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Tuesday, January 23, 2024
January 23, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:12 PM :: 1881 Views

VIDEO: State of the State Address 2024

Hawaii Bill Would Legalize Raw Milk Sales

Recovery? Maui County Greets New Year with GE Tax Increase

Trial begins for Hawaii businessman accused of murder-for-hire, racketeering

Secret recordings of 3 former city executives reveal “low down, underhanded scheme” 

HNN: … The newly unsealed documents include transcripts of audio recordings made by Acting HPD Chief Cary Okimoto, Kealoha’s replacement….

“The fact that HPD is secretly, secretly recording top city and county officials because they believe there’s this conspiracy to do something improper, that fact alone is shocking,” said Alexander Silvert, a retired federal public defender.

Okimoto was clear that he did not want the money to be taken from his police budget, fearing the pot would be emptied. But Leong explained how he can get the money replenished a few months later.

The records show that Leong told Okimoto, “When you run out of money,” Leong said the director for Budget and Fiscal services would then “transfer funds from the provisional account.”

The transcripts show she said, “In your case, it would be to hire a new officer to fill a vacant position.”

“Somebody’s going to ask,” Okimoto said.

“It wasn’t for new recruits or contract hires or anything like that it was for the severance package” for Kealoha.

Okimoto repeatedly said he didn’t feel comfortable with the plan.

“I just feel that we are violating the law and circumventing the system by doing this.”

The transcripts show, Leong reassured him by saying “I would never ask you to do something that’s illegal.”

Max Sword also told Okimoto in a separate recorded conversation, “I wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t legal.”

But when Sword is asked why the payoff has to be funded by HPD’s budget in the first place, the transcripts show Sword replied, “Oh, the reason, it’s very simple. So you don’t have to go to the seven bananas or nine bananas,” he was talking about the city council.

Silvert said the transcripts show Leong and Sword created a “low down, underhanded scheme.” …

Other evidence in the documents is an email Okimoto wrote to other concerned HPD leaders, including Assistant Chief William Axt, who also said he felt uncomfortable with the plan…

The email showed Amemiya told Okimoto, “You really digging your heels in about this?”

Okimoto’s email also said that Amemiya and (then) Mayor Kirk Caldwell were concerned that he was “burning bridges by not going along” with the scheme….

City attorneys fought the release, telling the court the records are secret because the statements are covered by the attorney-client privilege.

But U.S. District Court Judge Leslie Kobayashi ruled the crime-fraud exception applied.

The exception outweighs the attorney-client privilege when statements made between an attorney and client are meant to further or conceal a crime….

CB: The defendants were caught on tape talking about how to arrange the retirement deal without asking the City Council's permission.

read … Secret recordings offer new evidence in corruption case against 3 former city executives

Miske Trial: 'Master Manipulator' Or 'Self-Made Businessman'?

CB: … Michael Miske Jr. appeared as a lone defendant Monday in U.S. District Court in Honolulu after his half brother pleaded guilty to a racketeering charge hours before opening statements began.

The defense and prosecution painted starkly different pictures of Miske. Prosecutors described him as a “master manipulator” who ran an extensive enterprise of “thugs” engaged in violent robberies, assaults, kidnapping and murder.

Defense lawyer Michael Kennedy touted Miske’s success as a businessman and said he had helped save many “iconic places” with his fumigation business, Kamaaina Termite and Pest Control….

read … Miske Trial: 'Master Manipulator' Or 'Self-Made Businessman'? - Honolulu Civil Beat

SHOPO, Honolulu police sergeant settle lawsuit

SA: … In October, six current and one former board member of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers were cleared of any wrongdoing by the Honolulu Police Department after allegations of misdemeanor extortion were levied by Hallums….

read … SHOPO, Honolulu police sergeant settle lawsuit

Insurance Companies Want Their Money Back For Lahaina Fire Claims. They're Going After HECO For It

CB: … Insurers have paid more than $1 billion in claims related to the Lahaina wildfires and want reimbursement from the utility….

More than 140 insurance industry plaintiffs have joined the cascade of lawsuits filed against utilities and landowners related to the Maui wildfires, a move that could set up a battle over resources available to pay victims of the disaster that killed 100 people and destroyed much of Lahaina in August.

The global insurance industry has swept into Honolulu state court, seeking to collect reimbursements for claims paid to policyholders. Those total more than $1 billion in West Maui for residential property alone, according to the latest data from the Insurance Division of the Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

The plaintiffs include names familiar to Hawaii homeowners: insurers like State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., USAA Casualty Insurance Co., Island Insurance and Tradewind Insurance. …

At this point, Davis said, the insurance companies and other plaintiffs have a common goal: to prove that the utilities or landowners or both acted negligently in allowing the fires to start and spread. The insurance industry has had its own teams of investigators, Davis said…..

read … Insurance Companies Want Their Money Back For Lahaina Fire Claims. They're Going After HECO For It

Maui County To Open A Special Permitting Office To Help Lahaina Rebuild?

CB: … Lahaina will get a special office to expedite building permits for an estimated 1,200 properties that were damaged or destroyed in the Aug. 8 wildfire, and an outside contractor will be hired to help staff the operation, Maui officials said Monday.

Mayor Richard Bissen said 5,368 fire survivors are still living in 32 hotels, and Maui County is pushing forward with an aggressive plan to replace the lost housing in a partnership with private, state and federal agencies.

“I humbly stand before you today to express my plea for the prioritization of the care for our survivors, and ask that we stand in unity until every survivor has a place to call home,” the Maui mayor said during a briefing before the House Finance Committee and the Senate Ways and Means Committee….

read … Maui County To Open A Special Permitting Office To Help Lahaina Rebuild

Lahaina: 1,367 owners of Maui short-term rental units agree to house fire victims

SA: … As of Friday, 1,367 owners of Maui short-term rental units agreed to take advantage of a property tax moratorium and above-market rents to convert to long-term rentals to house Maui fire survivors, Gov. Josh Green told reporters today following his second State of the State speech.

During his speech, Green told legislators and visitors to the state Capitol that he will issue a moratorium on short-term rentals if does not get 3,000 property owners to voluntarily convert by March 1 in order to house fire survivors who continue to live in Maui hotels.

After the Maui County Council agreed to temporarily waive property taxes for owners who convert their units, Green said the number of volunteers grew to 15, then 150 and over 600….

HNN: Some wildfire survivors skeptical about governor’s threat to ban vacation rentals (hawaiinewsnow.com)

read … Green notes progress expanding pool of long-term Maui rentals

Lahaina Fire News:

Legislative Agenda:

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