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Wednesday, May 24, 2023
May 24, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:31 PM :: 2285 Views

Sovereignty Hitman Gets Piddling 37 Months for Beheading Threats

Hawaii Next? California sued over Law Allowing Lawsuits Against Gun Manufacturers

'Out of State Permits' Drop 30%

Honolulu Youth Commission now accepting applications 

Governor urged to veto ‘crypto crackdown’ bills

‘Blame Katherine’ -- Louis Kealoha finds Media Flack to Peddle his latest story

CB: … “Louis Looks Back” will provide readers with Kealoha’s view on key moments of the case, a look inside his broken marriage to Katherine, and historical details about a family feud that Kealoha claims laid the groundwork for what transpired, according to Mary Zanakis. (Just another political insider and ‘journalist.’)

The book captures Louis Kealoha’s first one-on-one interviews with a reporter since his criminal conviction. Zanakis is a former reporter and anchor on television, including KITV and KHON, and radio at KSSK. She had a brief stint in politics, running unsuccessfully as a Democrat for lieutenant governor in 2014.  (See?  Told you.)

The author also happens to be related to the Kealohas. Zanakis and Katherine Kealoha’s mother are first cousins. That kind of relationship would raise ethical concerns in any journalistic endeavor, and Zanakis admits it’s likely the reason Kealoha spoke to her at all…. (See?  Told you.)

Zanakis did not contact Katherine Kealoha for comment.  “This is his story,” she said. “Everything that would come out of her mouth, I think, would probably be a lie.”

But the same could be said of Louis, said Gerard Puana, who the Kealohas tried to frame for a crime he didn’t commit.

“He changes his mind like we change our socks,” he said. “How can you believe anything any of them say?”…

Zanakis met with Kealoha at his Kahala home over the course of several days in January and May of 2021 and had the last interview in the car on the way to prison. The interviews were videotaped and may be released later on Zanakis’s Facebook page “Kailua Calabash.”…

A few months after their convictions, Louis Kealoha filed for divorce, although it was never finalized. He is scheduled to get out of prison in July 2026 with good behavior. 

While the book hasn’t yet gone to the printer, the premise is already making some people queasy. 

Ali Silvert, the former public defender who helped cracked the Kealoha conspiracy open, said Kealoha received a lighter sentence because he took responsibility for his crimes. Now it appears Kealoha is trying to rewrite history in what Silvert said looks like  “a self-serving, one-sided autobiography.”

read … ‘180 Degrees’ Different: Former HPD Chief Louis Kealoha Is Telling His Side Of The Story

Miske defendant appeals continued confinement to 9th Circuit

ILind: … Young’s appeal is not yet list on the 9th Circuit’s website.

However, Judge Watson’s recent order, dated April 7, spelled out his reasons for rejecting Young’s appeal.

Young is charged in three of the 22 counts in the third superseding indictment. He is charged with being part of Miske’s alleged racketeering conspiracy, conspiring to distribute drugs, including cocaine and meth, and carrying/using a firearm in a drug trafficking crime.

The drug conspiracy charge carries a 10-year minimum sentence if he is convicted, and a conviction on the weapon’s charge would add another 5 years minimum. The racketeering charge carries a 20-year maximum. …

read … Miske defendant appeals continued confinement to 9th Circuit

Over-regulation leading to those priced out of Hawaii like Iam Tongi

KHON: … Before rising to fame on “American Idol,” Tongi said his family was priced out of their tropical paradise, forcing them to relocate to Washington.

This raises the question: who else is leaving, and what measures are being taken to ensure affordable housing? …

Across the nation, increasing regulation has driven up home prices. Despite the scarcity of land in the islands, research from the University of Hawaii Economics Research Organization suggests that a significant portion of our housing costs is self-inflicted, with over-regulation of the housing market leading to a low supply and high demand.

UHERO has discovered that Hawaii has the highest level of regulation in the country, resulting in a median resale value that is two and a half times the national average.

“For many years we haven’t built enough housing, so we’ve seen prices that have tripled in the last 20 years. Those who could afford a house 20 years ago would find it nearly impossible with a similar income today,” said Justin Tyndall, UHERO Assistant Professor of Economics.

Part of the solution may lie in permitting multi-family units and apartments, thus making homeownership more accessible without needing a significant windfall such as winning American Idol….

According to the United State Census, Hawaii has lost 15,077 residents since 2020….

CB: Naka Nathaniel: Iam Tongi Shared An Important Message About Life In Hawaii

read … Over-regulation leading to those priced out of Hawaii like Iam Tongi

UHERO indicates that delays in the permitting process in Hawaii have been roughly three times longer than the national average.

KHON: … “Hopeless.” That’s the description given by a University of Hawaii housing expert regarding the dream of owning property in Hawaii. Over-regulation, they claim, has led to limited availability of homes in the market.

A major culprit is the sluggishness of the permitting process. Staff members from the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization said that an increase in housing construction could substantially alleviate the high cost of living in the islands, which is largely driven by housing expenses.

However, housing construction has stalled over the past two decades, causing housing prices to skyrocket.

UHERO indicates that delays in the permitting process in Hawaii have been roughly three times longer than the national average.

“We’ve been focusing on sustainability, which to us means the ability to allow our kids to raise their own children here in Hawaii,” Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth said.

“Permitting has been one of the barriers to achieving this, as affordable housing is crucial for maintaining a resident population. When the permitting process takes an extended period of time, we know that it drives up prices,” said Roth.

In Honolulu, the Department of Planning and Permitting reports that they’ve reduced permit waiting times from a median of 330 days to 170 days since November 2022, thanks to the implementation of automated prescreening and other improvements.

For context, in November, the DPP reported that the prescreening process alone took 178 days….

read … Hawaii County adds hope to the state’s dire housing situation

CLUE: More Vacant Houses Means LOWER Housing Costs

CB: … There is a distinct negative correlation between housing prices and vacancy rates.

Recent vacancy tax proposals such as Honolulu’s Bill 9 and Bill 76 have been inspired by the belief that vacant or “empty” homes are a significant cause of Hawaii’s housing crisis.

However, a comprehensive study of available data conducted by researchers at the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii disputes this popular theory.

The “empty homes” theory can be put to a simple test: If vacancies increase housing prices, then states with the highest housing prices should also have higher-than-average vacancies. So is this really the case?

The data says no.

Looking at data from across the nation, states with the highest housing prices have vacancy rates well below the national average of 12.8%. Such is the case with California and Massachusetts, which have vacancy rates of 7.8% and 9.1%, respectively.

On the other hand, states with the lowest housing prices, such as Mississippi and West Virginia, have vacancy rates much higher than the national average — 16.1% and 17.8% respectively.

Contrary to what one might expect if vacancies caused higher housing prices, actually there is a distinct negative correlation between housing prices and vacancy rates based on data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia….

read … It’s called ‘Supply and Demand’

Where have all the workers gone? Hawaii’s chief economist explains

HNN: … worker shortage in Hawaii is improving, but it’s still not back to pre-pandemic levels.

He says, on average, in 2019, before the pandemic, there were a total of about 7,500 job openings in Hawaii. That number skyrocketed to 35,000 in December of 2021. The latest data from February of this year shows 14,000….

“We are still recovering. That’s the key,” Tian said.

Tian and other experts estimate a full recovery will not happen until 2025.

In addition, he says Hawaii’s population is dwindling.

“There are people moving out of state,” he said. “We lost population in the last few years, and this is especially true for Honolulu and Maui.”

Lastly, Tian says there is a mismatch. He says job seekers are out there, but their priorities have changed.

“Going through the pandemic, people’s habits, or maybe their demand, is different because they care more about health, about transportation, and family values. So, their standard has changed.”…

NR: 05/23/23 WorkHawaii to Host Hiring Event on May 24

read … Where have all the workers gone? Hawaii’s chief economist explains

Spying on You: Tourist tracking app could be part of Hawaii visitor management plan

HNN: … Hawaii hosts about 10 million visitors a year, and they often tend to go to the same locations — so crowds and traffic can make the experience unpleasant. But lawmakers and the CNHA, which one the destination stewardship contract from the Hawaii Tourism Authority say a smart phone app could be the key.

State Rep. Sean Quinlan, who chairs the House Tourism Committee, said the technology is already available.

“I think it’s just something that we all decided, wow, it’s this kind of obvious, it’s staring us right in the face,” Quinlan said.

The concept already under discussion is a single Hawaii visitor smart phone app — loaded in advance or via QR codes at the airports.

The app would offer visitors useful information and alerts and a place to make reservations and pay fees, in return the government gets the power to watch where they go.

Tyler Iokepa Gomes is responsible for the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement’s management of the HTA contract. He said the data and new artificial intelligence capabilities will make it manage visitors in real time.

“To track where all our visitors are and then perhaps suggestively redirecting them to less occupied spaces and to excursions and activities that aren’t current overloaded,” Gomes said.

Quinlan describes an example of a visitor who wants to go to Waimea Bay at a busy time. They would be given information or reservation opportunities but also be warned about the current crowding, lack of parking and heavy traffic and offered other choices.

“And if you don’t want to sit in traffic for two hours today, here are three or four alternative sites that you can take your family to visit,” Quinlan said. “Because right now, the residents are having a terrible time. And the visitors are having a bad time, too.”

Quinlan said there is money in the Department of Land and Natural Resources budget to begin coordinating the app, hiring visitor management personnel and collecting fees.

Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement CEO Kuhio Lewis said his agency could bring together on the platform the right government agencies and services along with cultural activities and made-in-Hawaii products.

Lewis said that would fit the mission of the contract….

read … Tourist tracking app could be part of Hawaii visitor management plan

Legislators Want Mass Release of Criminals -- Design OCCC Funding to Fail

SA: … The state Legislature this year has authorized a delayed resumption of work to replace Oahu’s woefully obsolete jail.

Hawaii lawmakers included $10 million in their budget bill for the state Department of Public Safety to continue planning and design work on a replacement for Oahu Community Correctional Center.

But the money won’t be available until mid-2024, adding more delay and likely higher costs on a project where initial work began about a decade ago.

(CLUE: This will increase construction costs by more than the appropriation amount.)

DPS had sought $25 million over the next two fiscal years — $15 million in the fiscal year beginning July 1 followed by $10 million the following fiscal year — but it appears that continued resistance in the House of Representatives scuttled much of what the agency described to lawmakers in January as its top priority.

Toni Schwartz, DPS public information officer, said in a statement that the project is essentially stalled for at least a year, though the agency is reviewing options to see if it can continue some planning and design work.

“Every year this project is delayed means an escalation of costs and no relief for the current overcrowded and inhumane conditions at OCCC,” she said.

(Told you.)

The facility is described as being 48 years old, though some parts date back to 1912 and conditions require a lot more staffing and maintenance expense than modern jails.

DPS has been trying for close to a decade to replace OCCC with a safer and more efficient modern facility in Halawa near the state prison. But funding has been spotty.

The Legislature appropriated an initial $5 million in 2014 followed by $5.4 million in 2016 to fund such items as site analyses and selection, a master plan, community outreach, an environmental impact statement and a request for private developers to convey interest in largely financing and delivering such a project for state use.

Last year, DPS under then-Gov. David Ige requested $15 million to develop a detailed request for proposals and negotiate a development agreement with a winning bidder, among other things.

But members of the House aligned with criminal justice system reform advocates opposed the funding request, and the $15 million last year wasn’t appropriated.

(TRANSLATION: They want mass release of criminals back onto the streets.)

One vocal opponent of the funding last year was then-Rep. Sylvia Luke, who chaired the House Finance Committee at the time and in December became lieutenant governor in the new administration of Gov. Josh Green.

“Criminal justice reform continues to be a priority for the House,” Luke said last year on the floor of the House where she praised colleagues for rejecting the proposed appropriation to help replace OCCC.

(TRANSLATION: They want mass release of criminals back onto the streets.)

Criminal justice reform advocates contend that new policies and programs need to be developed that keep people from being in jail so that a larger facility sought by DPS isn’t needed.….

(TRANSLATION: They want mass release of criminals back onto the streets.)

SA Editorial: No good reason to delay new jail

read … Plan for new Oahu jail gets partial, delayed funding

Handi-Van saddled with Soderholm Truck-Vans (again)

SA Editorial: …Vans ordered to replace an aging fleet are being delivered behind schedule, adding to a pileup of difficulties that drag down Handi-Van performance. In March, just 67% of Handi-Vans were rideable. Any figure below 80% should be considered a crisis, or as Transportation Services Director Roger Morton told the City Council last year, a “warning sign.”…

Low fleet numbers affect availability for riders. That’s a problem that needs addressing by keeping to a deployment and replacement schedule that doesn’t rely on continued operation of outdated vehicles.

(Translation: Soderholm’s failure to deliver the number of vehicles contracted could result in a federal mandate which would then force OTS to buy more Soderholm vehicles.) 

The city should also thoroughly explore its future alternatives for obtaining fleet vehicles — including the prospect of diversifying the fleet so that specialized, highly expensive vans designed for wheelchairs are deployed only where absolutely needed….

(CLUE: Minivans can carry wheelchairs.  Duh!)

Exploring various types of vehicles — and vehicle sources — can protect the city from being forced into crisis mode if a sole vendor can’t meet needs….

Ignore This: Uber Caldwell: Level the Playing Field for Everybody Except HandiVan

And This: US Department of Justice Orders Handi-Van to Answer Phones, Book Rides

read …  Handi-Van needs to upgrade service

Oahu’s red light cameras could expand to speeding

KHON: … More than 4,000 citations have been sent out for the Department of Transportation’s red light camera program, which is six months into its two-year pilot.

The cameras cite the owner if a vehicle enters an intersection after the light has turned red and it will not give speeding tickets — for now — even though the infrastructure is there.

Nine out of 10 red light cameras are actively issuing citations for red light runners at Oahu intersections as of Tuesday, May 23. KHON2 noticed the vehicle speed is listed in the DOT’s example photo of how the cameras work, but officials say speed is not an issue for the duration of the program.

“After the two years, we put together, report all of the all that data, all the numbers we have, we take it to the State legislature, then we see what they would like to do it, what lawmakers want to do,” said DOT spokesman Jai Cunningham. “Do they want to keep it in place? Do they want to expand it? Do they want to increase it where you may be able to issue speeding tickets as well? And that’s something that Director Sniffen has said all along.”…

read … Oahu’s red light cameras could expand to speeding

Oahu's stolen vehicles used for other crimes

KITV: … On Oahu, thousands of cars get stolen each year.

But criminals only face charges in about 7% of those cases.

This year, an average of 5 cars and trucks are stolen EVERY day around Oahu.

While that may seems like a lot, it is actually down from last year's total of 2,500 stolen vehicles, or 7 cars and trucks stolen every day….

read … Oahu's stolen vehicles used for other crimes

Maui: Former Anti-GMO Mayoral Candidate Arrested after man shot multiple times with pepper ball launcher

HNN: … John Webby’s surveillance camera captured the moment he says a stranger began harassing him.

“He started accusing me of doing some damage to his business,” Webby said. “I never saw the guy. I don’t even know the man, and I told him that I had nothing to do with it and that he needed to leave, and he wouldn’t leave,” Webby said.

The video shows Webby getting off of his chair at his business, Aloha Hawaiian Activities, along South Kihei Road this past Saturday just before noon and begins shoving the stranger.

Webby demands that he leave and stop bothering him. Webby walks back to his chair and begins to sit down.

That is when he says the stranger started shooting him.

“I thought it was a real gun when I first saw it,” said Webby. “And I said to myself, ‘Ah, this is my last day on earth.’”

Webby was shot multiple times with a weapon that shoots pepper balls in the face and body.

“Three rounds come out, ‘Pop, pop, pop!’ And then I stood up, turned that way, ‘Pop, pop, pop!’ Another couple.”

Webby was taken to the hospital.

Maui police say the suspect, 42-year-old Beau Hawkes of Kihei, was arrested and charged with Assault in the First Degree. Police say Hawkes posted $5,000 bail.

Officials described the weapon as “a yellow-colored less-lethal C02 pistol.”

Hawkes was sentenced to 30 days in jail back in 2014 after (he fled and evaded) a police officer (who had) pulled him over for talking on his cellphone while driving a car with no license plates or insurance. Hawkes was (later) caught on camera running from (another) officer and being tased outside the old Wailuku courthouse….

2014: Video: Anti-GMO Maui Mayoral Candidate Runs from Cop, Gets Tazed

2014: Anti-GMO Candidates Lose Big Statewide

read … Maui police investigating after man shot multiple times with pepper ball launcher

Bumbling DoE Bureaucrats Return ‘Buy Local’ Funding to Federal Government

CB: … Hawaii's congressional delegation wants to know why the money it fights for is not being used by the Department of Education….

The Department of Education has blamed miscommunication as the reason it failed to use $650,000 in federal money meant to assist schools in buying local food….the $650,000 figure is just a fraction of the federal funds for school meals that the state agency has rejected, neglected to apply for or simply given back to the federal government over the past several years. …

Last week Superintendent Keith Hayashi sent a letter to the congressional delegation explaining why the DOE had decided not to take part in the Local Food in Schools program that Hayashi celebrated winning earlier this year.

Hayashi said it came down to a “misunderstanding” between the Hawaii Child Nutrition Program and the School Food Services Branch which are both under the DOE umbrella, leading to recipes being developed without sufficient SFSB input.

The lack of SFSB input makes it “difficult to incorporate these new recipes into the existing meal pattern to meet federal nutrition guidelines,” the letter stated.

Hawaii Child Nutrition Program is charged with ensuring compliance with those guidelines.

The letter also stated that while the DOE was grateful to be part of the farm to school conversation, “having different enthusiastic stakeholders can lead to challenges and misunderstandings.”…

read … Hawaii DOE Has Returned Millions Of Dollars That Could Have Bought Local Food

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