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Sunday, November 21, 2021
November 21, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:59 PM :: 1957 Views

Tax Workers’ “Get Out of Jail Free” Card

City and County of Honolulu to ring in holiday season Dec. 4

After Decade, City, State Finally Eliminate Turtle Beach Traffic Jam

Hawaii Republicans Elect New Chair

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted November 20, 2021

Harbors Division Accepts Preservationist Bid to Return Falls of Clyde to Scotland

Isabella Kalua Coverup Debunked:  HGEA Refusal to Work Meant CWS Virtual Home Visits Only Since March 2020

SA: … The horrific allegations depicting the death of 6-year-old Isabella “Ariel” Kalua has stoked smoldering public anger over her disappearance and highlighted the complexities of Hawaii’s child welfare system and of prosecuting cases of abuse and family violence….

(WRONG:  Its not too ‘complicated’ for CWS to refuse to put foster children into the home of a convicted felon and a drug court ‘graduate’.) 

Officials with the various agencies involved in the case are sharing few details, citing privacy protections for children and the ongoing criminal investigation. They urge patience while the state Department of Human Serv­ices, which oversees Child Welfare Services, reviews its procedures and policies to improve the system and cooperation with essential partners.

(TRANSLATION: Wait for public anger to cool so CWS can continue the status quo just like the ‘last time’ and ‘the time before that’ and ‘the time before that’ …  and ‘next time.’)

Daisy Lynn Hartsfield, DHS Social Services Division administrator, said CWS is an easy scapegoat when a tragedy strikes involving a child under its purview, but it takes careful collaboration among multiple stakeholders to ensure the system protects minors and keeps them in healthy, nurturing environments.

(TRANSLATION: Don’t blame CWS, just dissipate your energy into nothingness so we can keep on with the status quo.)

Hartsfield would not comment on the agency’s handling of Isabella’s case but said she shares some of the public’s outrage.

“We feel the same thing the community feels. I feel disgusted. I feel angry. I feel sad because this is a child. This is a life cut short,” she said. “As a mother, I don’t have words. I am going to do my damnedest to prevent this from happening but we cannot do it alone. We all need to be on the same side and work together to prevent this from happening again.”

(REALLY OBVIOUS QUESTION: Will CWS ‘do its damnedest to prevent this from happening’???   Just like the ‘last time’ and the ‘time before that’ and ‘the time before that’???  You already know the answer.)

According to DHS, an average of 85 children enter foster care in Hawaii each month. In October, there were approximately 1,350 children in foster care statewide.

Additionally, CWS intake staff receive approximately 1,670 calls a month regarding possible abuse or neglect, and assessment workers go on to investigate roughly 270 new cases monthly, DHS said.

Meanwhile, there are 170 caseworker positions but only 125 are filled, the agency said, and each caseworker is carrying an average caseload of 50 children.

(REALITY: Departments keep ‘vacant positions’ to provide an overtime slush fund so HGEA members can get their ‘top three.’)

DHS officials said the agency is in the process of revising Hawaii Administrative Rule 17-1625, which addresses licensing of “resource family homes” for children, to provide more guidance on criminal convictions.

Currently, CWS is prevented from licensing a foster parent or adoptive parent home if any adult member of the household has a felony conviction for child abuse or neglect, spousal abuse, crimes against children or violent crimes including sexual assault, or has a felony conviction within the last five years for assault, battery or a drug- related offense.

(TRANSLATION: A violent drug dealer could become a foster parent--as long as the conviction was five years earlier.)

If the potential foster or adopted parent has a criminal conviction other than those stated, CWS will conduct an assessment that considers the type of offense, when it occurred and evidence of rehabilitation to determine any potential risk to the health, safety and well-being of the child.

A judge must review and approve the adoption.

(TRANSLATION: CWS is afraid of revealing what its records show about the decision to approve a violent four-time convicted felon and his drug-court-graduate wife as foster parents.  They remind the judge of his shared culpability in an effort to dis-incentivize exposure.)

Complicating matters further for social workers responsible for checking in on Isabella’s youngest sibling, who was in foster care with the Kaluas, were the state’s emergency COVID-19 orders. Starting in March 2020, in- person visits by child welfare workers were done only if specific allegations of abuse were made.

Once CWS gets a report of abuse, the agency is mandated to see the child in person within 48 hours.

(TRANSLATION: CWS is afraid of revealing what ‘see-the child’ really amounted to with the HGEA refusing to show up for work once COVID gave them an excuse.  So here are some scenarios spoon-fed to the Star-Adv.)

“With COVID-19, that was a challenge but we did our best. We masked up and followed safety protocols,” Hartsfield said. “For other families where there may have been (a prior relationship in good standing with CWS), in those types of situations, because of COVID and then the delta variant, if it was possible and appropriate, those visits could be done virtually.”

(TRANSLATION: Thanks to HGEA refusal to work, we have had virtual visits to the Kaluas since March, 2020.  They had a ‘prior relationship.’)

State Rep. Ryan Yamane, chairman of the House Health, Human Services and Homelessness Committee, said the community and lawmakers should discuss if DHS has enough resources and support services to continue monitoring former foster children after they are adopted.

Yamane, (D, Mililani-Waipio Gentry-Waikele) also urged public patience during the emotional aftermath of Isabella’s death (so we edited his dissembling to make it truthful). 

“If the community is outraged and wants to do something, good families should apply to provide good foster homes … ,” Yamane said. “It’s hard enough to find committed health care workers to work in CWS. If we want the highest trained, most qualified workers (With the skills needed to convince one sister to keep quiet about sex assault so her younger sister can go the to same foster home.) with our highest at-risk youth, we need to make sure they (HGEA members) are protected and supported (so they won’t have to quit and flee the state). So let’s find out what happened first before we throw the first stone.”

(TRANSLATION: CWS recruits felons as foster parents and that’s …uh… your fault.  Yeah! You!  And I thank HGEA for getting me reelected.)

Background:

read … Isabella Kalua case exposes limits of child welfare system

Latest Honolulu rail numbers are a new twist on an old shell game

Shapiro:  … Magical numbers flew like cow chips last week around Honolulu’s favorite fiscal black hole — the debt-ridden rail project.

The rail agency’s projections of funds needed to complete the 20-mile commuter line from Kapolei to Honolulu miraculously shrank from $12.5 billion estimated in March to $11.48 bil­lion, while the projected deficit dipped from $3.5 billion to $1.97 billion — with the giddy possibility it could drop $500 million more.

At the same time, the expected annual revenues from a 3% city hotel room tax moving through the City Council amazingly mushroomed from the $48 million projected by the state when the Legislature authorized the tax earlier this year to $86 million by current city estimates.

The Council bill up for final approval Dec. 1 would allot $43 million of this real or imagined bounty to rail each year….

It all got the blessing of senior U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, who seldom seems able to help us out of this mess but always feels entitled to tell us what to do….

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation isn’t releasing details of a new audit that’s the basis for the revised numbers, and after more than a decade of HART misinformation about its finances, even board chairwoman Colleen Hanabusa doubted the public would buy the new outlook.

“The people are beginning to wonder whether we know what we’re talking about,” she said….

In the end, this seems to serve the same desperate purpose of every previous rail bailout: Keep the pea shells moving and buy time to blunder along until the next inevitable funding crisis….

Borreca: No matter how it’s spun, Oahu rail deficit of up to $2 billion is still billions we don’t have

read … Latest Honolulu rail numbers are a new twist on an old shell game

Spying on You: HTA Wants Control of Safe Travels Database

SA: … There is no end in sight for Safe Travels, the pandemic-inspired traveler entry program, which is currently costing Hawaii more than $3.1 million a month.

Gov. David Ige once suggested the program would run until at least 70% of Hawaii’s population is vaccinated against COVID-19. Then he moved the goalposts as the delta variant brought COVID-19 spikes to Hawaii and other parts of the world.

The ball is still in the air.

Ige’s emergency proclamation extending Safe Travels expires Nov. 30. Health officials said Friday that 72.3% of the state’s population is now fully vaccinated, and 84.8% have received at least one dose.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green has suggested Safe Travels should continue until Dec. 31, then sunset if the state is functionally fully immune. Green defines that as the point where 85% to 88% of residents would be fully vaccinated and the other 12% to 15% would have caught the virus and recovered.

However, Hawaii’s policy of requiring vaccinations or a negative COVID-19 test to bypass quarantine rules for people entering the state will likely stay in place into next year, Green said. Ige is unlikely to end the program until the rest of the world has seen a great decrease in COVID-19, he added….

Jeffrey Hickman, state Department of Defense spokesman, said in an email to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that the agency has oversight for Safe Travels. Hickman said the state spent about $10 million to set up and operate Safe Travels from Dec. 31 through June. The state already has spent about $9 million of the $9.8 million budgeted for the July 1 to Sept. 30 period this year, he said….

“There are currently no plans beyond the pandemic for the Safe Travels digital platform,” Hickman said….

However, Hawaii Tourism Authority Chief Brand Officer Kalani Kaanaana has proposed keeping Safe Travels alive longer as a tourism management tool. Kaanaana told the HTA board’s marketing committee Monday that HTA could use Safe Travels to communicate with visitors, especially during emergencies.

Even if visitors no longer needed tests or vaccines to enter Hawaii, he envisions that they could use Safe Travels to input the agricultural form they currently fill out on the plane. He said travelers also could sign “pono pledges” to be on good behavior and respect Hawaii’s culture, people and places.

Safe Travels also could supply HTA with travel data, said Kaanaana, who pitched the program as part of a Smart Destination Hawaii concept, which would cost $10 million over a three-year period.

He said that expense is over and above the $9.4 million sole-source contract HTA previously awarded to the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau for destination management or the soon-to-be-awarded contract for Hawaii tourism destination brand marketing and management services for major U.S. markets….

read … Proposal to extend the Safe Travels program would damage Hawaii’s image, some in the visitor industry say

Judicial Backlog Easing Now That Jury Trials are Resumed

CB: … How’s the backlog for cases? Obviously, with the postponement of jury trials I would imagine that the backlog has increased for you.

It’s very interesting. It clearly was increasing during the summer of and into the fall of 2020. And I think what happened once you were able to restart jury trials — I think we restarted in the neighbor islands in November of 2020, and then on Oahu in December. Once jury trials were happening and once we were able to have folks be able to get into court remotely — if that was the safest or most appropriate for a particular hearing — I think what we found is that both on the civil side and on the criminal side, cases began to resolve.

And so my sense is that while we were up and running with jury trials throughout most of 2021, a lot of those numbers came down and there might be places around, in particular circuit courts, in particular types of cases where the numbers are a little bit higher than they were before, generally speaking, because we’re doing trials and because we’re able to hear cases, I think that’s the impetus for people to look for negotiated resolutions, whether on the criminal side or the civil side….

read … Civil Beat Editorial Board Interview: Hawaii Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald

Solar Farm: $1.37M Bribe Makes NIMBYs Go Away

CB: … In September, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission took the unusual step of ordering a solar farm developer and a community group to use mediation to resolve a bitter dispute over a planned project to power more than 11,500 homes.

The West Maui Preservation Association had intervened in Kahana Solar’s application for a power purchase agreement with Maui Electric Co., setting in motion a contested case before the PUC.

The association listed a litany of concerns ranging from pollution and the protection of native plants to electricity price impacts, and said it wouldn’t support the project unless the developer addressed their issues.

Maui laws only require PUC approval for such projects, but the commission had approved the association’s request to intervene.

However, with the assistance of a retired Maui circuit court judge over two days in September, the two parties struck an amicable deal, unwinding the kind of tensions that all too often lead to disruptive protests or years of costly legal delays.

At the heart of the agreement is a legally enforceable $1,375,000 community benefits package that Innergex’s Kahana Solar has agreed to donate to West Maui community groups over the 25-year lifespan of the project, amounting to $55,000 per year….  

PVM: The solar power facility signed a 25-year fixed price agreement to sell its electricity at roughly 8.9¢/kWh.

IM: The Perfect Storm of The Perfect Opportunity -- Hawaii Energy Policy Enters New Era

read … Bribery is Legal

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