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Friday, November 6, 2020
November 6, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:52 PM :: 3018 Views

DLNR Steps Up Efforts to Manage Homelessness Across Public Lands

House Leadership and Committee Chair Assignments for 2021 Legislature

Eight New Democrats Elected to State House

COVID Count 100 new cases

Guam, CNMI, Am Samoa Election Results 

Republican Westside Base Builds for Andria Tupola, Augie Tulba, Donald Trump

CB: … Trump won more precincts in Hawaii this year than in 2016….More than 196,000 people in Hawaii cast their ballots — just shy of 34% of the votes — for President Donald Trump, which makes him the top Republican vote-getter in Hawaii….Trump also outperformed this year compared with the previous presidential election by about 4%. 

(Reality Check: Mostly by cannibalizing the Libertarian Party vote)

The relatively big showing for Trump in Hawaii was thanks in part to areas like Mililani, Makakilo, Ewa Beach, Waikele, Waipahu and Kapolei. But those precincts weren’t always Trump strongholds. They were still fairly blue in 2016….

The Trump supporters on Oahu are very mobilized and vocal. They were holding rallies daily for weeks before the election, which could have really mobilized his base here.

Bob McDermott, a Republican legislator who represents Ewa, Ewa Beach and Iroquois Point, says the west side has a lot of people to whom faith is very important. There are many Filipino immigrants with conservative values.

Many of the precincts where Trump won also include areas where military families working for Hawaii’s bases live.

Trump fared well again on the forbidden island of Niihau, which is populated almost exclusively by Native Hawaiians. In fact, all 43 votes cast in the 2020 presidential election went to him. Niihau also voted overwhelmingly for him in 2016….

McDermott said Trump is a polarizing figure — “a lightning rod, both for and against” — and that’s motivated people from all sides of the aisle.

“I think that enthusiasm for Trump helped Republicans in a sense, but it was wiped out by the overwhelming participation of a mostly Democratic state, so it ended up being a wash,” he said….

Results from at least one local race suggest there could have been a Trump bump against a Democrat.

In Honolulu City Council’s District 9, first-time candidate Augie Tulba, a comedian, defeated former Democratic legislator Will Espero, who has a history of progressive politics.

While that’s a nonpartisan race, large numbers of voters — again, on the west side of Oahu — who turned out for Trump also voted to elect the entertainer over the veteran state senator.

It also turns out Trump outright won only about a dozen precincts in Hawaii and five of them overlap with District 9, where Tulba also won.

The council member-elect also caused some online chatter when his brother was seen wearing a Make America Great Again hat. He has neither confirmed nor denied being a supporter of the president, saying he would represent both Democrats and Republicans….

read … Biden Easily Won Hawaii But Data Shows Support For Trump Has Grown

Hawaii Trump campaign chair says roving caravans ‘worked against’ the president

HNN: …“The Trump flag waving that occurred throughout the state, the enthusiasm there, which wasn’t part of the Hawaii Trump Victory Campaign, that was spontaneous ongoings by people who love the president, that I think worked against us,” said Al Frenzel.

Frenzel said he believes the caravans upset and annoyed people, motivating them to vote blue.

“Sign waving is a great tool for a new candidate that doesn’t have name recognition or money to run their campaign. But to have sign waving for a candidate who has no name recognition problem whatsoever, I just wish that energy would have been diverted to what we were working on,” Frenzel said.

Hawaii voters picked Joe Biden by a two-to-one margin. The last time a Republican won Hawaii’s electoral votes for a presidential race was in 1984 with Ronald Reagan. Before that was Richard Nixon in 1972.

Frenzel said with little chance of turning Hawaii red, the local Republican Party spent its time making calls to drum up support stateside.

“We were participating in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida, Nevada, Arizona, Michigan, all the key states with phone calls,” he said. “There are a number of paths to 270 for the president’s win.”

The Hawaii Republican Party Chairwoman said they are still holding on to hope President Trump will retain the presidency.

“We’re pretty confident that there’s a pathway to 270 for President Trump. Of course, we’re on edge as well,” said Shirlene Ostrov….

Twitter: Hawaii Trump Voters Question Validity of Biden win in Hawaii

read … Hawaii Trump campaign chair says roving caravans ‘worked against’ the president

Machado Ousted In OHA Race, Pro-Transparency Candidate Elected

HPR: … "Being a brand new candidate and going up against an incumbent and sitting chairwoman – that was huge. So we knew what we were up against but I think the theme for people was change," Alapa said.

She campaigned for greater transparency and accountability in OHA spending. A 2019 audit of OHA found as much as $7.8 million in potentially fraudulent, wasteful, or abusive spending.

"A lot of negative fallout has happened because things aren’t, you know, transparent. This is a public state agency, by the way, it’s not a Hawaiian entity. It’s a state agency that serves Hawaiian people. We have a right to understand where the monies are going."

Alapa defeated Machado by nearly 39,000 votes. Healani Sonoda-Pale, an analyst with political action committee Ka Lāhui Hawaiʻ, says she isnʻt surprised.

"What it tells us is what’s more concerning for kanaka maoli this year is how well OHA manages the finances and because of the audit that have been scathing...it has affected this election. At a time when we are in an economic crunch, money matters," she said….

OHA incumbent Keliʻi Akina, a strong advocate for fiscal oversight, held on to his seat as trustee-at-large in a close race with challenger Keoni Souza.

A key to success for.candidates in the OHA race was an ability to mobilize the non-Hawaiian vote, said Kūhiō Lewis, president and CEO of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement.  "There are more people casting ballots in an OHA election than there are Hawaiians. Again, I think it’s encouraging that civic engagement was out the roof," Lewis said. "But for native communities who use the state process to also elect their leadership – it puts things into perspective that you don’t really control the outcome of...elections that impact your trust, your Hawaiian agency."

(Translation: Kuhio Lewis and CNHA tried to defeat Keli’i Akina and failed.)  

read … Machado Ousted In OHA Race, Pro-Transparency Candidate Elected

Political Insiders Cry a River Because They Couldn’t Stop Keli’i Akina Reelection

HNN: … University of Hawaii Political Science Professor Noelani Goodyear-Kaopua worries about the board could now have too much Oahu-centric influence.  “I think this is a structural problem with the way OHA voting is conducted,” she said.

(Translation: We lost the election so we want to change the rules.)

“You have a situation where the folks who are representing different islands are not truly being selected by the island constituency,” added Goodyear-Kaopua.

(Translation: It will be harder to dip my beak.)

She’s also concerned about the cost.

“In the race between Keli’i Akina and Keoni Souza, this was the most expensive race in terms of the campaigns for OHA and he outspent Keoni Souza by more than four fold,” she said….

(Translation: We threw everything we had at Akina and we just couldn’t beat him.)

The new board is planning to meet in December and there’s word Carmen Hulu Lindsey of Maui could become the new chair….

read … Oahu voters helped usher in big changes on OHA board and that’s got some worried

Maui Island of Retaliation: Workers Afraid of Prosecutor, Prosecutor Afraid of Mayor

MN: … Mayor Michael Victorino is now seeking to remove Guzman, who was appointed by the mayor to head the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney in March 2019. Under the Maui County Charter, the prosecuting attorney may be removed by the mayor with the approval of the County Council.

Matthews and four other county employees testified during the hearing Thursday to a series of abusive incidents that included rage, yelling, swearing, demeaning comments, threats and physical actions. They said that other employees were afraid to testify for fear of retaliation.

In one instance this year, Guzman yelled at two female staff members who could not connect him on a conference call, according to Andrew Martin, second deputy prosecutor and circuit court supervisor at the department.

“I had to remove one of the staff members from the area because she was outside the small office we were utilizing, in tears,” Martin said. “I was able to tactfully remove Don from the office so that I could calm the remaining staff whose hand was shaking so badly she could not dial the phone.”

Susan Clements, department administrative officer, testified between tears that an employee in February was “so afraid of yelling” coming from Guzman’s office that she called for help. Clements said she and Guzman in July had a disagreement over the budget and he raised his voice and swore at her.

Kimberly Willenbrink, a legislative analyst, and Jo Gascon, a law technician and an employee of the department for 23 years, recounted separate “abusive” encounters with Guzman in 2015 when he was a council member.

“When I asked a question he didn’t want to answer, he stood up with such force that his chair slammed against the wall, slammed both of his hands at his desk, glared at me and threatened me,” said Gascon. “It was so intimidating that one of my coworkers started to cry.”

Gascon added that she filed a complaint in 2015 that reached the managing director, but she never heard back.

Willenbrink witnessed Guzman’s short fuse when he disagreed with her work in a council meeting, “stormed out” into the hallway and came toward her, hands raised and yelling. Against advice, she chose not to file a grievance…..

Guzman told The Maui News last week that he and Victorino have “not seen eye to eye on many issues” leading up to the mayor’s decision to submit a resolution for his removal Oct. 21.

Several testifiers questioned the mayor’s alleged temper, with one saying Victorino seeking Guzman’s removal for workplace violence is “the pot calling the kettle black.”

Responding to a question by Council Member Kelly King about whether the environment of intimidation is pervasive, Guzman said he is afraid to go into the mayor’s office.

“It would probably make a difference if your leader wasn’t yelling,” he said. “He’s constantly yelling at me every time I go into the office. I really dread going into that office. I’m sure a lot of other leaders feel that way too.”

Council Vice-Chairwoman Keani Rawlins-Fernandez asked Matthews about violence in the workplace, noting the conundrum the council members face due to abuse allegations involving more than one leader.

“This is not between him and the mayor,” she said. “If the mayor has issues, that’s another thing for another day.”

Martin also dismissed the connection between the mayor and the prosecuting attorney in his earlier testimony.

“I am aware of Mr. Guzman’s claims that we are here today because of some friction between him and the mayor and the assertions by his supporters that this was an isolated incident committed under some stress caused by a COVID-19 positive employee,” he said. “I know you are not distracted by those claims.”

The hearing was recessed around 6:30 p.m. Thursday and will reconvene at 9 a.m. today. 

UPDATE: Maui Council committee votes to recommend Guzman’s removal

read … 5 county employees detail Guzman’s alleged rage

Distribution of COVID-19 vaccine in Hawaii could include mobile teams, drive-thru centers

HNN: … Preparations are underway to create a roadmap to distribute a coronavirus vaccine in Hawaii.

The state Health Department said Thursday they’re working to develop plans for mobile teams to visit rural areas. They are also considering drive-thru immunizations and mass vaccination sites.

Under the state’s vaccine distribution plan, first responders and those who are most at-risk of severe symptoms from COVID-19 will get the vaccine first.

The state says they’ll still need to work out first how to store the doses.

“One of the vaccines that is in contention of possibly chosen as the vaccine has to be stored at -80 degrees Celsius ...

read … Distribution of COVID-19 vaccine in Hawaii could include mobile teams, drive-thru centers

Statewide mask mandate could mean immediate fines for violators

KHON: … As the state moves toward passing a statewide mask mandate, there’s also a push to change the law so that violators are issued a fine on the spot rather than having to appear in court….Senate President Ron Kouchi says that if the governor proposes a bill and asks the legislature to go into special session, then they will consider it. A spokeswoman for the governor says that no decision has been made on asking for a special session….

read … Statewide mask mandate could mean immediate fines for violators

Post-Flight Test: Only 17 of 12,000 Tourists COVID Positive

WHT: … Since the post-flight testing program — which allows travelers to skip a 14-day quarantine if they test negative for COVID-19 immediately after arrival — began on Oct. 15, only 17 travelers have tested COVID-positive out of more than 12,000 tests, Kim said….

Under the new model of the program, up to 25% of arriving travelers at Ellison Onizuka International Airport at Keahole will receive COVID-19 antigen tests at the airport….

Meanwhile, the program will remain in place as-is at Hilo International Airport, with tests conducted on all arriving travelers. Kim said the relatively low traffic through Hilo airport — only about 10% of all tests so far have been conducted in Hilo — makes it easier to maintain the program there….

NYT: Hawaii’s Reopening May Be Good for Tourism. Is it Good for Locals?

read … Post-flight COVID testing at Kona airport to be scaled back

Hawaii Slowest to Bring Students Back To The Classroom

CB: … Many private schools in Hawaii have brought back students, if only on a staggered or alternating basis. Some DOE schools are gradually bringing back their lowest grades this month though others have notified parents they won’t return to in-person instruction until at least January.

In some cases, like Kalani High, it’s the older kids who are returning first, starting with seniors on Nov. 23 on an alternating twice-a-week schedule….

Mid-Pacific Institute, a K-12 school in Manoa Valley that has brought back all students so far but its high schoolers, has recorded only one positive case among auxiliary staff, according to Leigh Fitzgerald, VP of academic affairs….

Hawaii, according to recent modeling based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, showed the least change from May to September when it came to school closures and reliance on distance learning.

In other words, the data shows that while many states returned to in-person learning by the fall, Hawaii as a whole has been among the slowest to return….

The Hawaii State Teachers Association, the union that represents 13,500 public school teachers, is still wary of bringing students back right now.

“Do I believe Oahu is safe? No, I do not,” said HSTA President Corey Rosenlee. “Do I believe neighbor island schools could potentially go back? If metrics are met and other DOH standards (are) met.”…

read … Can Hawaii Bring Students Back To The Classroom Safely Yet?

Protesters rally at Department of Labor and Industrial Relations over unemployment benefits

SA: … A former security guard named Jimmy, who declined to give his last name, said he has been living in his car since April. He does not know how to use a computer, so he asked a friend in the Philippines to go online and help him file a claim.

But now the unemployment office thinks he was not in Hawaii at the time, when he was. He has been unable to reach anyone at the unemployment office to explain this, to answer questions or to resolve the problem….

Misty Pegram of Waipahu said her mother, who was a full-time Uber driver, got the runaround when trying to file for unemployment when the pandemic hit in March. First she was denied, then directed to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program and then told she did not qualify.

She called hundreds of times, trying to find out why she did not qualify, but was never able to get through. Finally, with the assistance of a webinar organized by Hawaii Workers Center, she learned that she should reapply for regular unemployment….

Eustaquio said DLIR has hired about 50 new employees and contracted 100 more adjudicators, who already have made progress in resolving claims, and that the DLIR believes, taking the health and safety of everyone into consideration, that it can be most effective in the provision of services “under the current arrangement.”…

read … Protesters rally at Department of Labor and Industrial Relations over unemployment benefits

12% of Restaurant Cards Have Not Been Activated

TGI: … Since the restaurant cards have been issued, Kubota said he has seen a 3 to 4% increase in sales….

According to the Restaurant Card program, last week alone, Kaua‘i businesses saw a total of $88,489 spent at restaurants, bakeries, fast-food establishments, and catering….

Gwen Yamamoto Lau, Hawai‘i Restaurant Card program administrator, said as of Nov. 1, some 103,384, or 88%, of Hawai‘i Restaurant Cards distributed, have been activated.

“Since cardholders first started using the cards, more than $17.2 million has been spent at restaurants, bakeries, fast-food establishments, and food catering statewide, which equates to over $1.15 million being injected into Hawai‘i’s restaurant industry daily,” Yamamoto Lau said….

read … Some hiccups reported with restaurant card program

Back in 2021:  A Storm Water Utility?

HB: …A top engineer with the City and County of Honolulu has shared some details of an idea to create a new utility that would manage storm-water runoff and water quality regulations.

Ross Sasamura gave a virtual presentation to the Hawaii chapters of the commercial real estate development trade group NAIOP and the Urban Land Institute….

For now this is hypothetical. The agency intends to have the Honolulu City Council draft a bill early next year. If it does, and it is signed until law, Honolulu landowners will get to pay their first new stormwater fees in the 2023 fiscal year….

Related:

read … A Storm Water Utility? 

Bill 14: Firefighters take their battle over a new rescue unit to Honolulu Hale

HNN: … “This rescue company is a highly specialized unit and they do extremely dangerous rescues: They scale down cliffs to save a hiker who’s been stranded, dive rescues, structural collapse, trench rescue, confined space rescue, rope rescue, rescue boat operator that’s what they need training on," he said.

Those who testified in support said the bill is necessary because, they claim, the Honolulu Fire Department administration is cutting corners to get a third rescue unit up and staffed quickly.

Fire Capt. Dean Stowell said the firefighters are not opposed to a new unit they just want to ensure there are enough adequately trained people before it is operational.

But HFD Chief Manuel Neves previously testified that the department had been generous in resources and equipment for the firefighters already and that legislation was not needed.

Neves had said months ago the two sides could work it out on their own, but that fell apart….

read … Firefighters take their battle over a new rescue unit to Honolulu Hale

Sand Island sweep clears 42 homeless campsites, 190 tons of trash

SA: … State law enforcement officers conducted a sweep this week at the Sand Island State Recreation Area following complaints of squatters yelling at people and dogs chasing people….

Bicycle parts, welding equipment, tools, generators and cooking utensils were among the items hauled away during the clean-up.

Contractors removed about 190 tons of trash in three days, according to Department of Land and Natural Resources spokesman Dan Dennison with the.

Though camping at Sand Island is allowed with a permit, nearly 100 people were illegally camping there.

Pua Aiu, homeless coordinator with the land agency, said, “This is a public beach and we’ve been getting complaints that dogs are chasing people and squatters are yelling at people.”…

“It’s frustrating because most people on DLNR lands refuse any help or services. We realize in Hawaii it’s tough for many people to afford housing. Some people make a conscience decision that they just want to camp,” she said….

read … Sand Island sweep clears 42 homeless campsites, 190 tons of trash

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