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Saturday, May 9, 2020
May 9, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:59 PM :: 2413 Views

OHA to Ige: Bypass Legislature and Give Us $21,287,134

Not done yet with 'Let Hawaii Work' petition

Letter to Governor to Open Up Small Business and Interisland Air Travel

OHA COVID Agenda: Lets Give More Millions to CNHA

Honolulu $90M grant money from the Federal Transit Administration

306 Candidates File for Election

How Solvent is Hawaii Unemployment Trust Fund?

COVID Count: 3 New Cases, 3 Released

MMA star accuses Punahou School of retaliation after sex abuse lawsuit

HNN: … "We actually just found out today that they fired my dad," said Mixed Martial Arts star Ilima-Lei Macfarlane.

Macfarlane says her father, Walter Macfarlane, has been proctor at Punahou for decades.

“For them to fire him today basically through a text message was pretty just, OK, now we see how they feel about the survivors,” Ilima-Lei said.

In a statement Punahou said, “One of our employees acted in error and without authorization. Walter has worked as a proctor for us for the past 23 years and we are very happy to have him continue in this role.”

Walter issued a statement of his own saying there was no misunderstanding.

“Today I was informed directly by Punahou School that I was no longer welcome to continue my work with student testing classes at Punahou which is work I’ve been doing for the last 30 years. There was no misunderstanding as to what I was told by Punahou as I was told in no uncertain terms that I can’t work there anymore. My daughters were courageous in coming forward after they were sexually abused at Punahou School and now Punahou School is coming after me. This is all very sad....”

Ilima and others have recently filed lawsuits against their former basketball coach, Dwayne Yuen, saying he sexually abused them when they were students at Punahou School.

The lawsuit also claims that the school’s administrators swept complaints under the rug….

Punahou says all current employees identified in the lawsuits will be put on paid leave….

“Punahou’s decision to allow certain administrators, faculty and staff within knowledge of sex abuse problems to remain employed is disappointing,” said Kuehu. “It is devastating to see administrators responsible for these sex abuse problems receiving protection and financial support from the school."…

read … MMA star accuses Punahou School of retaliation after sex abuse lawsuit

Tax collections tank as Hawaii lawmakers plan budget fixes to protect public workers from the slightest sacrifice

SA: …House and Senate lawmakers said they have cobbled together a $1 billion package of state budget fixes they say will make it unnecessary for Gov. David Ige to impose public worker pay cuts and furloughs next year.

Lawmakers also plan to authorize Ige to borrow billions of dollars more (magic money from the sky) from the federal government

“We’re not cutting from existing operations,” said Senate Ways and Means Committee Chairman Donovan Dela Cruz. “The whole point was so that we could avoid the furloughs and the kind of drastic cuts that were previously announced. This gives another option so we can still keep government intact, fill the puka, and gives us options for later.  (Wrong.  It limits future options by not cutting more aggressively now..)

… But the tax collection data released Friday suggests even the latest grim budget projections may be too optimistic.

The state Council on Revenues, a panel of experts tasked with projecting state tax collections, predicted in early March that total taxes collected in the fiscal year that ends June 30 would grow by 3.8% over last year’s collections. Their guess was that since the pandemic hit late in the fiscal year, most of the economic impact would be felt the following year.

But the April tax collection data released Friday shows collections are essentially flat, growing at just two-tenths of 1% during the first 10 months of the fiscal year as compared to last year. Each percentage-point change in tax collections amounts to about $70 million, which means the state is on track to collect about $250 million less this year than the council projected just two months ago.

Ige has said the state is confronting a budget shortfall of about $1.5 billion for this year and next year.

In a written statement released with the new tax data, Ige said that “due to the COVID-19 emergency and the actions taken in Hawaii to flatten the curve in March, we were bracing for lower tax collections in April 2020 due to the decline in economic activity.”…

WHT: “It will involve a lot of creative accounting, though. When you’re trying to find a billion dollars, you’re going to have to get creative.” – Rep Todd

read … Tax collections tank as Hawaii lawmakers plan budget fixes to avoid public worker furloughs

$2.1B CIP Blowout, Public Employees will still get Pay Hike, ERS to be Raided, Mental Health Gutted After Diamond Head Attack

CB: … during the coming week, the committees could consider allowing the governor to tap into federal bonds, passing a $2.1 billion capital improvements plan to stimulate the economy (give $$$ to crony contractors) and eliminating pay raises for the Legislature, state judiciary and government executives, like Gov. David Ige, who in April proposed 20% pay cuts across the board as a means to shore up the budget.

That proposal is still being worked on by House Speaker Scott Saiki, Senate President Ron Kouchi, Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald and Ige, Dela Cruz said. 

(Translation: “LOL”)

Luke said they’ve talked about halting some (raiding) payments to the state’s health plan for retirement benefits, a move that could increase the time it takes to pay off Hawaii’s $26.5 billion in unfunded liabilities.

(Translation: Feel good today, suffer tomorrow.)

Public employees also will lose out on $100 million in pay raises that were on the table when the Legislature abruptly recessed in March. Other pay raises that were approved in the 2019 session will still go into effect, however….

… Lawmakers are looking to plug a $1 billion hole in the budget caused by the coronavirus pandemic that has stalled the local economy and subsequently crashed state tax revenues.

The plan includes tapping into the state’s rainy day fund, taking excess revenues from state departments, removing vacant positions from the budget and raiding unused funds for mental health services.

It’s expected to be part of a package of six bills that aim to keep the state government afloat until at least June 30, 2021, the end of the next fiscal year. …

About $20 million would come from the Mental Health and Substance Abuse special fund. The fund was set up in the 1990s and is used for rehabilitation and treatment services. It’s the only special fund the lawmakers plan to reduce.

The mental health fund has about $51 million, but the Department of Health is only allowed to spend about $15 million of that each year, Luke said. Last year, DOH reported revenues to the fund of about $9 million with just $5 million in expenses.

Health officials have asked the Legislature to use an additional $10 million from that fund to increase the number of stabilization beds at the Hawaii State Hospital and that request will still go forward, Luke said….

The next biggest chunk, about $286 million, would come from unused funds from state departments, spending restrictions that have accrued over time, and vacant positions, Dela Cruz said.

Of that, the state Department of Education identified $150 million in savings that could be used to help avoid pay cuts for teachers….

The lawmakers are also projecting savings of $71 million through vacant positions that go unfilled year after year.

About $250 million for the Rental Housing Revolving Fund and $20 million for the new Aloha Stadium would be financed with state bonds rather than general fund monies….

On Monday, the committees will take public testimony on bills to balance the budget….

Hawaii already is set to receive $1.2 billion in COVID-19 federal relief through the so-called CARES Act. That money must be used on programs related to fighting COVID-19 and needs to be spent by December.

Of that money, the City and County of Honolulu will get $387 million, while the state can spend $862 million.

But Luke and Dela Cruz plan to send about $552 million of that stimulus money to the state rainy day fund in case Congress decides the money can be spent to cover shortfalls in the budget.…

WHT: Inouye said “We wanted to do things like raise the minimum wage this year, but that’s not going to happen. Anything that would increase the budget is just not going to happen.”

CB: Charting A Course Ahead For A Post-Pandemic Hawaii

read … Legislative Deal In The Works Would Use Untapped Funds To Dodge Budget Cuts

Hotels Agree to Trap Quarantine Breakers Outside Their Rooms

KHON: … The Hawaii Tourism Authority asked the hotels that are still open to voluntarily comply with a new initiative aimed at tracking visitors who are under mandatory 14-day quarantine.

The initiative calls for hotels to issue single-use room keys to guests when they check in.

"If they leave, then they’d have to go to the front desk and at that point the hotel can call law enforcement,” said state Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, of the Senate Special Committee on COVID-19.

Only about 100 hotels remain open statewide.

And according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, most have agreed to the initiative; some have already implemented the program….

HTA: Hawaii Passenger Arrivals By Air

PG: These are the only long-haul routes American, Delta and United plan to fly in May

read … Most hotels agree to participate in initiative aimed at better enforcing quarantine

Caldwell and healthcare workers say DOH taking risks by not training more contact tracers

KHON: … As Oahu retailers prepare to reopen next Friday, Mayor Kirk Caldwell is raising concerns the state has not taken enough precautions in case there’s another surge.

The mayor says the State Department of Health does not have nearly enough people trained for contact tracing if more people test positive.

The mayor sent a letter that is backed by 80 healthcare professionals to Gov. David Ige, asking him to push the health department to train more contact tracers and to allow the city to do its own testing. He adds that it should be done before opening the economy.

“It’s kind of like building an airplane while you’re flying, highly risky and not recommended,” said Caldwell.

He says national health guidelines call for 30 contact tracers for every 100,000 residents. So Oahu, with more than a million residents, will need about 400 tracers….

read … Caldwell and healthcare workers say DOH taking risks by not training more contact tracers

Nearly 18,000 gig workers in limbo as state works to bring PUA platform online

KHON: … According to a spokes person from the department of taxation, as of May 7, 2020 PUA received more than 17,544 pre-applications.

That number may not include those who have been disqualified due because their claim is still active in the regular unemployment system.

Uber drivers, musicians, small business owners, many on the verge of losing everything they’ve worked for, are still waiting for assistance.

The department of taxation confirms that “No payments have been made to date” for PUA.

They said they will continue to take pre-applications and claimants who qualify for PUA will receive the additional $600 per week under the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program.

May 15th remains the target for the PUA platform to be fully functional.

That means it could take several more weeks until people are paid….

read … Nearly 18,000 gig workers in limbo as state works to bring PUA platform online

Cellphone spy data: Hawaii residents better than others at staying home during pandemic

HTH: … By recording smartphone GPS data, telecommunications companies have access to endlessly updating logs of where phone users have spent their time — data which some companies, including Google, have used to (spy on you)….

According to a report by Google, cellphone location data at retail and recreation services fell by 48% throughout the state between March 19 and April 30, compared to a baseline established before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Similarly, attendance at grocery and pharmacy locations, parks and workplaces declined by 25%, 57% and 46%, respectively during the same period….

Hawaii County residents did slightly better than the state in most categories, with a 51% reduction at retail, and a 68% reduction at parks.

Comparatively, the City and County of Honolulu had reductions of only 44% and 48% in the same categories.

The state was trending above the national average, which has seen retail attendance drop by 34%, grocery by 9%, and parks by only 7%.

Another company tracking social distancing trends, Unacast, graded Hawaii’s adherence to social distancing as a C+, indicating about a 55% reduction in average mobility, nonessential visits and density of interpersonal encounters.

Hawaii County received a B- grade, indicating about a 65% reduction.

These grades placed Hawaii’s social isolation compliance at fifth-best in the nation…

“It is amazing what Google and these companies can do,” Lt. Gov. Josh Green said at a press conference Wednesday. “Sometimes even a little scary.”…

May 1, 2020: Cellphone Tracking Data Reveals Which Hawaii Counties are Best at 'Social Distancing'

read …Cellphone data: Hawaii residents better than others at staying home during pandemic

Kauai electricity use Down 16%

TGI: … For the month of April 2020, compared to the same period in 2019, KIUC’s overall energy sales decreased by an average of 16%.

industrial class usage is down approximately 30%, while commercial classes are down 25%. He said residential sales have remained relatively flat: likely due to the state stay-at-home orders. “Electric sales declines of these levels haven’t been felt on Kaua‘i since 1992, when the island was devastated by Hurricane ‘Iniki,” said Bissell.

Due to economic hardships facing co-op members, KIUC has suspended customer disconnections or service limitations for failure to pay through June 30, and the state Public Utilities Commission has just issued an order requiring this to continue for the length of the governor’s emergency proclamation and until otherwise ordered by the PUC.

KIUC estimates that, as of April 27, monthly disconnections or service limitations would have reached 978 without the suspension of such operations. In 2019, the cooperative averaged 277 disconnections or service limitations per month….

read … Ensuring even electricity

Kauai: 100 Protest Lockdown

TGI: … Lomma said the Walk for our Rights Kaua‘i group has other concerns, including that places of worship are still closed while other businesses are allowed to open; beaches are still closed; quarantine for inter-island travel with people for critical infrastructure or medical being exempt; coastal zone management is suspended without explanation; criminal-history check requirements are suspended prior to enrollment of Medicaid service providers; health-care professionals are required to follow the direction of Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency and state Department of Health and are subsequently immune from civil liability in the event of patient injury or death; and the discriminatory practice in allowing additional businesses to reopen while other are still required to remain closed….

MN: Hairdressers, barbers waiting to reopen

HTH: The Volcano Golf Course and Country Club has permanently closed

read … Walking for rights

Several Hawaii inmates released during coronavirus pandemic rearrested for new crimes

SA: … Some of the 823 inmates let out of state correctional facilities to curb the spread of COVID-19 are facing new charges from crimes committed during their release.

One of them is pretrial detainee Amos Filipo, 41, who was being held at the Oahu Community Correctional Center awaiting trial in Circuit Court for a felony auto theft charge. On March 27, a judge granted Filipo supervised release and rescheduled his trial based on a March 16 Hawaii Supreme Court order that postponed most court proceedings in the wake of the new coronavirus outbreak.

While he was out, prosecutors charged Filipo with petty misdemeanor theft for allegedly stealing items from a convenience store three days after his release and misdemeanor terroristic threatening for allegedly threatening a woman with bodily harm April 29 at a residential building in Kalihi….

At least a dozen inmates released from correctional facilities during the outbreak were re-arrested for various reasons that range from violating a stay-at-home order to being accused of committing new crimes, according to the Honolulu Department of the Prosecuting Attorney.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser researched a number of those cases, which included some handled on a case-by-case basis by judges, deputy public defenders and deputy prosecutors before the Office of the Public Defender submitted a list of 426 inmates to the Hawaii Supreme Court on March 30 to consider for release.

Filipo has a criminal record of 18 convictions that include two felony burglaries, three felony drug convictions, misdemeanors for assault and abuse of a family or household member, and petty misdemeanors for criminal property damage, driving under the influence of an intoxicant and disorderly conduct.

On March 25, Deputy Public Defender Sheena Crail filed a motion on behalf of Filipo for an emergency and humanitarian release, citing the heightened risk of Filipo contracting the coronavirus at the correctional facility due to overpopulated conditions….

Sua’s criminal record includes three convictions for felony resisting an order to stop a motor vehicle, misdemeanor theft and petty misdemeanor criminal property damage….

Talamoa has a criminal history that includes four felony drug convictions; three misdemeanor assault convictions for assault, resisting arrest and inattention to driving; and petty misdemeanor theft….

read … Several Hawaii inmates released during coronavirus pandemic rearrested for new crimes

Maui Co managing director charter proposal set for November ballot

MN: …The Maui County Council voted Friday to place a charter amendment on the general election ballot that establishes a managing director and changes governance in the county.

The managing director would serve as the county’s chief operating officer and be hired by the council and mayor through a recruitment and selection process, involving the mayor, council chairperson and a three-member citizen group, according to a resolution introduced by Council Member Kelly King.

Currently, the managing director, who is a member of mayor’s Cabinet, is appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the council.….

read … New managing director charter proposal set for November ballot

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