NEWS | Council District 7 – Honolulu City Council |

(Hawaii News Now) Roving homeless service center with inflatable tents to debut in Waipahu

(Source: Hawaii News Now)

Roving homeless service center with inflatable tents to debut in Waipahu
Roving homeless service center with inflatable tents to debut in Waipahu

WAIPAHU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) – In an effort to get more homeless people off the streets and into shelters, the state and city are teaming up to launch a mobile hub for temporary housing and services that will be open around the clock.

The three-year, $6 million pilot project is called HONU — short for “Homeless Outreach and Navigation for Unsheltered Persons.”

The funding is coming from the $30 million state lawmakers approved for so-called “ohana zones.”

The first center will launch in Waipahu in December at the Waipahu Cultural Garden Park.

A second Oahu site is scheduled to open in six months.

City officials say the centers will move to different communities every two to three months, in coordination with homeless sweeps.

They say the idea came from Honolulu police officers who were conducting homeless enforcement efforts at night, when the shelters weren’t open to take anyone in.

“We’re responsible for 24/7 enforcement,” said Sgt. Mike Lambert of HPD. “What was happening is that we didn’t really have the services to match that enforcement, so it was kind of a little bit unfair.”

The city says the hub will have 10 military-grade tents that can house as many as a hundred people, and offer services like laundry, hygiene, medical, food, and transportation.

“We don’t expect to have more than 20, 25 people there at any given time,” said Pam Witty-Oakland, community services director. “Folks can come get a hot shower, get a hot meal, and the next morning we’ll network them with the appropriate shelter space. We expect this to be a 48 to 72 hour turn around.”

Witty-Oakland says the site will also be pet friendly, able to shelter both individuals and families, and allow homeless enforcement efforts to be more targeted.

“(Sweeps) were very complaint driven, and instead, we’ve decided to step back and look at a more strategic approach. Now that we have this resource available, we can target given areas at a given time,” said Witty-Oakland.

Some residents are skeptical.

Members of the Waipahu Neighborhood Board say they appreciate any efforts to address their community’s homeless problem, but they are worried about the location of the site near Hawaii’s Plantation Village.

“There’s not just a residential area, but there’s also a lot of businesses,” said board member Cory Chun. “I know businesses are really concerned with how to deal with the homeless.”

And because HONU is a roving center, Chun wonders what will happen once the tents and services leave town.

“What happens after? The idea is to provide short term solutions to get these folks on their feet, but for some of them, that’s just not going to be enough. We do know there’s still going to be those folks who are just going to fall through the cracks,” said Chun.

Copyright 2019 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

 

(KHON 2) Lawmakers aim to silence excessively loud mopeds

(Source: KHON2)

HONOLULU (KHON2) — You’ve probably heard them buzzing through your neighborhood, excessively loud mopeds. Well, lawmakers are trying to tackle the issue. The proposal is supposed to help law enforcement crackdown on excessive noise coming from mopeds. But some say the market to make mopeds louder and faster is not going away anytime soon.

The excessive loud noise from these mopeds has been a constant complaint in neighborhoods like Diamond Head and Kapahulu.

“The proximity of our residential neighborhoods and some of these major thoroughfares is very close and I’m sure everyone has experienced the trauma of going down the street or be at home and hearing the sound of mopeds,” said Richard Figliuzzi, Diamond Head and Kapahulu Neighborhood Board Chair. “If you put one of these mopeds next to a Harley Davidson, the moped would be louder.”

Councilman Tommy Waters, who introduced the measure, says mufflers are required on motor vehicles but under the current law it excludes mopeds.

“So it simply adds mopeds into the requirement for a muffler and we wanted to make sure that you can’t alter your muffler, which would amplify the noise,” said Councilman Waters.

Russell Odegaard manages Moped Garage and tells us the proposal would not impact their business because they sell the new and quieter mopeds. But Odegaard is skeptical the proposal would even work.

He also adds that people who modify their mopeds to make it louder or faster usually do not pass their state safety inspections, to begin with. Yet, people still buy parts to modify their mopeds.

“It’s not going to stop. You can buy it everywhere, on the Internet. It’s not illegal to sell it because when you purchase it, it says that you’re acknowledging that you are buying something that is made for off-highway use,” said Odegaard.

 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

(Hawaii News Now) Powerful Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings has died

(Source: Hawaii News Now)

Powerful Democratic Congressman Elijah Cummings has died

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At Michael Cohen’s hearing, Rep. Elijah Cummings looks at big picture

BALTIMORE (AP) — Maryland Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, a sharecropper’s son who rose to become a civil rights champion and the chairman of one of the U.S. House committees leading an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, died Thursday of complications from longstanding health problems. He was 68.

Cummings was a formidable orator who advocated for the poor in his black-majority district , which encompasses a large portion of Baltimore and more well-to-do suburbs.

As chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Cummings led investigations of the president’s government dealings, including probes in 2019 relating to Trump’s family members serving in the White House.

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Trump criticized the Democrat’s district as a “rodent-infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.” The comments came weeks after Trump drew bipartisan condemnation following his calls for Democratic congresswomen of color to go back to their “broken and crime-infested countries.”

Cummings replied that government officials must stop making “hateful, incendiary comments” that distract the nation from its real problems, including mass shootings and white supremacy.

“Those in the highest levels of the government must stop invoking fear, using racist language and encouraging reprehensible behavior,” Cummings said.

Rep. Elijah Cummings on Baltimore

On Thursday, Trump ordered flags at the White House, military bases and other federal buildings to be flown at half-staff through Friday to honor Cummings. He also tweeted his “condolences to the family and many friends of Congressman Elijah Cummings. I got to see firsthand the strength, passion and wisdom of this highly respected political leader.” The tweet made no reference to past feuds.

Former President Barack Obama, whose 2008 presidential bid counted Cummings as an early supporter, said he and his wife, Michelle, were “heartbroken” by the loss of their friend.

“As Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, he showed us all not only the importance of checks and balances within our democracy, but also the necessity of good people stewarding it,” Obama said in a statement, describing Cummings as “steely yet compassionate, principled yet open to new perspectives.”

Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis said that with Cummings’ death, Americans “have lost a great leader at a time of crisis in our democracy.”

“When this nation needed him most, he became a moral voice ‘crying in the wilderness,’ and his words and actions called a reluctant nation to conscience,” the Georgia Democrat said in a statement.

Pelosi pays tribute to Cummings, ‘a leader of towering character and integrity’

Cummings’ career spanned decades in Maryland politics. He rose through the ranks of the Maryland House of Delegates before winning his congressional seat in a special election in 1996 to replace former Rep. Kweisi Mfume, who left to lead the NAACP.

By 2016, Cummings was the senior Democrat on the House Benghazi Committee, which he said was “nothing more than a taxpayer-funded effort to bring harm to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.”

Throughout his career, Cummings used his fiery voice to highlight the struggles and needs of inner-city residents. He believed in much-debated approaches to help the poor and addicted, such as needle exchange programs to reduce the spread of AIDS.

A key figure in the Trump impeachment inquiry , Cummings had hoped to return to Congress within about a week after a medical procedure for which he didn’t offer details. He’d previously been treated for heart and knee issues.

Cummings’ committee, authorized to investigate virtually any part of the federal government, is one of three conducting the House impeachment probe of Trump. Cummings was among the three chairmen to sign a letter seeking documents into whether Trump pressured Ukraine to investigate the family of Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden, the former vice president. The committees have issued subpoenas of witnesses after the Trump administration’s refusal to cooperate with the impeachment probe and have jointly been meeting behind closed doors to hear testimony.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a veteran Democrat from New York, will for now take over leadership of the House oversight committee, according to a senior Democratic leadership aide who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the decision publicly.

Separately, Cummings led an effort to gain access to Trump’s financial records. His committee subpoenaed records from Mazars USA, an accounting firm that provided services to Trump. The panel demanded documents from 2011 to 2018 as it probed Trump’s reporting of his finances and potential conflicts of interest. Last week, a federal appeals court ruled the records must be turned over.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

My warmest condolences to the family and many friends of Congressman Elijah Cummings. I got to see first hand the strength, passion and wisdom of this highly respected political leader. His work and voice on so many fronts will be very hard, if not impossible, to replace!

38K people are talking about this

Cummings’ office said he died early Thursday at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and constituents began mourning soon after.

His widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, chairwoman of Maryland’s Democratic Party, said in a statement: “He worked until his last breath because he believed our democracy was the highest and best expression of our collective humanity and that our nation’s diversity was our promise, not our problem.”

Cummings was born Jan. 18, 1951. In grade school, a counselor told Cummings he was too slow to learn and spoke poorly, and would never fulfill his dream of becoming a lawyer.

“I was devastated,” Cummings told The Associated Press in 1996, shortly before winning his seat in Congress. “My whole life changed. I became very determined.”

Senator Ben Cardin

@SenatorCardin

I have lost a friend and a colleague. The death of Chairman Cummings leaves an irreplaceable void in our hearts, in our Maryland and in our Congress. Quite possibly no elected official mattered so much to his constituents.

Senator Ben Cardin

@SenatorCardin

.@RepCummings guaranteed a voice to so many who would otherwise not have one, and stood as a symbol for the heights one could reach if they paid no mind to obstacles, naysayers and hate. His commitment to his city and country was unwavering, as will be my lasting respect for him.

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It steeled Cummings to prove that counselor wrong. He became not only a lawyer, but one of the most powerful orators in the statehouse, where he entered office in 1983. He rose to become the first black House speaker pro tem. He would begin his comments slowly, developing his theme and raising the emotional heat until it became like a sermon from the pulpit.

Cummings was quick to note the differences between Congress and the Maryland General Assembly, which has long been controlled by Democrats.

“After coming from the state where, basically, you had a lot of people working together, it’s clear that the lines are drawn here,” Cummings said shortly after entering Congress in 1996.

Cummings began his long push for civil rights at age 11, when he helped integrate a swimming pool in Baltimore. This year, during a speech to the American Bar Association in April, Cummings recalled how he and other black children who were barred from the pool organized protests with help from their recreation leader and the NAACP.

Every day for a week, when the children tried to get into the pool, they were spit upon, threatened and called names, Cummings said; he said he was cut by a bottle thrown from an angry crowd.

“The experience transformed my entire life,” he said.

While serving in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1983 to 1996, Cummings pushed for a ban on alcohol and tobacco ads on inner-city billboards in Baltimore, leading to the first such prohibition in a large U.S. city.

Mark Meadows

@RepMarkMeadows

There was no stronger advocate and no better friend than Elijah Cummings. I am heartbroken for his wonderful family and staff—please pray for them.

I will miss him dearly.

3,100 people are talking about this

Cummings then chaired the Congressional Black Caucus from 2003 to 2004, employing a hard-charging, explore-every-option style to put the group in the national spotlight.

He cruised to big victories in the overwhelmingly Democratic district, which had elected Maryland’s first black congressman, Parren Mitchell, in 1970.

In 2015, when the death of black Baltimore resident Freddie Gray sparked the worst riots the city had seen in decades, Cummings was in the streets, carrying a bullhorn and urging crowds to go home and respect a curfew. He spoke at Gray’s funeral, asking lawmakers in the church to stand up to show Gray’s mother they would seek justice.

“I want justice, oceans of it. I want fairness, rivers of it. That’s what I want. That’s all I want,” Cummings said, quoting from the Bible.

___

Witte reported from Annapolis. Associated Press Writer Alan Fram contributed from Washington.

Copyright 2019 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

(KHON2) Suspect charged after allegedly shooting two men in Kalihi

(Source: KHON 2)

HONOLULU (KHON2) — A man arrested in connection with a deadly shooting that happened on Monday, October 14, has been charged.

It happened in the Kalihi Valley Housing area.

Leri Robert turned himself in later that day after he allegedly shot two men. One man was shot in the leg, but refused treatment. The other was taken to the hospital in critical condition where he died.

He was later charged on Wednesday, October 16, for attempted murder in the first degree, and murder in the second degree, attempted murder in the second, and two firearms offenses at 3:12 p.m.

His bail is set at $1,000,000

(Hawaii News Now) Water main break forces closure of Kalakaua Middle School

(Source: Hawaii News Now)

Water main break forces closure of Kalakaua Middle School
Kalakaua Middle School (Source: Hawaii News Now/file)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) – Kalakaua Middle School will be closed Wednesday due to a water main break, the state Department of Education said.

The DOE issued a notice at around 6:30 a.m., informing of the school closure.

Officials added the water main break is on campus.

No further details have been released.

This story will be updated.

Copyright 2019 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

 

(Civil Beat) Denby Fawcett: The Most Infamous Legal Case in Hawaii’s History

(Source: Civil Beat)

Many people have largely forgotten about the most notorious trial in Hawaii’s history, the Massie Case.

There are no monuments or plaques to commemorate the case, probably because it was one of the darkest criminal incidents of the last century in the islands.

But if you should stumble across a small and almost hidden gravestone in a state government cemetery in Kalihi, you are bound to start thinking about what happened and find yourself getting madder and madder.

The Massie case in 1931-32 prompted hundreds of front-page news stories both here and on the mainland. And since then, the affair has been the subject of numerous books, television documentaries and a Hollywood movie.

The Chicago Tribune deemed it “one of the greatest criminal cases of modern times.”

University of Hawaii professor David Stannard’s description focuses on the waves of racist hysteria the case generated all over the country.

“The Massie Case was more than a true-crime drama. It was a pivotal moment in the history of Hawaii, one that exposed a white supremacist social order (both locally and nationwide) and provided the seedbed for subsequent change throughout the islands,” says Stannard in his book, “Honor Killing.”

Puea cemetery kapalama kalihi, location of the Massie murder graveyard Joseph Kahahawai jr. 4 jan 2016. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat

I would not be thinking much about the Massie case if it were not that my friend Phil Kinnicutt recently emailed me that he had found the grave of Joseph Kahahawai in a desolate section of the Puea Cemetery in Kalihi. Kahahawai was a central figure in the case.

I was intrigued and drove down to the weed-filled cemetery on North School Street that’s located between the Unted Public Workers building and Kapalama Street to see for myself.

Kinnicutt says he began looking for the grave after he read the novel “Honolulu” by Alan Brennert, which mentions the Massie case and Kahahawai. 

The Massie case is a dramatic example of the hollow and meaningless outcome of vigilante justice and the lynch-like executions of innocent people.

Kinnicutt says he was overwhelmed when he stood among the many broken gravestones in the Kalihi graveyard looking down at Kahahawai’s stone marker.

“It was a sad feeling,” says Kinnicutt of the murder of the 22- year-old Kahahawai.

Kahahawai was an unemployed, former St. Louis High School football star, who was wearing his school ring from the St. Louis class of 1928 when he was fatally shot in the chest.

“It struck me as so melancholy that Kahahawai, who was a central figure in a major historical event, is hidden away in such an unnoticed grave. It won’t be long before nobody knows what he meant and why we should care about what happened to him,” says Kinnicutt.

Even though the Massie case took place more than 80 years ago, we should remember it today is for its message about the kind of savagery that erupts when racists  or religious fanatics take the law into their own hands. 

Joseph Kahahawai

The Massie case is a dramatic example of the hollow and meaningless outcome of vigilante justice and the lynch-like executions of innocent people. It resonates today as much as then when we hear about Islamist fanatics stoning women to death or police violence against non-white suspects.

Kahahawai’s marker strangely says at the bottom, “Killed January 8, 1932.”

Cemetery historian Nannette Napoleon says in many years of studying Hawaii’s gravestones she has seen only one other that says “killed” instead of “died” at the bottom.

Kahahawai was one of five men falsely accused in 1931 of brutally beating and raping Thalia Massie, the 20-year-old aristocratic wife of a U.S. Navy lieutenant stationed at Pearl Harbor. 

Thalia was a relative of Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, and related on her father’s side to President Theodore Roosevelt. The young suspects were impoverished, non-white youths. Most of them lived in humble houses in Iwilei, in an area known then as Hell’s Half Acre.

On the night of the alleged crime, Thalia had left a club known as the Ala Wai Inn beside the Ala Wai Canal after an argument with a Navy officer whom she slapped. She claimed that after she left the club and was walking alone in the dark, she was dragged into a car on John Ena Road by five or six Hawaiian men who repeatedly raped her near Ala Moana.

Initially, she said it was too dark to identify the suspects or the license plate of their car. But as time went on, she supplied more and more uncorroborated details, which later were contradicted in court.

Navy officials made outrageous and untrue claims that no white woman was safe in Hawaii from roaming bans of sex-crazed local men. Some members of Congress demanded martial law for Hawaii.

Besides Kahahawai, the accused in the Massie case were Benny Ahakuelo, Horace Ida, David Takai and Henry Chang.

The reason why they were even on the police department’s radar that night is that the young men were involved in a road rage incident about an hour before Thalia’s alleged rape.

They were out driving in a car they had borrowed from Ida’s sister when a car driven by a white man named Horace Peeples nearly collided with them on King and Liliha streets.

Kahahawai yelled something about the “goddamn haole,” and Peeples’ large Hawaiian wife, Agnes, jumped out of the car and shoved Kahahawai. The two got in a scuffle. Kahahawai punched Agnes in the ear. Then she grabbed Kahahawai by the throat and hit him in the face before the young men took off in their car.

Thalia Massie

Agnes took down their license plate number, which she reported to the police, who broadcast the number on police radios all over Honolulu. It’s now believed that Thalia heard the license number when she was being driven to the hospital in a police car by two officers.

When she was questioned later, she gave police practically the same license plate digits as the numbers on the young men’s car, saying it was the license number on the car of her attackers, a number she had said repeatedly before she was unable to see in the dark. 

Although she had said earlier she had not seen the faces of the men who raped her, she quickly changed her story after police rounded Kahahawai and the other young men up and brought them to her house. After Detective Thomas Finnegan told her “he had some men to be identified as her assailants,” she identified them as her attackers.

Later, a Pinkerton Detective Agency investigation that was funded by the territorial legislature concluded all of the young men were innocent and the detectives’ report stated it was clear that Thalia Massie had not been raped. In fact, the youths had never even seen her before.

The evidence had been unconvincing all along.

When they were brought to trial in November 1931, despite the prosecutors’ racist portrayal of them as  “lust sodden beasts” and the push in the white community for their speedy conviction, they were released after a mistrial. The jury deadlocked after hearing contradictory testimony from Thalia, and being asked to consider weak evidence and questionable information from a botched police investigation.

Navy personnel here and many people on the mainland were outraged by the men’s release. A media frenzy was unleashed. A local publication called the Honolulu Times called the suspects’ release “The Shame of Honolulu.” Time Magazine in a story titled “Lust in Paradise” said, “Yellow men’s lust for white women had broken bounds.”

Navy officials made outrageous and untrue claims that no white woman was safe in Hawaii from roaming bans of sex-crazed local men. Some members of Congress demanded martial law for Hawaii.

A 1933 political carton regarding the Massie case that appeared in America's first national weekly gossip tabloid, the Broadway Brevities and Society Gossip.

The crime that happened after the men’s release created an even more wide-reaching sensation.

Thalia’s Massie’s mother, Grace Fortescue, described by author Stannard as “a socialite mother who would stop at nothing to avenge her daughter’s shame,” had arrived from the mainland after her daughter’s alleged assault. She and Thalia’s husband were concerned that Thalia’s reputation was in shambles after the mistrial when gossip began to surface that Thalia might have been beaten by her husband and that she lied about the rape to gain sympathy for herself.

They convinced themselves that the only way to salvage Thalia’s reputation would be to force a confession out of one of the suspects who had been freed awaiting retrial.

A group of Navy enlisted men then kidnapped suspect Horace Ida and took him up to the Pali, where they threatened to throw him over the cliff unless he confessed. When he refused, they drove him over the Pali to a back road in Kailua where they kicked him and beat him with their belt buckles to try to make him confess, but he maintained his innocence.

After the sailors threw the battered Ida into the bushes and drove away, he pulled himself up and made it to the police station to report his kidnapping and assault.

Later, Lt. Massie and Mrs. Fortescue, with the help of two Navy enlisted men, Edward Lord and Albert Jones, kidnapped Kahahawai.

After trying to get Kahahawai to confess, they shot him in the chest and stood by for up to 20 minutes — the time a city physician later estimated it would have taken for him to die from internal bleeding.

Soon after, the police caught Lt. Massie, Mrs. Fortescue and Lord in a rented blue Buick as they were trying to get rid of Kahahawai’s naked body that they had wrapped in a bloody sheet and bound with rope.

Police had chased the Buick up the East Oahu coast to near the Halona Blow Hole, where it’s believed Mrs. Fortescue and the others intended to throw Kahahawai’s body into the ocean.

Grace Fortescue

After they were arrested and charged, the Navy successfully argued for the murder suspects to be housed on the ship USS Alton instead of in prison as they awaited their trial.

Instead of being treated like criminals, they were hailed by their many friends as heroes. The deck of the Alton was covered with baskets of fresh flowers and greeting cards expressing well wishes and offers of support.

The late Cobey Black said in her book “Hawaii Scandal” that “The prisoners were permitted to leave the Alton for an evening of bridge or an informal dinner party with friends in the Navy Yard.”

When Pulitizer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Russell Owen interviewed Mrs. Fortescue on the ship, she told him she had never slept better since the murder. Owen wrote, “The possibility that she had done the wrong things appeared to be far from Mrs. Fortescue’s thoughts.”

She told Owen her only regret was that their own carelessness caused them to get caught by the police before they had time to dispose of Kahahawai’s body.

Fortescue and her supporters urged attorney Clarence Darrow to come out of retirement to defend them.

Darrow was the most famous criminal defense attorney of that time, having defended Leopold and Loeb (two wealthy Chicago students who in 1924 kidnapped and murdered a 14-year-old). In the Scopes trial, he had famously argued against William Jennings Bryan in Tennessee for the right to teach the theory of natural selection and evolution in schools.

Darrow was 74 at the time of the Massie case. He wrote later that he took the case because he needed money. He had lost most of the money he planned to use for his retirement in the Depression.

John C. Kelley, a public prosecutor for the territory, was not intimidated by Darrow’s world fame and defeated him by convincing the jury to find Mrs. Fortescue, Tommie Massie and the two sailors guilty of kidnapping and murder. But Darrow successfully urged the jury to reduce the conviction to the lesser felony of manslaughter.

Each of the defendants was sentenced to 10 years of hard labor in Oahu Prison. But immediately after the sentencing, then-Hawaii Gov. Lawrence McCully Judd commuted their punishment to one hour under the supervision of the high sheriff. They spent the duration of this short sentence in the Governor’s Office in Iolani Palace. Then they were released, hustled aboard a ship by the Navy, and left the islands — never to return.

In effect, they got away with murder.

The worst part about reading about this case is the muted sadness and resignation of Kahahawai’s family and the local community. There was none of the huge demonstrations of protest for the injustice that you would expect today.

The trial was front-page news in newspapersaround the country.

Nearly a thousand mourners quietly crowded into Our Lady of Peace Cathedral for Kahahawai’s memorial mass. It was reported to be the most heavily attended funeral since the death of the last Hawaiian queen.

The mourners were mostly Hawaiians, but there were also Japanese and Chinese and a few white people. They walked a mile from the downtown cathedral in silence as part of  the funeral cortege to Puea Cemetery. Another thousand people were waiting there to hear the service at Kahahawai’s graveside.

Today, the cemetery has a mournful and forgotten aspect to it. Puea is one of four inactive public cemeteries under the care of the state’s Department of Accounting and General Services.

Kahahawai and the larger story of the Massie case are slowly fading away.

Central Services Manager Jimmy Hisano says there is no money in his budget specifically dedicated to the care of the cemeteries. He pays his regular DAGS maintenence workers overtime on weekends to trim the grass of Puea and the three other state cemeteries once a month. The grass trimming is the limit of the state’s maintenance.

Hisano said he was unfamiliar with the name of Kahahawai and his historic importance. That’s understandable. So much time has passed. Still, it seems a shame. Kahahawai and the larger story of the Massie case are slowly fading away.

I wish St. Louis  School, where Kahahawai attended classes, and other Oahu schools would take their students to Puea Cemetery to spark their interest. I think the loneliness of the grave and the youthful age of Kahahawai would capture the sympathy of some of the students.

Cemetery historian Napoleon says on her many trips to the Bishop Museum to do research, she often stops off at the nearby cemetery to visit Kahahawai’s grave. She says she always comes away feeling sad.

Her grandfather, Walter K. Napoleon Sr., was one of the jurors who voted to convict Mrs. Fortescue and the other three of manslaughter.

She says after the guilty verdict, her grandfather received phone threats of harm. Napoleon was a meat cutter at the Piggly Wiggly stores. His employer also received threats of a boycott if he didn’t fire Napoleon.

“The case was a huge event for people,” says Napoleon. “My grandmother talked about it until the day she died. She was impassioned whenever she spoke about it. She said it never should have happened.”

Napoleon says she wishes a surviving member of Kahahawai’s family would put up a plaque by the grave to make a political statement about the injustice of his death.

“But I guess Kahahawai’s family has already made a political statement. They didn’t just write on his grave that he died. They said he was killed.”

(Hawaii News Now) City officials continue urging residents to get their REAL ID cards ahead of deadline

(Source: Hawaii News Now)

City officials continue urging residents to get their REAL ID cards ahead of deadline

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Planning to leave on a jet plane? The TSA is changing its ID requirements

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) – If you’ve already gone through the process of getting a gold star on your driver’s license, you’re ahead of roughly half of Oahu motorists.

The city is continuing to remind Hawaii residents of the REAL ID changes that will require the gold star verification on cards in order to travel.

“We don’t want residents to panic,” said Sheri Kajiwara, director of the city’s Department of Customer Services. “But if residents choose to use a Hawaii driver license or identification card to board a commercial flight or gain access to secure federal facilities, including military bases, now is the time to act.”

The deadline to have the new card is less than a year away: Oct. 1, 2020.

City officials say nearly half of the residents have gotten the updated driver’s licenses cards. For state IDs, the city said of the 265,765 issued, only 54,857 are REAL ID verified.

To make an appointment or for more information, click here.

The city urges folks not to procrastinate on scheduling an appointment. Appointments are booked over a month in advance.

You could avoid the lines if your documents are on file with City Hall. You can click here if you renewed or got a license between May 1, 2014 and Jan. 31, 2018 but were not issued a gold star.

Officials say if you want to continue using your license as identification to fly after the October 2020 deadline it'll need a gold star on it.
Officials say if you want to continue using your license as identification to fly after the October 2020 deadline it’ll need a gold star on it. (Source: Hawaii Department of Transportation)

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Council OKs bill mandating union labor for city projects valued at least $2M

(Source: Star-Advertiser)

A bill requiring the city to hire unionized workers for major construction jobs valued at least $2 million won a 7-2 approval from the Honolulu City Council Wednesday despite lingering concerns from contractor groups.

Council members Brandon Elefante and Heidi Tsuneyoshi voted no. Members Carol Fukunaga and Ann Kobayashi voted yes, “with reservations.” The measure now goes to Mayor Kirk Caldwell, who has not signaled whether he will sign it, veto it, or let it become law without his signature.

Bill 37 would require the city to negotiate community workforce agreements (a form of public labor agreements) with unions for contracts valued at $2 million and that fall under the definition of a “large-scale public works project, including any police, fire, emergency services, erosion, rock-fall mitigation, roads, stormwater or sewage infrastructure, and pump station projects.”

The proposal has divided the state’s construction industry, with major unions lobbying hard for it and contractor associations working just as hard to get it shot down.

The original bill, as introduced by Councilman Joey Manahan, would have applied to projects valued at $250,000 or more. But in an apparent effort to appease opponents the threshold was changed to $1 million-plus in the draft that was up for a final vote Wednesday. The threshold was upped a third time, to $2 million-plus, before the measure passed.

If it becomes law, it would take effect May 30, 2020.

Manahan said requiring the agreements would ensure local workers get hired first for city jobs. He noted that the contractors for Aloha Stadium improvements were brought in from the continental U.S. during an economic downturn that affected the construction industry throughout the nation. Community workforce agreements bar unions from striking or other labor actions, thus eliminating the possibility that projects could be delayed, he said.

The bill would apply to less than 20% of all city public works projects, “and only projects that are deemed critical and need to meet strict construction deadlines,” Manahan said. Work on the Neal Blaisdell Center and Honolulu Zoo are not considered critical and wouldn’t require the agreements, he said.

Tsuneyoshi urged colleagues to defer the decision, saying there were too many unanswered questions. “I think we need more time to further refine this bill,” she said.

The bill was initiated by the state’s most politically influential construction labor organizations — the Hawaii Construction Alliance and the Hawaii Building and Trades Council, which said the measure is a way to help ensure competent and local workers are used at city jobs, and that it will create a more efficient work environment.

But contractor organizations, including the General Contractors Association of Hawaii and American Builders and Contractors, warned that it would reduce the number of firms available for city jobs, thus leading to higher bids and project costs. They also argued the bill was unnecessary because many of the safeguards it purports are already in state law.

But Ryan Kobayashi, a representative of the Hawaii Laborers’ Union Local 368, said requiring unionized workers will not cost more because state law mandates that the city pay both union and nonunion workers prevailing wages.

“If the non-union (contractor) is complying with this prevailing wage scale, it would not raise the cost to the city or the city taxpayer because … on a city project they would be subject to the prevailing wage scale,” Kobayashi said. “This bill is about the workers, not the unions.”

Ana Tuiasasopo, a representative for the Operating Engineers Union No. 3, said requiring project labor agreements “will ensure that projects get finished on time and on budget.” Rather than discriminate against nonunion contractors and their employees, they would “make sure that we’re all on the same playing field,” Tuiasasopo said.

A key concern raised by contractors is what happens with fringe benefit contributions they would be forced to make to unions, even if their workers who earned those benefits wouldn’t be eligible to receive them if they weren’t union members long enough to be able to be vested.

Frances Kama-Silva, president of Henry’s Equipment Rental and Sales, said after Wednesday’s vote that she will need to reassess the future of her company if the bill becomes law. The company, which has between 20 and 25 employees, does general contracting work, and she estimated 95% of the company’s jobs are city or state projects for such things as road paving and demolition.

“We were union at one time, we were voted out of the union by our workers,” Kama-Silva said. “For some people it’s fine, but we’re a small company. It didn’t work for us.”

Reggie Keanu, a road construction foreman for Jas. W. Glover, said he and his crew chose to work for a company that isn’t unionized. “I do not understand why the city is trying to change or interfere with that. Why are you telling me I have to now join a union, pay dues, or give them my pension money to be able to work on city projects?”

Gary Kurokawa, chief of staff for Caldwell, said while the administration supports community workforce agreements, it’s concerned that the bill states the mayor “shall” negotiate a workforce agreement with a union.

Kurokawa said there’s language in the bill that may be in conflict with state procurement laws and city attorneys are assessing the situation.

(Star Advertiser) Bishop Museum wins grants to digitize research on species

(Source: Star Advertiser)

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                The Bishop Museum’s mollusk collection — including handwritten field notes going back 100 years — is scheduled to be digitized through a $1.3 million grant. Tricia Goulding, a researcher at the museum, takes a digital photo of a tiny shell using a microscope outfitted with a camera back.

    CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM

    The Bishop Museum’s mollusk collection — including handwritten field notes going back 100 years — is scheduled to be digitized through a $1.3 million grant. Tricia Goulding, a researcher at the museum, takes a digital photo of a tiny shell using a microscope outfitted with a camera back.

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The National Science Foundation has awarded two grants to the Bishop Museum — one for $1.3 million and another for $245,000 — to digitize its separate mollusk and insect collections, which could help identify living species of animals believed to be extinct.

The bigger grant of $1.3 million over four years is designed to digitize the museum’s mollusk collection to better understand the extinction of land snails, which have the highest number of extinctions of any major animal group. The greatest losses of land snails occur among the Pacific islands, according to the museum.

Researchers currently have to visit the Bishop Museum to look at mollusk field notes from Hawaii, Polynesia, Micronesia and East Melanesia that could be over 100 years old and are currently housed “in the back of the museum” — along with shells of snails believed to be extinct, according to Ken Hayes, the Bishop Museum’s invertebrate curator and director of its Pacific Center for Molecular Biodiversity.

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The Bishop Museum is taking the lead on the project, which includes the Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University, Philadelphia; Museum of Zoology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Harvard Museum of Natural History, Cambridge, Mass.; Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville; Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago; and the University of Hawaii.

The smaller grant, for three years, is for the Bishop Museum to join 22 other research collections in digitizing its insect collection.

The information from all of the organizations is expected to go online as soon as it’s digitized. But Norine Yeung, the Bishop Museum’s malacology curator, was attending a conference in Florida last week where researchers were trying to come up with uniform ways to format the information and images.

When the information does become available, the idea is to make it readily accessible online for anyone.

“Think of it like Google for biodiversity,” Yeung said. “It’s going to be online and available for anyone who’s interested in different species or interested in saving a species. It’s like Wikipedia for biodiversity.”

It’s not unthinkable that someone who culls through the data could retrace some of the original research and discover that a snail species considered extinct is actually alive in the wild.

A decade ago researchers estimated there were only nine surviving species of the amastridae family of snails in Hawaii — and one species was thought to be found only on Kauai.

But Yeung and Hayes were able to find 12 more species on Kauai, Maui and Oahu.

“We were able to rediscover species that haven’t been seen since the ’40s or the ’60s,” Hayes said. “Now there are 23 species. We were able to put 12 more on the list.”

The original information on where snails were identified in the past “has been locked away,” he said.

Making the collections and field notes available on the internet also might increase appreciation for the way earlier Hawaiians considered creatures such as snails, which were a sign of a healthy ecosystem, Yeung said.

“They were highly revered in the Hawaiian culture,” she said. “They weren’t thought of as icky or yucky. Native land snails took fungus off of leaves, which helped in photosynthesis. They were revered as auspicious, a good omen after a storm. If you find a snail after a storm, everything is OK again. In Hawaiian culture they were treasured, very important.

“If these species go extinct,” Yeung said, “we’re losing something of our culture, not just our ecosystem.”