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Tuesday, April 6, 2021
April 6, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:50 PM :: 849 Views

DCCA Finally Going After Fake ‘Hawaiian Kingdom Bond’ Scheme?

Fiscal notes could help Hawaii avoid fiscal calamity

Hawaii Nurses Pay #2 in USA

State Economies Hit the Most by Coronavirus -- Hawaii #3

Hawaii 3rd Safest State During COVID

UNITE HERE Bosses Back Down after Federal Charge Challenging Illegal Dues Seizures 

O’ahu Coal Plant Shutdown: Nightmare Scenario of Rolling Blackouts

IM: … A large coal plant will be replaced with a portfolio of smaller things.

The options are extensive: commercial scale and rooftop solar combined with batteries, community energy projects, microgrids, speeding up interconnection processes, incentives, penalties, hydrogen, energy efficiency, aggregated demand response, interruptible commercial and residential loads, time-of-use rates, critical peak pricing, increased visibility on distribution grids, load shedding, smart meters, parallel permit processing, regulatory choke-point evaluation, advanced rate design.

The task force wants to better understand what is causing delays in advancing projects that have already been approved.

The bottom line: cost matters ... blackouts would be a disaster ... community input is critical…..

(Translation: Blackouts are coming because Oahu's cheapest electricity producer, coal-powered AES, will be shut down at the end of 2022 and there is nothing to replace it except a really expensive battery farm in Kapolei that will be charged by diesel-burning plants.  PBN: Crucial Kapolei Energy Storage project awaits PUC go-ahead)

read … O`ahu Coal Plant Shutdown: Nightmare Scenario of Rolling Blackouts

Kaena Point Site for Gigantic Floating Windfarm?

E&E: … One of the preliminary offshore wind proposals put forward in the state is from Alpha, the Texas subsidiary of a Danish company, and the other is from Progression Hawaii Offshore Wind Inc., whose CEO, Chris Swartley, is a former executive with First Wind, an onshore renewable power firm behind several active Hawaii projects.

One of Alpha's proposals is slated to lie off the North Shore's Kaena Point. The other two plans are preliminarily cited for waters near Waikiki Beach. All would be about 12 miles from shore and hold about 42 turbines.

They are facing wide opposition from residents like Moana Bjur, executive director of the Conservation Council for Hawaii, who said her organization is firmly against offshore wind and so is most of Hawaii.

The technology would disturb marine life, like the humpback whales calving off the North Shore; could scour the ocean floor with miles of transmission cables; and could threaten cultural landscapes, she said. It's also a potential threat to Hawaii's deep cultural connection to the ocean, she said.

The potential wind area off Oahu's North Shore, where Alpha has suggested a project, faces a bluff called Kaena Point. For native Hawaiians, the sharp peninsula extending into the Kauai channel is where souls leap into the sea after death to be reunited with their ancestors.

"Putting a big, giant Cuisinart there? Don't even try," said Moriwake of Earthjustice.….


read … Offshore wind challenge

Will Oahu roll back to Tier 2 on Wednesday?  Ige, Blangiardi patty cake

HNN: … Under current reopening guidelines, the city is on track to roll back to Tier 2 on Wednesday.

But Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi says that is the absolute last thing he wants to do.

Instead, he is seeking a modification to the tier system to allow Oahu to move forward — not backward. He cites a reliable supply of COVID vaccines on island, low hospitalization rates, and other factors in his decision.

“We have a good supply of vaccinations on island. We have the capability right now on a distribution basis of doing over 100,000 vaccines a week,” he said, in a news conference Monday.

“This is a race against time, against a possible surge. I’m not an epidemiologist, but I also understand that for this community, a potential roll back into Tier 2 would be very very difficult.” ….

In a news conference Monday, Gov. David Ige said he was fine with taking a wait-and-see approach to the tier system and insists any changes to Oahu’s current status are in the hands of the mayor.

“It may be necessary to modify his order, so that it’s not automatic. Right now the order was written so that come Wednesday, based on the number of successive Wednesdays, the action would be required.”

He added, “I suppose they can ignore the current order. Probably it might be better for them to make a modification to that requirement, that directs the mayor to issue a new order.”

Blangiardi inherited the tier standards, which were set by the previous Caldwell administration. Falling back to Tier 2 would mean the return of a host of new restrictions, including strict limits on gathering sizes for social events and weddings. Retailers would also have to cut capacity in store in half.

The mayor said any changes to the tier system would need to approved by the governor.

“I think quite honestly that the tier numbers, when they were constructed before, were being too low,” Blangiardi said. “I’ve asked for a modification to Tier 3 to have it be 50 to 100 cases….

read … Blangiardi says he’s ‘dead set against’ rolling Oahu back to Tier 2

Blangiardi working with legal adviser on agency abuses

SA: … In response to the federal bribery charges of five Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting employees, Mayor Rick Blangiardi is working with Dana Viola, one of Honolulu’s new chief legal advisers, to curb abuses within the department.

Monday was Viola’s first day on the job.

“We met first thing this morning on what we’re going to do, what we’re going to institute and implement with respect to our self- monitoring on any kind of illegal activity and what we intend to do about it,” Blangiardi said….

Blangiardi was not yet ready to share specifics about what actions are being considered, but assured the public that he would fully report what specific policies the city would be adopting as soon as they were ready to be presented.

Two of the charged DPP employees, Jason Dadez and Kanani Padeken, along with William Wong, an architect charged with taking part and devising the pay-to-play scheme, are scheduled to appear in court Wednesday….

read … Blangiardi working with legal adviser on agency abuses

Ige: State not ready for vaccine passport

MN: … Technological challenges and rising COVID-19 case numbers on Maui and Oahu remain obstacles for a Hawaii vaccine passport program that would exempt fully vaccinated people from interisland and trans-Pacific travel restrictions, Gov. David Ige said Monday.

“The challenge is that there’s no comprehensive record of those who have been vaccinated in Hawaii,” Ige explained during a news conference on Monday afternoon. “We have been focused on getting shots in arms. We’ve told the providers that they need to report on gross vaccinations provided so that we can report that information back to the federal government, but we did not explicitly require them to enter the vaccination records into the system.”

Creating a vaccination database would also include meeting standards and jurisdictions of each state, and possibly each county, Ige said….

Ige said Monday that the state is working on a pilot program with digital application companies CLEAR and CommonPass, which are already being used by a few airlines nationwide to validate negative COVID-19 results before travel, but there’s much more to consider before moving forward.

“We are seeing good results at this point in time and (CommonPass and CLEAR) have committed to incorporating vaccination data and status into platforms when it becomes available, so we feel pretty good about where we are,” Ige said. “We know it will take some time to be able to validate vaccination status of individuals in all the states, but we do know that companies like CommonPass and CLEAR are at the forefront of being able to verify vaccination status of individuals.”

The digital app would essentially partner with the state’s Safe Travels program in verifying vaccinations.

Doug Murdock, chief information officer of Enterprise Technology Services, said that “great progress” has been made since beginning the pilot programs in October.

“We are piloting things with them right now, that if the vaccination database would come online we could do it, but we’re just not sure how fast the vaccination database will be issued,” Murdock said. “They may have parts of the country first and then add as they go, and so it’s hard to peg a date, but it wouldn’t surprise me if by summer we could have this going and have that as an availability for all the people who want to come to Hawaii.”….

read … State not ready for vaccine passport

Catch 22: HGEA-DLIR Cancel ‘Pending’ Unemployment Appointments

SA: … Question: Auwe! I went online to make an appointment to talk to unemployment, and it said my appointment will be canceled if I have a “pending issue.” That’s the reason I am trying to make an appointment! What’s going on?

Answer: We heard similar complaints from numerous other readers Monday, the day Hawaii’s Department of Labor and Industrial Relations opened an online reservation system for claimants to communicate with staff in the Unemployment Insurance division. Available appointments were snapped up the first day, but many readers had expected that would happen. What they didn’t expect was what they perceived as a Catch-22 in the scheduling system…

all available appointments were booked on Day One. More will be released in three weeks, according to the website,….

(Translation: This call-in system was just another scheme to keep HGEA from actually having to work.)

read … Some-jobless-with-pending-claims-will-have-appointments-for-help-canceled

Under New Leadership, HART Purges Nearly Half Its Staff

CB: … “My intention, I was clear from day one. I’m going to be evaluating everyone,” Kahikina said Monday in an interview. “Anxiety levels are really high here so I wanted to get this over with as quickly as possible.” The agency-wide shake-up is done, she said….

Some 48 of the 112 city employees who were at HART when Kahikina arrived are no longer there. The vast majority were fired in March…

Hawaii Government Employees Association, filed a grievance against HART in late March claiming that the rail agency did not provide sufficient notice of its intent to lay off union members.

The HGEA grievance requests that its members be reinstated with back pay, and that HART provide the union with any documents showing the reason for the layoffs.

HART formally responded to the grievance last week, Kahikina said, as it followed through with its second and last wave of layoffs. The agency argues that the city employees it let go were employed under personal services contracts and thus aren’t covered by the standard articles cited by HGEA. Kahikina said she expects HGEA to file a second grievance after the second wave of some 30 city employees were purged last week.

read … Under New Leadership, HART Purges Nearly Half Its Staff

Union Bosses Want Floor Vote on Minimum Wage Increase

CB: … Teamsters, ILWU and Local 5 leaders ask House Speaker Scott Saiki to schedule a floor vote by Wednesday….

Senate Bill 614 dealing with the state income tax on unemployment benefits and Senate Bill 676 to increase the state minimum wage to $12 an hour are both stuck in the House Labor and Tourism Committee, where Chairman Richard Onishi never scheduled them for a hearing….

As for the measure to eliminate the state income tax on unemployment benefits, Au Belatti said Gov. David Ige’s administration calculates that would cost the state about $190 million in lost tax collections.

She also said that giving out that kind of a tax break would violate the conditions of the federal American Rescue Plan Act, which is providing more than $1.6 billion to help balance the state budget….

read … Labor Leaders Urge Lawmakers To Move Minimum Wage Increase

Maui County population could decline with job losses

MN: … “The biggest declines in population have been on Oahu (since 2016) and yet with the pandemic, I expect that that Maui got hit very hard in 2020,” said University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization Executive Director Carl Bonham, adding that 2020 population estimates for the counties are not yet complete.

Maui and Kauai lost more than 20 percent of their jobs last year — the highest in the state, according to UHERO data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. As a result, people have been relocating, Bonham said.

“For Kauai and Maui, where you saw over 20 percent job losses, for those workers who were working in restaurants or hotels or teaching surf lessons or whatever they were doing related to the tourism industry, who don’t have local family, or who were transplants — it’s really hard to live in the state of Hawaii, even with the unemployment benefits,” Bonham said.

Maui suffered most among all counties for nonfarm jobs, which were down about 25 percent; transportation and utility, down 33 percent; and accommodation and food service jobs, down 45 percent, according to UHERO data….

read … Maui County population could decline with job losses

Kauai elementary schools back to in-person learning

TGI: … King Kaumuali‘i Elementary School’s Principal Jason Yoshida said they had 466 students returning to face-to-face learning with approximately 100 students still selecting distance learning yesterday….

read … Kauai elementary schools back to in-person learning

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