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Sunday, September 13, 2020
September 13, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:36 PM :: 2520 Views

Ridiculous rules laughable but no laughing matter

COVID: Court Upholds Ige Emergency Order Authority Beyond 60 Days

DoE Enrollment Drops 3%--Charter School Enrollment Up 2%

Chief Justice Appoints District and District Family Court Judges--Justice McKenna Seeks Retention

State Auditor’s Review of GET Exemptions and Exclusions

COVID Count 114 new cases out of 4,132 tests

Miske Gang of Union Thugs Allegedly Ambushed Witness While on Lunch Break Shooting Jurassic Park

ILind: … Between January 2016 and August 2018, Timothy Taboada was selling crystal meth on a daily basis, often from his home on Ko Place in the Kaneohe neighborhood of Kapunahala, according to facts admitted as part of a plea deal with federal prosecutors filed in federal court in November 2019.

Two of his main drug suppliers were Hunter Wilson and Jacob Smith, both allegedly part of a racketeering and drug conspiracy that operated under the cover of a network of seemingly “legitimate” businesses owned or controlled by Michael John Miske, Jr.

Miske, Wilson, and nine others were indicted in June 2020 for their roles in what prosecutors are calling the “Miske Enterprise.”

Although not named in the indictment, Smith was identified as one of the shooters in an ambush and attempted murder that took place in lunch hour at Kualoa Ranch on May 23, 2017 during the filming of “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.” The ambush is the basis for Count 8 in the Miske indictments.

(BTW: Why do we have tax credits for film production?  To give these thugs jobs?)

The target in the ambush, during which several shots were fired, was Lindsey Kinney, a rigging grip on the movie crew. Although is identified only as “Victim-2” in the indictment, he later went public, both in an interview with Hawaii News Now after the indictment was issued, and earlier in an angry rant on Instagram soon after the shooting incident. On Instagram, Kinney said three men were directly involved in the ambush and attempted murder—Mike Miske, John Stancil (Miske’s half-brother), and Jacob Smith.

According to the plea agreement, Taboada bought methamphetamine in pound quantities from Smith and Wilson, which he then sold to buyers across Oahu….

Miske Co-Defendant: Norman Akau III, an executive board member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts Local 665.

Meanwhile: Hawaii’s film industry kicks off filming in September; how it’s planning to keep COVID off its sets

read … Details of Miske drug ring emerging in other cases

Star-Adv: Hawaii Needs to Proceed with Oct 1 Tourism reopening

SA: … the inescapable fact is that Hawaii must get back to business promptly: Reopening the so-called “nonessential” retailers in particular is crucial to economic revival. And, given that these businesses lean on tourism for a share of clientele, leaders must push ahead to restart tourism on a date certain.

Moving forward is the right impulse. Last week it was endorsed by Lt. Gov. Josh Green, speaking on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Spotlight Hawaii webcast. Green advocated that Oct. 1 become the date for a “soft launch” of the long-delayed and much-needed pre-travel testing program, the core element needed for a reboot of trans-Pacific travel to Hawaii.

Green affirmed that negotiations with partners such as CVS and Kaiser Permanente who could provide COVID-19 tests for travelers — possibly a mix of the fast “antigen” tests as well as the familiar nasal swabs — are going well enough to commit to that date.

That would send the right signal to the long-dormant travel industry, which would be able to begin booking visitors for the months ahead. Gov. David Ige should sign off on the commitment, and soon….

Big Q: After Oahu’s two-week lockdown, should retail and most “nonessential” businesses reopen later this month?

read … It’s time to get back to business in Hawaii

State will just become an economic ghetto

Borreca: …Obviously a tourist- based economy without tourists is soon to become a poverty-based disaster. If Hawaii can’t come up with a real plan that is not changed every quarter- hour, the state will just become an economic ghetto….

read … Pandemic wipes out Hawaii’s economy, but lack of recovery game plan will worsen poverty

Honolulu has allocated about 60% of CARES Act funds, but December deadline looms

SA: … It’s use it or lose it when it comes to federal CARES Act funds, but so far Honolulu has only spent about $72 million of its $387 million distribution.

Nearly 60% of the city’s CARES Act funds had been allocated as of Friday — leaving some $165.4 million still pending…. 

CB: This Is How Honolulu Is Spending $387 Million In CARES Act Money

read … Honolulu has allocated about 60% of CARES Act funds, but December deadline looms

Esser’s Favorite Criminals Target Seniors

Shapiro: … These predators target senior women and are often serial offenders reported to stake out busy parking lots around the island.

It struck me they’re exactly the kind of criminals the public defender recently tried to protect by lobbying Police Chief Susan Ballard to “step back” from making arrests in “misdemeanor and petty misdemeanor offenses and all nonviolent felonies” to spare perpetrators the risk of catching COVID-19 at Oahu Community Correctional Center.

To her credit, Ballard responded, “We suggest that rather than ask officers to step back on enforcement, efforts be made to encourage your clients to make the same sacrifices our community has been making by following the laws.”

The sad thing is the point is almost academic. As my senior friend learned after she notified police, these crimes often go unsolved. Perps who are caught are often cut loose by the courts. Such stolen property is seldom recovered….

read … Don’t expect criminals to get a conscience during pandemic

Emily Roberson, Hawaii’s new head of contact tracing, moves quickly to revamp the program

SA: … “When I came in it was quite obvious we did not have sufficient staff to handle the workload. Clearly everyone’s overworked, clearly everyone’s tired and exhausted and feels underappreciated,” Roberson said in an interview Friday….

The most “glaring problem” she found after taking on the role was that highly skilled and specially trained disease investigators were spending a great deal of time on tasks unrelated to their jobs, including administrative work, mailing, scanning and making referrals to social services. The DOH had only about half a dozen of these investigators, though there were dozens of other staff handling parts of the contact tracing work, she said….

“The whole idea that the problem with our response was that we didn’t have 500 contact tracers is misguided. We could’ve had 5,000 contact tracers and we would’ve been potentially exactly in the same spot if investigators were mailing letters and bringing people dinner,” Roberson said….

She divided the work disease investigators were doing under normal circumstances and shifted some of the less complicated duties to other types of workers she could easily hire and ramp up quickly in an emergency. That way specialized investigators could focus on investigating and monitoring the more complex, confirmed coronavirus cases….

DOH whistleblower Jennifer Smith, the epidemiologist who was suspended with pay Sept. 4 after speaking out about the understaffing of contact tracers, is one of those investigators. Smith has criticized the department for fostering a “toxic” culture of fear that impeded the work of investigators trying to stop the spread of disease, even as DOH officials claimed they had a sufficient public health workforce to identify new coronavirus cases, trace contacts and ensure those infected were isolated. Smith said the workload of investigators reached 300% of intended capacity….

Roberson is grateful to get as much help as she can from the National Guard, which began contact tracing Aug. 3. University of Hawaii interns and students are now playing large roles in data activities and HPU has also come on board to help in the effort, in addition to staff on loan from other state departments and Medical Reserve Corps volunteers.

“It’s been wonderful having the Guard assist in this response. One of the great things they brought to the table is their structures, management and coordination experience,” she said, adding DOH is also training the National Guard to train others. “Now we have an operation where we’re able to train large groups of people to these different tasks and roles within the response and have them do some shadowing and kind of learn the ropes in a real- world setting.”

She also has established direct communication lines between herself and contact tracing staff so that if anything goes wrong — a phone line goes down, for example — employees can notify her immediately so that she can find a quick work-around….

To prevent future COVID-19 surges, Roberson is establishing specialized investigation teams that include interpreters, public health educators and community health workers, each responsible for tracking cases in different settings and communities, including the Pacific Islander and homeless populations and other priority groups.

As of Friday, the state had 256 staff working on different areas of contact tracing, including 150 on Oahu, 40 on the Big Island, 42 on Maui and 24 on Kauai. Included among those 256 are 60 first-contact callers and eight specialized teams led by disease investigators. Each team has 10 to 15 members. The goal is to eventually have 200 first-contact callers and 20 teams. That would put total contact tracing staff at about 500. Separately, the DOH is working on training public and private entities to do their own contact tracing….

read … Emily Roberson, Hawaii’s new head of contact tracing, moves quickly to revamp the program

Agenda: Mayor Harry Kim calls for HHSC to take over Hilo veterans care home

HNN: … Kim said Avalon Healthcare Group is contracted by the state, a decision the Honolulu County Mayor said he did not support.

“I felt that it should be people here meaning the state hospital so I felt [that was] the better attachment to this facility,” said Kim….

(Step 1: Create crisis by not removing COVID patients from nursing home.  Step 2: Present predetermined ‘solution’ to crisis.  Question: Who is driving Step 1?)

While Kim is asking for a change in administration, Senator Brian Schatz sent a letter to Avalon Healthcare Group urging the health group to improve its infection control policies as all three of Avalon’s facilities in Hawaii have experienced a COVID-19 outbreak.

“Therefore, I urge you to immediately review the practices, and in particular the staffing and infection control practices, at your facilities in Hawai’i and in other states to identify and resolve any deficiencies that could result in the spread of COVID-19.”…

In response to the mayor’s press conference, Avalon Healthcare Group released a statement.

“We continue to work closely with representatives from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and state and local health officials, who have applicable expertise to bring to bear as we work together to save lives. Our residents are our one and only priority. We do not have the luxury of time to engage in any fights other than beating this virus. That is where our focus will remain.”…

SA: Better coordinated responses, as seen in disasters, needed for elderly against COVID

SA: AARP Hawaii calls on governor to do more for those in long-term care homes

KHON: Hawaii County Mayor Kim calls for removal of state veterans home administrators

read … Mayor Harry Kim calls for suspension of administrative staff of a Hilo veterans care home

Illegal campers are flocking to beaches that have no county police to enforce shutdown orders.

CB: … local families have set up an information station on South Point Road, which provides the only access to the area. They have been talking to everyone heading for South Point, trying to dissuade them from coming down, especially for camping, during the current state of emergency.

In a letter to Hawaii County Council member Maile David, the group notes that “a total of 122 vehicles with camping gear was counted today (Sept. 4) from 8am-5pm going down to Ka Lae (South Point). A total of 40 vehicles who respected the message that was shared, turned away and went elsewhere. Numerous went down just for the day but still in large groups.”

Residents reported 20 different overnight campsites along the coast, some of which contained large groups.

Hawaii County police did go to South Point, where they reminded campers of the statewide quarantine restrictions that prohibit standing, sitting, camping or gathering in groups on the shoreline, and include a ban on tents, camping or coolers.

However, the HPD has no jurisdiction in the more remote areas where these activities are occurring. In those areas, it is the responsibility of the Department of Land and Natural Resources to issue citations to those violating the statewide quarantine mandate, but no enforcement officers were available on recent weekend evenings to respond to complaints.

“Our resources, our cultural and burial sites are being disrespected, ocean is being overharvested and our land is suffering from off road vehicles more than we can bear to witness,” the letter to David says. “During this time of COVID-19, along with Ka’u being in the red zone for fire hazard, we are in a ‘state of emergency’…. WE ARE ASKING YOU TO STEP IN and HELP!”

Hawaii County is experiencing a surge of COVID-19 cases. On Aug. 18 there were 152 cases and no deaths on the island; by Aug. 25 the number had jumped to 383 cases and three deaths — an increase of 152%….

Meanwhile: DLNR mulls reopening Polihale soon

read … Illegal campers are flocking to beaches that have no county police to enforce shutdown orders.

Arizona Prison: Only One Hawaii Inmate is COVID-Positive

ABC: … the State of Hawaii Department of Public Safety’s website reports, as of September 10, 43 of their inmates have been tested at Saguaro. Of those, 42 resulted negative….

read … Prison employee claims they’re forced to work even if they’re showing symptoms of COVID-19

Unemployed May Lose Benefits Due to DLIR-HGEA Incompetence

SA: … Question: I am one of those who has been “pending” with state UI for months now. If I’m ever approved, will I get the federal benefits too, paid retroactively, even if those programs are done?

Answer: Yes and no, depending on the program….

The answer is no, however, when it comes to the Lost Wages Assistance program, which will pay eligible claimants $300 a week through a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Kunstman said. Claimants pending when the program ends won’t get the money later, he said.

“Individuals with pending issues preventing payment will not receive the additional $300 per week if they are allowed benefits after the program has ended. Unlike the FPUC program ($600 plus-up) that ended in July, LWA is a grant with a finite amount of funding. When FEMA exhausts its grant funding, it will no longer have the resources to provide LWA payments and the program will end,” according to a DLIR news release issued Thursday.

The U.S. Department of Labor also covers this question in a recent guidance letter (808ne.ws/uipl), which says that an individual whose eligibility for unemployment compensation is determined after LWA’s end date “is not entitled to supplemental lost wages assistance for weeks of unemployment occurring before the end date.”

More than 10,000 Hawaii Unemployment Insurance claims were pending as of Thursday, according to DLIR. That number does not include pending claims in the separate Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program or UI or PUA claims that were denied but have been appealed and await a decision.

read … Jobless claims approved later won’t get full federal bonus

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