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Friday, April 28, 2023
April 28, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:31 PM :: 4271 Views

‘Drag Mother and Daughter Duo’ to Star at Aala Park Drag Queen Story Hour for Homeless Children

VIDEO: Rep Elijah Pierick Responds to Drag Queen Story Hour

Feds Send $115.5 Million to Expand Broadband

$18M to Keep Kona Hospital on Life Support

EPA Inspector General Report on Red Hill Facility 

“Almost every single major player on the chicken fighting scene here is also a major player in terms of illegal narcotic distribution”

CB: … Hawaii County police found 14 chickens, including four dead ones, when they raided a cockfight last month. But the birds weren’t the main concern.

Police also found three unregistered pistols and a .22-caliber rifle, all loaded, plus cocaine, marijuana and $8,000 during the March 4 raid in Kealakekua. They arrested four men on firearms and drug charges.

Big Island Police Chief Ben Moszkowicz says that was no coincidence.

“Almost every single major player on the chicken fighting scene here is also a major player in terms of illegal narcotic distribution here in this county,” he said Wednesday in a telephone interview.

Moszkowicz, who took over as chief three months ago after 22 years with the Honolulu Police Department, said that’s not necessarily the case on Oahu.

(Wow.  He still has to make excuses for HPD.)

“For some reason, drugs have infiltrated our cockfighting community more than on the other neighbor islands,” he said….

Hawaii island police have conducted 10 raids on cockfights since September 2018, when the current police records system started, Sgt. Nelson Acob said in an email.

By contrast, the Honolulu Police Department hasn’t conducted a raid or made any arrests for cockfighting in well over a year, spokeswoman Michelle Yu said. She declined to comment further….

Big Island police target fights with higher stakes, including tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars being gambled. Gambling is also illegal in Hawaii.

“We want the cases where people are paying $10,000 a chicken to enter them into a derby and the first prize is $100,000 or $200,000,” Moszkowicz said.

At those sorts of events, police tend to find “pounds-worth” of drugs, and they have more potential for violence, he said….

When 20 or 30 cops show up to a chicken fight derby packed with 1,000 people, they can’t arrest everyone, Moszkowicz said….

PDF: Borge indictment

read … Big Island Police Tackle Cockfights But The Real Catch Is On The Sidelines

Feds ‘Not Finished’ -- Retired Maui Wastewater Employee Gets 16 Months In Prison For Taking Bribes

CB: …  A retired Maui County wastewater maintenance mechanic was sentenced Thursday to 16 months in federal prison and two months of house arrest for his role in a corruption scandal that also put away former state lawmakers Ty Cullen and Kalani English.

Wilfredo Savella, 71, pleaded guilty in December to taking bribes of cash and first-class trips to Las Vegas totaling more than $40,000 from businessman Milton Choy. In exchange, Savella helped direct $19 million in contracts to Choy’s company, H2O Process Systems….

Another Maui county official, Stewart Stant, a former director of the Maui Department of Environmental Management, pleaded guilty in September, as did Choy.

In February, Stant was sentenced to 10 years in prison for taking $2 million in bribes.

Choy, who had been cooperating with the FBI for years before the charges against the state lawmakers were made public, has not yet been sentenced.

Sorenson would not comment on whether prosecutors were targeting other individuals in the corruption scandal, but he indicated they are not finished.

“The efforts continue,” he said….  

MN: Ex-county supervisor receives 16 months in federal prison

read … Retired Maui Wastewater Employee Gets 16 Months In Prison For Taking Bribes

Alleged Rapist-Slasher Had Many Friends in Prosecutor Kaneshiro’s Office

KHON: … Michael Hirokawa is charged with attempted murder, kidnapping and sex assault.

Court records said in November 2020, he met a woman at a bar and took her to his condo at Capitol Place where he allegedly choked and raped her.

Records said she was able to escape when he fell asleep and was found naked and bleeding in the elevator.

Records filed by his attorney said that he was drugged. The prosecutor’s office said it has a conflict of interest and asked the State Attorney General to prosecute the case.

“Several deputy prosecuting attorneys in the office not only know Michael Hirokawa but are close to and have some type of close relationship to him,” said attorney Megan Kau, who represents the victim.

She said it’s unusual to have the whole prosecutor’s office drop out of the case….

“Typically, maybe one person knows a defendant; and so, another division can take the case. But here, we have deputy prosecuting attorneys in screening, trials divisions, different divisions, that all knew the defendant,” said Kau.

She adds that two people who were deputy prosecutors at the time when Hirokawa was arrested are on the witness list. One was subpoenaed by the defense, and she believes will be called in as a character witness for the defense ….

read … Unusual twists for high profile criminal trial

Identity Theft? Judiciary Retaliates on Whistleblower

SA: … Parker said he accessed Green’s information only after his calls to notify the state were ignored.

“My logic was that I want to get their attention and get a backup set of eyes watching them,” said Parker, who documented in a April 10 letter to the Maui News exactly how he was able to access the system that includes the Social Security numbers, home addresses, dates of birth and other personal information for anyone who has ever gotten a ticket in the past 25 years.

Upon learning of the access to Green’s records, the Judiciary shut down JEFS on April 11, fixed the vulnerability and brought the system back online April 12.

Parker said he feared that “tens of thousands” of people’s personal information could be compromised, and outlined in his letter to the newspaper exactly how he was able to access the system intended only for law enforcement. It included screen shots of Green’s records that included his Social Security number “to support his claim along with an explanation as to how such personal records could be obtained through the use of a URL address,” according to a report to the Legislature about the incident prepared by the Judiciary.….

Parker’s JEFS account was suspended and his subscription fee refunded, and he is prohibited from “further subscribing to JEFS until this matter is resolved.” Parker alleges that he is a “victim of whistleblower revenge,” a claim the state denies.

“They took away my membership in a system I need on a daily basis to run my business,” said Parker. “This whistleblower took it on the chin. Not to make me hero, but to warn others.”…

Parker said the method he found for accessing the information meant for law enforcement “involves a real and honest danger for a lot of people.”

“Start notifying a lot of people that this is possible. If I found it accidentally, I doubt I’m the only one who found it,” he said.

read … Access to Hawaii governor’s personal records spurs investigation

Next Boondoggle: Acting chair is named head of Aloha Stadium Authority board

SA: … Until now Morioka — who was previously vice chair — had recused himself from consideration for the permanent top spot. He was concerned his job as dean of the University of Hawaii’s College of Engineering would be a conflict of interest….

The fact that UH President David Lassner is also on the stadium board, and speculation that the university would play a major role in building and/or running the new Aloha Stadium, added to a potentially awkward situation.

Those concerns were diminished, though, when Green in March announced plans for private-sector entities to design, build, operate and maintain the new stadium.

“Now that I think we know, or what I am hearing, is that UH will not be a part of the actual delivery (of a new stadium) … I did have a conversation with President Lassner, and he felt comfortable about (him assuming the chair),” said Morioka, who added that he would continue to recuse himself from votes having to do with UH….

“Our next step is a follow- up meeting with all … executive, legislative,” Morioka said.

He and other state officials and planners who attended recent meetings have said a final agreement is close.

Questions remain how quickly needed adjustments to previous planning can be made so contracts can be awarded and work started. Other still-unknowns are how much of the mixed- development concept of the New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District will remain, and what quality of stadium can be built with the available funding….

read … Acting chair is named head of Aloha Stadium Authority board

School board reverses commission decision to close Kamalani Academy

SA: … In an unprecedented court-style hearing, the state Board of Education today reversed a decision by the state Public Charter School Commission to close the Wahiawa charter school Kamalani Academy.

The administrative hearing, held in a moot-court classroom at the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson Law School, centered on Kamalani’s appeal of a February decision by the commission to deny the school a five-year contract renewal….

Five members of the BOE listened to approximately an hour and a half of oral arguments by separate state deputy attorneys general representing the school and the commission, then went into a private room to deliberate.

When the panel emerged, BOE Chair Bruce Voss announced that they concluded that the commission made several errors in its dealings with Kamalani, including basing its decision on problems that had not been raised in a prior performance evaluation, and failing to properly and clearly describe the violations.

The school and commission are directed to execute a renewed contract, but if it takes longer than the June 30 expiration, it would be assumed to be renewed in the interim for one year, Voss said….

read … School board reverses commission decision to close Kamalani Academy

DOBOR Hit with $600K fine for pollution

HNN: … The state Department of Land and Natural Resources, a state agency tasked with protecting Hawaii’s natural resources, faces a $600,000 fine for pollution at the Heeia Kea Small Boat Harbor.

Between 2015 and 2020, the state Health Department said there were 62 instances where wastewater from the harbor exceeded limits for measures of bacteria levels.

The violations were partly due to the the harbor’s 32-year-old wastewater treatment system, which the DLNR and its Boating and Recreation Division has been trying to replace for years….

The state Land Board will vote on the deal on Friday.

As part of the proposed settlement, the state also will be required to install a new wastewater treatment plant, which will likely cost several million dollars.

In 2018, the DLNR received $1 million to build a new plant but the bids submitted exceeded that amount. Last year, state lawmakers gave the department $3 million for a new plant. The procurement process is now underway….

read … ‘Flabbergasted’: State agency charged with protecting Hawaii’s resources faces hefty fine for pollution

Hawaii ‘Clean’ Hydrogen to be refined from … oil, LOL!

SA: … Houston-based Par Pacific Holdings Inc. said Thursday it plans to invest about $90 million to develop Hawaii’s largest liquid renewable fuels manufacturing facility at the company’s Kapolei refinery.

The project relies on the refinery’s operating team, existing tank storage and related logistics, as well as available hydrogen from current refining operations, a key requirement for low-carbon renewable fuel production. The project is expected to be completed for less than $1.50 per gallon of annual operating capacity and is expected to be commissioned in 2025.

The unit can produce up to 60% sustainable aviation fuel in a first step toward decarbonizing Hawaii’s significant air travel market….

(IQ Test: Are you laughing?)

The announcement coincides with Par Pacific’s authorization from the U.S. Foreign-Trade Zone Board to use foreign-sourced vegetable oil (Translation: Bulldoze Borneo to build more palm oil plantations.) to supplement locally sourced renewable feedstocks. Par Hawaii is working with Hawaii-­based Pono Pacific in the planting of (pretend) camelina crops to test the suitability of that oil seed for (pretend) state production (to cover up the fact that Borneo is being bulldozed) ….

read … Par Pacific invests $90M in renewable-fuel facility

Are Hawaii Child Labor Laws Hampering Work-Based Learning Opportunities?

CB: … Work-based learning opportunities, like those being discussed in House Concurrent Resolution 58, can help students gain valuable career knowledge and experience.

Those in favor of work-based learning, such as the Hawaii Work-Based Learning Policy Hui and Hawaii Kids Can, argue that students gain early hands-on experience in the career field of their choosing, which may better prepare them for the day they join the workforce. 

The DILR does not explicitly oppose the resolution but did submit testimony asking that another agency handle this task, due to staff shortages. 

HCR 58 asks the DLIR to review the current youth work permit system to see what types of barriers it may be creating for work-based learning opportunities and for research to be made as to how to streamline more opportunities for the state’s youth.  

Career and Technical Education is what these types of work-based learning programs are called by the Department of Education. The programs are funded through Perkins V, also known as the Strengthening Career and Education for the 21st Century Act, and according to the DOE website, nearly $1.4 billion is invested into them annually. …

The U.S. Department of Labor currently lists each state’s youth work permit practices and there are variances across the board. Some states, such as Kentucky, don’t require any permits for youth workers. Employers who hire minors regardless of whether they require permits or not still need to follow federal labor laws and child labor laws.

Hawaii currently mandates that youth 17 and younger obtain an age certificate before being able to work….

read … Are Hawaii Child Labor Laws Hampering Work-Based Learning Opportunities?

Coco Palms Homeless Camp: 100 Junk Cars and Tons of Trash

TGI: … About six months ago we acquired control of the property via foreclosure/failed sale and were deeply disturbed by the state in which we found it.

The grounds were covered in nearly 100 abandoned cars, a large homeless camp, and tens of thousands of pounds of trash. Criminal activity and drug abuse were rampant on the property, and we’re told these problems have existed for well over a decade. The extent of the problem was truly shocking and heartbreaking.

We took on the enormous responsibility and expense of beginning to clean up the property because we understand the importance of preserving this land and ensuring it is treated with the respect it deserves.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) has also expressed a desire to see the property cleaned up, and we happily agreed to their request. We assumed DLNR’s request to clean up the property was all the permission we needed from DLNR to do the cleanup,, so we didn’t apply for a permit for the cleanup.

The DLNR has informed us we needed a permit to clean up this land, and has asked us to hold off on any more cleanup until we obtain the correct permit. We’ll of course obtain any needed permits and work cooperatively with the DLNR and all other government agencies to ensure we comply with all rules and regulations as we clean up the historic Coco Palms property, and ensure it never again becomes a dumping ground for trash or a magnet for crime and drug abuse.

Separately, the DLNR has received erroneous complaints that we grubbed or graded the land. We will show the DLNR those complaints are not accurate.

Lastly, the County of Kaua‘i asked us to provide emergency access to the property, especially for fire trucks, by removing some trees. There was a major fire on the property in 2012, so the county’s request was not surprising, and we complied with it. Other governmental agencies are concerned we did not get their permission before complying with the county’s request, and we are working to resolve that issue….

CB: Kauai Wants To House The Homeless — Just Not In Their Backyard

read … A note to the community about Coco Palms

‘Forever chemicals’ detected in second Kunia Village well

SA: … A second well in Kunia Village, a small agricultural community in central Oahu, has tested positive for chemicals known as PFAS. Long-term exposure to the contaminants also referred to as “forever chemicals” can lead to an increased risk of certain cancers, among other health problems.

The village’s other drinking water well, Kunia Village Well 3, tested positive for the chemicals in January and the community has been relying on bottled water for weeks Opens in a new tab after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last month proposed strict limits on the contaminants.

The new test results for Kunia Village Well 4 detected levels of chemicals that were above the EPA’s new proposed limit of 4 ppts. PFOA was detected at between 5.6 ppt – 7.8 ppt, while PFOS was detected at between 11.7 ppt – 14 ppts, according to a Hawaii Department of Health press release.

Both wells have been shut down….

DoH: PFAS Detected in Kunia Well 4

read … ‘Forever chemicals’ detected in second Kunia Village well

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