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Sunday, May 10, 2020
May 10, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:54 PM :: 2637 Views

Crossing the Rubicon Into Tax Suspension

‘Multiplier effect’ is poor justification for increased government spending

Looking for $1.5B? Auditor Provides Handy List of GE Tax Hikes and Special Funds to Raid

COVID Count: One New Case out of 706 Tests

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted May 9, 2020

Hawaii Legislators Should Cancel Their 10% Pay Hike

Shapiro: … Gov. David Ige estimates the state’s general fund faces a shortfall of $1.5 billion over the next 15 months because of tax revenues lost in Hawaii’s economic shutdown.

This assumes an economic recovery in six to 18 months, which is highly optimistic; if new waves of the virus extend the recession, budget deficits would snowball.

To help balance the budget, Ige has floated 20% pay cuts for the state’s unionized public workers. Heading off pay cuts seems the Legislature’s main motive for returning to session, under social distancing rules, for the first time since March 16….

it would be a grave mistake to take pay cuts and furloughs entirely off the table based on magical thinking that assumes deficits will be short term only.

If legislators paint themselves into this corner, their only ways out if troubles persist would be higher taxes on those already suffering so state workers don’t have to suffer at all, drastic safety net cuts, or kicking the can down the road and into an even deeper hole by borrowing from the federal government to pay public worker salaries and pension contributions….

The Legislature’s first budget cut should be to table funding for tens of millions in negotiated public worker pay raises that have not yet been paid. These were agreed to in a radically different economy.

And lawmakers must earn public faith by rescinding 10% pay raises scheduled to be added to their own $62,604 salaries in January….

Related:
Meanwhile, the usual Sales Pitches for Mo Money:

read … There’s no magic budget solution for Hawaii legislators

How Kids of Insiders Became Big Players In Virus Response

CB: … Every1ne Hawaii used its founders’ connections to wealthy investors and local influencers to buy and distribute millions of masks….

Every1ne’s first project was going to be a street music festival and voter registration drive in Kakaako….

Lobbying the Caldwell administration to mandate mask-wearing in public became the group’s first initiative….

The Every1ne founders decided that they would be the solution. Tapping into their networks of friends, family and colleagues, the group found a mask supplier in China and bought an entire production run of disposable, one-time use masks.

Unlike nonprofits that are required by law to reveal their major sources of income and expenditures, Every1ne declined to say where it got the money to buy millions of masks and how it is paying for other projects.

Kurisu said masks were purchased with money from five anonymous private investors, some of whom are the co-founders’ family members and friends….

Kurisu is the son of prominent Hawaii businessman and real estate investor Duane Kurisu, who is part-owner of the San Francisco Giants and who built the experimental homeless housing community Kahauiki Village.

Duane Kurisu is also the chairman and CEO of aio, a media and digital consulting company whose brands include Honolulu and Hawaii Business magazines. Aio names itself a supporter of Every1ne’s mask initiative on the company’s website.

“I’ve been criticized about being too nebulous about helping people understand who we are and what this is,” Robert Kurisu said….

the group turned to Hawaiian Airlines, which agreed to transport a cargo load of nearly 1.6 million face masks from China to Honolulu on April 21….The airline donated the plane and crew. Every1ne covered operational costs, such as fuel and landing fees….

Every1ne founder Zak Noyle, a surf photographer, has drawn on his relationships with pro surfers to assemble a cast of dozens of social media influencers — UFC fighter Yancy Medieros and pro surfers Ezekiel Lau, Carissa Moore and Ian Walsh — to promote mask-wearing and help with mask giveaway events.

Mask distribution efforts have been possible through partnerships with dozens of groups including the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, Andy Irons Foundation, Nisei Veterans Memorial Center and Vibrant Hawaii. While Every1ne hosts some of its own distribution drives, it also relies on nonprofits in its network to dole out masks to people in the communities they serve. …

read … How A Business Venture Of Friends Became A Big Player In The Virus Response

Luxe Condo Associations Snag COVID Aid Money

SA: … A National Basketball Association team and restaurant chain drew rebuke for seeking federal COVID-19 aid intended for small businesses. Now, many Hawaii homeowners, including residents in an ultra-luxury tower, are facing the same predicament.

Multiple Hawaii homeowner associations have applied and been approved for forgivable Payroll Protection Program loans despite not being eligible, according to a local Small Business Administration official.

Applicants include the association of owners at Kukui Plaza, a twin-tower downtown Honolulu complex described as the biggest condominium in the state with 908 units.

Also, the board of directors representing homeowners at Waiea, a glitzy tower at Ward Village in Kakaako where units first sold for an average $3.6 million, applied for a PPP loan despite misgivings from some board members.

These two condo associations and others benefiting private property owners competed for PPP aid against many small retailers, restaurants and other companies that are in dire straits after being forced to close or curtail operations under emergency government orders for slowing the spread of COVID-19.

An estimated 11,000 Hawaii small businesses tried but failed to snag PPP money during an initial and quickly exhausted $349 billion loan round in March where 11,553 Hawaii businesses received loans worth nearly $2.1 billion, according to the Hawaii Bankers Association.

A second round with $310 billion is still partly up for grabs….

read … Hawaii homeowners, including super rich, try to tap COVID-19 small business aid

Roberts takes over ‘Socially Distant’ Hawaii County Bus System

HTH: … The first new buses in five years and a new contractor had the Hele-On bus system on track for a better year. Until COVID-19 hit.

Now the four new 25-passenger buses are pretty much sidelined as social distancing rules allow for only seven passengers at a time….

Kohala routes were cut when hotel workers lost their jobs and others because children no longer attended to school. But it’s all gradually coming back, Mass Transit Administrator Brenda Carreira said Friday.

“We’re kind of running as normal; we’ve only shut down parts of a route if there was zero ridership,” Carreira said.

She said the hotels are slowly calling workers back in preparation for future re-openings.

Robert’s Tours and Transportation Inc. won the county contract after a competitive bidding process and a bid protest. The system was formerly run by Polynesian Adventure Tours.

The big green buses have been spotted around the island, emblazoned with the Hele-On logo…

The buses can carry 57 passengers but social distancing requirements allow only 17. Passengers 5 years old and older must wear masks….

The Mass Transit Agency’s requested $18.9 million budget to be funded by the general excise tax for the fiscal year that starts July 1 includes $5.1 million for West Hawaii, Kohala, Ka‘u bus rentals and $212,185 to supplement the agency’s own fleet in East Hawaii, according to budget documents. Bus driver contracts account for $2 million, with an additional federal match….

read … On a roll: Roberts takes over Hele-On contract

Maui Council Has Figured Out How To Do Virtual Meetings With Live Public Testimony

CB: … Unlike the other two county councils and the Honolulu City Council, Maui still allows live, public participation despite the pandemic….Without BlueJeans, Rawlins-Fernandez said the council would likely have had to restrict public testimony during budget hearings….

read … Maui Council Has Figured Out How To Do Virtual Meetings Right

People filing jobless claims know how to fix the system

SA: … Over the past two months, Kokua Line has heard from hundreds if not thousands of them, despairing as they wait for unemployment insurance benefits. Today, we turn the column over to them, distilling their hundreds of suggestions to a few key points that we hope the governor, state lawmakers and involved departments will seriously consider.

Although the pace of claims processing increased last week, as the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations added capacity, the system remains backlogged. As of Thursday, 81,724 of 226,883 claims “on the main frame” were unresolved, the department said. Moreover, 40,604 of the 145,159 claims that were processed — nearly 28% — were denied.

Idle workers in that pool not being paid by another means (such as an employer’s Paycheck Protection loan) will have to appeal (and win) or move on to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, submitting a separate application and waiting once again. Also unresolved are roughly 6,000 claims filed in March that the degraded mainframe couldn’t accept. The good news is that 104,555 (72%) of the claims processed last week were approved and paid, the department said….

Assign staff to immediately resolve roughly 6,000 claims that people thought they had filed in March but which were not “ingested” by the degraded mainframe. The DLIR says that these claims are not lost, but that staff will have to “run them down.”…

Expand call center hours. Create a callback queue (as many businesses and agencies do) so that calls are returned in order. Auto-reply to emails so senders know they were received. Assign sufficient staff to respond to calls and emails. What claimants experience as a black hole of nonresponse feeds their anxiety and fuels the system overload, as they try endlessly to log in, call and email.

Continuously update FAQs prominently on the DLIR website, explaining how to avoid common filing errors and how to decipher messages that commonly appear in users’ online UI accounts….

CB: Ige Balks At Proposal To Loan Money To Jobless In Limbo

read … People filing jobless claims know how to fix the system

Help hard-hit tourism workers with safe reopening of industry

SA: … Opening up our visitor industry must be done carefully. Hawaii cannot afford a COVID-19 outbreak in any of our hotels, or our entire industry will be undermined.

In order to get our guests to come back, Hawaii needs to distinguish itself as a safe destination.

In addition to defeating the virus infection in our community, we need very stringent safety standards for hotel operations. Hawaii cannot just rely on minimal government safety regulations — we have to exceed them. And, Hawaii needs a way to effectively enforce hotel safety regulations….

May 2, 2020: A Low-Risk Plan to Re-Start Hawaii Tourism Now

read … Help hard-hit tourism workers with safe reopening of industry

MMA Fighter Got Probation for brutal assault on Japanese tourists—Now Wanted for Violation  

KHON: … It was a brutal crime that gained international attention–a couple visiting from Japan attacked in a park bathroom. The suspect, Isea Taumoepeau, was arrested and found guilty of assault and sentenced to probation. Now he’s wanted for violating the terms of that probation.

Crime Stoppers Sgt. Chris Kim said there is a $20,000 warrant out for Taumoepeau’s arrest.

“On May 28, 2018 at approximately 10:45 a.m. the victim, who is a visitor from Japan, was walking the Kakaako area with his family. The victim’s wife needed to use the restroom so the victim proceeded to locate one inside the Mother Waldron Park. When the victim went inside the restroom to check on it for his wife he was brutally assaulted, and knocked unconscious,” Kim explained.  LINK: Photo of victim

The victim’s wife was also attacked.

Taumoepeau (MMA Fighter) was arrested (on multiple warrants), pleaded no contest, and placed on HOPE probation….

(IQ Test: Are you surprised?)

“I’m disappointed that he’s out of prison and on the loose cause I fear that, with his history, there could be other people that could possibly be assaulted or attacked.”

That is exactly what happened.

Numerous attempts to revoke Taumoepeau’s probation were made and he was arrested three months after his sentencing.

On April 26, 2020, records show he was charged with third degree assault.

Sources said the attack took place at the Habilitat Long Term Addiction Treatment Center where Taumoepeau was staying under the terms of his probation.

Sources said the man who was assaulted is undergoing reconstructive surgery for his injuries.

But 10 days after the assault, the charges were dropped.

Court documents said the “case may be connected to felony offenses.”…

According to court documents, prosecutors hadn’t filed documents to revoke Taumoepeau’s probation so the judge released him.

(Be sure to thank everybody who is blaming everybody else.  They ALWAYS have an excuse.)

“Like anybody else, people on probation, as citizens of the U.S., it’s an allegation. At the beginning, nothing has been proven, he’s presumed innocent,” Alm explained….

(WRONG: This dirtbag has been convicted and should be doing hard time.)

SA: Japanese couple assaulted in Kakaako bathroom face $50,000 in medical costs

read … Man accused of brutal assault on Japanese tourists wanted on warrant for violating probation

Some inmates seeking release are accused of violent acts

WHT: … Below is a short list of inmates seeking release who are accused of violent acts.

• Malcolm Keith Utecht, a former Army sergeant and pretrial detainee charged with second-degree murder for the Jan. 7 fatal stabbing of 71-year-old Solomon Matthews in Matthews’ Fern Acres home, was denied release May 4 by Acting Hilo Circuit Judge Jeffrey Hawk.

His motion for supervised release related to COVID-19 was denied without prejudice, meaning Utecht is free to refile his request. Utecht, who is awaiting a determination about his mental fitness to stand trial, remains in HCCC in lieu of $553,000 bail.

• Corey Napoleon, 41, charged with attempted second-degree murder for the March 28, 2019, nonfatal shooting of his then-35-year-old estranged wife, Miya Sagucio Napoleon, in her family’s Hilo home, has a continued hearing scheduled for 1:30 p.m. June 3 before Hilo Circuit Judge Henry Nakamoto.

Attorneys for Napoleon, who is morbidly obese and bedridden, filed their motion for supervised release on other grounds, but have added COVID-19 to their request. Napoleon remains in the medical unit of Halawa Correctional Facility on Oahu in lieu of $250,000 bail.

• Reed Russell Martineau, also known as Matthew Wittenberg, is charged with attempted second-degree murder, first-degree robbery, unauthorized entry to a motor vehicle, auto theft, and two counts each of kidnapping, first degree robbery and first-degree terroristic threatening.

The charges stem from a violent carjacking Aug. 21, 2018, of Martineau’s then-77-year-old landlord in Kalapana Seaview Estates and assaults on the landlord, John Renauer, and Martineau’s then 52-year-old girlfriend, Leesa Callahan, who was also in the car.

Martineau’s motion for supervised release was denied April 17 by Nakamoto. Martineau’s next court date is set for 8:30 a.m. June 1, and he remains in custody at HCCC in lieu of $451,000 bail.

• Jake P. Branch, 35, of Kona, who led police on at least two vehicle chases before being apprehended last month in South Kohala, is facing 14 charges, including three counts of burglary of a dwelling during an emergency, two counts of leaving the scene of an accident, first-degree theft during an emergency, auto theft, resisting an order to stop and property damage.

At a bail hearing on May 5, Branch was granted supervised release by Kona Circuit Judge Melvin Fujino over the objection of prosecutors.

To check on the custody status of any Hawaii inmate, go to the state Department of Public Safety website at dps.hawaii.gov. Click on the green button on the right of the opening page that says SAVIN/VINE and follow directions….

read … Some inmates seeking release are accused of violent acts

Prison population plummets as COVID becomes the Excuse to Release Lots and Lots of Criminals

WHT: … As of Thursday, the statewide jail and prison population was down 832 inmates from March 2.

HCCC was down 165 inmates from the 395 who were incarcerated on March 2, but its inmate population of 234 is still 28 more than its design capacity of 206.

Schwartz said, as of Thursday, no inmate in a Hawaii jail or prison had tested positive for COVID-19.

None of the reports filed by Daniel Foley, a retired Intermediate Court of Appeals judge appointed as a special master by the Supreme Court to oversee the orderly release of inmates, include the names of any inmates who have been granted early release under the high court’s order, whether by a judge or by the Hawaii Paroling Authority.

(No fingerprints.  Typical.)

Hawaii County Prosecutor Mitch Roth said his office is aware of the motions filed and inmates released because of those motions, although there isn’t an official list.

He noted the Tribune-Herald can check on individual cases — a cumbersome and time-consuming process, and far more time-consuming than a computer-generated, publicly available list of inmate releases would be.

The prosecutor, who’s among a crowded field of candidates running for mayor this year, also acknowledged the public has the right to know if a potentially violent or dangerous inmate is released back into the community….

Without naming specific individuals, Roth characterized some of the inmate releases as “very troubling to me.”….

read … Prison population plummets

With Feds in Town, Prosecutor Suddenly Successful Against Massage Parlors

KHON: … Concern about activities at Healthy Angel was heightened by the coronavirus pandemic. Conducting a business that promotes close personal contact can expose workers, customers, and the greater community.

All participating law enforcement took extra precautions by wearing personal protective equipment to guard against possible infection.

The Department of the Prosecuting Attorney has executed 17 search warrants at businesses advertising themselves as massage parlors or relaxation spas since Dwight Nadamoto became Acting Prosecuting Attorney 14 months ago. More than a dozen of those businesses have closed.

(Translation: With the Feds in town investigating Kaneshiro and Kealoha, the cops who normally tip off massage parlors are laying low.  That’s why the raids are suddenly working.)

This is the second search warrant executed in Century Center this year. A search warrant was executed at Vanilla Spa in January….

read … Healthy Angel massage parlor searched

‘Free’ Food Giveaways Cost $50 per Bag of Groceries

TGI: …A new program with the Hawai‘i Foodbank Kaua‘i branch and Kaua‘i Independent Food Bank distributed food Saturday at Vidinha Stadium in Lihu‘e, and will continue through the end of the month each Saturday at various locations around the island with the help of various community partners and donations from Alaska Airlines. See the related story in today’s newspaper.

This event, and the following ones throughout the month, will cost about $25,000 each.

This program plans to move around the island, distributing about 500 bags of food, and is bent on a strict vetting process.

Recipients must provide at least one paper form of demonstrated need for emergency food, like a Children’s Health Insurance Program card, proof of unemployment or reduction of hours, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development rental-assistance eligibility, or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly Food Stamps) benefit eligibility….

TGI: Kauai County distributes food

TGI: Breaking down $2 million Kauai EOC spending

read … Finding free food funding

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