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June 23, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:38 PM :: 2618 Views

Aloha Stadium Bidding Limited to One Gang of Insiders

Sandwich Isles Communications: Twenty Years of Criminality

What You Ask

Your Input Inspires Us 

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted June 22, 2024

Hawaii County moves toward greater freedom for beekeepers

Back in Court: Kaneshiro and Mitsunaga not in the clear

Shapiro: … After a jury acquitted defendants on allegations Kaneshiro was bribed with some $40,000 in campaign donations to bring allegedly bogus theft charges against Mitsunaga’s former employee Laurel Mau, she’s filed a civil lawsuit using evidence from the criminal case to accuse the defendants of federal civil rights violations.

A civil suit seeking monetary damages applies a less stringent burden of proof than a criminal case and could potentially cost taxpayers, as Mau named the city a defendant as Kaneshiro’s employer….

A more root issue, as in the cases involving former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his prosecutor wife, Katherine, is about one of the most alarming abuses of power: attempting to use official authority to put an innocent person in jail.

A civil rights lawsuit may prove the more appropriate venue to determine if this is what happened to Mau….

LINK: 1:2024cv00253

read … Kaneshiro and Mitsunaga maybe not yet in the clear

Lies Exposed: Maui short-term rentals targeted for ban were never ‘workforce housing’

SA: … Bissen has described his proposal as a move to revert the 2,200 West Maui units to workforce housing, which he said is what most or all of the these units were originally designed and built to be.

“Our goal is to return them to their intended purpose,” he said during a May 2 presentation announcing the plan.

However, an analysis of all the units slated for conversion in West Maui under Bissen’s proposal shows that most of them were originally condominiums developed for resort use….

West Maui properties targeted for conversion include:

>> Three condo projects at Kaanapali Beach Resort with a combined 568 units, including the oceanfront 258-unit Hale Kaanapali which is now known as the Aston Maui Kaanapali Villas. But it opened in 1967 as the Hilton Hale Kaanapali just ahead of units being sold individually as part of a luxury apartment-hotel that its developer said would become “the Kahala Hilton of Kaanapali.”

(CLUE: Condotels are being targeted by union-controlled hotels in a bid to eliminate competition.)

>> Three condo projects at Kapalua Resort — Bay Villas, Golf Villas and The Ridge — with a combined 488 units that sold out as part of the resort’s initial development in the mid-1970s.

>> Papakea, a 364-unit beachfront condo complex in Kaanapali that is the biggest single project intended for conversion in West Maui and was originally marketed for sale to first- and second-­home buyers before it was completed in 1977.

There are also about 860 units among roughly 20 properties in the Napili-­Honokowai area between Kaanapali and Kapalua. The biggest one of these is the 100-unit Kuleana II, where units were marketed for sale as a resort condo investment opportunity in 1972 and came with vacation exchange privileges under a program called Club Mondiale.

Outside West Maui, properties targeted for conversion include six projects with 782 units at Wailea Resort in South Maui, 479 units at eight projects in Maalaea, the 30-unit Kuau Plaza in Paia, and a 19-unit property in Hana called Hana Kai-Maui.

There are also two projects on Molokai, the 120-unit Ke Nani Kai condo completed in 1983 as part of Kaluakoi Resort, and the 126-unit Wavecrest condo developed in 1975 and initially sold mostly to Hawaii residents who wanted to “get away” to Molokai.

Most properties on the conversion list are in Kihei, where about 3,000 units are divided among about 50 properties.

Among the Kihei properties are a few single-family homes, including the beachfront Indo Lotus Beach House built in 1970 and valued for property tax purposes at $4.2 million.

(CLUE: It will be given to activist leaders to live in.)

The single biggest property on the entire conversion list also is in Kihei: The 440-unit Kamaole Sands was built in 1983 as a resort condo described at the time as the largest such property in Hawaii offering fully equipped kitchens, extensive guest activities and daily maid service.

Many of these same projects have been described by supporters of the conversion plan as apartment housing that was bought up by outside investors who displaced local families by renting the units to vacationers.

Ricky Cassiday, a local housing market researcher and consultant, said many of the properties targeted for conversion were produced to capitalize on booming tourism 50 or 60 years ago with less financial risk than traditional hotel development because condo units for resort use could be sold to individual buyers before construction….

there almost ­certainly will be litigation over the county canceling a longtime lawful real estate use, which opponents of the legislation have said runs afoul of the U.S. Constitution unless the county compensates property owners for the loss.

Such litigation could take years to resolve…

the median assessed value for all Minatoya List properties is $954,450. That means half are assessed for more than that figure and half for less.

Maintenance fees can be over $1,000 a month for some of the priciest units at Minatoya List projects.

Cassiday said it’s questionable how much workforce housing will be added if the conversion is successful, but that negative impacts on county tax revenue, the tourism industry and the economy generally are certain.

“I think overall it will be detrimental to the general public,” he said….

read … Plan to ban 7,000 Maui short-term rentals targets resort condos

Survey: Special Interests Have Too Much Influence In Government

CB: … Some 56% of Hawaii residents think that special interest groups have too much influence in state and county government.  Only 12% disagreed….

nearly seven in 10 residents — 69% — think that requiring full disclosure of all political donations and lobbying activities is something they would very strongly support.

And nearly that many — 63% — want to see stronger ethics laws an enforcement to prevent conflicts of interest.

“They really want to see transparency as the No. 1 thing to address that influence.”

Over 84% in the survey sample said they are registered to vote at their Hawaii address. About 13% said they were not registered while 2% were unsure of their voter status.

“Those who tend to be more likely to register to vote and more likely to be higher income households tended to be better engaged in these issues,” said Pettinger. “They had a much lower proportion of ‘don’t know’ responses.”

The survey highlights other demographic takeaways:

  • A higher portion of Oahu residents (14%) does not feel special interests groups have too much influence compared to the neighbor islands. Just 2% of Hawaii County residents said no to this question.
  • Older respondents age 50-64 (63%) and 65 years and older (66%) were statistically more likely to feel that special interest groups have too much influence compared to younger residents age 18-34 (41%).
  • Those without a four-year or advanced degree (43%) were statistically more likely to answer “don’t know/not sure” compared to college graduates (20%).

There is also a significant segment of residents — 32% — who said they did not know or were unsure about the influence of special interests, suggesting that there is a sizable degree of uncertainty when it comes to the topic.

PDF: survey report.pdf

read … The Sunshine Survey: Special Interests Have Too Much Influence In Government

Massive military construction dollars may flow into Hawaii

SA: … Hawaii may be in line to see more spending on military construction in the next fiscal year than any other state after the U.S. House Appropriations committee recently passed its version of a military construction spending bill with $1.55 billion slated for Hawaii projects….

read … Massive military construction dollars may flow into Hawaii

Blangiardi encouraging Waianae Vigilantes?

HNN: … “Why don’t we do something about it? We’re doing something about it,” said Waianae resident Blessing Star De La Cruz, who was among the 200 or so people who took part.

“This is not the first time that the mayor has been here,” said Nanakuli Neighborhood Board Chair Samantha DeCorte. “It’s not just because it’s election season and he’s out here and he’s campaigning. This is the mayor that we know that is very hands-on, very committed to our side of the island.”

Friday night’s walk was the fourth that Blangiardi took part in. But it’s the first since he raised some eyebrows during a town hall in Nanakuli in May. That’s when, in response to a comment about crime issues, he said, “Why isn’t the community doing more? The police can’t do everything. Why don’t you guys deal with it?”

“Yeah, we heard about that,” said James Beauford, whose son Lazarus was stabbed to death on May 16. “And we was thinking so if we go and we will somebody and put them in our hands, will we get arrested? Or just for 48 hours and release us? That’s what happened to those guys that did my son.”

Prosecutors had declined to press charges in his son’s case, citing self-defense issues.

The mayor defended his words during the walk.

“Look, what I said about taking back the community, it wasn’t about taking vigilante action. That was never the case,” Blangiardi said….

read … Mayor joins hundreds on neighborhood watch march in Waianae

Mental Health Counselors Push Lahaina Survivors to Leave Island

CB: … Maui United Way interim director Lisa Grove says many Maui fire survivors struggling with symptoms of anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder are receiving care from an ever-changing roster of counselors deployed to Maui for a brief time from other states to quell a brewing post-disaster mental health crisis….

There have also been complaints about providers asking Maui fire survivors, “Are you sure you want to be living here?” ….

Some displaced fire survivors, for example, say disaster relief volunteers prodded them to move off-island for better housing opportunities and a cheaper cost of living. Former Hawaii Red Cross CEO Diane Peters-Nguyen said she was fired from the nonprofit in early May after she called for reforms and urged the organization to stop coaxing Maui wildfire victims to relocate to other islands or states….

“The problem with that is we were slaughtered in Covid,” she explained. “So many professionals left the island and they have not returned because they can do telehealth now from somewhere cheaper. And now I have a bunch that tell me they want to come back but they can’t afford to come back because housing is so expensive and inflation is too much.”…

read … 'It's Worse Than You Think': Maui's Mental Health System Still Falls Short But More Doors Are Opening To Care - Honolulu Civil Beat

Hawaii County auditor addresses unfair hiring claims

HTH: … While Benner’s presentation did not confirm ongoing or widespread nepotism among county hires, he did report that its policies do not adequately prevent conflicts of interest, particularly compared to state anti-nepotism laws.

Benner said the investigation, which began after his office received a call on Feb. 28, centered around a single county department, but found several faults that also could be recurrent in other departments.

In particular, Benner noted that interview panels often have less than half an hour to identify potential conflicts of interests when reviewing lists of applicants for a job.

He added that at least one supervisor during the investigation failed to recuse themselves from a hiring panel despite a potential conflict of interest, and the department also allowed candidates to “field test” before an interview, circumventing the competitive recruitment process.

While Benner said the county charter does include a provision prohibiting a county supervisor from appointing or promoting a relative within their own department, it does not have a similar policy to a state law passed last year.

That 2023 state law includes more extensive prohibitions. While it includes the same provision against appointing or promoting family members as the county, it also prohibits state employees from awarding contracts that could benefit family members, as well as establishes penalties for violations. …

PDF: Council Agenda

PDF: Council Actions

read … Hawaii County auditor addresses unfair hiring claims

Hawaii County Police Commission discusses DUI complaint

HTH: … The letter, dated April 26, said the auditor’s office had received a call on a “waste, fraud and abuse (whistleblower)” hotline alleging Hawaii Police Department was charging drivers found to be in possession of drug paraphernalia during traffic stops or DUI checkpoints with DUI….

read … Police Commission discusses DUI complaint

PBS Show spotlights Communist Party member Ah Quon McElrath

Borreca: … Former Gov. Ben Cayetano was wise enough to appoint her to the University of Hawaii Board of Regents, but she was an immeasurable presence in local labor and political circles….

McElrath died in December 2008 at the age of 92. For most of her life she had been a guide and presence for the ILWU. …

Gov. John Waihee said: “It was rare if AQ wasn’t the smartest person in the room.”

Her importance was not just as a labor leader for the union or even as a lobbyist for labor matters at the state Legislature; McElrath was constantly teaching how to organize, how to move programs forward….

McElrath may have been one of the state’s strongest Democrats, but when she died, then-Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican, had nothing but praise for the labor leader.

Calling McElrath “the voice of working men and women in Hawaii and across the country” for seven decades, Lingle said that “The people of our state owe her a debt of gratitude for her tireless efforts to improve the lives of Hawaii’s residents.”

Fame and praise were not always with her. Conybeare recalled that McElrath said in her later years she was constantly praised, but was called “a commie rat” when she was a labor activist with the ILWU….

LINK: Ah Quon McElrath—Central Committee of Hawaii Communist Party

read … On Politics: Show spotlights McElrath’s passion for social justice

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