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Thursday, March 12, 2020
March 12, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:31 PM :: 2003 Views

Why astronomy on Mauna Kea is not a desecration but a duty

6 Years Later: Navy Brings Red Hill Tank 5 Back into Service

COVID-19: Legislators Cut off Public Access

State Senate Committee to Hold Public Hearing on Anti-Gun Bills

UH Legislative Session Update

Finalists for two UH Board of Regents positions announced

CoronaVirus: UH Switches to 100% Online Classes

Coronavirus Forecast To Take $300 Million Bite Out Of Hawaii Tax Revenues

CB:  … Fears over the coronavirus could mean a $300 million hit to state tax collections.

The state Council on Revenues on Wednesday projected that the state should expect no revenue growth in state taxes in fiscal year 2021, which begins July 1. They lowered the projection for the last three months of this fiscal year by 0.3%, or about $22 million.

The projection could affect proposals in the Legislature like a package that includes over $70 million worth of tax benefits for the working poor as well as a proposal to spend $200 million developing affordable housing in West Oahu. 

At its January meeting, the council raised its projection for tax collections in fiscal year 2021 by 1% over a previous projection. That meant lawmakers had an extra $74 million to spend out of the state’s general fund, which is on track to collect over $7.4 billion in taxes….

But that was before the COVID-19 scare….

The council included a 1% decline in revenue in 2022 and 2023 to factor in a possible recession. Tax collections were expected to return to normal in 2024.

The Legislature uses those projections when building the state budget, which is set every odd-numbered year.

This year, Gov. David Ige asked the Legislature for an additional $429 million for fiscal year 2021, which begins July 1. His supplemental budget also included $1.4 billion worth of building and repair projects across the state.

Lawmakers also have their own budget priorities, which include millions for housing, healthcare, schools and homelessness….

LINK: House Select Committee on COVID-19 Economic and Financial Preparedness

read … Coronavirus Forecast To Take $300 Million Bite Out Of Hawaii Tax Revenues

Feds Want Judge To Throw The Book At Kealohas—While City Showers Them in Money

CB: … Federal prosecutors are seeking tough sentences for former Honolulu police chief Louis Kealoha and his former city prosecutor wife, Katherine Kealoha, when their punishment is finally handed down next week.

Attorneys in the case have been filing numerous sentencing statements and recommendations this week as the sentencing date approaches. It’s scheduled for Tuesday before U.S. District Court Judge J. Michael Seabright….

Federal prosecutors filed a declaration from Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard that describes excessive surveillance of the family member — Katherine’s uncle, Gerard Puana — and the problems that created for public safety and the Honolulu Police Department’s operations….

In particular, Ballard cited the recollections of HPD Sgt. Danny Sellers who testified during the Kealohas’ criminal trial that 20 to 30 officers — many of them from a specialized investigative unit assigned to take on organized crime and terrorism cases — conducted five days of 24-hour surveillance on Puana after the Kealohas reported he stole their mailbox….

Ballard said the surveillance was especially problematic because Sellers testified that about 15 of the officers came from the District 6 Waikiki patrol district, an area that is already tough to police and important to the state’s economic well-being.

“The commitment of (Crime Reduction Unit) officers from a single district at one time significantly hinders the unit’s ability to carry out its routine duties as well as conduct criminal investigations affecting the district,” she wrote. “This particular situation is aggravated by the fact that District 6 is vital to the economic health of the entire state, which is why two CRU units are allocated there.”

“Cases grow cold and crime goes unanswered without active investigation especially when they involve a transient population like tourists,” she said….

Ballard’s statement comes at the same time city officials struggle to recover $250,000 from Kealoha that he received as part of a severance package approved by the Honolulu Police Commission in January 2017 after he was named a criminal target in the Justice Department’s corruption investigation.

That deal — which included provisions that allowed Kealoha to retire from HPD in good standing with his full complement of benefits and a pension worth an estimated $150,000 a year — said that if he was convicted of a felony within six years he would need to return the $250,000 to the city. Kealoha, however, has refused to relinquish the money….

(Idea: Fine Kealoha $250K plus an additional $150K per year for life.  Order the city to garnish his pension to collect.  Use the money to reimburse the orphans and Puana.)

read … Honolulu Police Corruption: Feds Want Judge To Throw The Book At Kealohas

Kawananakoa: I’m Not Dead Yet but my Money has Already been Stolen by the Usual Insiders

SA: … Although the foundation was formed by Kawananakoa in 2001 to administer about half of her $215 million estate as a charity supporting Native Hawaiian causes after her death, the current directors — Oswald Stender, Lilikala Kame‘eleihiwa and Jan Dill — were appointed by successor trustee James Wright in 2018 after Kawananakoa’s stroke. The directors are represented by the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp.

Under questioning from her own attorney, Bruce Voss, Kawananakoa indicated that she didn’t want the trio to be the trustees of her foundation.

“They are my arch-­enemies,” she said, “for personal reasons.”…

Meanwhile: Kawananakoa Estate: Sex, Drugs, and Inequality

read … Trust run by her ‘arch-enemies,’ heiress Abigail Kawananakoa says

Corona—Just the Excuse Caldwell Needs to Tap Rainy Day Fund for Rail, Blaisdell Projects

HPR: … The $9 billion rail project depends on revenue from both the general excise and transient accommodations tax and rail construction is continuing, Manahan said.

"If there's a slowdown in tourism or in the global market, certainly that has an impact on the city," he said.

The administration may also get questions from the council on plans to earmark $43.9 million in capital funding for a phased development of the Neal S. Blaisdell Center. 

The mayor had earlier suspended renovations to the aging facility, citing rail costs and the upcoming city elections. But he said in rolling out his budget plan that his administration never intended to step away from the project. Rather, officials recognized it could not be done all at once.

The full council will also be holding a special meeting Friday to discuss Bill 35. Manahan says the measure would add emergencies like the coronavirus as reasons to tap into the city's rainy day fund.

The council will typically hold department budget briefings through March. Public hearings on the budget plans, any revenue measures or proposed changes in the real property tax rates are then held in April.

By June 15, the council will need to approve the operating and CIP budgets. The mayor has 10 days after that to approve the budget proposals….

read … Grab for Money

Coronavirus: Military ‘Buying Time’ Until Countermeasures Ready

NDM: … Experts believe the crisis could get worse and continue for an extended period of time.

“We're very early in this process,” Rear Adm. Louis Tripoli said at the Pacific Operational Science and Technology (POST) Conference in Honolulu, Hawaii. “If this were World War II, the phase that we're in right now would be somewhere around 1942 or 1943. We don't know what's going to happen in ‘44 or ‘45, but we have a pretty good idea as to how we want it to go.” …

The Defense Department had already been planning for potential pandemics and bio threats long before the coronavirus outbreak, and has worked with a number of partner nations to build readiness to detect and respond to such threats, Tripoli noted. It has also developed concepts of operations for combating pandemics and emerging infectious diseases and has a specific plan for dealing with the coronavirus.

“This health plan has turned out to be a good set of directions as to what to do and how to do it,” he said. “No plan survives first contact, but this plan is actually doing pretty well.”

The operating concept includes several phases: prepare; protect; mitigate; respond; stabilize; and transition and recovery.

“We're in phase two, which is the ‘mitigate’ phase,” Tripoli said of efforts to combat the coronavirus. “You don't really get to the ‘respond’ phase until you have some effective countermeasures.”

Experts at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command are trying to develop preventative measures and treatments against the disease. Civilian agencies are also working on solutions.

Protecting servicemembers and their families is a top priority, Tripoli noted. Restriction of movement, self-monitoring, teleworking, quarantine or isolation of individuals infected or believed to be infected are actions that are being taken to slow the spread of the virus.

“There's a lot of research going on right now with regards to effective countermeasures for this particular outbreak,” he said. “What we're doing right now is we're containing it as best we can.

“The containment strategy recognizes that what you're doing is you're buying time,” he added. “By locking things down … you interfere with the natural progression of the virus, so that instead of having this steep curve of infection, you flatten that curve out. That allows you time to develop countermeasures” and deploy resources.

There are tens of thousands of U.S. troops stationed in South Korea, but thus far only one is known to have been infected, he noted ….

read … Coronavirus: Military ‘Buying Time’ Until Countermeasures Ready

DOT officials say federal directive would be needed to ban cruise ships

WHT: The state has no jurisdiction to determine whether or not to close ports in Hawaii amid the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, state transportation officials said Wednesday.

Department of Transportation Director Jade Butay said during Gov. David Ige’s Capitol Connection Facebook Live stream that the closure of ports is the responsibility of the federal government….

However, the Coast Guard does have authority to block individual ships from entering port.

“If there’s a concern from any of the passengers, crew members — say they get sick or there’s a medical emergency that requires further testing — that ship can be stopped and moored off the coast until further determination can be made,” Sakahara said.

Vessels also are required to contact authorities ahead of time if a passenger or crew member gets sick while in transit to the islands, he said.

According to Sakahara, American-based cruise lines are going even further by testing and screening passengers before boarding.

“They’re checking travel history,” he said. “If you’ve been to one of the higher risk countries — to China, to Japan, to South Korea, to Italy, to Iran — in the past 14 days or more, you won’t be allowed to board. If you’re symptomatic or if you have a fever you, also won’t be able to board, and anyone in your stateroom … would not be able to come on to that cruise ship, either.”…

CB: Coronavirus Q&A: Are We Banning Cruise Ships?

read … DOT officials say federal directive would be needed to ban cruise ships

Hawaii DOE Cancels All School Travel Outside State

CB: … All school-sponsored travel to the mainland U.S. and abroad will be canceled for the rest of the school year effective Thursday due to coronavirus, the Hawaii Department of Education informed parents in a March 11 letter posted to the agency’s website. 

The directive does not impact inter-island travel, according to a March 11 memo from Superintendent Christina Kishimoto. Additionally, all school trips scheduled to depart Hawaii today are not subject to cancellation….

read … Hawaii DOE Cancels All School Travel Outside State

Happy News: No More Windfarms on Oahu?

SA: … the City Council Zoning Committee last week gave tentative approval to a proposal to prohibit energy-producing windmills from being installed within 5 miles — that’s 26,400 feet — of neighboring properties.

Councilwoman Heidi Tsuneyoshi introduced Resolution 19-305 in November — amid Kahuku community outcry during which protesters blocked transport of turbine parts to the project’s site and police made more than 200 arrests to clear the road, allowing AES Corp. to begin construction.

While Tsuneyoshi’s proposal would not affect the AES project, which is slated to be operational this summer, she said it aims to “provide a little relief” to communities situated near future wind projects. That’s a vast understatement, since such a large setback would essentially scrap the possibility of any more wind projects on land within the city’s jurisdiction….

Resolution 19-305: Text, Status 

read … Find middle way on wind turbines

How One Homeless Mental Case Cycles Through System Again and Again

TGI: … Human excreta and the lack of adequate personal and domestic hygiene have been implicated in the transmission of many infectious diseases, including cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, polio, cryptosporidiosis, ascariasis and schistosomiasis, and yet “the Angel at the bus stop,” or as some refer to her, “the lady in purple,” had been living fronting the Kapa‘a Neighborhood Center the last three-plus years. She cannot walk. Therefore she relieves herself of bodily fluids and wastes within five feet of the bus stop. How she gets rid of her urine and fecal waste is the problem. It accumulates and begins to reek.

Eventually, the county will get the biochemical water truck down there to disinfect every time she is taking away in an ambulance or arrested. She was again taken away by paramedics again last week.

She is always released from the mental wards and jails and returns to the same spot, like her own personal “Groundhog Day.”

Why are these shrinks releasing her? How is someone who defecates, urinates and showers in front of the public and oncoming traffic sane? How is someone who lives at bus top 24-7 sane when she’s been offered free housing by many in the community, including a pastor I personally know?

All these medical professionals who say she is fine need to get their heads examined and should have their medical licenses revoked.

El Aina Danine, the lady in purple, is a health threat to the community. Along with myself, two terms of mayors and County Council have driven by her the last three years on a daily basis, along with two different chiefs of police. When she is arrested our judges release her without prejudice and she is back creating a health risk within inches of a county bus stop.

Folks, not only is this a health crisis. What happens should she die on county or state property?

Her family could easily sue for wrongful death. All they would need to do is find a good defense attorney like Micheal Green, the best defense attorney in the state and, presto, easy payday….

KHON: Lawmaker urges city to take action in helping the homeless amid COVID-19 outbreak

read … There are other serious health issues here

Hawaii agents arrest alleged cartel member in nationwide drug bust

SA: … A man in Hawaii was arrested and charged in an interagency operation targeting the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, also known as the JNGC.

JNGC is “one of the most dangerous transnational cartels in the world,” said U.S. Attorney Kenji Price.

Price was speaking at a news conference Wednesday in Honolulu with Acting Special Agent in Charge Louis A. D’Ambrosio for the Drug Enforcement Agency about the DEA operation “Project Python.” ….more than 600 arrests and 350 indictments across the country, including the arrest of Edmund Ferreira III on Monday in Hawaii….Law enforcement agents intercepted and searched the parcel, which contained approximately 15 pounds of methamphetamine. Another such parcel was searched in January 2019, and found to contain approximately six pounds of methamphetamine….

Case# MJ 20-00284WRP

read … Hawaii agents arrest alleged cartel member in nationwide drug bust

Gabbard Keeps Campaigning to Line Cult Coffers

CB: … she wants to keep raising campaign cash so she can, as my colleague Nick Grube has reported, continue to give hundreds of thousands of dollars to people affiliated with the “fringe sect” she grew up with….According to ProPublica, as of Wednesday Gabbard had missed 41.6% of votes in the 116th Congress (2019-20), making her the No. 1 most absent member of the House of Representatives….Gabbard on Super Tuesday II garnered less than 1% of the vote for each of the six states on the ballot….

read … Voters Deserve To Know What Tulsi Gabbard’s Up To

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