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Saturday, June 27, 2020
June 27, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:57 PM :: 1985 Views

Facial Recognition: Legislature appropriates $90 million for airport COVID-19 screening

Letter: Legislators 'Concerned' About DoE Plan to Continue 'Distance Learning' Scam

Note to Legislature: Focus!

COVID Count: 17 new cases out of 1,296 tests

COVID Count: Six new cases out of 1,177 tests

DoH Survey: Many Hawaii residents no longer see COVID-19 as threat

COVID: Half of Households with Children have lost income

Video: "Lockdown, Testing and Tracking: Are They Really Legal?"

Hawaii 2nd Highest Tax Burden in USA

Tourism Industry Kept 33% of Hawaii Households on Edge of Poverty—and that was before COVID

SA: … Aloha United Way’s 2020 ALICE Report, which tracks working residents who live just north of the poverty line but are unable to keep up with the cost of living — Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE).

The report was built on data gathered before the coronavirus crisis, when the economy was much stronger. Even so, the number of ALICE households grew significantly larger, up 55% from 2007 to 2018, while the number of those in poverty remained relatively flat.

The report estimated that 33% of Hawaii’s 455,138 households live at the ALICE level; 9% live in poverty.

What’s behind these numbers? Low wages. There was virtually no growth in jobs that paid a healthy living wage, the report said; only low-wage jobs increased.

The report attributed this trend in part to “the growing influence of the tourism industry on Hawaii’s economy,” which set record levels for visitor arrivals in recent years….

read … Editorial: ALICE households hurting

Lawmakers, schools superintendent trade blame for lack of preparation ahead of school reopenings

HNN: … Legislators are also worried that the DOE is waiting until July 2 ― a month before school starts ― to tell schools how to reopen.

State Superintendent Christina Kishimoto says the state’s lawmakers should share some of the responsibility.

“A month before schools are set to reopen, Hawaii’s legislators have allocated zero dollars from the state’s Coronavirus Relief Fund, from which we had sought $111 million,” she said….

The dispute comes as lawmakers, education officials on Kauai and members of the private sector unveiled a $1.2 million pilot program to provide distance learning for students at Kauai’s 20 public and charter schools.

Senate President Ron Kouchi says nearly 1,000 Kauai public school students don’t even have access to the internet. The pilot project will provide mobile Wi-Fi hotspots, so students can learn online.

“Ten percent of the students are without Internet connections. Many students are without the hardware, even if they had Internet connection,” said Kauai state Rep. Nadine Nakamura.

Paul Zina, the incoming superintendent for the DOE’s Kauai complex, added:

“Kids were using any access they could get. Very often, it was robbing mom or dad of their cell phone and that became the Internet access for the day,” he said….

UPDATE: HSTA reaches school reopening agreement with state of Hawaii

read … Lawmakers, schools superintendent trade blame for lack of preparation ahead of school re-openings

Hawaii vacation rentals see low occupancy, demand amid Covid-19 restrictions

PBN: … Vacation rental units throughout the state were only 9.4% occupied during the month of May, according to the latest data by Hawaii Tourism Authority. The figure marks a 62 percentage point drop from May of 2019, when Hawaii vacation rentals had an occupancy rate of 71%….

read … Hawaii vacation rentals see low occupancy, demand amid Covid-19 restrictions

Hawaii Attorney General victimized by identity thieves who targeted unemployment program

HNN: … Hawaii Attorney General Clare Connors has revealed to Hawaii News Now that she is one of the nearly 6,000 people who have been victimized by scammers who targeted the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.

“I’m included. I also received a letter, so I’m one of the individuals whose identity has been compromised,” Connors said,

Her office was already investigating the unemployment scam that has resulted in at least $15.8 million being paid out in fraudulent jobless benefits, along with another $76.6 million in payments that have been labeled as “potentially fraudulent.”

PUA is a federally-funded program distributed by the state Department of Labor for gig workers and independent contractors that have been affected by the COVID-19 shutdowns.

The state sent letters to those who filed for PUA benefits, to verify their identities, after widespread theft was found across the country.

Chanson Fujioka-Levesque also learned her information was stolen after receiving a letter.

“I used to live with my dad in Wahiawa, and the letter came to his residence, which is my old residence,” said Fujioka-Levesque. “So I wasn’t even aware until he sent me the letter in California, where I live now.”…

read … Hawaii Attorney General victimized by identity thieves who targeted unemployment program

Legislators Allocate $7M to Remove Homeless Trash, ACLU Whines About it

CB: … Gov. David Ige’s administration asked lawmakers for $5 million for homeless sweeps – also known as the Stored Property and Trash/Debris Removal Program. Lawmakers granted $7 million in the state budget that passed the Legislature Friday. It now goes to Ige for his consideration.

“The reality is we have state lands that do have individuals trespassing or camping without permission in every part of the state,” said Scott Morishige, Ige’s coordinator on homelessness….

read … Hawaii Increases Funding For Homeless Sweeps

COVID Tourism Control: State set to reopen Hana Highway to public

MN: … “This is such a controversial subject,” said Hana resident Neil Hasegawa, who owns Hasegawa General Store in Hana, a family business that dates back to 1910.

In the wake of news Thursday that the state will reinstate full access to Hana, there is a division over whether the remote town is ready to reopen the road that allows more people access amid the pandemic.

Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said Friday that he, state Sen. J. Kalani English, a Hana resident, state Rep. Lynn DeCoite and other officials will discuss the topic during a Zoom meeting Sunday night. English’s and DeCoite’s districts encompass East Maui.

The state Department of Transportation announced Thursday that Hana Highway will reopen to the public beginning Wednesday. With the exception of local access, the highway has been closed since March 18 — with the department citing state highway construction projects as the reason for the closure.

When Gov. David Ige announced closing the road except to residents, first responders and delivery vehicles in March, he did not mention highway repairs. In fact, county and state lawmakers have talked about the necessity of keeping Hana closed to outsiders to protect from COVID-19.

There has been one reported case of COVID-19 in a Hana resident, who returned from a trip to Canada in March.

English and DeCoite in April asked Ige to deploy the Hawaii National Guard to rural areas of Maui County to help protect remote, rural towns with limited resources. The Guard began staffing checkpoints after Twin Falls on Hana Highway and at Ulupalakua Ranch on Piilani Highway to screen for residents only. About 7,000 driving placards were distributed to those who live in East Maui, according to English. (They will still be used, hint, hint.)

“Hana was the only place in all of Hawaii that was effectively isolated by blockades from National Guard,” English said Friday….

(Emergency Orders are just an excuse to shut out outsiders--Just like Hanalei.)

CB: Proposed Detonation of World War II-Era Bombs at Molokini Angers Activists (dive tour operators)

read … State set to reopen Hana Highway to public

High court rules in favor of county on timeshare taxes

MN: …The Hawaii Supreme Court issued a ruling in favor of Maui County in a seven-year-old lawsuit over the county’s timeshare property tax classification, a decision which removes the risk of the county paying $34 million or more in damages….

The court said in its decision June 19 that the case brought by taxpayers that challenges their real property timeshare tax assessments should not have been decided in 2nd Circuit Court because it “lacked subject matter jurisdiction” over the matter. The case should have been handled by the state Tax Appeal Court.

“We therefore vacate the orders and judgment giving rise to this interlocutory appeal and remand this case to the Circuit Court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion,” wrote the high court.

In March 2018, 2nd Circuit Court Judge Peter Cahill issued an order saying the timeshare property tax classification established by the county in 2004 and taking effect in 2006 was illegal. He ruled that the tax rate for the classification from 2005 to the present was “invalid and void.” The county appealed.

According to minutes from a court hearing in June 2018, Cahill said that if the county lost its appeal the damages could go higher than $34 million.

The case was brought to the news media and public’s attention prior to the general election in 2018 by individuals and political groups seeking a change in county government. ….

read … High court rules in favor of county on timeshare taxes

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