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Sunday, July 2, 2023
July 2, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:31 PM :: 2689 Views

Cronyism: The 2023 Intent to Veto List

Long COVID and Unemployment in Hawaii 

Emails Reveal Ev Dowling Stage-Managing DHHL Appointment

CB: … While the Maui County Council was publicly vetting applicants to steer the new East Maui Community Water Authority, a local developer was working behind the scenes to convince the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to change its nominee.

Everett Dowling, whose company has developed millions of dollars of DHHL projects over the past three decades, told DHHL Director Kali Watson in early June that he should not recommend Hawaii water law expert Jonathan Likeke Scheuer to the new board, according to internal emails Civil Beat obtained through a public records request.

Scheuer, who is from Oahu and has long worked as a “well-trusted” consultant for DHHL, had been tapped in March by then-interim DHHL Director Ikaika Anderson for the seat that represents the interests of the Hawaiian Homes Commission.

“Maui Council Chair Alice Lee asked me to reach out to you,” Dowling told Watson by email on the morning of June 5. He explained to the DHHL director how he could quickly suggest a new nominee and, without citing specifics, said Scheuer would “make it even more difficult to develop housing on Maui.”

Later that evening, Watson replied: “Any suggestions?”

In a series of emails that followed, Dowling suggested two others to replace Scheuer, who the developer warned was “generally disliked by the development community, large landowners such as ML&P (Maui Land & Pineapple), A&B, the construction trade unions and the ranches.”

Prior to Dowling’s involvement, the department under Watson’s leadership had “fully and enthusiastically” supported Scheuer for the role, DHHL staff said in an email.

Dowling and Watson have known each other since 1998, according to a March letter the developer sent to lawmakers in support of Watson’s Senate confirmation. Dowling’s development company recently broke ground on a $17 million homestead project in Central Maui, the first project funded through the historic $600 million earmarked by lawmakers last year to deliver homesteads to roughly 28,000 beneficiaries on the DHHL waitlist, the Maui News reported.

Emails show Dowling’s first suggestion to Watson as a replacement for Scheuer was Dan McEvoy. According to state business records, McEvoy helped start Maui-based 3D Builders and Design. The company’s website says it specializes in custom homes and commercial development.

Watson wrote in an email that he was planning to move forward with McEvoy’s appointment despite DHHL planner Andrew Choy pushing back that it would be “ridiculous” to appoint McEvoy, who had “no connection to the homestead community.”

Watson told Choy he was just going to have to disagree with him on this one, saying: “I want a developer type and not someone disliked by Council leadership.”

But days later, Watson scrapped the McEvoy plan and went a different direction altogether without offering a public explanation for the sudden change.

On June 12, DHHL sent a letter to the Maui County Council, which is tasked with confirming the majority of the water board’s members, to rescind Scheuer’s name and instead recommend Dwight Kaleo Burns, who works for a construction industry fund and has generational ties to East Maui.

That same evening, Dowling forwarded Burns’ resume to Watson to share with the council.

The decision raised alarms among beneficiaries. In the wake of pushback, Watson walked back the recommendation for Burns and instead paved the way for the Hawaiian Homes Commission to decide, which beneficiaries said should have been involved since Scheuer’s name was first suggested months earlier.

The nine-member commission, which Watson chairs, unanimously voted Monday for Scheuer, who commissioners said had “a level of expertise that few others have” and serves as an “advocate for the beneficiaries.” Besides serving as DHHL’s longtime adviser, Scheuer is known for playing “an integral role in the resolution of complex water disputes” and has co-authored the book, “Water and Power in West Maui.”

Publicly, however, there was no mention of the upheaval that transpired behind closed doors in the weeks before….

Background:

read … Emails Reveal A Maui Developer’s Influence Over New Water Board Member

Land and Power: KSBE Insiders Want Probate Judge Kicked out of Trustee Selection Process

SA: … The current trustee selection process needs to be changed because it lacks transparency and is not managed by stakeholders of the Schools. Three special court masters have been appointed to review this process….

Our kāhea: If you are a Kamehameha Schools stakeholder who seeks greater transparency in a process to select our trustees that is led by our primary stakeholders, submit your comments to the Special Court Masters c/o Inkinen Executive Search, 1003 Bishop Street, Suite 1477, Honolulu, HI 96813 or at KStrustee@inkinen.com. Submittals must be postmarked, hand delivered or emailed by July 14, 2023.

Comments must include the sender’s full name and contact information. Do not abbreviate names (for example, J. Doe or Jane D.). Anonymous comments will not be accepted….

read … How to choose Kamehameha trustees

Back to the Future: Affirmative action ruling could test admission policies at Kamehameha Schools

SA: … The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last week striking down affirmative action in college admissions and favoring a “colorblind Constitution” has some educators and legal experts debating whether there may be ripple effects for Kamehameha Schools, the University of Hawaii and other entities and programs that are focused on Hawaiian people and culture….

Hawaii leaders have railed against the decision. In the islands and elsewhere, “I can see litigation coming,” said Scott Greenwood, a constitutional lawyer who is executive director of American Civil Liberties Union Hawaii.

While the court’s decision did not address K-12 education, “that doesn’t mean that it won’t spur further challenges along those lines,” Greenwood said. “I think it is quite foreseeable that programming that is specifically created for people of Indigenous backgrounds, such as Kamehameha Schools … that those could be attacked with similar arguments.”…

In an e-mailed statement to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Kamehameha Schools called the Supreme Court decision “extremely disappointing. While our histories are different and our experiences are unique, Native Hawaiians are among the many marginalized communities impacted by this decision.”

“This ruling does not change the way Kameha­meha Schools operates,” the statement continued. “We remain committed and steadfast to fulfilling the vision of our founder, Ke Ali‘i Bernice Pauahi Bishop, to empower Native Hawaiians through education. We will continue reviewing the decision and will always comply with governing law.”

Greenwood is uncertain whether such initiatives as Hawaiian language immersion programs in Hawaii’s public schools or UH’s mission to be an “Indigenous serving institution” also might be challenged.

“I think it’s unknown. But I believe that what (the court’s) decision will do is it will embolden people who want to turn the clock back, people who assert that being colorblind or race blind is superior in society at all levels,” he said….

read … Affirmative action ruling could test admission policies at Hawaii schools

Brian Schatz Thinks he is Dan Inouye

Shapiro: … In many ways, Schatz models his Senate career on his predecessor, Hawaii’s long-serving and powerful Sen. Daniel Inouye.

He sought assignments to the same committees from which Inouye drew power, Appropriations and Commerce, and chairs Indian Affairs to influence Native Hawaiian matters.

While many senators grandstand and run for president, Schatz dives into operations and policy details. He’s already influential a decade in, especially on climate issues, and likely becomes a true heavy hitter with longevity.

He’s Hawaii’s senior senator by virtue of being sworn in a few days before Sen. Mazie Hirono, and like Inouye, is becoming the rock of the state’s delegation — the one who makes sure Hawaii gets bounteous federal funds, the go-to lawmaker for getting something done in Washington.

read … For airborne Sen. Schatz it’s coffee, tea and Q&A

Green budget cuts have only just begun

Borreca: … the latest economic news is forcing Green to cut, and not just “address” everyday problems now.

Economists with the Council on Revenues are forecasting the general fund dropping from +2% in March to –1% in May, according to reports. That is what is causing Green to say there will be a budget rebalancing. Observers have said that Green needs to trim approximately $1 billion from the two-year budget.

How those cuts will materialize will be Green’s summer job.

Already Green has been slicing the budget by line item-vetoing portions of the budget….

read … When the budget outlook goes from great to gloomy, Green tempers his ambitions

Supplier in ex-Kauai council member’s drug ring is sentenced

SA: … A 41-year-old Kauai woman who was a backup supplier of methamphetamine to former Kauai County Council member Arthur Brun’s drug-trafficking organization was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison Thursday.

Phrystal Puanani Bacio, 41, was sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson, who also ordered her to serve three years of supervised release after she gets out of federal prison.

Brun was sentenced by Watson in May 2022 to 20 years in federal prison without the possibility of parole on 10 charges relating to his role as head of a drug distribution operation….

read … Supplier in ex-Kauai council member’s drug ring is sentenced

Rail ridership projections, revenue uncertain after Skyline opens

SA: … the real test begins Wednesday when passengers will have to pay to ride the Skyline trains using HOLO cards, which will offer the first measurement of actual interest in riding rail from East Kapolei to the Halawa station across from Aloha Stadium….

Even with the first phase of the $9.8 billion rail line officially open, it’s still unclear how many passengers are needed to ride the system, how much revenue they would generate and what the real costs of maintenance will be.

“We want to know if we’re actually breaking even or in the red every year with this small segment of rail,” Honolulu City Council member Andria Tupola said Saturday. “It would be nice to know what the ridership will be that we need.”

Too many variables remain unknown, such as the annual maintenance costs for the trains, 11-mile track, nine stations and the system overall, Tupola said….

“The next year will basically be a pilot project until next July,” she said….

She also has seen videos taken by the first rail passengers of locked station bathrooms….

According to Morton, the city expects about 8,000 to 10,000 riders per day by the end of the year, with the next segment from Halawa past the airport to Middle Street likely generating about 25,000 riders per day. Ridership is expected to grow to about 85,000 per day after the final segment opens from Middle Street to the Downtown and Kakaako area….

One 83-year-old man fell on his face after his train left the Pouhala station at the Waipahu Transit Center. Passengers rushed to his aid, pulled him up and found him an open seat….

read … Rail ridership projections, revenue uncertain after Skyline opens

Tommy Aiu Is Out As Honolulu Rail’s Private Security Chief

CB: … As the first 10 miles of Honolulu’s rail transit line open for service, the city job to oversee private security along the system’s stations, platforms and driverless trains remains vacant.

Thomas Aiu, a prominent former law enforcement figure in Hawaii, stepped down several months ago from the Department of Transportation Services’ new safety and security office, DTS leaders confirmed this week.

Aiu was hired last year as the office’s manager of security and emergency systems. In that role, he had been slated to oversee private patrol operations by Allied Security, which has a two-year, $2.6 million contract to work along the rail line….

Documents provided by the city show that he worked as the security and emergency systems manager from April 2022 to October 2022. He then signed a contract running from Oct. 4 to Jan. 3 at a rate of $6,948 per month to perform those same duties as DTS looked to fill the position full time.

City officials did not mention Aiu converting to a temporary contract status when they discussed Aiu taking the job shortly after that Oct. 4 start date….

Related: Bobby 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

read … Tommy Aiu Is Out As Honolulu Rail’s Private Security Chief

Honolulu 7 Recalls?

CB: … Jack James, a local political consultant and paid campaign adviser to Augie Tulba during his successful 2020 City Council race, has launched the Honolulu 7 Recall, also deemed H7R, if you’re following it on Nextdoor.com as your Sunshine Bloggers are.

Here’s a Jack James post from Saturday:

“Tomorrow, July 1, 2023 this despicable group of public officials begin taking a salary increase from the public coffers without ever having allowed the taxpayers the right to speak,” James writes. “They never took a vote. They never scheduled a Council meeting to discuss their 64% pay raise – they did it because they could, and without any moral conscience at all.

“The system is broken, and these greedy City Councilmembers have used that system for their own personal gain, financially. Their actions are reprehensible.

“We must, and we will, use our ultimate power as residents of Oahu and American citizens to remove these despots from their leadership positions by RECALLING each one from office. Tomorrow the real work begins.” …

read … Recalling The (Some Would Say) Not-So-Magnificent 7

Legislators Team up for Luxury Fundraising

CB: … The trend of lawmakers raising campaign money in tandem continues. If you happen to be at the Bishop Museum this Thursday around 5 p.m., be sure to say a big “aloha” from The Blog to Reps. Nicole Lowen, Trish La Chica, Nadine Nakamura, Sean Quinlan, Cedric Gates and Justin Woodson, who have suggested these contributions levels per person: $100, $250, $500, $1,000 and $2,000.

Lowen, Nakamura and Woodson are from the Big Island, Kauai and Maui, respectively, but it seems the money is to be found on The Gathering Place.

In other news of the flow of money, House Speaker Scott Saiki is holding a fundraiser of his own on Monday at the Park Lane Ala Moana luxury condominium. It’s in Kakaako, which is part of Saiki’s district.

He’s suggesting you cut him a check for $1,000….

read … The Sunshine Blog

Hawaii County Animal Control becomes New Source of County ‘Positions’ after Animal Liberation Nuts Implode

HTH: … The county had previously contracted out animal control services for years until taking over operations in 2021 from the latest contractor, Hawaii Rainbow Rangers, “because conditions were so bad,” Lord said.

Since then, HPD has been managing animal control as a pilot program, but the County Council passed a bill earlier this year to hand over those duties to the new county agency.

Lord said about 30 staff positions out of a planned 44 have been created so far, but have not yet been filled. He said the current contractors who are assisting with animal control will have their contracts extended so that they can continue to work until full-time employees can be hired.

The administrator for the agency has not been publicly named, but Lord said an announcement should be made soon….

read … New animal control agency takes helm

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