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Monday, July 27, 2020
July 27, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:56 PM :: 1381 Views

2020 Hawaii Republican State Convention Results

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted July 25, 2020

90 MPH Hurricane Douglas Passes North of Kauai

The Feds Are Back In Hawaii As Corruption Probe Picks Up Steam Again

CB: … Michael Wheat, the special prosecutor appointed by the U.S. Justice Department out of San Diego to take on public corruption in Hawaii government, is back at work in the islands after a brief hiatus caused by court closures and travel restrictions meant to combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic….

as the coronavirus spread across the globe, Wheat and his team were forced to put their grand jury inquiry in Hawaii on hold, causing some to worry if (hope) his investigation would fizzle and fade. Those fears (hopes) were alleviated (dashed) last week when Wheat travelled back to the islands to continue his investigation….

Among the witnesses Wheat recently called before the grand jury was Max Sword, a well-known lobbyist for the tourism industry and former chairman of the Honolulu Police Commission. He was appointed by Caldwell.

Silvert said the fact that Sword is involved at all indicates federal investigators are still looking at a $250,000 severance payment Louis Kealoha received in exchange for his retirement from the Honolulu Police Department. Sword and Leong negotiated the deal in secret with Kealoha’s civil attorney, Kevin Sumida, after Kealoha received a target letter from the DOJ.

In addition to the payout, Kealoha was allowed to leave the department in good standing and maintain his retirement benefits and pension, worth an estimated $150,000 a year. Former police commissioners Loretta Sheehan and Steven Levinson later described the deal — which they were not a part of crafting — as a “take it or leave it” proposition. Sheehan was the only police commissioner to vote against it….

There’s no indication that Wheat or his team have narrowed the scope of their investigation….

Federal investigators have keyed in on Kaneshiro’s relationship with Katherine Kealoha as well as other questionable actions taken by his office, including the purchase of an apartment building using city funds from one of his top campaign contributors and the initiation of a secret grand jury that federal officials have said was part of a campaign to cover for Kealoha’s criminal misdeeds.

It’s also unclear what federal prosecutors intend to do about Kevin Sumida, who was accused of lying on the witness stand during the Kealohas’ criminal corruption trial….

While Wheat’s investigation is separate from the one into Miske, there are parallels.

For example, Miske has been linked to officials in the Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, namely, Katherine Kealoha and Roger Lau, who allegedly interfered in a case involving threats Miske made against HPD Ofc. Jared Spiker, who had pulled him over in 2015 for using his cell phone while driving. According to police reports and recordings tied to that incident, Miske told Spiker he “better be careful of the choices you made.”

“Don’t go throwing your guys weight around,” Miske said. “I can go to the top of the food chain.”….


read … The Feds Are Back In Hawaii As Corruption Probe Picks Up Steam Again

Bar Reopening Behind COVID Spread?  Health officials advise patrons of 2 Oahu bars to get tested

SA: …Hawaii health officials reported 28 new daily COVID-19 cases on Oahu, bringing the statewide total number of infections since the start of the outbreak to 1,711.

State Department of Health officials are searching for customers who may have been exposed to coronavirus at two Honolulu bars.

Public health officials warn that people who patronized Brix & Bones at 1217 Hopaka St. and Arena 808 at 1020 Keeaumoku St. between July 16 to 26 may have been exposed to the virus and should contact their physicians….

Health officials today reported 39 people who are currently hospitalized….

June 26, 2020: Gov. Greg Abbott orders Texas bars to close again

SA Editorial: Scofflaw bars hurt everyone

PBN: Department of Health investigates Covid-19 clusters linked to bars, gatherings

Bar Reopening A Major Blunder

read … Hawaii sees 28 new cases of coronavirus; health officials advise patrons of 2 Oahu bars to get tested

Poll shows slice of optimism about Hawaii’s economy

SA: … Local economists informed Hawaii residents in May that the state economy won’t likely recover from COVID-19 impacts for more than two years, but a lot of Oahu residents disagree.

A poll conducted last week suggests that about a quarter of Oahu’s general population expects that Hawaii’s economy will return to “normal” within a year.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser Hawaii Poll carried out by Washington, D.C.-based Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy said 24% of those surveyed hold this view, which suggests that close to 185,000 Oahu adults are pretty optimistic about a short-term economic rebound for the state.

Within this group, 16% expect the rebound will take seven to 12 months, 6% anticipate a full recovery in four to six months and 2% believe the local economy will return to normal within three months.

A large majority, 71%, took a long-term view, expecting it will be more than a year for Hawaii to regain the economic health it had prior to the novel coronavirus spreading — in line with forecasts by local economists….

read … Poll shows slice of optimism about Hawaii’s economy

COVID-19 claims 900 Honolulu businesses, survey finds

SA: Nearly 900 businesses in Honolulu have shut down either temporarily or permanently since the beginning of March as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 10% of the closures are permanent, according to the second-quarter Yelp Economic Average report, which looks at some of the latest trends around how COVID-19 is affecting the economy.

The report, which counts closures through July 10, said 95 restaurants and 91 retail businesses in Honolulu permanently closed between March 1 and July 10. Yelp said Honolulu experienced the highest rate of business closures relative to the number of businesses in the city.

“The pushback of the reopening of tourism in Hawaii (until Sept. 1) will continue to have an impact,” said Sherry Menor-McNamara, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii. “We did a survey with UHERO (the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization) at the end of April, and 40% of businesses said they cannot continue to operate until tourism reopens….

SA: State and employers blindsided by jobless surge in Hawaii

SA: Many reluctant to return to shops and restaurants in Hawaii

read … COVID-19 claims 900 Honolulu businesses, survey finds

KIUC Revenues Down 8%

SA:  Kauai Island Utility Cooperative said in its annual membership meeting Wednesday that its revenue was down 8% year to date through June and that it is projecting a 10% decrease in sales for 2020….

The utility said its members used 2.1% more energy in 2019 than in 2018, while its revenue decreased by 4.8%. Its fossil fuel was reduced by 20%….

The co-op said utility-scale solar facilities, which replaced higher-cost diesel generation, saved members $3.8 million in 2019, amounting to about $50 per average residential member over the course of the year;…

KIUC President and CEO David Bissell gave an update on the utility’s renewable progress and said KIUC led the state in renewable generation in 2019 with 56.6% of Kauai’s electricity coming from renewable resources….

WHT: Hawaiian Electric proposes to speed use of electric buses

Link: News Release

read … Kauai utility company hits 56.6% renewable energy

Labor Board: Governor’s Emergency Powers ARE Limited -- Kauai County returns to 5-day ‘work’ week

TGI: …the county will resume five-day operations Tuesday. But the initial decision was still contentious.

In May, the Hawai‘i Government Employees Association filed a prohibited-practices complaint against the county with the Hawai‘i Labor Relations Board, alleging the county intentionally and willfully violated collective-bargaining laws in Chapter 89, Hawai‘i Revised Statutes, which states the county must consult and negotiate provisions affecting changing employee work conditions, and work toward a mutual consent and agreement.

On July 20, the board denied motions filed by the county to dismiss the prohibited-practice case concerning the mandatory four-day, 10-hour-day work schedule, and precluded HGEA from introducing testimony and evidence that Gov. David Ige did not suspend HRS Chapter 89.

The board ruled that Ige’s emergency proclamations did not suspend HRS Chapter 89 in its entirety.

“We also believe that the board’s rulings support our position that Kaua‘i County cannot unilaterally change employees’ work schedules without first consulting and negotiating with HGEA,” the union said in a statement to The Garden Island Friday….

read … County returns to 5-day work week

State Land Use Commission takes up Hawaii County’s TVR law

HTH: … The question of whether Hawaii County can prohibit short-term vacation rentals on land classified as agriculture is now in the hands of the state Land Use Commission.

Both the county and a group of 20 Kailua-Kona, Waimea and Captain Cook landowners have asked the LUC for a declaratory ruling. The commission considered the issue Thursday, then postponed the hearing until Aug. 12.

The ruling will have far-reaching ramifications. Some 1.2 million acres on Hawaii Island — almost half of the land mass — is classified as agriculture.

State law requires houses to be farm dwellings and have a connection to agriculture if they’re built on land classified under the state system as being in the agricultural district….

Corporation Counsel John Mukai said. “Farm dwellings can only be used in connection with agricultural use and not for residential use.”

The property owners disagree.

“Contrary to the County’s understanding of Chapter 205, the laws governing the State Agricultural District do not regulate the length of rental agreements,” said Cal Chipchase, attorney for the property owners in filings. “Cutting through the doubletalk, County Ordinance No. 2018-114 allows anyone to rent a “farm dwelling” located in the State Agricultural District for residential or vacation purposes as long as the lease is for 31 days or more.”

Chipchase points to testimony by county Planning Director Michael Yee that the county considers buildings built on agricultural land to be farm dwellings as long as the owner signs a farm dwelling agreement. There is little, if any, enforcement afterward to see if there is indeed any farming going on.

Under grilling from two commissioners, Yee on Thursday tried to clarify the position. A farm dwelling, he said, is a permitted use on agricultural land, while an STVR is not.

If someone signed a farm dwelling agreement and then doesn’t farm, “they’d be in violation and we may not find out five years down the road, 10 years down the road,” but farm dwellings are still a permitted use, Yee said.

An STVR, on the other hand, isn’t a permitted use, Yee said, ”just as we wouldn’t necessarily allow a junkyard on that land.”…

read … State Land Use Commission takes up Hawaii County’s STVR law

Constructing Honolulu’s Rail Project During A Pandemic

CB: … more than 80% of our staff was able to work from home…

construction of the guideway near the airport continues to be strong. Crews are completing the work on the stations on the Ewa end of the project. Workers are also relocating utilities through Kalihi, downtown, and in the Ala Moana area, all during this raging pandemic.

The good news too is that the cost of the work for the project remains within the Federal Transit Administration approved budget, which is more stable than ever before. To date, COVID-19 has not changed that fact….

read … Constructing Honolulu’s Rail Project During A Pandemic

Kauai Island crime down 35%

KGI: … Crime on the island is down about 35% compared to last year, according to Kaua‘i Police Department Chief Todd Raybuck.

As of the end of June, KPD has responded to 766 reports of Part 1 offenses, which include homicide, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, larceny and motor-vehicle theft. Last year, KPD officers responded to 1,174 reports in the same time period, Raybuck said during the most recent Police Commission meeting.

Violent crime on the island is down 11%.

The most significant decrease came for property crime, down 37.2% compared to the first six months of last year. These crimes, Raybuck said, are usually opportunistic, and with fewer tourists, the availability of these crimes is more limited.

Domestic violence, on the other hand, has remained fairly on par with last year.

“There’s been a lot of conversation about potential impact because of COVID and additional stresses,” Raybuck said. But that’s not the case, according to reports….

read … Island crime down 35%

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