Category Archives: Media

Is Kealoha case expanding beyond the stolen mailbox?

I guess Friday the 13th wasn’t Keith Kaneshiro’s lucky day.

“Holy cow!”

That was the reaction of Honolulu Police Commission member Loretta Sheehan, a former prosecutor, when she learned that the FBI served search warrants yesterday at the Honolulu Prosecutor’s office, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s report on the raid published this morning (“Agents search servers, seize computers as part of Kealoha investigation“).

The raid and search warrant appear to be related to the ongoing grand jury public corruption investigation involving deputy prosecutor Katherine Kealoha and her husband, embattled Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha.

The warrant allows federal investigators to search the computer server in the prosecutor’s office, which should provide access to emails and other documents.

I guess it shows that Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro’s refusal to cooperate when called before the grand jury was not an effective legal strategy nor an exercise in good judgement.

The search warrants follow letters notifying several people they are targets of the ongoing criminal probe, including the chief and a group of officers close to the chief.

Why all the fuss about a “stolen” mailbox?

Civil Beat reporter Nick Grube, who has been following this story since its inception, had a suggestive nugget in a story published on Monday, January 9 (“Is HPD Chief’s Departure Just The Beginning Of An ‘Ugly’ Mess?“).

Moreover, the investigation is bigger than just a missing mailbox, according to Alexander Silvert, the federal public defender who first uncovered evidence of wrongdoing that prompted the FBI to take action.

“The plea of guilty by Silva and the removal of the chief by the police commission is the tip of the iceberg,” Silvert said Saturday, referring to retired Honolulu officer Niall Silva, who is cooperating with federal investigators. “The grand jury investigation and the evidence we turned over is so much more far-reaching than what has come out to date.”

There is a long way to go and a lot more that has yet to come out that involves HPD and that involves other officials in other departments of the city and county,” Silvert says. “We are only in the beginning stages of what’s going to be a long, messy, ugly part of Hawaiian law enforcement history.”

Silvert is suggesting the whole mailbox incident just a step along the way of a broader corruption case that’s about the engulf the city.

Holy cow!

Retailers’ woes mean more bad news for newspapers

A story from Money Magazine put the week’s bad news from national retailers in perspective, proclaiming that “department stores are in a death spiral.”

It certainly looks that way. Sears and K-Mart are closing stores across the country, including here in Honolulu. Macy’s also shutting down stores by the dozens. And Kohl’s, the formerly high-flying retailer, saw sales slump during the Christmas season while online retailers continued to prosper.

If anything, the struggles of department stores during the 2016 holidays should serve mostly to reinforce the idea that there is no magical formula that traditional retailers can use to reverse trends that have been years in the making. Consumers have grown steadily more comfortable making the bulk of their purchases online, and they’ve come to expect low prices, deep discounting, and a huge selection of rapidly changing merchandise—all factors that undercut the classic, slow-moving department store model.

It’s no secret where shoppers are turning instead of department stores. American consumers spent a record high $91.7 billion online during the holiday season, up 11% over 2015. Amazon, the world’s largest e-retailer, dominated the season, accounting for nearly 40% of all online purchases during certain peak periods.

A story from Reuters notes that it’s not simply the shift to online shopping that has the traditional department stores on the ropes.

Apart from competition from Amazon, department stores have been hit by a shift in spending away from apparel to experiences such as dining out and traveling.

That’s right. People are not only shopping in different places, they’re shopping for different things.

Reading through the news, let’s be clear. I’m not worried about the department stores, except that this death spiral is just more bad news for newspapers and the delivery of news.

Those inserts featuring the familiar names of national retailers have traditionally been delivered as inserts in your local daily newspaper, and for decades provided a relatively robust source of income for the newspapers. Now it looks like they’ll be going the way of “Help Wanted” ads, real estate and automobile ads, which once fed the news business but now have almost disappeared from the pages of newspapers.

The retail closings are reflected in continuing layoffs of reporters, both at the national level (the Wall Street Journal and New York Times continue to shed reporters) and the local level (the Seattle Times has just announced another round of layoffs).

It’s not a pretty sight.

Reporting of Maui sunshine law complaint criticized

A blog post by Kauai journalist Joan Conrow took the Garden Island newspaper to task for apparently basing a story on a Maui sunshine law complaint solely on a press release from the authors of the complaint.

The complaint was filed with the Office of Information Practices by the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA), headed by former Kauai county council member Gary Hooser.

HAPA alleged “egregious violations” of the sunshine law by Maui County Council Chair Mike White.

According to the Garden Island:

After Election Day, on Nov. 9, documents show that White met, either in person or via phone or electronic means, with multiple members of the Maui County Council, discussed the council organization and came to a decision that involved agreement by a quorum — all without public notice and without a public meeting being held.

Conrow points out that the one-sided Garden Island story contrasted with a report in the Maui News, which included comments from White and reference to prior OIP rulings.

From the Maui News:

White countered in an email to The Maui News that an opinion letter published by OIP on Nov. 14, 2002, confirmed that incoming council members are not subject to the state Sunshine Law until taking office. He added that the complaint filed by HAPA is “highly political and unsubstantiated.

“This is the same political organization that trained many of the ‘Ohana Coalition candidates, including my opponent, that ran against sitting members in the last election,” White said. “This organization and their supporters are using fear tactics and intimidation to try and get their way.”

Click here to read a summary of the 2002 OIP opinion, or the opinion’s full text.

The opinion confirmed White’s view that new council members are not subject to the law until they take office. In addition, the opinion notes a provision allowing limited private discussions about the selection of officers.

The sunshine law provides:

Discussions between two or more members of a board, but less than the number of members which would constitute a quorum for the board, concerning the selection of the board’s officers may be conducted in private without limitation or subsequent reporting.

Interestingly, the 2002 opinion was made in response to a request by then-Garden Island reporter, Tony Sommers.

Throwback Thursday: On the way to Mystery Books at Dupont Circle

It was September 1998, according to the date stamp. I was still working at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, but traveling in Washington, D.C.

No mystery about where the photo was taken. It was at the Dupont Circle Metro Station, and I’m carrying evidence showing that this followed a visit to Mystery Books, which was located just a block or two up Connecticut Avenue from the metro stop.

The store was one of my favorites, and a mandatory stop anytime I was in D.C.

It unfortunately closed in 2002.

Sept 1998