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Wednesday, December 16, 2020
December 16, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:58 PM :: 2291 Views

Furloughs? DTS has money for 17 useless electric buses

Illegal Dues Seizure: Federal Labor Board Charges Filed Against UNITE HERE Local 5

Democratic Party to Begin Process to Fill Kahele’s Senate District 1 Vacancy

Hawaiian Home Lands considers proposal to build casino in Kapolei

SA: …The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands dropped a bombshell on its website late Tuesday, floating the idea of building a casino on trust land in Kapolei.

The nine-member commission that oversees the agency and a 203,000-acre land trust for Native Hawaiians will be asked next week to consider a proposed bill that would authorize the development of a casino in a resort in the growing West Oahu community….

“I’m flabbergasted,” said Big Island homesteader Ian Lee Loy, who served on the Hawaiian Homes Commission from 2011 to 2013.

The proposed bill became public when the department posted its agenda for its two days of meetings Monday and Tuesday. There was a brief reference to what would be presented to the panel: “Legislative Proposal to Authorize Limited Casino Gaming in the Form of a Single Integrated Resort Property in Kapolei, Island of Oahu, on Hawaiian Home Lands Designated for Commercial Use.”…

The proposal would have to be approved by a majority of commissioners to be sent to Gov. David Ige, who would then consider whether to include it as part of his package of measures submitted to the Legislature for the upcoming session, which starts in January….

Robin Danner, chairwoman of the Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations, the largest beneficiary group in the state, blasted the department for floating the idea without first consulting beneficiaries….

If a casino were built on trust land, it would have a unique status. Unlike Native Americans and Alaskans, Native Hawaiians have no government-to-government relationship with the U.S., so a Hawaii casino would be different from those on tribal lands throughout the mainland….

the department will take written testimony on the proposal. But the meetings next week, which will be livestreamed, will be conducted remotely because of the pandemic, and no oral testimony will be accepted….

read … Hawaiian Home Lands considers proposal to build casino in Kapolei

DHHL Casino Plan Tied to DeBartolo—Convicted of Casino Bribery in 1990s

HNN: … While the measure does not identify a specific location where the casino will be built, speculation has centered on land near the DHHL’s Ka Makana Alii shopping center.

There are already a number of hotels that have been built nearby in recent years, which would benefit from the development of a casino.

Dudley pointed out that the founder of the company that runs the shopping center ― former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr. ― had a riverboat casino license in Louisiana in the 1990s.

In 1998, DeBartolo pleaded guilty to failing to report that former Louisiana Gov. Edward Edwards extorted $400,000 from him for that gaming license.

The casino measure still needs to be approved by the Hawaiian Homes Commission next week before it can be introduced to the Legislature….

read … Plan to build casino on Hawaiian Home Lands in Kapolei a big gamble, critics say

Furloughs?  HGEA demands more ‘Positions’  -- Threatens to Delay unemployment, Medicaid and SNAP claims even more than they have been

HNN: … “We’re in a crisis. We’re in a worldwide pandemic. We should be adding employees to the public workforce” (so they can stay at home and be paid for pretending to work) said Caroline Sluyter of the Hawaii Government Employees Association (with parenthetical comments added to induce honesty). “These are the people that provide the services.” …

Enrollment in Medicaid has increased 20% since March, when the pandemic began, bringing the number of people on the health program statewide to 392,601.

There has also been a 50% increase in applications for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, and 184,713 people are now enrolled….

Top state economist Carl Bonham of the UH Economic Research Organization said there are other ways to make up the shortfall.

“We ought to look at the possibility of selling off some state assets,” Bonham said.

Bonham realizes that can be a touchy subject but points out that valuable land, like the site of the former Liliuokalani Elementary School, could wipe out losses.

“When you have a hole that big, if you can fill it by selling off a couple parcels... I mean $300 million, you can raise $300 million by selling a piece of land in this state,” Bonham said.

The property is prime real estate at the corner of Waialae Avenue and Koko Head Avenue but has been used for offices and storage since the school closed in 2011….

read … Furloughs likely to worsen delays of unemployment, Medicaid and SNAP claims

Hawaii public schools superintendent reveals furlough dates for teachers, other employees

SA: … Teachers will be furloughed on average one day a month starting Jan. 4 to help cope with the state budget shortfall, Superintendent Christina Kishimoto informed public school employees late Monday.

Gov. David Ige has called for two furlough days a month for state workers, but the superintendent said in her memo that she wanted to minimize further loss of instructional time for students.

So 10-month employees of the Department of Education — including teachers, counselors, school librarians and registrars — would be furloughed an average of one day a month under her plan. Twelve-month employees, including principals and office staff, would be furloughed a total of 10 days between Jan. 1 and June 30….

The first furlough day, Jan. 4, had been scheduled as a teacher’s work day with no students on campus in any case. The second, Feb. 12, falls during the week when teachers were scheduled to have one day with no students for Teacher’s Institute Day, a date that differed by island.

Beyond February, Kishimoto’s memo projects possible furlough dates that would take effect only “if Gov. Ige determines that circumstances require continuation of the furlough.”

Those projected furlough days for 10-month employees would fall on: March 1, March 22, April 23 and June 1.

For 12-month employees, the furlough days are the same for the first two months, Jan. 4 and Feb. 12. Their projected furlough days beyond February are: March 1, March 15, March 22, April 23, June 1, June 18, June 25 and June 28.

“The department’s furlough days take into account that we lost nine instructional days at the beginning of this school year and we wanted to minimize any further loss of instruction for students,” Kishimoto wrote in the memo to employees….

read …  Hawaii public schools superintendent reveals furlough dates for teachers, other employees

Make-work: Grab n Go Program Keeps DoE Food Service Employed preparing 22 lunches per school

CB: … The head of the School Food Services Branch at Hawaii’s Department of Education stepped down from his role last week, a DOE spokesman confirmed Thursday, adding he expects “no impacts“ to schools’ grab-and-go meal distribution from the abrupt exit.

As program administrator of the food service branch, Albert Scales oversaw the division that handles the distribution of school breakfast and lunches across all 257 DOE campuses statewide.

The DOE food services branch has lost some key personnel in the last several months.

Dexter Kishida, the former Farm to School coordinator, left in August to work for the City and County of Honolulu as Food Security and Sustainability Program Manager, though he has since moved to the Office of Economic Revitalization. At the DOE, Kishida had been in charge of expanding initiatives like a DOE mobile food truck that delivers meals to hungry kids over the summer.

A dietician at the school food services branch, Derek Vidinha, also left his role last week and is now working within another DOE division, as a program specialist with Hawaii Child Nutrition Programs.

With many DOE students doing distance learning this year due to the pandemic, most meals this school year have been “grab and go” at 203 DOE sites statewide, available to anyone 18 and under.

“No impacts to Grab-and-Go meal distribution are expected due to Albert’s departure,” Inoshita said Thursday in an email, adding that 440,182 breakfasts and 528,249 lunches have been served since the fall semester started on Aug. 17….

(968,431 meals / 257 schools = 3768 meals per school / 17 weeks = 221 per week / 5 days / 2 meals = 22 meals per service per school each day.) 

DoE: Free Grab-and-Go meals program extended through Jun. 30, 2021 at 203 public schools

read … Hawaii Schools Food Services Administrator Steps Down

Pandemic causes uptick in child abuse cases and challenges in reporting abuse

KHON: … Despite signs that point to increases in cases of child abuse, statistics from DHS Child Welfare Services Branch show the number of reports of abuse actually declined during the pandemic.

Reported cases dropped significantly from 266 in March to 179 in April. The difference is also clear when you compare April 2019 reported cases of 232 to April 2020’s 179.

“Our numbers were pretty significant,” Olevao said. “Then we got hit with the pandemic. Then we saw this dip in our numbers. Then doing the stay at home orders, it stayed pretty low. Then now as we started to open up, it starts to use an upswing in those numbers.”

Kreidman said there were fewer reports because kids didn’t interact with people who usually report cases of abuse.

“Many of the children who are victims of child abuse, have that abuse discovered at school, or in after school programs, or in church, settings and clergy person,” Kreidman said. “I recognize. So again, without children, going to any of those three places, their bruises, or their emotional state, or they’re acting out behaviors, wouldn’t be evident to anybody else.”

“We know that without those extra eyes and ears, there were children that could possibly be abused at home behind closed doors,” Olevao said….  

KITV: 21-year-old Kapolei man arrested after assault kills 5-month-old boy

HNN: HPD launches assault investigation after baby taken to hospital in critical condition

SA Column: Hawaii behind on afterschool programs

CB: Schools Provide A Critical Safety Net For Kids. Can They Do That Via Zoom?

read … Pandemic causes uptick in child abuse cases and challenges in reporting abuse

In-person only: Early-learning dumping virtual classes

TGI: … Lauren Moriguchi, director of the Executive Office on Early Learning, said the public prekindergarten program’s capacity has been reduced to protect staff and students.

“As we ensure that teachers and educational assistants can safely care for and educate our 4-year-olds in person, our enrollment this year is at 55% of what our capacity would have been without the pandemic,” she said.

“We are working to transition the few remaining virtual public prekindergarten classes to in-person learning,” Moriguchi said. “Specifically, we are looking to move (to) 85 % to 95% (in-person learning) in January. So we are looking for all but one school offering in-person learning on campus during the third quarter.”….

There are currently 20% fewer seats available to meet physical-distancing requirements, sid Lau. And there has been a nearly-30% decrease in enrollment this school year compared to last school year.

In addition, 18 of 20 students who have exited the program did so due to the fear of COVID-19.

Lau said of the classrooms providing face-to-face instruction, 66% are operating at reduced hours. And despite COVID-19, schools are maintaining one teacher and one educational assistant per class.

As of today, 70% of the state public charter school students are in virtual instruction, 18% are face-to-face learning and 12% are in hybrid learning, a mixture of in-person and distance-learning….

SA: Preschool kids need face time

SA: Public preschool options in Hawaii vary during pandemic

HTH: Lawmakers discuss future of child care, early childhood education

read … Pandemic alters students’ early-learning

Rail project in shambles –Robbins Leaving Sixth CEO to Quit in 9 Years

SA: …  The city’s troubled rail project is pivoting to an uncertain “Plan B” to complete the final 4.16-mile push to Ala Moana while looking at the possibility of new leadership Thursday.

Andrew Robbins, CEO and president of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Tuesday, “My contract expires at the end of the month. The indication is that my contract will be expiring. So I’m going to enjoy my last several days here with this terrific staff.”

The HART board’s Human Resources Committee is scheduled to meet in executive session Thursday to discuss what’s described on its agenda as “HART Leadership Transition.”

Robbins, the city’s highest-paid employee, is HART’s sixth leader in nine years. The potential for an interim appointment Thursday to replace Robbins after his three-year contract expires in two weeks would represent the seventh top leadership change since voters approved the HART concept in 2010.….

read … Rail project faces new leadership Thursday

Unexpected Delay in Honolulu’s “City Card" Program

KITV: … The $500 cards are valid from 12/7-12/27 but were not sent out last week due to an "unexpected delay," according to a spokesperson with the City's Office of Economic Revitalization….

Patrick Williams, of the Office of Economic Revitalization told KITV4 the unexpected delay has been "resolved," but did not go into more detail. He told KITV4 the cards should be hitting mailboxes this week.

Earlier this month, Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced the cards to help Oahu residents who have received "Direct hardship relief."

3,500 residents will be receiving the cards, fewer than the expected 4,000-6,000….

read … Unexpected Delay in Honolulu’s “City Card" Program

‘Not worth the paper its printed on’ Former HPD chief Louis Kealoha ordered to pay back severance

KHON: … “This is a paper judgment,” said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “It’s only as good as the paper it’s entered on. But this judgment can now be recorded in the Bureau of Conveyances, it could attach to any property Chief Kealoha may hold. As we know he may not have any property, but should there be property acquired in the future, it could jump up and attach for the next 10 years, and it could be renewed for another 10 years. It could also garnish any wages should he seek re-employment once he comes out of prison. You can’t garnish or grab retirement money under various laws, but it’s a step in the direction of trying to seek repayment, and this needed to be done to take the next steps.”

read … Former HPD chief Louis Kealoha ordered to pay back severance

Elections Officials Want To Tweak Hawaii’s Mail-Voting Law Next Year

CB: … In a report to the state Elections Commission, Nago said the Office of Elections plans to propose several measures. Chief among them is one that would give county election officials more flexibility than currently allowed under the law to open more voter centers, an issue that came to a head on Nov. 3 when thousands of voters waited for hours in lines outside Hawaii’s eight voter centers — especially at Kapolei and Honolulu Hale….

…Nago said at a commission meeting Tuesday that the proposal would still require clerks to open a certain number of voter centers for the 10-day period, but it would give them flexibility in opening additional centers on Election Day.

The elections office proposal is similar to a bill that died in the last days of the 2020 session.

Sandy Ma, the executive director of Common Cause Hawaii, is also planning to push for changes to mail voting as well as try to convince lawmakers to expand automatic voter registration.

Sen. Karl Rhoads, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he would consider introducing changes to the law to allow for more centers to be open. He is also considering placing requirements into the law that direct the state Office of Elections to give guidance to the counties on the total number and locations of voter centers and drop boxes based on data on voting patterns.

Those proposals are just several tweaks to a system that ran rather smoothly in 2020. Hawaii, which had already been preparing for an all-mail election since last year, was spared many of the headaches other states faced as they scrambled to safely conduct an election during the pandemic.

read … Elections Officials Want To Tweak Hawaii’s Mail-Voting Law Next Year

Tax department following up on landlords who may be avoiding taxes on rental income

SA: … “The Department of Taxation has already started the process of identifying and contacting these landlords.”….

read … Tax department following up on landlords who may be avoiding taxes on rental income

Accidental shooting in Waiehu on Maui happened at police officer’s home

KHON: … Maui police say they got a call Saturday, Dec. 12 around 11 p.m. that a man was accidentally shot in a home in Waiehu, Maui.

When officers got there, no one was home.

The officers were told the victim was taken to the Maui Memorial Medical Center emergency room.

Police say the investigation is ongoing. 

(They sure are quick to determine this is ‘accidental’.)

read … Accidental shooting in Waiehu on Maui happened at police officer’s home

Escape Plan: Few Remaining COVID-Free Inmates Try to Figure out how to get Disease

HNN: … HNN spoke to the mother of a Halawa inmate who says she has had limited contact with her son, but when she was able to speak with him, he raised serious concerns about how the outbreak is being handled.

“My son called me and said that they were testing and that they didn’t know what the test results were,” the inmate’s mother said. “They started moving people around and they were trying to ask ‘why are you moving two guys here, one guy there, these guys over here, these guys over there?’ and they would give them an answer — they would not tell them if they were positive or if they were negative.”

Another Halawa inmate’s mother — who also asked not to be identified — said her son and his cellmate were both tested on Friday. Her son’s cellmate tested positive, but despite being tested the same day, her son did not receive his results when his cellmate did.

She says they were kept in the same cell and not separate. The last time she was able to speak to her son, he told her he eventually did receive a negative result but is now reporting COVID symptoms and claims he isn’t able to get a second test….

read … Growing COVID-19 outbreak at Halawa prison sparks concerns of mismanagement

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