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Thursday, October 8, 2020
October 8, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:51 PM :: 797 Views

Here's Who to Vote for at OHA -- #1 Keli'i Akina

Kondo, Saiki Debate Continuing OHA LLC Audit

COVID Tourism: Ige Announces Pre-Travel Testing Partners

COVID Tourism: Maui to Attempt 'Voluntary' 2-Test System

Stop The Rail at Middle Street

Senate Special Session approves judicial appointments

Great Lockdown Crash of 2020 is wake-up call for Hawaii lawmakers

COVID: Hawaii Most Restrictive State

Hilo native wins coveted Nobel Prize for gene editing tool

City Council Advances Bill To Withdraw Rail Construction Dollars

CB: … The Honolulu City Council took a notable first step Wednesday toward revoking the city’s remaining $144 million that has been committed to help complete rail.

The vote to approve Bill 71 on the first of three readings required to pass was unanimous. It would remove the city’s $214 million rail-construction subsidy, minus the $70 million that’s already been incurred in earlier city budgets.

There was no discussion Wednesday. On a council composed mostly of rail supporters and several project opponents, no members registered any objections or reservations.

The unified move was a shot across the bow from city leaders at the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation and the agency’s handling of a multibillion dollar transit project that’s fallen into disarray in recent weeks.

It was the city’s P3 withdrawal that prompted Kalihi Councilman Joey Manahan, a staunch rail supporter, to introduce Bill 71 last week, he said after Wednesday’s meeting.

Rail’s latest disarray is “alarming,” Manahan said. It puts the city at financial risk if city taxpayers are still obligated to pay the remaining $144 million amid so much uncertainty.

Manahan expects the project will need more money — and he said city and rail leaders would likely have to approach the state for another tax extension. Getting such an extension amid the economic devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic would be difficult, he acknowledged.

Nonetheless, until there’s a clear path forward the move to withdraw the city’s commitment is warranted, Manahan said.

City leaders reluctantly agreed in 2017 to pay up to $214 million toward rail construction. State leaders sought that money as “skin in the game” when they passed a more than $2 billion bailout package for the cash-strapped transit project.

It’s not clear how the Federal Transit Administration will react to the city moving to withdraw those dollars, however. The $214 million is also part of rail’s recovery plan, which the FTA required as a condition for the city to hold on to its rail funding.…

CB: Honolulu Mayor Candidates Say They’d Finish Rail As Planned But Not How They’d Pay For It

Felix: Ending rail at Chinatown could lead to better rail options

read … City Leaders Advance Bill To Withdraw Rail Construction Dollars

Hawaii pre-travel testing on track to begin Oct. 15, Gov. Ige says

SA: … Gov. David Ige announced this afternoon that the state’s pre-travel testing program is on schedule to start Oct. 15 and will include random COVID-19 testing of 10% of travelers four days after arrival in an effort to determine the program’s effectiveness.

Ige also announced that the federal government has committed to allocating 420,000 rapid antigen test kits to Hawaii through the end of the year. The tests will be made available to long-term care facilities and eventually to the public schools.

“These tests will be a vital part of us getting back to the new normal. We are all hoping to get everyone back to work and our kids back to the classroom,” Ige said during a news conference at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport….

Hawaii island Mayor Harry Kim has said he will opt out of the state’s pre-travel testing program because of concerns that one test is not enough to keep out the virus.

Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami has said he has not made a final decision on whether the island will participate….

read … VIDEO: Hawaii pre-travel testing on track to begin Oct. 15, Gov. Ige says

State launches second - test program to sample 10% of travelers

TGI: … With a week left before reopening, the state is committing to a surveillance testing program that will randomly select 10% of travelers to take a state-funded second test.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green said the program will “ideally” start four days after reopening, on Oct. 19.

“Getting people to voluntarily take a test is part of something bigger, which is the safety of Hawai‘i,” Green, at a press conference at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport on Wednesday, said….

News Release: COVID Tourism: Maui to Attempt 'Voluntary' 2-Test System

read … State launches second surveillance testing program

Lawmakers to Kim: Don’t opt out of pre-travel testing program

HTH: … The majority of the Big Island’s state legislators sent a letter today to Mayor Harry Kim, expressing their concerns about Kim’s “stated intent to opt out of the state’s pre-travel testing program and leave the 14-day mandatory quarantine in place, effectively continuing a shutdown of tourism for Hawaii Island.”

The letter — signed by Sens. Lorraine Inouye, Dru Kanuha and Kai Kahele, and Reps. Chris Todd, Richard Onishi, Joy San Buenaventura, David Tarnas, Mark Nakashima and Nicole Lowen — was in reaction to a press release Tuesday by Kim’s office saying he wants a round of post-travel COVID-19 testing for trans-Pacific travelers, in addition to the pre-travel test the state will require.

The letter, which was not signed by Sen. Russell Ruderman and Rep. Richard Creagan, neither of whom ran for re-election, states:

“We support a secondary test requirement, as soon as it is feasible to implement. However, in the meantime, we urge the county to retain the Oct. 15 start date for the pre-travel testing program, while simultaneously working towards standing up a program that includes post-arrival testing….

KITV: Big Island Mayor: Travelers need two or three COVID-19 tests, otherwise quarantine remains

KHON: Misinterpreted’ Mayor Kim says he has a commitment of 50,000 visitor arrival COVID-19 tests

SA: Hawaii island mayor stands behind decision to keep 14-day quarantine in effect

read … Lawmakers to Kim: Don’t opt out of pre-travel testing program

Problems loom with out-migration

SA: … In a recent blog report, University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization (UHERO) economists projected that the state will see a net population loss of 19,000 over the next two years, on top of a 2,000 loss by the end of this year. It would be an unprecedented wave of residents forced or opting out of Hawaii, spurred largely by the ravaged economy.

Hawaii’s job prospects today are dire indeed, after a half-year standstill of tourism and business brought a spiral of closures among retailers, restaurants and others. UHERO projects that the number of nonfarm jobs here will fall by 90,800 this year to 565,300, and that by 2023 there still will be 29,200 fewer jobs than last year.

While some residents might initially celebrate the out-migration forecast — lamenting traffic congestion, overdevelopment or overcrowded beaches — there is real reason for worry. Among other things, sustained population loss reduces human capital and retards economic growth.

Some 70% of Hawaii’s economy is driven by consumer spending. Fewer residents means less spending, smaller tax bases for city and state coffers, and overall revenue losses. Further, Hawaii needs a robust middle-class with disposable income to feed the hungry economy, and to contribute to societal vibrancy. A stark society of “haves” and “have-nots” will not do.

Unfortunately, though, as noted by UHERO researchers James Mak and Justin Tyndall: “The mainland has become a more attractive place to live for many Hawaii residents, while Hawaii has become less attractive for potential mainland in-migrants.”

Hawaii’s population has fallen for three straight years since 2017, dropping 4,721 from July 2018 to July 2019. Mak and Tyndall said more locals have been leaving due to the high cost of living — especially housing — plus lack of job opportunities suited to their skills and interests….

Related: UHERO Hawaii renters already leaving for Mainland

read … Problems loom with out-migration

COVID: Another Hilo Nursing Home Fail

HTH: … Patients and staff are tested for the virus twice a week, but if someone exhibits symptoms between tests, a rapid antigen test is completed, the results of which are available in 15 minutes.

If a patient is positive, they’re moved into a “red zone,” where the known COVID-positive patients are, and a follow-up test is performed to confirm the results.

In May, the facility established a COVID-19 unit divided into zones based on severity: red zone for those who are COVID-positive, yellow for those under investigation and green for those being monitored, Johnson previously told the Tribune-Herald….

(This is a doomed plan.  COVID-positive patients must be removed to a different facility for COVID only.)

Life Care Center has two special care units for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia who are active and often wander within the secured units.

Those units, which house roughly 70 residents, pose a big challenge in managing COVID-19, Mann said.  There’s no way to confine people with dementia, he said, but those units are isolated as much as possible.  Johnson said it also is difficult to get patients with dementia to wear masks.

(This is a doomed plan.  COVID-positive patients must be removed to a different facility for COVID only.)

According to Mann, COVID-19 cases have been reported in one of those secure units….

Life Care Center’s first case of COVID-19 was reported in an employee in early September.

The first resident tested positive for the virus Sept. 25.

As of Wednesday, 32 residents and nine employees have tested positive for COVID-19. Two residents have died.

(See?)

Twenty-four residents with COVID-19 are being treated at Life Care Center, four are receiving treatment at Hilo Medical Center and one is receiving care at another facility.

Four employees have fully recovered….

read … Challenges remain in response to Life Care Center COVID outbreak

Honolulu Police Chief: Case Closure Stats Are Not As Bad As They Look

CB: … HPD’s chief rejects FBI data that shows the department is failing to solve the vast majority of crimes but said she is taking steps to improve the clearance rate anyway ….

read … Honolulu Police Chief: Case Closure Stats Are Not As Bad As They Look

Maui planning commissioner at center of debate over alleged shoreline pollution

HNN: … On July 15, cultural expert and Maui burial council Chair Dane Maxwell took drone video at Olowalu on Maui’s west side. He says the blue shoreline and reef were blanketed with brown silt.

“It was covered in brown silt and dirt. It’s significant,” said Maxwell.

The state Department of Health says it’s investigating “numerous complaints alleging water pollution stemming from construction activities on the Olowalu Elua property.”

Meanwhile, the state Land Department and county slapped Lawrence Carnicelli, managing director of the company, with notices of violation for grading and grubbing three acres of state property.

Carnicelli is also chair of Maui’s Planning Commission….

read … Maui planning commissioner at center of debate over alleged shoreline pollution

Varona Village sale pact approved by city

SA: … In a 7-0 vote, City Council members approved a development agreement with local developer Peter Savio and nonprofit Hawaii Habitat for Humanity that will allow the development team to buy the 26-acre community with 46 homes and then sell those homes to residents.

Retirees of Oahu Sugar’s Ewa Plantation who live in Varona Village will have the top priority along with their spouses to purchase existing homes for an estimated $100,000….

read … Varona Village sale pact approved by city

‘Software issue’ stops opening of Zipper Lane—Nobody Notices

SA: … No significant impact is anticipated due to lighter-than-normal morning peak traffic…..

(One of many unnecessary gov’t functions wasting money in a COVID environment.)

read … Unnecessary Make-work, Waste of Money

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