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Sunday, November 1, 2020
November 1, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:39 PM :: 2373 Views

Someone Was Listening to the Howl in the Woods

Auditor Slams "Rush to get COVID Money out the door without proper scrutiny"

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted October 31, 2020

House of Representatives Accepting Applications for 2021 Legislative Session

DLIR: Half of New Unemployment Claims Fraudulent

104,000 Arrive Since Reopening

HNN: … Since its launch just over two weeks ago, nearly 104,000 people have come into the state through its Safe Travels screening program.

About 90,000 received quarantine exemptions, mostly due to pre-travel negative tests and about 10,000 have agreed to go into quarantine.

But how many have had COVID-19 even though they took a pre-travel test? …

More than 9,000 passengers who arrived there were tested. Out of those, five had positive results….

SA Editorial: Refine policies for safe travel

HPR: The Conversation: What Will Become of Hawaii Tourism?

read … State hopes to scale up participation in surveillance testing of incoming travelers

Robbins: HART Will Take Rail Plan to Feds for Approval

SA: … We were pleased when multiple, major national and international developers teamed with local firms that stayed with us for two years and are still at the table. At the same time they were cancelling their participation in other cities, due to COVID and other reasons. This has already been a successful outcome with the P3 procurement, and HART doesn’t want to lose this level of competition….

When the city announced its P3 withdrawal in September, HART didn’t believe it was in the best interests of the project or the taxpayers to follow suit and lose many of the benefits noted above. HART thought it best to take the time to conduct post-proposal meetings. No one knows the costs of the remainder of the project better than the P3 builders. We feel it’s important to meet with them to determine if there is a viable path forward, knowing that cancellation would mean a long, costly delay.

After we complete our analysis, if it makes sense to continue the P3, the city may wish to rejoin. If not, HART will have no choice but to go to re-procurement, and present our plans, P3 or otherwise, to the Federal Transit Administration, hoping to prevent any lapsing of federal funds….

The rail project continues to face challenges, including relocating utilities along Dillingham Boulevard. HART intends to bypass Dillingham for now and instead move utilities between Iwilei and Ala Moana Center. Guideway construction will also follow this approach….

HART also initially pursued the idea to extend the contract with airport area contractor STG to build part of the guideway along Dillingham Boulevard, but abandoned the idea based on building conditions and cost estimates provided by the contractor. If the P3 is brought to a halt, HART is open to revisiting the idea to determine if it’s worth pursuing….

read … Give ‘P3’ a chance to work for Oahu’s rail

Election Day will deliver Blangiardi or Amemiya as mayor — then real decisions on rail

Borreca: … Many of the television commercials you see favoring Blangiardi are actually independently produced by the Carpenters’ PAC. While active with some county council and neighbor island races, the Carpenters, when they go all in, can be a game changer in local politics. The advertising avalanche swamped former Gov. Ben Cayetano when he ran as an anti-rail candidate for mayor in 2012.

Both Blangiardi and Amemiya have tentative supportive positions in favor of rail; neither is against it. The difficulty is that the semi-autonomous board governing the construction of the rail line is unable to decide how it will get the needed extra $1 billion or how it will complete the agreed-upon route, so saying you support rail is a safe position that means little. The big decisions will be made after the winner is declared….

read … Election Day will deliver Blangiardi or Amemiya as mayor — then real decisions on rail

Many reasons to support Pohakuloa Training Area

HTH: … The Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce, Japanese Chamber of Commerce &Industry of Hawaii and the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce fully support the U.S. military’s training mission at Pohakuloa Training Area. Our organizations represent over 1,000 member businesses, nonprofit organizations and professionals on Hawaii Island.

Properly training soldiers for their crucial deployments is a paramount responsibility for the U.S. Army. PTA provides an unparalleled venue to accomplish this goal and prepare our troops for the challenges they will face when sent to counter threats to American citizens and our national interests or to support our allies….

read … Many reasons to support Pohakuloa Training Area

Shapiro: Surgeon General Deserves Thanks, Gets $5,000 Ticket Instead

Shapiro: … You know who deserves thanks? U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who saw us struggling in August and brought 60,000 nose swabs for a COVID testing surge that kick-started the turnaround of our case rate from more than 300 a day then to fewer than 100 today.

What thanks did he get? Caldwell’s police cited him for stopping at a park he didn’t know was closed to take a picture of an Oahu landmark. He’s paying a local attorney to try to avoid a $5,000 fine and criminal record.

I’ve covered Hawaii politics since 1968 and developed a pretty strong stomach for the hauna, but sometimes it still has the capacity to make me feel sick….

read … Kirk Caldwell pursues big political payday from pandemic

Medical Team Working To Reach Those Most At Risk For COVID-19

CB: … Health department nurses, along with medical professionals from local clinics and the Hawaii National Guard, say they are trying to connect with communities that are among the most affected by the pandemic, including low-income and Pacific Islander families. Data shows COVID-19 case rates among Pacific Islander and Filipino communities are disproportionately high when compared to their population size in Hawaii  — Pacific Islanders, for instance, make up 4% of the population but 27% of cases….

So far, the teams have reached at least 1,150 households and tested more than 200 people with symptoms or who live in high-risk situations at public housing and other low-income housing complexes on Oahu….

read … This Medical Team Is Working To Reach Those Most At Risk For COVID-19

“8,000 unemployed individuals that still need their claims looked at”

TGI: … On Sept. 30, Gov. David Ige announced the state’s new unemployment call center was opening, created to answer more claimant calls.

“We have a little over 8,000 unemployed individuals that still need their claims looked at,” said DLIR Director Anne Perreira-Eustaquio. “When they filed a claim, for a reason they may be eligible one week and disqualified another. The 200 callers would check to see why the unemployed individual’s claim was disqualified and to help them understand why.”

Ige said the call center has processed over $3 billion in UI benefits and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance payments to those who qualified….

read … Many still wait for jobless benefits

CrimeStoppers Honolulu used to rely heavily on volunteers. The pandemic changed that

HNN: … Every year, CrimeStoppers Honolulu helps solve hundreds of crimes with the help of tips from the public.

Volunteers had been the driving force behind the anonymous tip line at HPD headquarters, but many of them are retired and elderly, putting them at a higher risk of getting sick amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The 28 volunteers haven’t been allowed in station since March, leaving just four staffers to process numerous tips everyday. ….

Last year, they took in over 3,000 calls. Many of them led to the arrests of wanted suspects. But with fewer volunteers to answer the phones, they’ve only been able to take half as many calls….

read … CrimeStoppers Honolulu used to rely heavily on volunteers. The pandemic changed that

Bars frustrated at paying liquor license when they've been closed much of the year

KITV: … Shawne Garlieep owns Creekside Lounge in Kailua. "The loss of revenue is huge. We have $20,000 a month going out for insurances and everything else, but nothing coming in," she says.

There is no light at the end of Garliepp's tunnel. The owner of Creekside Lounge in Kailua says she has more big bills coming up in a couple months. "My insurance of $20,000 to $30,000 coming due in December. So do I renew all those then find out he's [Mayor Kirk Caldwell] still not going to open us?" she asks herself.

That's why she wonders why she had to renew a liquor license. It's just a couple thousand bucks, but at this point, every dollar counts. She is just one of many bar owners that may be asking themselves that question.

"When you renew you have to pay a million dollar insurance policy for each of your bars. it's a high cost item," explains Bill Comerford, owner of four bars, and the president and founder of the Hawaii Bar Owners Association. …

There are fewer bars or restaurants with liquor licenses today than there were a year ago. The Honolulu Liquor Commission says as of September 29, 2020 there were 1,426 active liquor licenses. Last year, there were 1,496….

read … Bars frustrated at paying liquor license when they've been closed much of the year

State retirement fund abandons plan for Maui golf course redevelopment

SA: … Hawaii’s economic downfall amid the coronavirus pandemic has derailed a $373 million redevelopment plan for two Maui golf courses.

The owner of the Royal Kaanapali and Kaanapali Kai golf courses, an investment fund for Hawaii public-­sector worker entitlements, recently notified another state entity that it is no longer pursuing a conceptual plan to add a hotel, about 150 to 250 condominiums and other amenities around reconfigured golf operations.

The State of Hawaii Employees’ Retirement System last week withdrew an environmental impact statement preparation notice for the project….

The investment fund became the owner of the two golf courses 17 years ago via foreclosure from a company that couldn’t pay back a loan. Since then, ERS has made efforts to improve the value of the odd asset and offset the loan loss.

Amfac Hawaii, at one time a major sugar producer in the islands, was the original developer of Kaanapali Resort and had borrowed $66 million from ERS in 1991 using the two golf courses as collateral. Amfac defaulted on the loan in 2000, and ERS, which was still owed $60 million, foreclosed on the collateral in 2003.

A few years later, between 2005 and 2007, ERS spent $13 million improving the golf courses in an effort to enhance business operations and the value of the property, which it unsuccessfully tried to sell for an acceptable price….

read … State retirement fund abandons plan for Maui golf course redevelopment

Puna Roundabouts Reduce Traffic Accidents 95%

HTH: …Since the roundabout at the Pahoa bypass intersection opened in 2016, the number of accidents — at what was once the highest crash-rated intersection in Hawaii — has declined by 95%, she said at that time….

read … Puna roundabouts could face delays due to pandemic

Punatics File Suits to Stop Clean Geothermal Electricity

HTH: … A trio of lawsuits have been filed in Hilo Circuit Court, requesting an environmental review be completed before Puna Geothermal Venture, which was partially destroyed by lava two years ago, is allowed to produce electricity.

Two were filed Oct. 21 by Hilo attorney Gary Zamber. The first was on behalf of the nonprofit environmental group Puna Pono Alliance, plus Luana Jones, Shana Ritsema and Jon Olson, nearby residents of the geothermal power plant….

The second lawsuit, filed on behalf of longtime environmentalist Martha “Cory” Harden and residents Annamarie Kon and Gene Lang Thomas, names the DOH and PGV as defendants and seeks a declaratory judgment finding DOH and PGV “in violation of laws regulating environmental matters and issue related temporary and preliminary injunctive relief.”…

The third lawsuit, filed Oct. 23 without an attorney by Sara Steiner, who lives on Pohoiki Road, names the same appellees. Steiner said in her complaint she didn’t sign on to the other lawsuit because she has “different issues that need to be addressed.”…

Kaleikini told the Tribune-Herald in an email he hopes the power plant will be able to go online sometime next week. He did not comment on the lawsuits….

The Puna Pono Alliance suit has a hearing set for 8 a.m. March 18 before Hilo Circuit Judge Peter Kubota. No hearings have yet been set on the other filings….

read … Three lawsuits filed against PGV

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