Thursday, February 14, 2019

Feds: Kealoha sent secret supportive texts to suspect she was prosecuting, Legislature advances vacation rental tax, deadly force bill dies, environmental group sues Maui over street lights, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Katherine Kealoha
Feds release Katherine Kealoha’s secret texts. Former deputy prosecutor Katherine Kealoha sent secret messages of support to a defendant in a drug-dealing case Kealoha was prosecuting, according to documents released Wednesday by federal prosecutors. Star-Advertiser.

In court filings Wednesday, federal prosecutors offered new details into the investigation into Katherine Kealoha’s alleged misconduct as a deputy city prosecutor ― along with the role that city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro allegedly played. Hawaii News Now.

Kealoha And Her Brother Are Free Pending Trial On Drug Charges. The former city prosecutor and Dr. Rudolph Puana are accused of running an illegal opioid racket out of his medical clinic. Civil Beat.

A Hawaii pain doctor and his former prosecutor sister were released on bond Wednesday while awaiting trial on charges they dealt opioids. Dr. Rudolph Puana and his sister, former Honolulu deputy prosecutor Katherine Kealoha, stood side-by-side as they pleaded not guilty to a 54-count indictment alleging she used her position to cover up their crimes. Associated Press.

Former deputy city Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha and her brother, a Big Island physician, pleaded not guilty to dozens of drug charges in federal court on Wednesday. Hawaii News Now.

Former Deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha was back in court today. This time with her brother facing dozens of drug charges. Both plead not guilty to the allegations. KHON2.

The attorney for Rudolph Puana, a Big Island doctor and brother of former Honolulu Deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha, said he's ready to go to trial. The siblings pleaded not guilty Wednesday to dozens of drug charges in federal court. They're both out on bail awaiting trial. KITV.

Prosecutors: Elect them, or appoint them? Honolulu's top prosecutor has been elected since 1980. Before that it was a position appointed by the mayor, which became a lightning rod for accusations of corruption at worst -- and cronyism, at a minimum. KHON2.

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Vacation-rental tax bill advances at Legislature. A state proposal is back to allow vacation-rental hosting platforms like Airbnb, VRBO and Home­Away to collect tens of millions of dollars in state taxes generated by transient accommodations while making it illegal for them to do business with any rental operators who are breaking county laws. Star-Advertiser.

State Lawmakers killed a bill Wednesday that would have given residents more rights to defend themselves and their families from attackers by using deadly force within their own homes. KITV.

Legislature’s New Approach: Inspect Budgets In Bite-Sized Chunks. Dozens of programs and offices are getting closer scrutiny under a new House process that’s less reliant on the Finance Committee. Civil Beat.

A bill addressing Climate Change preparing Hawaii for rising sea-levels passed through a pair of Senate committees Wednesday. The measure would prevent development along shorelines projected to be impacted, and to reduce the amount of people potentially affected by future coastal hazards. KITV.

At the State Capitol, Senators are fast tracking a proposal that would give housing vouchers of $500 per month to more than 1,300 teachers who work in the state's hardest-to-staff schools. KITV.

Former state lawmaker was influential feminist, advocate for Native Hawaiians. Former state lawmaker Jackie Young, an influential feminist in Hawaii, died on Sunday. Hawaii News Now.

The chief executive of Southwest Airlines says the Dallas-based carrier is considering adding nonstop flights between Las Vegas and Hawaii. Associated Press.

Oahu

The House Committee on Transportation passed House Bill 327 that would allow the use of Oahu’s zipper lane for single occupant vehicles, for a price. Hawaii Public Radio.

Bill would abolish bus fare program for low income. The bill would also increase single-ride fares to $3 from $2.75, day passes to $6 from $5.50, monthly passes for seniors to $8 from $6 and annual passes to $45 from $35 and single TheHandi-Van fares to $2.25 from $2. Star-Advertiser.

Official charged in money laundering free on bond. Master Halbert is one of at least two FSM officials accused of assisting Frank James Lyon, co-owner of civil engineering firm Lyon Associates Inc., in securing contracts worth $7.8 million for FSM government projects in exchange for bribes. Star-Advertiser.

Developer’s plan for pricey farm lots, equestrian operations in Mokuleia moves forward. A developer has taken major steps toward turning a controversial North Shore project into reality. The plan would split up historic Dillingham Ranch and sell pricey farm lots to buyers who could build homes on the agricultural land. Hawaii News Now.

State Looks To End The Battle Over Kakaako’s Disputed Roads. A new move by the attorney general could resolve the longstanding question of who owns the pothole-plagued roads. Civil Beat.

The state is urging current and former students of Argosy University-Hawaii to obtain their academic and financial records from the school as soon as possible in case it shuts down suddenly. Star-Advertiser.

State officials on Wednesday issued an urgent message to Argosy University students in Hawaii, advising them to get their affairs in order ahead of the potential closure of the campus. Hawaii News Now.

State Urges Argosy Hawaii Students to Take Necessary Steps to Continue their Education. KHON2.

Hawaii Island

Mauna Kea draft rules don’t limit Hawaiian culture, university says. The university is now asking for public comment on the latest revision of the draft rules. Star-Advertiser.

The University of Hawaii has released revisions to its proposed administrative rules for the Maunakea Science Reserve. Tribune-Herald.

Construction of a permanent Federal Inspection Station to allow for continued international arrivals beyond 2021 at Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole remains on track for completion ahead of deadline. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii Island microalgae producer Cyanotech Corp. boosted sales in its fiscal third quarter to a record but failed to achieve a profit because of higher costs. Star-Advertiser.

The state Department of Health confirmed two new cases of rat lungworm disease, both of which were contracted on the Big Island. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Maui County is being sued by two Hawaii environmental protection groups over the installation of LED street lights. Represented by the non-profit Earthjustice, the suit alleges the County of Maui Department of Public Works failed to perform mandated review of potential harm to wildlife. Hawaii News Now.

Hearing Friday on bat deaths at wind farm. A hearing on Auwahi Wind Farm’s plans to increase the limit on incidental deaths of the endangered Hawaiian hoary bats in its turbines from 21 to 140 through 2032 will be held at 7 p.m. Friday at Kula Elementary School. Maui News.

The Department of Parks and Recreation is in the process of securing a contractor to complete repairs to the boilers that service the 50-meter pool and training pool at the Kihei Aquatic Center. Maui Now.

Despite rumors circulating about its closing, Charley’s Restaurant and Saloon, a 50-year-old landmark for food and entertainment on Maui, will remain open for the time being, a restaurant official said Tuesday. Maui News.

Kauai

The county is suing the owners of a vacation home in Wailua for allegedly using the property as a transient vacation rental in violation of county zoning ordinances. Garden Island.

An excavator operator working at a Kauai recycling plant was treated for severe burns last year after accidentally triggering a massive blast that was caught on camera — and authorities believe they know who will be held accountable for the explosion. Hawaii News Now.

County of Kauai officials on Wednesday, in partnership with Lihue Safeway and Intellectual Technology Inc., launched the island’s first self-service kiosk for motor vehicle registrations. KHON2.

In about the time it takes to write a check, amass the necessary documents, place everything in an envelope, and seal it, the new registration documents and emblems could be ready — using the county Department of Finance Motor Vehicle Registration section kiosk at the Safeway store in the Hokulei Village. Garden Island.

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