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Sunday, June 7, 2020
June 7, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 10:15 PM :: 3141 Views

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

Hawaii Spending Cap Too Easily Ignored by Lawmakers

Is Our GET Too Soft on Sales to the Feds?

BLM Protesters Leave Signs at Hawaii GOP HQ

COVID Count: Nine new cases out of 798 tests

COVID Count: Two new cases out of 1,092 tests

State Finally Launches Digital Time and Leave System

Repeal Bill 40, Honolulu's discriminatory builder contracting law

Life in the time of lockdowns

Auditor Dings City Parks for Poor Management

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted June 6, 2020

Recovery Held Back by a Childish Snit playing out for all to see

SA Editorial: … It’s especially disturbing that this dysfunction centers on the state’s chief economic agency, the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), and on its top official in particular.

The most dispiriting part: While many across the state are in a world of economic hurt, the official planning for a rescue strategy has disintegrated into an uncoordinated tangle, punctuated by a downright childish snit, playing out for all to see.

Most of that display is the work of the DBEDT director, Mike McCartney, a former state senator who has had a falling out with at least some of his one-time colleagues. That has been evident over the past few weeks, with state senators grilling department staffers and McCartney complaining about their treatment by the panel, the Senate Special Committee on COVID-19.

Last week tensions peaked when DBEDT officials heading its offices on economic analysis, energy, tourism and other centers of job creation failed to show up at an informational briefing before the committee, chaired by state Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz.

McCartney said in an email, sent to Senate President Ron Kouchi just after the hearing was to start, that he would not subject staff to “harassment, intimidation and threats.”

He also told Kouchi he planned to file an official complaint, under Senate rules, against Dela Cruz and state Sen. Glenn Wakai, who chairs the Senate Committee on Energy, Energy Development and Tourism….

In the midst of this struggle, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced the city’s own plan to consolidate municipal economic- development staffing in a single agency to be based at the Neal Blaisdell Center. Although the basic mission to push out funding for job creation purposes is correct, it’s not clear that a rebranded agency with more staffing won’t be mainly bureaucracy-building. This needs further discussion.

Ultimately, what all the counties need most is a partner at the state level that can coordinate and leverage available resources for their highest purpose: the rebuilding of an economy now in crisis. It’s infuriating how little this administration has done so far to fill that role….

read … Spats aside, Hawaii needs to focus on the economic challenge

Our police commissioners must be watchdogs, not lapdogs

Shapiro: … With protests over police misconduct raging across the country, the last thing we need is worries about the quality of oversight of the Honolulu Police Department.

But that’s where we are after the abrupt resignations from the seven-member Police Commission of the two most reform-minded members, retired Supreme Court Justice Steven Levinson and former federal prosecutor Loretta Sheehan.

Both essentially felt they were wasting their time on a panel that seems more interested in cheerleading for Chief Susan Ballard and the department than independently policing their performance….

With these resignations in addition to that of Karen Chang, who stepped down when her husband, Rick Blangiardi, announced his run for mayor, Mayor Kirk Caldwell has three commission vacancies to fill.

His choices will tell whether he favors the watchdog or cheerleader model of police oversight….

read … Shapiro: Our police commissioners must be watchdogs, not lapdogs

BLM Protesters Back Esser for Honolulu Prosecutor

SA: … In the wake of George Floyd protests, Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders announced 10 cities where he was endorsing progressive candidates for D.A. or prosecutor, saying "we need D.A.s and prosecutors who understand that their job is fighting for justice."  One of those cities was Honolulu, and Sanders is endorsing Jacquie Esser for the seat.

Sanders said on social media that Esser has worked to reform the criminal justice system as a Deputy Public Defender.  Esser says she was surprised and honored by the endorsement, and says she's running on a platform of police oversight, and not prosecuting peaceful protesters or minor drug offenses.

"We want prosecutors who see their role as more than locking people up, that know that our jails and prisons are part of the problem are part of the cycle of criminality that we are seeing, we want prosecutors who move away from incarceration as the only solution.. to investing in our community," Esser told KITV4.

The primary election is August 8th, and will be conducted by mail.  The six candidates running are Steve Alm, RJ Brown, Jacquie Esser, Megan Kau, Tae Kim, and Dwight Nadamoto. You can click each of their names to find more info on their campaign websites….

L360: Bleak Outlook Comes Into Focus For State Legal Aid Funders

Related: Honolulu Prosecutor Debate: Only Megan Kau Pledges to Keep Criminal Suspects Locked up

read … George Floyd protests renew interest in Honolulu prosecutor's race

Graduate: DoE Online Learning Was a Sham

SA: … If video calls are the only way for students to continue learning alongside their peers, thousands of students have been, or will be, left in social and educational isolation.

These past few months, students took the time to be worry-free from school because many assignments were optional. It’s difficult to find the motivation and discipline to do assignments that do not affect one’s grades. However, what students did not realize is that brushing off optional assignments only hurts their education as they progress in the subject without mastering the necessary material. Final grades were solely based on the first three quarters of the school year, which allowed students to continue to graduate or advance a grade despite missing an entire chunk of material….

read … Distance learning changing education

UH COVID Modelers Propose Tourist Quarantine Exemption With Negative COVID Test

SA: … Currently, all incoming passengers to Hawaii must quarantine for 14 days. We propose an exemption from quarantine, with a fresh negative COVID-19 test prior to arrival via a test certified by the state. Testing is now widely available; most travelers would test prior to embarking to avoid quarantine. The remainder can test upon arrival at their own expense and quarantine until testing negative. The White House recently confirmed that federal regulations allow such requirements.

Arriving passengers should provide cell phone contact information on their mandatory travel declarations for follow-up if positives are detected or quarantine required. In a tourist economy, travel industry (and Waikiki) workers are front-line workers, and should be tested regularly.

Travel bubble agreements with Australia, New Zealand, Korea or Japan would allow a good test of our monitoring systems while we continue to scale and fine-tune. Greater economic recovery, however, will require more freedom to travel.

No monitoring strategy can catch 100% of infections ….

Precisely As Explained May 2, 2020: A Low-Risk Plan to Re-Start Hawaii Tourism Now

June 4, 2020: Alaska may be first state to ask visitors to pack a negative COVID-19 test — will Hawaii follow?

read … Should Hawaii test inbound travelers?

Healing Hawaii responsibly must include the reopening of legal vacation rentals

SA: … we are now at a critical turning point. As Hawaii considers how to responsibly reopen, steps must be taken to ensure our tourism industry — including our legal vacation rentals — can once again thrive….

Allowing resort-zoned or otherwise legally permitted vacation rentals to resume full operations is essential to this recovery. Recent data from travel marketing/research firm Skift Inc. has found that coming out of the pandemic, travelers will prefer vacation rentals over other options like hotels.

Self-contained, legal vacation rentals, often found in resort zones alongside hotels, allow for a level of social distancing that hotels often can’t. They don’t require trips through crowded lobbies, interaction at check-in counters, or elevator rides with other guests. Diversity in accommodation options is part of what will make Hawaii thrive again, and some travelers will simply prefer the private experience many legal vacation rentals can offer….

SA:  Revamp Hawaii’s tourism lodging model for multiple-bedroom units in resort zones

read … Healing Hawaii responsibly must include the reopening of legal vacation rentals

Hannemann: You Should Elect me Now Because I lost to Abercrombie, Caldwell, and Ige

Borreca: … The 2010 Democratic primary election wasn’t even close: Abercrombie beat Hannemann 59% to 37%. The loss set off a string of biennial defeats for Hannemann stretching from 2010, to 2012 and then 2014.

After losing to Abercrombie, Hannemann in 2012 ran against City Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard for Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District seat. Hannemann lost by 20 percentage points.

Then in 2014, Hannemann ran for governor as an independent. His political reasoning was that he was unable to crack the Democratic primary, but would be more popular in a general election with Democrats, independents and Republicans all able to vote for him. That didn’t work and he lost, getting less than 12% of the vote against David Ige, who was then a state senator.

Hannemann now says that the three he lost to — Gabbard, Abercrombie and Ige — have all suffered their own changes in public perception.

“I thought at that time that I had something more to offer on the table. The people obviously felt different. So I say to you: Do you still feel the same way about those folks that I lost to that you did then, today? That’s my answer. Think about who I lost to,” he said in an interview on KITV News last week….

read … Mufi Hannemann runs on business experience, leadership — and will face rail questions


Oahu home sales decline 22% in May, condo sales drop 50%—but prices steady


PBN: … Single-family home sales on Oahu declined by 22.5% as Covid-19 continued to impact the residential real estate market in May, compared to a year ago, as the median price rose by 3.5% while condominium sales declined by 51% and the median price declined by 4%, according to the Honolulu Board of Realtors.

There were 248 single-family homes sold in May, which was 22.5% fewer than 320 sold in May 2019. The median price of those homes rose 3.5% to $797,000, from $770,000 last year.

The number of condominiums sold dropped 51.2% to 254 units from 520 units sold a year ago, while the median price declined 4.4% to $399,000, from $417,500 last year.

“The year-over-year statistics are what we expected – the number of sales were down and median prices remained relatively steady due in large part to lower than usual inventory and continued high demand,” Tricia Nekota, president of the Honolulu Board of Realtors, said in a statement. “As the state continues to reopen, we are already seeing a steady increase in activity that, in turn, helps to drive our local economy.”

SA: Oahu real estate sales dip in May, but there are signs of market improvements

read … Oahu home sales decline 22% in May, but condo sales drop 50%

Hawaii’s private schools brace themselves for a harsh economic reality

HNN: …Some, like the Mid-Pacific Institute, are already seeing a dip in enrollment for this fall. Others like Punahou School and Iolani School aren’t seeing a drop but are bracing for a surge in demand for student financial aid.

… Bossert said that during the 2007-2009 “Great Recession,” Hawaii’s 122 private schools lost more than 1,000 students.

A sharp enrollment decline could mean teacher and staff layoffs at some schools. A prolonged recession could mean worse.

“We had six schools close between 2007 and 2012," Bossert said.

Mid-Pacific said it won’t know how many students it will lose until the fall when classes start up again….

“We have have these meetings with the admissions directors who say parents are saying 'I can’t give you back my enrollment contract right now but if you give me some more time I’ll know in July or August what my situations is," Bossert said….

read … Hawaii’s private schools brace themselves for a harsh economic reality

KPD Body-cam Footage Exonerates 87% of Officers Facing Complaints

TGI: … In 2019, the Kaua‘i Police Department received 21 complaints against officers.

Fifteen of these officers had activated, body-worn cameras. Of these, 13 were cleared using camera footage alone….

In 2015, KPD became the first police department in the state to implement body-worn cameras….

The benefits are not just to the department. Between 2016 and now, KPD has shared over 16,000 videos with the county’s Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, relating to over 3,000 cases….

“What you get from the body camera itself is raw, uncut video of what’s happening at the time, from the viewpoint of the camera,” Ke said.

“What you often see in the media is a 30-second clip of an incident which doesn’t really reflect the start to end of an incident.

“The body camera and access to that video is critical to protect the community, to protect community members, to protect the department and the county itself,” Ke said….

AP: Democrats’ legislation would overhaul police accountability

read … Body-cam program of KPD reviewed

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