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Wednesday, June 15, 2022
June 15, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:19 PM :: 2237 Views

Secret Swearing in for Joe Logan Designed to Head Off New Questions About Special Treatment

Congress Moving $2.2B for Red Hill

CNHA Got Contract by Kicking Tourism Industry Professionals off Committee and Lying About Transition Team

SA:  …  On Dec. 10, HTA awarded HVCB a four-year contract to market the U.S. that was worth $22.5 million the first year and came with an option to extend a year. Seven days later CNHA sent state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism Director Mike McCartney a 14-page protest, after which he rescinded HVCB’s offer.

CNHA said in its protest letter, “Given the importance of this industry to the culture, natural resources, and economic development of this place we have called home for nearly 2,000 years, we feel compelled to protest this decision and strongly urge HTA leadership to find that the best value to the state of Hawaii, and her people have not been met through this decision.”

McCartney declined to comment due to procurement rules.

CNHA’s protest letter alleged that committee member Karen Hughes gave it a low outlier score, which it said skewed the results by nullifying the scores of five committee members. It stated that HTA’s procurement officer during a Dec. 13 briefing had acknowledged that outlier scores affected the decision.

(REALITY: The other committee members gave CNHA a politically motivated high score.)

CNHA also argued that Hughes had a conflict of interest as a former HVCB executive.

CNHA said when it brought up the question of bias for Hughes during a debriefing, the HTA procurement officer indicated that Hughes, who had worked for HVCB six years ago, was outside a five-year prior-­employment window that was used as the threshold to determine conflict.

Hughes, a past HTA vice president of marketing and product development, declined to comment. She was the only committee member with an extensive history in Hawaii’s hotel industry.  (BINGO!)

Other committee members for the first RFP included Laci Goshi, who was serving at the time as HTA brand manager for the U.S. market; HTA Chief Brand Officer Kalani Ka‘ana‘ana; HTA board Chair George Kam; HTA board member David Arakawa; HTA brand manager Maka Casson-Fisher; and Mahina Paishon-Duarte, a social entrepreneur with two Hawaii-based businesses and co-founder of Waiwai Collective.

Second round

Changes to the scope of work in the second version of the request for proposals, which HTA re-solicited in April, added a requirement for a global support services management plan. The second RFP’s scoring model was changed to minimize marketing. Language was added to allow the new contractor to start without a permanent team in place.

The selection committee’s makeup changed during the second version of the RFP, as did the scores and applicants.

Arakawa, Kam, Ka‘ana‘ana and Paishon-Duarte returned to serve on the second RFP evaluation committee. However, Hughes, Goshi and Casson-­Fisher were replaced by state harbors Administrator Davis Yogi, Kualoa Ranch President and owner John Morgan, and Nalani Brun, director of Kauai County’s Office of Economic Development. 

(Translation: Committee stacked with CNHA cronies.) 

The second RFP committee, which did not include any hoteliers, picked CNHA over HVCB by a 103.9-point margin. The score for CNHA in the second round was 724 and for HVCB was 620.08….

(IQ Test: Are you laughing?)

CNHA asked Wondros, the third finalist from the first RFP, to become a major marketing subcontractor. Leslie Dance, a former HTA vice president of marketing and product development, is on Wondros’ team.

CNHA name-dropped other well-known Hawaii visitor industry names as part of its first and second RFP applications. However, Star-Advertiser research has confirmed that at least two of CNHA’s proposed team members — Jerry Gibson, of the Hawaii Hotel Alliance and BRE Hotels and Resorts, and Tom Kiely, former XTERRA CEO/co-founder — had not committed to the organization…..

Gibson, who serves as president of the Hawaii Hotel Alliance, told the Star-­Advertiser on Tuesday that he met with CNHA’s Lewis on May 14 but did not make a commitment to the nonprofit.

“I was never asked to be involved with the bid from CNHA, and I have no idea how I ended up in the bid documents for CNHA,” Gibson said. “I was never asked to be on the transition team by Kuhio Lewis. We had a conversation, and he asked, ‘If CNHA wins the bid, would you be able to support us?’” ….

Kiely said he was misidentified as part of CNHA’s first RFP proposal’s transition team.

“I got a call from somebody last fall that said, ‘Hey, if somebody wants to talk about tourism, are you open to do that?’” he said. “It was never mentioned that it was a proposal (involving) HTA, none of that. When I saw my name was part of a proposal, I was upset about it.” ….  

SA Editorial: “The best next step would be to cancel this award”

read … Questions cast pall over lucrative Hawaii tourism contract

Hu Honua and SB2510 Are Directly Connected

IM: … Hu Honua Bioenergy LLC`s lobbyist had a desk in the office of the author of SB2510 (Sen DelaCruz) .…  

Sen DelaCruz: Senate Bill 2510 Is A Blueprint For Hawaii’s Energy Independence

IM: Consumer Advocate, Life of the Land & Tawhiri -- File Replies to HELCO & Hu `s Request to Amend PUC Decision

read … Hu Honua and SB2510 Are Directly Connected

Down Again: Hawaii reports 7,199 COVID cases, 9 new deaths

KITV: … The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) reported nine new deaths related to COVID-19 and 7,199 new infections over the last seven days in Hawaii. The total number of deaths stands at 1,474.

The statewide test positivity rate is 18.9%. -- the positivity rate in Honolulu County is 21.4%; on the Big Island it's 15.3%; in Maui County it's 17.5%; and on Kauai it is 22.2%. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 297,851 total infections to date….  

read … Hawaii reports 7,199 COVID cases, 9 new deaths

Hawaii voter registration reaches record levels

HNN: … For the 2020 primary election, Honolulu County had just over 525,000 people registered to vote.

Now, even with the primary two months away, more than 561,000 people have registered….

Every county has seen an increase. Kauai County has more than 2,600 additional registered voters.

Hawaii County more than 6,000. While Maui County has seen nearly a 10% increase in interested voters compared to 2020….

read … Hawaii voter registration reaches record levels

Council questions why hundreds of homeless shelter beds have vanished or are sitting unused

HNN: … Even though Hawaii continues to grapple with a homeless crisis, hundreds of shelter beds on Oahu have either vanished or are sitting empty. The reason? A lot of it appears to boil down to red tape and bureaucracy.

One example is Iwilei’s Homeless Resource Center.

Construction on the project was finished in February, yet the facility ― which includes 27 low income apartments ― remains empty because of failed negotiations with the initial service provider that was chosen to run the place.

It’s been that way four months.

On Tuesday morning, Honolulu City Councilmembers questioned why the $17 million building is just sitting there while homeless are camped outside….

The facility is one of several intended to help the homeless that are either temporarily suspended or underutilized.

“There is about 270 shelter spaces that have been displaced or suspended because different state contracts are moving,” said Honolulu’s Housing and Homelessness Director Trish La Chica.

That issue impacted one of the island’s only homeless shelters that takes in entire families.

The Family Assessment Center at Kakaako Waterfront Park closed three months ago when its lease ended.

HNN confirmed the state has been searching for a new location going on a year now….

“What is the status of the Punawai Clinic? Is it in full operation?” Kiaaina asked of another project, which includes housing and a medical respite facility.

“No, it’s not,” Krucky responded….

read … Council questions why hundreds of homeless shelter beds have vanished or are sitting unused

HPM Gets Permission to Make Housing More Affordable

TGI: … After nearly a full day of testimony and debate, the Planning Commission voted Tuesday to approve several contentious permits for a new manufacturing facility in Koloa.

The permits allow the Hawai‘i Planing Mill facility, which would construct wooden trusses and wall panels for housing in a large tent, to operate on land zoned agriculture….

Representatives of HPM have touted the plant’s ability to reduce the cost of constructing affordable housing on island by increasing the production capacity, citing their previous work with affordable-housing developer Habitat for Humanity, which testified on the company’s behalf Tuesday….

Union workers argued the benefits do not outweigh the costs — since the process the HPM uses for constructing trusses requires less labor than other techniques.

“You’re only saving the contractor roughly two dollars a square foot,” said Cal Santos, a Koloa resident and union member. “And that takes away tons of jobs from our tradesmen.”….

read … Commission OKs Koloa plant permits

State Water Commission claims power to Block Developments

CB: … For the first time in its history, the Hawaii Commission on Water Resource Management put forward its own proposal — and then acted on it — to designate a community as a “surface and ground water management area.” Up until now, that’s only ever happened after community groups went through the tedious process to press the state to enact such protections.

That means if scientists (politicians) believe that a community’s water supply might be in danger, (developer hasn’t greased the right palms) the state can decide who’s allowed to use water and how much. In West Maui, officials say, some communities are already pushing beyond what some streams and sources of underground water can bear (hint, hint) ….

read … The State Just Took A Huge Step Toward More Oversight Of West Maui’s Water

Emergency Powers: Judge questions mayor’s ‘declaration of imminent danger’

HTH: … The plaintiffs, mostly recreational users of the valley such as surfers, swimmers and anglers, contend Roth’s emergency declaration closing the steep, narrow, winding road into the remote Hamakua valley was based on “a flawed preliminary geotechnical engineering evaluation” prepared by the Seattle engineering firm Hart Crowser.

The lawsuit, which names as defendants the county, Roth, and Ikaika Rodenhurst, the former Department of Public Works director who stepped down Monday, contend Roth’s declaration and emergency rule violate the public trust doctrine and equal protection and due process clauses of the Hawaii Constitution.

According to the plaintiffs, the Hart Crowser study — which concluded that pedestrians on Waipi‘o Valley Road have a greater than 1 in 18,000 chance of dying in a rockfall per trip, while vehicle occupants have a 1 in 170,000 chance of dying in a rockfall per trip — overestimates the risk posed to pedestrians and vehicle occupants on the road.

The plaintiffs cite a study by civil engineer Panos Prevedouros, a University of Hawaii at Manoa professor emeritus, which cites 1 in 5 million chance of a pedestrian dying of a rockfall on the road, and a risk of 1 in 17 million for a vehicle occupant.

Strauss characterized the study as one of “the exaggerations (Roth) made to justify” his emergency order closing the valley. He filed a declaration by retired Public Works supervisor Mack Asato stating he was unaware of any deaths or injuries caused by rockfalls on the road….

read … County defends road closure: Judge questions mayor’s ‘declaration of imminent danger’

Rodenhurst out after Hawaii County Public Works leadership shakeup

BIN: … The director of the Department of Public Works has been relieved of his duties, the Office of the Mayor announced on Tuesday, June 14.

Ikaika Rodenhurst no longer serves as director of the department as of Monday. Additional changes include the appointment of Julann Sonomura as acting building division chief and Neal Tanaka as acting deputy building chief….

Roth campaigned on fixing permitting issues within the department, which has been working to improve its permitting system for the last couple of years….

The announcement of Rodenhurst’s departure comes on the cusp of the Hawai‘i County Council taking up a measure that would create a new county department from an existing Public Works division.

Bill 174 would establish a new Department of Building. …

HTH: Rodenhurst leaves county government: ‘The mayor and I decided to part ways’

read … Rodenhurst Out as Public Works Director

How the Kauaʻi Police Department has reduced its staff vacancy, overtime

HPR: … As of May, the KPD has reduced its vacancies to 18 officers. Just two years ago, that number was 26 out of a staff of around 160. The department has fluctuated its vacancy report, even getting numbers as low as single-digits back in 2021 for a short while.

KPD’s Acting Assistant Chief Mark Ozaki said that’s due in part to streamlining the hiring process for on-island, in-state and mainland candidates.

“They do all their paperwork, their testing electronically and then they actually have a virtual meeting with the psychologist,” he said last week. “So, a lot of times they only really have to come down to the department once in the whole entire process.”

Ozaki, who oversees the administrative and technical bureau, said that one visit would usually be for the written and agility test, which is now optimized to be held in one day, rather than across multiple days….

read … How the Kauaʻi Police Department has reduced its staff vacancy, overtime

SHOPO survey claims ‘sinking’ morale in MPD since new chief takes office

HNN: …  “He’s a transplant from Las Vegas. Maybe it was a gamble to pick him,” SHOPO President Robert Cavaco said.

Out of the union’s 276 members, Cavaco said about 60% of them participated in the survey.

“One third of the department is considering leaving the Maui police department within the next two years….

According to officials, there were 90 vacant officer positions before Pelletier became chief back in November. In January, that number jumped to 101. In March it was 103.

Now, there are 100 vacancies.

Meanwhile, Chief Pelletier also has defenders in the department.

“I assure you, give the department some time to recover from the problems from the past administration and you’re gonna see positive results,” said Lt. Jamie Winfrey.

Winfrey came out of retirement after she saw what Pelletier was promising.

“The department is heading in a new direction. The chief is making some tough but necessary calls for the betterment of the department and it’s making some people uncomfortable, but that’s not reflective of the majority,” Winfrey said…. 

read … Recent SHOPO survey reveals ‘sinking’ morale in MPD since new chief takes office

Feds Doing the Job the State Won’t Do: Homeland Security Agency zeroes in on organized retail crime in Hawaii

MN: … HSI is partnering with the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists, also known as ACAMS, to help combat organized retail crime, which involves the large-scale theft of retail merchandise with the intent to sell.

“In Hawaii, organized retail crime is not something that only impacts large department stores. It hits small businesses particularly hard,” Special Agent in Charge John F. Tobon said in a news release Tuesday. “It hurts the economy, business owners and the consumer in many ways.”

In contrast to shoplifters, organized theft groups engage in large-scale thefts which rely on teams of “boosters” who steal goods from major retail stores, “cleaners” who disguise the origins of stolen merchandise, “fencers” who resell products through brick-and-mortar fronts and major e-commerce websites and professional money launderers who funnel illicit profits to criminals orchestrating schemes. In many instances, organized theft groups resort to violence or violent threats against employees of retail companies….

Members of the public can report suspicious activity, including organized retail crime, by calling the toll-free tip line at (866) 347-2423.  

KITV: Homeland Security Investigations step up efforts as Hawaiian merchants deal with organized retail theft

Related: New investigative guide outlines red flags associated with schemes generating nearly $70 billion annually

read … Agency zeroes in on organized retail crime in Hawaii

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