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COVID Session: How the Hawaii Legislative 2021 Session will be Conducted
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Nearly 600 cases reported in 2 days, officials urge people not to gather
KHON: … The Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) reported 264 new cases on Friday, Jan. 8, a slight decrease from Thursday, Jan. 7, when 322 cases were reported. The holiday uptick is starting to mirror statistics from the summer surge and the numbers are a concern to some health officials.
The case numbers on Thursday, Jan. 7 were one of the highest reported since the pandemic began in March.
In a little over a week the state went from averaging 103 daily cases on Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020, to averaging 156 daily cases on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021….
“This is a big increase in the number of active cases, 1,950 in the last 14 days, that’s probably 600 or 700 higher than we were a month ago,” explained Lt. Gov. Josh Green. “And that will translate to 40 to 50 extra people in the hospital.”…
“We have 110 people basically in the hospital, we had been the 60’s a couple weeks ago. So, the number of hospitalizations does follow the number of cases,” he explained. “It could get way, way worse, if we don’t buckle down.”…
There were 3,597 COVID-19 cases in December, according to the Hawaii Department of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard. The website states 2,702 — or 85% — of the cases were due to community spread, 298 — or 9% — were travel-related from non-residents and 163 cases were travel-related from residents.
The state dashboard also states there are three areas that reported over 100 cases in the last two weeks; Aiea reported 160 cases, Ewa Beach reported 115 new cases and Kahului reported 101 new cases.
Maui County officials said, the Valley Isle’s outbreak is largely due to holiday gatherings and a large cluster at the Harbor Lights Complex in Kahului, which has grown to 92 cases as of Friday, Dec. 8….
read … Nearly 600 cases reported in 2 days, officials urge people not to gather
Tax Hike Kabuki: Ige Says Only Biden can Save You
SA: … Despite Hawaii’s COVID-19-related money troubles, Gov. David Ige said Friday that “the last thing we want to do is raise taxes during an economic downturn. The last thing we want to do is have furloughs or layoffs, because we know it exacerbates the slowdown in our economy.”
(Translation: Unions put me here so I will raise taxes.)
Ige’s appearance on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Spotlight Hawaii video web program followed Senate Ways and Means Committee testimony Monday by state Budget and Finance Director Craig Hirai that unspecified tax increases and “revenue enhancements” were under consideration to help plug a projected $1.4 billion shortfall.
On Friday, Ige remained hopeful that economic help is on the way….
Ige told Spotlight Hawaii on Friday that the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden also brings hopes of direct financial aid to states and counties that is not included in the latest package of federal COVID-19 assistance.
“Without any additional federal assistance, we clearly would be looking at adding to the unemployment rolls with state and county public servants,” Ige said.
(Translation: Unions put me here so I will raise taxes. But first, some Kabuki.)
Ige originally proposed furloughs for thousands of state employees that had been scheduled to begin Jan. 1 but have now been postponed until July, when the next fiscal year begins.
(Translation: That was Kabuki Act 1.)
Despite signs of economic improvement, Ige said that “the budget crisis is the biggest issue that we have to respond to.”…
(Translation: Kabuki Acts 2-3-4-5 are coming.)
SA Editorial: Fixing budget will be tough balance
read … Ige wary of furloughs and tax increases
In blistering letter, UH officials condemn school’s financial relationship with Aloha Stadium
HNN: … The school is on the hook for roughly $100,000 in expenses per home game, for things like security staff and box office personnel, but does not share in any stadium revenues.
Overwhelmingly, schools across the country ― most of which own and operate their own stadium facilities and are not subject to the same sort of financial agreement the University of Hawaii is ― subsidize their athletic departments with funds garnered from football games,
Remedying the financial relationship, according to the letter, is a ‘fundamental requirement’ for the new Aloha Stadium complex, whenever it ends up being built ― especially since the school was essentially put out in the cold last month when the Aloha Stadium Authority announced a moratorium on new business at the (ALLEGEDLY) crumbling facility…..
SA Editorial: Increase UH role in stadium plans
SA: Legislators step into conflict between University of Hawaii and Aloha Stadium
SA: University of Hawaii says it wants more input in future of Aloha Stadium
read … In blistering letter, UH officials condemn school’s financial relationship with Aloha Stadium
Longtime Rail Officials Ousted As New CEO Joins HART
CB: … Director of Communications Bill Brennan, Deputy Executive Director for Government Relations and Public Involvement Joyce Oliveira and Chief Operating Officer David Uchiyama were all terminated Monday, HART Interim Executive Director Lori Kahikina confirmed Friday.
Brennan and Oliveira had worked at HART for more than eight years, representing some of the oldest institutional knowledge at an agency that’s endured heavy turnover. Uchiyama, meanwhile, joined in 2019. The three were generally considered part of the inner circle of Kahikina’s predecessor, former HART Executive Director Andrew Robbins.
Brennan and Oliveira’s ties to rail go back more than a decade — both served in former Mayor Mufi Hannemann’s administration….
read … Longtime Rail Officials Ousted As New CEO Joins HART
Rick Keene tapped as HART's No. 2 official
PBN: … Rick Keene is going from the city’s liaison for the semi-autonomous Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit to the rail project’s No. 2 official.
New interim HART director Lori Kahikina announced Thursday afternoon that as her first hire, she’s tapped Keene as Chief Operating Officer.
“Rick brings a wealth of experience to the project that is very complementary to my strengths of construction, major project management and team building,” stated Kahikina, the city’s former environmental director. “He is an accomplished and adaptive financial executive who gained in-depth knowledge of HART during his recent 3-year HART assignment with the City and County of Honolulu. He is straightforward and goal-oriented, as I am, and will be invaluable in working through the financial issues we face.” ….
Last summer, Keene had a seven-week stint heading up the city’s Office of Economic Revitalization, charged with distributing Covid-19 relief funds. He then returned to his role as HART liaison for reasons the city described as “mutual,” reported Honolulu Civil Beat.
Prior to that, Keene was chief financial officer for Bank of Hawaii and The Queen’s Health Systems….
CB: Honolulu Replaces Head Of COVID Recovery Agency Hired Just Weeks Ago
read … Rick Keene tapped as HART's No. 2 official
HSTA Complains Principals too slow to Shut Schools Back Down so HSTA Members can get back to being paid for doing nothing
SA: … The Hawaii State Teachers Association today said it is demanding the health and education departments revise the current standard used to determine school learning models — whether it is in-person, by distance, or a blend of the two — due to the recent spike of COVID-19 cases.
The current models outlined by the state Department of Health, HSTA said, are based on two sets of 7-day daily averages ending each Wednesday. This creates a lag and Thursday’s daily case count of 322 coronavirus cases, for example, will not be fully factored in or result in any changes for schools for another two weeks.
“The current model is like being in the middle of a hurricane, but waiting until two weeks later to close schools,” said HSTA President Corey Rosenlee in a news release. …
(Translation: My members have been paid to do nothing for almost a year and they’ve kinda decided they like it.)
read … HSTA says state criteria for in-student, distance learning is too slow in response to spike in COVID-19 cases
Retired Officer involved in Kealoha case may receive reduced sentence
KHON: … Federal prosecutors are recommending two years probation, 10 months of home detention and a 5,000 fine for Niall Silva in a motion filed in court.
They say, Silva has provided “substantial assistance in the investigation and prosecution of others.”
Silva has also been under pre-trial supervision without incident for the past four years.
He implicated other officers in a conspiracy to frame Gerard Puana ….
(And full pension woo-hoo!)
read … Officer involved in Kealoha case may receive reduced sentence
Legal battle brewing over portion of proceeds from sale of Kealohas’ home
HNN: … The Hawaii Central Federal Credit Union filed a court document late last month asking for money leftover from the sale to pay for legal fees. But some are calling for the money to be directed to Ransen and Ariana Taito, siblings who lost their father when they were children.
They were awarded money after a medical malpractice suit and Katherine Kealoha, who was trustee of the account, stole more than $160,000.
The money was used to pay for homes for the former Honolulu power couple.
In October 2018, the couple’s Hawaii Kai home was seized by the federal government and it sold for $1.3 million in March 2019. The credit union got $1.1 million, the cost of the mortgage and fees.
Other fees including Realtor commissions and utilities, which amounted to $142,000.
After everyone was paid, there was about $63,000 left.
The federal government could turn that money over to the Taitos as restitution but the credit union wants all of it.….
read … Legal battle brewing over portion of proceeds from sale of Kealohas’ home
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