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Wednesday, June 21, 2023
June 21, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:56 PM :: 2781 Views

Oil Spills: EPA Hammers Pacific Biodiesel

Maui Mayor accepting applications to Independent Nomination Board

Blangiardi announces leadership changes at two City departments

Sailor Wins Right to Register Guns

Hawaii Gun Registration Applications Drop

Did Miske Have Source Inside FBI Elite Surveillance Unit?

CB: …  An FBI investigator whose gmail account and residence were searched by his own agency in 2019 and 2020 as part of a criminal investigation linked to the case of accused racketeering boss Michael J. Miske Jr. was part of a team of FBI surveillance specialists charged with keeping tabs on Miske and several associates, according to documents filed in court last week.

The documents, which include eight surveillance-related records containing a total of just 47 pages, became public when they were were attached as exhibits to a motion filed in Honolulu’s federal court on Friday by attorneys representing John Stancil, Miske’s half-brother and one of his six remaining co-defendants.

These documents are the first to publicly confirm that teams of federal agents were assigned to conduct active, on-the-ground, physical surveillance of Miske and others over a period of years. Although not necessarily continuous, the surveillance at times was authorized during day, evening and overnight shifts, the documents show.

The surveillance-related documents also show the investigator who later became the target of two search warrants was a member, and sometimes a designated leader, of an elite team from the FBI’s Special Surveillance Group, or SSG,  assigned to shadow Miske, Stancil, and others during an early stage of the investigation….

ILind: FBI deployed surveillance teams to follow Miske and associates

ILind: The Miske Files: The FBI Is Investigating One Of Its Own 

ILind: No conspiracy theory needed to explain the general absence of in-depth reporting

read … An FBI Elite Surveillance Unit Shadowed The Suspected Crime Boss For Years

Bikini Island Fund Quickly Stolen Once Under Local Control

CB: … Gibson Maddison has received regular payments for most of his life, from a trust created by the U.S. as reparations for the nuclear testing program it conducted on his ancestral homeland, Bikini Atoll.

No payments have come this year though, leaving the 48-year-old and Hawaii’s wider Bikinian community outraged with the council they accuse of mismanaging the trust.

The Kili Bikini Ejit Resettlement Trust Fund was worth $59 million in 2017 when the U.S. handed over control to the Kili Bikini Ejit Council and its withdrawal limit was removed. The trust was effectively an operating budget for the council.

Now there is just $100,000 left.

(IQ Test: Are you surprised?)

And quarterly payments of approximately $115 to all Bikinians from a second trust, known as the Bikini Claims Fund, have also stopped…

Lani Kramer, who was once KBE Council’s trust liaison officer, lives in the capital and has sent food to her sister’s family on Kili to help fill the funding gap.

Her brother-in-law, who works at the island’s power station, has not been paid in six months and neither have 350 other council employees.

Kramer says he keeps working because otherwise the island would lose electricity.…

the resettlement trust, which has been used to support the displaced community, was administered by the U.S. government.

That was until 2017, when Bikinian leaders convinced the U.S. government to relinquish control. Subsequent problematic council purchases quickly burned through the fund.

Those included two ships, an airplane, a fleet of vehicles, a Majuro apartment complex and a 283-acre plot of land in Hilo….

PDF: Report: KBE Trust Fund gone

read … The council spent money on two ships, vehicles, an airplane and a block of land near Hilo.

‘Community’ raises $406k to help thieving Ex-Mililani athletic director

SA: … The former athletic director accused of stealing more than $360,000 from the Mili­lani High School athletic booster club that he and his immediately family managed pleaded no contest to all charges Tuesday morning….

“Mr. Nitta stole from children. He betrayed the trust the community placed in him. His sentence should reflect the seriousness of the crime and serve as a deterrent for others contemplating such egregious behavior. Therefore, we will ask he be sentenced to prison,” Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm, told the Honolulu Star-­Advertiser in a statement.

Collins told the Star-Advertiser that no restitution payment was submitted Tuesday as the Deputy Prosecutor and Judge Remigio were unsure who the payee should be on the check. Nitta and his supporters raised more than $400,000 to make the booster club whole….

“My client’s family, friends and community members rallied and came together. As a result of a multitude of community support, numerous and countless people offered to help and contribute in their own way. We were so genuinely touched and moved as their contributions eventually totaled the required restitution amount of $406,000,” said Collins. “We’ve also received a multitude of character letters in support which touched our hearts and brought my client to tears.”…

He allegedly used the nonprofit’s money to pay $364,709 for personal expenses, including gambling binges in Las Vegas; business, car and student loans; and credit cards. The school has not recovered any of the money that it raised through concession sales at games and other fundraisers….

According to the March 23, 2021, written statement to Honolulu police, Nitta cut $188,750 in checks to himself “and family members with the last name ‘Nitta’” between 2015 and 2021….

read … Ex-Mililani athletic director pleads no contest to theft charges

DOE budget still grows, despite ‘cut’

SA: … Cuts to budget requests are not the same thing as cuts to actual budgets, but an article in last week’s Star-Advertiser didn’t really make that clear (“Budget cuts for Hawaii public schools called a ‘travesty’,” June 16).

Yes, the state Legislature trimmed Gov. Josh Green’s budget request for the state Department of Education, but despite that, the department’s general fund budget is still set to increase by 8% in fiscal year 2024….

read … DOE budget still grows, despite cut to request

1,000 new claims filed against federal government over contaminated water from Red Hill facility

SAS: … Another 1,000 military family members and civilians filed legal claims against the federal government Tuesday stemming from illnesses that they suffered after drinking water that was contaminated with jet fuel near the Navy’s Red Hill storage facility in Hawaii, their attorneys said.

“The Navy has long promoted secrecy over truth when it comes to water contamination and toxic exposure,” said attorney Kristina Baehr, who is representing military and civilian families in the case. “Now, 1,002 new claimants seek truth and accountability for the Navy’s failure to warn them to stop using the water the Navy knew was toxic.” ….

LL: OSG tanker awarded Red Hill fuel storage defueling contract

read … 1,000 new claims filed against federal government over contaminated water from Red Hill facility

City Skims off top -- seeks $210.5M in Rail bonds

SA: … Under Resolution 122 the city is requesting up to $20 million to continue HART’s construction of the line in the current 2023 fiscal year, which ends June 30. Out of this request, the city says the amount to be granted to HART would be $17 million.

“Our underwriters recommend adding a cushion over the par amount,” Budget and Fiscal Services Director Andrew Kawano told the committee. “So the amount that we had to borrow was $17 million because we’re selling bonds to the public, and because of the current situation in the market, they recommend that we ask for a little more in case we have to sell the bonds with a premium.”

Kawano noted the additional $3 million connected to the general obligation bond request might eventually go toward other city projects “to the extent that we have appropriations that we have to fill.”

”We will only forward $17 million to HART,” he said.

Resolution 124 requests up to $15 million in general obligation bonds to pay for HART construction in the upcoming 2024 fiscal year, which begins July 1. Of that amount, $12 million would go to the rail agency, according to Kawano.

The third bond request is for over $175.5 million, meant to refinance capital costs associated with bonds first issued in 2019 for HART’s construction effort.

“These bonds in series E2019 are subject to a ‘put option’ that would require, at the end of September, a payout by the county if the bonds are not fully executed,” Kawano said, noting the requested action would be beneficial to the city. “We have the ability to call the bonds for refinance that will actually lower the interest rate, which is a positive.”…

read … City seeks $210.5M in bonds to fund rail construction

Rail News: Two popular grocery stores in Waipahu to shut down thanks to rail

KHON: … At Times, the city has approved the landowner Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate, to build more than 500 units of affordable housing as well as a senior housing complex. A spokeswoman says retail will also be part of the development.

It’s not clear what will replace Don Quijote. Residents point out that both stores are right next to the Skyline stops, making them prime locations for development….

read … Two popular grocery stores in Waipahu to shut down

Their dream is to get more local beef to your table. Making that a reality? It won’t be easy

HNN: … some, including Parker Ranch and Idaho rancher and investor Frank Vandersloot, have been betting that the dream of self-sufficiency for meat in Hawaii could one day come true.

“Hawaii has tons of grass,” Vandersloot pointed out. “It really costs less to raise cattle in Hawaii than it does on the mainland because you don’t have to harvest hay and feed hay through the winter and all that.”

(If only politics were not in the way.)

Vandersloot is founder of the Melaleuca home and wellness products empire.

He put money behind his confidence in Hawaii’s meat industry by investing $27 million in the state’s two primary slaughterhouses ― at Paauilo on the Big Island and Kalaeloa on Oahu. “The return on that has been negative to date,” he said. “And it’s going to continue to be negative for us. We proceed for the next decade.”

Becoming self-sufficient for beef would require a monumental turn-around.

In 2018, according to the Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council and the UH College of Tropical Agriculture, 43,500 calves were shipped out of Hawaii and only about 11,100 head were raised to maturity and processed here.

Meanwhile, locally processed meat made up only about 6% of the beef consumed here….

HNN: Big beef: Safeway breaks ties with iconic ranch as local meat industry struggles to grow

read … Their dream is to get more local beef to your table. Making that a reality? It won’t be easy

Kaua‘i sewer rates increasing 11% per year over a five-year period

TGI: … The rate hike, which is one of a number scheduled through the next five years, was approved by the Kaua‘i County Council on Sept. 7, 2022, via Bill 2874, and subsequently signed by Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami on Sept. 12, 2022.

“Increasing 11 percent per year over a five-year period, funds from this increase will go into much-needed repairs of facilities that are over four decades old,” said county Department of Public Works County Engineer Troy Tanigawa in a statement….

The flat-rate monthly charge for single-family-residential users is slotted at $66.50 for the 2024 fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2023, before increasing to $73.75 for the 2025 fiscal year and $82 for the 2026 fiscal year, according to Bill 2874. The flat rate charge rises to $91 in the 2027 fiscal and $101 in the 2028 fiscal year….

read … Kaua‘i sewer rate hike takes effect July 1

Bell Tolls For Historic Iron Ship Docked In Honolulu Harbor

CB: … The 145-year-old vessel Falls of Clyde will be scrapped or scuttled after years of neglect.

A seven-year fight over ownership and repairs between the Department of Transportation and the nonprofit Friends of Falls of Clyde is ending after a recent survey deemed the ship a danger to the Honolulu harbor.

Bruce McEwan, the nonprofit’s president, says the department is attempting to delist the vessel from the National Register of Historic Places to streamline its removal or destruction. He called the end result a catch-22: “We can’t now argue the ship’s not a safety hazard,” and “we can’t argue against the delisting process,” he said….

read … Bell Tolls For Historic Iron Ship Docked In Honolulu Harbor

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