Monday, October 05, 2015


Progress on homeless issues: Star-Advertiser forced to print the words “Housing First” while John Oliver explains supportive services

by Larry Geller

Well, to their credit, the Star-Advertiser sent a reporter to discover first-hand how three Mainland cities achieved success in reducing their homeless population. The trip lead to a couple of good interviews and – surprise – the news (to the Star-Advertiser) that the solution is something called “Housing First.” The paper suddenly used the term more times than in all prior editions combined.

While the article, editorial and an op-ed in the paper are very welcome (and overdue!), one aspect of Housing First is still missing, both from the media and the state and city government pronouncements: that Housing First is not just housing. It is housing with the appropriate supports.

Neither the city nor the state have contracted to provide ACT (Assertive Community Treatment) which is the methodology used to keep many individuals in their homes or apartments, in particular when mental health is an issue.

The paper could have Googled to learn what they did, but heck, the interview was well done and should have an impact. Perhaps Mayor Caldwell and the citycouncilpeople will read it and learn. Maybe the paper will get around to talking about supports. I hope so.

Interestingly, millions of people now know what ACT is because John Oliver included it in a segment on mental health in his program yesterday on HBO. Here’s a snip of that segment. The context is gun control, but ACT is the same when applied to Housing First—it helps keep people who need supports in their homes and yes, I guess, would help prevent some people from shooting others. All good. But it needs to be done. Watch the very short clip.



From an earlier Disappeared News article, here are two slides, photographed in the dark from an extreme side angle from a presentation about two years ago. Sorry about the quality, but they are legible:



So now you know about ACT services. I wonder if the Governor’s team knows about this? Or do they know about the need for these services but just don’t want to pay for them?

In that event, people will drop out of housing back to the streets, and our leaders will have failed to fix the mess that, after all, they are responsible to have created in the first place.

Thursday, October 01, 2015


Microsoft spying comes to Windows 7

by Larry Geller

Microsoft is watching youI decided not to upgrade my computer from Windows 7 to Windows 10, even though the upgrade is currently free, because of the spyware that comes along with the upgrade. In fact, Windows 10 is itself spyware.

Worse, you are automatically “opted-in” as you run the new OS for the first time. That doesn’t seem right Phoning hometo me. Before I can even get around to changing all the settings, Microsoft probably has everything it wants to know, including my wireless passwords (!). The software can “phone home” without you knowing it. It doesn’t ask you, it just takes your data.

Check it out from your favorite source, or Google a bit. Windows 10 spying is no secret. And if you upgrade, you have no secrets.

So I was determined to stick with Windows 7, which is far from perfect, but at least your data is not shipped wholesale off to Microsoft. Yes, Windows 7 can send diagnostic information, but you can turn it off.

You are being monitoredThen came the news that Microsoft is bringing its spyware to Windows 7 in the form of optional patches. That was unexpected. Fortunately, you can still turn it all off, and to be safe, decline to install those patches.

For those who will stop reading here in fear of being geeked out, I apologize, but just decide if protecting your privacy is worth taking the simple steps in the article I’ll link to below. It’s not difficult, really. Just follow a couple of instructions on what to click on.

Some background and the remedy is in the article Attempting to answer whether MS is snooping by Susan Bradley in the current issue of the Windows Secrets Newsletter. I have subscribed to this newsletter, both the free and the paid versions, for years, and I respect their advice.


To avoid geek overload, scroll down to the instructions for disabling the Windows service that phones home. Essentially, you’ll be thumbing your nose at Microsoft. There’s more colorful language for it, but this is a family blog.

The article mentions things like HOSTS files that you don’t really need to know about to make this fix. Just keep skimming until you find the bit about the Control Panel and what to click there.

Windows 10 is currently a free upgrade, but I think this demonstrates that few things in the commercial world of computing are really free. What Big-Data-2400pxwould you give up by upgrading without turning off each and every part of its somewhat intricate spy system? It would be the data about you that Microsoft wants, and which it probably would not get if it asked users to “opt-in,” which in my humble opinion would be the ethical way to do it.

How can they get away with this? The world has changed. Not only is the NSA spying on everything we do that involves moving electrons around, but by using smartphones, Chrome OS or even a Samsung intelligent TV, we are letting giant corporations collect information on us without our consent each and every hour of every day. Oh, sorry, we agreed by checking “I Accept” someplace. Some say there is no longer such a thing as privacy in this country.

Soon, your new car or refrigerator could join this conspiracy to exploit you.

A desktop computer is still the most common repository of our financial and other private details. So if you care about protecting your privacy, check out the above and other articles and try and wrest control of your computer back from Microsoft. Here is one area of your computing life where you can still do it. Microsoft is not directly stealing bank account numbers, but if hackers or dishonest employees get hold of (say) your wireless passwords, they’ll easily be able to intercept your personal data.

For those who are willing to go further, there are many ways to protect your privacy on a Windows 7 machine, including programs and browser add-ons that defeat tracking more or less well, which block ads, spyware, adware and viruses. For those with greater needs, emails and data files can be encrypted before sending them to someone.

If it’s all too much, just recruit a 13-year-old kid for help or advice.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Johan Galtung’s view from Europe: US Policy toward Challengers: 10 Points

The state system is waning; regions are vexing. Make them peaceful.

US Policy toward Challengers: 10 Points

Johan Galtung, 28 Sep 2015 – TRANSCEND Media Service

The young US Republic, unwilling to share the Atlantic Seaboard with London, emerged victoriously in 1812 with a strong army centered in the South. Manifest Destiny pointed West, then also South, and, stepping into the shoes of the dying Spanish empire in 1898, to the whole world. Trade was needed for growth; in 1853 Admiral Perry opened Tokugawa Japan. The Japanese challenge was its closure.

The Table compares US policies to 6 challengers to US world hegemony: Japan, Germany, Italy, Russia, China, Islam. And: Western Europe, formerly as colonialism, now as a potential No. 7.

US policy is seen as 5 well thought through proactio and reactio–often ending with war or exclusion–to the challengers’ 5 actio.

But in the beginning was fragmented latency, with no real threat.

Cohesion came to Japan, Germany and Italy as nation-states in the 1860s; in WWII as an alliance. Cohesion came to Russia and China with the 1910 national and the 1917 Bolshevik revolutions; and to Islam as a Muslim Brotherhood in 1928. There was international presence: China-towns with capital, Trotskyism, missionary Islam; strong personalities.

The first US policy was positive-cooperative: the Taft-Katsura 1905 treaty with Japan (Philippines for USA, Korea for Japan); pro Germany till USA joined the WWI victors as a latecomer in 1917; Italy steered by the mafia on both sides; investing in Russia, China; being on Egypt’s side in the 1956 war against colonizing Israel-UK-France.

But they bounced back, more cohesive, with challenging ideologies and even stronger personalities up front. They demanded everything the West had: colonies, access to world markets, equality. And were blocked by colonial powers, above all by UK, and by the US empire.

The second US policy was pitting them against each other. Japan was the guinea pig: against China 1894-5, Russia 1904-5, Germany WWI; now against N Korea, China and all US enemies in the new 2015 alliance.

LATENCY Tokugawa Perry Duchies City-states Feudal Ching dynasty Colonies States
COHESION Meiji 1868 II Reich 1870-71 Italia 1861 Bolshevism 1917 National 1910 Brothers 1928
CHARISMA collective Bismarck Garibaldi Lenin Trotsky Sun Yatsen Qutb
POSITIVE Treaty 1905 Pro-German Clientelism Financing Financing Egypt 1956
CHALLENGERS Militarism Nazism Fascism Communism Revolution Islamism
CHARISMA collective Hitler Mussolini Stalin, Putin Mao, Deng Nasser
AGAINST EACH OTHER Against China, Russia, Germany, N Korea, China Against USSR Anti-Communist Against Nazism, China, Islam Against Russia, Islam Against Russia, China
TOTAL WAR Firebomb Nuclear Firebomb Regime change Deterred by SCO Deterred by SCO Islamic State?
NEGATIVE BASES Okinawa Ramstein Avigliano Encircling Encircling Confusion
“PEACE” Occupation Occupation Clientelism Exclusion Exclusion Exclusion

Nazi Germany was pitted against the Soviet Union, but survived; with the USA joining the victors as a latecomer also in WWII. Then, against China; but Moscow-Beijing made the SCO alliance 1996-2001. Now both are pitted against Islam. However, imagine more Islam joins the SCO?

The third US policy, if the second is not working, is total war.

WWII was a success for USA in Europe-Japan; the “good war”. But now SCO deters USA; and the Islamic State seems stronger than expected.

The fourth and fifth US policies solidify victory and exclusion, with bases encircling, containing, de facto occupying (Japan even pays for its own occupation). Calling it “peace” is abuse of a noble idea.

The burden of containing Russia-China-Islam now falls on USA and on Japan-Germany-Italy with the bases and the risks (WWII shadows). Nevertheless, USA also needs fighting allies. Japan, more occupied than Germany, has been forced to join USA. The pressure will be on Germany, Europe.

Enters Europe: Germany-France with BeNeLux-Italy, and with Brexit no US Trojan horse. Fearing Russia is not paranoid given their three attacks on Russia. Enters Japan if the new alliance does not work. Fearing China is not paranoid given their three attacks on China.

There is much for the USA to play on. However: Russia and China are strong and less vulnerable than Europe-Japan and allies; with 4 Islamic SCO states and a huge potential for more of the OIC 57 joining.

Could solving Ukraine, as neutral federation of cooperating parts with a European House on top, and solving Japan’s island problems, with Russia, the Chinas and the Koreas with joint ownership of islands and a cooperative Northeast Asian Community be better than devastating wars? Also better than neither war nor peace, foregoing trade because of sanctions, boycott, TTIP-TPP-TiSA closed to Russia-China, US policy?

To the USA this spells regional mega-challenges, not single state macro-challenges. Cooperation would make NATO and AMPO meaningless. USA without alliances and bases is a USA in North America only; and Chinese “silk” infrastructure connects only contiguous EurAsiaAfrica. As seen by USA, to be avoided at all costs. Europe, like Japan, has to be forced. Stages 9 and 10 are already in place: Okinawa-Ramstein-Avigliano can be turned against Japan-Germany-Italy, dual key Nuclear Sharing Systems for European theater missiles can be reversed. De facto occupation can be made de jure by imposing secret accords. Can all be done with very few knowing. And may already have been done.

USA: this is a non-starter. Being isolated, bogged down by moral costs of killing, and economic costs of bases, leaving Russia-India-China, and ever more of Islam, to the MENA-Eurasia of their designs spells defeat. And both Europe and Japan will sooner or later revolt.

Time has come for an agonizing reappraisal: join Germany, Japan and their neighbors for cooperation and peace with Russia-China-Islam.

The state system is waning; regions are vexing. Make them peaceful.


Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment and rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University-TPU. He has published 164 books on peace and related issues, of which 41 have been translated into 35 languages, for a total of 135 book translations, including ‘50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives,’ published by the TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.

This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 3.0 United States License.


Don’t be the last on your block to fly your own drone

by Larry Geller

Technology morphs at  rapid pace. Horses were replaced by cars, propeller planes by jets, my desktop computer with the little flat thingy in my pocket. I wonder, though, if the pace of change has accelerated in the past decade or so? Look at the speed with which drones have moved into public consciousness. A drone used to be an unmanned airplane used to kill people by remote control in the mid-East. Now a kid can fly one.

When I first wrote about hobby drones they were really small airplanes. One article highlighted an accessible option for the average person, a Swiss-made airplane-shaped drone that could be stored in a small suitcase (the wings unfolded or were attached before using). So it was possible to drive out to the country, for example, and fly one of those over the fields to survey farmland.

There were hobbyist magazines—people were making and flying their own drones as a hobby.

Then the drones morphed—into quadcopters. And they shrank. And of course, they hovered.

These critters are in strong demand and so are being rapidly developed and marketed. The technological advances embodied in the quadcopter design are many: they are cheaper to make, can fly at various speeds and even hover over a spot, they can be directed with pinpoint accuracy (for example) to photograph a defect in a power line. Some are self-guided, just like the GPS on your car dashboard. They can go somewhere and come back home on their own, chirping “mission accomplished” and eager for their battery recharge.

They can survey fields but also crowds, so police and journalists want to use them. They can fly “under the radar” to land even on the White House lawn. In hazardous situations such as war or a disaster, they can get a close-up view without endangering humans. The FAA is struggling to get out regulations, but many people don’t care much for regulations anyway.

It was just a question of time, but now quadcopters have shrunk in size and price to the point where some can be purchased from Chinese websites for about the cost of a dinner for one.

hand drone

Here’s one, snipped from an ad page.

You can buy this. You can fly this.

One day a camera will be attached.

Wait! Here’s another:

Wee little drone

This one does have a camera.

Actually, there are several available with cheap, low-resolution cameras.

This drone is very cheap. For one with GPS and professional-level features, the price shoots up drastically, but hey, this one could still buzz up to someone’s window and do a bit of (illegal) spying with little investment.

A question bouncing around the Internet is whether or not you have the right to shoot down a drone that is spying on your property. Aside from the legal (and moral) questions, I wonder if, as drones get down to this size, it is even possible to draw a bead on something so small.

For serious spying, there are a whole range of sophisticated drones available off-the-shelf right now. They don’t fit in the palm of a hand, but they are not very large. Here’s a snip of another Chinese web page:

Real drones

Imagine: 4K or HD video. These are affordable and available right now.

Camera onlyIf you purchased your drone already and are upset you can’t take sophisticated video, cameras are available for attaching to your old, obsolete bird to bring it up to snuff.
I asked in a previous article if you wanted to Be the first on your block to fly your own unmanned spy drone (11/21/2010). Perhaps the question now would be, “Do you want to be the last one on your block to fly your own drone?” That little fella in the top picture could be flown indoors to annoy your cat. No, please don’t do that.

Before long, Amazon may be delivering drones—by their own delivery drones.

Google Street View may not need to drive around neighborhoods in cars. We’ll be able to “visit” battlefields, the DMZ between North and South Korea, as well as the various pyramids from the air.

On the other hand, though, sunbathing or growing pot in the back yard may become more difficult to do. That is, until someone invents a robotic drone detector with laser weapons to take out anything buzzing in the vicinity. I’m pretty sure someone, someplace, is working on it.

Monday, September 28, 2015


Today’s Kokua Council Program: "How the media analyzes and covers homelessness" with Rick Blangiardi

From the Kokua Council announcement:


Monday, September 28,, 2015

11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Miyama Main Hall, Harris United Methodist Church
Nuuanu Ave. and South Vineyard Blvd.
Ample parking - driveway off Nuuanu Ave.


11:30 Luncheon (optional): Various Pizzas, Salad, and Dessert—$5.00 Donation

11:55 Welcome, Introductions and Remarks

12:00 Program: Rick Blangiardi: "How the media analyzes and covers homelessness"

Rick Blangiardi co-authored an op-ed published in the August 23, 2015 Star-Advertiser titled, A crisis that demands action, referring to the current homelessness crisis. Kokua Council has invited him to enlarge on his views.

Rick Blangiardi is the General Manager of Hawaii’s largest multimedia company, Hawaii News Now, KGMB (CBS) and KHNL (NBC). In 1977, he began his broadcast career at KGMB and is a nationally recognized television broadcaster, succeeding in senior executive positions in many of the nation’s most competitive markets including Seattle, New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles.  Prior to returning to Hawaii in 2002, Blangiardi was the President of Telemundo Holdings, Inc., the nation’s second largest Hispanic television network and was highly instrumental in leading the sale of Telemundo in 2001 to NBC for $2.7 billion.

1:00 Adjourn

Thursday, September 24, 2015


Courthouse News Service: Fight Is on to Save Hawaiian Bird Endangered by Development

The Oahu Elepaio, a member of the monarch flycatcher family, is a small, insect-eating bird weighing in at about 12 grams - less than ½ an ounce. It has a dark brown crown and back, white breast with light brown streaks and usually holds its long, tipped tail at an angle.

Native Hawaiian canoe makers viewed it as a guardian spirit that would tell them if a canoe was made of good wood or bad, by either pecking at it or landing on it and singing.

by Larry Geller

BirdWhat? An article about saving an endangered species by Courthouse News Service? Yes, there is a lawsuit involved.

The article has background on this bird and others, including some of the history of extinctions in Hawaii.  It’s a quick read. Well written. Just the right length. Fight Is on to Save Hawaiian Bird Endangered by Development

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


ACLU motion for TRO fails to stop Kakaako sweep

by Larry Geller


ACLU Legal Director Daniel Gluck is debriefed by the media after today’s hearing at the federal courthouse.

Behind him is lead plaintiff Tabatha Martin.

To paraphrase Japan Emperor Hirohito’s broadcast surrender speech, “the motion for preliminary injunction filed in federal court has developed not necessarily to the advantage of the Kakaako homeless community.”

Challenge to the commercial media

Instead of just reporting what one side said and then the other, and then going on to sports and the weather, how about reading the motion for TRO and the City’s response and then going out and learning who is telling the truth and who is lying?

To make it easier for you, I have posted the key documents in a Dropbox folder here. The motion for a TRO is #12-0 and the opposition motion is 16-0. Note that the link may stop working eventually. You can download your own copies to read at your leisure. Please consider all of the documents to be unofficial and do not rely on them. If you really need one, you can get an official copy from the court.

Then if you hit the streets and speak to people, I’m sure you’ll find out whether or not people’s ID, medicines, etc., are actually being destroyed or not, for example. Check it out. Then let your readers or viewers know.

Judge Helen Gillmor’s ruling today fits comfortably in a nutshell: plaintiffs said one thing, defendants said exactly the opposite, and since the facts have not been established, the TRO cannot be granted.

ACLU Legal Director Daniel Gluck argued for the plaintiffs (lead plaintiff Tabatha Martin and her daughter were in the courtroom) and explained that the motion for a TRO was very narrowly focused on halting the unconstitutional actions of the City in Kakaako.

The City denied everything in a counter-motion filed just after 1:00 p.m. today. There was no meeting of the minds whatsoever that would have given the judge the opportunity to decide anything. Today’s arguments were turned into a he-said-she-said dialogue.

Refer to the previous article (box: What is a preliminary injunction?) for details of the four-prong test that must be met in order for a judge to issue a preliminary injunction.

Here is a snip from the “table of contents” of the City’s motion in opposition:





So they deny everything in screaming caps.

A tentative date of December 14 was set for a formal hearing on the TRO.

Meanwhile, back in Kakaako, the City continues its raids and property seizure.

By December I suspect the area will be spick-and-span, with everyone cleaned out. I wonder what the point of a narrowly-focused TRO will be after its all over. In December, what will they be arguing should be stopped?

This is not “disappeared news” so check the TV tonight for more details. I get to end this here, kick back with an espresso, and wait for the 6 p.m. news.


TRO against Honolulu’s homeless sweeps would leave the City without an alternate plan

by Larry Geller

Honolulu’s actions against the homeless—raids and criminalization—are not intended to assist the homeless at all

No “Plan B?” What about Honolulu’s “Housing First” program?

In reality, the RFP put out for the City’s “Housing First” program confirms that it is not designed to assist people into permanent housing. It is all about “Plan A”, which is simply to clear the riff-raff off the streets.

pest control[4]

Here is the very first objective of the program (p. 15 of the RFP):

To alleviate the impacts of unsheltered homelessness on residents, businesses, and visitors in the City and County of Honolulu through the creation of appropriate housing opportunities that will facilitate the transition of unsheltered homeless persons and families from public and private property not meant for human habitation in targeted neighborhoods, to appropriate housing in the community.

Unsaid is that there is no “appropriate housing in the community” available, even as the sweeps are escalating. It’s all about “alleviating” those impacts, primarily on Waikiki businesses, without dealing with the underlying housing crisis.

For more, click the link above to a September 2014 article.

A hearing on a motion for a temporary restraining order against the City’s sweeps of homeless encampments has been set for today (Tuesday, 9/22/2015) at 2:30 p.m. before Judge Helen Gillmor at the federal courthouse on Ala Moana Boulevard (if you are planning to attend, get there early because of the delay passing through security).

Most likely the argument will be made by ACLU Hawaii’s legal director Daniel Gluck, but there are also two attorneys from Alston Hunt representing the plaintiffs.

Plaintiffs allege in the complaint that the administration has been accelerating the sweeps, and so injunctive relief is urgently needed.

Why would the Mayor accelerate the sweeps? Because sweeping the houseless off of the streets of Waikiki and now out of Kakaako where they have been forced to concentrate is the City’s Plan A—and they have no plan B (see box).

If Judge Gillmor grants the injunction in full, it could leave the City’s plans to rid the streets of tent encampments in disarray.

Is the Mayor accelerating the sweeps? A small snip (edited) from material supporting the motion for a TRO:

A Temporary Restraining Order is needed to prevent imminent harm to Plaintiffs. Additional sweeps were announced on Friday, September 18, 2105, and are taking place rapidly, with more scheduled for Monday September 21, 2105 and Tuesday, September 22, 2015. The City has made clear through its repeated acts, which have only escalated since this case was filed on September 16, 2015, that the seizure and destruction of class members’ property is part of an ongoing campaign of unconstitutional government action in the City and County of Honolulu. One news report on September 17, 2015, described the destruction of a putative class member's shelter as his father was undergoing a triple bypass. Unless restrained by an Order of this Court, these unlawful acts will continue.

From the motion (edited):

This Application for Temporary Restraining Order and Motion for Preliminary Injunction was not filed contemporaneously with the Complaint because Plaintiffs first attempted to negotiate immediate relief to avoid the need for a TRO, and because the City has escalated its enforcement actions since Plaintiffs filed the instant action.

Specifically: (1) shortly after filing the Complaint, Plaintiffs proposed a good-faith settlement and stipulation regarding these issues to the City to attempt to moot the need for injunctive relief; but (2) on Thursday, September 17 – after Plaintiffs' filing of the Complaint, and despite a call by Plaintiffs' counsel on the day of filing inviting a stipulation related to ongoing enforcement – the City seized and immediately destroyed property belonging to members of the putative plaintiff class; and then, (3) on Friday, September 18, the City announced that it would escalate enforcement with plans to conduct back-to-back unconstitutional sweeps on September 21, 2015 and September 22, 2015.

What is a preliminary injunction?

(Originally posted in this article)

Instead of veering off into speculation, I’d just like to explore what is involved when a federal judge in the 9th Circuit issues a preliminary injunction. Note that a motion for preliminary injunction can be accepted, rejected, or accepted in part. Or whatever the judge decides.

Although district judges have great discretion in determining whether to issue a preliminary injunction or not, there are standards of review that apply within each circuit.

I’m not an attorney, but my understanding is that the court will apply a four-prong test that goes something like this:  (1) Plaintiffs have to show that they will likely succeed on the merits, (2) that they will suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, (3) that the balance of equities tips in their favor, and (4) that the public interest would not be adversely affected by an injunction (alternatively, that an injunction would be in the public interest).

“Harm” must be real, not theoretical. In weighing the “balance of equities,” the judge might weigh the harm to the plaintiffs vs. the harm to the City. The judge must weigh the damage to all parties and balance their individual interests.

Injunctive relief is not routine. It is an extraordinary remedy granted only when the plaintiff has made a clear showing that such relief is necessary. This requires not only evidence convincing to a judge but expert presentation on the part of the attorney. But again: the merits of the case have not been tried at this point. Injunctive relief, if it is granted, is only the first step in a longer process. In our system of justice, with overloaded courts, a trial on the merits of a case could stretch out for years.

Relief requested by Plaintiffs

Again, an edited snip:

The instant Motion requests very narrow relief: Plaintiffs ask the Court for an order that: (1) prohibits the City from seizing and immediately destroying their property, absent an immediate threat to public safety from storing the property; (2) requires the City to provide a post-deprivation process whereby indigent individuals may retrieve their property without paying a $200.00 penalty, within twenty-four hours, and without having to travel to multiple offices around the island of Oahu; and (3) other protections as outlined in the Application.

Readers of Disappeared News have read that it is practically impossible for those whose property has been seized to retrieve it. Many I have spoken to were told that they had to pay $200, which they do not have, and go to some remote part of the island to get back their things which may have a value of considerably less than $200. They are not told that the fee may be waived. They do say that in many instances, even if they comply with the requirements, they are unable to retrieve their possessions.

Also significant is that what the City illegally seizes and destroys in a garbage truck compactor can never be retrieved.

garbage truck

Our commercial media have mostly reported the official line, as spouted by the City—for example, testimony to the City Council, that in fact the possessions can be retrieved. Reporters have not questioned the veracity of this testimony even though it has been challenged by advocates and houseless individuals themselves. Nor have City Council members questioned the City about how it carries out its raids in practice.

Let’s see how the media report this lawsuit, and especially, if Judge Gillmor rules in favor of the plaintiffs’ injunction, how they deal with their own inattention to the facts on the ground.

Monday, September 21, 2015


Johan Galtung’s view from Europe: The Axis of Evil

Right now the focus is on Iran and on who steers US foreign policy: Obama and the Democrats, or Netanyahu and the Republicans, including their presidential candidates (William Greider, “The Neocon Game”, The Nation, 14/21 Sep 2015; like Paul Krugman, INYT, 18 Sep 2015 pointing to Donald Trump and Rand Paul as the only not neo-cons).

The Axis of Evil

Johan Galtung, 21 Sep 2015 - TRANSCEND Media Service

Do you remember the Axis of Evil–Iraq-Iran-North Korea?

George W. Bush, or his speechwriter rather, concocted that axis in 2002 as focus for a global war on terror. The key term is “evil”–not “enemy”, “hostile”–the connotation being “possessed by Satan”. The proof is opposition to a USA chosen by God, as God’s Own People, as “In God we trust”. To exorcise Satan only violence works.

In 1953 North Korea under Kim Il Sung did not capitulate to the USA, only cease-fire, the first US non-victory since 1812. Very evil.

In 1978-79, Iran, by the Khomeini Islamic revolution, decolonized Iran from US dominance and evicted the shah, who had been installed by a US-UK (CIA-MI6) coup in 1953; in fact undoing 1953. Very, very evil.

On 17 May 1987 Saddam Hussein, used by the USA to fight Iran with no gains for Iraq, fired on a US vessel (USS Stark incident). Very, very, very evil.

However, for a USA, never questioning bringing US style democracy and US free market to all countries in the world, this was not seen as others having their own goals. It was seen as exactly that, evil.

Satan even carried three names; one was killed. Iran, also religiously fundamentalist, threw Great Satan back at the USA.

The nature of their evil acts being so different, there was never any axis in the usual sense of alliance. The quality of foreign media can be measured by the extent to which they swallowed this “axis” raw.

Moreover, US democracy and US free market are not unproblematic.

Rule by consent of the ruled is fine, but how? For some, in I-cultures, by debate-vote-majority rule; individualistic with lonely individuals in closed booths. For others, in we-cultures, by dialogue- to-consensus; no winners, no losers.   If not by the whole population at least by the parliament; if not, by a multi-party government.

The problems with the free market are more structural: unfree, ridden by inequality, and often with massive suffering at the bottom.

Right now the focus is on Iran and on who steers US foreign policy: Obama and the Democrats, or Netanyahu and the Republicans, including their presidential candidates (William Greider, “The Neocon Game”, The Nation, 14/21 Sep 2015; like Paul Krugman, INYT, 18 Sep 2015 pointing to Donald Trump and Rand Paul as the only not neo-cons).

The focus is by far too nuclear. The real issues are less U-235, more 1953; less U-238, more 1978. An apology for 1953–1978-79 was more nationalist than Islamic–would make nuclear issues wither away. But to exceptionalist USA any apology to Iran is a deal with the evil; so they also rejected accommodating moderate Rafsanjani and Khatami.

So would a deal with Saddam Hussein after the war over Kuwait. We got “Iraq: the unfinished war” as a never finishing CNN headline.

So would a deal with North Korea with peace treaty, normalization and denuclearization of a Korean peninsula with nuclear bombs all over.

To true believers whoever makes deals with evil is himself evil: a perfect recipe for making the USA increasingly irrelevant. Obama understands that and now makes some repair work–for others to undo?

Long-term US foreign policy is along an axis with the European Union and another axis with Japan, for democracy and free market. However, imagine this is done better by Berlin-Moscow cooperation in Europe, and Tokyo-Beijing cooperation in East Asia? These are the Washington nightmares because they would make USA irrelevant. The law preventing Japan from that path was just passed in Tokyo. Yet, the issue is by no means closed, nor is it in Europe; so let us have a closer look.

István Deák, in Europe on Trial: The Story of Collaboration, Resistance and Retribution During World War II (Westview): Europe did not pass that test. The occupied states hardly resisted–only some nationalists and communists after the attack on USSR–but cooperated, like France’s Vichy; the neutrals economically like Sweden with iron ore; and Germany’s allies played their own ethnic cleansing games. How come?

Because Nazism was anti-Communist and anti-Semitic as was Europe.

Nazism was nationalist–all Germans in one state–as was Europe.

Nazism was “socialist” treating workers well to be good producers and killers; even conservative bourgeois Europe could live with that.

As a result, European states exited from WWII with much ethnic cleansing done, including of Jews; ready for welfare states; and got rid of the only remaining minority, Germans, as post WWII retribution.

Had Hitler limited himself to attacking USSR (as he did, with many, like Norway’s 15,000 volunteering for the Eastern front) and to following the UK and the Anglican Church in sending Jews to Palestine (as he did with the famous transfer of 60,000 German Zionists), he might have gotten away with it. Beating USSR and Napoleon? Or, more likely, not.

A basic reason for Hitler’s attack (see Timothy Snyder, “The next genocide”, INYT, 14 Sep 2015) was exactly Lebensraum. He did not believe a growing Germany would be able to feed itself. Germany needed the soil of Ukraine; starving half to death, making the rest serfs. Their survival mattered as little to Hitler as survival of locals to past and present Europeans when using their lands to grow food for Europe.

Ukraine is again the battlefield. NATO is split, Germany-France opposing the USA. But over exactly what? Germany once again wanting access to fertile soil for food growth for Germans? France, with huge agricultural sector, and Germany, wanting access to women’s wombs for population growth, both populations aging and shrinking?

For USA–agricultural surplus and young immigrants–none of the above. They want Ukraine, neo-Nazi or not, to contain Russia and China. German-French opposition, however, may spell EU liberation from USA.

A Brexit in 2017 would help greatly, given UK domination of EU foreign and military policy. Reading the signs on the wall, big EU states may not want to go down with the USA. Reading the sign-readers, the USA may prepare for exactly that. How? Next week’s editorial.


Johan Galtung, a professor of peace studies, dr hc mult, is founder of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment and rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University-TPU. He has published 164 books on peace and related issues, of which 41 have been translated into 35 languages, for a total of 135 book translations, including ‘50 Years-100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives,’ published by the TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 3.0 United States License..

Sunday, September 20, 2015


Welcome to Honolulu 2050, Venice of the Pacific

Construction cranes in the Waikiki-Ala Moana-Kakaako corridor fill the sky a virtual stone’s throw from the water’s edge.—David Shapiro, Volcanic Ash, 9/20/2015

by Larry Geller

New Yorker climate change cover 20150706

I often have trouble snipping David Shapiro’s column within the bounds of fair use—and darn that paywall, a link won’t work unless you’re a subscriber.

In this case, the pull-quote contains the essence of his commentary on the short-sightedness of what passes for planning here.

Why build where the ocean will creep closer each year?

There’s more:

The city designed the $6 billion rail system to run makai through Kakaako instead of taking a more prudent mauka route along Beretania.

[Star-Advertiser p. A2, Behavior, not beliefs, puts Honolulu in disaster’s path, 9/20/2015]

For a conceptual preview of a Honolulu rail station of the future, see the New Yorker cover of July 6, 2015. That could be Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach El or any of a number of lines that, in the future, could be discharging passengers directly into the sea.

Kakaako-2050Yes, one day, Honolulu will be known as the Venice of the Pacific.

Routing the rail along the water always seemed to me to be a strange way to plan a transit system.

But they didn’t ask us, they told us.

Could it be that the rail is not for us, but for developer profit? I’ll give Shapiro the last word:

Developers and construction interests make their money well before future sea-level rises, and politicians are seduced by the double bounty of tax revenues and campaign contributions.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Will Honolulu continue its illegal raids on homeless encampments now that a lawsuit has been filed?

by Larry Geller

ACLU press conferenceA class action lawsuit has been filed by the ACLU of Hawaii along with Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing to enjoin the city of Honolulu from conducting illegal sweeps of homeless encampments during which personal property is seized and destroyed in violation of Fourth and 14th amendments of the US Constitution. The lawsuit also seeks as-yet unspecified damages.

An unofficial OCR copy of the complaint is below. It’s written in plain language—even the Honolulu City Council may be able to understand it.

(Photo: Plaintiff Tabatha Martin,
holding her 4-year-old daughter,
and ACLU of Hawaii Legal
Director Daniel Gluck address
the media.)

It’s been no secret to Disappeared News readers that during the City’s raids on homeless encampments, property including tents, ID, medicines and other personal items are seized and thrown into waiting garbage trucks. The City ordinances call for storage, but often city workers pay no heed or the tents are raided while the occupants are off at work or otherwise away for the moment. Honolulu police stand by and do not stop the city workers even though the law is clearly being broken.

While the stored property ordinances call for storage of personal property by the City so that it may be claimed for retrieval, in practice it is impossible for someone without transportation and the required $200 retrieval fee to ever get back their things. Here is a snip from the complaint describing the situation of one of the plaintiffs:

The City seized the Martins' marriage certificate, T.M.'s birth certificate, and Mr. Martin's birth certificate, Social Security Card and State Identification cards. Among other things, the City also seized the Martins' clothes, their tent, and their propane stove, as well as T.M.'s diapers, backpack, clothing, and toys.

The Martins did not receive any kind of receipt or notice from the City indicating that they could retrieve their property. Indeed, they did not believe they could retrieve their property even if they wanted to, because the City had seized their identification documents; this belief was supported by the Martins' conversation with one individual in Kaka'ako who actually attempted to retrieve his property, but was unable to do so because he lacked identification and /or could not prove that the property belonged to him. As such, the Martins believed that any attempt to retrieve their property would be futile.

As attorney Daniel Gluck, Legal Director of the ACLU of Hawaii, explained,

Simply put, the government cannot come up to a person on the street and immediately destroy that person’s belongings. There was no way for our clients to get their property back or otherwise challenge what the city had done; they had no other recourse but to file this lawsuit.

A question now is whether the city will continue its slow-speed “sweep” of the Kakaako encampment, and if they do, how soon a federal judge might intervene if an injunction is granted.

A copy of the complaint can be read or downloaded below.

This copy of the complaint is an OCR copy and should not be relied upon for any purpose—it may contain errors.

Download 20150916 1-15-cv-00363 Complaint-OCR from Disappeared News


Breaking: ACLU to file suit against Honolulu re sweeps

by Larry Geller

The ACLU of Hawaii has called a press conference for this morning to announce a lawsuit challenging the City & County of Honolulu homeless sweeps. As of this posting, either nothing has been filed or the federal website has not yet been updated.

More later, along with reaction to the ACLU action.

This won’t be “disappeared news,” so check the newspaper and TV websites later also.

Monday, September 14, 2015


Tune in to HPR-2 at 8 a.m. to learn how Housing First can reduce homelessness in Hawaii

by Larry Geller

Tired of being kept in the dark by our media and government officials on how our homeless crisis might be resolved? Tired of the city spending taxpayer money on “solutions” for homelessness that just don’t work?

Tune in to Hawaii Public Radio HPR-2 this morning at 8 a.m. for the beginning of a dialogue on homelessness that could point us in the right direction. The “crisis” has been building for over a decade and will not be easy to reverse, but there are proven methods that have worked elsewhere. Why not apply them here?

Housing First is part of a solution that also requires that we build truly affordable housing in Hawaii—where the program has been implemented, homelessness has plummeted. Yet our daily paper won’t even print the phrase.

Starting after the 8:30 news, Beth-Ann will be speaking with Dr. Sam Tsemberis, founder of Pathways to Housing. It’s important to understand what Housing First is and how it achieves success in order to understand what the program can do for Hawaii. It’s the evidence-based solution that has been applied so successfully in many other cities—and the one our local media won’t even talk about.

Be sure to tune in.

Sunday, September 13, 2015


Housing First in TED talk

by Larry Geller

I’ve wanted to post the slides from Dr. Sam Tsemberis’ visit to Hawaii about two years ago but I haven’t succeeded in locating them yet.

Tomorrow, Dr. Tsemberis will discuss Housing First with Beth-Ann Kozlovich on The Conversation, so not to upstage that, but to provide some background in advance (? … ) here is a TED talk from 2012 that is a good, light, introduction. It doesn’t have the detail on the support services I’ve been looking for, but I’ll find and post that soon.

There is plenty of background and data out there for the googling if hearing the discussion tomorrow raises your curiosity.

Notice, in the talk, the reference to the importance of supports and adequate housing. Honolulu is planning nothing like this.


Sam Tsemberis, presentation: "Housing First: Ending Homelessness, Transforming Lives, and Changing Communities" Posted on YouTube May 4, 2012.

Friday, September 11, 2015


Hawaii Public Radio kicks off week-long conversation on homelessness

by Larry Geller

Hawaii Public Radio is devoting significant broadcast time this coming week to creating a dialogue on housing and homelessness that is very badly needed in Hawaii. Tune in (and if you are the Mayor or a citycouncilperson, listen up): among the guests starting Monday is the leading national expert on Housing First.

Pitching the spin vs. the reality of Housing First

At a city council meeting in 2014, then City Managing Director Ember Shinn testified that Honolulu is  in the ‘vanguard’ of Housing First. Actually, we have yet to get started, and the count of people living on the streets increases yearly even as that count decreases nationally. Success elsewhere follows adoption of the Housing First model pioneered by Dr. Sam Tsemberis.

Passing cruel ordinances that do nothing but cause harm to people cannot solve our growing crisis.

I'm sure local officials will try to counter that locking up poor, homeless people isn't their goal. Oddly, they seem pleased with themselves because they are providing a tent city with some services for the homeless and billing their "plan" as Housing First and even "supportive housing."

The organization I represent has a national reputation creating what is actually supportive housing. Supplying temporary tents on an island — which conjures up offensive scenes of World War II internment camps — fits absolutely no one's professional definitions of Housing First or supportive housing. It, however, does give a whole new meaning to pitching your spin.—op-ed by Deborah De Santis, Star-Advertiser, 9/11/2014

While Honolulu spends time and money finding and funding temporary shelter for its growing population of homeless, other cities have implemented Housing First and drastically reduced the number of people living on the streets.

Why is Honolulu missing the mark? Why won’t the Star-Advertiser even mention “Housing First” or recognize its success elsewhere? These are good questions.

For answers to what we should be doing, tune in to Hawaii Public Radio’s coverage of the issues starting on Monday at 8 a.m. on The Conversation (HPR-2) and continuing through the week.

In particular, to learn about Housing First, be sure to listen at 8:30 a.m. right after the news for Beth-Ann Kozlovich’s interview with psychologist Dr. Sam Tsemberis, founder of Pathways to Housing. It’s important to understand what Housing First is and how it achieves success in order to understand what Honolulu (and Hawaii) must do to turn around our shameful numbers.

Dr. Tsemberis spoke at a meeting of the Hawaii Interagency Council on Homelessness about two years ago at the invitation of Colin Kippen. His guidance seems to have been ignored. Monday is our chance to re-engage with the evidence-based methodology that should work as well for Hawaii as it has elsewhere. Be sure to tune in.

See these two Washington Post stories:

The surprisingly simple way Utah solved chronic homelessness and saved millions (4/17/2015)

Meet the outsider who accidentally solved chronic homelessness (5/6/2015)

From the HPR news release:

[Dr. Tsemberis’] simple solution: give homes to the homeless and prioritize those with mental or physical disabilities who have been homeless for longer than a year; his model is known as “housing first.” Post reporter Terrence McCoy wrote, “Late last month, Utah, the latest laboratory for Tsemberis’s models, reported it has nearly eradicated chronic homelessness. Phoenix, an earlier test case, eliminated chronic homelessness among veterans. Then New Orleans housed every homeless veteran.”

Tune in Monday. I’ll post more during the week.

Thursday, September 10, 2015


Amazon asks for permission to practically everything in my phone—so no thank you

by Larry Geller

Remember how angry Kindle users were back in 2009 when Amazon reached into their devices and took back two books by George Orwell, 1984 and Animal Farm? The linked New York Times article reported that Amazon had removed other books even before the Orwell incident hit the fan.

Reaching into users’ devices and snatching out books they were reading (deleting their notes in the process) showed great disrespect for their users. Just who does Amazon think they are anyway? Big Brother?

Well, check this out.

Amazon’s app store featured a “free app of the day” which was quite popular. Usually it was some kind of game, but occasionally they offered full versions of some quite good apps. I got into the habit of checking their app store (along with AppGratis and Free App of the Day) to see what might be available.

Amazon permissionsRecently their store stopped offering free apps. It turns out that they want you to download a new app, Amazon Underground, that will offer a variety of free apps—free because Amazon is compensating the authors.

This sounded good, so I started the installation. Part of the installation process on Android devices is a display of the permissions the app will require. You then have a choice—agree to it all, or don’t install.

I have only one (polite) word for the permission request that popped up—chutzpah.

This app wants everything except possibly my firstborn.

Why would it need to take pictures, read my phone status and identity, read my contacts, know my location, send text messages I might not know about, or control my flashlight??

That was the last straw. I’ll control my own flashlight, thank you.

There’s probably some semi-plausible explanation for some of this.

But knowing Amazon, I won’t grant them these over-reaching permissions to the insides of my phone. Who knows what they will do with it.

Now, we know that there is nothing “free” about Google’s searches or Gmail, for example—it’s just that they get to use your personal information instead of charging money for the services. So I can see why Amazon wants to make a grab for my contact list. Many people will not even read the permission list and just touch “Install,” salivating over the opportunity to rummage through a grab bag of free apps.

It is tempting… but watch out. Amazon doesn’t have my contact list yet, as far as I know, and so I won’t give it to them. And I’ll shine my own flashlight when I want to, so hands off it, Amazon (there’s an app for that).

Too bad, they had some good free apps. I enjoyed being introduced to some apps I didn’t know about, even if I chose not to install them.

(the fuzzy last line in the image is “uninstall shortcuts”)

Wednesday, September 09, 2015


New York 1909 traffic pic portends Honolulu 2020

This was tweeted as New York City in 1909, but the replies hold that it is Chicago.

As long as it isn’t Honolulu after the developers multiply the number of vehicles on our roads.

NY or Chicago 1909

I wonder how long those folks on the right will wait for the chance to go across the street.

Sunday, September 06, 2015


Federal judge rules that IDEA preempted state law that DOE used to withhold tuition for a special ed student’s private placement

by Larry Geller

In a ruling filed on Friday in United States District Court, Hawaii Judge Alan C. Kay declared that enforcement of a section of a Hawaii state law used by the Department of Education to withhold tuition payments to a private school for special education services conflicted with the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and that the federal law took precedence.

Reading the order in DOE v. Loveland Academy may be confusing to those not familiar with disability law, specifically the IDEA, but the nub of it starts on p. 53, which is snipped below.

In order to understand the snip it’s necessary to explain what “stay put” and FAPE are.

In plain language, when there is a dispute between parents and the DOE that goes before a hearings officer or a court, while the matter is pending resolution, the DOE may not unilaterally change the student’s placement. So if, as in this case, the student was placed in a private school, the student must remain there, with the same program, until the matter is resolved. This is clearly for the protection of the student.

In this instance, “stay put” was in effect for this student. By withholding payment to the private school, the DOE was attempting to change the student’s placement, since clearly, the student could not stay there for free.

FAPE refers to the guarantee, under the IDEA, of a Free Appropriate Public Education for students with disabilities.

The snip, edited:

The Court concludes that Act 129’s Section (i) is preempted by the IDEA, as applied to this case. Section (i) required DOE to withhold tuition that it was obligated to provide under the IDEA; pursuant to the Supremacy Clause, this conflict must be resolved in favor of DOE’s federal obligation.

The parties have not presented, nor is the Court aware of, any authority that would allow states to withhold reimbursement to students’ private stay-put placements, in contravention of their federal funding obligation.

The overarching purpose of the IDEA is to “ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education,” and to ensure that “children with disabilities and parents of such children are protected.” To that end, the IDEA places the responsibility for providing FAPE directly on the school district, even when students are placed in private schools: “If the State or public agency has placed children with disabilities in private schools for purposes of providing FAPE to those children, the State and the public agency must ensure that these children receive the required special education and related services at public expense, at no cost to the parents, and in accordance with each child’s IEP.”

Given the IDEA’s purpose and funding requirements related to the provision of FAPE during stay-put, DOE’s enforcement of Section (i) in this case stood “as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress.”

This case should be extremely important to parents faced with similar challenges to their children’s attendance at private schools, whether the placement was made by the DOE or by order of a hearings officer or court. Loveland Academy’s perseverance in this long case made this result possible.

It also should thwart DOE attempts to yank students out of private placements while hearings are in progress, and help the survivability of those capable private schools that have come into existence to fill deficiencies in the DOE’s special education services.

Friday, September 04, 2015


Supreme Court to take up case involving alleged retaliation by powerful state senator

by Larry Geller

bakerThe Hawaii Supreme Court granted a writ of certiorari on Friday in a case of potentially great public interest. Mark H. K. Greer v. Rosalyn H. Baker and State of Hawaii seeks to establish if state senator Rosalyn Baker retaliated against a Department of Health whistleblower by eliminating his position. This means that the Supreme Court will schedule a hearing on the matter.

A summary of the allegations is just below, and anyone concerned with ethics in government might be interested in following this case to its conclusion.

But things got complicated, and it may or may not go forward.

Whether or not the public will learn the outcome of this charge, that is, whether Senator Baker was, indeed, motivated by retaliation in eliminating the whistleblower’s job, will hinge on the question of legislative immunity under Hawaii’s state constitution. If motivation is irrelevant and the senator has absolute immunity, then the public may learn nothing.

Let’s look at the allegations and quick summary, which is snipped from the first document that you can download (below). This is edited from the original. It’s my edit, and so is not a complete description of the case. Do not rely on it for any purpose.

As the Chief of the Dental Health Division and Chief of the General Medical and Preventive Services, Greer claims he uncovered what he believed to be systematic fraud and corruption among dental health providers on the island of Maui. The fraud Greer alleges included a dentist on Maui who Greer believed billed Medicaid for examinations but who failed to render treatment.

Greer alleges Senator Baker continued to promote the financial and professional interests of the Maui dentist.

Greer alleges he testified as an expert witness for the State resulting in the indictment of the Maui dentist for Medicaid fraud.

Greer acknowledges Senator Baker was never his employer.  Greer, however, alleges in retaliation for his whistleblowing activities, and in order to prevent more whistleblowing, Senator Baker attempted to use her power as Chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee to eliminate his position from the 2008 State Budget. Greer contends Senator Baker eliminated the wrong position in 2008, but finally succeeded in eliminating his position in 2011 under the guise of fiscal necessity.

Greer alleges Senator Baker colluded with the then Department of Health Director, Loretta J. Fuddy, who issued an announcement on August 24,2011, stating two filled positions would be eliminated based on budget reduction requiring the need to implement a reduction in

The two positions that were eliminated were the Dental Health Administrator, Position Number 9606, EM 08, BU 35, occupied by Greer, and Secretary III, Position Number 09999, SR 16, BU 63, occupied by Caroline Albano, Greer's secretary.

Greer alleges he was laid off from his position on January 13,2012, and was laterally transferred into the Dental Health Program Manager position due to his seniority.

Greer alleges the elimination of his position through budget legislation was not based on fiscal necessity but based on Senator Baker's personal vendetta to support a friend or constituent and to retaliate against him. In support of his position, Greer claims only two positions were eliminated and the elimination of his position did not significantly affect the State of Hawaii's budget, because the person he displaced transferred to a vacant position with a reduction in salary of $3,000.  Greer contends the $3,000 reduction in salary of that employee represents the only savings to the State of Hawaii from the elimination of his position.

On September 23,2014, Greer filed a complaint in the circuit court, naming as defendants Senator Baker and the State of Hawaii ("State").

Greer alleges that the defendants' actions in abolishing his position violated the Hawaii Whistleblower Protection Act (HWPA) and caused him emotional distress. He alleges the following counts against the defendants in his complaint: HWPA (Count I); Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED) (Count II); and Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress (NIED) (Count III).

On October 15,2014, Senator Baker filed a motion to dismiss the complaint based on absolute legislative immunity.  Senator Baker also moved to dismiss the HWPA claim on statute of limitations grounds and because Senator Baker was not Greer's employer. Further, Senator Baker moved to dismiss the IIED and NIED claims based on the statute of limitations and the lack of an underlying cognizable claim.

On December 24,2014, the circuit court issued its order granting in part and denying in part Senator Baker's motion to dismiss. The circuit court denied Senator Baker's legislative immunity defense entirely.

Judge Rhonda A. Nishimura granted in part and denied in part Baker's motion to dismiss Greer's complaint. Baker appealed to the Intermediate Court of Appeals.

But the ICA said that it lacks appellate jurisdiction over the appeal basically because the lower court was not done with it.

A 1973 case, Abercrombie v. McClung figures in at this point: Abercrombie was a UH faculty member suing state senator McClung for slander, McClung appealed the denial of legislative immunity, Supreme Court granted him legislative immunity. Since then there have been significant changes in the rules for appeals.

The Supreme Court of Hawaii has subsequently noted that "the circuit courts are now governed by the Hawai'i Rules of Civil Procedure."

We won’t know until the Supreme Court hears oral arguments whether they intend to clarify the questions of legislative immunity or simply rule on whether the lower court must proceed, or whether the ICA does, indeed, have jurisdiction. Perhaps attorneys who can grasp the complexity of this issue might comment more, but as a non-attorney, I can only unscramble so much. I wish these cases came with Cliff Notes.

Oh, and you’ll need this definition of the term Interlocutory.

Here are three documents as your homework assignment for further reading. Two are OCR documents and may contain errors. Do not rely on these copies for any purpose—if you need official copies you can get them from the court website. In chronological order:


Audit report: virtually unlimited tax credits for businesses cost the rest of us dearly

Tax expenditures are tax credits, deductions, and exemptions that reduce state revenue and cost state treasuries money in much the same way as direct spending.

Hawai‘i did, and still does not, have a statewide total tax credit cap on the amount or value of investment tax credits that can be generated annually or on a program basis.—
Office of the Auditor

by Larry Geller

In an audit report just posted, the legislative auditor blasts the state Department of Taxation for falling behind in its audits of, well, practically everything. It also sheds light on poor legislation that has left Hawaii individual taxpayers out-of-pocket for huge and ongoing high-tech and research tax credits that exceed the enticements that other states are willing to make.

Note below that the tax office now is responsible for reimbursing $2 billion in tax credits (that’s billion, as in “an awfully large amount of money”).

[Disappeared News has long held that Hawaii is not getting a return on its “high tech” investments, which include tax loss due to excessive credits, since firms sooner or later realize that they really need to relocate elsewhere for maximum profit.] [… and of course, we taxpayers foot the bill for the incentives out of our wallets and purses.]

In Report No. 12-05, released in July 2012, we reported that DoTAX performed only a high-level review of tax credit applications, not verifying self reported numbers. Our 2015 follow-up found that oversight responsibilities of the high technology tax credit, along with other high-dollar and high-volume tax credits, such as the renewable energy tax credit, are overshadowing DoTAX’s core oversight functions. According to DoTAX’s tax compliance administrator, department auditors now spend their time responding to taxpayer complaints and inquiries about refunds for high-dollar, high-volume tax credits, such as the high-technology business investment tax credit and renewable energy technologies tax credit. As a result, DoTAX staff are neither auditing tax credit applications nor tax filings as a whole. The compliance administrator told us that DoTAX’s 20 auditors currently have a backlog of hundreds of tax returns targeted for audit; however, the department lacks the resources to carry them out.

In addition, in 2012, we reported that the State had issued and was responsible for reimbursing nearly $1 billion in tax credits; however, approximately three years later, we found that this obligation has nearly doubled, to almost $2 billion. Although the State stopped issuing them in 2010, high-technology tax credits do not have a sunset date; therefore, tax credit recipients can carry over unused credits indefinitely. These obligations impact taxpayers and government services statewide.

[auditor’s report, Credits Continue to Tax the State, 9/4/2015]

Check out the report at the link. It’s only six pages, and it gets worse than this.

The audit notes repeatedly that the DOTAX does not have the resources to do its job. Where have we heard this before? The Department of Health does not have the resources to adequately protect our food supply, including performing restaurant and vendor inspections as often as is needed. The proliferation of illegal vacation rentals and illegal “ohana” dwellings is due to inability to inspect.

From all the evidence available, this is ok with most people, in or out of government. Call it part of the state culture, I guess. Couple this with general ineptitude in utilizing computers and in contracting for computer services, and in many ways Hawaii is distinguishing itself as the state that simply can’t cope.


Thursday, September 03, 2015


The unexpected truth behind “Hawaii’s renewable portfolio standard shall be 100 percent on Dec. 31, 2045”

Yes, even though coal, oil and gas are not renewable, they will still be in use in Hawaii in 2045 even if Hawaii makes it to 100 percent.—Richard Borreca in Star-Advertiser

by Larry Geller

Too late for a spoiler alert. The pull-quote is how the plot ends. Sorry about that.

I wish Henry Curtis, ED of Life of the Land and the only person in Hawaii who truly understands these things, would explain this on his own blog.

I thought, as you might have also, that by 2045 Hawaii is supposed to be getting all of its energy from renewables. Like solar, wind, waves. But this is not so. Doesn’t 100% mean 100%? Yes but not in this case. Not the way the law was written.

Henry has kind of explained this in a couple of articles on his own blog, for example here, but his explanation to Star-Advertiser political columnist Richard Borreca was much simpler. Unfortunately, that explanation is paywalled and most people can’t read it. Since it is copyrighted material, I can’t quote more than a little bit of it, for educational purposes.

So I wish Henry would write something that I could link to. If he does, I’ll amend this article with the link.

This snip is a fraction of the explanation. If you have a copy of the paper, check out the editorial page in the 9/1 edition. It’s an easy, if shocking, read.

It all seems complex to the extreme, but the result, as Curtis explained, is that a renewable standard does not mean renewable energy.

“An RPS [Renewable Portfolio Standard] of 100 percent occurs when the kilowatt- hours of rooftop solar generated equals the kilowatt- hours of fossil fuel derived electricity sold by the utility.

“Ironically, the more rooftop solar produced, the higher the amounts of fossil fuel-derived electricity that can be sold by the utility,” Curtis said in an interview.

[Star-Advertiser, Sometimes in Hawaii we do math differently, 9/1/2015]

Why, oh why, do they have to write laws like that?

Tuesday, September 01, 2015


Stuck in traffic? A Hitler video for the folks waiting for you at home

Looking out the window at almost 7:30 p.m., there’s a solid line of cars heading west on the H-1. Hardly moving. So I checked Twitter to find out the cause, and discovered this.


Hitler moves to Honolulu, thinking there would be less traffic than Berlin, Los Angeles, or anywhere else. But boy was he wrong....


Audit: Health Connector board and management wasted and abused millions of dollars in public funds

by Larry Geller

A new audit report and summary has been posted on the Legislative Auditor’s website that sheds more light on the private non-profit’s abuse of public funds (the Auditor’s words, not mine).

The summary is only a single page of easy, but discouraging, reading. You can have it by clicking here. The complete report is here. The title is Audit of the Hawaiʻi Health Connector’s Mansha Contracts: Connector Board and Management Wasted and Abused Millions in Public Funds.

I’ll snip, but really, it doesn’t take much longer to read the whole summary.

Unsaid in the summary at least is that the way the Hawaii Health Connector was created was the idea of our Legislature. As a private non-profit, it was able to operate beyond public scrutiny or control. The Auditor’s full report reminds the Legislature to take care of dismantling it:

The Legislature may wish to consider amending or repealing as appropriate the relevant sections of Chapter 435H, HRS (Hawaii Health Insurance Exchange), to reflect the dismantling of the Hawaii Health Connector.

A snip from the summary:

We found that instead of taking steps to ensure it selected the most qualified vendor at the best price, the Connector awarded Mansha a multi-million dollar contract based on personal recommendations. In total, the Connector awarded $21.6 million in IT contracts to Mansha. The Connector also failed to sufficiently analyze Mansha’s proposed fees to ensure contract amounts were reasonable, as required by federal procurement standards. Thus, the Connector could neither justify its selection of Mansha nor the fixed fees awarded for each of the two Mansha contracts. Furthermore, the Connector executed vague, poorly written contracts with flawed terms and conditions that prevented it from effectively monitoring and evaluating Mansha’s performance.

The former executive director executed a $168,000 contract amendment without the board’s knowledge or approval. In addition, contracts were not amended to reflect changes in scope of work; and amendments that were made were not done timely. This led to higher contractual costs, further wasting public moneys, and could result in federal enforcement action. Such practices constitute abuse of public funds, which involves behavior that is deficient or improper compared to what a prudent person would consider reasonable and necessary business practice in the circumstances.

Monday, August 31, 2015


Hawaii’s “leadership” so far has resulted in the present housing crisis

Lalosin [a person living on the streets in Kakaako] says it's not just about getting people off the streets, she says something has to be done to prevent them from ending up on the sidewalks in the first place.
"Even though they got some of us going into shelters. The next time they turn around, there's more people out there so no matter what they do it's going to be a constant thing. It's going to keep going, going, going until they do something about the rent increases," explained Lalosin.—
quoted by Hawaii News Now


by Larry Geller

Hawaii’s homeless count increasing even as the nationwide count decreases

Hawaii, by rejecting the proven Housing First approach to reducing homelessness, is bucking the national trend. The annual Point in Time Survey for Oahu shows that homelessness here is increasing.

From a Civil Beat article:

Since 2009, Oahu has seen its homeless population increase 35 percent from 3,638 to 4,903.

The data also shows fewer people living in some form of shelter in 2015 than in previous years. In fact, Oahu’s unsheltered population grew from 1,633 in 2014 to 1,939 in 2015 while its sheltered population decreased from 3,079 in 2014 to 2,964.

National averages, on the other hand, show that homelessness is decreasing. Individual cities have shown remarkable decreases.

From New Data Show Homelessness has Declined 11 Percent since 2007

Required by Congress, HUD’s PIT Count is the only national survey that counts everyone who is staying in a shelter or other homeless programs, as well as people who are unsheltered. Its methodology is fairly consistent over time, allowing an assessment of whether the number of homeless people is growing or shrinking each year.  Though it does not count every single homeless person, nor does it assess the number of people who are at high risk of homelessness because they have unstable or unacceptable housing, it is the only way that we can determine approximately how many people are homeless, the characteristics of our homeless population, and how homeless Americans are using shelters.

The 2014 PIT Count data show that numbers of homeless people is moving in the right direction:

  • Overall homelessness has declined by 11 percent since HUD started collecting this data in 2007
  • Chronic homelessness has seen a 21 percent decrease in 2007
  • Veteran homelessness has decreased by one third since 2007

This data is evidence that, as communities across the country have increased focus on getting people out of homelessness and into homes rapidly, these efforts are working—but they aren’t working well enough or quickly enough. “It is tremendous news that smart federal investment coupled with innovative local approaches has brought the number of homeless people down,” said Nan Roman, President and CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness. “Despite the good news, however, we must do better.”


It’s good to hear this wisdom (actually, just good, common sense) on Hawaii News Now. You’ve read the same here and perhaps also from other advocates.

Unfortunately, the Governor’s Leadership Team is not yet working on Oahu’s housing crisis. They are working on clearing the streets of Kakaako. Nor have they admitted that the overcrowded Kakaako encampment is a result of misguided and punitive public policy on the part of the city and lack of involvement at the state level. A crisis in housing was noted even a dozen or more years ago but has been allowed to roll on unabated.

Until affordable housing is readily available, more people will become unable to remain in the housing they already have. So more people will be competing for shelter space, and more will end up on the streets.

Nor can Oahu provide shelter space faster than the numbers have been increasing. It’s a losing battle, the way it is being fought, if it is being fought at all, in reality. As a matter of public policy, it is unworkable to attempt to shovel all homeless people into shelters, given that there are too few workable housing options.

Oahu’s housing market is broken

This snip is from Rethinking federal housing policy : how to make housing plentiful and affordable, Edward L. Glaeser and Joseph Gyourko, 2008

It is the metropolitan areas along the West Coast, most of the markets from Washington, DC, to Boston, MA, some places in Hawaii, and the odd interior market that are still experiencing an affordability crisis.

Prices are much higher than construction costs in these areas because housing supply is insufficient relative to strong demand. As long as supply remains limited and demand for these places is robust, these areas will not become more affordable. Additional supply of all quality types, not just low-income housing, is the only real solution to this affordability problem in these markets. The typical number of units provided by any federal program is too small to make a meaningful difference for overall affordability in the high-cost areas. A few hundred, or even a few thousand, extra units will have little impact on housing supply in a larger metropolitan area. Only the private sector will be able to create enough housing to meaningfully push prices down. The key question is what government policies will prod the private sector into large-scale production in high-cost areas.

Fortunately, the defining attribute of high-cost areas—prices that are substantially above construction costs—itself virtually defines profitability for new building. Any builder who is able to construct a few hundred units in Silicon Valley or suburban Boston and sell them for two (or more) times construction costs would surely love to do so.

We should try to fix only those housing markets that are broken,
and a housing market isn’t broken if it is delivering homes at reasonable prices relative to construction costs.

While I do not necessarily agree with the authors’ solutions as they would apply to Hawaii, their observations throughout the book appear useful.

Oahu’s housing market is broken.

Too much[3]

Building luxury high-rises in Kakaako is part of the problem, not part of a solution. The fact that an image such as this exists at all demonstrates the neglect that has taken place. Let’s be clear—there has been no change in policy (zoning, rent control or stabilization, etc.) that effectively addresses the need for truly affordable housing. The media, even as it salivates over advertising revenue generated by luxury developers, perpetuates a false definition of “affordable rentals” that obscures one of the root problems Oahu residents face in trying to keep a roof over their heads—the stagnation in the truly affordable rental market.

I always add that it is also necessary to be able to pay the rent—which means we have to look beyond just housing and at how to provide a living wage to every worker.

The problems we face are not so simple that a “Leadership Team” with no experience in any of the areas it needs to deal with can realistically make much progress. There need to be experts, budgets, timelines, commitments and realistic measurable goals and objectives. The Governor’s people will need a lot of help to make any progress at all.

When the 2016 Point in Time survey takes place, will it show an increase or a decrease in homelessness in Hawaii? If the numbers continue to increase, it may be time to review our leadership, at least on these issues.

Go back a dozen years to read about the same issues as today

This is a re-run of part of an article I posted on January 20, 2015:

Our homelessness crisis: we knew what to do in 2003 but didn’t do it

While lawmakers relaxed in their hammocks, the economy continued to worsen. Housing in Hawaii became increasingly expensive, especially affordable rentals. It wasn’t unusual to see people lining up with completed rental agreements for a landlord to review—often the first person to push to the front with a signed (but otherwise blank) agreement got the apartment or home.

I won’t step through the many articles, but I’d like you to see this, from 2003.

20031116 Adv

The November 16, 2003 edition of the Honolulu Advertiser focused on homelessness in Hawaii. Articles included:

This image suggests that even in 2003, people were looking for action. And there was some. The article mentions $39 million spent. In those days, that was a lot of money, and we cannot say it had no effect. But we do know that the numbers of homeless increased.  What’s discouraging is that the evidence-based Housing First program was known to us then. The same day’s editorial explains it nicely:

20031126 Adv editorial

Read it. The editorial could have been written today. And it shows compassion, something amazingly lacking in much of today’s press coverage of what it means to be homeless in “Paradise.”

The editorial concludes:

To make "housing first" work in Hawai'i, we are all going to have to let go of our fears and prejudices and not expect people with mental health problems and addictions to pull themselves up by their bootstraps before we give them a break. They have to feel safe before they can change the behaviors they developed to survive.

[Honolulu Advertiser, Housing First can work for Hawaii, 11/16/2003]


page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?