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Authorities who investigated Kealoha corruption scandal now turn their attention to city
HNN: … The public corruption scandal that started with the Kealohas is far from over and now federal authorities have turned their attention to city officials.
High-ranking city officials are among the witnesses being called to testify before a federal grand jury.
It’s all linked to the same, years-long investigation headed up by assistant US Attorney Michael Wheat….
Now the focus appears to be city leaders who facilitated the $250,000 payoff for Louis Kealoha to retire in 2017, during his second term as Honolulu’s police chief….
The focus of the investigation appears to be Donna Leong, who was the city’s top civil attorney. The head of corporation counsel retired in January 2019, after she received her own target letter from the DOJ.
Roy Amemiya, the city’s managing director and the second in command under Mayor Kirk Caldwell, received a subject letter, but remains on regular duty….
Manny Valbuena, director of Budget and Fiscal Services, was also called twice to provide information to the grand jury along with his chief accountant, Nancy Abilay.
And most notable, former City Council Chairman Ikaika Anderson has also gone before the grand jury….
Max Sword also went to the federal courthouse for grand jury proceedings, multiple times….
“The police commission took the position that the City Council had no right to be involved to approve the expense and the money because it came out ... of the police fund which had already been approved,” Silvert said, explaining why federal authorities may be involved.
“If that’s not true and it did not come out of that police fund and would have required City Council approval, then there’s something wrong.”
Silvert said there are a number of federal crimes that the special prosecutors could be looking at, including honest services fraud.
The federal team of special prosecutors appears to be juggling multiple investigations with the grand jury, including the problem into outgoing city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro….
read … Authorities who investigated Kealoha corruption scandal now turn their attention to city
HSTA-DoE Budget Plan: Hold SPED Kids Hostage to get More Money
HNN: … Hawaii’s public schools are bracing for a 9% cut to special education funds, and parents and teachers alike say that will have a direct impact on students….
(Of course they are saying this. How else would they get more money?)
What This is About: Washington Monument Gambit
More: The Seven Rules of Bureaucracy
read … Amid ongoing fiscal crisis, proposed cuts to special education worry parents and educators
Hawaii makes test order of 4,875 Pfizer vaccines
SA: … The initial order of 4,875 vaccines is expected to arrive this month, pending approval of the vaccine by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said Health Department spokesman Brooks Baehr.
“Of course, it’s just the first of what will be other orders that we expect to happen in the month of December. Once the green light is given, we can place additional orders we expect would arrive within 48-72 hours,” he said. “This is our test run. This will help us prepare for future deliveries. We just want to make sure that this stuff arrives intact, and when it gets here, we know exactly how to handle it. We want to make sure that none of this precious cargo is wasted once we kick into high gear.” ….
The state hopes to get as much as 60% to 70% of the population vaccinated in order to reach so-called herd immunity. The DOH expects most residents will be able to get a second shot of the vaccine in the latter half of next year….
COVID vaccine may arrive in Hawaii within weeks
Maui County is expected to get 16,000 doses of COVID vaccine
read … Hawaii makes test order of 4,875 Pfizer vaccines
All Four Mayors want pre and post-travel tests
TGI: … All four county mayors have agreed on a new, unified, Safe Travels modification, and are awaiting word from Gov. David Ige.
The joint proposal would require incoming trans-Pacific travelers to take a pre-travel test as well as a post-arrival test three to four days after arrival, Mayor Derek Kawakami said Friday….
“The joint proposal by the mayors is specific to trans-Pacific travelers, so the assumption is that inter-island travel would remain on the current Safe Travels program,” a county spokesperson said Friday….
Kawakami said the temporary opt-out of the Safe Travels program was to get ahead of a spike in cases in the county. Since Wednesday, the county has been enforcing a 14-day, mandatory quarantine of all travelers, regardless of pre-travel or post-travel tests, residency or where they are traveling from….
A statement from Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort &Spa clarified Friday that it will be temporarily suspending operations beginning Monday through at least the end of the year due to these quarantine rules.
read … Mayors want pre-, post-travel tests
Senate COVID Ctte: Reinstate Quarantine -- Shut Down Tourism Again
KHON: … In the letter to Gov. Ige, they said they accepted the one-test program after being assured by officials it would not result in rapid increases in infections. The letter stated, ‘However, from what we’ve seen in Kauai County, this has not been the case.’
The committee said a second test three to four days after arrival — paired with a minimum 7-day quarantine — is the most effective means of identifying the COVID-19 virus in travelers and preventing spread based on research provided to them. …
Lt. Gov. Dr. Josh Green said it has been an overall consensus that there are not enough tests for everyone coming into the state and requiring a one-week quarantine would be another blow to Hawaii’s economy.
“That would effectively shut down travel to the state of Hawaii,” he said. “The Safe Travels Program has worked; we’re seeing fewer cases now than we did when we started on October 15. Our hospital numbers are cut in half and we’ve restored 29,000 jobs. So, I don’t really see any reason to reverse that success.”
The committee asked Governor Ige to respond to their request by December 7, 2020….
(CLUE: Sen Pres Kouchi is from Kauai.)
HNN: Lawmakers push for two tests for travelers, reduced quarantine time
read … COVID-19 Senate Committee urges Ige to adjust Safe Travels Program
New proposal seeks to change penalties for those who break emergency orders
KHON: … Honolulu City Council Member Ron Menor said, the citations don’t seem to be working.
“The prosecutors and courts may be reluctant to impose criminal penalties that seem disproportionately severe in relation to the violation,” said Ron Menor, Honolulu City Council member.
Menor is asking Governor Ige and state legislators to hold a special session to change the penalties and consider imposing a fine instead.
“If the legislature were to allow for civil fines to be imposed, that would be similar to traffic citations that are issued, in which, the individual can either pay the fine or if they want to contest it they can go to court, but that the civil process is so much more expeditious and not as time consuming as the criminal process,” said Menor.
He said the new penalties and fines would be up to the state legislature, but a change needs to be made as soon as possible.
“Effective enforcement is going to be especially important because of the anticipated surge in the number of COVID-19 cases, due to the upcoming holiday gatherings and the increasing reports of violations of the emergency orders,” said Menor.
To read the full proposal, you can visit the Honolulu City Council’s website….
read … New proposal seeks to change penalties for those who break emergency orders
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