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Wednesday, April 10, 2024
April 10, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:03 PM :: 2360 Views

Rich States, Poor States: Hawaii Ranks 41st--Will Legislature Send Tax Cuts to Governor?

Prices in Hawaii are Ridiculous: 7 Things that Cost Way More

SB2553: Hawaii 'opt out' retirement scam

Two Big Scandals Joined?  DPP Criminal Architect also Working for Mitsunaga

HNN: … (Miske’s ex-lawyer Thomas) Otake (now representing Mitsunaga) … drew connections between Mau and Honolulu architect William Wong, who is currently serving a federal prison sentence for bribing county permitting workers.

Wong worked with Mau on the elevator lift project, and at one point, Masui gave Mau a check to pay the workers on the project, including Wong, who was in charge of submitting applications for permits, Otake said. 

Mau deposited a $7,000 check and then took out cash to give to Wong, Otake said. 

“Instead of writing a check to Mr. Wong for seven grand, you took out seven grand in cash?” Otake asked. 

“Yes,” Mau said. 

(CLUE: The victim is ‘dirty’ because she is associated with the defendants.  LOL!)

Otake said Wong applied for the permit around Thanksgiving 2010 and received an approval in January 2011, implying it was an unusually fast turnaround time. …

Another Case:  Marconi Point Project Connected to DPP Bribery Scandal

read … Defense In Kaneshiro Bribery Trial Probes Architect About Side Jobs At Mitsunaga & Associates

‘There might be some type of corruption’ -- Homosexual Child Molester gets Sweet Plea Bargain

HNN: … Lelah was facing up to 20 years in prison without the possibility of parole but will likely serve a fraction of that. HNN Investigates took Lelah’s plea agreement to a legal expert, who said while that part’s typical — this isn’t an average deal.

“This particular plea agreement that I reviewed is very unusual,” said Victor Bakke, a legal expert who has practiced law for 30 years.

He said a deal like the one Lelah is getting is rare “because it gave the defendant the option to pick and choose which scenario so to speak that he wanted to plead under.”

Last June, Lelah was indicted on four counts of sex assault.

Records revealed the victim’s family was seeking help from his Kona-based non-profit, The Loving Service Foundation. The facility was located on a 22-acre compound off Huehue Street. It was there the 72-year-old is accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting a 14-year-old patient.

Court records allege the abuse started in June 2019 and continued for seven months — after the clinical psychologist convinced the boy’s parents to let the victim live with him while receiving care.

According to the non-profit’s website, which has since been taken down, the facility specialized in treating children and teens who were dying or suffering from chronic illness….

(CLUE: Sex abuse victims often wait years before speaking out.  If they are dying, they may never speak out.)   

Bakke said the fact Lelah was given a choice between two deals is strange. ”When you see this type of charge, you always have to be careful that things don’t look too unusual, because then it looks like somebody’s getting a favor or there might be some type of corruption,” he said….

According to court documents, Lelah picked deal number one.

“He will ask for probation and 18 months,” Bakke said. “The prosecutor will ask for up to 10 years.”

And then it will be up to the judge to decide….

Lelah is scheduled to be sentenced on May 24….

read … Plea deal for psychologist accused of sexually assaulting teen patient called ‘unusual’

HB1595 Expungements: Thousands of Big Island Criminals to get records wiped

MM: … Hawaii’s Senate on Tuesday passed a marijuana expungements bill that would create a single-county pilot program aimed at clearing certain past offenses, voting 24–1 to send the proposal, HB 1595, back to the House ahead of a legislative deadline later this week.

On two other marijuana-related measures, meanwhile—including a proposal to expand the state’s decriminalization of cannabis and separate legislation to create an expungements-focused task force—the chamber voted to hold off on adopting changes made by the House. If the Senate does not ultimately agree to the amendments, the bills will be sent to a bicameral conference committee.

The latest actions come after a separate proposal to legalize marijuana in Hawaii fizzled out earlier this month….

read … Hawaii Senate Approves Marijuana Expungements Pilot Program

Hawaii ban on short-term vacation rentals moves forward in state legislature

AP: … Two bills moving through the Hawaii legislature could phase out short-term rentals that are not occupied by their owner, as the state tries to tackle rising housing costs and homelessness hotel industry and unions exploit the Lahaina fire to stamp out competition.

State House Bill 1838 and Senate Bill 2919 have prompted a fierce debate about the future of vacation rentals like Airbnb and Vrbo homes…. 

HPR: Bills toward short-term rental regulation are in final stages of the legislative process

BH: Controversial Move to Ban Hawaii Vacation Rentals Proceeds - Beat of Hawaii

read … Hawaii ban on short-term vacation rentals moves forward in state legislature

1,100 Lahaina Voices Stifled because a purple-haired armed robber didn’t submit testimony online

CB: … After the House Finance Committee approved a measure last week that could lead to higher electric bills to pay for Hawaiian Electric Co.’s wildfire mitigation efforts, Finance Committee Chair Kyle Yamashita reported the committee had received testimony from just seven people opposing it.  

But Rep. Elle Cochran, the lawmaker (and convicted felon) from Lahaina who cast the lone committee vote against the bill, says Yamashita was wrong.

“Way, way, way, all the way wrong,” Cochran said.

In fact, Cochran says, the committee received testimony from 1,100 individuals opposing the bill, all of them victims of the Aug. 8 wildfires that destroyed much of Lahaina and killed at least 101 people. 

The bill passed the full House Tuesday and if it survives conference committee will allow Hawaiian Electric Co., subject to regulatory approval, to issue special bonds it can use to pay for costs related to wildfire prevention. The bonds would be paid off with fees imposed on customers. 

In identical testimony, some 1,100 opponents blamed HECO for starting the fires and said shareholders, not customers, should bear the costs.

“As a proud Maui resident who is struggling to move past this horrific tragedy, I urge you to reject Senate Bill 2922 and demand that HECO’s shareholders bear the burdens of its corporate gross negligence,” the testimonies said. Each bore the name of an alleged victim and the address of property that had been damaged or destroyed by the fire.

Cochran blames Yamashita for not making the testimony public before the committee voted on April 3…

(But it is Cochran who failed.  Keep reading.)

The flap over the HECO bill testimony speaks to a basic question about the legislative process: In an age when just about everything is done electronically, is the public is allowed to submit testimony the old-fashioned way — as hard copy?

Answering that question can be daunting for the public, and even a lawmaker.

(Actually it is easy. But if your brain is damaged by years of drug abuse, this may be too difficult.)

During last week’s hearing on the bill, Yamashita told Cochran, “You have to insert it online” for testimony to be made part of the legislative process.

Cochran said she later asked for clarification from House Speaker Scott Saiki and Majority Leader Nadine Nakamura but couldn’t get an immediate answer.

(And so, because Cochran couldn’t deal with “You have to insert it online”, the 1,100 people who trusted her were betrayed.)

read … 1,100 Pieces Of Testimony Against A Bill Went Missing For Days. The Bill Passed And Then The Opponents' Letters Showed Up

Cockfighting bills die in Hawaii State Legislature due to Mafia Opposition

KHON: … One of the proposals would have created a felony offense for chicken fighting while the other asked for increased penalties for all cruelty cases in Hawaii….

“And we’re talking about the most serious offenses,” HHS community engagement director Stephanie Kendrick said, “so, these are offenses that are either heinous by their nature or result in the death of the animal.”

Chicken fighting was another point of interest — it is illegal in all 50 states but Hawaii is just one of the few where it is classified as a misdemeanor. Police Chief Joe Logan said criminals who run chicken fighting operations are not just making roosters brawl.

“Those are illegal operations, they breed criminal activity,” Logan said. “We always find drugs, illegal guns and other crimes of that nature. So really, it breeds criminality in its environment. So it’s not culturally acceptable and so we need to put a stop to that.” ….

Click here to read more about a bill about penalties, requirements and responsibilities for owners who have dogs that are deemed dangerous….

read … Animal cruelty bills die in Hawaii State Legislature

Opioid Dealer Plea Bargain Backed by 117 pages of testimonials from current and former Honolulu police officers, City Council members, and state lawmakers

SA: … “In sum, the defendant dedicates nearly five pages of her sentencing memorandum to her own self-serving (and at times inaccurate) account of the history of plea discussions. The United States does not see fit to respond in kind. For the reasons set forth below, the defendant’s sentence in this case should be decided based on relevant sentencing factors, not warring versions of events born out of difficult and protracted plea negotiations,” wrote Khatib.

Maluafiti filed expert witness testimony criticizing the Wisconsin veterinarian’s handling of his drug license.

She also submitted 117 pages of testimonials from current and former Honolulu police officers, City Council members, business leaders, members of the military and state lawmakers with Otake’s court.

The letters of support for Maluafiti laud her decades of community service and note her love of animals and firm belief that her acquisition of opioids was solely for the preservation and protection of animals.

Former Honolulu police Assistant Chief Lisa Mann wrote to Otake and said she has known Maluafiti for 35 years and respects her work. She said HPD has benefited from her advocacy for firework prohibitions and animal cruelty policies that are helping officers keep the community and Oahu’s animals safe. … 

SA: Animal rescue advocate avoids federal prison

read … Animal activist asks for no jail time in drug case

Frequent Turnover At Hawaii's Education Board Engineered by Legislators

CB: … When former state Rep. Roy Takumi went before the Senate Education Committee on Monday, he had a promise for his former legislative colleagues: If confirmed to lead the Hawaii Board of Education, he would hold Department of Education leaders accountable for the progress of public schools. 

“When you really distill what the board is responsible for, it’s to hold the department accountable in measurable outcomes,” he said, adding that he would do whatever it takes to improve how the board operates.

Takumi, who served as a state representative for nearly 30 years, has been tapped by the governor to chair the BOE at a difficult time for the volunteer-led board tasked with overseeing public education in the state. 

After the unexpected resignation of BOE Chair Warren Haruki last month, the board is facing its third change in top leadership in two years. Since September, it’s also lost three of four staff members who helped manage the board’s bimonthly meetings and ensure compliance with the state’s public transparency law. Seven of the nine voting members on the board are currently up for Senate confirmation….

read … Frequent Turnover At Hawaii's Education Board Is Weakening School Oversight

Inspectors are finding more Hawaii public schools with inoperable fire alarms

HNN: …  Amid ongoing efforts to bolster safety at public schools, inspectors are finding more Hawaii campuses with inoperable fire alarms. Crews are making plans to get them replaced but in the meantime, some schools are having to rely on manual fire watch plans.

The number of Hawaii public schools with inoperable fire alarms has doubled since HNN reported on the issue in February. The latest DOE report lists 22 schools, including Kapalama Elementary…

KHON: Progress is being made to inoperable fire alarm systems, says DOE

KITV: Over 60% of Hawaii public schools have fire alarm issues

read … Inspectors are finding more Hawaii public schools with inoperable fire alarms

Honolulu permitting office cites Hawaiian lūʻau for being in a residential area

HPR: … At the end of February, DPP gave Baker until March 30 to correct the violation.

Karl Veto Baker started the lūʻau earlier this year, charging visitors between $169 to $219 depending on the package. He said he created the lūʻau to bring back representation of Hawaiian culture.

Kumu Hula Karl Veto Baker and Michael Lanakila Casupang perform a series of songs at the Queenʻs Aloha Lūʻau in Punchbowl.

Baker said the lūʻau is still open, but he called for a meeting with DPP officials to figure out what permit he needs.

“At the same time I want to understand why we can’t do home occupation,” he said. “Please explain it to me. I was told I could have a show here every night of the week if I didn’t charge." ….

read … Honolulu permitting office cites Hawaiian lūʻau for being in a residential area

Lahaina Fire News:

Legislative Agenda:  

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