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June 28, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:43 PM :: 1255 Views

How Mexican cartels target Hawaii with meth, fentanyl

Homeless people can be fined for sleeping outside, Supreme Court rules

Did Hawaii just pave the way for court enforcement of California's climate promises?

Hawaii Water Wars: If you don't claim a 'taking' you lose

Senate Special Session Rubber Stamps Four Oahu Circuit Court Nominees

4th Hawaii sheriff’s deputy arrested -- ‘Reckless Endangering’ of Black Deputy

SA: … A fourth Hawaii Sheriff’s deputy was arrested this morning as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations of racial harassment of a Black trainee.

At 10:45 a.m., Deputy Sheriff William Gary, 46, was arrested on suspicion of harassment by the Department of Law Enforcement’s Criminal Investigations Division. Gary was released pending further investigation and placed on paid administrative leave.

Gary is the fourth Sheriff’s deputy arrested since June 18.

On Wednesday, Deputy Sheriff William K. Keahi, 40, was arrested at 8:30 a.m. on suspicion of reckless endangering and harassment.

On Tuesday, Erich R. Mitamura, 40, was booked at 10 a.m. and released pending investigation.

On June 18, Deputy Sheriff Alvin Turla, 47, was arrested on the same allegation related to the treatment of a co-worker….

CLUE: HRS707-713 Reckless endangering in the first degree
(1) A person commits the offense of reckless endangering in the first degree if the person employs widely dangerous means in a manner which recklessly places another person in danger of death or serious bodily injury or intentionally fires a firearm in a manner which recklessly places another person in danger of death or serious bodily injury.
(2) Reckless endangering in the first degree is a class C felony.

read … 4th Hawaii sheriff’s deputy arrested in harassment probe

Bankruptcy Looms: Will State Finally Allow Hawaiian Electric to Use Cheap Clean Natural Gas?

CB: … Oahu still relies on low-sulfur fuel oil (basically thick diesel) to generate 68% of the island’s electricity. So LNG and other sources are all on the table, he said.

(CLUE: The wind and solar industries favor diesel because it is expensive and dirty, thus making their alternatives look better by comparison.)

Part of the motivation seems to be coming from the economic toll the state’s biggest electric company is facing from the Aug. 8 wildfires on Maui.

(CLUE: LNG is clean and cheap.  Allowing Hawaiian Electric to convert to LNG would reduce its operating costs, thus helping it to avoid bankruptcy.  If Hawaiian Electric goes BK, old boys lose a key power center to outside interests.  Too bad the old boys were too stupid to allow LNG conversion back when Abercrombie pushed for it.  LOL!)

The fires, which resulted in the loss of at least 102 lives, caused massive liability risk to Hawaiian Electric Co. from damage claims, Glick said. That has greatly limited the utility’s access to capital as well as the cost….

The Hawaii State Energy Office is putting the finishing touches on a study to be released in mid-July with details on how the state can reduce its sky-high energy costs, decarbonize more rapidly and seek access to capital, according to Mark Glick, state energy officer.

He said his office expects “critical cost and carbon analytical findings” that stem partly from its recent Decarbonization Pathways report that cautioned about the damaging effects of continuing to use low-sulfur fuel oil as the main fuel for power generation.

“It is clear, particularly post-Maui wildfires, that the status quo is no longer acceptable,” Glick said….

(TRANSLATION: “We must save Hawaiian Electric from bankruptcy.”)

read … Too Little, Too Late???

PUC allows Hawaiian Electric to sell accounts receivable

KITV: … The Commission is approving the Companies’ request to sell A/R [accounts receivable] to secure short-term financing pursuant to HRS § 269-19(a), but the Commission remains concerned with some aspects…. 

HEI: Hawaii Public Utilities Commission Approves Hawaiian Electric ’ s $250M Utility Accounts Receivable Credit Facility 

read … PUC allows Hawaiian Electric to sell assets

A Long-Awaited Federal Report On The Cause Of The Lahaina Fire Is Just Waiting For Maui County To Release It

CB: … The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has completed its origin and cause report on the wildfires that destroyed much of Lahaina and killed 102 people, but the public can’t see it until the Maui Fire Department releases it.

And Maui County doesn’t know when that will be.

Federal ATF officials are on Maui this week briefing the Maui Fire Department on the agency’s findings and answering any questions Maui officials might have, said Jason Chudy, a spokesman for the agency. 

“We’ve made everybody available for the full week,” Chudy said in an interview on Tuesday. The ATF plans to post the entire 600-page report on its website, Chudy said, but only after Maui has released its own origin and cause report, which will include the ATF report as an addendum. 

Asked when that would be, Chudy said, “I have no idea. It’s all Maui Fire Department’s call.”…

read … A Long-Awaited Federal Report On The Cause Of The Lahaina Fire Is Just Waiting For Maui County To Release It

CYA News: Maui County awards contract to write secret review Aug. 8 fire response

SA: … Maui awarded a contract Tuesday to an undisclosed company to review the response of the Maui Emergency Management Agency during the fatal Aug. 8 wildfires.

The county received seven bids to perform the after-­action report by the May 17 deadline and awarded the contract Tuesday, according to Laksmi Abraham, director of communications and government affairs for Maui Mayor Richard Bissen.

County officials declined to name the company or disclose how much the contract is worth because the Maui Department of the Corporation Counsel is still reviewing the winning bid ….

The winning bidder “understands that there may be significant public and media interest in the findings of the report,” the RFP said. “If desired by the county, contractor will develop both a public version and a ‘For Official Use Only’ version of the AAR.”…

(CLUE: Yes it is desired by the County.  They have learned only CYA from Hurricane Lane.)

The last time MEMA did an AAR was following the August 2018 wildfires fueled by Hurricane Lane, which destroyed homes, vehicles and forced evacuations in Lahaina.

The 2018 draft AAR was created by MEMA for official use only. It was released to the public in October following Uniform Public Information Act requests from multiple news organizations.

County officials have previously declined to discuss the 2018 draft AAR or any other aspect of the county’s response to the Hurricane Lane-fueled fires in Lahaina ….

read … Maui County awards contract to review Aug. 8 fire response

Morioka Stadium: Biding Process Improved by having only one bidder  

SA: … The withdrawal of one of two finalists for the New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District contract was the main topic of discussion at Thursday’s Stadium Authority meeting. Board members, however, downplayed the idea that the remaining bidder gains leverage by being the only applicant left.

(Mercado Kim connected) Waiola Development Partners pulled out last week from contention to design, build, operate and maintain a new 25,000-seat stadium and develop the rest of the 98 acres surrounding the Halawa facility in a public- private partnership with the state.

(DelaCruz connected) Aloha Halawa District Partners, the only remaining candidate, is the presumed winner of the contract, assuming its blueprints meet the state’s expectations for the new stadium — which include building it in time for the 2028 football season. AHDP’s plans for real estate development of the area also must mesh.

Stadium Authority board Chair Brennon Morioka said he is disappointed with Waiola’s exit but added that there are advantages for the state in dealing with only one group sooner than expected and that the situation doesn’t give the private partner more financial leverage.

“We do look at this as an opportunity to move the project forward quicker and (have) deeper conversation with Aloha Halawa District Partners,” Morioka said. “For the public perception that now this team can take advantage of being the only one, the state has been committed to only $350 million to the project. … We’re very confident that this procurement process protects the state.

“We’re confident in the coming weeks they’ll be more open in their conversations with us, now that they know there’s not another team that can take their ideas.”

The Waiola group told the state last week it was withdrawing via a letter to the Department of Accounting and General Services and NASED.

“It indicated they’re not sure if they could deliver at the standard of quality they hold themselves to,” Mori­oka said. “We’re trying to set up a meeting so we can get a more detailed reason.” …

Morioka was asked about speculation that he is a candidate to replace retiring UH President David Lassner.

“Applications aren’t due yet. Right now I love where I am and what I am doing,” said Morioka, who is dean of the UH Manoa School of Engineering. “If a different opportunity comes about, there might be something to be considered. Before I make any move, I’d discuss it with my family.”

(TRANSLATION: ‘Yes.’)

After a national search and six public forums, the UH Board of Regents expects to name three or four finalists in September and announce a final choice in October. The new president starts in January….

read … Stadium developer’s exit is focus at board meeting

Miske defense expected to rest its case on Monday

ILind: … The racketeering trial of former Honolulu business owner Michael J. Miske Jr., which started on January 6 with jury selection, is now expected to wrap up soon, according to a discussion in court on Thursday following an abbreviated trial session.

The discussion was prompted by the early and abrupt end of today’s session. In only about 40 minutes, Miske’s defense attorneys called three witnesses who were quickly questioned, cross-examined, and excused in short order. The defense was then unprepared to proceed further.

The jury was excused, and Judge Derrick Watson called the attorneys to task, noting that the past few days had also ended without using the full time available.

“We are wasting a massive amount of time, my time, the jurors time,” Watson said. “The defense is showing a lack of appreciation and a lack of respect for jurors, me, and the process.” …

The latest draft of proposed jury instructions is 223 pages, just one indication of the complexity of the jury’s remaining task….

ILind: “E” for “East Side” 

read … Miske defense expected to rest its case on Monday

Join Us to Hear About the Loopholes of Hawaii’s Pay-to-Play Law

NYT: … Hawaii is reeling from one of the largest corruption scandals in its history. Former State Senator J. Kalani English and former State Representative Ty Cullen pleaded guilty in February 2022 to accepting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes during their time in office. Starting as early as 2014, and continuing until at least 2020, state and local politicians raked in campaign contributions at late-night fund-raising parties.

Hawaii had passed an anti-corruption law in 2005 that was billed as one of the nation’s most ambitious efforts to end pay-to-play government contracting….

read … Join Us to Hear About the Loopholes of Hawaii’s Pay-to-Play Law

Family alleges HPD failed to act on child abuse claims against daycare despite evidence

HNN: … A military family whose daughter was abused by two women at a Navy daycare has filed a complaint against the Honolulu Police Department, alleging the agency failed to take their case seriously until they saw video of the girl being harmed.

In 2022, Isabella Kuykendall was 1 1/2 and attended the Navy’s Child Development Center at Ford Island. Her parents contacted police after seeing bruises on her daughter.

“The first thing HPD said to us was that the video doesn’t match the pictures. There is no case here at all. Nothing happens,” said mother Kate Kuykendall.

Three months later, after the case was closed, the military allowed the Kuykendalls to look at 75 hours of surveillance video. In it, daycare worker Analyn DeGuzman can be seen striking Isabella’s head and then appears to smother her. Later, she uses the child’s arm to hit her.

That same day, another worker, Marilyn Kanekoa, is seen violently shaking the child.

The day before, a third woman is seen throwing Isabella to the ground and then covering her with a blanket. That woman has not been prosecuted.

“Every camera angle has clear violence on it,” said JD Kuykendall, an Army captain….

read … Family alleges HPD failed to act on child abuse claims against daycare despite evidence

Management Learns Nothing After Four Homeless Killed at Maui ‘Harm Reduction’ Shelter

KITV: … When asked about the claims at the Pu'uhonua o Nene facility in Kahului, Dept. of Human Services Deputy Director Joseph Campos responded, "I think it's important that while we mourn those who have been lost, we continue to encourage healthy lifestyles and ensuring that they (residents) can have self-sufficiency.

Unlike other shelters, the pu'uhonua, which was established within two weeks to house the pre-disaster homeless after the fires, employs a "housing first model."

According to Campos, the "well-respected and accepted" method allows unsheltered people struggling with substance abuse to stay at the site without having to get clean first.

The idea is to provide unsheltered individuals with housing, stability, and healthcare so as to empower them to improve their lives.

"These are the individuals that are the hardest to house that other places will not take because of their current or past circumstances," said Darrah Kauhane, executive director of Project Vision Hawai'i, the organization that manages the shelter.

"But I think everyone deserves to have food on the table and a safe place to sleep, have an ability to have a voice and be part of a loving community."

Conflicts at the pu'uhonua are resolved with what is referred to as a "harm reduction philosophy."

"It's more of a how can we support each other through issues versus how can we punish the individuals," Kauhane explained. "That's a different framework that might be hard for some people to understand, but we have to try something new to make changes."

However, the facility does enforce strict policies, prohibiting drugs on the grounds and violence. The pu’uhonua prioritizes safety too, with 24/7 security and surveillance.

The Maui Police Department confirmed there have been four deaths reported at the site since it opened about 10 months ago.

Kauhane pointed out that the life expectancy for unsheltered people is much lower than the greater population, at about 53 years old….

HTH: Shelter to open in Hilo: 25-bed facility for homeless will be located next to The Salvation Army

read … Management responds to reports of deaths, drugs, violence at a Maui homeless shelter

He was arrested for DUI — with no alcohol in his system

HNN: … Over the last two years, dozens of Oahu drivers have been arrested for operating a vehicle under the influence with breathalyzer results of 0.00 — meaning no alcohol showed as present in their system, HNN Investigates recently reported.

In 2022 and 2023, nearly 300 drivers who were arrested had breath or blood test results below the legal limit of 0.08, according to HPD data on arrests that did not result in charges.

Even more concerning, there were 69 people with results of 0.00….

read … PODCAST: On ‘The Other Side,’ he was arrested for DUI — with no alcohol in his system

Steve Alm: Marijuana Legalization Carries Risks For Hawaii

CB: … As an active participant in the effort to stop commercial (recreational) legalization of marijuana (personal use has already been decriminalized), I read Neal Milner’s recent column with great interest (“How Both Sides In Marijuana Debate Blew Smoke Up Our Okole”).

There are a number of points that Milner got wrong in his article….

read … Steve Alm: Marijuana Legalization Carries Risks For Hawaii

HYCF Can’t Find Anybody to Work as a Cook -- Buys Meals from Zippys

CB: … Administrator Mark Patterson says that the facility’s hiring process makes it difficult to fill the kitchen’s vacant position. The process can take anywhere from six to nine months, largely because of the extensive background checks required for staff members working directly with youth.

“By the time the investigation is complete and all the requirements in terms of background checks are met, the individual found another job, then we have to go through that whole process again,” Patterson said. “So it’s very frustrating for us.”

…with employees stepping out more and more frequently and the kitchen struggling to fill its vacant role, the facility is increasingly resorting to emergency meals, which are typically ordered from restaurant chains like L&L Hawaiian Barbecue and Zippy’s.

In years when HYCF’s kitchen is fully staffed, Patterson says the facility requests $20,000 to $35,000 for these emergency meals. Now, that number has more than doubled, reflecting the severity of the facility’s staffing shortage.

HYCF’s staffing issues aren’t limited to its kitchen. While the facility doesn’t have a staffing problem with its correctional staff, Bueno says there are still multiple vacancies in other areas, including groundskeeper, maintenance and office positions.

“I’ve been in this position since 2018,” he said. “I can tell you that I’ve never had a full operational staff.”

Patterson says that the pay may factor into this shortage by deterring people from applying, although Bueno feels that the intensive hiring process is the main concern….

read … Let Them Eat Zippy's: Youth Correctional Facility Turns To Takeout To Address Cook Shortage

Hawaii records 6 COVID-related fatalities

SA: … It’s a grim reminder of COVID-19’s ongoing presence and severity: Six more Hawaii people have just died from the disease, after two consecutive weeks of no COVID fatalities. They were all kupuna, with one man in his 60s, the others women above age 70. Unfortunately, cases here continue rising, with a daily average of 186 cases this week, up from last week’s 175, and the average positivity rate up to 17.9%, from the previous week’s 16.7% ....

read … Hawaii records 6 COVID-related fatalities

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