Kenoi Trial – “This puritanical, prudish, prissy fixation on alcohol… Are we in the twenties?”

I’ve attended the Mayor Kenoi Trial for a few days and feel I have a good grip on things.

Today, both the prosecutor and defense had one hour to make their final statements in the case.

kenoi-trialTo me the one personal statement that stood out to me most was the following statement regarding the use of alcohol to possibly bring in federal monies to the Big Island.

“This puritanical, prudish, prissy fixation on alcohol… Are we in the twenties? Is this prohibition?” asked defense attorney Todd Eddins during his final summation. “Are we in modern-day Saudi Arabia? The mayor of this county can expend money on alcohol.”

You can view the closing argument here:

VIDEO: Closing Arguments In Kenoi Trial, Jury Deliberates

Hawaiian Electric Time-of-Use Rates Program Off to a Brisk Start

In slightly more than a week, more than 500 residential customers have signed up for the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ new Time-of-Use rates, a program that will charge customers less for power used during the day – when solar energy production is highest – and more at night.

As of Oct. 28, 508 customers had enrolled. The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (PUC) set a limit of 5,000 customers for the program, meaning 10 percent of the total enrollment has already been reached.

The strongest response has been on Oahu, with 426 customers enrolled, followed by Maui County with 61, and Hawaii island with 21.

Developed under the direction of the PUC, this program provides customers with an opportunity to save money if they shift their energy use to daytime hours. For example, customers who do laundry, cook, or heat water during the day may be able to save. Customers who charge electric vehicles or energy storage systems in the day may also benefit.

The amount of savings, if any, will depend on how much a customer can shift the use of electricity from night to day. As a result, this program may not fit the needs of all customers.

helco-rates

As directed by the PUC, this program is voluntary and will run for two years. The rates are only available to residential customers.

Participating customers will receive information on their bills that compares their costs under this program and the standard residential rate for electricity. Customers may opt out of the program if they feel it isn’t the right fit for them.

To enroll or for more information, go to www.hawaiianelectric.com/timeofuse or call:

  • Oahu: (808) 548-7311
  • Maui: (808) 871-9777
  • Molokai and Lanai: 1-877-871-8461
  • Hilo: (808) 969-6999
  • Kona: (808) 329-3584
  • Waimea: (808) 885-4605

Hawaii Recovers $130,367 in Prevailing Wages for Work Done on UH Hilo College of Hawaii Language Building

The Hawaii State Department of Labor & Industrial Relations (DLIR) today announced it has assessed Tradewind Plastering and Drywall, Inc. a total of $143,000. $130,367 is for wages owed to construction workers, with $13,037 added for penalties. Tradewind Plastering and Drywall, Inc. was a subcontractor of Jacobsen Construction Co., Inc. on the University of Hawaii at Hilo College of Hawaii Language Building construction project.

tradewind-drywallThe most costly of the violations was underpaying construction workers by misclassifying them as apprentices, and paying lower apprentice wages, with no registered apprenticeship in evidence. This was in violation of Hawaii’s prevailing wage law covering public works construction.

“Our State prevailing wage law intends that all construction contractors bid on a “level playing field” with regard to labor costs,” said DLIR Director Linda Chu Takayama. “Bids are to be won because of better, more efficient contracting methods, rather than by pushing down the standard of living for Hawaii’s workers.”

Director Takayama explained, “This is a different sort of misclassification from the case at the presumptive Holiday Inn Express at the Maile Sky Court. In that case, workers were wrongly misclassified as independent contractors, and protections and benefits required for employees were not provided. In this case, workers were classified as lower paid apprentices, but there was no registered apprenticeship. In both types of cases, law-abiding bidders face unfair competition, and the workers lose.”

DLIR also notes that it recently recovered wages for hair salon workers who were paid nothing for work performed. They were labelled as apprentices, and kept off-the-books for employment purposes. DLIR has been working with the Hawaii State Department of Commerce and Consumer affairs to educate salon owners and workers on the matter.

Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center Dinner Honors Barry Taniguchi, Newton Chu, Judge Hara

On Sunday, November 13, the Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center–in participation with the Hawai‘i County Bar Association (HCBA)–is hosting its Eleventh Annual Recognition Dinner in Hilo to support ‘Finding Solutions, Growing Peace.’

Barry Taniguchi

Barry Taniguchi

This year Ku‘ikahi is giving its ‘Peacemaker Award’ to Barry Taniguchi, Chair and CEO of KTA Super Stores, and Newton J. Chu, Esq., Director of the Hawai‘i Island office of Torkildson, Katz, Moore, Hetherington & Harris.

Judge Glenn Hara

Judge Glenn Hara

In addition, The Honorable Glenn S. Hara is being honored by the HCBA for his many years of service.  “Judge Hara is a Circuit Court Judge who participated in the highly successful Foreclosure Mediation Program, plus he’s one of the founders of Ku‘ikahi Mediation Center,” said board president Jeff Melrose.

Chu and Jeri Gertz will emcee the gala event, which features a cameo appearance by Harmony on Tap, guitar music by Unzan Pfennig, and door prizes.  Items up for bid in the silent and live auctions include rounds of golf, adventure tours, entrance to local attractions, overnight stays, gift cards to restaurants and retail stores, artwork, gift baskets, flower arrangements, and more.

No-host cocktails will be served at 5:00 p.m., with dinner served at 6:00 p.m.  The buffet will feature three entrees–prime rib, Furikake salmon, and shrimp scampi over fettuccini–as well as salad, side dishes, and dessert.

This fundraiser provides a significant portion of the funds that Ku‘ikahi needs to provide free and low-cost dispute prevention and resolution services to the East Hawai‘i community.  Over half of Ku‘ikahi’s mediation clients live at or below the poverty level, and are unable to pay even modest fees for their mediation sessions.

“Our mission is to empower people to come together–to talk and to listen, to explore options, and to find their own best solutions,” Melrose noted.  “Ku‘ikahi means a treaty, covenant, agreement, feeling of unity, peace, reconciliation.”

Tickets for the Annual Dinner are $90 per person (of which $45 is tax deductible) and are available from Ku‘ikahi’s board of directors, Ku‘ikahi’s office in The Hilo Lagoon Centre at 101 Aupuni Street, Suite PH 1014 B-2, and Day-Lum Rentals at 2 Kamehameha Avenue.

To reserve tickets or tables, donate to the auction, or become a platinum, gold, or silver sponsor, contact Jenifer at 935-7844 x 1 or jenifer@hawaiimediation.org.

UH Hilo Accepting Applications for Marine Science and Conservation Project

Applications are currently being accepted for the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Project Maʻa. The year-round Mānowai o Hanakahi project, funded by the National Marine Fisheries Service, provides up to 15 students marine conservation and outreach training.

manowai-o-hanakahi-projectHawai’i Island middle and high school students currently attending grades 8-12 are eligible to apply for the free program. The application deadline is Friday, November 11, 2016.

Activities will include field trips, mentored research projects and career pathway exposure beginning in mid-November and running until mid-May. A kick-off tide pooling event will be held on Sunday, November 6, from noon – 3 p.m. at Onekahakaha Beach Park, where more can be learned about the project.

For more information, to apply, or to RSVP for the tide pooling kickoff, call 933-0707, email hperry@hawaii.edu or visit http://stem.uhh.hawaii.edu/manowai.php.