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Sunday, December 3, 2023
December 3, 2023 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:24 PM :: 1638 Views

Eight Candidates on Ballot for Hawaii Republican Presidential Caucus

Population: Still Losing

Use carrots, not sticks, to help Maui fire victims

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted December 2, 2023

Notice of Anticipated Judicial Vacancy – Chief Judge, Intermediate Court of Appeals

Hawaii has the highest electricity prices in the U.S.

Accounts in Distress? Hawaii Ranks 5th in USA

A New Day for Hawaiian Homelands: Collaboration Between OHA and DHHL

Lawsuit Targets Lawyer: Navatek Looted to buy Condo, House

CB: … In a new lawsuit filed late last month by PacMar Technologies, formerly known as Navatek, Kao and several of his family members, including his wife and parents, are accused of alleged embezzlement and misappropriation of charitable dollars, some of which was donated by the company.

At the center of the lawsuit is the Marty & Mickey Kao Foundation, which Kao and his wife, Tiffany Lam, launched in 2019 with Kao’s parents, George and Rachel Kao, to support low income students and the furtherance of education programs designed to advance learning in science, technology, engineering and math. …

According to the lawsuit and other court filings, the foundation, which is also named as a defendant, purchased a $2.9 million luxury condo in San Francisco shortly after it was created as a tax-exempt charity.

Two years later, court records state, that condo was sold for $3.1 million and the proceeds from the sale were transferred to Kao’s parents’ TD AmeriTrade account, which was then used as a “personal piggy bank for all manners of private, non-charitable uses in violation of federal and state law.” …

The lawsuit alleges a number of inappropriate uses of the foundation’s money, including the purchase of Martin Kao’s stake in two family-owned properties for $641,000.

The timing of those purchases in March 2022 are noteworthy.

At the time, Kao faced a series of criminal charges for pandemic relief fraud and making illegal campaign donations to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and a super PAC that supported her bid for re-election in 2020. …

The property transactions also came after PacMar Technologies and its founder, Steven Loui, won a separate arbitration case effectively stripped Kao of his ownership interest in the company and ordered him to pay $6 million in damages. Kao has appealed that ruling.

Through the lawsuit, PacMar Technologies is seeking to recoup $107,000 that the company contends Kao stole to help pay for foundation expenses, as well as $130,000 that the company donated to the charity when it was first launched in 2019.

The company has also asked the court to freeze the remaining funds in the TD AmeriTrade account to prevent further alleged misappropriation of the money.

In the meantime, PacMar Technologies has asked the Hawaii Attorney General’s Office to investigate the foundation and whether the charity’s assets can be recovered….

Loui has filed a series of lawsuits in state and federal court, including a racketeering case that targets Kao and other alleged co-conspirators who are accused of taking part in his various criminal enterprises.

He’s also filed suit against Michael O’Malley, a partner at Goodsill, Anderson, Quinn & Stifel, who is alleged to have worked closely with Kao and was instrumental in helping set up the Marty & Mickey Kao Foundation. …

read … New Lawsuit Against Former Hawaii Defense Contractor Alleges Charity Fraud

Honolulu City Council anti-bribery bill fades in committee

SA: … Bill 36, in its original form, had one purpose: to end corruption within the troubled city Department of Planning and Permitting.

Introduced in June, the draft measure as originally conceived would have denied DPP’s processing of building permits to anyone convicted of, or who pleaded guilty to, bribing a government official in the past 10 years. Likewise the measure, which is scheduled for its second reading at the City Council’s meeting Wednesday, would have disallowed a building permit application if an applicant “participated in conduct that has caused a government official to be convicted of a criminal offense involving the acceptance of a bribe within the last 10 years.”

Also, a building permit application would not be processed if the applicant “caused a government official to enter a plea of guilty or (a plea of no contest) in response to being charged with a criminal offense related to the payment of a bribe to a government official within the last 10 years.” …

Although it currently retains its stated purpose to deny access to city-approved building permits to those with criminal histories, the content of Bill 36 now appears quite different. Notably, the criminal punishment portions of the measure, including bribery, have been removed.

“The original draft, which DPP put forth to Council, disqualified persons from submitting or working on applications to DPP who pled guilty to or were convicted of a criminal offense involving the payment of a bribe to a government official within the previous 10 years, among other offenders,” DPP Director Dawn Takeuchi Apuna told the Hono­lulu Star-Advertiser via email. “The current draft removes those provisions.”

But as to why criminal provisions were removed from Bill 36, Takeuchi Apuna could not fully answer.

“The Council removed it,” she said, noting that “I understand it may be a legal preemption issue because DCCA is the authority for regulating licensed architects and engineers.”

The office of Council member Calvin Say, who chairs the Committee on Zoning which is reviewing Bill 36, also did not immediately comment as to why criminal provisions in Bill 36 were jettisoned.

But in a written statement, Say’s office said the new version of Bill 36 removes a requirement for an affidavit by the owner of the property “that is the subject of the building permit application, stating that the owner has no outstanding fines payable to, or liens in favor of the city.

read … Honolulu City Council anti-bribery bill fades in committee

Bill 131: Tax Incentives to Convert STR to House Lahaina fire Victims

SA: … On Tuesday, Maui Mayor Richard Bissen proposed that Maui offer tax incentives to STR owners who open units up to fire evacuees for at least 18 months, and said he was submitting bills to the Maui County Council to do so. The Council must now act, working with the mayor to get hundreds of families who have lost homes in the West Maui fires out of hotel rooms and into more suitable longterm shelter.

Bill 131, up for public hearing by the Maui Council on Tuesday, would completely exempt owners of STRs, timeshares and other “non-owner-­occupied” homes not currently rented out longterm from paying property taxes, on the condition that the units are rented for at minimum 18 months to the fire-displaced. On average, that amounts to a $10,000 tax savings — a generous incentive to help, in addition to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s guarantee of generous rent payments that also sweeten the pot.

The second part of Bissen’s proposal has yet to be introduced: imposing higher property tax rates on the same types of owners with properties assessed above $1 million, who do not offer long-term rentals (LTRs) to Maui’s displaced. “I believe that a shared sacrifice is necessary at this time,” the mayor said, and he’s right….

for every 1,000 STRs converted to housing for the displaced, approximately $10 million in county tax revenue will be zapped….

So far, few Maui STR owners have come forward, Green said, even with FEMA rental payments of $5,000 to $7,000 per month for a one- to three-bedroom unit. The money’s part of it — a studio or one-bedroom condo can easily fetch $6,000 to $9,000 a month — but STR owners also have the flexibility to use units themselves when desired….

read … Editorial: Maui goes after vacation rentals

Japanese Travelers Are Steering Clear Of Hawaii

CB:… Once Hawaii's top international tourist market, Japanese visitors are staying away from the islands amid inflated prices and a weak yen ….

read … Japanese Travelers Are Steering Clear Of Hawaii - Honolulu Civil Beat

Maui Is Still Searching For Someone To Lead Its Emergency Management Agency

CB: … With the expiration of interim administrator Darryl Oliveira's three-month contract, a selection committee is considering 15 candidates….

read … Maui Is Still Searching For Someone To Lead Its Emergency Management Agency

Volunteer firefighter sues Hawaii County

WHT: … A Big Island volunteer firefighter who was injured in 2021 while battling a long-burning underground fire in Ka‘u has filed a lawsuit against the department and three ranking individuals….

FLB: Prior to STABO falling in the underground fire pit, there were reports of at least three to four (3-4) burn injuries suffered by members of the public in this area due to the underground fires that DEFENDANTS were aware of.

PDF: Complaint_and_Demand_for_Jury_Trial.pdf

read … Volunteer firefighter sues county

Lahaina Fire News:

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