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Tuesday, March 26, 2024
March 26, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:56 PM :: 1831 Views

Prince Kuhio's Fight to Americanize Hawaii

HELCO Predicts tight supply of electricity on Hawaii Island Thru April

HGEA Plants Convicted Felon on HLRB

Puna Man Charged with Heinous Abuse of a 2-Year-Old Girl

Bill 121: TVRs to be Banned?

Hawaii Democratic-controlled Senate Committee Passes COS Resolution

Lahaina: 3,280 people still living in hotels with two weeks to go

CB: … As of Monday, FEMA officials said the agency has secured 1,330 properties for fire survivors, but only about 565 families have been placed in them. The agency is having difficulty moving families into homes for a wide range of reasons, from homeowners pulling their properties out of the program to a shortage of landlords willing to rent to families with pets. Roughly two-thirds of the properties are outside of West Maui.

There’s also the issue of background checks: Some fire survivors still need to submit personal information to complete the process that is a prerequisite to moving into one of the houses under lease by FEMA. Other families say they’ve been stuck waiting for weeks for the government and its contractors to initiate the background check process….

There are still roughly 3,280 people living in more than a dozen Maui hotels and resorts through FEMA’s emergency sheltering program, according to the American Red Cross, which is running it.

FEMA’s goal is that in a little more than two weeks, there will be none….

read … FEMA Gave This Family A House In The Lahaina Burn Zone. Then They Found Out It Might Not Be Safe

Proposed Council raises draw public concern

SA: … The Honolulu Salary Commission’s recommendation last week for a 3% or greater pay boost for the mayor, managing director, all nine members of the City Council and other appointed, high-level city officials drew a measure of public criticism Monday.

Those collective pay hikes come less than a year after the Council received a controversial 64% salary increase, while the Honolulu mayor’s nearly 12.6% pay jump ultimately surpassed similar compensation granted to Hawaii’s governor….

Oahu resident Natalie Iwasa asserted that granting higher salaries to Honolulu’s top elected and appointed officials, especially in light of what the city admits is a tighter budget season than in years past, was wrongheaded.

“I do not support any raises for Council members this year,” she said. “And for last year, with the 64% (pay raise) I asked that the public be informed what line items were changed (in the FY 2024 budget) to facilitate payment of that salary increase that went through and is paid currently.”

In written testimony she had also submitted, Iwasa noted potential funding reductions occurring in many departments….

Council member Andria Tupola also was critical of new salary increases for the Council.

“I know that the current sentiment in the Salary Commission is to increase pay so that we attract the best-­qualified workers to be here in the city, and I think that’s reasonable but I also believe there needs to be some balance,” she said. “This particular budget cycle we’re struggling with having all of our departments to cut back, and if it’s a year where we don’t do pay raises or increases, I think it’s reasonable.”

Council member Augie Tulba — who, along with Tupola and Radiant Cor­dero, rejected their 64% pay hikes for Council members in 2023 — did not speak to new pay boosts proposed for himself and his Council colleagues.

Instead, he noted, “We are still early in the budget process.”

“And I look forward to seeing how we can create a sound budget that is balanced and puts the needs of the community first,” Tulba said….

read … Proposed Council raises draw public concern

Gay Socialist Teacher Pleads Guilty to Child Molestation

SA: … A former Oahu public school teacher serving nearly 17-1/2 months in federal prison for producing child pornography entered a plea of guilty to state charges that he sexually assaulted a student.

Alden M. Bunag, 35, agreed to plead guilty to one count of continuous sexual assault of a minor under the age of 14, one count of promoting child abuse in the second degree, and one count of promoting child abuse in the third degree.

Bunag signed the plea agreement Saturday, and it was filed in Oahu Circuit Court on Monday.

At sentencing Bunag will face up to life in prison with the possibility of parole on the charge of sexual assault of a minor under the age of 14; 20 years for promoting child abuse in the second degree; and 10 years for promoting child abuse in the third degree….

Bunag worked from 2016 to 2017 as a part-time temporary teacher at Ilima Intermediate School.

He had been a substitute teacher since 2017 in the Leeward District and had worked in various positions since 2012.

Bunag was most recently a part-time teacher at Pearl City High School, where he had held a permanent secondary teaching position from 2020 to 2021.

Bunag was charged June 15, 2022, in federal court…

The federal criminal information alleges Bunag, in online chats with a Philadelphia teacher, said he had sex with a 13-year-old former student during lunch breaks at school….

BACKGROUND:

read … Ex-teacher pleads guilty to sexual assault of student

Hawaii AG's Office Explains How It Drafted Marijuana Legalization Bill

MM: … As Hawaii’s legislative session kicked off in January, lawmakers in both chambers introduced a sprawling, 300-plus-page proposal to legalize marijuana. Since then, committees have held hearings on the legislation, made amendments and listened to hours of public testimony. And though the Senate passed a version of the bill earlier this month, the reform now hangs in the balance following a neck-and-neck vote last week on the House floor.

The massive bill was based on draft legislation by the office of Attorney General Anne Lopez (D), who was appointed in late 2022 by Gov. Josh Green (D), a supporter of legalization. During her confirmation hearing, Lopez committed to leading an administrative task force “between now and next legislative legislative session to develop a complete regulatory and law enforcement legislative package that you can attach to any bill if you’re planning to legalize marijuana.”

“I’ve changed our position from opposition to ‘that train has left the station,’” Lopez said at the time. “So let’s find a way to help you. Let’s give you those guardrails so that you can implement the law and the policy that you want.” …

MM: Hawaii Marijuana Legalization Bill Barely Clears House Floor Vote, With Democratic Whip Urging Against The Reform

read … Hawaii AG's Office Explains How It Drafted A Marijuana Legalization Bill That Lawmakers Are Advancing This Session

How many Criminals are on Electronic Monitoring In Hawaii?

CB: … The most recent numbers for Hawaii showed 69 individuals on some form of electronic monitoring in 2021. That jumped to 175 in 2022 and dropped to 85 in 2023….

Sentinel Offender Services -- the company that has the current $85,340 electronic monitoring contract with Hawaii -- was fired by the Orange County Probation Department a decade ago, after an audit showed it had failed to monitor some people on probation for periods of up to a month, and didn't report others who repeatedly violated their conditions.

Finally, there's a significant chunk of information about the use of electronic monitoring here in Hawaii that we'll likely never have a handle on, and that's because it's within the purview of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The use of electronic monitoring by ICE tripled between 2021 and 2022, boosted by the growth of smartphone apps like SmartLINK.

ICE does track the number of people on its Alternatives to Detention program, but Hawaii's numbers are bundled up with those in the San Francisco area and can't be separated out, its communications department said….

read … If Electronic Monitoring Is Going To Expand In Hawaii, There Needs To Be Better Public Data

Jury in Kaneshiro bribery case shown cell phone videos of alleged victim being fired

HNN: … Jurors hearing the case against former city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro were shown cell phone videos of a woman being fired from a politically-connected engineering firm in 2011. Firm executives are accused of bribing Kaneshiro with campaign donations to prosecute the woman.

The videos show Laurel Mau being fired from Mitsunaga and Associates.

Mau was an architect at the firm for 15 years before her termination on Nov. 10, 2011.

The videos show multiple other workers packing boxes for her, including Sheri Tanaka, the firm’s civil attorney who is now one of six co-defendants in the federal case alleging conspiracy….

read … Jury in Kaneshiro bribery case shown cell phone videos of alleged victim being fired

$12.5M settlement reached for victim in near-fatal Makaha crash involving 4 officers

HNN: … The Honolulu City Council on Monday approved a multi-million-dollar settlement nearly three years after a police chase and crash in Makaha.

Jonaven Perkins-Sinapati, the driver of the white sedan officers are accused of improperly chasing, will receive $12.5 million to end his civil suit.

It’s one of the largest settlements ever involving HPD….

Four police officers are accused of either causing the crash or trying to cover it up….

read … $12.5M settlement reached for victim in near-fatal Makaha crash involving 4 officers

Two Miske co-defendants sentenced following guilty pleas

ILind: …Young was sentenced on January 23, 2024, to the time he had already served since his arrest in 2020, approximately 42 months. This was longer than the sentence recommended in a pre-sentence report to the judge, which calculated the appropriate range of 30 to 37 months under federal sentencing guidelines. In light of the sentence to time already served, Judge Derrick Watson ordered Young to be released “forthwith.” He will now spend three years on supervised release and reportedly join his mother and siblings, who are now living in Georgia, where he hopes to rebuild his life.

Dae Han Moon, 27, pleaded guilty to murder-for-hire conspiracy, and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug-related crime.

Mike Miske reportedly offered thousands of dollars to Moon and others to kill a Waimanalo man suspected of providing information about Miske to law enforcement.

Others who took part in the murder plot, along with Moon, were John Stancil, Harry Kauhi, Jacob “Jake” Smith, Wayne Miller, and Lance Bermudez. All except Miske have pleaded guilty and admitted being part of this murder-for-hire conspiracy, which was ultimately unsuccessful. No one was injured and the “hit” was later called off.

Moon was sentenced to 34 months in prison on the murder-for-hire conspiracy charge, and 60 months on the firearm charge, to run consecutively for a total of 94 months, or 7 years and 8 months.

Court minutes show the shorter term will run concurrently with a state prison term for an incident in early December 2016, the same incident that led to the federal firearm charge. The 60-month federal term will run consecutively to the state charge for that offense. His sentence also includes 3 years supervised release on the first count, and 5 years on the second count, to run concurrently.

At the time he was arrested and charged in the Miske case, Moon was already serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole in state prison for the murder of Stevie Feliciano in a deserted parking lot at Ala Moana Center on Christmas evening in 2016. Court minutes of the federal sentencing do not indicate how the new federal sentences will impact the sentence in his murder case, if it has any effect at all….

ILind: A web designer testifies in the Miske trial

read … Two Miske co-defendants sentenced following guilty pleas

Lahaina Fire News:

Legislative Agenda:

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