Denby Fawcett – Honolulu Civil Beat https://www.civilbeat.org Honolulu Civil Beat - Investigative Reporting Wed, 22 May 2019 02:46:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.0.3 Denby Fawcett: Mailbox Crime Didn’t Begin With The Kealoha Case https://www.civilbeat.org/2019/05/denby-fawcett-mailbox-crime-didnt-begin-with-the-kealoha-case/ Tue, 21 May 2019 10:01:10 +0000 https://www.civilbeat.org/?p=1334381 If I had been called for jury duty in the Kealoha Mailbox Trial, I probably would have been rejected. That’s because my answer would have been “yes” to question 11 on a survey given to prospective jurors: Have you ever had mail stolen from your mailbox? My husband and I discovered someone stole the contents […]

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If I had been called for jury duty in the Kealoha Mailbox Trial, I probably would have been rejected.

That’s because my answer would have been “yes” to question 11 on a survey given to prospective jurors: Have you ever had mail stolen from your mailbox?

My husband and I discovered someone stole the contents of our mailbox, including some checks we’d written, when we got a call from a sharp-eyed Waikiki bank teller.

This mailbox is now in front of the former home of Katherine and Louis Kealoha. Katherine Kealoha accused Gerard Puana in 2013  of stealing a different and more expensive mailbox from the residence.

Screen shot

The teller asked us if we had written a check for $50 to a person standing very close to him who was trying to cash it. The person had smeared out the name of our check’s intended recipient and written in his own. The teller tried to stall the thief until police arrived, but the guy bolted.

An attorney friend says the mail theft question is on the survey in the upcoming Kealoha trial because a prospective juror whose mailbox has been raided might be more kindly disposed to former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his former deputy prosecutor wife, Katherine Kealoha.

They claimed that her uncle, Gerard Puana, stole their mailbox June 21, 2013, and now they’re accused of framing him and lying about it, as well as other alleged crimes.

‘Why Would They Want To Go To The Trouble?’

The Kealoha case got me thinking about mail theft in Hawaii. It’s unfortunately common.

But what isn’t common is the theft of whole boxes, says U.S. Postal Inspector Brian Shaughnessy, who brought Puana’s case to federal prosecutors.

There was a wave of thefts of those big blue USPS mailboxes bolted to concrete on sidewalks in 2016 to 2018 with five boxes stolen, including one outside the Waipahu Post Office in August 2017 and one from a quiet residential Maunawili neighborhood in July 2018.

Merrill Johnston, who frequently used the blue mailbox in Maunawili says, “It was extraordinary. It was astonishing; it was all those things. To walk out and find the blue mailbox had just disappeared.”

Feel secure when you drop mail in a big blue Postal Service box? Five containers were stolen off sidewalks from 2016 to 2018. And thieves have been known to “fish” from them as well.

Flickr.com

Michael Kitchens, who founded the popular Facebook crime watch page “Stolen Stuff Hawaii,” says he gets reports from some of his 125,00 followers about drunk drivers running over mailboxes, but never hears about people actually walking away with mailboxes.

“Thieves have such an easy time stealing mail out of boxes,” says Kitchens. “They just drive up and pull out letters usually when residents are away at work. Why would they want to go to the trouble of hauling off the whole mailbox?”

The Honolulu Police Department does not specifically track mail thefts, says spokeswoman Michelle Yu. “However, it would be safe to say that we receive dozens of reports annually.”

Mail thieves are always on the lookout for checks to alter with forged names. Yu says HPD got about 1,400 reports of forgery last year and 450 so far this year.

Kitchens says since he founded “Stolen Stuff” almost five years ago he has received “hundreds and hundreds” of reports from people whose mail has been stolen. The criminals are looking for credit cards, checks, gift cards and personal financial information they can use with software to create fake IDs and checks.

He says he gets notified about mail thrown in the trash and hears from people who are worried because their mail isn’t showing up.

He also gets reports about the practice of “fishing,” when a thief attaches something sticky to a string and drops it down one of the blue Postal Service mailboxes to fish out letters.

Mail fishing was so prevalent in New York that the Postal Service replaced the front pull-down openings on its blue boxes with narrow slits for letters.

Shaughnessy says methamphetamine addicts drive some of the theft.

“Stealing mail can be very appealing to individuals addicted to illegal narcotics,” he says. “A drug user might be paid a small sum of money for a bag of stolen mail or the mail can be exchanged for small quantities of methamphetamine or heroin. Hawaii’s meth problem has been well documented.”

Why Was The Claim Taken Seriously?

In what is undoubtedly the biggest mailbox-related criminal trial in Hawaii history, the jury will have to decide if the Kealohas and three Honolulu police officers are guilty of charges of conspiracy, fraud and obstruction of justice for allegedly setting up the theft of a mailbox at the Kealohas’ Kahala home to frame Puana.

The new trial is part of a continuing drama that started in June 2013 when the Kealohas and a group of Honolulu Police Department accomplices allegedly engineered the scheme to get Puana slapped with a federal  felony conviction to discredit him before he and Katherine Kealoha’s grandmother went to trial on a civil suit accusing Katherine of stealing thousands of dollars from them.

Federal Public Defender Alexander Silvert's office with a plastic 'Kealoha' mailbox. Nope, this is not the real mailbox.

Federal Public Defender Alexander Silvert’s office has a plastic “Kealoha” mailbox — it’s not the real one.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

That mailbox theft trial ended in a mistrial after Louis Kealoha blurted out information about Puana that was considered prejudicial.

Federal prosecutors dropped all charges against Puana after his attorney, Alexander Silvert, showed them evidence he had planned to unveil in the trial that would have validated his allegations that Puana was the innocent victim of a criminal set-up by the Kealohas and their HPD helpers.

You have to wonder why then-U.S. Attorney Florence Nakakuni took up the case against Puana in the first place and why the charges were turned over to federal grand jury without a more careful review of the facts.

Civil Beat reporter Nick Grube questioned why federal law enforcement failed to find discrepancies in the alleged mailbox theft that were so immediately obvious to Silvert.

Shaughnessy, the postal inspector, seemed to have brought the case against Puana to the U.S. attorney relying primarily on evidence from HPD’s investigation.

The idea of stealing a whole mailbox from a home — instead of just its contents — is so weird that someone should have put on the brakes and said, “Hey, wait a minute.”

If Nakakuni has not apologized to Puana yet, she should.

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Denby Fawcett: Yellow Bowls And The Ugly Wartime History They Symbolize https://www.civilbeat.org/2019/05/denby-fawcett-yellow-bowls-and-the-ugly-wartime-history-they-symbolize/ Tue, 14 May 2019 10:01:38 +0000 https://www.civilbeat.org/?p=1333176 Today, when many other people protest unfairness with loud demonstrations, Setsuko Sato Winchester is using quiet beauty to draw attention to one of the ugliest acts of racial discrimination in American history. Setsuko has created 120 tea bowls in varying shades of yellow to symbolize “the yellow peril,” as Asians were once described. Each yellow […]

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Today, when many other people protest unfairness with loud demonstrations, Setsuko Sato Winchester is using quiet beauty to draw attention to one of the ugliest acts of racial discrimination in American history.

Setsuko has created 120 tea bowls in varying shades of yellow to symbolize “the yellow peril,” as Asians were once described. Each yellow bowl stands for 1,000 of the 120,000 individuals of Japanese descent imprisoned in camps during World War II.

“I wanted to do it in a way that was gentle, not hurtful,” she says.

Setsuko Winchester bowls at Honouliuli v1.

Setsuko Sato Winchester places some of her bowls at the Honouliuli Internment Camp in Kunia on Monday.

Courtesy Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii

Setsuko began in 2015  to “hand pinch” each tea bowl — meaning using her hands instead of a wheel to create it — after which she and her husband carefully placed the delicate yellow bowls in two big boxes in the back of their Land Rover to begin the journey from their Massachusetts home to each of the 10 main camps where Japanese were locked up.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt enabled the imprisonment of Japanese-Americans and resident aliens primarily living in Western states two months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor when he signed Executive Order 9066 to allow regional military commanders “to designate military areas from which any or all persons may be excluded.”

The Winchesters visited camps from Arkansas’ Jerome War Relocation Center, where some Hawaii residents were imprisoned, to California’s Manzanar and Tule Lake — the latter was the largest camp with 18,789 inhabitants including detainees from Hawaii.

At each site, the bowls were configured into a site-specific design to be photographed and then eventually packed up to drive to the next site.

Simon and Setsuko Sato Winchester talk at Liljestrand House about their 18,000 miles of driving across the United States to take 120 yellow ceramic bowls to WW II incarceration sites.

Denby Fawcett/Civil Beat

Setsuko’s husband, Simon Winchester, is the best-selling author of celebrated works including “The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883 Krakatoa” and “The Professor and the Madman,”  just released as a feature film starring Mel Gibson and Sean Penn.

Setsuko is a ceramicist and a journalist who was an editor and producer in Washington, D.C., on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” and “Talk of the Nation.”

Now the Winchesters are in Honolulu, where he is the keynote speaker Tuesday night at a summit on peace, global understanding and climate change called “Margins of the Sea” at the Liljestrand House on the extinct crater above Makiki, Mount Tantalus.

His role is secondary in Setsuko Winchester’s “Freedom from Fear/Yellow Bowl Project.” He has served as her driver, porter and assistant on the 18,000 miles they spent zig-zagging across America to take the bowls to the different Japanese imprisonment sites. He calls himself her “box hauler and spear carrier.”

Manzanar, a National Historic Site in California where 10,056 people were incarcerated during WW II.

Courtesy of Setsuko Sato Winchester

On Monday, they visited Honouliuli Internment Camp in Kunia to photograph 16 of Setsuko’s yellow bowls in the ruins of what was once Hawaii’s largest and longest operating wartime incarceration camp (1943-46). No public exhibition of the bowls is planned.

“Setsuko’s yellow bowls bring a different approach to commemorate this incredibly dark and sad chapter in U.S. history,” says Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii president and executive director Jacce Mikulanec, who arranged Setsuko’s visit to Honouliuli.

At the height of its use, Honouliuli housed 4,000 prisoners of war in tents and barracks as well 320 Hawaii residents, mostly Japanese-American and some German-Americans, rounded up with no evidence or trials.

In February 2015, President Barack Obama signed an executive order to make Honouliuli a national monument.

Honouliuli is distinctive for the amount of time it remained hidden from sight. When it was in operation, families who wanted to visit relatives were blindfolded when they boarded buses downtown so they would not know where they were being taken.

Not until 2002 did Jane Kurahara, a volunteer from the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, uncover the location of Honouliuli camp by focusing on an aqueduct she saw in a photo and comparing it to features in old maps. She then confirmed the location by driving through the area. The aqueduct is still there today.

A World War II-era view of the Honouliuli Internment Camp.

National Park Service

Mikulanec says there are tens of thousands of people who go by Honouliuli Gulch and have no idea they are meters away from a World War II internment camp. And he says, “On the neighbor islands, there is an unawareness of the imprisonment of Japanese-Americans. People still don’t know the internment camps were not just on Oahu but there were 17 different sites in the islands.”

Setsuko calls the 10 camps she visited on the mainland “concentration camps.”

Although the term is controversial, it is becoming more acceptable to describe the isolated, rural camps where innocent people of Japanese descent —  75 percent of them U.S. citizens — were forcibly taken. Often they were thousands of miles from their homes, locked up behind barbed wire fences patrolled by armed guards.

They were imprisoned because of who they were, not because of what they did.

The camps were referred to with all kinds of euphemisms, including relocation camps, evacuation camps or even pioneer camps — but most often internment camps.

The yellow bowls were taken to Poston, Arizona, where 17,824 people of Japanese ancestry were incarcerated during World War II.

Courtesy of Setsuko Sato Winchester

But Setsuko says that’s inaccurate because internment camps were a different kind of camp run by the U.S. Department of Justice and the former U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service to detain “enemy aliens,” which is legal in the United States during times of war. The aliens were arrested, charged, given hearings and if they could not prove their innocence, they were held until they could be deported.

Operations at these internment camps were governed by the Geneva Convention, whereas the camps holding the 120,000 men, women and children of Japanese descent without legal recourse were run by the U.S. military and the War Relocation Authority with no oversight by the Geneva Convention.

Setsuko says she was drawn to bring attention to the camps through her ceramic bowls because of her own ignorance as a young student about what happened to Japanese-Americans during WW II. She grew up in New York City, the child of Japanese immigrants.

When a substitute teacher brought the book “Farewell to Manzanar,” to her middle school class for her to read, she and other students were astounded. The book co-written by Jean Wakatsukui Houston is about what she endured when she and her family were incarcerated at Manzanar near Death Valley. Setsuko said that she and her classmates had difficulty believing this happened in America.

She says her goal now is to make sure people don’t forget what happened to innocent people and to be mindful that such injustice could happen again in today’s climate, where we see children of immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border being locked up, and in China, where 120,000 Muslim Uighurs have been forced into “re-education” camps one Chinese official called  “boarding schools.”

Setsuko says such actions are always driven by fear.

“My story is hopeful, ” she says. “I am what everybody was scared about. I am about as scary as a yellow bowl.”

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Denby Fawcett: Kakaako Homeless Population Grows While City And State Dither Over Land Transfer https://www.civilbeat.org/2019/05/denby-fawcett-kakaako-homeless-population-grows-while-city-and-state-dither-over-land-transfer/ Tue, 07 May 2019 10:01:03 +0000 https://www.civilbeat.org/?p=1331831 If residents want to look at how government has failed them they should take the time to go have a look at the Kakaako Gateway parks. The parks were supposed to be open, green areas for families to enjoy for picnics and outdoor games in the densely populated Kakaako neighborhood where high rises crammed together offer […]

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If residents want to look at how government has failed them they should take the time to go have a look at the Kakaako Gateway parks.

The parks were supposed to be open, green areas for families to enjoy for picnics and outdoor games in the densely populated Kakaako neighborhood where high rises crammed together offer little room for recreation and respite from stress.

Instead, over the past decade the Gateway parks have become an entrenched homeless encampment with a fluctuating population that’s climbed as high as 300. Currently, it’s more than 100.

The Kakaako parks image as a hostile area was magnified on April 25 when a young mother waiting with her child in Kakaako Waterfront Park for the Children’s Discovery Center to open was attacked by two dogs owned by homeless campers.

Homeless Encampment at Kakaako Gateway Park with tents.

The homeless encampment at Kakaako Gateway Park is a perpetual problem.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Honolulu police cited the owners of the dogs for dangerous dog violations and the dogs are impounded at the Hawaiian Humane Society pending investigation.

Honolulu Police Department spokeswoman Michelle Yu says since Jan. 1 police have responded to reports of 25 incidents involving dogs in the Kakaako parks and issued 10 citations for dangerous dogs in the Kakaako area. Yu says another 48 citations have been issued to homeless for violating various park rules.

People living in the illegal encampments continue to violate rules as they set up tents and keep dogs as pets below blue city signs that say “No Camping, No Tents. No Animals Allowed.”

The law-breaking has gone on for so long it starts to seem like it’s government sanctioned — until something ugly happens such as the dogs attacking young mother Brandy Bennett last month or the mob of Kakaako homeless teenagers, who in June of 2015 chased and beat up state Rep. Tom Brower in front of the Children’s Discovery Center.

Today, Brower says he is disappointed but not surprised that so little has changed in the Kakaako parks since he was body slammed and thrown to the ground by angry homeless youths. “Government leaders have been frozen into inaction because they don’t want to be perceived as lacking compassion for the homeless,” he says.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s office says the mayor is as frustrated as the public by the lawlessness at Kakaako and is hoping by the end of this month for the city to take over ownership of the parks, which will give the city full authority to improve safety and sanitation in each of the parks.

The city hopes that cleaner, more attractive parks and a more robust city presence will entice the public back, which will help deter the homeless as well.

The Hawaii Community Development Authority, the agency currently in charge of the Kakaako parks for the state, lacks the expertise, money and staff to manage the parks.

HCDA’s board voted on May 2, 2018, to transfer ownership of 41 acres of Kakaako land to the city, including Olomehani Street, portions of Ahui and Ohe streets and four Kakaako parks: Kewalo Basin Park, Kakaako Mauka and Makai Gateway Parks and Kakaako Waterfront Park.

But now, more than a year later, the land transfer deal remains stalled as city and state lawyers continue to haggle over the details of the deed.

“The land transfer is a very complicated matter with an extensive amount of documentation required,” says Honolulu City and County communications director Andrew Pereira. “The city is working collaboratively with HCDA to execute this transfer as quickly as possible.”

In private, both the city and the state blame each other for the delays.

HCDA spokesman Garett Kamemoto says the transfer of the lands and roads to the city will for once and for all make the city responsible for the entire area. Since August, the city has had a right of entry document to come into the state-owned portion of Kakaako, but without full ownership, enforcement has been difficult.

Since the beginning of this year, the city has initiated 63 sweeps at Kakaako but the homeless remain entrenched, often moving out just before a sweep and coming back right after.

“Many of the individuals who live in the park know the park rules and how to circumvent them,” says HPD’s Yu. “At night when the park closes, there are individuals who move to the unimproved sidewalks and leave 36 inches of open space for pedestrians. When the park reopens, these individuals return to the park.”

HCDA calls the homeless jumping back and forth between the state-owned grassy park land and the city-owned sidewalks “hopscotching.” In November 2017, HCDA hired security guards from the company Block by Block to be on duty at Kakaako 24/7 to try to get the homeless out of the parks at night at a cost to taxpayers of $320,000 per year.

But the private guards have no arresting authority and can only verbally tell the homeless about the park rules rather than force them to comply. They can also issue citations to violators but so far none have been issued.

Homeless Encampment at Kakaako Gateway Park with UH Medical School the background.

Despite the presence of business and other entities, like the John A. Burns School of Medicine in the background here, homeless people return again and again to the Kakaako park.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The state sheriff’s office, which used to provide enforcement against illegal camping in the Kakaako parks, backed off after the city got its right-of-entry permit in August to take over enforcement in the parks and now only helps as backup when requested by the city.

Next month, the Honolulu City Council is slated to vote on the mayor’s proposed budget, which includes $2.3 million for workers and gardening equipment to spruce up the Kakaako parks when the city takes over.

The city says it hopes that with cleaner, more attractive parks and a more robust city presence in the park, members of the public will start returning for recreation and by their increased activity make it less enticing for the homeless to remain entrenched in their settlements.

In addition, the city says it is considering setting up a new base yard in Kakaako for its Department of Facilities Maintenance, the agency responsible for homeless sweeps which will allow the agency to move out violators more quickly.

There have been so many previous failed attempts to evict law breakers from the Kakaako parks, Honolulu residents now can only wait and see how all this works out.

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Denby Fawcett: Tulsi Gabbard Isn’t The First Hawaii Resident To Run For President https://www.civilbeat.org/2019/04/denby-fawcett-tulsi-gabbard-isnt-the-first-hawaii-resident-to-run-for-president/ Tue, 23 Apr 2019 10:01:18 +0000 https://www.civilbeat.org/?p=1329192 Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is not alone. In the past half-century two other Hawaii residents have campaigned to be their party’s presidential nominee. All three have said they wanted to deliver a message other candidates were not articulating. Congresswoman Patsy T. Mink was drafted by her Oregon supporters to run in their state’s Democratic presidential primary […]

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Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is not alone. In the past half-century two other Hawaii residents have campaigned to be their party’s presidential nominee.

All three have said they wanted to deliver a message other candidates were not articulating.

Congresswoman Patsy T. Mink was drafted by her Oregon supporters to run in their state’s Democratic presidential primary in 1972 as an anti-Vietnam War candidate.

Honolulu real estate developer and conservative radio station owner David Watumull, heir to the G.J. Watumull real estate fortune, ran in New Hampshire’s Republican presidential primary in 1968.

David and Sheila Watumull, center, leave the Honolulu airport in late February 1968 to head for Manchester, New Hampshire, to campaign in that state’s presidential primary.

Courtesy of Sheila Watumull

Four years earlier, a group of Republican delegates had placed the name of Hawaii Sen. Hiram Fong (the first non-Caucasian ever considered) in contention at the 1964 GOP national convention, but Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater got the nomination that year.

And of course, the person most associated with Hawaii and the presidency is Barack Obama. But he was never a Hawaii politician and had long since quit being an island resident when he first ran in 2008.

Hula Dancers ‘Were Freezing Their Butts Off’

Sheila Watumull says her late husband entered the race for the Republican presidential nomination after he found out how easy it was to get on the primary ballot in New Hampshire. No registration fee was required, just signatures from 100 New Hampshire registered voters.

“He was shocked that it took so few signatures. He said, ‘Let’s do it.’” she said.

Three days after they had married at Kawaiahao Church in Honolulu, they left for Manchester, New Hampshire, arriving in a snowstorm in late-February 1968 with three hula dancers brought along from Hawaii to draw attention to the campaign.

“It was cold, snowy, freezing,” Sheila Watumull recalls. “I thought, ‘Oh my God. The dancers were freezing their butts off.'”

A David Watumull campaign handout used in New Hampshire.

Courtesy of Sheila Watumull

David Watumull said in newspaper interviews he never expected to win but was in the race to discuss issues that were being ignored by the leading Republican candidates. He also saw it as a way to promote his radio station, KTRG.

“I don’t pretend to have as much of a chance as Nixon or (George) Romney but I figure if I tell the truth to people I might be able to bring home some points,” he said in a newspaper interview.

Watumull was an ultra-conservative who considered the rest of the GOP field too liberal.

He argued the Joint Chiefs of Staff should be given the power to “bring the Vietnam war to the earliest and most honorable conclusion” and if they couldn’t end the war militarily, for the U.S. to start pulling out.

Watumull also called for maintaining the gold standard to back the U.S. dollar, an end to deficit spending and a return to home rule.

One of nine candidates on the GOP ballot, he got 161 votes while primary winner Richard Nixon took 80,666 votes. Watumull then ended his campaign.

The war, which Sheila Watumull said saddened her husband so deeply “that sometimes he would cry,” lasted another seven years.

‘I Have No Regrets’

Hawaii Congresswoman Patsy T. Mink’s stand on the Vietnam War was more absolute than Watumull’s: End the war now.

In her fourth term in 1972, she was drafted by a group of her supporters to run in the Oregon presidential primary. They were angry that the front-runner, South Dakota Sen. George McGovern, was backsliding in his speeches on the importance of terminating the war and was focusing instead on improving the economy.

Mink was concerned too, calling that  “extremely disturbing.” In an interview with the Associated Press on May 14, 1972, she said, “The very fact that the war was not on the front page does not diminish the cruel fact that the war was still going on.”

Patsy Mink goes over some of the 4,000-plus signatures gathered to get her name on the Oregon presidential primary ballot in 1972.

Courtesy of Gwendolyn Mink

She said it was never her intention to run for president but she joined the race out of respect for the hard work of the Oregon activists who had rounded up the necessary 4,000-plus signatures to get her on the ballot.

Gwendolyn “Wendy” Mink, Patsy Mink’s daughter, wrote in an email to Civil Beat: “Anti-war and feminist activists in Oregon hungered for an alternative to George McGovern to carry the banner for peace in Vietnam as well as to normalize the candidacies of women for the highest levels of government service.”

Wendy Mink is an independent scholar based in Washington, D.C. At the time of the Oregon primary she was 20 and in her second year at the University of Chicago. She said she signed up for Tuesday-Thursday classes so that she could go to Oregon on weekends and on her spring break to help her mother campaign before the May 23 primary.

She said that her mother thought running against the political heavyweights of the day was energizing: “The chance to work with people of deep conviction and passionate hope; and it was illuminating to discuss policy and principles with people she did not ordinarily encounter.”

Patsy Mink’s Oregon supporters did not expect her to win outright but were hoping to win some delegates to take a strong message to the national convention about ending the war.

The Oregon primary offered more than just a chance to speak out against the war.

Wendy Mink said that to her mother, it was also about “assuring the fair representation of women in party-decision making.” Patsy Mink had been working to change Democratic Party rules to increase the participation of women, minorities and youths in the delegate selection, platform and nominating process, and to nominate a woman as a vice presidential candidate.

Mink got 2%, or 6,322 votes, to McGovern’s 50%, or 199,327 votes.

At first, she said she was disappointed that so few had voted for her, but later she told a reporter, “I have no regrets. It was a very exciting experience and one that does not come too often in one’s life.”

Mink was an active candidate only in Oregon.

‘A Reward Tantamount To Winning’

This past week, Tulsi Gabbard has campaigned in Iowa and New Hampshire, using her presidential candidacy as an opportunity to stress her own anti-war message.

In an email Sunday night, she said: “I am running for president to end regime change wars, work to end the new cold war and nuclear arms race and reinvest the trillions of dollars wasted on these wars back to the pockets of the American people and needs of our communities.”

Gabbard’s presidential campaign mantra has been to shift the war money to domestic needs such as universal health insurance, rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, resolving the homelessness crisis, addressing climate change and reducing debt for college students.

Tulsi Gabbard on a lonely road in New Hampshire as she campaigns for president.

Courtesy of Gabbard campaign

She is mentioned in The New York Times as among the underdog candidates “who have grown skilled at presenting their campaigns in altruistic terms, suggesting that finding a platform for a worthy cause is a reward tantamount to winning.”

Gabbard is near the bottom of most polls among the some 20 Democrats in the race and her fundraising compared to the frontrunners has been paltry. In the first quarter of this year, she raised  $1.9 million in donations compared to Bernie Saunders’ $18.2 million.

But unlike Mink, who struggled to get national TV coverage in 1972 when three networks controlled most of the airtime, Gabbard has the benefit of today’s 24-hour cable news cycle and glut of media outlets hungry for content.

And Gabbard’s opportunities to promote her platform are about to expand because she has reached the threshold of 65,000 individual donors to allow her to be one of the candidates in the party’s national TV debates this summer.

Gabbard declined to answer what it would take for her to abandon her presidential bid and concentrate instead on running for re-election in the 2nd Congressional District, where state Sen. Kai Kahele is gaining traction as a candidate.

Asked whether she sees her presidential bid boosting her resume, Gabbard said, “I don’t see politics as a career. I never have. So I can’t relate to this question. I see it as an opportunity to be of service. I see public service as a contribution, not a career.”

Career benefit or not, each of Hawaii’s residents who has run for president, even if in only one primary, has come away from the experience with something valuable.

For David Watumull it was the chance to inject his conservative viewpoint, albeit briefly, into the national Republican debate.

For Patsy Mink, it was a rare and exciting life experience.

And for Tulsi Gabbard, who is still in the race, the challenge is certain to produce memories of physical discomfort: “Driving around on icy, snowy roads, being stuck in airports for six to eight hours because all the flights are cancelled,” she wrote in her email.

But she also called it a priceless opportunity to do “important service for our country, for the people which far outweighs any hardships.”

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Denby Fawcett: Why Hawaii Has Many Opioid Users But Few Overdose Deaths https://www.civilbeat.org/2019/04/denby-fawcett-why-hawaii-has-many-opioid-users-but-few-overdose-deaths/ Tue, 16 Apr 2019 10:01:56 +0000 https://www.civilbeat.org/?p=1328193 I have a relative and two friends who became addicted to opioids initially prescribed to them by their doctors to treat physical pain. It makes me mad to think about the suffering they endured. It is common knowledge that large pharmacy companies, particularly the Sackler family’s Purdue Pharma, manipulated U.S. health regulators and thousands of doctors into believing that […]

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I have a relative and two friends who became addicted to opioids initially prescribed to them by their doctors to treat physical pain. It makes me mad to think about the suffering they endured.

It is common knowledge that large pharmacy companies, particularly the Sackler family’s Purdue Pharma, manipulated U.S. health regulators and thousands of doctors into believing that painkilling pills such as OxyContin are not addictive.

“It is one of the biggest con jobs in the medical history of the United States,” says Edward Mersereau.

Mersereau is the director of the Hawaii Department of Health’s Behavioral Health Services Administration and the first person I called to find out why opioid addictions, overdoses and deaths are not as prevalent here as they are in some mainland states.

PaijBritt Emmanuel in the Hawaii Health and Harm Reduction Center outreach van. A recovering opioid addict herself, she now works to steer other addicts toward treatment.

Courtesy of PaijBritt Emmanuel

Certainly opioid misuse has brought anguish to the islands. Just listen to anyone who has become a pill addict or mixed opioid pills with other drugs and you are likely to hear a story of sorrow and regret.

“Opioids are an equal-opportunity catalyst for misery,” says PaijBritt Emmanuel, a recovering heroin and prescription painkiller addict. “It doesn’t matter who you are. If you become addicted, you will end up in the same place: the gutter. It is horrible, just horrible.”

Opioids include illegal drugs like heroin and the synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and pain relievers that can be obtained legally by prescription, including OxyContin, Vicodin, codeine and morphine.

Emmanuel, who grew up playing at Kaimana Beach at Diamond Head, started experimenting with heroin soon after she graduated from high school. As the years went on, she says she added prescription opioids to her mix of drugs because of a concern the heroin she was buying at various locations on Oahu might have been altered.

“At least with a prescription morphine pill, you know what you are getting,” she says.

Emmanuel says her downtown Honolulu dealer sold her morphine pills that he got with a legal prescription, which he then turned around to sell to get cash to buy his illegal drug of choice: crystal meth.

Pills-for-cash exchanges like this are going on every day here but even so, prescription opioid abuse is not as prevalent here.

Mersereau says that although deaths by opioid overdoses are relatively low in Hawaii, the amount of opioids pills prescribed is still a concern. Last year there were 640,000 prescriptions for opioids in Hawaii.

“In a state of 1.4 million, that is a huge amount of opioid prescriptions,” he says. “It is good that deaths by opioid overdoses are decreasing in Hawaii, but it is hard to pin down exactly why.”

There were 640,000 prescriptions for opioids in Hawaii last year, says Edward Mersereau, director of the Department of Health’s Behavioral Health Services Administration.

Denby Fawcett/Civil Beat

In 2017, the latest year data is available from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Hawaii had 3.4 opioid-related deaths per 100,000 people compared with places like West Virginia with 49.6 deaths per 100,000 people, and New Hampshire with 34 deaths per 100,000 persons.

“We are not sure why Hawaii hasn’t gotten slammed like West Virginia and other states,” says Dr. William F. Haning III. “We can only speculate. All we can do is to continue doing what we think is right to try to prevent it. We don’t know what will happen in the future.”

Haning is the program director of addiction psychiatry and addiction medicine at the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii, where he is also a professor emeritus of psychiatry.

He speculates that one of the reasons the death rate is lower in Hawaii is because crystal methamphetamine is still a top drug here, as well as cannabis, but not heroin or prescription opioids.

Hawaii Department of Health data for July 2017 to December 2018 show that 9% of individuals (750 people) enrolled in state substance abuse treatment programs were opioid users compared with 40% or 3,444 people who had crystal meth or other amphetamine diagnoses.

Haning speculates that opioid use also may not be as prevalent here because Hawaii does not have factories or wholesalers directly diverting pills to drug dealers, as has happened elsewhere.

“I was homeless downtown for many, many years. Now I am the one who gets back into the van to continue traveling to help others.” — PaijBritt Emmanuel

He says opioid deaths are higher in places where heroin or homemade, illegally imported fentanyl are more readily available.

Opioid deaths may also be lower here because of the rapid response by ambulances in Hawaii.

“Transport times in Hawaii are excellent just like they are in California and other areas where the majority of inhabitants live in urban centers,” Haning says.

Jared Redulla, the administrator of the state’s Narcotics Enforcement Division, Department of Public Safety, says because some drug abuse trends take longer to reach Hawaii, the opioid crisis creeping across the mainland has given Hawaii time to create proactive defenses.

“This time with opioids the community realized the importance of confronting the problem before it got bigger. Everyone has had a strong buy-in and that has made a whole lot of difference,” says Redulla.

Gov. David Ige’s plan on opioids, unveiled by the health Department on Dec. 1, 2017, brings together health care providers and government agencies, law enforcement, first responders and community groups to address opioid and other substance abuse problems in a coordinated way.

Mersereau says it is the first time he has seen the involvement of so many medical practitioners and agencies.

These opioid drugs were confiscated by authorities on Kauai.

Courtesy of Kauai County

Also helping are new laws from the Legislature, including a measure approved last year to require doctors to record in a central data base system known as the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program every prescription they write for a controlled substance to prevent illicit drug users from “doctor shopping.”

Before, registering in the system was only voluntary.

And there is better success in weaning opioid addicts off heroin and painkiller pills as more and more doctors and treatment facilities each year offer prescriptions for the drug Suboxone.

Emmanuel says Suboxone has transformed her life. She has been clean and sober for more than seven years.

Suboxone is a combination of two drugs, buprenorphine and naloxone. The pills reduce the pain of withdrawal and tamp down cravings for opioids.

”Suboxone has kept me normal, not exciting, kind of boring,” Emmanuel says. “But that’s okay. I am freed up. I am able to have a job. I am a contributing member of society.”

She is employed as an outreach worker with the Hawaii Health and Harm Reduction Center, going out in a van every day to help guide addicts to treatment, counseling and medical care as well as exchanging syringes one-for-one with drug users.

Emmanuel says she feels no cravings in “the combat zone” — downtown Honolulu — when she interacts with her old friends she used to do drugs with.

“I am the one healing them. I was homeless downtown for many, many years. Now I am the one who gets back into the van to continue traveling to help others. I call myself an agent of change.”

The post Denby Fawcett: Why Hawaii Has Many Opioid Users But Few Overdose Deaths appeared first on Honolulu Civil Beat.

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Denby Fawcett: Fighting Back Against Robocalls And Other Phone Scams https://www.civilbeat.org/2019/04/denby-fawcett-fighting-back-against-robocalls-and-other-phone-scams/ Tue, 09 Apr 2019 10:01:40 +0000 https://www.civilbeat.org/?p=1327073 Until the federal government and the phone carriers come up with a foolproof method to eliminate scam telemarketers and fraudulent robocalls, about all a person can do is refrain from answering calls from unfamiliar phone numbers. But even that’s difficult because illicit telemarketers today can employ technology called “spoofing” to disguise their real phone numbers […]

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Until the federal government and the phone carriers come up with a foolproof method to eliminate scam telemarketers and fraudulent robocalls, about all a person can do is refrain from answering calls from unfamiliar phone numbers.

But even that’s difficult because illicit telemarketers today can employ technology called “spoofing” to disguise their real phone numbers and transform them into numbers that seem familiar to the person receiving the call.

Even picking up a call lets scammers know your number is live and a potential target.

Asian business woman

Scam callers are getting better all the time at disrupting your day.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

But if you do happen to answer a scam call, here are some ways to exact revenge by annoying the scammer as much as they annoy the rest of us.

Jackie Collins Buck says her husband, radio personality Mike Buck, answers such calls and says, “I’m glad you called. Would you like to be live on my radio program and talk about scam callers?”

Collins Buck says the callers hang up immediately and don’t call back.

When I answer my phone and hear someone with a foreign accent telling me my Microsoft system has a virus, I say, “Please hang on. I want to hear more but I have to take care of something first.” Then, I put down the phone and resume my work, periodically picking up the phone again to say,  “Please stay on the line for just a minute I am very interested.” The callers finally figure out they’ve been duped and hang up.

There are also apps that do the same thing with recordings that sound like humans to keep the phone scammers on the line for as long as possible.

That’s not exactly revenge but at least it wastes their time and slows down their efforts to extract money or personal financial information from the unsuspecting.

Author Kevin Daum has come up with a list of 21 funny things to say to shut down these callers. They include:

• “Mr. Daum is happy to speak to you. His billing rate is $500 per hour. If you’ll give me your credit card number now, I’ll book a time slot just for you.”

“Oh, I thought you were my ride? Can you Uber a car for me?”

• “Nice to hear from you! I’m fundraising on behalf of Kanye West for president. Can I count on you for a donation?”

• “What are you wearing?”

• “Want to know what I’m wearing?”

• “I’m busy now, but I’m free around midnight. Can I have your home phone number so I can call you back?”

Honolulu resident Lela Morgan says a friend tells her toddler the telemarketer is Grandma calling and lets the child do the talking. Morgan says the scam telemarketer hangs up and doesn’t call again.

“I hate to say it but federal regulations might be the only thing that will stop robocalls,” she says. “Although I’m open to trying toddlers.”

The head of Hawaii’s Office of Consumer Protection says he gets up to 10 scam calls a day on one of his phone lines.

To be clear here, I am talking about smacking down crooked scammers. This is not about tormenting desperate people trying to eke out a living as employees at legitimate call centers.

For those kinds of callers, Honolulu immigration attorney Clare Hanusz advises, “try kindness.”

Hanusz says after she graduated from college and couldn’t find a job, she took a temporary position with a legitimate telemarketing company.

“I was that voice on the other side of the phone,” she says. “Please realize that most of the people doing that work absolutely would rather be doing something else. Be grateful that you have other options, be kind and brief and tell the caller thank you, you’re not interested but you hope she or he has a great day. Why play games with people who are working crappy jobs trying to get by?”

Part of the problem is sorting out real telemarketers from scammers hell-bent on stealing credit card and bank account numbers.

State legislative employee Carolyn Tanaka assumes the best. She says as long as there’s a human voice on the line, she’s polite.

“I just tell them thank you and hang up.” says Tanaka, communications director for the Democratic caucus in the House. “No sense in getting pissy. They’re just trying to make a living.”

If you are waiting for federal regulations to solve the problem of the scammers, you may have to wait awhile longer. The bureaucratic wheels are moving slowly.

Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has urged but not required telephone service providers to come up with technology to effectively block scam callers.

Attorney Stephen Levins and left, Attorney Rick Fried speak during Takata airbag recall presser. 13 may 2016.

Stephen Levins, head of the state Offie of Consumer Protection, right, doesn’t recommend annoying phone scammers, but he says there are other things you can do.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The head of Hawaii’s Office of Consumer Protection, Stephen Levins, wishes the FCC would be more aggressive.

“The FCC has the authority to mandate carriers to provide effective robocall blocking technology to their customers,” says Levins. “The chairman should use that authority.”

Levins says he gets up to 10 scam calls a day on one of his phone lines.

“It’s a plague,” he says. “In the last six months it has been getting worse and worse. It is just a huge pain.”

Levins says there are a few things consumers can do while waiting for solutions from the federal government and the carriers:

• Put all your phone numbers on the Federal Trade Commission’s no-call list. It takes less than a minute and is free. But only legitimate telemarketers check the list to find out which phone numbers not to call. Scammers ignore the list.

• Ask your carrier what kinds of call blocking services it offers for free and for a fee. Verizon, AT&T and some other carriers offer free spam call blockers. Ann Nishida, corporate communications director at Hawaiian Telcom, says Hawaiian Tel offers some  blocking services and is developing technology to block more unwanted calls.

• Consider buying apps such as Hiya and Nomorobo to eliminate the calls before they ring on your phone. Honolulu resident Rachel Whitley Sutton swears by the app called RoboKiller.

“It intercepts the calls so I’m not even bothered by them and better yet, it plays a variety of recorded messages so the caller thinks they are talking to a person,” Sutton says. “After the call, you can listen to the interactions if you want … it’s satisfaction to hear these scammers talking to a recording.”

But Levins says that annoying the scam callers might not be such a hot idea, because they could put you on a special list and ratchet up the calls to you. And when it comes to annoying, they are the experts.

The post Denby Fawcett: Fighting Back Against Robocalls And Other Phone Scams appeared first on Honolulu Civil Beat.

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Denby Fawcett: Feeding The Homeless When The City Says Not To https://www.civilbeat.org/2019/04/denby-fawcett-feeding-the-homeless-when-the-city-says-not-to/ Tue, 02 Apr 2019 10:01:06 +0000 https://www.civilbeat.org/?p=1325951 It is an issue that won’t go away: Well-meaning community groups and individuals feeding the homeless in public places. People who bring hot meals and other items to homeless encampments can unintentionally reverse months and months of painstaking efforts by homeless service workers to encourage homeless people to consider changing their lives. “It is the […]

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It is an issue that won’t go away: Well-meaning community groups and individuals feeding the homeless in public places.

People who bring hot meals and other items to homeless encampments can unintentionally reverse months and months of painstaking efforts by homeless service workers to encourage homeless people to consider changing their lives.

NOTE: pick the correct link

“It is the number one reason that the homeless refuse services such as housing because the community offers everything they need to survive on the streets,” said Kimo Carvalho, community services director at the Institute for Human Services, Hawaii’s largest homeless services provider.

If people want to help Hawaii’s homeless, Carvalho said they can make a more powerful impact if they reach out first to service providers who work with the homeless to find out what will truly help.

Carvalho said it is more helpful to serve homeless meals at shelters where they can be offered wrap-around services to help get them off the streets rather than occasional food handouts in parks.

Danica Fong-Shoji and Craig Shoji of Revive + Refresh have been offering free meals along with shower services to the homeless in Kakaako.

Courtesy of Danica Fong-Shoji

The issue sprang to light again Thursday after Kaimuki resident Danica Fong-Shoji said in a Honolulu Star-Advertiser report she planned to ignore the city’s order to stop feeding homeless campers.

She said despite the city’s admonition she would continue to bring her mobile hot shower services and roast chicken and rice meals to the homeless by parking the van next to the Children’s Discovery Center in Kakaako Gateway Park.

Fong-Shoji said then: “If they want to arrest me, go ahead.”

Since then, she has softened her stance. In a phone interview Saturday, she said she will stay out of the park “for now” while she looks for another place in Kakaako to provide showers and food services to the homeless.

Revive + Refresh volunteer Pam Leong dishes up a meal in Kakaako.

Courtesy of Danica Fong-Shoji

Fong-Shoji and her husband, Craig Shoji, have a $400,000, five-year contract with the city for their non-profit Revive + Refresh to bring mobile toilet and hot shower services to homeless individuals and families across Oahu.

They both have full-time jobs but began serving the homeless four years ago when they started a local branch of Laundry Love to provide laundry services to homeless people in Waimanalo.

City Community Services director Pamela Witty-Oakland said in an email Friday that the city has told Revive + Refresh to stay out of  Kakaako Gateway Park because it is supposed to work with private landowners to provide its mobile hygiene services on private property, not within or next to city parks.

“The city is also urging the operators of Revive + Refresh to refrain from handing out food, so as to focus on encouraging the unsheltered population to accept services and not stay in places unfit for human habitation,” Witty-Oakland wrote.

Another objection to free food handouts for the homeless is that such efforts encourage homeless people to congregate around establishments trying to do business.

Since Dec. 20, Fong-Shoji has parked her mobile shower van seven times next to the Children’s Discovery Center in Kakaako, with as many as 50 homeless campers showing up for food and showers.

The Children’s Discovery Center has long operated while having homeless encampments across the street.

Denby Fawcett/Civil Beat

This is bad news for Loretta Yajima, the Discovery Center’s CEO who has struggled for the last decade to convince parents to keep bringing their children there despite  ever-shifting populations of homeless people — some of them mentally ill or on drugs or both — hanging around the building.

“It is difficult for children to understand when they see a woman at the front of the center screaming, ‘I am going to kill myself’ or see a homeless person banging her head on the glass windows,” Yajima said. “How do you explain that to a young child?”

In written testimony to the Senate Ways and Means committee Monday, Yajima said: “While the number of tents fronting the Center may be somewhat reduced, it fluctuates daily, and there are more aggressive and even some violent individuals coming onto our property now. As a result, we are finally grappling with the possibility of securing our property with fencing, hiring 24-hour security and replacing damaged security cameras around the perimeter of our building as deterrents.”

Her testimony was presented at a hearing on a proposed legislative resolution to urge the governor’s coordinator on homelessness to convene a state task force to seek ways to protect the Children’s Discovery Center from the unsanitary conditions caused by the homeless encampments and criminal activities at Kakaako Gateway Park.

Fong-Shoji said she has been frustrated by her failure to get a permit from the city to operate in Kakaako.

She says she has tried to be sensitive by parking the mobile shower van next to the Children’s Discovery Center from 5 to 7:30 p.m., after it closes. She added she has reached out to homeless service providers to come to her meal and mobile shower stops, but none has showed up.

She sees merit in the work of Revive + Refresh.

“We can’t provide housing for the homeless but at least we can make them feel better about themselves,” she said. “That is what keeps me going.”

A homeless encampment at Kakaako Gateway Park on Monday.

Denby Fawcett/Civil Beat

As for the criticism that she is enabling the homeless to continue living in Kakaako Gateway Park, she said, “The homeless were there before we started coming to Kakaako and if we stopped providing food and services, do you think they would all magically get up and go to shelters?’

She said she currently has state permits to bring Revive + Refresh’s mobile shower services and donated food to the homeless once a month at Blanche Pope Elementary School in Waimanalo and Kaimuki High School.

Hawaii does not have state laws or county ordinances banning food sharing in public spaces. Dozens of cities across the country have enacted such restrictions, or outright bans on feeding homeless.

Last year, in El Cajon, California, 12 people were charged with misdemeanor offenses for passing out food to the homeless in a park. In Atlanta’s Hurt Park, a woman got a ticket for feeding people.

This kind of legislation is too dire. It’s an overreaction to charge people with a crime when they only want to help people in need.

Carvalho of the IHS sees continuing efforts to educate the public about how to better help the homeless as the way to go.

He said the benefits of individuals, churches, businesses and homeless services providers working together can be seen in communities like Kailua, where there has been a visible decrease in homelessness.

Fong-Shoji said she will keep bringing food to the homeless wherever she can get permits because it is her way of helping.

“We are just doing what we can with what we have.”

The post Denby Fawcett: Feeding The Homeless When The City Says Not To appeared first on Honolulu Civil Beat.

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Denby Fawcett: This Trevor Ozawa Campaign Call Is Actually A Blast From The Past https://www.civilbeat.org/2019/03/denby-fawcett-this-trevor-ozawa-campaign-call-is-actually-a-blast-from-the-past/ Fri, 29 Mar 2019 10:01:19 +0000 https://www.civilbeat.org/?p=1325558 Honolulu City Council candidate Trevor Ozawa’s campaign’s newest robocall features the voice of Mayor Kirk Caldwell urging voters to support Ozawa’s District 4 opponent, Tommy Waters. The new robocall says, “Aloha. This is Kirk Caldwell. I am calling to ask you to consider voting for Tommy Waters.” But Caldwell says his voice is being misused. […]

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Honolulu City Council candidate Trevor Ozawa’s campaign’s newest robocall features the voice of Mayor Kirk Caldwell urging voters to support Ozawa’s District 4 opponent, Tommy Waters.

The new robocall says, “Aloha. This is Kirk Caldwell. I am calling to ask you to consider voting for Tommy Waters.”

But Caldwell says his voice is being misused. And the call ends up being decidedly anti-Waters.

Near the end, a woman says: “We get it mayor. You want and need Tommy on the council to further your tax and spend agenda to fund rail at all cost … Now please leave the election to us and stay out of this campaign. Paid for by the Friends of Trevor Ozawa.”

The Ozawa campaign apparently lifted the recording from a robocall Caldwell made on Waters’ behalf before the Nov. 6 election and is sending it out as if he is making the call now.

Trevor Ozawa, left, and Tommy Waters are down to the final three weeks before ballots are due. The rhetoric is intensifying.

Courtesy of the candidates

“I think this is a misleading robocall,” Caldwell said Thursday. “It mistakenly uses an old recording. If people do not listen until the end they will think that I sent out this call and I did not.”

Caldwell says he supports Waters but he is not endorsing any candidate in the current special election.

He said normally he would not talk about an issue in another candidate’s election, but he said he is responding because his own voice was misused.

One of Ozawa’s key themes in the current special election is that Waters is a rubber stamp for Caldwell, eager to support anything the mayor favors.

“Most people probably just listen to the first few seconds of the mayor’s voice on the robocall and then hang up without listening to the end to hear that the call was made by Ozawa’s campaign,” Waters’ campaign spokesman Jim McCoy says.

In an emailed statement, Ozawa wrote: “The robocall that my campaign put out recently was nothing more than a replay of the robocall that the Mayor sent to thousands of homes last year. It is no secret that the Mayor has publicly donated to and is supporting Mr. Waters’ campaign.”

Ozawa’s public relations specialist, Janet Scheffer, would not respond on the telephone to any questions.

Ozawa and Waters are in a tightly contested special election to represent the City Council district which stretches from Hawaii Kai to Waikiki and Ala Moana.

Voters have until April 13 to mail in their ballots with some walk-in voting allowed the same day.

The special election was called after the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that Ozawa’s 22-vote victory over Waters in the November election was invalid.

Political analyst and Civil Beat columnist Neal Milner says, “The robocall continues Ozawa’s disingenuous and dishonest campaign communications strategy.”

“There is a certain amount of slack we give politicians when it comes to truth in an election,” Milner says, “but even by campaign standards this is dishonest. It is so blatantly false, just like a mailer Ozawa sent out earlier that completely makes up something.”

Milner is referring to a flyer the Ozawa campaign sent out to East Oahu voters that falsely implied that Honolulu Civil Beat had been highly critical of Waters and his relationship with Caldwell. That mailer used Civil Beat’s logo and “Support Us” button as a backdrop to the anti-Waters quotes but none of the material had come from Civil Beat.

Another Ozawa mailer that followed a day or so later also is raising eyebrows for using apparently false information. In this one, Ozawa says: “The batch of absentee ballots containing Trevor’s 22-vote winning margin was received by the post office before the 6 p.m. deadline and scanned into the City Clerk’s computer before 6 p.m.”

But the Hawaii Supreme Court declared Ozawa’a Nov. 6 victory invalid after city attorneys presented statements from city elections officials saying the last absentee ballots from the post office were received after the 6 p.m. voting deadline.

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Denby Fawcett: Don’t Destroy State Capitol’s Openness With Security Barriers https://www.civilbeat.org/2019/03/denby-fawcett-dont-destroy-state-capitols-openness-with-security-barriers/ Tue, 26 Mar 2019 10:01:18 +0000 https://www.civilbeat.org/?p=1325162 When Hawaii’s Capitol was dedicated in 1969 it was praised for its welcoming architecture. It is the only Capitol building in the United States that is open on all sides. Now some lawmakers are calling for more security in the wide-open structure. They say it’s long overdue in today’s era of terrorism and mass shootings. […]

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When Hawaii’s Capitol was dedicated in 1969 it was praised for its welcoming architecture. It is the only Capitol building in the United States that is open on all sides.

Now some lawmakers are calling for more security in the wide-open structure. They say it’s long overdue in today’s era of terrorism and mass shootings.

Rep. Chris Lee authored the bill that proposes the installation of metal detectors to screen for weapons and vehicle barriers and for a plan to eventually move all public parking out of the Capitol basement to a new above-ground parking structure to be constructed away from the Capitol.

Lee’s bill to prohibit public parking inside the Capitol and to install roadside barricades is to prevent incidents like the drive-up bombing of Oklahoma City’s Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995.

Attorney Margie Au regularly walks to the Capitol from her downtown office. She opposes the idea of large-scale security modifications to the historic structure.

“I am so against it. It is a beautiful open building,” Au says. “When you walk through it, you feel the sea, the land and the sky. It is its openness that is so welcoming. It evokes the spirit of the Legislature.”

Capitol looking Mauka showing open floor plan and architectural elements.

The Hawaii Capitol has an open floor plan and architectural elements aimed at welcoming residents and visitors.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Lee’s bill was approved by the House last month but it is stalled in the Senate, where a few key senators think it goes too far.

Sen. Brian Taniguchi says: “There is a better way to improve security at the State Capitol instead of diminishing the open spirit of the building with metal detectors, gates and walls.”

Taniguchi says he regularly discusses security at the Capitol building as the Senate’s appointee to the State Capitol Management Committee, a group of government officials and lawmakers who meet to discuss issues affecting the Capitol.

Taniguchi says security can be tightened by upgrading the building’s security cameras with more modern coordinated camera technology to be overseen by professionally trained security officers in a separate room.

He says it would be difficult to secure the building with fences and barriers “without turning it into a prison-like setting. We have to be more creative to preserve the architectural intent of the building.”

Even though Taniguchi and other senators refuse to hear his bill, Lee hasn’t given up. He says he hopes lawmakers will appropriate enough money in this year’s state budget to at least allow the state to begin installing barriers and metal detectors in the building.

“It is important to do something now rather than wait for something to happen,” he says. “It is so much easier these days for people to acquire weapons and make bombs than it was in years past.”

Lee says he is mindful of the need to preserve the historic beauty of the Capitol building while making security changes because he was an architecture major at Oregon State University before he decided to change his major to political science.

House Minority Leader Gene Ward says the seriousness of the security threat at the Capitol is enough to justify gutting another bill to stick in the wording of Lee’s measure to keep the proposal alive during the session.

“Normally I would be opposed to gutting and replacing the language in one bill with the language of another bill, but this is an emergency,” Ward says. “We are an accident waiting to happen. We have been discussing improving security here for the last five or six years. No building with this public purpose should be so open and vulnerable.”

“We are an accident waiting to happen. No building with this public purpose should be so open and vulnerable.” — Rep. Gene Ward

When the Capitol building opened in 1969, then-Gov. John A. Burns praised its symbolism: “the open sky, the open doorway, open arms and open hearts — these are symbols of our Hawaiian heritage.”

“It is by means of this striking architecture of this new structure that Hawaii calls out to the nations of the Pacific and of the world this message: We are a free people, we are an open society, we welcome all visitors to our island home.”

The openness has brought benefits to many people for different reasons. In my case, it helped me cover the Legislature as a news reporter when I didn’t know what I was doing.

When then-KITV news director Wally Zimmermann informed me two days before the 1989 legislative session that he was assigning me to be KITV’s reporter at the Capitol, I was scared. I rarely went to the Capitol and was unsure of how the lawmaking process worked.

For the first few weeks, I survived by looking across the open rotunda to the open hallways to see where the experienced reporters like Robbie Dingeman and Elisa Yadao were going, and then I followed them, trying to look like I knew exactly what I was doing. Eventually, I figured out how to find news at the Legislature on my own.

Capitol looking up from the Rotunda.

Looking up from the Rotunda at the Capitol gives a view of Hawaii’s wide blue skies.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The architectural wonder of the Capitol building with open access to the public is beneficial to everyone except for the few sneaky lawmakers who want to hide.

Many of the most famous architects in the world competed for the job of designing the Hawaii Capitol, including I.M. Pei, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Foundation, Minoru Yamasaki, Edward Durrell Stone and San Francisco architect John Carl Warnecke.

Warnecke won the bid. He was internationally known for his design of the U.S. Embassy in Thailand and his master plan for Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., and for designing President John F. Kennedy’s eternal flame gravesite.

Warnecke was respected for his buildings that harmonized with their natural environment and cultural and historical settings, in an architectural style called contextualism.

He worked in association with the Hawaii firm of Belt, Lemmon & Lo to design and build the Capitol in four years at a total cost of $27 million for site acquisition and construction.

Architectural historian Don Hibbard has written a booklet called “Democracy By Design” about the planning and development of the Capitol.

Like many state preservationists, Hibbard is concerned that the push to increase security will slowly eat away at the structure’s majesty.

“It is a sad commentary on our society when our legislators feel they have to protect themselves from the citizenry,” says Hibbard.

Kiersten Faulkner, the executive director of the Historic Hawaii Foundation, wonders what kind of threats the lawmakers are concerned about.

The last two fatal shootings in the Capitol district were done by police officers and a state deputy sheriff­ — not terrorists.

Faulkner says security could be increased at the Capitol without impacting the welcoming feeling of the building by erecting fences around the outside perimeter of the grounds — out by the road, not against the Capitol building itself. The state could also hire more deputy sheriffs to increase the feeling of security in the building.

But Faulkner says before making big physical changes to the Capitol building, lawmakers first should be clear about the nature of the problem they are facing.

Ward says it is pointless to keep stressing the open feeling of the architecture when it poses security risks.

“The real openness at the State Capitol is in the way the lawmakers treat people. That’s the aloha spirit we have to maintain.”

The post Denby Fawcett: Don’t Destroy State Capitol’s Openness With Security Barriers appeared first on Honolulu Civil Beat.

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Embattled Hawaiian Humane Society CEO Resigns https://www.civilbeat.org/2019/03/embattled-hawaiian-humane-society-ceo-resigns/ Tue, 26 Mar 2019 02:35:01 +0000 https://www.civilbeat.org/?p=1325195 The Hawaiian Humane Society announced Monday that president and CEO Lisa Fowler is stepping down immediately “for personal reasons.” In a news release, the Humane Society said Fowler would stay on the job until April 30 while board chairman Bob Armstrong takes over as interim CEO for the transition period. Fowler has been under fire, […]

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The Hawaiian Humane Society announced Monday that president and CEO Lisa Fowler is stepping down immediately “for personal reasons.”

In a news release, the Humane Society said Fowler would stay on the job until April 30 while board chairman Bob Armstrong takes over as interim CEO for the transition period. Fowler has been under fire, with some current and former employees claiming she had created a “toxic work environment.”

Fowler and Armstrong were not available for interviews.

In the news release, Armstrong praised Fowler for her eight years of service to the Humane Society and her successful completion of the society’s $18 million dollar capital campaign to expand the Moiliili shelter and to build a new West Oahu shelter.

Hawaiian Humane Society entrance1.

Hawaiian Humane Society CEO Lisa Fowler is resigning.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Fowler became the head of the Humane Society in November 2017 after longtime CEO Pam Burns died in September of that year. Before that, Fowler was HHS Director of Development and in January 2017, she also stepped in to be director of operations.

Humane Society Board Vice Chairman Eric Ako, a local veterinarian, said Monday, “It is with a sad heart to see Lisa Fowler resign. She did good work. But our search for new leadership shows the Humane Society is flexible. We always want to do what is best for the animals and for the community.”

In the news release, Fowler said, “It has been a great honor and privilege to lead this great organization and to be part of the amazing team of animal welfare professionals who work there.”

Humane Society employees told Civil Beat that almost from the beginning Fowler’s management style caused friction and prompted staff resignations.

Former and current employees of HHS picketed the Humane Society’s Moiliili shelter Feb. 18 to call for Fowler’s immediate firing.

The protesting workers formed a group called People for Animals First. They mailed information packets to each Humane Society board member with written examples of their allegations that Fowler bullied and demeaned them and created “a toxic work environment.”

They also said that under Fowler’s management many adoptable animals were unnecessarily euthanized.

Hawaiian Humane Society CEO Lisa Fowler

In the news release, Armstrong said, “no evidence of wrongdoing has been identified despite recent criticism leveled at the organization.”

Armstrong said that an independent third party has started to review the Humane Society’s euthanasia procedures to insure that it is following the best practices.

Jana Moore, a member of People for Animals First, said Monday that she’s a supporter of animal welfare.

“I am happy to see the Hawaiian Humane Society is moving forward to select a new leader who will work toward our shared goal of saving and helping as many animals as possible,” Moore said.

Moore is a former manager of annual giving for the Humane Society. She is one of four fundraising executives who resigned from the Humane Society’s development department in less than year, claiming unhappiness with Fowler.

Three development directors walked off the job from March through December 2018 — Jessie Saunders, Mary Steiner and Kevin Takamori, who left after five days.

Many of Fowler’s critics voiced their objections anonymously, saying they feared retaliation, but Moore was one of the few to speak out openly.

In February, employees and others protested against Lisa Fowler outside the Hawaiian Humane Society.

Jana Moore/People For Animals First

In an interview with Civil Beat earlier this month, Moore said the board of directors at the Humane Society needed to pay attention to the employee turmoil at the shelter. She noted that even high-salary employees were leaving rather than work with Fowler.

Jennifer Kishimori, president and founder of Cat Friends, an animal welfare group that also called for Fowler’s resignation, said Monday that her group was happy to see the Humane Society action. “We appreciate the Board of Directors listening to our concerns and acting on them.”

Honolulu City Council member Ann Kobayashi said the high number of employees quitting after Fowler became CEO prompted her to call for a performance audit of the city’s contract with the Humane Society.

The city’s contract with the Humane Society this year is for $3.7 million for animal control services, including picking up and sheltering stray dogs and cats and providing spay-neuter sterilizations and responding to complaints about animal cruelty.

Kobayashi said Monday she is waiting to see if state senators adopt a measure that also calls for an audit of the Humane Society before she moves forward with her own proposal for an audit.

The Hawaiian Humane Society says this time it will search both locally and nationally for a new CEO. When it hired Fowler, some criticized HHS for hiring in-house rather than conducting a nationwide search for a new leader.

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