permit processes back to certain state agencies.

The DPP Director Dawn Takeuchi Apuna said some of the wait times for permit applications are out of their hands as the permit is deferred to state agencies, utilities and working groups for its approval. …

“It could be waiting to get approval from any of these agencies, which is a lot of time,” Apuna said. “And, we’re just waiting for something; but that’s counting against or that’s counted within this long permitting time.” 

Apuna said the DPP was tasked to take on this workload back in the early aughts under Mayor Jeremy Harris. Apuna explained to a City Council committee that the added workload could add delays to the permitting process.

She said, “We are just doing a favor for a lot of these agencies.”…

The Department of Education is one of the state agencies that receive impact fees for development projects in certain parts of Oahu, but the DPP is tasked with calculating and collecting the fees. …

(TRANSLATION: We will slow the permit process down further, but the blame will not accrue to DPP.)

Meanwhile, Apuna said a new bot to pre-screen permit applications has cut wait-times by more than half, although the code review wait remains at three months. …

SA: DPP Says it has received no complaints about Abandoned Rape Bus

read … DPP reevaluating its ‘one-stop permit center’

Mayor Kawakami: Homelessness Begins With Closure of Mental Hospitals

TGI: … “When state (mental) hospitals were underfunded, under-resourced, and you had media like Geraldo Rivera going in and doing exposés, the government thought it was cheaper to shut them down rather than to resource them appropriately,” he said.

“And so what ended up happening is, a lot of people with mental health issues ended up in the streets. They don’t belong in our prisons because they’re not criminals, but there is literally no place for them to go.”

Kawakami continued, adding that failed safe zone projects on Hawai‘i Island have left his administration trying to ensure a similar program on Kaua‘i wouldn’t meet the same fate.

“It’s such a more complicated issue than just building homes or creating an area,” he said. “I mean, if you take a look, many of the encampments, they’ve already created an area, but you have issues like with security, issues like waste disposal. You have issues like sanitary conditions that they’re living in….

read … Kaua‘i County Council, mayor’s administration clash over homelessness solutions

Legislative Agenda: 

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