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Monday, November 1, 2021
November 1, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:59 PM :: 1888 Views

Climate Change: Billionaire Pats Honolulu Mayor on Head

2021 State Business Tax Climate Index -- Hawaii 38th

There’s nothing so permanent as a temporary government measure

HIDOE seeking feedback to develop financial literacy content standards

‘We the Vaccinated’ -- Resistance mounts to Hawaii’s COVID-19 rules

SA: … restrictions on weddings are among a complicated labyrinth of coronavirus-related rules that have governed life in Hawaii for the past 20 months under emergency edicts issued by Gov. David Ige and supplemented by the county mayors. The ever-changing terms have left many businesses and residents confused about the requirements and wondering when it will all end.

“From what I understand, Hawaii has one of the best, if not the best, turnouts for the vaccine, and we are still one of the most restricted and shut-down places,” said Joseph Esser, a wedding photographer and president of the Oahu Wedding Association. “So do our officials even believe that the vaccine is relevant or useful at this point? Or is it just trying to get every last drop out of the syringe into people’s arms?”

Esser said many wedding businesses on Oahu are “absolutely at the breaking point.”

At the beginning of the summer, Hawaii was set to drop all COVID-19 restrictions once 70% of the total population of about 1.4 million was fully vaccinated. The arrival of the highly contagious delta variant in July upended that goalpost as coronavirus cases soared and intensive care units began overflowing. But cases and related hospitalizations have fallen precipitously since early September. There were 20 COVID-19 patients in ICU beds statewide as of Friday, according to state data, accounting for just 6% of the state’s ICU capacity.

The state’s vaccination rate is also nearly unrivaled. Statewide, 94% of all eligible individuals, ages 12 and up, have received at least one shot, and 83% of the eligible population is fully vaccinated. Children ages 5 to 11 are expected to be able to get the vaccine as soon as Nov. 8.

Early treatment options for COVID-19 have also improved and are more accessible, including monoclonal antibodies that can reduce the risk of hospitalization by as much as 70%. An antiviral pill created by Merck is in the pipeline and has shown to reduce hospitalizations by about half when administered in newly diagnosed COVID-19 patients. Booster shots are also widely available for adults with a wide range of qualifying conditions, including everyone over the age of 65….

read … Resistance mounts to Hawaii’s COVID-19 rules

Some Oahu sports parents want COVID-19 protocols gone

KITV: … Janina Lee is now able to watch her daughter play soccer but the cloud of COVID-19 still hangs in the air, that's because her game could be cancelled any time if one of her team members test positive for the virus. She says nearly 2 years into the pandemic, it's time for that policy to go away.

"These kids work hard to play their sports you know so just one COVID case it's not fair to the other kids," said Lee….

read … Some Oahu sports parents want COVID-19 protocols gone

Teacher vacancies ease in Hawaii

SA: … Hawaii’s chronic classroom teacher shortage has eased this year to levels not seen in decades, tied in part to a declining student population as well as new and improved efforts to recruit teachers, according to the state Department of Education.

However, another staffing issue has only intensified amid the ongoing corona­virus pandemic: substitute teachers….

read … Teacher vacancies ease in Hawaii

How School Choice Forced one Elementary School to do Better

CB: … When Dale Arakaki arrived at Pauoa Elementary eight years ago to serve as school principal, he was taken aback by the number of families requesting geographic exemption transfers to different elementary schools in the same Honolulu district.

They were decamping to historically high-achieving schools like Manoa Elementary or Maemae Elementary, located in more affluent areas serving students in higher socioeconomic brackets.

Pauoa Elementary, located in the Pauoa Valley which covers part of Papakolea, the Native Hawaiian homestead, is a Title I school, meaning many students are low-income and qualify for free and reduced lunch. A third of students are Native Hawaiian.

When Arakaki surveyed the parents on why they preferred the other schools over Pauoa, they’d say, “They’re doing well,” referring to student assessments.

“I told my staff, ‘We need to turn this around academically,’” Arakaki said.

And they did….

read … How One School’s Academic Turnaround Helped It Weather The Pandemic

Leftover money: $52.7 million fund balance carried forward to next year for Hawaii County

HTH: … Hawaii County ended the last fiscal year with $52.7 million left over to be applied to this year’s budget, according to an Oct. 15 report to the County Council.

The fund balance — money not spent in the previous year that’s carried over to the new budget year that began July 1 — is higher than usual because of an infusion of federal money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act and because some county obligations were suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic….

“The fund balance is primarily the result of expenditures in several areas being lower than expected due to the focus during the fiscal year being on the pandemic much of which was funded by CARES Act, careful spending by the departments, as well as cost items for collective bargaining being paid by the departments,” Finance Director Deanna Sako said in the report to the County Council.

In addition, the county had budgeted for a worst-case scenario in case people didn’t pay their property taxes on time, but delinquencies were less than expected….

While the county was shorted about $19 million when the state swept the transient accommodations allocation, the county also was relieved of the obligation to pay about $20 million for unfunded future retiree benefits, primarily medical and insurance obligations. The payment on that obligation, known as OPED for other post-employment benefits, was suspended by the state Legislature until the budget year that starts July 1, 2023.

The OPED obligation is in addition to the employees’ pensions and retirement funds, which at $79.1 million account for about 13% of the $610 million annual operating budget….

read … Leftover money: $52.7 million fund balance carried forward to next year for Hawaii County

Should A Pilot Program To Expand Homeless Services In Hawaii Be Extended?

CB: … Ohana Zones funding has helped transition 1,100 homeless people into permanent housing….

State data measuring the rate of unsheltered individuals in Hawaii peaked in 2016 at nearly 8,000 people. That number has decreased since then, with less than 7,000 people recorded in 2020. There is no data available on how many people are living on the streets due to the pandemic halting the single-day Point in Time Count.

However, the state continued to record sheltered individuals and found that 1,185 people were living in emergency shelters, 640 in transitional housing and 28 in a safe haven on Jan. 25.

To date, two-thirds of the Ohana Zones funding has been spent, which is more then $20.8 million….

(2/3 of $20.8M = $14M / 1,000 = $14,000 per person)

read … Should A Pilot Program To Expand Homeless Services In Hawaii Be Extended?

ICA Delves into the Difference Between Possession and Ownership of Firearms

HLN: … At trial, Officer Henry Ivy testified that one summer morning he patrolling in the Kau District on the Big Island. He came across Slavik sleeping in a vehicle on the side of the road. Officer Ivy approached the car on the passenger side. The window was down. Slavik’s hand was on top of the pistol. The police work up Slavik and arrested him. During a pat-down search at the station, police came across a .22 caliber round of ammunition. The prosecution also presented evidence that Slavik did not have a permit to acquire the pistol.

Slavik moved for a judgment of acquittal on the grounds that the prosecution failed to establish ownership of the firearm; especially for the permits-to acquire and registration offenses. The motion was denied. Slavik was found guilty and sentenced to ten years imprisonment. He appealed….

read … ICA Delves into the Difference Between Possession and Ownership of Firearms.

Haiku Stairs worth saving, plan options do exist

SA: … Years ago, a task force of the Kaneohe Neighborhood Board worked out an access to the Stairs that did not pass through any residential area. Starting with parking in Kaneohe’s District Park, it proceeded through state-owned and unused wooded areas to the H-3 Freeway service road and then to the Stairs….

read … Column: Haiku Stairs worth saving, plan options do exist

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