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Monday, June 8, 2020
June 8, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:37 PM :: 3193 Views

UH begins training COVID-19 contact tracers

COVID Count: One new case out of 327 tests

Two Months of Petty Bickering Sets Back Hawaii Recovery

TW: …A rundown of some of the leadership shakeups and squabbles:

• On June 3, Chris Tatum resigned as president and CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, saying in a statement that he was moving to Colorado for retirement and his last day would be Aug. 31. Tatum was less than two years into the role after four decades in the hotel industry, and was working to adjust HTA efforts with more emphasis on destination management and sustainable tourism, allocating fewer resources to boosting total visitor numbers.

• At the beginning of the pandemic, Gov. David Ige tapped Lt. Gov. Josh Green, a medical doctor, as his liaison for coordinating the state's medical response. Then by March 25, according to a Honolulu Civil Beat report, Green (a likely candidate for governor this year) had been effectively shut out of coronavirus planning, and Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hara, director of the state Emergency Management Agency, was leading the state's response. A day later, Ige (who is prevented from running for reelection by term limits) and Green met to smooth out their differences and get on the same page.

• By April 8, as part of his plan to address the crisis, Ige had appointed former Hawaiian Electric Co. CEO Alan Oshima to the new position of Hawaii economic and community recovery and resiliency navigator, with a mandate to develop proposals and coordinate a collaborative economic strategy. But the Senate balked at handing over such authority and funding the proposed consultants. Legislators slashed the requested budget and argued the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) should lead the effort.

• In May, DBEDT director Mike McCartney was tight-lipped and confrontational in front of the Senate Covid-19 joint committee, which he accused of bullying his staff. Brandishing a copy of the Senate's own anti-harassment policy, he refused to answer questions about the administration's recovery plan and would not make his staff available.

That hearing was led by committee co-chair state Sen. George Wakai, who led a largely unsuccessful effort in 2018 to slash the Hawaii Tourism Authority budget following a critical audit of the agency. On June 2, Honolulu Civil Beat broke the story of a 2019 investigation into Wakai's treatment of HTA staff that found he "engaged in repeated, abusive behavior that interrupted and interfered with the work of HTA staff."

• Following the contentious hearings with state officials, the Senate approved a special investigative committee granted the power to subpoena records and compel witnesses to testify. The Senate, clearly butting heads with Ige's administration, is complaining that state officials are ignoring their requests for information.

• State and local officials have also aired disagreements over contact tracing, with local authorities pushing for more resources than state planners say is necessary.

Department of Health director Bruce Anderson and state epidemiologist Sarah Park argue Hawaii has enough contact tracing capacity for the current level of cases, and they have a plan to scale up and train people as required. Meanwhile, Honolulu mayor Kirk Caldwell (another likely candidate for governor) and Hara, among others, say the department's contact tracing resources are inadequate, and will need hundreds more workers to handle the restart of tourism.

The political friction could mean delays in planning that set back the Aloha State's recovery, economists have warned….

read … Under fractured leadership, state charts course to recovery

2,800 Visitors Pour into Hawaii as ‘Leaders’ Dither over Testing

KHON: … “He [Gov. Ige] has to still review the proposals but it looks more likely that we’ll get that done, I think that’s what people want, I think it makes a lot of sense especially with the surge in other municipalities,” Green said. “We couldn’t open up to California today given the fact they have 2,000 to 3,000 cases a day, that would be too difficult, but if you could have a negative test, it decreases very significantly the risk.”

A travel bubble is also being discussed as an alternative. A travel bubble is an agreement between countries to allow residents to cross borders without a quarantine. A pilot program is being discussed with Japan, who has a low number of cases.

“Gov is looking at relationships with countries that have very low rates like Japan, not because it’s Japan per se, but because they have low rates, I want people to be very clear about that,” explained Green. “The same thing can be said about New Zealand, Australia and Korea, so there is no favoritism, we love our mainland guys just the same, but if there are very low rates and we can do a bubble that would be good.”

Senator Donovan Dela Cruz (D) Mililani Mauka, Wahiawa, Whitmore Village, and the lead for the senate committee on Covid-19 said keeping the quarantine in place with possible exemptions is the way to go.

“The governor has said that the 14-day quarantine is probably going to be extended past June 30. The Department of Health has told the COVID committee that they think the quarantine needs to be in place as long as possible,” he explained.

“It’s probably going to be a strategic combo of two things, keeping the quarantine in place as well as looking into the things that provide public safety and ensure the virus is blocked from coming in from things like the travel bubble and testing.”…

Nearly 2,800 visitors have arrived to Hawaii since June 1….

read … Weekend COVID cases rise as state figures out a plan to welcome visitors back

Attorney General Babysits Senate -- COVID-19 committee will not be "investigative"

KITV: … The Senate voted to create an "investigative" committee more than two weeks ago because of what some senators resistance from the Governor's administration. However, it appears as though after agreeable communication between Governor Ige and Senate President Ron Kouchi, the committee will remain as is and not have the power to subpoena.

"We were able to make changes at the airport with regards to testing and screening continued improvement on the quarantine," said Committee Chair Senator Donovan Dela Cruz, speaking of the work the committee has accomplished working with members of the Governor's administration such as Attorney General Clare Connors….

On Thursday, Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism's Director Mike McCartney did not attend the committee meeting, sending Senate President Kouchi and email explaining his intention to file a formal complaint against Senator Dela Cruz and Senator Glenn Wakai.

A portion of that email reads

"I am formally submitting  in writing the names of; Senator Delacruz and Senator Wakai officially to you today. Furthermore, by copy of this email I am informing those Senators in writing to make it clear I am filing a complaint under Rule 72 against both of them for violations under title 10 of the state administrative polices and procedures and rule 81 of the senate rules.  (I will mail a hard copy by registered mail to Senate President, Senators Delacruz & Wakai.)  ... Please know I am (and the entire DBEDT Ohana) are ready, fully committed and eager to  participate in the policy making process - such as hearings - but only when I (as the Director) can be assured that DBEDT employees will no longer be subjected to bullied, harassment, intimidation and threats which have created a hostile work environment. We all want to move forward together for the common good.  However, this can only occur in a safe working environment where professional decorum, tolerance and mutual respect exist."

Senator Dela Cruz told KITV4 he hopes a mediation session of sorts will help iron out the issues among the state officials….

read … Senate COVID-19 committee will not be "investigative"

Retaliation: HSTA Jumps into Mayoral Race After Counties Block Union Grab for Property Tax Funds

SA: …  The Hawaii State Teachers Association endorsed former U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa for mayor today.

This is the first time the teachers union is throwing its endorsement behind a candidate for a city or county race, HSTA President Corey Rosenlee said…..

Reality: HSTA is making its first-time-ever county race endorsements because the counties in 2018 blocked HSTAs grab for property tax revenues.

More Reality: www.TheRealHanabusa.com

read … Hawaii State Teachers Association endorses Colleen Hanabusa for Honolulu mayor

COVID Contracting: How A Major Campaign Donor Got A Million-Dollar Cleaning Contract In Honolulu

CB: … The City and County of Honolulu in March gave a $1.4 million contract to a local industrial cleaning company to clean Oahu’s buses every night so the fleet could operate through the coronavirus pandemic.

But the company, H2O Process Systems, got the contract without having to go through the usual competitive bidding process because the law governing purchases for government agencies was suspended as part of Gov. David Ige’s emergency proclamation.

The suspension is meant to help those agencies quickly react to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the cleaning contract also raises questions. H2O Process System’s owner, Milton Choy, has been a prolific political donor to Hawaii’s mayors, governors and lawmakers.

He’s given more than $118,000 to about 40 campaigns since 2014, a review of campaign finance records show. Choy says his company follows the law and procurement practices….

Another H2O Process Systems crew traveled to Hana and parts of Molokai in late April to perform similar cleanings. The cleanings cost a total $26,202, according to an emailed statement from Brian Perry, a Maui County spokesman.

Typically, a contract worth that amount would require an agency to get a minimum of three quotes as a requirement under Hawaii’s procurement law.

“H2O (Process Systems) was selected based on availability. The request for disinfection came with a very short turnaround needed for Molokai, then Hana,” Perry said in the email.

The county previously said the cleanings would cost between $4,000 and $6,000, but Perry said the work was expanded to cover additional offices and buses.

In addition to the sprayings on Oahu and Maui County, the company also provides hand sanitizer dispensers at state airports, according to the H2O Process Systems website.

read … How A Major Campaign Donor Got A Million-Dollar Cleaning Contract In Honolulu

Kauai County Insiders use COVID Emergency to Steal Building from Residential Drug Treatment Facility

CB: … A year ago Kauai officials celebrated the construction of the island’s first inpatient drug treatment facility since Hurricane Iniki ripped through the island in 1992.

Built on donated land with $7 million in state and county funds, Kauai’s Adolescent Treatment and Healing Center would have filled a glaring gap for drug-dependent youth in a community starved for mental health and addiction resources.

But last month the county canceled its contract with Oahu-based Hope Treatment Services to operate the eight-bed youth rehabilitation center, citing problems with the company’s “performance and responsiveness.”…

Kauai County Managing Director Michael Dahilig wouldn’t provide specifics about why the county’s agreement with Hope Treatment Services went south. But in a letter to the vendor earlier this year, the county rendered an ultimatum: Open the rehab facility by March 31 — or lose the contract.

Donald Perpignan, facility manager at Hope Treatment Services, said the county set an unrealistic deadline that did not account for how long it takes to obtain a license to operate an adolescent drug rehab program from the Hawaii Department of Health’s Office of Health Care Assurance.

Now, a new vision is taking shape to turn the facility into a hub for preexisting adolescent drug prevention and jail diversion services, as well as programming for crime victims and witnesses.

An inpatient drug rehab center is, for now, almost certainly off the table….

Stanley Perpignan, director of Hope Treatment Services, which runs a 22-bed residential treatment center for adults in Wahiawa, said he was surprised when the county canceled the company’s contract. He said he was in the home stretch of the state licensure process when county officials informed him that it would temporarily repurpose the building as an isolation center for people infected with COVID-19….

2007: Office of Hawaiian Affairs Blocks Kauai Drug Treatment Facility

read … Kauai Has A New Plan For Its Vacant Residential Drug Treatment Facility

Doug Chin, Michael Broderick Nominated for Police Commission

AP: …  Honolulu's mayor is nominating to the police commission Hawaii's former attorney general who fought President Donald Trump's travel ban.

If confirmed by the Honolulu City Council, Doug Chin will replace one of the two commissioners who recently resigned.

Chin was thrust into the national spotlight when he sued to stop Trump's travel ban on travelers from predominantly Muslim countries. A federal appeals court on Monday ordered a lower court to toss out legal challenges to the 3-year-old ban.

Chin is also a former Hawaii lieutenant governor, a former city prosecutor and the city's former managing director. He's currently a director at a Honolulu law firm.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell on Monday also announced that he's appointing former family court judge and current YMCA of Honolulu CEO Michael Broderick.

A nomination for a third vacancy is still being vetted, Caldwell said…. 

SA: Mayor Caldwell nominates Michael Broderick and Doug Chin to Honolulu Police Commission

read … Hawaii leader who fought travel ban picked for police panel

These Kauai Cops Are Tired Of Racist Police Killings, Too

CB: … For Rod Green, the decision to protest systemic racism in solidarity with the killing of George Floyd in front of Kauai’s historic County Building on Saturday was complicated.

Green is a black man. He’s also a Kauai police officer.

There was a tug-of-war in his mind: Would the protesters’ rhetoric focus on equality and justice — a message Green could get behind — or would people instead want to lambaste the police — all police. Even the good guys.

“There’s a picture that seems to be constantly painted and a narrative that seems to be always told when you only talk about a white officer and an unarmed black man,” Green said. “But it’s insensitive to paint an entire community one way just as it’s insensitive to paint all police officers with the same broad brushstroke.” …

read … These Kauai Cops Are Tired Of Racist Police Killings, Too

Maui Memorial to start rapid universal testing today

MN: … The last confirmed patient with COVID-19 at Maui Memorial Medical Center has tested negative for the virus, a hospital spokeswoman said on Sunday….

Starting today, the hospital will begin universal COVID-19 testing for all patients admitted through the Emergency Department, as well as all obstetrics patients, Dallarda said. Testing will expand Wednesday to include direct admissions.

“This new protocol is essential in identifying individuals who may be carriers of COVID-19, yet present with no symptoms,” Dallarda said. “Universal testing will help minimize unnecessary exposures and provide additional safeguards for our employees, providers and patients when we experience our next surge.”

Testing will be performed in the Emergency Department with results available within three hours. Patients will remain in the department until results are confirmed and bed placement can be arranged. If, however, a patient has been exposed or is symptomatic, they will go directly to isolation in a “warm unit.”

Maui Memorial, which has closed most of its warm units as cases have declined statewide and the outbreak at the hospital came to an end, will continue to keep a unit open for any future cases….

read … Maui Memorial to start rapid universal testing today

Personal Car Use Bounces Back in Hawaii

DB: … Personal travel in Hawaii was up 1% compared with the previous week It was down 48% last week and 49% the week before….

read …  Americans Drove 39.8% Fewer Miles in April Due to Pandemic

Hawaii Gas and Hawaiian Telcom Are on the Chopping Block

IM: … The ownership structures of Hawaii Gas and Hawaiian Telcom are being restructured to increase the ability of their parent companies to sell off the Hawai`i utilities to third parties….

read … Hawaii Gas and Hawaiian Telcom Are on the Chopping Block

State moving to new public access data portal

ILind:  … Back in October 2012, the State of Hawaii launched a new website, data.hawaii.gov, which was described at the time as “an important new tool that will help to transform government and increase public accessibility to public records.”

It was part of Governor Neil Abercrombie’s attempt to upgrade the state’s technology infrastructure in a way that would increase public access to government data by gathering it in a central online portal.

It was run by Socrata, which had also been selected for the federal government’s data.gov website offering access to datasets from federal agencies.

Now the state’s contract with Socrata is due to expire in August, and the officially launched a new data portal last month on a platform developed by a Socrata competitor, OpenGov. The new portal can be found at opendata.hawaii.gov.

At least one agency has run into an apparently unexpected technical glitch that has created a new problem.

The Hawaii State Ethics Commission processes thousands of public filings each year, including annual financial disclosure and gift disclosure forms filed by state employees and public officials, along with lobbyist registrations and disclosure of lobbyist expenditures. Although some of these financial disclosures are confidential, many others are meant to be publicly accessible for inspection.

Until recently, its lists of disclosures were available for viewing and downloading via the state’s data portal. This provided the public with the ability to ask and answer more complex or focused questions. Rather than simply being able to view the expenditures disclosed during a particular year by a particular organization’s lobbyists, it was simple to download the data and look at trends over a period of years. I used the data to rank organizations by the amounts they spend on lobbying, and update those lists over different time periods.

But when the latest deadline for lobbyist disclosures passed, I discovered the data is no longer available for downloads….

read … State moving to new public access data portal

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