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Tuesday, April 5, 2022
April 5, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:59 PM :: 1463 Views

Red Hill Captain Relieved--Rear Admiral Takes Over

State Let Double Rapist out of Prison--Then the Feds Got Involved

One-time teacher pay increase could cost Hawaii millions

9th Circuit Allows Class Action Suit over Lack of Female Locker Rooms in Hawaii DoE Schools 

Hawaii Safe Travels to become ‘Regenerative Tourism’ Spy Program?

SA: … state leaders have begun convening to determine the next generation of Safe Travels, Hawaii’s $37 million-plus pandemic-era travel policy, which ended March 25….

The state’s chief information officer, Doug Murdock, said the Safe Travels web application is being retained, along with its codes, configurations and workflow, in case there is a need to restart the program.

“We are looking into possibilities of using the Safe Travels technology for other things, perhaps being used in the visitor industry. We are still in discussions and exploring ideas,” Murdock said.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority hopes to hire a consultant that can use Safe Travels to develop a “smart destination” initiative, which would use technology to manage tourism.

HTA President and CEO John De Fries told the HTA Branding Committee on Wednesday that the agency has been asked to be part of a group “to look at what the next generation of Safe Travels should be, could be, and present it in a way that is much more comprehensive.”

De Fries said the effort is being headed by HI-EMA and the state Office of Enterprise Technology Services, and includes the state departments of Health, Transportation and Business, Economic Development and Tourism, and airport leaders….

Gov. David Ige already has talked to a federal task force about the U.S. adopting future travel policies that include being able to require health-related testing and verify tests.

“Just as 9/11 instituted changes in security on travel in general with the new TSA checks and those kinds of things, I really am advocating that they should establish some process for health emergencies and being able to require testing and other kinds of health screening,” Ige told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser during a March 24 interview…

114 thermal cameras, a $30 million investment, to detect passengers with fevers, and 98 facial-recognition cameras to help find them before they left the airport….

DOD spokesman Jeff Hickman said the state could not say how many passengers were flagged by the thermal cameras or how many of those people had COVID-19….

Less than a year after it began, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the enhanced health screenings, which included temperature checks and questioning of travelers about COVID-19 symptoms, had “limited effectiveness” because some infected people have no symptoms or only minor ones.

The CDC said that of the 675,000 travelers who went through the process, the extra screening identified fewer than 15 who were found to have COVID-19.  (Wow!)

State Sen. Sharon Moriwaki (D, Kakaako-McCully- Waikiki) said she expects the Senate to vote early this week on a resolution, SCR 193, that asks the state DOT to develop a plan for “the cost-effective disposition of the Safe Travels thermal screening and tracing camera equipment and other related operations.”

“If we have to upload Safe Travels again, we don’t want to get all new equipment,” Moriwaki said. “But they don’t have to use it for Safe Travels. They could repurpose them. These cameras are for security. They could ask for federal funds.”…

HTA Chief Brand Officer Kalani Ka‘ana‘ana said the agency plans to participate in the state discussion, which will inform development of its Hawaii smart- destination initiative.

Ka‘ana‘ana envisions that Safe Travels could be one of the tourism management tools in the initiative, which he hopes would serve as a “regenerative tourism engine” — a one-stop source where visitors can get educational and emergency information, make reservations to visit natural and cultural resources, shop for Hawaii goods and services, and possibly book Hawaii travel and activities.

Even though visitors no longer need COVID-19 tests or vaccines to enter Hawaii, Ka‘ana‘ana envisions 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.

HTA already is working with Sen. Glenn Wakai (D, Kalihi-Salt Lake-Aliamanu), who has been pushing the state to digitize its agricultural declaration form. De Fries said he has requested Ka‘ana‘ana reach out to airlines that might be interested in piloting a digital form….

“Getting rid of facial-recognition cameras and thermal screening is a ridiculous idea,” Wakai said. “We are moving toward the day when you and I don’t need a phone or a card, we just use our face to get access and pay for things. I think the future is right in front of our faces, so to speak.”…

read … Hawaii leaders review future of Safe Travels Hawaii program    

Corporate Interests, NIMBYs and Political Ambition: How Middle Ground Solutions are Removed from Consideration

SA: … Since the last election, controversial issues on Oahu’s Windward side have become a zero-sum game propelled by corporate interests, NIMBYs and political ambition. This is disappointing to residents who spent hours testifying at hearings only to be ignored because legislators had already made up their mind.

The Honolulu City Council recently voted to spend $1 million to destroy the Haiku Stairs because the residents who live near the stairs complained of noise, trash and parking issues. The Friends of Haiku Stairs came up with a managed access plan that addressed all those complaints but yet, the Council voted to destroy an 80- year-old gem and world-class hike.

Don’t Council members understand that removing the stairs can cause erosion and make it much more difficult for conservationists to access native plants on the ridge? Why didn’t Council members give the managed access plan a try when so many more people testified to save the stairs, not once, but twice in a span of two years? Don’t the voices of the majority of constituents matter anymore?

Wouldn’t it be smarter to use the $1.3 million (yes, price tag has increased from $1 million) to upgrade the stairs, manage access to the hike with a designated parking area, trash cans and restrooms and charge hikers a hefty fee? The fee can be used to maintain the trail.

A bill banning all commercial activity except movie and TV productions at Waimanalo beaches was recently passed by the Council. This is a win for NIMBYs and the movie industry…

Related: Kahuku and Waimanalo Protests show why Hawaii Needs Municipal Government 

read … Find middle ground on controversial Windward side issues 

DoE Superintendent: Only Two Applicants from Hawaii--BoE Extends Deadline to Make Inevitable Result Look Good

SA: The application period has been extended in the search for Hawaii’s next permanent superintendent of public schools because only a little over a dozen candidates have applied, and only two are from Hawaii.

The application period was supposed to end April 1 but has been moved to 5 p.m. April 12.

“There were very few Hawaii applicants, and we felt it was important to reach out to more of the Hawaii organizations to make sure interested, qualified candidates had the information,” said state Board of Education Chair Catherine Payne, who heads the board committee that is organizing the national search and selection…. (uh huh)

CB: Hawaii’s Interim School Chief Wants The Job Permanently. Is He Up To It?  (gotta get some more applicants before picking Hayashi)

read … Deadline extended to apply for schools superintendent post

After Year of HGEA Being Paid to do ‘Training’, State Lunatic Hospital will Finally Open

CB: … After standing empty for more than a year, the new Hawaii State Hospital building is tentatively scheduled to begin taking patients on April 13.

The $160 million facility was turned over to the state Department of Health last April, but delays in developing an operating plan and policies and procedures for the new high-tech building (HGEA goldbricks) were mostly to blame for the long stretch when it stood vacant, said Marian Tsuji, deputy director for Behavioral Health Services Administration…. 

SA Editorial: Star-Adv Editors Act Like the Delays are a Mystery

SoR: Legislature discusses Hawaii State Hospital delays ahead of budget vote

SA: New Hawaii State Hospital to open after lengthy delay

read … The New Hawaii State Hospital May Finally Start Accepting Patients Next Week

Hawaii Lawmakers Propose Raising OHA’s Share Of Ceded Land Revenue

CB: … Right now, state agencies that use those lands are required to transfer an aggregate $15.1 million to OHA each year. Lawmakers set that amount in 2006 and have not raised it since.

The office asked lawmakers for several years to raise that cap to a higher amount. OHA uses those funds for grant programs, but measures that would raise the cap have died in past years.

A measure this year could make it further. On Monday, the House Finance Committee voted unanimously to advance a bill that would raise the cap to $21.5 million. Senate Bill 2021 also would require a six-member working group appointed by the governor and OHA to recommend a new amount to the Legislature every year.

The bill would also give OHA access to about $31 million in a holding account that neither the state nor OHA has been able to spend ….

Related: Akina: Success of OHA’s Grants Program is a Strong Reason to Increase OHA’s PLT Share

read … Hawaii Lawmakers Propose Raising OHA’s Share Of Ceded Land Revenue

Landfill Advisory Committee rejects proposed sites for new Oahu landfill

SA: … The city’s Landfill Advisory Committee voted Monday not to recommend any of the six proposed locations to replace the island’s only municipal landfill at Waimanalo Gulch on the West side of Oahu.

The state Land Use Committee ruled in 2019 that the landfill must close by March 2, 2028, due to environmental issues and that the city must select a new location by the end of 2022.

The Landfill Advisory Committee, charged with evaluating potential landfill sites, had narrowed down the candidates to six. The main limiting factor in determining potential locations was Act 73, passed in September, which prohibits any waste or disposal facility from being located in a state conservation district and requires a half-mile buffer between the edge of any disposal activity and the closest residence, school or hospital property line…. 

Big Q: Where should a new public landfill be sited to replace the one in Waimanalo Gulch in West Oahu?

CB: Future Of Oahu Landfill Is Uncertain After Committee Rejects Alternatives

2021: City narrows down new landfill to Makakilo or Wheeler (plus two fake sites on N Shore)

(CLUE: The purpose is to force Waimanalo Gulch to remain open.)

read … Landfill Advisory Committee rejects proposed sites for new Oahu landfill

News from Maui: Duck Still Quacking

MN: … Complaints have been cleared against two Maui doctors for allegedly “spreading misinformation” about COVID-19, specifically the use of hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin to treat the virus, which federal agencies have advised against.

The state Regulated Industries Complaints Office in the Department of Commerce & Consumer Affairs said last week on its website that “no legal action” was imposed on Dr. Lorrin Pang, who is also the state Department of Health Maui District health officer along with pediatric cardiologist Dr. Kirk Milhoan, who is also the senior pastor of Calvary Chapel South Maui….

HNN: State clears top Maui health official who faced widespread backlash over his COVID statements

read … Quack

No-bail detainee awaiting murder trial gets unguarded release for funeral

HNN: … Jonaven Mason is awaiting trial in connection with a grisly murder. Mason and Dylon Ford were arrested in August 2020, weeks after the body of Joseph Hoffman was found in a shallow grave. Hoffman had been shot twice in the head and bound before being partially buried….

Mason has spent much of his pretrial incarceration in solitary confinement at Halawa prison. This weekend, he was allowed to walk out the front, get in the car with his dad, and attend his grandfather’s funeral in Waianae….

“This is really unusual,” Breiner said. “Normally, inmates are not allowed to participate in family funerals, but they do make exceptions. In the past, they require that at least two to four guards accompany the inmate to the funeral. They’re normally shackled both at their waist and at their ankles.”…

Judge Kevin Souza signed off, saying Mason could leave at 8:30 a.m., be back by 1 p.m., with only his father as the escort, and with a drug test upon return.

That’s a 180 from when this same judge who denied Mason’s request to attend his godfather’s funeral last fall, saying at that time: “It is not appropriate to allow” in large part because Mason’s on a no-bail hold for being a flight risk and danger to the community….

Insiders at Halawa, baffled by the move say there’s talk of a family connection. The judiciary spokesperson said: “Mason’s mother’s last name is Souza. Judge Souza has never met her nor is he aware of any relation.”

Even Mason’s attorney was surprised Mason got out, and just to his family’s custody….

LOL: In Hawaii, It Is All Too Easy To Punish

read … No-bail detainee awaiting murder trial gets unguarded release for funeral

Gambling raid at building owned by monster home developer

HNN: … Police last week conducted a gambling raid at a building at 1420 Liliha St., seizing more than a dozen gaming machines, cash and a gun. They also arrested the alleged operator, 55-year-old Qi Ling He.

The building is owned by prolific monster home developer Christy Zeng Lei.

“Here we have a monster home developer who has a record of disregarding the rules. And it’s no surprise they would allow a game room to operate underneath their noses,” said Tyler Dos Santos-Tam of HI Good Neighbor, which opposes monster home developments.

Lei and her husband have built dozens of oversized homes, mostly in Kaimuki and Palolo, which have been criticized for adding to the congestion in the neighborhoods and taxing the area’s infrastructure.

Lei told Hawaii News Now that she doesn’t know that man who was arrested and that he’s a squatter and not a tenant.

She said the property also has been overrun by dozens of homeless people who have found a way to get in the building and crash there….

read … Gambling raid at building owned by monster home developer draws concern

Three Honolulu Homeless Shelters Are Closing, Leaving Clients With Uncertainty

CB: … Mental Health Kokua, which has run Safe Haven out of a city-owned building since 2015, was asked to vacate its Pauahi Street premises when its lease expires in November, if not sooner, according to Executive Director Greg Payton. He is now looking for a new home for the nonprofit’s 25-bed permanent supportive housing program for adults with severe mental illness.

Payton’s nonprofit is one of three homeless service providers on Oahu whose operations are in flux as they seek new locations.

The Family Assessment Center in Kakaako is now vacant and seeking to transition to a new space after a city land transfer made its current location legally untenable. Catholic Charities, which runs its programming, will continue operating it in a new location that has yet to be determined, according to Hawaii Department of Human Services spokeswoman Amanda Stevens.

And the Next Step emergency shelter’s state contract is up at the end of June. Its current facility in Kakaako will be converted into a space for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Stevens said. …

read … Three Honolulu Homeless Shelters Are Closing, Leaving Clients With Uncertainty

Hawaii’s Wildlife is Dying of Thirst, On Purpose

HR: … DLNR is the cause of the problem, deliberately keeping empty watering units that had once served this very purpose, at a time when the DLNR cared about protecting and supporting these animals.

In some places, there are watering units still kept full for birds, but these are fenced so no land animals can drink. Families of goats and sheep are literally dying of thirst outside a gated watering unit.

The DLNR is mandated by Hawaii Revised Statute 183D to properly manage and support game animals. Game Management Areas have been designated for these animals to live, and provide hunting resources for the public. According to the law, the DLNR is even supposed to introduce and propagate new species for hunting. And as a positive side effect, fire hazards are reduced by having grazing animals controlling weeds.

But about a few decades ago a new mandate was given to the DLNR. Native resources were suddenly deemed more important than food resources, and these same animals were suddenly labelled “invasive” for their potential harm to native ecosystems. … 

There is currently a Bill, HB1872, being considered by the Hawaii Legislature. It’s purpose is to reaffirm the value and benefit of game animals in Hawaii, and remind the DLNR of their responsibilities. It’s scheduled for the Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday, April 5. 

HiFiCo: Please help the hunting community by supporting HB1872

HB1872: Text, Status

read … Hawaii’s Wildlife is Dying of Thirst, On Purpose

Legislative Agenda:

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