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Monday, November 9, 2020
November 9, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 9:32 PM :: 1409 Views

Pfizer Announces COVID Vaccination 90% Effective

COVID Count 128 new cases

“Pasefika Su‘i Fefiloi” Virtual Concert for COVID Relief

House and Senate Accepting Applications for 2021 Legislative Session

Hanabusa’s Chief of Staff to be Blangiardi’s Managing Director

PBN: … Honolulu Mayor-elect Rick Blangiardi has named Mike Formby, a former director of the city’s transportation department and the most recent executive director of the Pacific Resource Partnership, as managing director of his administration, the No. 2 job in the city….

Formby was most recently executive director of the Pacific Resource Partnership, a partnership of the Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters and more than 240 unionized contractors, a job he took in May 2019, but quietly left this year over the summer….

Formby comes to the managing director job with extensive experience in state, city and federal government, most recently as an interim councilmember on the Honolulu City Council and before that as chief of staff for former U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa’s Washington, D.C., office for two years.

Prior to going to Washington in late 2016, Formby served as the director of the City and County’s Department of Transportation Services, overseeing transportation planning and traffic engineering and was also a member of the board of directors of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation and was briefly acting executive director of the agency after the departure of Dan Grabauskas….

read … Mayor-elect Blangiardi names Formby to Honolulu's No. 2 job

Hawaii Republicans ‘See Clear Path Forward’

HPR: … In Hawaii, Democrats did not lose ground, but they failed to unseat any Republican candidates who ran for reelection. The result is that the status quo of recent years has been almost uniformly maintained.

That was despite a significant increase in voter turnout locally. Because of the early voting options associated with Hawaii’s switch to an all-mail election, more people in Hawaii cast ballots before the election day in 2020 than the total submitted in 2016.

However, that increase failed to shift the balance of power in the state. Democrats still control all statewide offices and have super majorities in both chambers of the state Legislature. Moore says that indicates widespread dissatisfaction with the Republican Party.

“The R next to your name really is the kiss of death for statewide office,” he noted.

But the results also paint a more complicated picture.  Moore pointed out that Hawaii’s handful of Republican incumbents all held on to their seats. His conclusion is that Republicans can succeed in Hawaii if they are able to overcome the initial barrier of first-time election.

The 2020 results indicate that there are opportunities at the local level for Republicans to circumvent that initial election barrier.

In Hawaii, races for county offices like mayor or council member are nonpartisan. Moore says the lack of party label has created opportunities for Republicans and conservative Democrats to win elections.

“In these nonpartisan races, there are plenty of more conservative Democrats who are willing to vote for more conservative candidates, as long as they’re not official members of the Republican Party.”

That was evident this year on Oahu, where the more conservative candidate for Honolulu mayor, Rick Blangiardi, won the race by nearly 20 points.

Although Blangiardi is not a registered Republican, the party sees his success as an example of how more conservative candidates can be successful in the islands.

Hawaii Republican Party Chair Shirlene Ostrov told HPR that the party is disappointed it did not pick up any new seats, but now sees a clear path forward. Ostrov said it begins with recruiting new candidates to run for office, a process that has already begun….

read … What Local Election Results Reveal About Hawaii’s Politics

Ige Plan To Defer $1.85B In Health Fund Payments, Furloughs Still On The Table

CB: … Discussions with unions are already underway as furloughs could begin in December. Gov. David Ige’s financial plan also includes a big loan from the feds…..

A disclosure to bond investors published late last month sets out new details about Ige’s strategy for navigating the state budget crisis, which the administration is assuming will extend years into the future….

A linchpin of the Ige plan involves deferring legally required annual payments into the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund….

Ige will seek the Legislature’s approval next year to suspend the payments for the next four years, according to the disclosure. The existing pre-funding payment schedule calls for transfers from the state general treasury to the EUTF ranging from $351 million to $381 million per year for the next four years.

Ige’s proposal to defer those payments was immediately panned by both House Minority Leader Gene Ward and the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, which warned it will burden taxpayers in the future.

“He is proposing a new and huge boot to kick the can the farthest ever down the road, and has created unprecedented indebtedness for our future,” Ward said in a written statement.

Joe Kent, executive vice president for the fiscally conservative Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, described Ige’s plan as an example of “breaking a public trust.”

“Lawmakers should have been saving money. They were spending down a $1 billion surplus they had in 2017, and they were spending that down during the boom years, so now that it’s bust, it’s time to face the music and reduce spending,” Kent said. “There’s a lot of places to cut. They don’t have to do this.”

Kent said his own calculations suggest the state added a net of nearly 3,000 new state government jobs since 2015 — Ige took office in 2014 — and the state population is actually smaller than it was in 2015. He suggested the state eliminate those jobs to balance the budget….

read … Ige Plan To Defer $1.85B In Health Fund Payments, Furloughs Still On The Table

HSTA Resists Effort -- Some Hawaii public schools shift gears for students foiled by online learning

SA: … At Waialua High &Intermediate School, administrators noticed as early as September that the seventh graders were floundering in distance learning — and they took quick action.

Even before the October break, they started bringing the kids back to campus for regular in-person classes, rotating half of them on alternate days to allow for safe distancing.

“Poor things, they are not used to having eight teachers and eight periods, coming out of the elementary school,” said Principal Christine Alexander. “They were really struggling at home. We noticed that with the midquarter grades.” ….

School staff have been contacting those students to figure out how to remedy problems, going door to door in some cases to track them down.

“We’ve been doing everything we can to make sure we know why these families are not coming to try to get an education,” Cevallos said. “It’s a variety of things: ‘I have no water, no power,’ ‘I got kicked out of my place.’ We have a lot of wrong numbers, wrong addresses.”

Many schools have invited students to attend learning hubs that provide internet connectivity and some supervision. That is in addition to the students such as those in special education or English learners who already were given priority for in-person instruction.

At Keaau, close to 50 students are now coming to the hub each day, almost double last quarter but still just 5% of the student population. Teachers are also starting to call back students in small groups for instruction in hands-on courses such as automotive, agriculture, construction and PE, Cevallos said….

In Windward Oahu, Principal Bernie Tyrell at Castle High said between 20% and 30% of students had at least one F in a course in the first quarter. Because the school tracks student progress week to week, her staff started reaching out to students right away to find out what was going wrong….

“We have quite a few students who unfortunately already failed the first quarter,” Principal Jon Henry Lee said. “So we know that they’re struggling or not even accessing the distance learning, mainly because they’re choosing not to. We have already sent out about 700 Chromebooks, so it’s not an access issue.”

This month the school began bringing those students back to campus for face-to-face instruction, in rotating groups….

The Hawaii State Teachers Association, which has called for home-based learning through the end of the semester, has concerns…and fears …

read … Some Hawaii public schools shift gears for students foiled by online learning

Mayor-elect Rick Blangiardi to eliminate ‘compassionate disruption’ homeless approach

SA: … Blangiardi said in his “Roadmap to Recovery” that he will “eliminate the city’s use of so-called compassionate disruption, especially during COVID-19. This approach merely moves homeless individuals from park to park and street to street.”…

The compassionate portion of Caldwell’s approach meant repeatedly offering homeless people — especially the well-known chronically homeless — shelter beds along with assistance from social workers and health care workers to deal with underlying issues.

The city’s ongoing homeless sweeps — Caldwell calls them “enforcement actions” — are based on complaints and have represented the one consistent form of relief for Oahu businesses that often open their doors to find urine, feces, needles and the homeless themselves.

Blangiardi declined a request from the Honolulu Star-Advertiser to fill out details about his ideas on homelessness outlined in his Roadmap.

In the policy paper, Blangiardi wrote, “This may be the single issue that people raise most with me.” In addition to eliminating Caldwell’s compassionate disruption approach, Blangiardi said he would:

>> “Convene a City, State, and non-profit stakeholders meeting to develop a comprehensive, data-intensive approach to coordinated outreach services, expanded medical care, and additional shelter/housing options for O‘ahu’s homeless population.

>> “Prioritize additional housing and treatment options for the homeless, including the service-resistant community on the streets with addiction and/or mental health issues.

>> “Support programs like Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) and Assisted Community Treatment (ACT). …

read … Mayor-elect Rick Blangiardi to eliminate ‘compassionate disruption’ homeless approach

More affordable-housing games in Kakaako

SA: …The developer of Ward Village presented a plan last week to dramatically accelerate moderate-price condominium production in the neighborhood.

Consolidating 697 such homes in a single tower is intended to quickly finish satisfying a state affordable-housing requirement for the entire master-planned Kakaako neighborhood slated for up to 4,500 homes largely in 16 towers.

But there are some mixed views on such concentration rather than a more blended distribution of mixed-income households throughout Ward Village….

Reality: Which system makes it easier for insiders to grab 'affordable' units at discount prices? That is the only real question here. The rest is window-dressing.

Background: Amemiya Joins Pack of Insiders Grabbing ‘Affordable’ Housing Units for Themselves

More background: The Affordable Housing Scam

read … An affordable-housing segregation issue is rising in Kakaako

Kahuku’s ‘Red Raider’ mascot soon to be a thing of the past

HNN: … changes are coming to the name and look of the Kahuku High and Intermediate “Red Raider” mascot after heated discussions about race and ethnic groups across the nation.

In a letter to the school community Friday, Principal Dr. Donna Lindsey said the DOE’s Civil Rights Compliance Branch (CRCB) received a complaint that the mascot, and the use of the tomahawk chop at school sporting events, was disrespectful, and offensive toward Native Americans.

The school’s mascot was intended to reflect a Polynesian warrior rather than a Native American — but still the CRCB suggested it was best to avoid any human or ethnic representation in the mascot and name altogether.

A response from the CRCB said they acknowledged the long-standing history of the school’s Red Raider legacy.

“The CRCB is not discounting the intense emotional attachment the Kahuku community has to their mascot. We are well aware that there are very strong feelings on both sides of this issue,” ….

The school will now work with a neutral third party to find a new mascot that isn’t based in race, color, ancestry and national origin. The school says all stakeholders will be involved and heard in the process going forward….

PDF: KHIS CRCB Response to Mascot and Moniker Complaint November 2020

read … Kahuku’s ‘Red Raider’ mascot soon to be a thing of the past

A new disconnect in the Aloha Aina Party

ILind: … There’s been more maneuvering behind the scenes of the Aloha Aina Party, the first Hawaiian political party in modern state history.

Earlier posts here commented on the unusual status of the party, which was created as a limited liability corporation rather than as a nonprofit organization similar to most other political parties.

Now three documents have been filed with the state’s Business Registration Division, all on Friday, October 30. As a result of these moves, the former Aloha Aina Party LLC is no more, and has now been converted into a new nonprofit organization, Aloha Aina Party of Hawaii….

…despite these legal changes, the Aloha Aina Party LLC still appears to be the only entity registered with the Campaign Spending Commission and the Office of Elections, even though it now appears the LLC no longer legally exists. Both agencies still list Donald Kaulia as the party chair, but that is a carry over from an earlier slate of officials. Kaulia is no longer among those authorized to act on behalf of the new nonprofit party.

Sorting out this messy situation is going to be a challenge for those who would like to see this political party have a future.

And it does not appear the party garnered sufficient votes in the General Election to remain on the ballot in future elections….

Oct 20, 2020: Aloha Aina Party facing questions as election approaches

read … A new disconnect in the Aloha Aina Party

Victorino Touts Maui ‘Big Oil’ Suit

MN: …The first rock is evidence. Thanks to investigative reporting from journalists at Columbia Journalism Review, Inside Climate News, and others, documents from the industry’s own archives expose the depths of their knowledge and deception.

The second rock is science, which proves the connection between the burning of defendants’ fossil fuels and the severe impacts of climate change.

And the third rock is Hawaii law, whose precedents and traditions are well suited to holding corporations accountable when they knowingly harm people and communities.

All of those are described in detail in our lawsuit. It can be found at LINK

Maui is not alone in this fight. Our neighbors in the City and County of Honolulu have filed a similar lawsuit, and so have dozens of cities, counties, and states across the mainland….

Oct 21, 2020: Lemming News: Maui County Jumps on 'Sue Big Oil' Bandwagon

read … Maui’s fossil fuel lawsuit can feel like ‘David versus Goliath’

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