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Tuesday, December 22, 2020
December 22, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:08 PM :: 2756 Views

Ige Outlines 2021-23 Budget--'Sharp Reductions'

Magic Money from the Sky: Hawaii Getting $1.7B from New COVID 'Stimulus'

Congress to Restore Medicaid for COFA Citizens after 24 Years

Sen Fevella to Lead Protest Rally as DHHL Tries to Justify Casino Proposal

US Senate Report: Whistleblower Retaliation Behind Hawaii Helicopter Crashes

Did Caldwell Entrap the Police Chief?

CB: … On Monday, after Civil Beat published a story detailing the operation, Commission Chairwoman Shannon Alivado said she had concerns about the assignment and whether it was out of the ordinary for the department to take on.  “It raises some red flags and begs the question of whether the surveillance was proper,” Alivado said. “It’s incumbent on the commission to do our due diligence and find out more about the situation.”

(Alivado is the Caldwell appointee sent in to shut down Sheehan and Levinson.)

Newly appointed commissioners Doug Chin and Michael Broderick deferred questions about the surveillance operation to Alivado, describing her as the preferred spokesperson for the commission.

Chin, however, did speak about his time as managing director under former mayor Peter Carlisle. He said that at no time did the Carlisle administration ask HPD to investigate a cabinet member, although he questioned whether the chief could have said no had such a request been made.

“I don’t know what mechanism there would be for the police leadership to push back against an order that comes from the mayor’s office,” Chin said.

(Question: Did Caldwell entrap the Police Chief?)

Unlike most other cabinet officials, Happy could not be removed by the mayor unless it was for cause and Happy was given a written statement of the reasons followed by a hearing before the Honolulu City Council.

According to a written statement from Deputy Police Chief John McCarthy, the department launched the investigation after the Caldwell administration reported it had received information that a cabinet member was possibly involved in drug activity….

(Caldwell and team Kealoha on the move to re-take control of HPD.)

read … Police Commissioner: HPD Surveillance Of Medical Examiner ‘Raises Some Red Flags’

Deadline extended for $250M federal grant for Honolulu Rail

PBN: … The deadline for a $250 million federal funding grant for the Honolulu Rail Transit project has been extended as part of a U.S. Senate appropriations deal, congressional officials announced Tuesday.

The grant, which was originally set to expire if unspent by the end of this year, has now been extended to Dec. 31, 2021….

“I want to thank Senator Schatz and all the members of the Hawaii congressional delegation for their work to extend the period of availability for the $250 million in federal funds which were set to lapse at the end of the month," said HART Executive Director and CEO Andrew Robbins, in a statement. "This will provide the rail project some needed breathing room while HART and the City look for additional sources of funds to complete the construction of the rail system.”…

“My objective was to prevent the loss of these federal dollars," said U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz in a statement. "While this extension buys them more time, HART and the City must now revise their financial plan and come back with something that can actually work. They now have an opportunity to focus on what is most important – developing a clear-eyed plan for the people of Honolulu."…  

read … Deadline extended for $250M federal grant for Honolulu Rail

Federal COVID-19 aid could postpone Hawaii state worker furloughs, Gov. David Ige says

SA: … Furloughs of thousands of state employees — scheduled to begin Jan. 1 — could be postponed until July if a COVID-19 funding bill in Congress provides Hawaii with millions of dollars in COVID-19 funds, taking some pressure off of an already strained state budget, Gov. David Ige said today.

A draft of Congress’ stimulus bill does not cover direct funding for states, city and counties. But the pressure to begin furloughs with the New Year could be pushed back six months if Hawaii receives “hundreds of millions” of federal dollars for COVID-19 relief, such as state-budgeted COVID-19 vaccinations and contract tracers, Ige said….

read … Federal COVID-19 aid could postpone Hawaii state worker furloughs, Gov. David Ige says

30,000 doses of coronavirus vaccines arrive in Hawaii, many slated for neighbor islands

SA: … Hawaii received nearly 30,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine today, as neighbor island hospitals began immunizing health care workers.

The first 12,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine arrived in the islands — 6,000 designated for Oahu and 2,000 each for the counties of Maui, Hawaii and Kauai, according to the Department of Health. Pfizer sent 16,575 doses in addition to 4,825 that arrived last week on Oahu.

Wilcox Medical Center reported its first shipment from Pfizer of 1,950 doses, which it will begin administering to front-line workers at the hospital and Kauai Medical Clinic this afternoon and early next week….

read … More doses of coronavirus vaccines arrive in Hawaii, many slated for neighbor islands

Hawaii hotels continued to see huge declines in November despite pre-travel testing program

PBN: … November marked the first full month that Hawaii’s pre-travel testing program has been in effect, but hotels throughout the state continued to experience substantial declines in key metrics, according to the latest monthly Hawaii Hotel Performance Report by Hawaii Tourism Authority.

According to the report, which was released Monday and produced by HTA’s research division with data compiled by STR, hotels statewide were 22% occupied last month. That marks a 57 percentage point drop compared to November of 2019, when hotels had an occupancy rate of 79%.

Hotels statewide also reported a 75% decline in revenue per available room, or RevPAR, to $51, and a 12% drop in average daily rate, or ADR, to $230.

Total statewide room revenue fell by 79% year-over-year to $70.6 million, reflecting a room demand of 307,600 room nights (down 76%) and a room supply of 1.4 million room nights (down 14%)….

Hawaii hotels continued to see huge declines in November despite pre-travel testing program

Inmates who get COVID-19 will no longer be added to Oahu’s daily case count

HNN: … Oahu has seen new COVID-19 infections ticking up in recent days, in part because of the continuing outbreak at the Halawa facility. The island is currently in Tier 2….

SA Editorial: Return to Tier 1 could be ruinous

SA VIDEO: Oahu inmate infections to be removed from Oahu’s reopening metrics, Caldwell says

read … Inmates who get COVID-19 will no longer be added to Oahu’s daily case count

Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to help with down payments outside DHHL Lands

SA: … Unable to keep pace with the soaring demand for housing, the state agency that manages a homesteading program for Native Hawaiians is taking a radical step in a new direction.

It plans to start offering financial help to eligible Hawaiians seeking to buy Oahu housing, but the homes would be off of homesteading land.

Under a pilot program approved Monday, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands will use $1.5 million to provide a limited number of Hawaiians on an Oahu wait-list with down payment assistance to purchase fee-simple homes — you own the land — that are not within established homesteading communities on the island.

read … Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to help with down payments

Hawaii Reboots Depression-Era Conservation Corps Using Pandemic Assistance Funds

HPR: … Kawika Riley, Kupu's Director of Strategic Partnerships, said Aina Corps workers primarily focus on two areas: conservation and agriculture.

"The goal is to find displaced workers and recent graduates who've been affected by the COVID downturn and then match them with green economy jobs and training for as long as the CARES funding allows," Riley explained.

Kupu Aina Corps employees are all paid at least $15 dollars an hour plus healthcare. Just like FDR's conservation corps, Riley says the program is providing both ecological and economic benefits to the community.

However, that appears poised to change. Congress mandated that all CARES funds must be spent by the end of the year, which means the several hundred Aina Corps workers will likely be out of a job soon.

"There's no money to pay people in January," said Sandy Ward, executive director of Malama Pu'uloa. The group, whose name means Care for Pearl Harbor in Hawaiian, is overseeing the mangrove removal effort.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, all of Malama Pu'uloa's work was done by volunteers. With Hawaii residents reluctant or legally barred from gathering for most of 2020, those volunteers disappeared until the Aina Corps launched.

"We all needed people--people needed jobs. CARES money did that," said Ward….

read … Hawaii Reboots Depression-Era Conservation Corps Using Pandemic Assistance Funds

Miske’s Lawyers Push for More Rights for Client

ILind: … Attorneys representing Michael J. Miske, Jr., the owner of Kamaaina Termite and Pest Control, and other companies, have asked the federal court to order the Bureau of Prisons, and the Federal Detention Center in Honolulu, to allow contact visits between Miske and members of his legal defense team so that he can effectively participate in preparations of their legal case….

Miske’s legal team consists of lead attorney Thomas Otake, along with Lynn Panagakos and San Francisco-based Michael N. Burt, appointed for his experience in capital punishment cases….

Miske’s situastion is different from all other prisoners in Hawaii and, as a result, it is unreasonable to apply the same rules that are currently applied to others in detention, the legal team argues.

First, they argue, he is the only person housed in the Federal Detention Center who faces death-eligible charges. The maximum penalty for four of the charges pending against alleged gang leader carry maximum of live in prison or a possible death penalty. Each of these charges are related to the alleged kidnapping and murder of Jonathan Fraser on July 30, 2016….

read … Miske defense lawyers say federal detention center illegally restricting their access to client

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