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Monday, May 15, 2023
May 15, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:21 PM :: 3719 Views

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Is Hawai’i Legislature’s State Budget Bill Constitutional?

IM: … The State Legislature used gut-and-replace on the state budget (HB 300). The Legislature voted on provisions that were subsequently amended after the vote. Although the Legislature has concluded the session, the budget worksheets detailing the final numbers are still being altered and revised.

The Hawaii House-Senate conference committee agreed to the terms of the state budget on April 26, 2023. After the vote, a $200,000,000 slush fund was added. No hearing was held on this gut and replace provision. A single floor vote was held by each house….

Representatives Belatti, Cochran, Ganaden, Hussey-Burdick, Kapela, Perruso, Pierick, and Souza voted against the budget bill….

The Hawaii Legislative Reference Bureau asserts, “helpful information and budget worksheets are posted on the Legislature's website."

The LRB website lacks the final budget sheets for HB 300 CD1.

Representative Natalia Hussey-Burdick stated, “we were mostly upset with the lack of transparency & unnecessarily chaotic process. Even the Conference Committee Managers weren't able to view the final draft of the budget before they voted on it, and the committee report (and final draft) didn't come out for a full 6 days after.

“We still haven't seen the all-important `Budget Worksheets` that break down each line item and give more granular details about where the money is actually going within each program.

“Personally, I don't think we should ever be asked to vote on a budget until the members and the public have a chance to read and weigh in on the Budget Worksheets, but that's the way it's always been done in Hawaii. I'm not here to rubber stamp anything, I'm here to shine a light on the process and speak out against injustice.”

The Hawaii Supreme Court ruled against Gut and Replace in the landmark case, “League of Women Voters of Honolulu and Common Cause vs. State of Hawai`i” decision in November 2021.

Article III Section 1 of the Hawaii State Constitution states, “The legislative power of the State shall be vested in a legislature, which shall consist of two houses, a senate and a house of representatives.  Such power shall extend to all rightful subjects of legislation not inconsistent with this constitution or the Constitution of the United States.”

Article III Section 15 of the Hawaii State Constitution states, “No bill shall become law unless it shall pass three readings in each house on separate days.  No bill shall pass third or final reading in either house unless printed copies of the bill in the form to be passed shall have been made available to the members of that house for at least forty-eight hours.”

The Court opined, “This court has consistently rejected the argument that alleged violations of constitutional mandates concerning the legislative process are nonjusticiable political questions.”…

CB: Rep. Elle Cochran: Bills Entered 'Twilight Zone' As Legislators Rushed To Adjourn

read … Is Hawai`i Legislature`s State Budget Bill Constitutional?

Donna Kim’s Ex-Husband Tangles with Gay Nightclub, Gets Media Attention

CB: … Bobby Aiu, the ex-husband of Sen. Donna Kim, disregarded procedures at the DEA, blasted his bosses to the governor, dressed down members of the public and even sued his brother over a horse….

Aiu’s keyboard heated up again. This time, his target was James DiPasquale, the attorney for Scarlet Honolulu, a gay nightclub that had named Aiu in a lawsuit but recently dropped him and another state worker. 

“You did this because any judge with half a brain would have dismissed us anyway (and chastised you along the way),” Aiu wrote the lawyer from his DCCA email account. “You are a disgrace to the profession, and a liar. This equates to you being an idiot and a bonehead.”

Aiu said he would report DiPasquale to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, which investigates attorney misconduct. “Be prepared to respond to ODC,” he wrote.

When DiPasquale raised the possibility that Aiu might still be included in the litigation, Aiu responded, “Bring it on, bonehead.”…

Aiu is the ex-husband of state Sen. Donna Kim, who 15 years after their divorce hired him as her chief of staff when she was Senate president. Their son Micah Aiu was elected last year to the House….

he also led a high-profile case against Japanese yakuza that in 1986 resulted in three embarrassing acquittals. The yakuza boss called the agents who investigated him “dumb.”…

Aiu in 1994 grabbed then-Honolulu Advertiser reporter James Dooley and pushed him up against a wall at the federal courthouse in Honolulu, angry about questions Dooley had supposedly been asking about his then-wife Donna Kim and her relationship to a Hawaii businessman, according to a book the journalist later wrote. Turned out it was all a mistake, Dooley wrote – someone posing as Dooley had called someone else asking questions about Kim, and that person relayed the false information to Aiu….

Aiu eventually found his way to RICO where, in 2016, he made an unannounced visit on a Saturday to the Scarlet Honolulu nightclub. 

Aiu said he was investigating an anonymous complaint that the nightclub was using unlicensed contractors. But Scarlet’s owners said the supposed complaint appeared to be a pretext.

Scarlet had sued a contractor for failing to build a restaurant next door by the promised deadline. Aiu, they said, pressured them to settle. 

The whole episode seemed highly irregular, if not surreal. They had made no complaint to RICO – why was a RICO investigator getting involved in their contractor lawsuit? Why was there no case number for the anonymous complaint, and why had normal RICO protocols not been followed?

“It was clear we were being shaken down by somebody in the old-boy network,” said Robbie Badwin, Scarlet’s owner….

Scarlet had sued its contractor, Pro Build, over what it alleged was the contractor’s failure to renovate a restaurant adjacent to the nightclub by the agreed-upon date and to return a $25,000 deposit.

After appearing at the nightclub unannounced on a Saturday afternoon and flashing his badge, Aiu talked to  Rob Sobieralski, the roommate of the owner Robbie Baldwin, about the anonymous complaint and whether Scarlet workers were allowed to put up drywall without a license, according to an email Sobieralski wrote at the time to the club’s attorney and others.

Then the conversation shifted to Pro Build and its owner Ken Lau. Aiu asked how much Scarlet would settle for and said that “by law” the nightclub had to give the company a chance to correct its errors, according to the email. Being a couple of months late in finishing a job, he said, did not justify a lawsuit.

If the nightclub didn’t settle, Aiu said, Scarlet’s landlord – prominent Honolulu attorney Bill McCorriston – could have “problems,” according to Sobieralski’s account.

1999: Aiu and other minority supervisors were seen as a so-called 'local-boy clique' in Honolulu -- DEA, however, placed Aiu on limited-duty status on Dec. 10, 1998, and on nonduty status on Jan. 19 while it investigates allegations of professional misconduct lodged against him…Among the allegations Aiu is accused of are allowing his cousin Thomas Aiu, also a DEA agent, to participate in drug enforcement activities against the instructions of his supervisor, Sidney Hayakawa; directing subordinate agents not to include Thomas Aiu's name in reports of drug enforcement activities; and yelling at a prisoner who was in custody and was trying to damage DEA property….Robert Aiu, Hayakama and retired supervisor George Clemente all received negative reports during an inspection of the Honolulu office in January.

read … This State Investigator Has A Long History Of Questionable Behavior. And He’s Still At It

Former Navatek Executives Plead Guilty To Sending Illegal Donations To US Sen. Susan Collins

CB: …Two former executives of a Hawaii-based defense contractor recently pleaded guilty to taking part in a scheme to funnel tens of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins during her 2020 bid for reelection.

Clifford Chen and Lawrence Lum Kee both worked for Navatek, an engineering firm that was doing research and development for the Navy and had satellite offices located in Collins’ home state of Maine….

Chen and Lum Kee each pleaded guilty on April 24 to making conduit contributions in violation of federal law.

According to their plea agreements, the offense carries a maximum penalty of up to a year in prison, but prosecutors are recommending a range of zero to six months plus a fine that could be anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000….

read … Former Hawaii Executives Plead Guilty To Sending Illegal Donations To US Sen. Susan Collins

It’s time for OHA to change its messaging about Kakaako Makai

Keli’i Akina: … OHA has attributed its legislative failures to dysfunctional politics and racial prejudice, among other reasons. However, I believe that the messaging OHA uses to promote its development project could be connected to OHA’s failure to rally support in the Legislature.

OHA has presented its case for lifting residential restrictions at Hakuone as a “matter of justice,” citing historical injustices against Native Hawaiians as grounds for legislative approval. For instance, OHA has argued that it is a victim of racial discrimination because the Legislature has denied its request to build residential towers while allowing “non-Hawaiian” businesses across the street to do so on their properties. Additionally, OHA claims that it was “short-changed” in the 2012 settlement agreement, as the Senate Judiciary and Labor committees implied that entitlements such as lifting residential restrictions could be obtained in the future.

Although these claims have been made, the available facts do not entirely support them. In reality, restrictions on residential development have been in place since 2006, six years before OHA acquired the lands in question. At that time, Alexander & Baldwin Inc., a historically significant “Big 5” company, was denied permission to construct residential towers. These restrictions were not established on the basis of prejudice against Hawaiians….

read … It’s time for OHA to change its messaging about Kakaako Makai

Proposed New UH Athletic Director Spearheaded Florida Stadium Project

HNN: … “I think University of Hawaii has chosen wisely,” said former FAU president Frank Brogan. “He really helped to turn things around and create an entirely new opportunity for the university through athletics and it’s still there today.”

Brogan spent almost seven years working with Angelos at FAU.

Brogan goes on to describe Angelos as a “focused fundraiser” saying he’s skilled when it comes to bringing in money.

“Craig really helped to spearhead the athletic department fundraising during that time period and set us up with additional athletics facilities and of course ultimately the stadium which is a state of the art 30,000 seat stadium,” said Brogan.

Angelos is expected to appear before the UH Board of Regents for final approval on Thursday….

Big Q: What’s your reaction to Craig Angelos as the next UH athletics director?

read … ‘University of Hawaii has chosen wisely’: Former FAU colleague defends athletics director selection

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