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Saturday, March 26, 2022
March 26, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:59 PM :: 3656 Views

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Two Amemiyas Under Investigation? Now its falsified campaign donations

SA: … A state investigation alleges that developer JL Capital’s CEO engaged in false- name contributions in two 2020 Honolulu mayoral campaigns.

In October 2020, a whistle­blower reported, through attorney Andrew Stewart, to the state Campaign Spending Commission that he and other employees of Honolulu- based investment firm JL Capital and its affiliate JL Ala Moana LLC were directed by the company’s CEO, Timothy Lee, to make donations by check to the mayoral campaigns of Kym Pine and Keith Amemiya.

Lee then allegedly reimbursed the employees in cash and checks totaling $12,000 drawn from a personal checking account….

The investigation, conducted by commission staff, alleges eight counts of false-name contributions. A complaint, signed March 9 by the commission’s executive director, Kristin Izumi-Nitao, recommends turning the case over to the state Office of the Attorney General. The charge of a false-name contribution is a Class C felony.

On Wednesday the commission postponed a hearing on the matter until April 20 after Lee’s lawyer, David Minkin, requested a continuance due to a scheduling conflict.

Gary Kam, general counsel for the commission, said the investigation did not focus on donation recipients or check-writing employees….

In a statement to the Hono­lulu Star-Advertiser, Amemiya, who is now a candidate in this year’s race for lieutenant governor, “We were unaware that anyone was being reimbursed for their donation by Mr. Lee and the CSC has confirmed that we’re not the subject of any investigation regarding this or any other matter.”

(Translation: ‘Thanks to Gary Kam for pretending I’m not part of this.  Its bad enough having one Amemiya under investigation.  This is why Hawaii needs people like Gary Kam.’)

Pine’s campaign received $8,000 from four JL Capital employees in amounts ranging from $1,000 to $4,000. Amemiya’s campaign got $4,000 from the same four, who each wrote checks for $1,000….

read … State investigation alleges CEO falsified campaign donations to two Honolulu mayoral campaigns

COVID Plan: Test Sewage, not Tourists

SA: … Hawaii’s pandemic-era travel policy, Safe Travels, sunsets today as Hawaii joins other states that are relying instead on their knowledge of the virus and other tools to lower COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations.

Some 22,000 travelers were expected to enter Hawaii through Safe Travels on Friday as Hawaii became the last state to end emergency rules for domestic travel, said Sheri Kajiwara, Hawaii Safe Travels administrator.

Hawaii’s travel policy change comes as Airlines for America and leading U.S. airline CEOs have requested the lifting of pandemic travel policies, including the federal transportation mask mandate and pre-departure testing. Hawaii’s international visitors still have to meet federal requirements before entering the U.S.

Altogether, more than 12 million travelers, including about 10 million visitors, entered Hawaii through the program in the past 17 months, with 97% avoiding quarantine, Kajiwara said.

The entry process was a comfort to some and a frustratingly expensive process that impeded recovery of Hawaii tourism and business to others. The state spent tens of millions of mostly federal dollars to stand up the program, which in its latter stages cost roughly $2 million to $3 million a month….

In the meantime, Ige said, Hawaii will continue to monitor COVID-19 variants, cases counts and hospitalizations worldwide and will rely more heavily on new forms of technology like sewage testing, which started in the past few weeks and can be used to quickly pinpoint where COVID-19 counts are rising in Hawaii.

Ige said identifying the virus in sewage “gives us a four- to 10-day head start on recognizing the presence of the virus and the variant in our community.”

If the state finds signs of the virus in a community, Ige said, it can distribute at-home testing kits and urge people to wear masks.

What isn’t likely to happen is another lockdown, he said.

“The whole notion of a lockdown would probably not happen again,” Ige said. “We are just in a very different environment today than we were two years ago when the pandemic was just starting.”…

In this next phase of the pandemic, lawmakers also are trying to figure out how to reuse some of Safe Travels’ infrastructure and technology investments, including the roughly $27 million that was spent on 114 thermal cameras and 98 facial imaging cameras that allowed screeners to track those with high temperatures….

read … Hawaii Safe Travels screenings end after a 17-month run

Lawmakers look to exert more control over Hawaii Tourism Authority

SA: … The Senate Committee on Energy, Economic Development and Tourism and the Senate Committee on Government Operations amended House Bill 1785 on Wednesday to restore HTA’s $60 million budget. But lawmakers want to reorganize the agency, and in addition they want to designate how much of the money should be directed toward administration costs and the agency’s four pillars: natural resources, Hawaiian culture, community and brand marketing.

HB 1785 aims to come up with a new model for tourism governance by 2025. But state Sen. Glenn Wakai (D, Kalihi-Salt Lake-Aliamanu), who chairs the Senate Committee on Energy, Economic Development and Tourism, said, “We really see the necessity for us to take a bit of action in reorganizing the Hawaii Tourism Authority now.”…

Sen. Sharon Moriwaki (D, Kakaako-McCully-Waikiki), who chairs the Senate Committee on Government Operations, said the bill amendments specify that HTA may spend up to $12.9 million on Hawaiian culture, $7.6 million on natural resources, $16.4 million on community relations, $18.2 million on branding and $3.9 million on administration costs.

Moriwaki said the intent among lawmakers is to lock HTA into their own budget appropriations.

“In the past it was all one big budget, so they used it as they saw fit,” she said. “They are using government money. There has to be some degree of accountability.”…

SA Editorial: Funding Hawaii Tourism Authority

read … Lawmakers look to exert more control over Hawaii Tourism Authority

In wake of 6-year-old’s horrific death, lawmakers seek to dramatically expand CWS

HNN: … House lawmakers have appropriated funding for dozens of new positions at Child Welfare Services as part of a budget bill that’s making its way through the state Legislature.

The House budget includes $2.9 million for 48 additional positions at Child Welfare Services….

The new positions would dramatically expand the department, which currently has 212 ‘positions’.

read … In wake of 6-year-old’s horrific death, lawmakers seek to dramatically expand CWS

Brother of woman murdered outside Kapolei police station hopes her death sparks change

HNN: … Burke wants a law passed that would require law enforcement to notify a family member if someone with a history of mental illness is arrested or if a prisoner is exhibiting signs of mental illness.

“I don’t want Linda’s life to be remembered as a tragedy but more of a spark for change,” Burke said, adding he is talking to lawmakers about a proposal that he would like to be called “Linda’s Law.”

Armstrong has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge. He also has been diagnosed with mental illness and has a criminal history, and there are questions about why he was released.

RELATED: HGEA Lunacy: Year after its completion, Union plans to keep state’s $160M psychiatric facility empty for two more years

read … Brother of woman murdered outside Kapolei police station hopes her death sparks change

More than 1,000 theft reports on Oahu this month

KHON: … shows data of common crimes that take place throughout the island of Oahu detailing the location of the crime and the time it took place.

From March 18 through March 24 there was a reported 354 incidents of theft or larceny. From Feb. 25 through March 24 there had been more than 1000 incidents reported. …

read … More than 1,000 theft reports on Oahu this month

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