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Tuesday, December 29, 2020
December 29, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 1:44 PM :: 3140 Views

Hawaii 4th-Highest Champagne Taxes in USA

HTA: Tourism at 23% of Last Year's Rate

Lori Kahikina, new Rail Boss, Obstructed Dillingham Dig

HNN: … Kahikina has no rail or transportation experience. But at Environmental Services, she oversaw $5.2 billion in sewer rebuilding projects, including the massive tunnel connecting Kailua and Kaneohe….

Kahikina has also clashed with HART staff over relocating utilities on Dillingham Boulevard.

After HART had asked for a variance to place overhead electrical lines underground near sewer lines earlier this year, she responded in an email:

“I have been pretty clear that no variances will be granted. If you plan on presenting what options were presented and why they won’t work and you’re planning on still asking for variances please don’t waste my, (Board of Water Supply Manager Ernie Lau) or the Managing Director’s time,” she wrote….

Caldwell called Kahikina “exactly the right person we need at exactly the right time.”…

her tenure as the head city Environmental Services was also marked by a number of well-publicized sewage spills, such as a half-million gallon spill in 2015 that was caused by a broken pump and employee errors and a 200,000-gallon leak at Ko Olina in November 2016.

Given the number of spills during her tenure, environmental activist Carroll Cox said she’s not qualified to run HART.

“It would be a travesty if Lori Kahikina was appointed to have anything to do with HART or anything to do in a CEO capacity,” Cox said….

Her appointment is effective New Year’s Day….

read … Lori Kahikina, city Environmental Services director, named interim CEO

HART Fails To Address Risks Of Fraud, Waste And Abuse

CB: … Given the history of this project, it’s more important than ever that we look at policies and procedures and make sure that taxpayer money is being spent wisely.

During the last Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board meeting, however, members authorized spending $200,000 from this year’s budget on additional consulting fees. The consultant would be charged with finding revenues to plug the budget deficit and with finding solutions for issues with meeting quorum requirements, which have been covered previously….

HART has a history of problems with internal controls, so much so that during a 2016 Honolulu City Council Budget Committee meeting, Edwin Young, former city auditor, said, “internal controls were so weak, that if fraud, waste or abuse were to occur, HART and (others) would not have detected it, could not prevent it and could not have taken corrective action.”…

Recognizing those concerns, the Legislature mandated invoice certification procedures under Act 1 of 2017. These procedures provide an independent level of oversight that seem to have been helpful, as the state has required additional substantiation of requested expenditures before releasing the invoices for payment.

The act, however, also includes an annual review by the state auditor with reporting due to the Legislature and HART no later than 20 days prior to the convening of the Legislature. According to the state auditor’s website, no such report was filed prior to the 2020 regular session. The report is now past due.

In addition, a forensic investigation authorized under Honolulu City Council Resolution 19-29 was not pursued. The reported reasons for not moving forward were city budget concerns and that a forensic investigation might duplicate efforts under the federal investigation….

As far as potential duplication of efforts, some fraud investigation firms have experience working with other investigative agencies, including the FBI. The council investigation could have potentially highlighted areas that are not under federal investigation….

HART has no internal audit function (three internal audit positions are vacant, according to a recent HART budget document).  There is no tip hotline, and there is no fraud policy at HART, yet allegations of fraud, waste and abuse have come up seemingly often at public meetings and in the news….

read … HART Fails To Address Risks Of Fraud, Waste And Abuse

Gov. David Ige opposes plan for casino in Kapolei

SA: … Ige said this morning on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Spotlight Hawaii program, “The benefits (of a casino) would not exceed the social costs of gambling.”

He added, “It does not provide economic value to our community.”….

read … Gov. David Ige opposes plan for casino in Kapolei

Caldwell’s Legacy As Honolulu Mayor Is Marred By Rail And Homelessness

CB: … As the city’s top official leaves office, we look back at the ups and downs of the Caldwell era….

read … Caldwell’s Legacy As Honolulu Mayor Is Marred By Rail And Homelessness

Nursing homes begin vaccinations, but who’s next?

KHON: … The CVS Health and Longs Regional Director Scott Sutton said pharmacists will vaccinate the residents and workers at long-term care facilities. He said they would visit less than 10 long-term care homes on their first day, but they plan to vaccinate residents of 40 locations.

“We’re actually assigned the clinics from CDC and HHS,” Sutton said. “Once we assign those clinics, we have to make that communication with the facility and ask for a specific headcount that they would have.”

While CVS Health and Walgreens make their way through nursing homes in the state, the state’s Department of Health finalizes its vaccination plan for who falls in the next phases.

So far, it is only been workers at hospitals, clinics and first responders with access to the shot.

The Lt. Gov. Josh Green said he hopes to get through the first phase in the next two months, he said the first phase will include critical infrastructure workers.

Green said, “The food-service workforce, if they’re at high risk or certain educators that are high risk, there are lots of groups and those will be the final touches on 1B versus 1C.”   …

The CDC’s vaccine framework, which the state uses as a guide, includes teachers, school staff, people in prisons and its workers….

(How about: “General public age 60+”)

MN: Dentists and staff included in Phase 1; more doses on the way

read … Nursing homes begin vaccinations, but who’s next?

Hawaii sees 38% increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations—Case Count ‘Artificially Low’

SA: … Hawaii has seen a 38% increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations over the past month as new case counts climbed over the holiday season.

There are currently 80 coronavirus patients in hospitals statewide compared to 58 just a month ago, Lt. Gov. Josh Green told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

“It’s a direct reflection of having had more active cases — 1,558 active cases in last 14 days. About 7.5% of all cases result in hospitalizations. Obviously it’s much lower than it was in the summer time when we topped out around 300,” he said. Of all the confirmed Hawaii infections, 1,446 have required hospitalizations. “This is something that we’re watching super carefully and the need to get our cases down is critical.”

Hawaii health officials reported 46 new coronavirus infections today, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 21,028 cases. The number is artificially low due to lower testing over the Christmas holiday weekend, Green said….

MN: Cluster at Harbor Lights Condos

read … Hawaii sees 38% increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations

Tourism recovery not seen until summer, hotel execs say

SA: … The state is now in what historically has been its peak time of the year for visitors — Dec. 24 through Jan. 3 — but the hotels that are open are currently at just 15% to 23% occupancy compared with what normally would be between 93% and 97%, according to veteran hotelier Jerry Gibson.

Strict and confusing coronavirus travel guidelines to Hawaii and a reluctance to board a plane without being vaccinated are among the reasons cited why visitor arrivals have nearly dried up, according to Gibson and Keith Vieira, principal of KV & Associates, Hospitality Consulting….

“We’re really thrilled the vaccine is not only in Hawaii, but making its way through the states….”

TGI: Kauai County still waiting on resort bubble program approval

read … Tourism recovery not seen until summer, hotel execs say

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