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Monday, July 3, 2023
July 3, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 10:59 AM :: 2471 Views

Hawaii among victims of law that hinders U.S. port dredging

​Regulations make housing prices unsustainable

Lawmakers Wasting Your Money: Let me count the ways

‘Going along to get along’ leads to government corruption

SA: … former officials currently in prison or awaiting trial include not just legislators, but prosecutors, police officers, planning-and-permitting workers, a chief building inspector, environmental-management director, affordable-housing official, wastewater-maintenance supervisor, chief of police, councilman, county managing director, county corporation counsel and police commission chairperson.

It is particularly troubling that these crimes and alleged crimes were detected and prosecuted by federal agencies. Local oversight bodies, law-enforcement agencies and courts played virtually no role in detecting or pursuing crimes that in some cases now appear obvious.

It seems unlikely that a police chief, deputy prosecutor and other law-enforcement officers could frame a totally innocent man — and then destroy physical evidence of their crime — without anyone in the police department or prosecutors’ office suspecting something. Yet that happened without any known whistleblowing from local police or prosecutors.

Even worse were the apologists and obstructionists. For example, when the now-incarcerated police chief intentionally caused a mistrial to avoid public revelation of his crimes, the Police Commission chairman told reporters, “I think the chief has acknowledged that he’s made a mistake, he’s apologized, he deeply regrets it, and we need to move on.” And the room at the commission’s next meeting was packed with former police chiefs, police trainers and others there to demonstrate their support for the chief.

Also, when an earlier ethics investigation of that police chief and his now-incarcerated deputy prosecutor wife appeared to be gaining traction, the city’s managing director pulled the plug on funding needed to continue the investigation.

Some say Hawaii’s public corruption problem can be traced to a limited few “bad apples” — but that is simplistic and ignores a critically important underlying reality.

The core problem is cultural, and it involves us all. Simply described, it is a collective tendency to “go along to get along.”

While not unique to Hawaii, this tendency is particularly strong and prevalent here….

SA: Roth shines light on Hawaii political corruption

read … ‘Going along to get along’ leads to government corruption 

With Two Empty Seats on Supreme Court, Hawaii Needs Transparency In The Process Of Filling Judicial Vacancies

CB: … With anticipated vacancies in the district and circuit courts and the two empty seats on the Hawaii Supreme Court, it feels reminiscent of the summer of ‘79. This time, however, we know who has applied and the Judicial Selection Commission invites public comments on the 13 candidates.

All nine commissioners have terms that run well into 2024. They’ve got their work cut out for them….

read … Why Hawaii Needs Transparency In The Process Of Filling Judicial Vacancies

Honolulu Liquor Commission the most “open and notorious case of public corruption”

SA Editorial:  … The enforcement arm of the Honolulu Liquor Commission (HLC) is in disarray: short-staffed, demoralized, dysfunctional and by many standards, ineffective.

It would be counterproductive to make excuses for the astonishingly poor state of the agency: Given revelations of questionable performance, inadequate training, lack of transparency and inadequate leadership that have come out from a city-commissioned report on the Liquor Commission, this government body needs to remain under overarching scrutiny by the city administration, and methodically rebuilt from the ground up.

A months-long review conducted this year by Hui Chen, who reports to the city managing director, found that the agency has no clear policies and procedures for enforcement, that staffers were inadequately trained, and that reporting requirements were so lax and insufficient that reliable data about agents’ performance could not be obtained. With this failure to operate by clear, fair and effective rules for enforcement, much less reporting, it follows that there was no adequate framework for training — there weren’t standards to train up to….

Weak oversight, combined with a lack of clear policy and procedures, creates ripe conditions for uneven and, in the worst case, corrupt practice. That’s a lesson city leadership and the City Council should have absorbed in 2002, when eight working and former HLC investigators were indicted on federal charges of racketeering and extortion for taking bribes from bar owners, prompting U.S. District Judge David Ezra to label it the most “open and notorious case of public corruption” he’d seen in 17 years on the bench. Warning signs flashed again in 2007, when liquor commissioner James Rodenhurst pleaded guilty to accepting bribes….

read … Liquor agency needs shakeup

Miske Files: Ex-Kamaaina Termite Manager Is Next In Line To Negotiate A Plea

CB: … Preston Kimoto, 44, a former manager of Miske’s Kamaaina Termite and Pest Control, and Oahu Termite and Pest Control, was arrested again in April for witness tampering.

The criminal complaint made public at the time of his arrest alleges Kimoto threatened a witness who knew of Kimoto’s role in arranging and carrying out the 2017 kidnapping and assault of a 72-year old Honolulu accountant, which Kimoto allegedly arranged using his position within the Miske organization. The kidnapping conspiracy is one of three charges against Kimoto in the original Miske indictment.

Following Kimoto’s witness tampering arrest, the initial April 19 deadline for prosecutors to file charges via a grand jury indictment or criminal “information” has been postponed three times — to May 19, June 16 and July 17 — by agreement between prosecutors and Kimoto’s attorney, Cynthia A. Kagiwada, federal court records show.

The multiple delays are a clear indication negotiations are underway behind the scenes for a plea deal…

The trial of Miske and the five remaining co-defendants is scheduled to begin in January…..

Prosecutors allege Kimoto threatened a witness with knowledge of the 2017 kidnapping and beating of an accountant in an attempt to intimidate the witness and stop her from cooperating with FBI investigators.

The kidnapping was triggered by the 2013 bankruptcy of a local firm that manufactured materials for steel frame buildings in which the kidnapping victim was principal stockholder and president. At the time of its bankruptcy filing, the company claimed less than $100,000 in assets and between $1 million and $10 million in debts.

Documents show Kimoto was a longtime friend of another local business owner who was angry after losing nearly $300,000 he had loaned to the bankrupt company and wanted the accountant kidnapped in an apparent attempt to recover his lost funds through extortion. Kimoto is believed to have been the person who carried the request to Miske, records show….

read … Miske Files: Ex-Kamaaina Termite Manager Is Next In Line To Negotiate A Plea

HUD secretary claims Hawaii’s homeless aren’t all meth heads

KITV: … U.S. HUD Secretary, Marcia Fudge joined the tour viewing two new affordable housing complexes - Hale Kewalo and Gregory House. Marcia Fudge stresses that building and providing affordable housing is the way to end homelessness in Hawaii and all over the nation.

“Economics play a great deal in this. When you live in places where the rents are so high and the average person can’t afford them, you will find more and more people on the streets. I don’t want anyone to believe everyone who is unhoused is on drugs or is just lazy," said Secretary Fudge.

(CLUE: The homeless are meth addicts.  In contrast, the working poor are doubling up on small apartments or mom’s house--not living in cardboard boxes. Fudge is ignoring the fact that most homeless don’t want help and will have to be forced off the streets.  She is therefore part of the problem, not part of the solution.)

Marcia Fudge told KITV4 said she is pleased with Governor Josh Green’s top priority which is to end the state's homeless crisis. She plans to meet with him during her visit to Hawaii….

SA: HUD official focuses on housing, homeless issues

KHON: HUD secretary discusses Hawaii’s affordable housing needs

read … U.S. housing officials are on Oahu to discuss the state's fight against homelessness

U.S. allows moving species as last resort

SA: … Patrick Donnelly with the Center for Biological Diversity said he was concerned the rule could be abused to allow habitat destruction to make way for development. His group has fought plans for a Nevada lithium mine where an endangered desert wildflower is found. The developer has proposed transplanting the Tiehm’s buckwheat and growing new plants elsewhere….

read … U.S. allows moving species as last resort

HTA board will not appoint new President

SA: … The HTA board has not discussed its transition plan outside of closed-door executive sessions. However, DBEDT Director James Kunane Tokioka spoke about the transition during the Honolulu Star- Advertiser’s “Spotlight Hawaii” livestream program June 23 — which preempted a June 29 HTA board meeting, where another executive session was held.

During the interview, Tokioka said, “Let’s just do a reset and figure out what it’s going to take for the Legislature to trust the authority moving forward. We wouldn’t want to hire someone and that person starts the job, comes in and the job no longer exists. That wouldn’t be fair to anyone in this community.”

Tokioka said, “That could change if there is a voice to give us the green light to move forward.”

Keli‘i Akina, president and CEO of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, said it’s hard to say what the latest developments mean for HTA’s future.

“But considering the Legislature virtually defunded the agency over its past two sessions, perhaps it’s time to recognize why Hawaii doesn’t need such an agency anyway,” Akina said. “After all, the industry’s major players are more than capable of funding and guiding the future of tourism on their own.”

“In addition, if we really want to diversify Hawaii’s economy, we need to stop interfering in the marketplace and expand economic opportunities outside of the state-supported tourism paradigm,” he said....

SA Editorial: Keep HTA’s focus on its key goals

read … HTA board weighs leadership transition amid interference

Kamalani Academy Was Due To Close, But It’s Getting A Second Chance

CB: …The reversal comes after the Hawaii State Public Charter School Commission voted in February not to extend the school’s contract due to an unauthorized online learning program and issues with student record-keeping dating back to 2021.

The public charter school successfully appealed the decision to the Board of Education, which ruled the commission had inadequately specified what ongoing problems led to the non-renewal decision.

Kamalani Academy signed a new two-year contract with the commission in May, with stipulations for significant financial and enrollment oversight and an evaluation of the school director….

read … Kamalani Academy Was Due To Close, But It’s Getting A Second Chance

Rep Ganaden: How we will let lots and lots of criminals out on to the Streets

CB: …In the next few years, the Legislature should:

support the work of the Judiciary, community organizations, churches, and sports and arts organizations in substantively ending child incarceration through diversion

support the data-driven work of numerous health care service providers in ending cycles of trauma and addiction

expand the rights of due process for those awaiting trial, in order to identify and order individuals to treatment

continue to significantly invest in housing, and reduce the barriers to housing

codify the ability of police to cite and demand a court appearance for individuals who are accused of nonviolent petty misdemeanors and misdemeanors — a practice that showed no increase in crime and an increase in court appearances during Covid and is supported by officers

expand the numerous best practices already in place for specialty courts such as Drug Court and Veterans Treatment Court, which serve to treat addiction and houseless issues appropriately, and monitor individuals in treatment in lieu of incarceration

expedite mental health proceedings and placements in district courts

read … Hawaii's Justice System Is Becoming Safer And More Empathetic

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