Monday, November 30, 2020
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Saturday, November 7, 2020
November 7, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:10 PM :: 1783 Views

Dueling Rallies on Oahu as Media Announce Biden Winner

Same old, same old won't do

Hawaii AP Exams: Elite Students do Better, Others Fail--DoE Calls This 'Progress'

COVID Count 122 new cases out of 4,292 tests

Hawaii County PD Begins Using Body Cams

State Auditor Compliance Review -- 2015 – 2018

Counting ballots not an issue for Hawaii due to election rules

KITV: … Hawaii requires all ballots to be received not postmarked by Election Day. It's a hard deadline -- so however many ballots are in-house at 7 p.m. is how many are counted.

"We don't typically count ballots weeks after or days after like other jurisdictions so we have what we call our Election Night final which ironically is the next morning now, which would have most of the ballots, except for a few ballots provisional or ballots that need to be cured," said Chief Election Officer Scott Nago.

Voters have until November 10 to cure a ballot -- or rectify issues like a missing signature with their county clerk to have it counted.

Nago estimates about 1500 ballots on Oahu have to be cured, and fewer than that on the neighbor islands. Those will still be counted, but not likely to change the overall results.

Hawaii election officials also got a headstart -- they began opening ballots on Oct 24th, which prevents the backlog seen in other states where counting can only be done on Election Day.

Nago says more than 200,000 ballots alone were received on Oahu that first weekend of counting….

Hawaii law automatically triggers a recount of a race when the vote gap is is a quarter of a percent or 100 votes, whichever is greater.

Otherwise, a candidate or 25 registered voters can file a "contest for cause" with the Hawaii Supreme Court, which can order a recount or new election or dismiss the case outright.

Hawaii's new all mail in format, that took affect in 2020, cut the election workforce from 4,000 to 400 -- still Nago said the process was smooth thanks to volunteers…..

HNN: Hawaii lawmakers say the hard work of healing a divided nation begins now

read …  Counting ballots not an issue for Hawaii due to election rules

An illegal game room operated next door to police union

ILind: … Late on the evening of Thursday, October 22, 2020, Honolulu police raided an illegal game room located in an industrial area in lower Kalihi which had been operating next door to two buildings owned by the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers, the union representing police officers statewide. One of the buildings houses the union’s office.

Despite its location next to the police union, the game room was apparently busy. One man, 49-year old Be Van Chiem, was arrested for promotion of gambling and possession of gambling devices. In addition, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported HPD also gave out 27 citations to people in the game room “for violating the mayor’s emergency order for gatherings.”….

There is actually another game room just down the street from that one too. There was an arrest there on 10/29 for promotion of gambling / possessing gambling devices….1632 Auiki street.

There were more arrests at 2020 Auiki street around June 9-11th for promotion of gambling….

read … An illegal game room operated next door to police union

State PUA system telling some ‘you owe’ it all back—DLIR Blames DoTax Incompetence

KHON: … When tourism came to a screeching halt due to COVID in early 2020, so did the only source of income for Gina Sayf, an Oahu resident who owned and operated a legal vacation rental in Waikiki. Unemployment insurance would not cover a self-run operation like hers.

“Once PUA was mentioned, I literally ran to do that, and immediately I got a response,” Sayf said, “so I was thinking, well, thank goodness, you know. I’m so glad I did that.”

She received $200 per week since spring, and then successfully applied for the $600 federal plus-up, which kept her and her young family afloat.

“It was great. It was perfect,” Sayf said. “It was like it was meant to be.”

Or meant not to be, according to the state, which recently rescinded her eligibility, and now her account says: “You owe $15,681.” ….

“That just made my situation 10 times worse than if they would have just said ‘no,’” Sayf said. “I wish they would have rejected me or not even answered me. Even just to be pending until now would have done me a favor, instead of say yes, and then figure out ‘oops, sorry.’”

She is far from alone. KHON2 heard from others, including rideshare drivers being told to get off PUA, payback tens of thousands of dollars, and re-file for regular unemployment. This is despite the rideshare operators who are still waging battle with the state over their classification as an employer.

Always Investigating reached out to the labor director for more information.

“In the very beginning, when Department of Taxation had PUA and they were taking over PUA, they had just paid. In the beginning, there was no match up with unemployment insurance, to see if they could possibly file the claim for unemployment insurance,” said Anne Perreira-Eustaquio, Director of the State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR), and everyone just filed for PUA. Whoever filed, as long as they listed in self-certify, they were paid.”

Now that the state has had more time to review each file, they are telling people like Sayf that a rental is passive income, which is not qualified for a pandemic safety net….

Big Q: Do you know someone still waiting for help on his/her unemployment benefits?

read … State PUA system telling some ‘you owe’ it all back

Senate president says special session for mask mandate highly unlikely

KHON: … Senate President Ron Kouchi is not ruling it out, but he says members of the House and Senate need to be able to review the draft of the bill soon to see if it is something they can agree on. Otherwise, he says a special session is a waste of time and taxpayers’ money.

“We would need time to review the draft legislation and have an opportunity to get some input,” said Kouchi. “And then certainly we would like to know that there is a good chance that the House and the Senate would be able to pass a bill.”

Gov. David Ige has asked the state attorney general to work with the mayors to draft a bill that would make the mask mandate the same for all counties and be able to issue fines rather than have violators appear in court. The mayors say that would make it easier to enforce. Ige says it is still a work in progress.

“It’s not a simple thing to do. So the question just becomes, do we want to try and pass something that complex in an abbreviated special session or not?” he said.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said he was hoping it could be done later this month because the Senate was going to return on Nov. 18 and Nov. 19 to confirm the governor’s judicial appointments. Kouchi says it would take five days to pass a bill, and legislators should have seen the draft of the bill already to make that happen….

CB: Senate Panel To Consider Hawaii Supreme Court Nominee Nov. 16

read … Senate president says special session for mask mandate highly unlikely

Stay-at-home order may be lifted for Lanai

MN: …Maui County is considering lifting the stay-at-home order for Lanai on Wednesday as cases over the last week have been “minimal,” though officials said Friday that they will wait to see the case totals over the weekend…

Currently people on Lanai must stay in their residences or places of lodging, except for essential activities such as purchasing food or medical visits.

On Friday, Lanai had one new COVID-19 case, putting its total at 106. A week ago the total tally was at 99 on the small island with around 3,200 residents and no medical infrastructure to handle serious COVID-19 cases. Since the pandemic started in March, the island had seen zero cases until the state Health Department reported Oct. 20 that three coworkers and a health care worker had caught the virus. Ordered by the county and approved by the state, the stay-at-home mandate for Lanai began on Oct. 27 as cases skyrocketed….

This week, a team from the Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention visited Lanai to help with contact tracing and work with local health providers, Baz said.

That team has since left the island, he added.

There will be another large community testing event from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at the Old Dole Administration Building in Lanai City. People may register by visiting doineedacovid19test.com….

read … Stay-at-home order may be lifted for Lanai

Honolulu On Track To Spend All CARES Act Funds, City Says

CB: … The City and County of Honolulu expects to spend all $387 million of its CARES Act money by the end of this month, Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced on Friday.

All of the money has been allocated, which means there is a plan for how to spend it. According to the city’s COVID-19 dashboard, 81% of the funds are committed, meaning contracted out, and 43% has been actually spent.

“The money will be spent according to our recovery plan: Creating a COVID-safe economy, helping people and businesses get back on their feet, and developing new opportunities for a post-COVID-19 economy,” the mayor said in a statement.

Among the efforts that have been funded so far are:

  • The $25 million Household Hardship Relief Fund. So far, about $11 million has been distributed to households in need, according to the Department of Community Services, and 5,700 applicants have benefitted. Qualified households can receive up to $2,500 a month toward housing, childcare, medical costs, and other emergency expenses. People experiencing COVID hardship are urged to apply at honolulu.gov/dcs.
  • The nearly $126 million Small Business Relief and Recovery Fund. Grants have helped about 6,000 local businesses to pay rent and cover qualified emergency expenses, according to the city. All funds are expected to be spent by next week.
  • The integrated testing laboratory at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. With $16 million in CARES funds, the lab is offering 42,000 COVID-19 tests, contact tracing capabilities, reporting software, personnel, swabs, and equipment, according to the city. The city said the facility can process up to 10,000 tests a day.
  • A COVID-19 testing center at the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii. Up to $4 million is being invested to provide free tests in collaboration with all seven of Oahu’s community health centers. If you need a test, visit https://www.oneoahu.org/covid19-testing for a list of sites.
  • Up to 452 hotel rooms for isolation and quarantine services for residents. Rooms can also be used by the city’s first responders who may have come into contact with a positive COVID-19 patient, according to the city.

The Honolulu Police Department has also received over $30 million, over half of which has been spent on overtime. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on ATVs and new trucks. CARES money has also been spend to expand HPD hours for gun permitting and registration….

read … Honolulu On Track To Spend All CARES Act Funds, City Says

HPD spent millions in COVID-19 aid on four-wheelers, trucks and trailers

HNN: … the city awarded the Honolulu Police Department $43 million in federal COVID-19 aid.

But records show less than $2 million of that was put towards personal protective equipment for officers. Another $2 million went to sanitation supplies, including hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes.

Meanwhile, the agency spent at least $16.5 million on overtime and other payroll expenses. That accounts for the largest spending category of the COVID-19 aid that went to the department….

But in one eyebrow-raising purchase, the agency spent $625,000 to double its fleet of ATVs.

HPD says prior to the pandemic it had 38 ATVs, but only 26 were working. Now it has 40 more. That money also covered the cost of 18 utility vehicles and nine utility terrain vehicles….Combined with the four-wheelers, the total comes to 115 vehicles. Add to that 21 various trailers and the total cost for all of it was over $4 million….

read … HPD spent millions in COVID-19 aid on four-wheelers, trucks and trailers

Police commission wants HPD to prohibit officers from cases involving friends, family

HNN: … Years after scandal took down ex-Police Chief Louis Kealoha, the Honolulu Police Commission is demanding HPD ban officers from cases involving family or friends.

The commission voted 4-2 to ask HPD Chief Susan Ballard to review the department’s ethics codes to prohibit conflicts of interests.

“I’m asking my fellow commissioners to join me in asking Chief Ballard to revise the HPD standards of conduct policy to ... prohibit employees from actions that create or give the appearance of a conflict of interest,” said new commission member and retired Judge Michael Broderick.

“There’s nothing specifically in the police code of ethics that prohibits employees from actions that create or give an appearance of a conflict of interest.”

Broderick’s proposal came after a Kaneohe couple sued the HPD, alleging that an officer arrested their teenage son for fighting with his son….

CB: HPD Needs A Conflict Of Interest Policy, Commission Says

Background: Lawsuit: HPD Officer Arrests Kid After Fight with Son

read … Police commission wants HPD to prohibit officers from cases involving friends, family

Maui Council committee votes to recommend Guzman’s removal

MN: … A Maui County Council committee voted unanimously Friday to recommend the removal of Don Guzman as prosecuting attorney, after an independent report and hours of county employee testimony said the leader violated the county’s violence in the workplace policy.

Before the vote, Council Member Kelly King said the action was one of the most “gut-wrenching things” the council has had to do, and several other council members spoke of their friendships with Guzman, who held the council’s Kahului residency seat from 2013 to 2018.

Still, the Governance, Ethics and Transparency Committee agreed on taking a strong stance against workplace violence.

“This kind of behavior cannot happen anywhere, and we are responsible when it happens in the county,” King said.

Five county employees testified Thursday about a “pattern” of abuse, detailing situations of Guzman’s rage, yelling, swearing, demeaning comments, threats and physical actions, with incidents dating back to 2015. Six incidents occurred in the department this year. They said that other employees were afraid to testify for fear of retaliation.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Leslee Matthews’ complaint triggered the investigation after a recent incident involving a COVID-19-related safety plan email exchange and angry confrontation with Guzman. Two other complainants were in the investigation but wanted to remain confidential….

NR: Mayor Victorino releases statement on prosecuting attorney

read … Council committee votes to recommend Guzman’s removal

Glitch in Sec 8 lottery for housing subsidy waiting list gives applicants false hope

HNN: …After messages were sent out to the first round of applications who won the lottery, a message followed on Thursday notifying that a glitch in the selection system duplicated some names in lottery.

“While the process of reviewing the list, the HPHA discovered several duplicate applicants on the list, and immediately informed the vendor about the errors on the list provided,” the authority wrote in a statement.

“The vendor then informed the HPHA that a “computer glitch” in their system allowed duplicate applications.”….

In fairness to all those who applied, the authority decided to redraw and void the first round of picks….

read … Glitch in lottery for housing subsidy waiting list gives applicants false hope

Raising Oahu transit fares

SA: … Under Bill 89, an adult single ride would increase by 25 cents, to $3; monthly passes by $10, to $80; and annual passes by $110, to $880. For children ages 6 to 17 and high school students who are 18 or 19 years old, fares would rise to $1.50, $40 and $440. For seniors, people with disabilities and Medicare cardholders, fares would rise to $1.25, $20 and $45.

Bill 87 would increase the one-way fare for a Handi-Van ride to $2.25, up from $2….

read … Raising Oahu transit fares

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