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Thursday, July 5, 2012
July 5, 2012 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:25 PM :: 6079 Views

Sweetener: Did InfraConsult Push $1.9M Change Order for HDR?

Djou: What Independence Day Means to Me

NASDAQ Halts Hoku Trading

FBI Closes Am Samoa Office after Imprisoning Numerous Corrupt Officials, Prepares to Open Hilo Office (YES!)

HNN: Vida G. Bottom, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Honolulu Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced Wednesday that all FBI operations and investigative efforts in the U.S. territory of American Samoa will be handled by the FBI office in Honolulu, Hawaii. The FBI says the decision for the consolidation was made by the U.S. Congress who cited budgetary reasons….

The FBI's American Samoa office opened in 2006 as a satellite of the Honolulu field office. During that time, many high-profile public corruption, civil rights and violent crime investigations have resulted in criminal convictions. The FBI's office on American Samoa will be phased out gradually over the next few months as equipment and supplies can be moved to Honolulu.

Samoa: The Tsunami and Mufi’s Samoan Connection

Not Connected at All, Really: Politicians, Criminals Nervous as FBI Opens Hilo Office  

There’s Nothing to Prosecute in Hilo: 

read … Talofa Samoa, Hello Hilo

Welfare Queens: Tax Credit Scammers Thrilled With Big Cable, Tech Accelerator

Fidell: Last week, Governor Abercrombie signed a number of good and important bills, including the undersea cable facilitation bill, the tech accelerator bill, and a bill that would make an Environmental Assessment unnecessary in cases where an Environmental Impact Statement will be done.

Watch Video …

SA: Council should censure Garcia Because He Endangered Rail

SA: Garcia's violation was more egregious by far. Undisclosed conflicts of interest are nullified, under state law. Although Garcia was not the deciding vote in any of the decisions, the fact remains that there were 52 of them. It could have caused a great deal of disruption in the Council's business, and in the business of everyone depending on those actions.

"Council member Garcia's duty to the public is clear cut," said Chuck Totto, executive director and legal counsel for the Ethics Commission, in a written statement this week. "It's hard to imagine a more obvious and basic financial conflict that your employer testifying on a bill that you'll vote on."

That's a fair assessment. In its next full meeting July 11, the Council should act to censure Garcia formally. In a political climate in which there is so much distrust of public institutions, the Council must communicate its recognition of such a serious lapse, and its resolve to prevent its happening again.

Disrupting the Business of Crony Capitalism is the One Unforgivable Offense, as explained: Pay to Play: Will Cayetano Retaliate Against Hirono?

read … Rail Conflicts

Ethics? Evans, Hashem Refuse to Report Stock Ownership

CB: Only 27 percent of legislators declared ownership of stock or mutual funds on their 2012 public financial disclosures, which were due on May 31. The percentage represents a small increase from last year, but the figure is still only about half of the national average.

The State Ethics Code requires lawmakers to disclose ownership of stock or mutual funds worth at least $5,000. They're also supposed to declare if they own 10 percent or more of any business….

"When people are very corrupt, so to speak, or hiding things, they won’t put it on the disclosure form," he said. "So when it’s not there it’s very good evidence."

One lawmaker, Rep. Mark Hashem, cited interests in “various public companies” and “mutual funds” but neglected to list them by name. Another legislator, Rep. Cynthia Evans, identified the value of her spouse’s investment as “unknown.” The representatives' disclosures from the past two years were similarly vague.

In an e-mail, Evans explained that in the case of her husband's stock, its value is not determined until the time that it is sold, thus rendering its value currently "unknown." (This would be true if he owns stock in one or more Act 221 scam companies, but Evans is still required to identify the companies.) Hashem did not return Civil Beat's request for a comment….

Chapter 84 of the State Ethics Code requires that members of the Legislature declare “the amount and identity of every ownership or beneficial interest held during the disclosure period in any business having a value of $5,000 or more or equal to ten percent of the ownership of the business.”

Despite having relatively clear laws like this on the books, the 2012 State Integrity Investigation ranked Hawaii 44th out of 50 states in terms of the difference between what the law says and what actually happens on the ground.

read … Hiding Things

Prosecutor: Takata Grudge match against Kaneshiro

KHON: Honolulu Prosecuto, Keith Kaneshiro said, "I think, I think, it is personal, it's personal because he probably wasn't happy that I didn't appoint him."

"If you look back on my career I don't think I did anything to deserve being terminated," said Kevin Takata who is a candidate for City Prosecutor.

Kevin Takata was a Honolulu Deputy Prosecutor for more than 23 years, a successful trial attorney for the homicide division for seven, another decade as supervisor of the trials division, the office's largest….

Some speculated it was because Takata supported deputy prosecutor Don Pacarro, who ran against Kaneshiro in 2010.

But, Kaneshiro did offer reappointment to Pacarro, who declined.

Pacarro is now Takata's campaign manager.

read … Race for Honolulu Prosecutor: Kaneshiro vs Takata

Honolulu Council District 7 Candidates on the Issues

CB: Romy Cachola's eight years on the Honolulu City Council is coming to a close, and the next generation of leaders is poised to step into the void.

Two men running for the District 7 seat — 27-year-old first-time candidate Martin Han and current Hawaii House of Representatives Vice Speaker Joey Manahan — were, like Cachola, born in the Philippines.

read … Honolulu Council District 7 Candidates on the Issues

DOE Not Bloated—Former Official

CB: "Contrary to popular opinion that the Department of Education has a bloated bureaucracy, we're significantly under-resourced logistically," he said.

For example, the school food service state staff is probably 50 percent understaffed, he said. If you look at a mainland school district by comparison, he said the Hawaii crew is probably carrying twice the load and has geographic challenges to boot….

The Board of Education has grilled Moore over ways to make up multi-million-dollar shortfalls for student transportation services. He candidly answers their questions with thought and repose at one meeting after another, revising the department's recommendations based on the board's direction.

In a way, he's been caught in the middle of a tug of war between the board and the contractors. The board wants budget cuts, the contractors say the escalating costs can't be helped.

The department on Saturday finalized a list of 103 bus routes to cut, impacting almost 2,400 students.

Moore played a key role in the school bus issue in recent years, serving as the point person before the board and working with others behind the scenes to find solutions.

Civil Beat's investigative series Taken for a Ride found that the cost of transporting students to and from school more than doubled in the last several years as competition among contractors dropped off.

read … A lesson for the HGEA and HSTA, Contractor Collusion is not bloat 

Pork Project: Honolulu Pig Control Costs $1,400 Per Head

CB: If Mayor Peter Carlisle hosted a luau the pig might be a little pricey, especially if it came from one of Honolulu’s botanical gardens.

In the last five years, the city has paid the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services branch to trap, shoot and kill 233 feral pigs that root around in the gardens, dropping feces and damaging the tropical and native flora that grow there.

The city has so far spent about $305,000 on this pest control effort, and is expected to add another $52,000 to the total in the coming year.

That breaks down to about $1,400 per pig.

read … Pork Project

Wind Farm Claims to Begin Operation on Maui

News Release: Early last year, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission approved a power purchase agreement between Kaheawa Wind II and Maui Electric Company to sell as-available renewable energy to Maui Electric at pre-determined prices over a 20-year term.

read … Hand in Your Pocket

Anti-GMO Activist allegedly bilked investors with utility scam

SA: A Maui man who described President Barack Obama as his business partner has been ordered by the state to stop soliciting investors for a water utility business, and is being pursued to return investor contributions and pay a $200,000 civil penalty.

The state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs alleges that Nelson Waikiki Jr. of Wailuku fraudulently sought investors through two companies from October 2008 to December 2011 by suggesting that private developers and landowners in Hawaii would have to go through his businesses for all water usage.

The DCCA alleges that Waikiki used Opunui Water Co. LLC and Opunui Land and Water Co. LLC for the enterprise, which he falsely claimed was endorsed by U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka and then-U.S. Rep. (now Gov.) Neil Abercrombie.

Waikiki, a trucking operator who ran for Maui mayor in 2006, also falsely claimed that Obama was his business partner, the agency said.

At a Maui County Council hearing on genetically modified crops last year, Waikiki stated that "my business partner, President Barack Obama, signed a bill on the U.S. law that allows indigenous people to start their own public water utility company to profit and to compete within the market," according to minutes of the meeting….

The DCCA alleges Waikiki sold investment contracts to seven investors morons for a total of $73,000 and spent the money for his personal use.

read … More News from Maui

Court Voids Hawaii Gun Ban After Non-violent Misdemeanor Conviction

SA: HPD says it denies firearm permits to people convicted of harassment when it involves striking, shoving or kicking. The police departments for Maui, Kauai and Hawaii counties say that is their practice as well.

Kay says in his order that he is unaware of any case law to support their claim that harassment is a crime of violence that involves injury or threat of injury to another person. Nor have lawyers for Kealoha and the city cited any, he said.

The department says it has not seen Kay's order.

Fisher's lawyer, Donald Wilkerson, said he has not served HPD with Kay's order but that Fisher will reapply for a firearms permit sometime this week.

The four county police departments processed 15,375 firearm permit applications in 2011, according to data compiled by the state Attorney General's Office.

They rejected 230, or 1.5 percent, of the applications. Almost half of the rejections, 112, were due to the applicants' prior criminal history. Nine were for harassment.

read … Court clears way for convict to get firearms permit

The American pivot to Asia is all bluff and bluster

SA: So says Amitai Etzioni, former adviser to President Jimmy Carter in a recent opinion piece for The National Interest. Too few Marines. Too few ships. Too much talk. In short, more symbolism than substance.

Put aside the question of whether 2,500 additional Marines in Darwin, Australia, and a couple dozen more warships are a substantial gesture, and instead ask three questions about the pivot: What is it? What is it not? And what has changed?

read … What? Obama all talk? Say it isn’t so!


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