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Tuesday, March 17, 2020
March 17, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:31 PM :: 838 Views

Most Aggressive States Against the Coronavirus -- Hawaii 46th

Legislative Session Suspended due to Corona Virus

COVID-19: Council, DHHL, Legislators Cut Public Access

Judiciary Blocks Out-of-State Lawyers from Courtrooms

Best States for Doctors -- Hawaii 42nd

The President's Coronavirus Guidelines for America - 15 Days to Slow the Spread

DHHL Clears Out Another Homeless Camp

Insiders Urged to Exploit Legislative Shutdown for Backroom Deals

PBN: … "It's important to note that during this recess the legislators will be here and we will be working," Saiki said at the conference. "This is going to be a very dynamic recess for us. We will all be working and researching and if the ‘public’ wants to meet with us, they can call our offices and schedule a meeting."…

CB: During the recess, lawmakers and their staffs will still be paid, Saiki said.

read … Nobody is Looking Coast is Clear

Opportunity Knocks: Ige Suspends Sunshine Law

HTH: … Ige said the proclamation “directs all residents to heed public health guidelines related to stopping the spread of COVID-19, including social distancing measures.” He specifically said that all gatherings of more than 100 should be suspended or canceled.

He also said the state’s open meeting or Sunshine Law “are just not workable” while the state formulates its plan to deal with the highly contagious and potentially deadly virus, so it and applicable administrative rules are suspended.

“We want government to continue to work as much as possible during this time, but the Sunshine Law provision makes it impossible,” Ige said. “The proclamation allows administrative hearings and public meetings to be conducted via remote technology and telecommunication tools.

“All reasonable measures will be taken to ensure public participation that is consistent with the recommendations of social distancing practicing, as advised by the (Centers for Disease Control).”

The state Legislature, which is exempted by statute from the Sunshine Law, announced earlier in the day it is suspending its in-progress 2020 session indefinitely….

read … Crony Business Opportunity!

Telescope:  $1B Cost of Refusal to Enforce Law? 

SA: … The price tag of the stalled Thirty Meter Telescope has ballooned to $2.4 billion, while the final decision about where to build it might come within a few months.

TMT Vice President Gordon Squires said Monday that the increase from the previously estimated $1.4 billion cost is due to the construction delay, as well as inflation and world market cost increases for some construction items….

Stone, an astrophysicist at Caltech, said the partners were hoping that new discussions and efforts in Hawaii, including the establishment of a proposed blue-ribbon reconciliation commission by the state Legislature, would lead to compromise by separating the dispute on Mauna Kea from broader conflicts….

Under questioning, however, officials from both projects admitted to being hundreds of millions of dollars short of the money needed to pay for their own shares for construction.

TMT partners India and China reportedly are pushing for a switch to the Canary Islands, while Japan has suspended funding for a year. Canadian astronomers have said they are willing to hold out for the superior viewing conditions of Mauna Kea….

Meanwhile: Telescope Protesters Restrict Access to Camp Due to Corona Virus

Background:

read … TMT cost is estimated to soar by a billion dollars

Bad time for new stormwater fees

SA Editorial: … Competition for funds, undeniably, will be tough, especially with the impending costs of rail, and now, widespread uncertainty over COVID-19….the timing is disastrous. The coronavirus pandemic has turned life routines and economic activity upside-down. Prospects or tax revenues are unclear at best….

Plainly, there is a need for much more discussion by the Council, involving additional public input, about the workload of such an expanded government entity and whether its mission could be accomplished efficiently. An open-ended mission statement is not going to fly, especially not now.

Politicians hate pushing additional taxes and new fees under the best of circumstances. The current conditions, an election year paired with an unprecedented period of fiscal uncertainty, are the worst…..

the stormwater fee would apply to all property owners — even those now exempt from property taxes, such as government and churches.

Sasamura said current staff may be doubled, but what improvements would the money buy, exactly?…

Related: Stormwater: $100M Tax Hike After 36 Years of Lawyering and Foot-dragging

read … Bad time for new stormwater fees

Tourism reels as containment prompts 50% declines

SA: … Hawaii’s largest domestic carrier, United Airlines, has announced an approximately 50% cut in capacity for April and May.

“We also now expect these deep cuts to extend into the summer travel. Even with those cuts, we’re expecting load factors to drop into the 20-30% range — and that’s if things don’t get worse,” wrote Oscar Munoz, United’s CEO, and J. Scott Kirby, United’s president, in a Sunday letter to employees.

Peter Ingram, CEO and president of Hawaii’s biggest carrier, Hawaiian Airlines, sent a message Monday to HawaiianMiles members that the carrier will make 15% to 20% cuts to its systemwide capacity in April and May….

On Friday, Delta Air Lines announced a 40% schedule reduction, and the list goes on….

Only about 143,000 of last year’s visitor arrivals didn’t come by air. Those visitors came by cruise ships, which also are making reductions. Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and MSC Cruises have agreed to suspend trips from the U.S. for 30 days. The new safety guidelines also could chip away at arrivals from Hawaii’s large domestic market, which accounted for roughly 7.3 million of last year’s 10.4 million visitors….

Big Q: Should restaurants and bars in Hawaii be closed to prevent COVID-19 spread, as some states and major cities have done?

read … Tourism reels as containment prompts further declines

Unemployment claims double, state says

KHON: … There were 639 unemployment claims during the last week of February. But in the second week of March, that number doubled to 1,292….

read … Unemployment claims doubled, state says

First Case of Local Transmission—Kualoa Ranch Tour Guide

HNN: …Dr. Scott Miscovich said the young woman had no history of out-of-state travel, and her diagnosis is evidence the virus spreading within the community.

The woman is from Windward Oahu and went to the doctor’s office after her asthma had gotten worse.

“She didn’t have a fever, but because of her high contact with tourism she met the updated guidelines and we felt it was crucial to test her," said Miscovich.

On Friday, Lt. Gov. Josh Green updated those testing guidelines.

Now, if you have symptoms and you work in the tourism or travel industry you can be tested. Health care workers also qualify.

Miscovich said, “We need to know if you’ve been in close contact with tourism and you develop even early symptoms, we need you to get checked.”…

She lives in a multi-generational home in close proximity to about 25 people. The regional treatment center in Kaneohe stayed open until 11 p.m. Sunday to make sure every one of them got tested.

Miscovich says two kupuna and a baby in the house were showing symptoms.

In the meantime, the owner of Kualoa Ranch says the operation will be shut down for the next seven days….

Health care providers are coming to the ranch Tuesday to test employees on-site. The company is also working to contact visitors who had any contact with the patient….

read … Twenty-five people in contact with her have been tested. 

Healthcare worker tests positive for COVID-19 after Mainland Trip

KITV: … "A health care worker at Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women & Children has tested positive for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The health care worker traveled to the mainland and began experiencing symptoms after returning to O‘ahu and is currently in self-quarantine. We have been working closely with the Hawai‘i Department of Health to trace the health care worker’s interactions with any patients and other health care colleagues. This health care worker had no direct patient contact, and employees that had interactions with this worker have been notified. We understand that there will be concern in the community. We are following CDC protocols and procedures and taking every precaution necessary to ensure the health and safety of our patients, visitors and staff." …

read … Healthcare worker tests positive for COVID-19

Maui doctors call for free regional testing center

MN: … Maui doctors working on the front lines to catch COVID-19 cases are calling for the state to set up a free regional testing center, saying they’re not equipped to handle a rush of patients.

“The big issue in physicians’ offices is the risk of further community spread of the virus,” said Dr. Kenneth Kepler, medical director of the Kihei-Wailea Medical Center. “Most physicians’ offices do not have the appropriate personal protective equipment that is required to manage large amounts of these types of patients, and in addition, even if we did, physicians’ offices aren’t designed to prevent a highly contagious illness from spreading within the waiting rooms.”

Kepler and four of his colleagues are among 14 physicians at clinics, medical groups and two hospitals who are asking the state Department of Health in an open letter to provide a testing site separate from hospitals and clinics. They said that physician offices on Maui do not have enough staff or access to resources to carry out testing, and that many offices are already out of personal protective equipment. Access to test kits for patients suspected of having the virus is limited.

“A large influx of COVID-19 could rapidly exhaust the capacity of our hospital,” the physicians said. “We are very concerned that if we do not act quickly, we will face the exponential spread of the virus with a high incidence of very sick patients overwhelming the resources of our health care community.”

The letter asked the state to activate Disaster Medical Assistance Teams to set up a regional COVID-19 testing site on Maui “as soon as possible.”….

read … Maui doctors call for free regional testing center

Corona-Free Cruise Ship Stuck In Limbo; Looking For Port in Hawaii

CR: … The Norwegian Jewel’s three-week sailing from Sydney, Australia to French Polynesia has been struggling to find a place to disembark guests.

So far, the ship has been turned away from numerous ports despite there being no cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) reported on board….

As one passenger said via Facebook, “We’re probably the safest people on the planet. There’s no coronavirus on the ship, and we’re isolated from any potential source!”…

the Jewel is currently planning to dock at Pago Pago….

Guests onboard report being told that the ship would stop for fuel and provisions, although guests would not be permitted to disembark….

But the details shared by a passenger writing for the Old Mission Gazette offered a bit of hope.

“A new official announcement was made late yesterday afternoon that the ship will be allowed into port in Hawaii,” he wrote. “We were in the packed theater watching the Mr. Rogers movie ‘It’s A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood.’ The film was paused for the announcement. There was a thunderous applause from all around the ship, even from people who will now be further from home.”…

HTH: Cruise ship’s arrival in Hilo nixed amid virus concerns

read … Coming to Hawaii?

Katherine and Louis Kealoha sentencing postponed over coronavirus concerns

SA: … Sentencing hearings for Katherine and Louis Kealoha, scheduled for Tuesday have been postponed to a date “to be determined.”

In a press release Monday, the U.S. District Court announced that the Kealoha sentencing and the sentencing for Derek Wayne Hahn and Minh-Hung Nguyen, which was scheduled for Wednesday, have been postponed.

“The Court has been carefully following the spread of the COVID-19 virus. In the interest of the safety and health of the public and of court employees,” the sentencing has been postponed.

CB: Sentencing Postponed, Katherine Kealoha Resigns As Attorney

read … Postponed

Wind Farms Will Gobble up More Oahu Land

CB: … The current energy development model is utility driven and designed to protect the interests of the incumbent energy provider by rapidly building and integrating large utility controlled projects.

This top-down, profit-driven approach ignores community voices. Simply put, this model is not pono and rightfully has been met with massive opposition.

The hard truth is that replacing fossil fuels with current renewable energy technologies will require significantly more land which is already in short supply, especially on Oahu. 

(Remember: Alleged land shortage is the excuse for the high cost of housing, but somehow there is plenty of land available for these scammy wind farms.)

This dramatic shift in land use is compressing the interests of agriculture, energy and communities into a battle for limited resources, increasing the potential for conflicts and disputes. These conflicts are already happening with local farmers seeing significant increases in their costs of land and a renewable energy project under litigation in every county in the state.

Arguably the most controversial project is the Na Pua Makani wind project in Kahuku. In 2019, over 200 community members were arrested attempting to protect Kahuku from the development of this project.

The host community vehemently opposed the project for over 10 years, their reasons include objecting to the close proximity of the massive 586-foot turbines to residences and schools and the detrimental impacts to the health and safety of the community….

This new model must be community and culturally driven as opposed to being driven by developers and corporate profits. It should be designed to encourage resilient communities and equitable distribution of burdens through a process that is open, transparent, and easily accessible to the public.

IM: Achieving State Energy Goals Requires Meaningful Community Participation

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

read … Include The Community As Partners In Energy Projects

Schatz, Matson Back Kahele For Free Ride to Congress

CB: … Hawaii’s senior senator was the “special guest” at an event to boost the state senator’s campaign….

Schatz was the special guest at a March 10 fundraiser in Washington, D.C. that shipping giant Matson Inc.’s political action committee hosted for Kahele, who’s a Hawaii state senator.

The suggested donations, according to a copy of the fundraiser invite obtained by Civil Beat, were $500, $1,000 and $2,500….

Gabbard is technically still running for president, although she hasn’t held a public campaign event in a primary state since March 3 when she was in Detroit….

read … Schatz Backs Kahele For Congress At Washington Fundraiser

Hawaii Democrats Still Figuring Out What To Do About The Primary

CB: … The coronavirus may upend plans for the April 4 election, which has already received 20,000 mail-in ballots….

The party-run presidential primary is the first for local Democrats to be conducted primarily through mail-in voting.

About 57,000 ballots have already been mailed to voters registered both in the state and with the party. Another 15,000 were planned to be mailed….

read … Hawaii Democrats Still Figuring Out W hat To Do About The Primary

Coronavirus Is The New Excuse For Universal Basic Income

HA: … The latest installment in our series on Never Letting a Perfectly Good Crisis Go To Waste comes to us courtesy of Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii who, for some reason, still seems to believe she’s in the running to be President. This actually took place on Friday, but I’m only just getting around to it now. Apparently seeking to stand out from the crowd, as Congress debated various relief packages to help the nation through the coronavirus crisis, Gabbard introduced a resolution that would assure $1,000 per month to every American until the COVID-19 crisis has passed. Yes, it’s a (theoretically) short-term version of the Democratic dream of a basic income guarantee, also known as Universal Basic Income….

read … Coronavirus Is The New Excuse For Universal Basic Income

Condo ‘Disaster’: Waikiki Maintenance Fees Hit $1,800

CB: … Maintenance fees more than doubled in the last five years at the Waikiki Marina tower as the board has struggled with how to cover major repairs, especially a faulty elevator….

The monthly maintenance fee at the Waikiki Marina condo was high at just under $600 in 2015.

The owners of the studio-sized units grew more concerned when it rose to $770 the following year, and distressed when it hit $1,000 in 2017.

But when the board implemented a fee of $1,800 this January – $1,350 for maintenance costs plus a $450 temporary monthly assessment – building owners hit a breaking point. Now, a group has staged a rebellion against the board, demanding answers, requesting documents, threatening to sue and installing three of their own leaders at a recent election.

The board says the building needs major repairs estimated at $17 million. In the meantime, owners are essentially stuck in place, losing money and unable to sell….

In 2013, the board was optimistic about completing an elevator enclosure for around $1 million, and owners approved a loan request, according to a 2015 notice to owners. But requirements mandated by the city increased the estimate to $8 million, the notice said, and the board had to start over. By 2015, the board had a new plan. An elevator replacement was estimated to cost between $4 million and $5 million. Owners approved a loan for $5 million, increasing their fees to $770.

Four years later, though, the board sent out another notice: it now needed an extra $10 million loan for a total of $15 million. The board told owners in October that the scope of the required work had expanded. The building needs shaft spalling repairs, roof repairs, “proper cooling systems” for the new elevator — requiring a retrofit of the elevator machine room — a new generator and multiple building upgrades to meet Federal Emergency Management Agency requirements.

The latest project estimate is $17 million….

read … Condo ‘Disaster’: Waikiki Maintenance Fees Hit $1,800

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