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Thursday, January 20, 2022
January 20, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:23 PM :: 2265 Views

VIDEO: Day One Speeches at Hawaii Legislature 

Hawaii Communities Bring Hope, Can-Do Spirit to School Choice Week Celebrations

Max Sword Points Finger at Amemiya, Leong--Caldwell Next?

SA: … Sword, through his attorney, also alleged that he agreed to the $250,000 payment to Kealoha only after having received advice from “interested parties,” including the City Council, Honolulu Police Department and the public. Sword’s position is problematic on several fronts.

First, who exactly, other than the Caldwell administration, did Sword rely upon for advice? In a letter to the City Council in January 2017, Sword outright told the City Council to flat out stay out of the matter, as Kealoha’s retirement was a “personnel” matter and solely within the province of the Police Commission to resolve. And, as reported by then-Police Commissioners Loretta Sheehan and Steven Levinson, despite questions voiced within the commission itself, Donna Leong and Max Sword informed them that it was a “done deal” and there would be no further negotiations. And despite objections, HPD’s voice was silenced as well.

Second, Sword’s position that he was simply acting as a soldier in response to the advice he received from Leong and her office raises the concern that Sword never truly understood, or for that matter believed, that even though the mayor has the sole authority to appoint commission members, the Police Commission is an independent body not beholden to the mayor or his/her administration.

Third, this type of belief — which clearly carried the day throughout the Louis and Katherine Kealoha matter and appears to continue to this day — strongly suggests that further reform is necessary to address who should appoint police commission members. As we have seen with the Caldwell administration, when trouble raises its head, it appears the mayor appeases public concerns by the appointment of one or two reform- minded commissioners, such as with the appointment of Sheehan and Levinson. So long as such reform-minded commissioners remain in the minority, however — a condition that mayors can assure — the majority of commissioners who seem to believe they serve at the pleasure of the mayor will ensure that no real and lasting reform will ever be undertaken by the police commission itself.

And fourth, in the short term, Sword’s apparent defense will create a significant problem for Leong and former city Managing Director Roy Amemiya in their upcoming federal trial. Sword’s position does not deny the facts that the federal prosecutors have alleged in the indictment, only that as far as he is concerned, he cannot be held legally responsible because he was instructed to do as he did. No illegal intent. Sword’s attorney did not claim in any manner that the facts alleged in the indictment were wrong, only outrage that his client’s reliance on the administration’s advice, as outlined in the indictment, should give rise to criminal charges against him. As such, Sword could become one of the prosecutor’s most important witnesses, even in his own defense. Winning a federal trial is hard enough for a defendant, but when one co-defendant is taking the position that the allegations are, in fact, true, but he alone has a legal excuse, it does not bode well for the co-defendants in that same case….

read … A new opportunity for meaningful reform of police oversight

‘Round 3, I’m out’: Hawaii Restaurant Association worries new COVID rules could turn away business, customers

KHON: … A new requirement could be coming to the Safe Access Oahu program. Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said adding COVID-19 booster shots is under consideration, but what could that mean for businesses and customers?

Currently, dine-in restaurants, gyms and theaters require customers to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative coronavirus test taken within 48 hours….

According to the Hawaii Department of Health, 32% of Oahu residents are boosted.

Meanwhile, the Hawaii Restaurant Association (HRA) said the industry has been one of the hardest hit and is the most restricted. Now, with talks about the booster shot possibly being added to Safe Access Oahu, some are worried about how it will impact staffing and revenue….

“We’re going to lose people that we love and care about in our restaurants because they’re going to say, enough is enough. I’ve been through this round one and two already. Round three, I’m out.” ….

read … ‘Round 3, I’m out’

Hawaii House leaders vow to clear Hawaiian Home Lands backlog, raise minimum wage and decommission Red Hill

SA: … Leaders in the state House of Representatives set a high bar Wednesday on the Opening Day of the new legislative session by proposing $600 million to help clear the backlog of Native Hawaiians waiting to get into livable homes, raising Hawaii’s $10.10 an hour minimum wage and demanding the Department of Defense remove its fuel and tanks at Red Hill and decommission the system.

The marker laid down by state House Speaker Scott Saiki was met with applause, especially with the pledge to provide the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands with a one-time infusion of $600 million.

State Rep. Gene Ward (R, Hawaii Kai-Kalama Valley), an advocate for helping Native Hawaiians — especially to get them housed on their ancestral lands — then rose on the House floor and expressed his gratitude to Saiki.

Ward said he would “mark this day as a historical day for the people of Hawaii” — 100 years after the Hawaiian Homes Commission was founded.

Ward called the Opening Day of the new legislative session for the House “a new day for the people of Hawaii, particularly the Hawaiian community that’s on the wait list that is now 28,000 people strong. Thank you for what you’re doing …. Thank you speaker, mahalo, mahalo. This is a day that’s going to go down in history.”

Saiki called it a “historic piece of legislation.”

With tourism arrivals rebounding faster than expected — along with tax revenues — House Finance Chairwoman Sylvia Luke (D, Punchbowl-Pauoa-Nuuanu) told reporters “there is an opportunity for us to do great things this year and we shouldn’t miss that opportunity.”

Gov. David Ige has proposed setting aside $1 billion into the state’s Rainy Day Fund for future emergencies, an idea that is facing pushback from some members of the House and Senate.

Asked if the $600 million commitment for Hawaiian Home Lands will come from Ige’s Rainy Day Fund proposal, Luke said, “It’s not just the $1 billion. We will need to look at the total amount of the budget and what is available, but it is the single-largest commitment by the Legislature to address the 20,000 people on the wait list.”

In addition, Saiki addressed other Native Hawaiian cultural issues and said, “The House will expand community-based efforts to restore fish ponds and loi; repatriate cultural artifacts; teach financial literacy; and provide cultural training to the military.”….

read … Hawaii House leaders vow to clear Hawaiian Home Lands backlog

Sales Pitch for Next Boondoggle: Ala Wai Today 1pm

SA: … Try, try again. It’s another reset for the Ala Wai flood control project, first launched two decades ago but stopped in its tracks in 2020. That was due to considerable opposition from upstream neighborhoods as well as a rising $650 million price tag that forced the project back to the drawing board.

Today, from noon to 1 p.m., there will be a virtual community forum on the Ala Wai Flood Risk Management General Reevaluation Study. Hosted by the city and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the session will provide an update on the study and unveil new communication tools.

To access the webinar, see usace1.webex.com/meet/AlaWai. For more information as this process unfolds, see www.honolulu.gov/AlaWai.…  

SA: Public input sought for revised Ala Wai flood project

read … Ala Wai flood control redux

More families file claims against Navy as attorneys plan for class-action lawsuit

HNN: … “We felt it was necessary to go after the Navy because they are ones responsible,” said Bronster, of Bronster Fujichaku Robbins Attorneys at Law.

They held a news conference Wednesday with medical experts and a mainland law firm.

“The government at the highest levels turns its back on its service members and that’s why we got involved in this case,” said attorney Corey Weck.

“If you drink water with fuel in it, it doesn’t necessarily disperse in a uniform way. It tends to concentrate in certain tissues and we worry about it concentrating in brain and neuro tissue,” added Dr. Larry McEvoy, emergency room physician and healthcare CEO.

During a recent congressional hearing, Navy leaders said they were complying with the state’s emergency order to defuel the Red Hill tanks, but refused to concede that the state had the legal authority over the Navy.

“That’s one of the reasons why we felt it was necessary to step in for the claimants because I don’t know if the Navy is going to listen to the state,” said Bronster.

As part of this legal process, Bronster said active-duty military cannot file claims, but family members can….

read … More families file claims against Navy as attorneys plan for class-action lawsuit

Lawsuit: UPW Elections Botched

L360: The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees asked a Hawaii federal judge to toss a suit claiming it botched a union officers' election run on a local's behalf…

In their lawsuit, filed in December, the members accused AFSCME of failing to ensure it had every UPW member's email address before sending out ballots, failing to ensure there were observers in place when the ballots were counted and failing to prepare UPW members for electronic voting.

L360: Five members of a Hawaii-based AFSCME local sued the national union Sunday in federal court, claiming it botched an internal election it conducted on the local affiliate's behalf.

read … AFSCME Wants Out Of Hawaii Local's Election Challenge

Staffing shortages leave scores of Hawaii hospital patients ‘waitlisted’ for long-term care beds

HNN: … Health officials say there are approximately 150 “waitlisted” patients in hospitals across the state.

That means the person needs to be in a nursing home or some type of skilled nursing facility but that there isn’t an available bed.

The figure is significant given just how full hospitals are. On Wednesday, the number of patients in Hawaii hospitals hit a new all-time high ― at 2,395.

Officials say 399 have COVID….

Lo estimates up to 15% of staff haven’t been to work this week because they’ve either been infected or exposed to COVID. Add to that another issue: Hundreds of frontline positions have gone unfilled.

“Some places, we’re worse than half staff,” Lo said….

On Tuesday, Straub had 184 patients in its hospital, an all-time record. Close to 10% were waitlisted….“They would be in much better shape if they were able to discharge these patients,” Raethel said….

read … Staffing shortages leave scores of Hawaii hospital patients ‘waitlisted’ for long-term care beds

Substitute Teachers Are In High Demand But Short Supply In Hawaii

CB: … As of Jan. 11, the Department of Education system had 3,922 substitutes, down from 4,738 in the 2019-20 school year…..

read … Here’s Why Substitute Teachers Are In High Demand But Short Supply In Hawaii

$30K Mortgage help for Oahu residents

KITV: … The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, which is administering the Oahu Homeowner Assistance Fund, estimates about 17,000 Hawaii homeowners are currently in forbearance and delinquent on their mortgage.

"We anticipate only being able to serve about 2,000 to 3,000 of that demand so you can see there's still a large gap in the funding that's available from the federal government to the need that's here within our community," said Kainalu Severson, director of emergency financial assistance at the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement.

The state's receiving $50 million in funds through the American Rescue Plan Act for mortgage assistance programs, also available on the neighbor islands.

For more information, go to https://www.hawaiiancouncil.org/kokua. …

read … Free Money from the Sky

HTA Demands $60M to Find ‘Mindful’ Tourists

CB: … The state tourism authority is asking the Legislature for funding to rebrand Hawaii and attract visitors who might volunteer to plant trees, clean beaches and care for taro patches. ….

read … Subsidized Hawaii Tourism

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