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Thursday, May 21, 2020
May 21, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:15 PM :: 959 Views

Hawaii Unemployment Jumps to 22.3% in April

Honolulu joins the Rockefeller Foundation’s Testing Solutions Group to expand pandemic testing

Honolulu Sewage Being Tested for Corona Virus

COVID Count: Two New Cases out of 819 Tests

To What Extent Does Your State Rely on Sales Taxes?

FAA OKs Testing of Tourists

Got Medicare? Get a no-cost test for COVID-19

7-Time Child Molester among the 47 rearrested after being Released for COVID (and that’s just on Oahu) 

SA: Honolulu police already have rearrested 47 people who were released from jail in recent weeks as part of the effort to reduce the inmate population to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the state correctional system, lawmakers were told Wednesday.

Acting City Prosecutor Dwight Nadamoto also told the House Public Safety Committee that inmates who have been released under court orders that mention COVID included a number of violent offenders, including one who was charged with second-degree assault for allegedly attacking a 74-year-old man with a golf club.

Another case where the threat of COVID infections was cited in the release order involved a suspect who allegedly attacked a victim with a sword, cutting her face, arm and hands, Nadamoto said. Another involved a suspect who violated a protective order and began swinging a bat at the female victim, and was later convicted of burglary and terroristic threatening.

Still another case involved an inmate convicted of seven counts of second-degree sexual assault in a case involving a victim who was less than 14 years old. Another involved an inmate convicted of violation of privacy for taking pictures of people urinating, he said.

Nadamoto went on to tick off a list of other cases where people were accused of robbery, assault, burglary, possession of more than an ounce of methamphetamine or “ice,” smashing the windshield of a car while people were inside, sexual assault and theft.

“All these people were released due to COVID,” he said. “The motion (to release) said COVID, the order said COVID.”

There have actually been no confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in the correctional system…

SA Editorial: Inmate releases show some flaws

CB: Hawaii Prosecutors Want COVID-19 Inmate Releases Stopped

read … Honolulu police have rearrested dozens of inmates released due to coronavirus, lawmakers told

Sacrifice: Hawaii County Council Approves Pay Hikes, and Property Tax Hike Structure

HTH: … With serious work on the coronavirus-stricken county budget set to begin today, the County Council on Wednesday set up a property tax structure that would allow it to tax $2-million-plus second homes at a higher rate than other residential property.

The council also passed a resolution approving raises for the last bargaining unit of the eight unions representing county workers, a coincidence that didn’t go unnoticed by the public. Employee pay and benefits account for about 65% of the budget, and they are set to increase almost across the board this year, following statewide negotiations during the past several years.

“You say you can’t touch them, but you can,” said Stephanie Donoho, an administrative director for Kohala Coast Resort Association and former county tourism specialist who personally experienced the “furlough Fridays” during the Great Recession. “Those shared sacrifices must happen at the public sector as well.”…

HTH: Council finds money for golf, contingency funds in tight budget

read … Council sets up new property tax structure, approves raises for some employees

DoH Whines About Honolulu’s Plan to Test 100,000 for COVID

CB: …  “The way that we will be able to safely reopen the economy is to have enough testing capacity to find where the virus is, supportively isolate those folks so that they can get through it and come back,” said Josh Stanbro, Honolulu’s chief resilience officer and executive director of the Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency.

“And then, in order to reopen, we believe there’s going to be certain professions that are going to be higher risk and frontline sort of workers that we should be testing more often.” …

But Dr. Sarah Park, the state epidemiologist, has said mass testing would not be very efficient because the tests offer a point-in-time snapshot and may not capture patients who fall ill after getting tested. That’s why the state is sticking with federal guidelines that dictate only symptomatic people be tested.

Commercial labs have conducted the bulk of testing in the state to date, but tests are all based on physician referral.

That’s where there may be gaps that city support could help fill, despite the fact that Honolulu does not have its own health division….

Flashback: VIDEO: Hawaii DoH Official Goes on 10-minute Rant Against Corona Testing

read …  Honolulu Developing A Major Expansion Of COVID-19 Testing

Honolulu City Council wants pre-flight testing in place when Hawaii reopens for visitors  

KITV: … "If it was pre-flight testing that would answer a lot of questions, I don't know if it'll solve the problem but it'll answer a lot of questions."....

CB: Welcome Visitors Who Aren’t Infected, Keep Out Those Who Are

read … Honolulu City Council wants stricter measures in place when Hawaii reopens for visitors

The Pay Keeps Flowing For Accused Honolulu Officials On Leave

CB: … More than a year after three high-ranking Honolulu officials went on paid administrative leave amid their involvement in a federal investigation, the city won’t say how much longer it expects to continue paying them.  

Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro, First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Chasid Sapolu and Corporation Counsel Donna Leong have all been off the job since shortly after they received letters from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The city says it has no policy limiting the length of time an employee can be on paid leave, according to Alexander Zannes, the mayor’s communications director. 

Kaneshiro, Sapolu and Leong are among seven city employees on paid administrative leave pending investigations into alleged misconduct or following a complaint, according to the city. The length of the leave among this group ranges from a few weeks to nearly two years.….

read … The Pay Keeps Flowing For Accused Honolulu Officials On Leave

Queen’s resumes non-emergency surgeries at main Honolulu operating room

SA: … The Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu resumed non-emergency surgeries today at its main operating room after gradually reopening clinics and other outpatient services over the past three weeks.

Hospitals had scrambled to close clinics, reduce outpatient services and cancel elective and nonemergency surgeries in March to make room for a surge in coronavirus cases and, potentially, mass casualties. But as the number of COVID-19 cases dropped, Hawaii did not see the anticipated peak in cases, leaving hospital beds empty with significant losses in revenue….

SA: HMSA loses $17.4M during initial COVID-19 response

read … Queen’s resumes non-emergency surgeries at main Honolulu operating room

Report shows huge increases in Hawaii households unable to pay mortgages, credit cards

HNN: … A new analysis from Transunion shows a growing number of Hawaii families are unable to make mortgage, credit card, or car loan payments — in a worrisome sign that the road to economic recovery will be a lengthy one.

The report analyzed the state-by-state percentage of credit accounts in “hardship,” which means the account balances aren’t getting paid because of a declared disaster.

Some accounts are delinquent while others are in forbearance or have had payments deferred.

Perhaps most worrisome: The percentage of mortgage accounts in Hawaii in hardship was 6.3% in April — up 1,717% from a year ago and of the highest rates in the country.

In March, just .1% of Hawaii mortgages were in hardship.

The percentage of credit card accounts not getting paid is also way up.

Some 3.3% of accounts were in the category in Hawaii last month, up from .08% a year earlier — a 3,800% increase. And car loan payments in hardship were up 500% in Hawaii last month from April 2019….

LINK: Read the full report by clicking here.

read … Report shows huge increases in Hawaii households unable to pay mortgages, credit cards

Thousands of people again lined the parking-lot at Aloha Stadium to pick-up free food

KITV: … Thousands of people again lined the parking-lot at Aloha Stadium to pick-up free food Wednesday. It's the fourth time since April the City and County of Honolulu and Hawaii Food Bank partnered in Halawa Valley. Mayor Kirk Caldwell committed a million dollars to help feed some of the more than 130,000 people on the island he says are now un-employed. The line started when gates opened at 7 this morning, distribution ran between 8:40 and 3 this afternoon.

"We're able to provide groceries for the families. It's not just giving people for a day or a couple of days. This is actually feeding a family for more than a week," Laura Kay Rand, Hawaii Foodbank, said.

According to the the Hawaii Foodbank, 80 percent of people participating in their food drives lost their jobs because of the coronavirus….

Big Q: How have you been affected by the shutdown of Hawaii tourism?

read … Food distribution at Aloha Stadium helps thousands of Oahu families

Hawaii hotel occupancy plunged 88% in April compared with 2019

SA: … Fewer than one out of every 10 hotel rooms was occupied in Hawaii in April as the coronavirus lockdown devastated one of the nation’s top hotel markets.

Travel research company STR reported Wednesday that Hawaii’s statewide occupancy plummeted in April to 8.9%, a level that was down 88.6% from April 2019. The average daily rate (ADR) declined to $131.16, a decrease of 51.8% from April 2019. Revenue per available room (RevPAR) fell to $11.70, a decrease of 94.5% from the prior year.

These latest hotel figures show that Hawaii tourism, which supplies 17% of the state’s gross domestic product, finally fell off the cliff in April…..

read … Hawaii hotel occupancy plunged 88% in April compared with 2019

Oahu retailers struggling to climb out of slump from COVID-19 closures

SA: … Although many shopping malls and retailers reopened their doors Friday, the abrupt closures due to the coronavirus pandemic have taken a toll.

Many — from individual boutique shops to chain stores inside malls and larger department stores — have all been dealt a severe blow with the closures, and might never recover. Most have experienced a drop in revenue of over 75%, according to University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization Executive Director Carl Bonham earlier this week during a briefing to the state House Select Committee on COVID-19.

Tina Yamaki, president of the Retail Merchants of Hawaii, said for some, the drop in revenue has actually been 90% or more.

“Some haven’t even reopened,” Yamaki said. “There are so many stores right now that are not open, and part of it is some may have multiple locations, but there’s no sense opening up in a resort area if there are no visitors. There are a lot of stores that are not going to open until tourism comes back.”…

read … Oahu retailers struggling to climb out of slump from COVID-19 closures

Bill 25: Honolulu Council Finds Two Ways to make Housing More Expensive—Approves Both of Them

SA: … Requiring new houses come installed with solar hot water heaters and mandating that all new buildings set aside parking stalls that can be used to recharge electric vehicles are among the changes in a planned revamp of Honolulu’s energy code that won final approval from the City Council Wednesday.

The final draft of Bill 25 (2019), which passed 9-0, got mixed reviews from representatives from both ends of the issue. Construction industry leaders continue to believe the proposal adds too much to the already high cost of housing on Oahu while some environmental and sustainability advocates argue the latest draft is too watered down.

The bill now goes to Mayor Kirk Caldwell, who can either sign it, veto it or let it become law without his signature. It’s likely Caldwell will sign the bill since the mayor’s Office of Climate Change, Sustainability and Resiliency helped craft the measure’s language.

read … Solar heaters, EV-ready stalls to be required in new houses on Oahu

COVID Team Waihee: OHA Insiders hope to see new Cashflow

SA: … The ‘Aina Aloha Economic Future$ Declaration, which was sent to Gov. David Ige, is the first part of an effort to create a different island economy based on centuries of island-based value$. It is posted at ainaalohafutures.com.

The declaration was authored by 14 members of the community who want “to reboot the entire operating system of our economy,” $aid Kamanamaikalani Beamer, associate professor of the University of Hawaii’s Center for Hawaiian $tudies in the Hui ‘Aina Momona Program, who also has a joint appointment in UH’s Richardson $chool of Law and the Hawai‘inuiakea $chool of Hawaiian Knowledge….

So far, the overall concept has been endor$ed by more than 550 individuals and organizations.

No specific idea$ were presented Tuesday.

“Nothing is carved in $tone,” one of the organizers, Noe Noe Wong-Wilson of Hilo, said Tuesday at a video news conference….

2017: OHA Procurement Violations: Crabbe, Lindsey and the $435K Beamer

2016: Documents Reveal Waihee Hustles Indians for $2M

VIDEO: Amy Kalili

read … Group hopes to see new economy emerge based on Hawaiian values

Nigerian Scammers Apply for Hawaii Unemployment May 17th

NS: … The West African gang has run a range of scams over its 10+ year history, including unemployment fraud, social security fraud, disaster relief fraud, and student aid fraud, as detailed in a report ACID published about the group in June 2019.

The group is now targeting states including Florida, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wyoming. ACID researchers have found evidence that the cybergang has also been involved in previous attacks targeting CARES Act payments, as well as new scams targeting Hawaii unemployment benefits.

ACID says it’s identified the methods the group uses to create accounts on government websites – namely, they’re exploiting a Gmail feature – and where the stolen funds are directed….

The network’s next target is apparently Hawaii – a state that’s escaped its claims-fraud attention until now, from what ACID has seen. The cybergang filed its first two bogus unemployment claims on Hawaii’s Department of Labor and Industrial Relations website on 17 May, and more will likely follow….

read … Scammers target COVID-19 CARES Act relief scheme

Hawaii lawmakers raise concern on notifying crime victims during the inmate release process

KHON: … House lawmakers held a briefing Wednesday afternoon to get an update on the process of inmate releases.

One issue that came up was a letter that was received in April from crime victims advocates.

The letter asks that victims be given notification at least 72 hours prior to the release of their offender and requests for the offenders’ addresses.

The letter was sent to Judge Dan Foley….

Lawmakers also asked if Judge Foley was overseeing any Hawaii inmates in Arizona, but there are no motions for early release there….

read … Hawaii lawmakers raise concern on notifying crime victims during the inmate release process

Quarantine: The Regime has Spies Everywhere

Cataluna: … They were posting pictures of themselves with captions like, “Hawaii — no passport needed!” and laying out their vacation schedule day by day so everyone and anyone could see that they got off the plane and went straight out into public. They posed. They blogged. They hash­tagged. They created all the evidence against themselves. Some got more flagrant over time, inviting everyone on social media to follow their great adventure.

And thankfully, people did. Hawaii people. Concerned citizens. People who are, in a word, makaala.

It is important to remember when we look back at this time that it was the citizens of Hawaii who did much of the detective work here, monitoring vacation photos on social media, checking the Geo-tags, tracking these scofflaws’ movements and calling law enforcement.

With so many people sitting at home trying to amuse themselves, online investigative work of identifying and tracking quarantine breakers has become a sport in Hawaii, with Facebook groups and hashtags and a gallery of outraged commenters. Thank goodness for those people who took it upon themselves to be watchful on behalf of the community without turning into vigilantes. Thank goodness for the bright line between righteous anger and vengeance and for everybody who has stayed on the good side of that.

It’s also important to note that for every loser who has been arrested for breaking the quarantine put in place to keep COVID-19 from being reintroduced to Hawaii, there are untold numbers of rule breakers who have been photographed by citizens, called out on social media and reported to authorities with no resulting enforcement. The outlaws have to be outlandish, the outcry has to be fierce.

A recent quarantine breaker was finally arrested at the airport as he was leaving, which doesn’t accomplish much beyond making the point that citizens were tracking him until they successfully lobbied for an arrest….

the people of Hawaii are watching. They’re working together. They’re pretty serious about protecting the islands ….

MN: Maui Police say enforcing quarantine is taking up resources

WaPo: Hawaii isn’t messing around when it comes to enforcing tourist quarantines

read … Community taking over quarantine enforcement

"I'm an American in America and I'm being treated like a criminal for being in America,"

KITV: … "I'm an American in America and I'm being treated like a criminal for being in America," Degraaf said.

A visitor from Colorado wanted by police for breaking quarantine rules remains on Maui and has yet to turn herself in.

The woman giving ABC News an exclusive interview sharing her side of the story.

It's the side we don't often here and she's claiming miscommunication.

"I didn't come here to cause trouble I just wanted to have a nice vacation with my sister. I'm even thinking about living here this is more than just a vacation this could be my new potential home," Degraaf said.

Ashley Degraaf says she's been vacationing on Maui with her sister.

She arrived from Colorado last Friday and both women have been staying with a friend.

On Monday police issued a notice saying Degraaf had cancelled her hotel reservations and they haven't been able to contact her since.

In the interview Degraaf admitted she didn't give authorities the address she's staying at because her friend is uncomfortable disclosing where he lives….

KITV: Colorado woman wanted by police for suspected quarantine violation says it was a 'miscommunication'

SA: Women’s contributions to economic recovery plan ignored

read … "I'm an American in America and I'm being treated like a criminal for being in America"

Online petition calls for continuing UH virtual classes through the end of the year – Only 57 Signatures

ILind: … A new online petition is demanding that all University of Hawaii classes remain online only through the fall semester, rather than returning to in-person and on-campus. The petition, with the hashtag #NotGoingBack, had only 57 signatures late Wednesday afternoon, out of a target of 1,000.

The petition questions whether the safety of students & faculty, other university employees, their families, and the community can be adequately protected if UH rushes to reopen on-campus classes in the fall….

read … Online petition calls for continuing UH virtual classes through the end of the year

With Just Days to go, Ruderman suddenly announces he won’t seek third Senate term

WHT: … State Sen. Russell Ruderman of Puna announced Wednesday he would not seek a third term.

“I want to thank each of you for your support over these last eight years,” Ruderman wrote in a post on the “Friends of Russell Ruderman” Facebook page. “Serving Puna and Ka‘u in the state Legislature has been one of the great honors of my life. The reasons include personal, health and political.”….

HTH: San Buenaventura to seek Ruderman’s state Senate seat

LINK: June 2 Deadline to File for Election

PDF: Ruderman’s only opponent is ‘Smiley Burroughs’

read … Ruderman won’t seek third Senate term

Video Hearing on Youtube --- Calvin Say & Campaign Spending Commission

IM: … The civil case of Nancy E McGee vs Campaign Spending Commission et al (Case ID: 1CC151000491) will be heard by First Circuit Court Judge James H. Ashford. 

Each side will present motions for Summary Judgment on May 27, 2020, at 8:30 am.

The public may view the video hearing on youtube.

This case arose from Nancy McGee complaining about Calvin Say using campaign funds to pay for attorney's fees.

The Hawai`i Campaign Spending Commission staff had issued a letter to Say's campaign determining the expenditures were appropriate in June of 2014.

When Nancy McGee independently complained in October 2014, the Commission staff claimed the matter had been resolved by the Commission and that no further action would be taken.

McGee objected since the Commission had not made any such determination and the complaint was subsequently reviewed by the Commission in January 2015 -- affirming the staff's earlier determination….

read … Video Hearing on Youtube --- Calvin Say & Campaign Spending Commission

Hawaii Reopened Its Civil Rights Office But Investigations Are Still Stalled

CB: … The office closed for more than a month in mid-March after the statewide stay-at-home order was enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Louis Erteschik, the executive director of the Hawaii Disability Rights Center, said delays in processing cases, while understandable during the pandemic, are problematic for Hawaii residents trying to get justice….

Its annual caseload inventory has been growing steadily since fiscal year 2017, when it fell sharply from 380 to 205. In fiscal year 2019, it was back up to 321. On average, it takes nearly a year to resolve each case, according to the agency’s latest available annual report….

How Hawaii Civil Rights Commission Covers Up Sex Harassment Reports

Hawaii Supreme Court Limits Jurisdiction of Civil Rights Commission

read … Hawaii Reopened Its Civil Rights Office But Investigations Are Still Stalled

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