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Friday, October 9, 2020
October 9, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:00 PM :: 1417 Views

Ige Grade 'D' -- Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors 2020

Child Safety Account to Escape School Bullying?

Hawaiʻi 2020 Census achieves 99.9% enumerated

Parks Dep't to Install LEDs, Solar Panels

Caldwell: Global Warming causing Rain Bombs

VIDEO: OHA Trustee Keli'i Akina on 'Hawaiian Kingdom Now'

COVID Count 155 new cases out of 3,818 tests

FBI Raids Na Leo TV Locations in Hilo, Honolulu

HNN: … The FBI raided the Hilo offices of public access broadcast station on Hawaii Island on Thursday, temporarily impacting business operations and forcing the postponement of a political forum.

A FBI spokesperson for Na Leo Television confirmed that a search warrant was executed at the Mohouli Street property, but neither party would comment on the circumstances surrounding the investigation.

Sources say Stacy Higa, president and CEO of Na Leo, told staff to shut down the office. He did not return calls for comment.

A FBI spokesperson tells Hawaii News Now that another location on Oahu was also searched in connection with the investigation.

Witnesses at the scene saw a number of agents involved in the search. Some are believed to have exited the premises carrying what appeared to be folders and an assortment of documents.

Early Thursday afternoon, a representative for the television station issued a statement saying a political forum involving races featuring candidates from Puna had been postponed. The station was working with the Mainstreet Pahoa Association to reschedule the broadcast, it said….

BIN Oct 10, 2020: Nā Leo TV Resumes Operations After FBI Raid 

SA: Big Isle’s Na Leo TV resumes operations after FBI raid as board meets with CEO

SA: “We are not aware of any abnormalities,” Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs cable administrator Ji Sook Kim said. “We were very surprised ourselves.”

HTH: “The case is ongoing. We’re not going to give out any details other than confirming it is us,” said Jason White, a special agent at the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Honolulu office.

HTH: Asked if Na Leo’s Kona office also was being searched, White replied, “We have a warrant for just the one Big Island location.”

BIVN: Word of the “FBI raid” spread quickly through Hilo on Thursday, as Nā Leo TV staff were initially kept out of the Mohouli Street building as agents conducted their search.

BIN: Hawai‘i Police Chief Paul Ferreira said local law enforcement is not involved with the FBI operation.

CB: Jason White, special agent and spokesman for the FBI’s Honolulu office, said the warrant is sealed at this time “and probably will remain that way for the foreseeable future.”

read … FBI raids Hilo offices of Na Leo TV amidst ongoing investigation

Caldwell: HART Board Should Kill P-3

SA: … There was little aloha between the head of the city’s troubled rail project and Mayor Kirk Caldwell on Thursday, with Caldwell calling on the rail project’s governing board “to step it up and put the heat on the CEO” on Thursday.

Thursday’s special meeting of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s board of directors represented another extraordinary development for Hawaii’s largest public works project that just last month saw a failed attempt to oust HART’s CEO and executive director, Andrew Robbins.

The failed effort was followed a day later by Caldwell announcing on Sept. 25 that the city no longer would participate in the more than two-year-long effort to find a builder to finish the final 4.16-mile rail segment into Ala Moana using a so-called public, private partnership agreement that Caldwell says has been negotiated “in secret” with no noticeable results….

The unpaid, volunteer board was clearly splintered following back-to-back presentations Thursday by Robbins and Caldwell on how to proceed.

Robbins wants to continue to pursue a P3 agreement and would like the city’s support in finalizing a plan. If not, Robbins told the HART board, he hopes to work with Honolulu’s next mayor. Caldwell’s term expires at the end of this year….

Caldwell reiterated his position on Thursday that FTA officials are frustrated by the lack of a firm P3 plan, which could jeopardize millions of dollars in federal support if the Dec. 31 deadline is not met, FTA’s third extension on the issue….

CB: Rail CEO: ‘We Can’t Quit’ On Final Construction Contract

HNN: Mayor: bids for City Center leg of rail project way “out of the ballpark”

read … Mayor Kirk Caldwell tells HART to put heat on CEO Andrew Robbins

27,000 Hawaii workers exhausted their state jobless benefits in September

HNN: … Nearly 27,000 unemployed workers in Hawaii exhausted their 26 weeks of state jobless benefits in September, in a stark reminder of just how long the state has been grappling with the economic fallout of COVID-19….In August, 1,126 workers exhausted their jobless aid. In July, it was 754….

The good news: A federally-funded program will pay up to 13 additional weeks of unemployment benefits, as long as they apply for it, and then a state extended benefit program will kick in….

“We’re starting to see a large number of claimants file for the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, or PEUC the 13-week extension, as more claimants exhaust their 26 weeks of regular unemployment insurance benefits,” she said.

“The biggest challenge we have now involves claimants not answering phone calls from unemployment insurance staff due to phone network services identify the calls as spam."

The number of people who exhausted aid in September is a huge uptick from previous months. For perspective, the total number of people who used up all of their state unemployment benefits from January through September is about 32,000….

CB: Here's Why You Should Consider Leaving Hawaii

read … 27,000 Hawaii workers exhausted their state jobless benefits in September

Hawaii 2020 unemployment claims surpass 380,000

KHON: … A total of 384,102 weekly initial unemployment claims have been filed in 2020, according to the Hawaii Department of Industrial Relations (DLIR).

This is up from 48,732 initial claims filed by the same time in 2019….

While the unemployment rate has decreased significantly since the first shutdown in March — from 22.3% in April to 12.5% in August — there were still more than 5,000 new unemployment filings this week….

To view weekly unemployment statistics updates, click here.

HPR: Unemployment Call Center Averages 150,000 Daily Calls During First Week

read … Hawaii 2020 unemployment claims surpass 380,000

Green: Masks are an Alternative to Shutting Down Businesses & Tourism

HNN: … While masks have been proven to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, rules on when they should be worn are different depending which island you’re on.

With the relaunch of tourism one week away, Lt. Gov. Josh Green is proposing a statewide mask mandate that makes the rules consistent across the board.

In addition, he wants the penalty for being caught without a mask to be reduced from a misdemeanor crime to a simple citation that carries a fine….

(Translation: On Kauai on 50% wear masks.  Hint, hint….)

On Oahu, 85% of people are reportedly following current guidelines.

That number drops to 77% on Maui. The Big Island stands at 69%. And on Kauai, where there is currently just one active case of the virus, 50% of people were seen wearing masks….

(See!)

“If you can get to 90%, that’s what many societies around the world have done. When they get to 90% they don’t have to shut down anything,” said Green.

“They don’t have to shut down travel. They don’t have to shut down business.”…..

read … Green calls for a clear statewide mask mandate ... and a fine for violators

Caldwell says Oahu could move to the next reopening level in two weeks

SA: … Caldwell said the countdown began Thursday, and that if the seven-day average of new cases and the average of positivity rates continued to meet required metrics for another two weeks, then Honolulu would move on Oct. 22 to Tier 2 restrictions, which are more relaxed than Tier 1, which Oahu is currently under.

On Thursday the county recorded 86 new corona­virus cases out of the 101 reported in Hawaii, bringing the statewide total since the start of the pandemic to 13,146. The 7-day average of daily cases for Oahu stood at 71, and the seven-day positivity rate at 3.1%….

“I believe the results, while they could be a little lower in my mind, are good,” said Caldwell, during a news conference in front of Honolulu Hale on Thursday afternoon. “We’re doing good as we open up.”

Under Tier 2, which requires that Oahu’s new coronavirus cases remain below 100, and that positivity rates remain below 5%, restaurants would be allowed to serve up to five individuals not necessarily from the same household to dine at the same table.

Under Tier 1, only a maximum of five individuals from the same household may dine together.

Gyms and fitness facilities, currently allowed to operate outdoors only, would be allowed to open indoors at 25% capacity. Arcades would be allowed to reopen at 25% capacity. Legal, short-term rentals, closed under Tier 1, would be allowed under Tier 2.

Updates will be provided every Thursday on digital signs in front of Honolulu Hale as well as on Oahu freeways to let residents know where the island stands….

HPR: Oahu Businesses Struggle Under Restrictions And Growing Pressure

read … Caldwell says Oahu could move to the next reopening level in two weeks

Lawmaker criticizes contact tracing for COVID-19 on Molokai

MN: … Seventeen cases were reported since late August on the small, rural island that lacks many resources available on other islands. Prior to August, Molokai had only seen two cases.

Rep. Lynn DeCoite, who lives on Molokai, said that during recent upticks, DOH contact tracing was spotty and lacked follow- up.

“You have those in isolation, you have a contact tracer calling the husband and the wife hasn’t gotten a call in five to six days,” she said during a public informational briefing Thursday. “We had cases that broke out where people literally walking around town and yet no follow-up.”

State health officials said Thursday that they’re working on improving contact tracing and bolstering testing capacity — especially for Neighbor Islands ….

read … Lawmaker criticizes contact tracing for COVID-19 on Molokai

DOH looking to boost COVID case investigators

KHON: … The number of contact tracers in Hawaii is now around 300 and growing, but the State Department of Health still wants to boost its staff of case investigators.

The DOH told lawmakers on Oct. 8 that they only have 14 investigators who figure out where cases and clusters are coming from after contact tracers make initial calls. House members also pressed the DOH about why more details aren’t revealed about the exact locations of clusters….

read … DOH looking to boost COVID case investigators

Hu Honua Documents -- Confidential in Hawai’i, Public in California

IM: … Harold H Robinson IV, the plaintiff, is a former Hu Honua manager/owner. He filed a lawsuit against the current owners of Hu Honua in a California court.

The defendants filed testimony on December 16, 2019.

"Plaintiff fails to acknowledge the glaring issue that, to the immense frustration of all parties involved, significant uncertainty remains as to whether the Hawaii project will ever be licensed and open for operation at all.

“Power plants are heavily regulated enterprises, and the Power Purchase Agreement between Hu Honua and HELCO requires approval from the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission before the Hawaii Project can begin operations.

"Hu Honua first sought approval of the PPA in 2012. In the intervening years, the PPA was canceled once, approved once, and ultimately vacated by the Hawaii Supreme Court, which cited significant environmental concerns with the plant`s proposed operations.”

“The problem with Plaintiff’s projections which …depend on a 30-year operating life. However, the lease for the real property on which the plant sits will expire approximately 24 years from today, irrespective of when the plant actually opens.”

Jon Miyata, Hu Honua Director of Finance, submitted testimony to the Hawai’i Public Utilities Commission on January 28, 2020.

“Hu Honua… leases are designated Restricted Information.”

“The technology … Review was … designated as Confidential and Restricted from all participants.”

“…the Biomass Fuel Supply Report Update, dated February 15, 2019, prepared by Forest Solutions, Inc. for CNRR, is … designated Restricted Information.”

Many, if not all, of the documents designated as restrictive and confidential documents in the Hawai’i litigation, are publicly available in the California litigation….

ILind: Check out this recent ThinkTech Hawaii program on Hu Honua

read …Hu Honua Documents -- Confidential in Hawai’i, Public in California

Hawai‘i Has Authorized 1,527 New Housing Units in 2020

MN: … A new report shows that an estimated 1,527 new housing units have been authorized in Hawaiʻi in 2020–which equates to 107.5 units for every 100,000 residents.

The porch.com report notes that while home sales and new construction fell sharply during the onset of the pandemic, both have rebounded aggressively, fueled by a combination of low interest rates, increased demand and a growing preference for low-density housing.

According to the report, the lockdowns delayed peak home buying season, creating pent up demand for new homes, compounding a longer-term trend in the housing market of millennials aging and entering their prime home-buying years….

read … Hawai‘i Has Authorized 1,527 New Housing Units in 2020

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