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Wednesday, September 2, 2020
September 2, 2020 News Read
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DBEDT: Hawaii economy will contract 12.3% in 2020

Knife Rights: Amicus Brief Filed in Hawaii Butterfly Knife Second Amendment Case

Hawaii Cockfighters Among Top Traffickers of Animals to Guam, Philippines for Illegal Activity, Investigation Alleges

Censorship: UH Admin on the Hunt for Student Authors of 'Offensive' George Floyd Video

COVID Count: 249 new cases out of 5,245 tests

Kealoha News: After nearly 2 years on leave, deputy city prosecutor brought back by Loser Nadamoto 

HNN: … Almost two years after he received a subject letter from the US Department of Justice and went on leave, deputy city Prosecutor Chasid Sapolu is back at work.

Sapolu was the second in command when he decided to go leave during the federal investigation.

He’s now being assigned to the juvenile offender unit.

Sapolu returned to the office Tuesday and said in a statement through his attorney:

“I have been, and will continue to be, fully cooperative with investigative authorities. As I return to work, I continue to believe that the system I am dedicated to serving will find that I have done nothing wrong.”…

Acting city Prosecuting Attorney Dwight Nadamoto defended his decision to allow Sapolu to return. “He has been on the sideline for a long time,” he said. Now more than ever we can use all the help we can get.”

Nadamoto lost in the primary election so he will also leave at the end of the year.

In the running to lead the office: Former federal Prosecutor Steve Alm and former deputy Prosecutor Megan Kau. Both disagree with the decision.

“He did get a subject letter, which is a serious matter,” said Alm. “This will not help the prosecutor’s office in the effort to restore trust.”…

Ken Lawson, of the University of Hawaii law school, agreed that it’s a dangerous move.

“That gives him access to the office, access to witnesses and records.”

Victor Bakke, another legal expert, criticized the placement of Sapolu into the juvenile offender unit.

“Juvenile division, which is completely sealed off from the public, so he’ll be appearing in cases in courtrooms where the public is not allowed, the media is not allowed, the records are sealed, they’re not put on the public website. So he’s completely closed off and free to do whatever he wants,” Bakke said….

SA: A subject letter means Sapolu was suspected of engaging in misconduct but authorities needed more time to investigate.

CB: Sapolu’s attorney Randall Hironaka said that his client remains a “subject” whose conduct is within the scope of a grand jury’s investigation.  “He still has that letter. Nothing’s changed. To our knowledge, it hasn’t been rescinded or anything like that,” Hironaka said. …

read … After nearly 2 years on leave, deputy city prosecutor returns to work

Council panel narrowly passes nonbinding contact tracing spy app resolution

HTH: …  Resolution 716, sponsored by Puna Councilman Matt Kaneali‘i-Kleinfelder, is nonbinding, urging Kim to allow a digital contact tracing app for Apple and Google to be used on the Big Island. The Council Public Safety Committee voted 5-3 to forward the resolution with a positive recommendation to the council for one more vote….

The app was developed by Sustain Hawaii, a nonprofit organization founded in 2003 that works with health concerns in Native Hawaiian communities. Executive director Kevin Vaccarello told the council the app was created five months ago and is being beta tested in Waimanalo, a primarily Native Hawaiian community on Oahu…..

The nonprofit’s efforts to work with the DOH have not borne fruit, he said. Vaccarello said the nonprofit thus far has paid for the app itself, although it was hoping it could get some money from federal coronavirus relief funds.

“We’ve been very actively promoting collaboration for five months and nothing has happened,” Vaccarello said….

The app uses GPS to create a digital location diary that never leaves your phone, until you allow it. This is data that will never be stored in a third party server, one of its developers said. Only if someone tests positive for COVID-19 will they be prompted to voluntarily release their anonymous location data. Even those who don’t use the app would be able to see COVID-19 hot spots on a map that would be posted to the internet….

read … Council panel narrowly passes nonbinding contact tracing app resolution

High court order expands release of detainees amid pandemic

HTH: …Hawaii County’s top prosecutor said Tuesday that all Big Island residents should be concerned about the Hawaii Supreme Court’s most recent order pushing the release of more detainees throughout the state.

“People should be concerned with this order. We are concerned,” said Hawaii County Prosecuting Attorney Mitch Roth. “This is not just for our island; this was for all islands, all jurisdictions. Unfortunately, because of what’s happened on Oahu, everybody is being treated the same.”

The high court on Thursday issued its most recent COVID-19 pandemic-related order expanding the release of detainees to include those charged for certain petty misdemeanor, misdemeanor and felony offenses on all islands — not specific facilities.

The move comes amid increasing COVID-19 case counts at correctional facilities on Oahu, most notably Oahu Community Correctional Center, where as of Tuesday 290 inmates and 66 staff had tested positive. Roth said as of Tuesday morning there were no known cases at Hawaii Island correctional facilities, including Hawaii Community Correctional Center and Kulani Correctional Facility.

“It is very problematic,” Roth said. “This is something our office objected to, and we’ll see what happens. The last time this happened we saw orders that we believe put the public at risk and we’re going to continue to watch for that.”….

read … High court order expands release of detainees amid pandemic

State and counties slow to spend billions in federal COVID relief

KHON: … Out of $1.25 billion given to the state and counties from the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund, just 6.3 percent — only about $80 million — has actually been spent. Some lawmakers and government watchdogs are baffled….

The Hawaii Data Collaborative has been tracking every dollar. Their compilation shows that while tens of millions of dollars have been allocated or earmarked for critical needs across public, private, individual, family and business sectors, just a fraction has actually been spent….

Gov. David Ige said Monday he’s weighing how to allocate $321 million in line-item spending he vetoed from the Legislature’s suggested CRF spending plan. Ige says the state is in the process of “exercising contracts” on about $462 million to be distributed to agencies and counties for programs. He says they’re moving carefully due to strict federal terms.

“They have put us on notice several times that they do intend to audit the expenditure of these programs,” Ige said, “so we want to make sure our partners are fully aware of these requirements and make sure we would be able to report back to the federal government about the use of the CARES Act funds that we received.”

The governor’s office provided KHON2 more explanation in a statement, saying: “The executive branch agencies have been working with private-sector partners to provide services and programs as quickly as possible. In the one month since the bill became law, departments have been recruiting, reviewing and contracting with organizations to implement programs or placing orders for supplies, such as PPE. Many of these activities have not yet been invoiced or paid. In addition, the state has provided the second round of funding to the counties to continue the programs being delivered at the county level.”

Always investigating reviewed a federal Inspector General report on all states’ CRF status, which the feds are tracking by costs “incurred.” We found the $150 million Hawaii reported there — or 12% of the pot — is exactly middle of the road at 25th in the nation for the spending pace, though most is incurred from just handing some over to counties.

Contrast that with California, which was able to incur spending of about 75% of its massive $15 billion in CRF by the summer in every single one of the key spending categories, whereas Hawaii incurred zero in many of the same categories. In the time since the Inspector General data was collected, the state has earmarked where it wants tens of millions to go for various departments.

Whatever is not spent by end of December has to go right back to the feds….

SA: Gov. David Ige considering salvaging vetoed funds when new federal jobless benefits expire

SA: States can boost minimum jobless pay so more residents get $300 weekly bonus

read … State and counties slow to spend billions in federal COVID relief

HDoT Could Lose $180M Federal Funds over H-3 COVID Shutdown

SA: …Thousands were tested for COVID-19 Tuesday during Oahu’s unprecedented surge testing event on the H-3 freeway.

But Hawaii officials acknowledged facing the potential loss of federal transportation funding after the Federal Highways Administration denied the state’s request to use the freeway for the event.

Ed Sniffen, state Highways Division deputy director, said the state was informed of the FHA’s denial in a letter that arrived just hours before the testing was set to begin but after the freeway had been shut down at 5 a.m. and personnel were beginning to move into place.

The reasons given by the federal agency: the impact on traffic, commerce, safety and Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe….

The state receives $180 million for projects from the FHA each year, Sniffen said, and the agency could choose to withhold some of the money….

A spokesman of the FHA in Washington, D.C., declined to discuss the situation with the Honolulu Star- Advertiser but he did issue this statement:

“The Federal Highway Administration communicates directly with our State partners and Hawaii DOT is aware of the agency’s position. We look forward to working with the State to identify alternative options.”

However, Sniffen said the state is still planning to hold the second scheduled surge testing on the H-3 freeway on Thursday….

The operation appeared to be running smoothly, but the experience wasn’t perfect for everyone.

One woman said she waited for over 45 minutes before reaching the tunnel and getting the test kit in a bag. But she was told to stay in the left lane. Workers kept waving her along — right back onto the open highway. She ended up leaving without getting her test completed….

Safety concerns are also minimized, he said, with more than 300 personnel on the scene, including 50 health care workers, 100 firefighters, 100 Air National Guard troops and 50 Honolulu police officers for traffic control….

The total budget for the event was over $10 million, which came from the state’s allotment of federal CARES Act emergency coronavirus money, he said….

read … Feds spurn COVID-19 testing held on H-3 freeway

The Cost Of Failure To Contain The Virus? Massive Layoffs

CB: … With no end in sight to the shutdown of tourism, dozens of companies have filed letters with labor officials outlining job cuts and extended furloughs….

read … The Cost Of Failure To Contain The Virus? Massive Layoffs

Maui police called to MCCC amidst reports of inmate disturbance

HNN: … Outside law enforcement agencies were called to the Maui Community Correctional Center to help respond to an ’attempted disturbance’ involving inmates inside the jail, a spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety said Tuesday.

The disturbance, which law enforcement sources said was happening in the jail’s Module A, was reported early Tuesday afternoon. Deputy sheriffs were also responding to the scene, sources said.

In a statement issued just after 4 p.m., the Public Safety spokesperson said a group of inmates refused to go back into their cells. Staff, according to the spokesperson, activated emergency response plans and had ‘quickly contained’ the situation by about 2:45 p.m.

“Staff followed their training to squash the attempted disturbance fast. I commend them for effectively and professionally returning calm to the module during these trying times,” said Maria Cook, one of the department’s deputy directors.

A department spokesperson says the outside law enforcement authorities were on-hand to standby as a precaution.

Inmates were still being evaluated by staff for injuries, and some correctional staff members did report injuries, the spokesperson said….

KHON: Amid prison mayhem, state senator calls for culture change at Department of Public Safety

KITV: At about 2 p.m. Maui Community Correctional Center inmates in one module refused to go back into their cells. 

read … Maui police called to MCCC amidst reports of inmate disturbance

Hundreds of callers request information on hotel quarantine rooms

KHON: … The Hawaii State Department of Health has screened about 350 to 400 calls a day from people asking about the hotel quarantine rooms for people who tested positive with COVID-19 or have been in close contact….

The Behavioral Health Deputy Director Eddie Mersereau said the hotel rooms are meant for those who cannot safely separate from others at home.

“There’s no separate room and bathroom that you can utilize to quarantine and isolate you should call that number,” Mersereau said. “If you have people in your household that are some of those high-risk populations that we all have been talking about. ” 

So far, about 500 people have isolated in participating hotel rooms, 126 out of the 293 rooms are occupied.

Transportation to the hotel is provided if needed, and once the person arrives a case management team will take over.

Mersereau said, “They are doing three quality checks per day. They do things like check their temperature, ask them what their symptoms are, trouble breathing that kind of stuff just a very light medical evaluation.” …

Mersereau said, “The mayor’s target is to bring on a minimum of 250 or so units to have on hand in case we have an increase of positives, especially in the course of the next couple of weeks when we’re doing surge testing.”  

read … Hundreds of callers request information on hotel quarantine rooms

Maunakea Master Plan to be completed by late next year

HTH:  … An update to the University of Hawaii’s Maunakea Master Plan is expected to be completed by late 2021.

The master plan was established in 2000 to provide policy for UH to govern the Maunakea Science Reserve, but a long-awaited update to the plan will, among other things, provide a framework to reduce the number of astronomy sites at the mountain’s summit.

During a Tuesday meeting of the board of UH’s Office of Maunakea Management, Jim Hayes, president of Honolulu consultancy firm Planning Solutions Inc., said the internal draft of the master plan is expected to be completed this month after consulting with UH stakeholders, and will be submitted for public comment in the spring of next year.

Using feedback from the public comment period, Hayes said the final updated master plan will be taken up by the UH Board of Regents in October 2021 for approval.

Among the revisions to the master plan will be a series of land use goals for each of the astronomy sites on the summit. While most of the sites will remain as they are now, Hayes said the master plan will include a process to reduce the number of active sites to nine by 2033 as a condition of the planned construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope.

Hayes said the master plan is written under the assumption that construction of TMT will go ahead, but added that construction of the telescope is not contingent upon the plan. Because TMT was approved under the current master plan, changes to the plan will not impact the telescope’s construction….

read … Maunakea Master Plan to be completed by late next year

‘Moana’ Star Criticizes ‘Reopen Hawaii’ Protestors: Not a Single Native Hawaiian Seen

YN: … “Moana” star Auli’i Cravalho took to Twitter early Tuesday to react to a “Reopen Hawaii” demonstration from this previous weekend. Retweeting a clip from a local news reporter, the native Hawaiian noted the protestors were comprised primarily of one particular (hated) group.

“Not a single Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) to be seen,” wrote the actress on Twitter in response to video of locals protesting the state’s new order to stay and work at home….

According to Eddie Dowd, the reporter whose video Cravalho shared, there were “hundreds” of people on the scene in Honolulu to protest the restrictions Saturday. Footage of the event from another account did show a small group of Native Hawaiians protesting.

You can see Cravalho’s tweet … HERE

read … ‘Moana’ Star Criticizes ‘Reopen Hawaii’ Protestors: Not a Single Native Hawaiian Seen

Hawaii’s largest entertainment venues glow red for a reason

HNN: … Joining the nationwide call for Congress to breathe new life into the live entertainment industry, Hawaii’s entertainment venues and businesses were lit up in red Tuesday night.

From the Blaisdell Arena to Aloha Stadium, Bishop Museum and even the Watanabe Floral warehouse, red lights illuminated the buildings as a part of the #RedAlertRESTART initiative….

Officials say live events pump trillions of dollars into the economy, and their shut down impacts workers of so many different industries on all levels.

“In Hawai’i, those losses are expected to be in the tens of millions. There is a clear danger to venues going bankrupt and bought up for other purposes which will deprive citizens of a quality of life that live events bring to our communities,” the city said.

For more information on the initiative, click here or read about the call to action here.

TGI: DOW reminds resorts, large facilities to flush water systems

read … Hawaii’s largest entertainment venues glow red for a reason

Survey: More Than Half Of Hawaii Restaurants Have Seriously Considered Closing

CB: … A survey of Hawaii restaurant managers reveals a tepid outlook for the survival of the local dining industry in the wake of the economic destruction inflicted by COVID-19.

Among the key findings are that 56% of restaurant managers said they have seriously considering closing the business permanently.

Nearly 70% of respondents said their business can only survive three to six more months under present social distancing rules. Take-out service, even with menu alterations, does not generate enough business on its own to keep a sweeping number of restaurants financially afloat, respondents said.

Only 11% of survey participants said it’s likely that their restaurant will ever be profitable under current social distancing and operating cost conditions.

All told, 44% of participants said their restaurant would not be able to survive even if the landlord deferred rent for up to six months….

SA: Amidst COVID-19 pandemic, some question high cost of restaurant delivery fees

PDF: Survey Report

read … Survey: More Than Half Of Hawaii Restaurants Have Seriously Considered Closing

Kaiser High farmers market ordered to shut down due to COVID complaint

SA: … The Friends of Kaiser PTSA Farmer’s Market, held Tuesday afternoons in Kaiser High School’s parking lot, closed last week after a complaint was filed with the state Department of Education, said Justin Mew, the school’s principal.

Mew said the department issued a memo Aug. 25 to “cease and desist” operating the market, given the current state and city orders banning gatherings, he said. It was brought to his attention Friday, a day after the last farmers market….

“The city says open-air markets are essential, so I thought we were fine,” he said. “But this is school property. When I was told to cease and desist, I immediately called the PTSA.”…

The market recently drew attention when Colin Hazama, executive chef at the Royal Hawaiian, opened a booth to serve gourmet comfort food. Other vendors included Ruby Tuesday and restaurants from the Waikiki Yokocho food hall.

The 12-year-old market was a fundraiser for the school’s PTSA. Pre-pandemic, it had half-dozen vendors, but that number had climbed to more than 30.

Mew said it offered more than the essential service of selling food.

“It provided a place for the community to come out for fresh air and to see other human beings. It was not meant to be a social gathering,” he said. “There was something for everyone, food at all price levels. It helped the restaurants. It was a win-win situation for small businesses and our community and school….

A Sunday farmers market at Mililani High School, operated by the Hawaii Farm Bureau, remains open….

read … Kaiser High farmers market ordered to shut down due to COVID complaint

Hooser: What does Donald Trump’s banner have to do with it?

TGI: … The vandalism of the Trump banner on Kuhio Highway in Kapa‘a saddens me, and I am hopeful that this negative destructive behavior does not spread further.

You will find no greater opponent to the re-election of Donald Trump than myself. I believe that his re-election would plunge the United States even deeper into the turmoil and darkness which now seems to permeate all corners of the continent. While it seems cliche, I truly do believe that the election of November 3rd is the most important one of our lifetime.

But we must not allow President Trump, nor his supporters, to goad us into negative behavior that accomplishes nothing except to justify their claims against us….

read … What does Donald Trump’s banner have to do with it?

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