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Friday, June 26, 2020
June 26, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 8:26 PM :: 2498 Views

COVID Suits: One Case Dismissed, Judge Blocks Feds from Other

The Separation of Powers Limitation on Hawaii’s Emergency Authority

DLIR: Fraudsters Stole $15.8M Unemployment Benefits

Ige Defers Harbor Tariff Hike

COVID Count 16 new cases out of 1,070 tests

HB285: Legislative Conference Committee Passes Police Reform Bill

Kauai DoE Pilot Program to Continue 'Distance Learning' Scam with no Evaluations Until Fall of 2021

COVID vs Sunshine: Supreme Court Order Opens Planning Commission Meeting

Reopening Means Spying: State-County Database to Track Your Movements ‘In Real Time’ 

SA: … After Ige’s announcement Wednesday, Talbot said he promptly began searching all the things that his family needed to do to comply with the new visitor regulations.

“What I have been disappointed to learn is that there is no ‘Where I can go to be tested and get those test results back within 72 hours of flying to Hawaii,’” said Talbot, who lives near Reno, Nev., and Lake Tahoe. “I think Lt. Gov. (Josh) Green indicated in a video shot yesterday that test results there in Hawaii were coming back in 24 to 48 hours. Here on the mainland test results are taking three to five business days, and the operative word is ‘business days.’”

Talbot worries that the family could be taking a chance if the state doesn’t expand the testing window or offer the test in Hawaii. While there was talk earlier of allowing passengers to also get tested once they came to Hawaii, Green said the state is currently supporting only a pre-arrival testing program….

Hawaii island Mayor Harry Kim has expressed concern that allowing some visitors to bypass the quarantine will make it more difficult to catch quarantine violators. He used some of his county CARE Act funds to develop a database that would help keep track of visitors in real time, and said he wants to launch it by Thursday but needs the state’s cooperation.

Green said the state agrees with Kim and that Ford Fuchigami, administrative services officer of DOT’s Airports Division, has committed to getting the database up by Thursday for Kim with seamless technology that could be shared across counties….

KHON: Hawaii County, DOT developing an app that won’t track movement, but will keep tabs on visitors

read … Hawaii officials and the tourism industry get ready for the return of out-of-state travelers

HB460 Spying: State senators to introduce bill that would require Hawaii's visitors to document where they'll be staying

KITV: …The City and County of Honolulu wants all visitors coming into Hawaii to document where they'll be staying even after we get past the COVID-19 pandemic.

The reason for this is that the city wants to make sure visitors have legal accommodations and a new bill would make it easier for them to find and enforce regulations on illegal vacation rentals.

On Friday, state senators will introduce the bill that would make the city's request a requirement for travelers across all islands.

All four counties support the measure.

The bill would also regulate hosting platforms like Airbnb and would require them to list the street addresses of all short term rentals listed online.

Each county would also be able to issue subpoenas to get specific information about properties in Hawaii listed as short term rentals.

Airbnb opposes the bill and says it'll threaten the privacy of hosts and guests and negatively impact Hawaii's visitor industry.

A hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Friday at the state capitol.….

(How much spying will the State be doing to get rid of TVRs?)

read … State senators to introduce bill that would require Hawaii's visitors to document where they'll be staying

As tax revenues drop, Honolulu’s rail project faces $450M funding shortfall and new delays

HNN: … The rail project is funded mostly by excise and hotel taxes ― both of which have been decimated by the collapse in tourism and the overall economic crisis.

At a meeting Thursday, the HART board was told revenue could be $450 million less than expected over the next decade.

“We are looking at possibly $300- to $450 (million) but again it all depends on how long the timeframe for the economy to recover,” said HART Chief Financial Officer Ruth Lohr….

The board was also told that the expected date of final completion has been moved back several more months ― to March 2026….

SA: Scheduled 2025 opening date for 20-mile rail line being pushed into 2026  The P3 award date has been repeatedly delayed, and HART now projects the contract will be awarded Aug. 27.  Robbins said in an interview that “the real schedule (for rail) will come out when we get the bids back and we make the award for the P3.”

read … As tax revenues drop, Honolulu’s rail project faces a gaping funding shortfall and new delays

Gut and Replace Hawaii Supreme Court Oral Argument

IM: … The Hawaii Supreme Court will hear oral argument on gut-and-replace on Wednesday, August 5, 2020 at 10 a.m. (SCAP-19-0000372)

“Plaintiffs-Appellants League of Women Voters of Honolulu and Common Cause (collectively “Plaintiffs-Appellants”) appeal the circuit court’s final judgment, which granted Defendant-Appellee the State of Hawaii’s (the State) motion for summary judgment. Plaintiffs-Appellants appealed the circuit court’s decision to the Intermediate Court of Appeals and this court granted Plaintiffs-Appellants’ application for transfer.”

The League and Common Cause are represented by the Civil Beat Law Center.

The Hawai`i State Constitution, Article III, Section 14 states, “Each law shall embrace but one subject, which shall be expressed in its title.”….

read … Gut and Replace -- Hawaii Supreme Court Oral Argument

HB2502: Lawmakers pare back quarantine-powers bill after public concern

KHON: … After thousands of pages of testimony mostly in opposition, lawmakers on Thursday pared back a draft bill that would have given government sweeping new powers related to quarantine, an issue Always Investigation reported on Wednesday.

“We’re going to remove the sole authority of the Director of Health to declare a public health emergency,” said Sen. Rosalyn Baker, chair of the Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health Committee. “That instead needs to be vested as it is with the governor.”

The consumer protection committee also removed the Transient Accommodations Tax as a funding mechanism for a proposed extended screening and order-enforcement, and they intend to add ways that those ordered into quarantine can challenge it quickly in court.

“What we’re going to need is due process,” said committee member Sen. Laura Thielen. “This is going to be especially important for people who are not residents because they’re not going to have access to understand the legal system here, but a lot of residents won’t either and it’s going to be raising due process issues. I think it’s best if we have some kind of expedited ex parte process if somebody does want to challenge it.”

Baker agreed, saying language would be worked on “to make sure there’s a way that folks who are being isolated, ordered into isolation or quarantine if they feel that’s not appropriate, have a way of challenging that and having it be done in an expedited manner.”

Sen. Russell Ruderman added: “I’m very cautious about going down this road, I share some of the concerns of the thousands of people we heard from opposing it. I would be more comfortable if it had a much quicker sunset date so we can revisit and analyze it quickly with public input and review.”

The state Department of Health had testified in favor of the measure….

The Attorney General’s office drafted the language of the bill at DOH’s request….

The committee advanced bill HB2502, which now goes to the Senate Ways and Means Committee for consideration. Track the measure HB2502 here.

read … Lawmakers pare back quarantine-powers bill after public concern

Union organizes mass COVID-19 testing for hospitality workers, it calls on employers to follow suit

KHON: … Gill said Kahala Resort reached an agreement with Local Five to test each employee for COVID-19 before returning to work.

Gill said, “Kahala set a standard for the rest of the industry and we certainly will attempt to call upon them to do the right thing.”

The union is still working to reach agreements with other hotels to ensure testing for their workers.

Saturday’s testing for COVID-19 for hospitality workers and their families will take place at the Waipio Soccer Complex (93-061 Waipio Access Point Rd. Waipahu, HI 96797) from 8 am to 2 pm….

read … Union organizes mass COVID-19 testing for hospitality workers, it calls on employers to follow suit

Different Kind of Tourist?  Under Quarantine only Cheap Hotels have any Occupancy

PBN: … Losses in all three categories were substantial across the Islands, with Oahu seeing the sharpest decline in occupancy (down 70 percentage points to 13%). RevPAR in all four counties fell by more than 85%, with Maui County seeing the largest drop (down 94.5%). Maui hotels also saw the largest decline in ADR, where it fell by 66%.

Among the different classes of properties, upper upscale hotels and luxury properties reported the largest declines in occupancy. Both were down 69 percentage points, with upper upscale properties reporting an occupancy rate of 10.6%, and luxury properties just 5% occupied. Midscale and economy properties maintained the highest occupancy rate of 31.6%, which represented a year-over-year drop of 50 percentage points.

Room supply throughout the state was down 49% to 856,400 room nights, and room demand dropped 91% to 121,300 room nights. Total statewide room revenue was $15.4 million, a 95.5% year-over-year drop.

Although still substantial, the losses mark a slight improvement from April figures.

read … Different Kind of Tourist

Steep Drop in Real Estate Prices Coming?

HNN: … at least one expert is predicting a steep drop in home prices.

“I think sales (volume) easily will be down by half. I think prices will go down 15 to 25%,” said Hawaii real estate consultant Ricky Cassiday.

He said studios in Waikiki have already seen significant declines due to the tourism shutdown and tougher new regulations and enforcement on illegal vacation rentals.

Hawaii’s 22% unemployment rate will mean fewer buyers, Cassiday said.

He added that the real estate market will also be hurt by the exodus of thousands of Hawaii residents expected to relocate to the mainland to look for work….

But not all experts share this view.

“Hawaii is one of the nine states where we’re actually forecasting prices will be up, not by much but by 1 percentage point,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist at CoreLogic, a major real estate data company.

Nothaft thinks record-low mortgage rates will buoy the weak market, making homes more affordable for first-time buyers.

He also thinks foreign investment could rebound, boosting the high-end market….

read … Steep Drop

Supreme Court declines to hear appeal in Christopher Deedy trial—Prosecutors will Try ‘Plan C’

KHON: … Deedy’s first trial ended in a mistrial. The second time around, he was found not guilty of murder. But jurors could not agree on the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Prosecutors have been pushing for a third trial, but Deedy’s attorneys say that violates the double jeopardy clause.

Prosecutors called the Supreme Court decision on Thursday, June 25, regrettable, and said it puts an end to their efforts to pursue manslaughter charges.

They said they would continue to pursue a charge of first-degree assault for Deedy….

Big Q: Should federal agent Christopher Deedy be tried a third time, for first-degree assault, for killing Kollin Elderts in 2011?  -- 81% "NO"

read … Supreme Court declines to hear appeal in Christopher Deedy trial

Charlatans Whip Up Big Island Mob over missing children—Councilmember Warns Against Vigilantism

WHT: … Dispersed among stories of personal experiences (Meth heads who lost their kids in child custody cases) and suggestions for how the community can look after one another, a pattern of common frustrations emerged.

Kona Councilwoman Rebecca Villegas acknowledged the crowd’s frustrations with police, who were not present at the meeting, but warned against vigilantism….

Various statistics show progress being made in regard to missing children; according to the Hawaii Police Department, the total number missing children reports fell from 853 in 2008 to 417 in 2019 and 152 so far this year. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports five active missing children cases on the Big Island, and the National Human Trafficking Resource Center reported a total of 35 human trafficking cases in Hawaii as a whole for 2019, down from 47 in 2018….

Despite these statistics, multiple speakers expressed distrust of official figures and traditional avenues for dealing with missing children.

“We’re fed up with going the regular routes to try to get things resolved,” said Melody Stone, founder of the Hawaii Island Coalition Against Human Trafficking. “I’m not a vigilante, (Translation: I’m gonna get YOU to do it while I sit back and act like I’m not involved) and I don’t encourage people to do that either, but there are ways we can do this on a grassroots level.”…  (For instance, if YOU do it.)

read … Community meeting addresses missing children

Thousands of Mainlanders sign petition calling for the removal of 1874 Hawaiian Kingdom Era Captain Cook monument

KHON: … The request on now has over 3,000 signatures.  It urges state leaders to take down monuments on Kaua'i and the Big Island…

FH: Petition to Strip Name from McKinley HS

PHOTOS: Big Island Cook Monument Erected under Hawaiian Kingdom 1874

read … Thousands sign petition calling for the removal of all Captain Cook monuments in Hawaii

Trump wants federal hiring to focus on skills over degrees

HNN: … Trump is set to sign an executive order Friday outlining a new direction for the nation’s largest employer during a meeting of the board that advises the administration on worker policy….

“We are modernizing federal hiring to find candidates with the relevant competencies and knowledge, rather than simply recruiting based on degree requirements,” she told The Associated Press in a statement. “We encourage employers everywhere to take a look at their hiring practices and think critically about how initiatives like these can help diversify and strengthen their workforce.”…

The White House isn’t eliminating degree requirements altogether but instead will stress skills in jobs where having a degree is less important.

Aides say the change will create more opportunities for Americans to work for the federal government by recognizing that some learning happens outside of classrooms.

Ivanka Trump and other administration officials have pushed to increase opportunities for apprenticeships and have promoted such training and vocational education as alternatives to traditional two-year or four-year college degree programs.

The Office of Personnel Management will be responsible for implementing the president’s order.

IBM is among the companies that have moved in this direction. Last year, 15% of its new U.S. hires had nontraditional backgrounds because they were evaluated based on skills instead of looking only at their degrees, Ginni Rometty, the company’s executive chairman, said via the White House.

“We hired from new areas of the country, including under-served communities, and this promoted more diversity in the applications we received,” said Rometty, who is expected to participate in Friday’s meeting….

read … Trump wants federal hiring to focus on skills over degrees

Condo associations again face liability for past “wrongful foreclosures”

ILind: … The Hawaii Supreme Court has ruled condominium associations did not and do not have the authority to use nonjudicial foreclosure procedures unless specific “power of sale” provisions are included “in association bylaws or in another enforceable agreement with unit owners.”

In reaching this position, the high court affirmed in part an earlier decision by the Intermediate Court of Appeals which had been challenged by lawyers representing condominium associations. It also overruled the ICA on other points, reinstating parts of the plaintiffs’ cases which had been dismissed.

Condominiums appeared to have gotten a reprieve from potential liability last year when the legislature passed a bill (SB551, which became Act 282 of 2019) intended to retroactively legalize prior, and now controversial, nonjudicial condo foreclosures.

But the Supreme Court’s latest rulings, issued last week, mean condominium associations and their attorneys again face significant exposure to damage claims by apartment owners who lost their properties in nonjudicial foreclosures which the court says were “wrongful.”

Neither of the decisions affect regular foreclosures that were conducted under the supervision of a court….

read … Condo associations again face liability for past “wrongful foreclosures”

"Renewable Energy” is easy to grasp and slippery to define

IM: … Should we increase renewable energy because (a) it will decrease our dependence on imports, (b) it will decrease the volatility of energy prices, (c) it will generate local jobs, (d) it will be good for the planet, (e) we can brag about our successes, and/or (f) we can lead the world using our definition of renewable energy?

Do we pick renewable energy as a solution based on gut feeling, the scientific reality, political whim, or our own knowledge that our views are the correct truth?

April 23, 2020: Planet of the Humans: Michael Moore Debunks Hawaii's Clean Energy Initiative

CB: COVID is Latest Excuse to give mo money to green energy scammers

read … "Renewable Energy” is easy to grasp and slippery to define

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