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Tuesday, December 15, 2020
December 15, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:55 PM :: 3265 Views

Honolulu PD ‘Top 10 Earners’ List Revealed–Did Corporal make $341K?

After Years in Court, DoE Forced to Release Financial Data

First COVID Vaccines Arrive in Hawaii

Kealoha Lawyer Disbarred in California, Suspended in Hawaii

HART Pours Final Segment of Middle Street Section

What is a Furlough?

Kouchi: Legislators Discussing Income Tax Hikes

HTH: … In regard to the state budget, which is facing unprecedented shortfalls because of the ongoing pandemic, Kouchi said chairs for the Senate Ways and Means and House Finance committees continue to meet, and conversations with Gov. David Ige and members of his administration and others about what can be done are ongoing.

The state is projecting a $1.4 billion budget shortfall in the general fund for each of the next four years.

According to Kouchi, the committee leaders continue to look at possible tax exemptions that could be rescinded to generate additional revenues, the possibility of not filling positions vacated by retirements, whether there could be “re-imaging of certain operations in government” that could offer cost savings and whether some tax rates could be increased.

“I know there was talk about maybe $200,000, $250,000 or more earners … but there are really few people you would want to increase taxes on during this time,” he said. “So we’re hopeful we’ll have other options that will be available to us.”

Kouchi said legislators are unsure whether furloughs of state employees, which were announced last week by Ige, will start Jan. 1.

“I think it’ll be tied up in litigation, and so we’re preparing to try to find solutions that wouldn’t involve the furloughs because of the possibility that we wouldn’t prevail in a court case,” he said….

When asked what his thoughts are about ways to diversify Hawaii’s economy, Kouchi said hemp creates “incredible opportunity”….

“At this point, there’s been a lot of people relocating to Hawaii to do their work remotely because they’re not required to go into the office,” Kouchi said. “Those are … areas I think we can see great improvement….”

When asked if the Legislature will address penalty provisions for the statewide mask mandate, Kouchi said “we’ll certainly bring it up and look at it.”  But while others have called for lawmakers to do that right away, Kouchi said the governor “thinks that’s a more robust conversation and that the public is certainly going to want to weigh in on it.” …

SA: “Higher taxes on people who earn $200,000 and more and rescinding unidentified tax exemptions.”

Related: Ige: “I’m Contemplating Tax Increases”

CB: The legislative committees may also limit the number of testifiers appearing at one time in a room.

read … State Senate president talks upcoming legislative session, COVID mitigation efforts at Capitol, budget and economy

Caldwell Brings Back Alleged Child Molester

CB: … A Honolulu department director who was put on paid leave amid a sexual misconduct lawsuit has been back to work for several weeks, the mayor’s office said on Monday.

Enterprise Services Director Guy Kaulukukui stepped away from his job in April after he was sued by a Kamehameha Schools graduate who said he groomed her into having sexual relations while he was her teacher. The suit, which also names Kamehameha Schools and its trustees as defendants, alleges that Kaulukukui was 24 years old at the time, and she was 15….

Kaulukukui is still technically on paid leave from his director’s position but since Sept. 1 has been on a temporary assignment, according to mayoral spokesman Alexander Zannes. He is now handling the Haiku Stairs project, including preparing for the release of a request for bids for management and operation of the stairs and working on land use agreements, Zannes said.

Kaulukukui is still earning his director salary. He did not respond to a request for comment….

April 30, 2020: Caldwell Admin Official Sued for Child Molestation

2010: Abercrombie appoints Guy Kaulukukui as Deputy Director of Department of Land and Natural Resources “Guy Kaulukukui (DLNR Deputy) is the Associate Director for Strategic Partnerships at The Kohala Center.”

read … Honolulu Director Back To Work While Sexual Misconduct Lawsuit Continues

Future of rail project uncertain with $250M in federal funding still up in the air

HNN: … There is still concern that $250 million in federal funding for the Honolulu rail project will lapse by the end of the year.

“The FDA said if we didn’t present to them a way to build all the way at all to Ala Moana, this 250 million could lapse. And there’s a lot of concern, we do not want that to happen,” Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said….

Up until recently, Robbins argued P3 was the best way to build that final leg and operate and maintain it. But the city disagreed, saying bids came way over estimates.

The project is having difficulty with the city-center portion of the rail going from Kalihi to Ala Moana.

HART and the city had different estimates of cost and completion.

The city suggested a reasonable timeline for completion of the final leg would be in 2033, with Hart predicting completion five years earlier.

There is now a fourth procurement for the final portion of the rail….

read … Future of rail project uncertain with $250M in federal funding still up in the air

State to spend nearly entire $1.25B allotment of federal COVID-19 relief fund

HNN: … State agencies have allocated nearly all of its allotted $1.25 billion in CARES Act aid and it does not appear that any of the funds will have to be returned to federal government, state lawmakers said Monday.

State leaders had previously set an internal deadline of December 15 to check up on the spending plans, giving the Ige administration wiggle room ahead of the federal deadline ― December 30 ― to use those funds or lose them.

“Having that internal check-in actually ensures that we will not be in a position where we have to return something to the federal government,” said Jill Tokuda, of Hawaii Collaborative Data…..

“Any funds left over as of Dec 28, the remnants will be transferred into the UI trust fund, so the legislature made sure that every single cent is spent,” said State Representative Sylvia Luke, Chair of the Finance Committee.

Luke estimated the leftover to be $58M for the state unemployment insurance fund ― which was depleted during the first shutdown.

Each county received CARES Act money, too. Honolulu received the most, at more than $387M.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said all of that money has been allocated or expended….

read … State to spend nearly entire $1.25B allotment of federal COVID-19 relief fund

Surveillance Test Study Shows Few COVID-19 Positives During Safe Travels

CB: … A state-commissioned study measuring the Safe Travels pre-arrival testing program’s impact on the spread of COVID-19 in Hawaii found few links to positive cases but also room for improvement.

While nearly 346,000 people arrived in Hawaii between Oct. 16 and Dec. 1, the study period, the state has recorded just 226 known positive coronavirus cases, which is a rate of about 0.61 per 1,000 people, according to the study.

It also tracked the results of post-arrival tests given to nearly 22,000 travelers on a voluntary basis during the study period, with 50 testing positive. Those included 32 of 19,456 people who voluntarily participated in Hawaii County’s surveillance testing program, and 18 of another 2,500 or so on other islands. That translates to a relatively higher rate of 0.718 per 1,000.

“You just look at the big picture,” said Dr. F. DeWolfe Miller, who authored the study at Lt. Gov. Josh Green’s request. “Where is the big epidemic from all these tourists coming? There isn’t one.”….

CB: Kauai Businesses: ‘We Can’t Survive’ Without Travel

read … Surveillance Test Study Shows Few COVID-19 Positives During Safe Travels

Three Times as many Pacific Islanders Hospitalized for COVID

CB: … That’s according to the state Department of Health, which posted COVID-19 hospitalization data by race on its website Monday for the first time since the pandemic began in March.

As of Monday, 339 Pacific Islanders have been hospitalized for the coronavirus, more than three times the number of white Hawaii residents and nearly three times as many Japanese residents in the islands….

KHON: COVID-19 vaccine outreach to Pacific Islanders continues as they lead state cases

read … Hawaii COVID-19 Hospitalizations Vary Widely By Race And Ethnicity

DoH Plan: Criminals Will Get COVID Vax Before You Do

KHON: …As the first stage of Hawaii’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan began to be rolled out Monday, plans are in the works for stage two.

Inmates and correctional facility staff are placed in stage two alongside groups like teachers and critical risk workers….

(Idea: To save time, just give the vax to the few criminals who have failed to purposefully get themselves infected.  That isn’t very many.) 

(Alternate Idea: Vaccinate the staff but let the criminals continue with their ‘herd immunity’ experiment.  Somebody can write a medical paper about the results.  Maybe they will get a Nobel.)

KITV: READ Hawaii Department of Health Vaccination Plan

KITV: Where are you in Hawaii's COVID-19 vaccine plan? Officials give priority based on 4 risk factors

KITV: Two inmates at Halawa Correctional Facility test positive for COVID-19  (two fewer shots needed)

read …  Amid prison outbreaks, state vaccine plan has inmates in priority

Criminal Releases Produce Spike in auto thefts, burglaries during pandemic

HTH: … Amon-Wilkins said Hawaii Supreme Court-mandated reductions of prison and jail populations because of the pandemic  … has resulted in an increase of habitual offenders in the community….

…Auto theft, long a bane of Hawaii car owners, is one of those offenses that’s seen a dramatic increase.

In November 2019, prior to the pandemic, there were 52 auto thefts reported on the Big Island. Puna had the highest number with 20, followed by South Hilo with 15. No other Hawaii County district reported in double digits for auto thefts that month.

In November 2020, the number of auto theft reports islandwide rose to 76, a 46% increase from the same month last year. Almost a third of those, 23, were in South Hilo. There were 21 reports in Kona and 19 in Puna. It’s also an appreciable rise from the 65 reports of stolen vehicles in October this year.

High numbers of auto thefts in Hawaii are nothing new. The auto insurance industry website analyzed auto theft data from the Federal Highway Administration and National Insurance Crime Bureau for the years 2014-18 and found Hawaii ranked sixth among states with the highest vehicle theft rates, an average of 410 stolen vehicles per 100,000 population.

Burglary reports have also spiked during the pandemic, despite possible longer sentencing for those convicted of burglary during a declared emergency.

There were 192 reported burglaries on the Big Island during the two-month period of October and November 2019. In the same two months this year, that number shot up to 262 reported burglaries, a 36.5% increase.

Puna had 92 reported burglaries in October and November this year, one more than South Hilo. Those are huge increases compared to the 70 burglaries reported in Puna during those two months last year and the 52 in South Hilo for the same time frame.

As Amon-Wilkins noted, reports of other property offenses are up as well. For instance, reported auto break-ins during the past two months number 102, about 20% above the 82 reported during the same period last year. Again, possibly because of holiday shopping, Hilo is the place with the highest number of unauthorized entry into a motor vehicle reports, 35 in October and November. That compares to 27 reports each in Puna and Kona….

Police say they’ve also seen increases in mail theft, both incoming and outgoing, from residential mailboxes….

read … Spike in auto thefts, burglaries during pandemic

Soft on Crime: 17 Convictions Does it Again

KITV: … 38-year-old Kaipo Octubre is wanted for a $20K cash only bench warrant for failure to comply with the terms and conditions of Hawaii Drug Court.

On December 29, 2016 at about 12:33 a.m., an HPD Officer was patrolling the Kaneohe area when he observed a male driving a Toyota Camry that he recognized as being reported stolen.

The officer stopped the driver, who was identified as Kaipo Octubre, and placed him under arrest for unauthorized control of propelled vehicle.

Octubre has 17 prior convictions and is known to frequent the Windward areas. … 

KITV: Another one 10 convictions does it again

read … Soft on Crime

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