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Friday, May 21, 2021
May 21, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:26 PM :: 2661 Views

Job Search Requirement Reinstated for Unemployed

Hawai'i Supreme Court Paeahu Solar Appeal—“Collusive Behavior”

IM: … The Hawai`i Public Utilities Commission approved a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between Maui Electric Company and Innergex subsidiary Paeahu Solar LLC, docket no. 2018-0433.

Pono Power Coalition, represented by attorneys Lance D. Collins and Bianca K. Isaki, filed an appeal to the Hawai`i Supreme Court, SCOT-21-0000041.

Pono Power Coalition filed its Opening Brief on May 19, 2021….

this case asks whether an energy project may burden consumers with unjustifiably high prices by engaging in anticompetitive practices, may substitute marketing for genuine community outreach, and may impact public trust resources without appropriate Commission review.” ….

Pono Power asserted, “Collusion is demonstrated where competing bidders in negotiations are represented by the same attorney: (1) one law firm represented multiple competing bidders, (2) one attorney at the law firm was the lead attorney for multiple competing bidders, and (3) there were joint filings by the law firm on behalf of multiple competing bidders regarding contract terms, the similarities in PPA Award terms reflect information sharing across bidders and their common lawyer and point to collusive behavior in negotiation of PPA terms.

“Allowing the same lead attorney to work for all competing bidders constitutes collusive behavior. Such activity could be characterized as a per se violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act (15 U.S.C. §§ 1-7) as well a violation of corresponding provisions in Hawaii’s antitrust statutes (HRS chapter 480).”

“The Sherman Act prohibits any agreement among competitors to engage in anticompetitive activity; here, between an attorney and multiple clients that reduces competition in order to protect beneficiaries of that competition.”…

read … Hawai`i Supreme Court --- Pono Power Coalition files Opening Brief in Paeahu Solar Appeal

Eighty-six percent of Hawaii businesses are struggling to fill open positions

PBN: … Eighty-six percent of Hawaii businesses are struggling to fill open positions, according to a recent statewide survey by the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii.

The chamber conducted the “Return to Work” survey among its member businesses to gauge the types of challenges companies are facing as they attempt to bring employees back from furlough or increase their staff. A total of 380 businesses representing a range of industries responded to the survey.

The results, which were released Wednesday, found that more than 85% of respondents currently have job openings. Of those, nearly 65% have 1-10 openings, while about 30% are looking to hire 11 or more employees, and a couple dozen businesses are seeking more than 100 employees.

The job openings include both salaried positions, as well as hourly wage jobs.

The majority of respondents, at 64%, said that they would consider or have already considered “raising compensation, benefits, signing bonus, referral bonus, or other incentives to fill positions.”

Most, at 73%, also said that the challenges in increasing staff have put “pressure on existing employees.” Sixty percent of companies said that they have had to “compensate for the recruitment challenge in the form of overtime, shift schedules, and closure of business hours.” ….

read … Chamber of Commerce survey highlights hiring challenges

Hawaii’s unemployment rate plunged to 8.5% in April—Still Highest in USA

SA: … Hawaii’s unemployment rate continued its sharp descent last month as the state’s economic recovery picked up speed.

The seasonally adjusted jobless rate plunged six-tenths of a percentage point to 8.5% in April as the state added 10,000 nonfarm payroll jobs, according to data released Thursday by the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. The number for March was revised upward to 9.1% from 9.0%.

“The 8.5% unemployment is a good improvement,” Eugene Tian, chief economist for the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, said via email. “Comparing with the U.S. unemployment rate between March and April, Hawaii had an improvement from 9.1% to 8.5% while U.S. experienced an increase from 6.0% to 6.1%. Hawaii’s labor market condition has been improving steadily since September 2020 (when Oahu had its second lockdown).”

In March 2020 the jobless rate was 2.1% before it soared to an all-time high of 21.9% the following month when the pandemic sent the state’s economy reeling. Now with increased hiring, the seasonally adjusted jobless rate has been on a steady downward trend and is at its lowest level since the pandemic began.

Nonfarm payroll jobs rose to 562,100 in April from 552,100 in March and were significantly higher than 509,800 in April 2020. An increase of 5,500 jobs last month in the state’s leisure and accommodations sector accounted for more than half of those additional jobs to help drive the growth.

“In April 2021, non-ag payroll job count has recovered to about 85% of the January 2020 level (at 662,300, pre-COVID), while in April 2020, non-ag job count was at 77% of the pre-COVID level. The improvement is 8 percentage points,” Tian said. “The improvement has been steadily slow. We still have about 100,000 jobs that need to be called back. The full job recovery may take a few years.”….


read … Hawaii’s unemployment rate plunged to 8.5% in April

Hawaii’s hotel occupancy at 51% in April

SA: … Hotels in Hawaii were only about half full in April even with the spring break rush, but performance is expected to heat up this summer as many U.S. travelers take leisure trips.

Occupancy at Hawaii hotels rose to 50.8% in April, up from about 43% in March, 31% in February and 23% in January, according to data from Nashville, Tenn.-based STR. It was Hawaii’s highest statewide occupancy in the past 12 months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The statewide average daily room rate more than doubled to over $300, with revenue per available room rising to $152.52, a more than 1,280% increase from April 2020, the worst month for Hawaii hotel performance during the pandemic.

Hawaii’s April results were an improvement over the first quarter when Hawaii’s occupancy was just 32.4%, which, according to a CBRE Hawaii Hotel report released Thursday, was more than 19 percentage points below the national average…..

FR: Hawaii travel is booming: how many flights are we tracking?

read … Hawaii’s hotel occupancy at 51% in April

Honolulu posts smallest rent increase for single-family homes

PBN: … Rents for single-family homes in Urban Honolulu rose 0.6% in March, compared to March 2020. It’s an increase from February, when rents declined by 0.1% from the previous year.

CoreLogic (NYSE: CLGX) noted that according to the U.S. Census, demand for single-family rental homes is at a generational high, driven, in part, by the high cost to buy a home.

“The CoreLogic Single-Family Rent Index shows a preference shift to standalone properties as renters seek more space in less dense areas,” Molly Boesel, principal economist at CoreLogic, said in a statement. “Prior to the pandemic, rents for detached properties and attached properties grew at similar rates. However, starting in June 2020, rent growth for detached properties accelerated and by March, grew at five times the rent growth rate of attached properties.”

read … Honolulu posts smallest rent increase for single-family homes

Council chair considers action to force HPD to release bodycam videos in fatal teen shooting

HNN: … Honolulu Council Chair Tommy Waters said he plans to discuss the possibility of legislation or a resolution aimed at pushing the Honolulu Police Department to release bodycam videos from the fatal April 5 police shooting of a teen….

State Sen. Karl Rhoads is also concerned that the department released bodycam videos from other high profile events last month, but not for this fatal shooting of 16-year old Iremamber Sykap….

“If the stance is going to be, we’re going to release what makes us look good and not release what doesn’t make us look good, in the long run that’s very dangerous. They’re going to lose credibility every time that happens,” Rhoads said….

HPD is sticking by their reason to withhold the footage, citing juvenile protection rules because the others in the Honda are suspects in a criminal case.

But you cannot see the faces of anyone in the Honda in the video Hawaii News Now obtained….

Related: Bodycam Video Shows Sykap Shooting, Crash into Canal

read … Council chair considers action to force HPD to release bodycam videos in fatal teen shooting

2nd Kealoha co-conspirator wants to put off prison pending appeal

HNN: … A second former Honolulu police officer convicted in the Kealoha public corruption scandal is asking the court to delay his self surrender at federal prison.

Minh-Hung “Bobby” Nguyen filed a motion to join the request of his co-conspirator, Derek Hahn, who earlier this month asked a judge to let him stay out of prison, on bond, pending his appeal.

Both are supposed to show up at different mainland facilities to begin serving their sentences June 1.

Nguyen was ordered to spend four and a half years at Federal Prison Camp Yankton, in South Dakota, a minimum security center.

Hahn, a former Honolulu police lieutenant, was ordered to spend three and a half years at a facility in Sheridan, Oregon…

A federal judge is expected to rule on the motion on May 25.

read … 2nd Kealoha co-conspirator wants to put off prison pending appeal

Hawaii County Council Reinstates ‘Reelect Me’ Slush Fund

HTH: … Stark philosophical differences among County Council members coupled with limited funds and a lot of funding requests led to some tense moments Thursday that threatened to blow up a special session on the budget but ultimately culminated in compromise.

The council unanimously passed Bill 21, the $609.1 million operating budget proposed by Mayor Mitch Roth, on first reading after amending it to draw $315,000 from the fund balance — money not spent in the previous year carried over to the new budget year that begins July 1 — and put it into contingency accounts, giving each council member a $35,000 (slush fund) …..

Contingency accounts give each council member their own little pot of money to give nonprofits and county agencies in a noncompetitive process after council approval. The money is in addition to $2.5 million distributed competitively to 184 nonprofits.

“The value in them is that they’re flexible,” said Hamakua Councilwoman Heather Kimball. “We do need a small pot that is easily accessible and flexible.”….

And then, there’s the political aspect. The contingency funds are awarded at a council member’s discretion rather than through a set system…..

read … Council advances budget

Corrupt DPP Wants Power to Foreclose on So-Called ‘monster homes’

SA: … The city Department of Planning and Permitting is looking into different ways to better enforce against “monster homes,” new large structures in older neighborhoods that often illegally rent out rooms for both short- and long-term rentals.

One of the ways the department is looking to do that is to have the City Council pass a new ordinance that would allow DPP to foreclose on a property once a lien has been filed against it administratively instead of going through a court process.

Putting a lien on a property and then seeking foreclosure is one of the last steps the department takes against landowners who do not comply with the law.

“That whole process kind of gets bogged down because of lack of staff and resources both at our department and (corporation) counsel,” said DPP Director Dean Uchida.

“That finishing step has been difficult to take with the city.”…

BEST COMMENT: “They need to clean up their act and stop taking bribes before they do anything else.”


read … City department considering new ways to crack down on Oahu’s ‘monster homes’

Bumbling Hawaii Officials Could Lose 100s of federal housing vouchers for homeless

KITV: … The state and counties are up against a Monday deadline to accept or forgo federal emergency housing vouchers — about 500 for O'ahu alone — to help get more families off the streets.

"We really need to orchestrate this because it will require landlords. I cannot underscore that enough," said Connie Mitchell, executive director of the Institute for Human Services.

State leaders are grappling with how to administer the vouchers so they don't go to waste. Similar to low-income "Section 8" housing, manpower's a concern, so is changing emergency rules and finding enough landlords willing to participate.

"If we don't have landlords that are willing to work with us, no matter how many vouchers we get, we won't be able to house people," she added.

"We are currently reviewing HUD's new emergency voucher program and working with our partners to ensure that everyone has the capacity to comply with the federal requirements and to make sure that all due diligence is done to create a successful program that will effectively assist our homeless brothers and sisters," Hawaii Public Housing Authority Executive Director Hakim Ouansafi said in a statement….

UPDATE May 27, 2021: City accepts full allotment of 312 Emergency Housing Vouchers from HUD

SA: Anton Krucky: The head of the city’s Office of Housing and Homelessness wants to change the paradigm for those on the streets

read … Hawaii faces deadline to accept federal housing vouchers

Thieves, vandals create rough road ahead for Biki bike-share system in Hawaii

KHON: … “The number of bikes that are out, greater than 24 hours and we consider those stolen, is up to 144 bikes as of our most recent count,” said Rodd Boulanger, executive director of Bikeshare Hawaii.

Bikeshare Hawaii, the non-profit organization that operates Biki, says 20% of its fleet is out of service….

“If you take the number of stolen bikes and a number of vandalized bikes, you’re looking at about a quarter of a million dollars,” Boulanger said.

Thefts have tripled within the last few months. Every stolen Biki means one less bike for those who depend on the program….

To report a vandalized or stolen Biki bike, call the Biki hotline at 1-888-340-2454….

read … Thieves, vandals create rough road ahead for Biki bike-share system in Hawaii

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