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Friday, June 7, 2024
June 7, 2024 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:51 PM :: 1072 Views

Blue Hawaii takes the plunge on tax cuts

DBEDT Projects 'Sluggish' Economic Growth in Aftermath of Lahaina Fire

Hospitalizations, ER visits quickly rising in Hawaii due to COVID

CB: … On Wednesday the state Department of Health reported that a weekly average of 96 patients with COVID-19 were in hospitals per day compared with 55 reported the previous week. It is the highest number of hospitalizations the state has reported so far this year.

Additionally, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the percentage of COVID-19 patients visiting emergency departments in Hawaii has been rising since April — with a steep increase in May that’s closing in on the peak about a year ago….

On Wednesday, DOH reported an average positivity rate of 14.7%, up from 10.5% the previous week. On May 1 average positivity was at 4.3%....

All of these metrics indicate COVID-19 is circulating in Hawaii’s communities, according to Tim Brown, an infectious disease specialist at the East-West Center in Manoa.

He noted that the average positivity for Honolulu County increased Wednesday to 17.0% from 12.8% the previous week, a 32% jump. He also said concentration levels of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in state wastewater sites are now above the peak reached in January’s spike.

“One thing that is increasingly clear is that the KP.2 and KP.3 variants driving this surge are very immune evasive,” wrote Brown in a weekly summary. “Southern Australia, Singapore and New Zealand, where KP.1, KP.2 and KP.3 are an increasing proportion of sequenced cases, are seeing similar rapid rises in morbidity and hospitalizations.” …

read … Hospitalizations, ER visits quickly rising in Hawaii due to COVID

Scam: After 64% pay Hike, Council Wants you to vote to give them an automatic 5% per year forever

SA: … As approved, the following question would be placed on the 2024 general election ballot:

“Shall the Revised City Charter provisions relating to the salaries for Council members be amended to cap any annual increase at no more than five percent, require that any changes be tied to the average annual salary changes of city employees in the city’s collective bargaining units, and remove the Council’s authority to vote on its own raises?”

(TRANSLATION: We will never be forced to cast a vote on our own pay hikes.  If we keep giving money to HGEA/UPW/SHOPO/etc we will be rewarded with 5% every year.)

FLASHBACK: “Pay raises, which would boost their salaries to $113,304, up from $68,904, and the Council chair’s pay to $123,288 from $76,968.”

read … Honolulu salaries amendment set for 2024 ballot

Waianae Democrats Name Three for Senate Vacancy

CB: … Democrats in Maili on Wednesday settled on Cedric Gates, Stacelynn Eli and Cross Crabbe as their recommendations for Gov. Josh Green to choose from when he picks a new state senator for District 22. Until last month, the seat representing Ko Olina, Nanakuli, Maili, Waianae, Makaha and Makua was held by Maile Shimabukuro, who stepped down. She has endorsed Gates….

Both Eli, a former state representative, and Gates, the current state rep from the area, have filed to run for the vacant Senate seat. And whoever is named by Green to hold down the fort will likely have a big advantage in the Aug. 10 primary. Incumbents almost always win — even ones that are appointed….

Crabbe, meantime, is running to replace Gates in House District 45 (Waianae, Makaha), a contest that includes three other Democrats and two Republicans. How weird would it be if he first gets named senator and then wins the House seat?...

June 2, 2024: Machine politics at work on Waianae Senate seat?

read … The Sunshine Blog

Village designed to house hundreds of Maui fire survivors hits roadblock accessing water

HNN: … the day after the fires, Family Life Center started planning Ohana Hope Village.

“Started out with 800 applications, which was comprised of about 2,000 individuals. We’ve been going through those applications, and we’ve gotten it down to, where we’re still at about 300. So, there’s still plenty of people who are in need of housing like this,” said Dr. Ashley Kelly, Chief Operating Officer of Family Life Center.

When it is ready, it will be able to house a total of 350 people.

However, dozens of homes are currently sitting vacant in a lot in Kahului.

Family Life Center, which is focused on ending homelessness, says all they need is access to water.

“Had conversations with A&B. They actually have water on site, and they agreed to provide us access to that water if we met a series of requirements, which basically was solidifying that we had a permanent solution,” Dr. Kelly said.

That permanent solution is tapping into the county water supply.

County officials say they are in full support of the project and have agreed to provide access to water once they can hook up to the county water source across the street.

“We’re going to be hooking up to permanent county water across the street on Hookele. We’re waiting for a quote on the underground horizontal directional drilling where we have to go underneath,” said Maude Cumming, Chief Executive Officer of Family Life Center.

“The directional drill is going under Hookele to a county water meter that is in front of Zippy’s,” said Dr. Kelly.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Alexander and Baldwin said they have not heard from Family Life Center since they offered to assist with a temporary solution mid-March….

There are currently 14 people living at the village who rely on a water tank. They use solar for their electricity, and it was done entirely by donations….

read … Village designed to house hundreds of Maui fire survivors hits roadblock accessing water

Plan Eliminating Maui Vacation Rentals Was Years In Making

BH: …  Recent developments have revealed an August 2021 proposed legislation at the Maui County Council that aimed to drastically reduce the number of short-term vacation rentals. That proposal, was entitled “A bill for an ordinance amending Chapter 19.12, Maui County Code, phasing out transient accommodations in the apartment districts.”…

Back in 2022, local economist Paul Brewbaker created a whitepaper (attached) that was commissioned by the Realtors Association of Maui.

The whitepaper was intended to analyze the economic impact of potentially eliminating up to half of all vacation rental units from short-term use and dedicating them to long-term rental use.

Largely under-discussed at the time, the plan suggested a significant reduction in Maui’s tourism capacity and a corresponding decrease in economic output and jobs impacting accommodation, retail, real estate and rentals, food services, transportation, and business services….

read … Plan Eliminating Maui Vacation Rentals Was Years In Making

FEMA Wants Maui Homeowner To Repay $58,000 After Booting Her From Lease Program For Fire Survivors

CB: … Kihei property owner Bettina Robinson recently received an unexpected notice. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is removing her three-bedroom home from its program to house Maui fire survivors — and making her repay the $58,450 in rental income she’s received for it since January.

“I’m in shock,” Robinson said Monday. “I did nothing wrong.”

Several other property owners in FEMA’s direct-lease program said they were similarly blindsided last month by cancellation notices. But they weren’t asked to repay any of the money. Rather, they received one additional month of rent, per their contracts.

Lima Charlie, one of three companies FEMA hired to run its direct-lease program, notified Robinson of the cancelation and repayment requirement in a letter sent by email May 15.

“It has been brought to our attention, as well as FEMA’s, that the property owner has begun construction on this unit and has obstructed all entrances,” the letter says. “Consequently, this unit is no longer available for licensing and is deemed unsafe and non-functional for the Direct Lease Program. Therefore, it will be withdrawn at no cost to the government.”

Robinson said that is not true, and on Monday provided Civil Beat with a tour of the home. She said the only recent construction on her home, due to heavy rain, was replacing screens with windows in a storage room, which is attached to the back of the home but not part of the rental unit. The rental has two separate entrances, and she said neither was blocked.

She’s not the only person frustrated with the experience. In February, Lahaina fire survivors Zach Ruidas and his twin brother were matched with Robinson’s brown home on a cul-de-sac.

Twice they drove 50 minutes from Lahaina so FEMA workers could move them into it. The first time the brothers said they waited in their car on the street for more than an hour for the FEMA workers to show up before rescheduling. The second time they made the trip they received bad news.

“When we went, it looked nice,” Zach Ruidas said Monday. “We talked to (Robinson) and she said she had a Jacuzzi. … We were excited. I was ready to move in.”

But the FEMA workers told the brothers, both 21, that the property had been cut from the program due to a legal issue.

“I have no clue what they were talking about,” Ruidas said….

read … FEMA Wants Maui Homeowner To Repay $58,000 After Booting Her From Lease Program For Fire Survivors

Hawaiian Electric disables some safety features to prevent outages

KHON: … Preventing power outages by turning off enhanced safety features is what Hawaiian Electric is doing in several neighborhoods on Oahu to stop underground power lines from faulting and shutting off electricity.

Hawaiian Electric said recent safety upgrades to reduce the risk of wildfires have left some underground lines in Waipio and Waipahu a bit touchy.

Pai said the decades-old lines were affected after recent heavy rains.

“Water can seep in,” Pai said. “That results in these faults that caused the outages.”

Residents reported up to eight outages to us within the last month in Waipio ….

“Because the area is largely underground, the risk of ignition from an overhead source is somewhat mitigated,” Pai said. “So, we’re going to disable these wildfire safety settings in the interim to reduce the frequency of these outages.”…

read … Hawaiian Electric disables some safety features to prevent outages

State says vacancies to blame for delay in food stamp, EBT benefits

HNN: … State food stamp and EBT benefits are delayed due to a surge in applications and staff vacancies.

The Department of Human Services says nearly a quarter of positions for workers who process applications are vacant.

DHS asks for continued patience and says to speed things up; many employees are working on weekends. (Getting their ‘top three’ O.T. for a fat juicy pension.)

read … State says vacancies to blame for delay in food stamp, EBT benefits

Kamaka Air Shut Down by FAA – cargo link for Molokai, Lanai

HNN:  … The voluntary shut-down of Kamaka Air Cargo continued Thursday, causing growing concern for neighbor island businesses and residents.

The carrier’s new CEO says the company hopes to resume service soon.

On May 15, Kamaka announced it was under new management by former executives of Southwest Airlines. An equity firm called Trinity Capital had bought an 80% position in the company last year….

“Just out of the blue, no word as to the shutdown coming, or even at least to reach out to myself or to the Department of Transportation airports and say, ‘Hey, we need some help’,” DeCoite said.

Exactly what happened is unclear. This week, the company began recruiting for a flight operations specialist, a chief pilot, and a director of flight operations — positions essential to FAA certification.

DeCoite has also heard from people within the company.

“Employees have been telling me that they don’t know what’s going on,” she said. “They’re worried.”

DeCoite said she hopes the new management maintains the company’s commitment to community service. So do its customers.

“Kamaka is a very important business partner for Molokai Drugs and other businesses and organizations on island. It’s not just the medicine,” Svetlin said.

Tokuda said she believes trouble in the aviation based interisland transportation system could increase calls for a government subsidized ferry system….

May 15, 2024: Kamaka Air Under New Leadership with Former Southwest Airlines Directors at the Helm

KHON: Kamaka Air resumes operations following temporary service suspension | KHON2

read … Kamaka Air Cargo abruptly shuts down as it seeks essential managers

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