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Are Mayor Caldwell’s PR Peeps Playing Disinformation Games With the Public?

Are Mayor Caldwell’s PR Peeps Playing Games With the Public?

Mayor recycle

At the April 14, 2016  Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board meeting at the Queen Liliuokalani Center in Punalu’u, I asked Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s representative Mr. Adam LeFebvre why the Mayor continued to compete and steal scarce federal HUD’s Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) funds from non-profit organizations. (Note: According to Civil Beat:  LaFebvre is employed under a personal services contract. He is listed as an Informational Affairs Specialist with the Department of Customer Services, earning $57,720 a year, even though he works in the Mayor’s Office. His contract began in October 2013 and so far has been extended through June 2015.)

I was specifically asking why Mayor Caldwell was again – this year –  stealing an additional $1Million from the Federal HUD CDBG funds for the controversial Hauula Fire Station Relocation Project #2000068. An average fire station costs about $5 Million to build. In rural Hauula, the Mayor wants DOUBLE the lot size and TRIPLE the costs at an estimated $13 Million!

“Steal” was a strong word but I was quoting City Council Budget Chair Ann Kobayashi’s words to Director of Department of Budget and Fiscal Services,   Nelson H. Koyanagi, Jr. and Director Gary T. Kurokawa, Deputy Director at the March 2016 Budget Committee Hearing at Honolulu Hale.  Kobayashi also asked them if they were “proud of what they were doing.”  Budget Chair Kobayashi explained that the city usually financed its city projects through bonds and so forth. The non-profits that serviced programs like Homeless, Domestic Violence, Drug Rehabilitation or Women/Infant did not have such financing options.

Adam LaFebvre’s response to my CDBG funding question was it had been asked before but he would be happy to discuss this question further with us AFTER the meeting. In other words, he did not want to address the Mayor’s CDBG funds takings.

The FEDERAL HUD Community Development Block Grants (CBDG) funds’ Objectives are clear: “Projects that are funded in the CDBG program must address the CDBG program’s primary objective, which is the “. . . development of viable urban communities, by providing decent housing and suitable living environments and expanding economic opportunities principally for persons of low- and moderate-income.

 

Mayor no damn good

The CDBG question was certainly not old or repetitive. We wanted an explanation to this Mayor’s rationale.

Mr. Adam Lefebvre’s response is disingenuous. The Honolulu City Council is now vetting the 2016-2017 Budget for the Executive and Legislative Branches. Mayor Kirk Caldwell, again for this budget year, is stealing from the non-profit organizations.

The  February 11, 2016  Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board Meeting was obviously too early to ask about CDBG funds. The Mayor had not submitted his Budget to the Honolulu City Council. The public did not know the Mayor was again going to steal another $1Million from the CDBG funds for his extravagant pet project.

The March 10, 2016  Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board Meeting had no CDBG question posed. The Mayor’s Representative  Adam LaFebvre was absent. Instead, LaFebvre provided a memo for the record that was read by a Neighborhood Board Member that included a propaganda item:  “• Fire station – The Hauula fire station construction is projected to start in spring 2017 and be completed by summer 2018.”  Of course, he made no mentioned of the Hauula Kupuna’s pending lawsuit against the city at the federal court or the nefarious circumstances . (The  minutes relating to our Neighborhood Board discussions are also often questionable or inaccurate.)

EM COUNTRY STORE

For the record, Mayor Caldwell is asking for another $1 Million of CDBG funds  for this budget year 2016-2017. In addition, he’s also asking for $6.7M for Hauula Fire Station Relocation this year,  at the expense of other more compelling social services and needs.

So far, Mayor Caldwell has squandered on this particular controversial project #2000064:

$2.4 M CDBG funds used land acquisition ($1M “planning and design” without City        Council’s knowledge in August 2014 till his Press Conference in November 2014))

$100,000 for “Planning and Design”

$250,000 to explore alternative sites for this fire station. We don’t know how this amount was expended in 2011.

$1.0 M for “Planning & Design”  2015-2016

Caldwell is requesting from the City Council this year:

$6.7 M for Construction this budget year     2016-2017 ( REQUESTING)

$1.0 M from CDBG funds         2016-2017 (REQUESTING)

 How much more will be requested for cost-overrun? Mayor Queen Antoinette Caldwell is forcing the people to eat cake when they are asking for bread.
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Have you seen this PR stonewall tactic used at other Neighborhood Board meetings? Mayor Caldwell’s Representative ended up not having to explain or provide a good answer to the public on April 14, 2016 Neighborhood Board Meeting.
~ ~ ~

 

 

Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 (Part 2 of 3)

KNB5-8-14

YOU ARE THE DIFFERENCE

The theme, “The Responsible City”, was chosen by the City Charter Commission when it presented the revised City Charter to the voters in 1972. A major component of this concept is full citizen participation in government so that the powers of the City shall properly serve and advance the aspirations of its citizens.

However, the initiative for action must come from the people themselves. While neighborhoods and neighborhood boards were established under the Charter as a means to increase and assure effective citizens participation, their creation and implementation are optional.

The Neighborhood Plan, which designates boundaries and provides for neighborhood formation, leaves many decisions open to the community so that an individually designed approach, suited to each neighborhood can be implemented.

In 1984, Oahu’s voters approved a City Charter a City Charter amendment expanding the role of the neighborhood boards to include all levels of government. Every resident has the opportunity to participate in government decision making which affects his or her community. You can play a significant part in making government more responsive to community needs. The decision is up to you.” https://www1.honolulu.gov/nco/office.htm

The Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28  was one of the first to be formed in the 1970s under the leadership of Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi.

In 2013, the members of the Koolauloa Board #28 were voted into office with a overall vote of 8.61%  in the last election.

DSC08368May 8, 2014 meeting at the Hauula Elementary School

Unfortunately, Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 has recently been plagued with citizens’ complaints of violations due to lack of transparency and conflicts of interest.

On  December 7, 2010, the Hawaii Independent reported the City and County of Honolulu Neighborhood Commission issued  a FINDINGS OF FACT, CONCLUSIONS OF LAW, AND DECISION AND ORDER  on the Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28:

” .  . .  the commission ruled that the Koolau Loa Neighborhood Board, on the day it voted to support Envision Laie, unintentionally violated Hawaii Sushine Laws by not allowing everyone the chance to testify at the special meeting. Junior Primacio and Richard Fale were the board chairs in charge that day in 2009.

Other infractions, which the commission labeled as “serious and deleterious to the neighborhood board system,” included the use of sign-up sheets that were removed either before or during the meeting and the non-consideration of written testimony before the board took its 7-to-4 in favor vote.

In addition to receiving a letter of reprimand, the Koolau Loa Neighborhood Board, if it wishes to take a stand on the project, must schedule another meeting and allow all written and oral testimony to be received, reviewed, and considered before taking a vote.”

On November 14,  2013, a similar presentation relating to the same issue was presented by the long-time Laie Community Association President Pane Meatoga ( who is also  the District Representative with the Operating Engineers Local Union 3):

 VII.       NEW BUSINESS 10 Minute Limit per Speaker

A.    Presentation by La`ie Community Association (LCA) Seeking Board Support for Envision La`ie and Ko`olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan – Pane Meatoga, Jr., LCA President

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The LCA presentation continued on to December 9, 2013 whereby the Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 took a vote to support the above agenda. The outcome was predicted as reported.

Subsequently,   three complaints against the Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 were filed at the Honolulu Neighborhood Commission. Hearings for  Marvin Iseke, Andrea Nixt and Lea Minton vs the Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 were set for May 28, 2014 at the Honolulu Hale Committee Room at 6:00 pm.

DSC08631NB #28 Chair Verla Moore in blue with 80-year-old Hauula kupuna Marvin Iseke in striped shirt.

Ko’olaulau residents contend that former Mayor Mufi Hannemann and his Managing Director Kirk Caldwell,  provided preferential treatment to Hawaii Reserves Inc. in Laie by unilaterally inserting the “Envision Laie” development plan into the Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan in 2010. (However, it should be noted that many in Laie oppose the Envision Laie but prefer not to publicly voice their opinions, for whatever reasons.)

Residents also allege that current  Chair Verla Moore, also a member of the Laie Community Association Board,  plays favoritism as to who can have a presentation at board meetings.

Residents contend that  generally no prior efforts were expended to evaluate these matters in a careful and non-discriminating way. No information gathering or research was expended. They perceive an entrenched bloc vote that  ignores all the other communities in Ko’olauloa.

Alleged violations presented at the May 28, 2014 hearing included the following:

 §2-13-104 Standards of conduct. (a) Board members, in the performance of their duties, shall demonstrate by their example the highest standards of ethical conduct, to the end that the public may justifiably have trust and confidence in the integrity of the neighborhood board system. Board members shall hold their offices or positions for the benefit of the public, shall recognize that the public’s interest is their primary concern, and shall faithfully discharge the duties of their offices regardless of personal considerations.

(b) Board members shall not use their positions to secure or grant special consideration, treatment, advantage, privilege, or exemption to themselves or any person beyond that which is available to every other person.
(c) Board members are not officers or employees of the city by reason of their position. However, the standards of conduct policy shall apply to all board members. [Eff 10/20/08] (Auth: RCH §14-103(a)) (Imp: RCH §14-104)

§2-13-107 Representative capacity of board members. (a) Each member of a board shall represent the entire district and act responsibly to fulfill the board’s democratic and advisory duty.

Violation:

Yet, on December 9, 2013 Verla Moore KNB #28 Chair and her bloc adopted a Resolution to support her own Laie Association’s request to support Envision Laie and the Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan against all opposition in the region.

The Neighborhood Board members who voted to support the Laie Community Association’s request had not read the Environmental Studies as well as the voluminous facts and circumstances surround this controversial issue. You can see this on the video tape. They just accepted Pane Meatoga’s words as facts. Residents are given very limited opportunities to talk and not allowed to ask questions.

The Neighborhood Commission Hearings lasted about four hours.  Anita Hofschneider from Civil Beat reported parts of it:

DSC08596Complainant Andrea Nixt from Ka’a’awa with Laie Community President Pane Meatoga in the background.

The conflict played out again Wednesday evening when Andrea Anixt from Kaaawa, Lea Minton from Punaluu and Marvin Iseki from Hauula contested the board’s December endorsement of the latest version of the Koolau Loa Sustainable Communities Plan in a four-hour-long hearing before the Neighborhood Commission at Honolulu Hale.

Anixt, Minton and Iseke said the board members who voted for the project failed to represent the interests of the Koolau Loa community as a whole. They also said several members had conflicts of interests because they or their family members are employed by BYU-Hawaii and HRI.

The board’s chairwoman, Verla Moore, vehemently denied the allegations, saying that the board painstakingly ensured that all the rules were followed.

She emphasized that the homes would be for the “poor and unknown,” instead of for rich people like GoPro CEO Nicholas Woodman, who made headlines that day for purchasing a $9.2 million property on the North Shore.

She suggested that the three residents who criticized the board appeared to be haole while many on the board were Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.

“You look at my board members, you look at their faces. I go back 150 years here,” Moore said to the commission. “You look at our opposition. When did they come here? 10 years ago?”

“We let you in, let us guys stay,” she added.

Minton, who testified next on behalf of the Defend Oahu Coalition, said she was born and raised in Hawaii and went to Kahuku High School.

“We’re not here to discuss white people versus Hawaiians,” Minton said. “When you sit in a position of power and you’re elected to that neighborhood board, you’re there to represent everybody.”

DSC08608

Lea Minton disclosed that she received threatening phone calls, including to her employer to fire her for testifying at the  October 8, 2013 City Council hearing at Kahuku High School. She also received a death threat.

Unfortunately, Minton further pointed out being harassed by a member of the Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 on the way to the Hearing that night .  That particular board member apologized later at the hearing, explaining he had had a hard day.

The Neighborhood Board Commission is slated to render their decision within 45 days.

If Mayor Frank Fasi were alive today, he would probably continue to be proud of his accomplishment in providing a public forum for the grassroots. Fasi would understand that democracy could get messy but he would probably have a few choice words about uncalled-for bullying behavior. All in all, he would be happy to see citizens participate and pursue clarifications and redress when and where needed.

 

 

 

Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 (Part 1 of 3)

Frank_Fasi

Mayor Frank Fasi established one of the nation’s largest elected neighborhood board systems for Honolulu in the 1970s. Its purpose was to encourage civic participation.

Fasi certainly helped create the ideal environment for a robust and healthy interaction between grassroots constituents and their elected officials:

The Neighborhood Board is full citizen participation in government so that the powers of the City can properly serve and advance the aspirations of its citizens. Through the Neighborhood Board system, every resident has the opportunity to participate in government decision making which affects his or her community. The system applies the concept of participatory democracy, involving communities in the decisions affecting them. It establishes an island wide network of elected neighborhood boards as communication channels, expanding and facilitating opportunities for community and government interaction.

In 1984, Oahu’s voters approved a City Charter a City Charter amendment expanding the role of the neighborhood boards to include all levels of government. Every resident has the opportunity to participate in government decision making which affects his or her community. You can play a significant part in making government more responsive to community needs. The decision is up to you.

Because I live in the Ko’olauloa area, I’ll conveniently focus on the  Ko’olauloa  Neighborhood Board #28.

KNB5-8-14 Board meeting at Hauula Elementary School – May 8, 2014

The members of the Koolauloa Board #28 was voted into office with a overall vote of 8.61% in the last election. This lack of participation is unequivocally an issue that needs discussion.

The most recent Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board meeting was sparsely attended.

DSC08368

Perhaps, it was the May 8, 2014 agenda content that did not garner much attention:

VII.NEW BUSINESS (10 Minute Limit per Speaker)

A. Board Action: Member Hans Ta’ala’s Three (3) Absences for the Year

B. Bus Stop Volunteer Program – Department of Transportation, Public Transit Division          Representative

The  above Laie board member had missed three meetings during the year and his absence that night was an additional absence.  Laie representatives Kela Miller and Gaylene Nikora Lolofie defended Ta’ala with the premise that Ta’ala was not present to explain the reasons for his absences and to allow Ta’ala the opportunity to explain at the following meeting before any action is taken.

The Bus Stop Volunteer Program had a bureaucrat encouraging constituents to assist in building and bus-stops maintenance for free labor.

Other issues like the controversial Honolulu City Council  Bill 47 that amends the 1999 Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Plan to include  the proposed new subdivision ” Enviision Laie” at Gunstock, located at Maleakahana, Kahuku and the expansion of the Turtle Bay Resort certainly garnered attention.

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June 8, 2014 may turn up to be a sleeper meeting again. The agenda for new business is as follows:

VIII.      NEW BUSINESS (10 Minute Limit per Speaker)

  1. Board Action: Member Norman Thompson, III Three (3) Absences for the Year

  2. Board Action: Member Hans Ta’ala’s Three (3) Absences for the Year

The Ko’olauloa Neighborhood Board #28 meetings are aired on`Olelo Broadcasting Television –  the 4th Friday at 9:00 p.m. on Channel 49, and on the 2nd and 4th Sunday at 12:00 noon on Channel 54.  Citizens can watch these board meetings any time on http://www.Olelo.org and click “On Demand”.

 

Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s assaults on free speech rights expand to Hau’ula

 

 

 

Honolulu Transit Oriented Development (TOD) an Assault on Private Property Rights.

 

EMNeighboodTOD

Rail’s Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) An Assault on Private Property Rights
By Choon James 11/03/2012  Published in Civil Beat.

How would you react if a stranger enters your home; goes into your bedroom and sleeps in your bed — without your permission?

The natural reaction would be one of disbelief and outright objection, right?
We would consider this intrusion an invasion of our privacy and space. We would dial 911 to get the intruder off our property.

Yet, we see no similar reactions towards the Honolulu city’s proposed Transit-oriented developments (TOD); we detect no deference to or respect for private property rights. The city’s planners and facilitators have successfully drowned this constitutional right in their public presentations.

On the other hand, the amount of giddy excitement and coveting of private properties (that the government does not own) for this Honolulu Rail’s Transit-oriented development (TOD) is very alarming. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=sLSzpi0ytSY

We live in a Democracy; we are not China or Russia.

Private property rights is an integral part of free enterprise. We must not allow crony capitalism to stomp private property owners. Government and its cronies must not be allowed to plan as they unilaterally please. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmM4ZBoppNQ

At each of the proposed 21 rail stations, the city wants TODs “within half a mile radius” vicinity. The proposed rail stations are located at every mile; this means the whole land area along the entire 21-mile rail corridor is up for grabs. “Half a mile radius” sounds so harmless!

To covet and seize an additional 20 square miles area along this rail corridor on our small island pose a huge economical, social and cultural impact!

It’s not as if private owners can easily relocate down the road. Family inheritances, investments, and businesses built with sweat, equity, and sacrifices will be placed under the mercy of absolute powers of eminent domain. Kama’aina owners and businesses will be pushed out to pave the way for national and international investors. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i67hIaAe6hs

Have we forgotten about Kelo vs. New London, the most despised eminent domain case in recent history http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelo_v._City_of_New_London The Fort Trumbull community had 117 private properties. The City of New London supposedly had carefully crafted a revitalization plan to spur new jobs and increase tax revenue.
To push this “revitalization” plan forward, New London City abused its eminent domain powers to seize private properties to transfer to its private partner. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4N1svadJQ40

As it turned out, the city’s private partner – Pfizer corporation – failed to deliver needed funds and abandoned the much-heralded project. The Pfizer corporation also left town.
The city and state spent $78 Million for the acquisition and bulldozing the Fort Trumbull neighborhood. The promised 3,169 new jobs and $1.2 million a year in tax revenues evaporated.

The municipal experts’ Revitalization Plan, the basis for the ill Supreme Court’s June 23, 2005 decision in deference to legislators, proved to be an elusive concept and not reality.
In early 2012, its newly-elected Mayor of New London extended an apology to the Fort Trumbull victims . . . what good did that do?

The priceless toll on the victims could never be compensated; lives were uprooted and constitution rights subverted while the bureaucratic and political perpetrators walked away scot-free. http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=000&invol=04-108

Here in Hawaii, we observe a similar “revitalization” process has been set in motion. City “experts” are holding “Community Visioning” meetings to discuss “Neighborhood TOD Planning”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=sLSzpi0ytSY
The city wants to “take advantage of rail to its optimal level” and to “concentrate population” along this rail corridor.

http://dev.honoluludpp.org/Planning/NeighborhoodTODPlans.aspx
The “experts” presented beautiful artistic renderings at these meetings but we’ve yet to hear the sounds of the Rail along the Honolulu High-Capacity Transit Corridor. Who will live along the noisy railroad tracks? http://youtu.be/abzMGHe3Pc0
(The push to steer the low income population along the noisy rail corridor is “segregation déjà vu” and not social equity.)

The dangerous potential for the city to seize 21 square miles of private properties for transfer to private investors has to be reckoned with, today. The proposed Honolulu Rail is not only ugly, noisy, and a black hole for Oahu’s taxpayers; its accompanied TOD is a direct assault on private property rights. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4ezw1Hbf6Y
No Oahu residents should sit idly by and condone such autocratic land-use plans for our island home. It is wrong. It’s dangerous. It’s unAmerican. It goes against the core tenets of our free society.

City planning and developments must conform within the constitutional parameters of private property rights. This should have been a big part of the public deliberations. Any “exemption” laws to skirt this right must be rejected. Too many big decisions have been manipulated and controlled by raw crony capitalism and special interests. Private property owners continue to trampled on and pushed aside by the big boys.
We must take our government back.

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About the author: Choon James has been a real estate broker for over 20 years. She is a member of the Ko’olauloa Sustainable Communities Planning Committee and hosts “Country Talk Story”, a weekly community television show on Saturdays at 5:00 pm on Channel 55. Continue reading