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Tuesday, May 5, 2020
May 5, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:45 PM :: 4001 Views

Corona Virus: Hawaii Most Restrictive State

How FDA and CDC aided coronavirus meltdown

Oahu Storm Water Utility to hold virtual community meetings

COVID-19: Developing Economic Recovery Scenarios for Hawaii

Supreme Livestream: Maui Water Rights Case

UH Plans Return to Classroom August 24

COVID Count: 1,169 Tests Reveal 4 New Cases

Black Sand CEO Was Charged With Assault. Then The Case Languished For A Year

CB: …Bert Akio “BJ” Kobayashi, a well-known real estate investor and developer, was charged in April 2019 with third-degree assault after an altercation with a woman in her 20s. The incident occurred in June 2018. As of last week, the misdemeanor case was marked “inactive” in court records, meaning he hadn’t been served with a summons.

Civil Beat reached out to the prosecuting attorney’s office on Thursday for an explanation. An office spokesman didn’t provide one, but four days later, Kobayashi was served….

The 50-year-old Kobayashi comes from a distinguished (connected) local family. He is the son of Bert A. Kobayashi Sr., a major political donor who founded the Kobayashi Group. The boutique development and investment firm is behind some of Honolulu’s most elite real estate including Park Lane Ala Moana and the Hokua luxury condos.

His grandfather founded Albert C. Kobayashi Inc., whose website says it is the “largest 100% locally owned contractor in Hawaii.”

BJ himself is the chairman, CEO and co-founder of BlackSand Capital, a real estate private equity firm based in Honolulu. He is also a co-founder and partner of the Kobayashi Group and sits on the board of the Hawaiian Electric Co., among other organizations. The Punahou School graduate attended Georgetown University and once worked in the Washington, D.C., office of Hawaii’s legendary U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye….

The criminal complaint states that Kobayashi “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly” caused bodily injury to another person. It does not include details of the incident.

Civil Beat has a pending public records request with the Honolulu Police Department for the police report. The alleged victim in the case declined to comment….

Summonses need to be served quickly, Lee said, because Hawaii Rule 48 allows the court to dismiss a case if the trial “is not commenced within six months.” That deadline has long passed, Lee said, so Kobayashi is probably off the hook.

“More likely than not, the case will be dismissed,” he said.

A judge could dismiss the case with prejudice, meaning it can’t be refiled, Lee said….

PDF: Summons

read … A Prominent Developer Was Charged With Assault. Then The Case Languished For A Year

Ige reopens Malls, Nonprofits and Telescopes in Hawaii

SA: … Gov. David Ige announced today that he is easing economic restrictions as Hawaii’s coronavirus infections remained low, including re-opening shopping malls and many other business on Thursday.

He said he is issuing a seventh supplementary emergency proclamation to re-open parts of the economy. Businesses and organizations that would be allowed to reopen also include shopping malls apparel and electronic retailers, pet-grooming businesses, non-profits and car washes.

The businesses given the go-ahead to reopen may do so on May 7 at 12:01 a.m., Ige said…..

UPDATE: State says retailers on Oahu, Maui won’t be allowed to reopen this week as governor announced (Ooops!)

HNN: Includes Astronomical observatories

HNN: White House economic adviser Keith Hassett highlighted the toll the pandemic has taken on Hawaii’s economy in an press availability Monday, saying the problems faced in the islands are far worse than any other states….

read … VIDEO: Gov. David Ige announces new supplementary emergency proclamation

Best Case: Hawaii Economy Down 25%—Double Digit Unemployment for Rest of Year

SA: … In a best-case scenario, Hawaii’s economy should start to slowly recover this month, but 2020 will end with double-digit unemployment and the return of only about 75% of the economic activity lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state House Select Committee on COVID-19 was told Monday.

Hawaii’s recovery over the next seven months depends on several assumptions, including the widespread availability of coronavirus testing, “our ability to ramp up contact tracing” and overall management of “the risk of reopening tourism gradually,” Carl Bonham, executive director of the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization, told his fellow members of the committee Monday.

“It begins very slowly and builds over time as consumer activity increases and as we begin to get some tourism back later in the year,” Bonham said via videoconference. “By the end of the year, we anticipate the local economy having regained about 75% of the lost activity. We don’t get back to normal.”…

read … Hawaii economy not likely to fully recover this year

Hawaii tourism leaders urge state recovery plan

SA: … Vieira and Gibson said they want to see COVID-19 passenger testing and apps allowing for contact tracing available before tourism reopens. But if that’s months out, they urge leaders to consider allowing Hawaii’s visitor industry to reopen sooner under new safety protocols — everything from extra cleaning to social-distancing measures like conducting more online business, blocking out hotel rooms or floors to space out customers, and reconfiguring restaurants and other common areas….

They’re open to state-run inspections to ensure that the visitor industry is delivering on its safety brand promise. And, they suggest expanding tourism management so that Hawaii’s natural resources receive more investment and less strain.

“We’ve got 220,000 people out of work. The trickle-down effect of that is almost half the population,” Gibson said. “We need to manage getting people back to work and getting tourism back.”

If the passenger quarantine continues past the middle of June, Gibson and Vieira warn of longer-term devastation to the state’s economy, which draws 17% of its gross domestic product, the largest piece, from tourism.

Even if the order is lifted, ideally between May 31 and mid-June, Vieira said tourism would start slow with hotels taking up to 60 days to reopen. The industry would be lucky if it hit 40% hotel occupancy by the fourth quarter, with most properties taking at least a year to return to more profitable levels like 65% to 75% occupancy, he said.

“We should be pushing to get specific actions in place that will allow us to reopen, such as a safety protocol,” Vieira said….

Related: A Low-Risk Plan to Re-Start Hawaii Tourism Now

read … Hawaii tourism leaders urge state recovery plan

Head of State Emergency Response Says Health Department Dragging Feet On Expanding Contact Tracing

HPR: … It’s a labor intensive process, requiring tracers to identify and call potentially dozens of contacts in the process of chasing down leads. Some are obvious, like family members or cohabitants, but contacts can also be looser connections like grocery workers or transit operators.

The Hawaii Department of Health currently has around 30 people doing contact tracing, or less than 3 tracers per 100,000 residents. That’s less than one-tenth of the number now being recommended by the National Association of County and City Health Officials.  

The group says health agencies should aim for 15 tracers per 100,000 residents in a non-emergency situation, but would likely need 30 tracers per 100,000 for the current pandemic.

Some senior officials in the Hawaii’s recovery task force are now publicly agitating for  the state health department to significantly expand the number of tracers available. Major General Kenneth Hara, adjutant general of the Hawaii National Guard and head of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, serves as the governor's emergency response lead. He says authorities need to build that tracing capacity now, rather than waiting for a spike in cases.

“To be responsive, we need to anticipate needs. We need to organize, equip, and train the people, so that when we need it, we’re there,” Hara said.

Hara told a state House of Representative committee on Monday that he is frustrated by the health department’s lack of action to further expand the contact tracing program.

Hara offered to provide National Guard soldiers, many of whom are trained doctors, nurses, and EMTs to help, but the health department has apparently not taken up on his offer…  (Because to do so would eliminate the case for DoH Empire Building opportunity.)

CB:  Ige Urged To Order DOH To Accept More Pandemic Help

read … Head of State Emergency Response Says Health Department Dragging Feet On Expanding Contact Tracing

Just Days After COVID Jail Release, Suspect Allegedly Murders Homeless Dude

SA: …A week before the stabbing, police arrested Baang in Ewa Beach in connection with a criminal property damage case involving another male victim. Prosecutors later charged him fourth-degree criminal property damage and harassment….

(But he was not incarcerated in a nice safe COVID-free jail, so the following happened…)

…Prosecutors charged a 20-year-old homeless man in Saturday’s stabbing death of 45-year-old homeless man in Aiea.

Daniel P. Baang was charged with second-degree murder and is in custody in lieu of $1 million bail. The Honolulu Medical Examiner’s Office identified the victim as Harvey G. Hannah Jr….

HNN: Daniel Baang allegedly stabbed a man to death Saturday after a fight in Aiea. Sources say he had just been released days before because of the emergency prison reduction plan brought on by the pandemic.

read … Soft on Crime

COVID Keeps Alleged Two Time Baby-Killer Free

BJ: … When Humphries’ and Beyer’s five-week-old son, G.B. was brought to Tripler in 2016, he had multiple rib fractures and lesions on his brain. The pathologists decided he died of a herpes infection. How that accounted for the rib fractures they didn’t say. The paperwork was filed away. Humphries and Beyer went back to work.

In July a year later, a girl was born to Humphries and Beyer and when she, identified in the suit only as Baby Jane, was nine days old, the parents (both Air Force enlisted people)  brought her to Tripler suffering from multiple fractures, head injuries, and serious brain damage. Tripler doctor, Lt. Col. Shelly Martin, wrote a medical finding that the infant’s injuries were “non-accidental trauma” and that this made the earlier death of her brother “very concerning and non-accidental trauma should have been more thoroughly considered.”

That required Tripler to report these cases to Hawaii civil authorities, which they did and the boy’s death was reclassified by a county medical examiner as caused by “blunt force trauma to the head” and re-listing of that death as a homicide.

The military then filed charges against Humphries and Beyer. The state did not. Nor did any child protective services agencies step in to strip the couple of their custody of Baby Jane.

The lawsuit filed by Baby Jane’s court-appointed guardian, Stephen Lane, says “the actions of Tripler military physicians… in failing to determine and report that G.B. was killed by physical abuse in G.B.’s household were below the applicable standard of care and constituted professional negligence.” It says Baby June should have been immediately removed from the parents’ custody.

The military justice system does not include bail, so Natasha Beyer remains free, pending a trial which has been held off because of the COVID pandemic….

SA: Tripler sued for missing pattern of abuse of Hawaii Air Force couple’s children

read … The Air Force, A Mistake, Two Children Pay The Penalty, The Parents Not So Much

Prosecutors say dangerous offenders are being released to free up space in Hawaii correctional facilities

HNN: … "It's really frustrating to be a prosecutor right now when you're looking at all the work that you've done," said Mitch Roth, Hawaii Island Prosecuting Attorney.

Daniel Baang allegedly stabbed a man to death Saturday after a fight in Aiea. Sources say he had just been released days before because of the emergency prison reduction plan brought on by the pandemic.

Jake Elieisar is awaiting trial for theft in the second degree after a purse snatching at a bus stop in 2019.

Also, in 2019, Eddie Freeman pleaded no contest to burglary 1st degree, a Class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Ben Rocky is charged with Assault 2nd for attacking a 74-year-old man with a golf club outside the man's office in Honolulu in March.

The Public Defender's office filed a motion for him to be released to increase social distancing in state prisons.

"There have been no positive findings in OCCC, that it's time to put a break on things. Let's not rush releasing any more people. Let's step back and make sure we are releasing non-violent people and is it even necessary," Nadamoto said….

In South Kohala, Jake Branch, 35, was allow on supervised release a after being arrested and charged for multiple warrants, traffic offenses, and property crime offenses, including burglary in April.

James Bonham, 66, was also allowed on supervised release after being charged with second-degree murder that left a 45-year-old Captain Cook man dead last week….

WHT: Bail reduced for man accused of stealing vessel

TGI: Two inmate test negative for COVID-19

read … Prosecutors say dangerous offenders are being released to free up space in Hawaii correctional facilities

Restore access to public meetings

SA Editorial: … In response to the first signs of COVID-19 community spread in Hawaii, Gov. David Ige issued an emergency proclamation in mid-March. In addition to sensible provisions, such as waiving a one-week waiting period for people to apply for unemployment benefits, it included a puzzling suspension of a state public access law.

Weighing in with wrongheaded follow-up guidance, the state Office of Information Practices, which is tasked with interpreting matters of public access, made it clear that the open meetings law, known as the Sunshine Law, may be tossed out the window during this period of emergency.

The appalling upshot is that government bodies and agencies are now free to push forward with policy-making decisions while keeping the public in the dark, as they are not required to provide even a bare minimum of access to public meetings. …

Last week, a spokesman for Attorney General Clare Connors said state attorneys are working on language that would restore at least some portions of the open meetings law. Also, an attorney for Oahu Publications Inc., publisher of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, sent a letter to Connors demanding the state reverse its across-the-board suspension.

The letter is necessary, in part, because a much-needed Sunshine Law reset is now essentially seven weeks overdue. The Attorney General’s Office — tasked with upholding the law — should move swiftly to effectively address the emergency proclamation’s overreach….

read … Restore access to public meetings

Government transparency critical at all times

TGI: … Ever since March 16, when Gov. David Ige issued his proclamation shutting down the state, the meetings and records of our state and county governments have been officially closed to the public.

The governor never said exactly why he was dropping the curtain on government transparency and accountability in Hawai‘i. The assumption was that somehow it would help the state and counties better deal with the coronavirus. But that still didn’t make it a good idea. Transparency is critical at all times, and even more so during an emergency….

By raising these objections, it doesn’t mean that we don’t recognize a place for compromise in light of the health and safety issues that have to be addressed by the government.

That’s why we recently joined Common Cause Hawai‘i and about 40 other local groups and individuals in making recommendations to the governor to preserve open meetings, by using technology or by extending the deadline for records requests….

read … Government transparency critical at all times

Hawaii among states with few coronavirus cases to get big share of relief aid

AP: … Alaska, Hawaii, Montana and Wyoming are not epicenters of the coronavirus pandemic. Yet these four states scored big this spring when Congress pumped out direct federal aid, while the two hardest-hit states, New York and New Jersey, got comparatively little given the vast numbers of cases and deaths they have seen.

An Associated Press analysis shows that states with small populations like these took in an outsized share of the $150 billion in federal money that was designed to address coronavirus-related expenses, when measured by the number of positive tests for the COVID-19 disease.

Their haul ranged from $2 million per positive test in Hawaii to nearly $3.4 million per test in Alaska. In Wyoming, with less than 600 positive cases, the $1.25 billion it received from the congressional package equates to 80 percent of its annual general state budget.

By comparison, New York and New Jersey received about $24,000 and $27,000, respectively, for each positive coronavirus test….

PBN: Hawaii sees more than $413.8M five days into second round of PPP

read … Hawaii among states with few coronavirus cases to get big share of relief aid

The Long Wait For Unemployment Checks Is Taking A Personal Toll

CB: … The state’s huge backlog of jobless claims has left many waiting weeks for benefits. For some, the loss of work has derailed dreams for starting over….

read … The Long Wait For Unemployment Checks Is Taking A Personal Toll

Unemployment is Sweet $1248 a week—Don’t Wanna go back to work and get paid less

SA: … A second wave of trouble could be headed for Hawaii’s unemployment system still swamped by coronavirus­-related jobless claims.

The state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations anticipates having to deal with appeals from displaced workers who are receiving unemployment checks that exceed what they can earn when employers decide to restore their pay.

This challenge is expected on two fronts.

One scenario involves employers who are calling back workers as part of resuming full or partial operations after being forced to close or reduce business because of COVID-19.

The other scenario involves employers who received proceeds from the federal Paycheck Protection Program that can be used to resume paying workers for eight weeks even if they don’t resume work because of coronavirus impacts.

In either case, employees aren’t entitled to unemployment benefits. But state officials already have seen cases where people don’t want to give up unemployment payments in favor of their employer resuming their pay.

“That technically isn’t a choice for them,” Scott Murakami, DLIR director, told the Hawaii Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 last week. “They’re supposed to go back to work.”

Murakami, however, noted that some such refusals to return to work have been made and that financial motivation exists because $600 in weekly federal unemployment pay was added to the maximum weekly state benefit of $648, which exceeds pay for many workers….

SA VIDEO: Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations Director Scott Murakami takes your unemployment questions on the COVID-19 Care Conversation

read … Recalling Hawaii workers presents challenge in unemployment policy

National Guard, Kauai police intercept plane with two people trying to sneak in

KHON: … Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami says an investigation is underway after two people were caught trying to sneak into the island.

He says it happened Sunday when a small plane from Maui landed at Port Allen airfield, dropped off two people, and took off again.

The visitors arrived without authorization and without having filled out any required documentation.

The National Guard and Kauai police intercepted them….

read … National Guard, Kauai police intercept plane with two people trying to sneak in

Hawaii County seeks site in Kona for Plywood SRO homeless housing units

WHT: … Eighteen temporary housing units are ready to be built for the homeless in Kona, but where they will be built remains to be seen.

“There was a rumor out there that we were planning on building it on Pawai Place, which is totally false,” said Sharon Hirota, the Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim’s executive assistant in charge of homelessness issues.

That rumor prompted numerous phone calls and letters to the newspaper and officials from residents and business owners already frustrated and concerned about the growing number of people and tents at the entrance to The Friendly Place, a point of contact for homeless and at-risk homeless in West Hawaii operated by HOPE Services Hawaii that is at capacity amid the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home order.

“We need to relocate the transients living in their make shift tents on the sidewalk to a place where they have access to facilities and are provided with holistic care,” said Stefanie Gubser, operations manager for Manini Holdings LLC in a West Hawaii Today letter to the editor.

Mattson Davis, proprietor of ULU Development and Magics Beach Grill, called the “situation outside” of the facility “untenable.”

“Since the sweep on Old Airport about 21 days ago there are approximately 40-50 people living along the sidewalk/street in make shift structures with no physical distancing. At night the numbers swell with illegal activity, drinking and drugging, Davis wrote in an April 29 letter to the editor. “The smell of urine and feces has never been more pungent along with unwanted activity that has ramped up.”…

finding a place to build the tiny temporary houses has proved challenging, according to Hirota. The units would be similar to the two-person units the county purchased from HPM and built in Hilo in April….

On April 9, HOPE Services secured 40 rooms at the Holiday Inn Express in Kailua-Kona to shelter and started to move dozens of unsheltered individuals and couples to the hotel. As of Friday, 36 individuals were staying in 30 rooms; two rooms serve as offices on each floor, according to HOPE Services Hawaii CEO Brandee Menino. The number of persons at the hotel fluctuates daily as people also leave voluntarily and new persons move in….

read … County seeks site in Kona for homeless housing units

ACLU Lawyers Harass Hawaii County for Annoying Homeless Drug Addicts

CB: … The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii and another civil rights law firm are demanding Hawaii County immediately cease the sweeping of homeless encampments during the COVID-19 pandemic (insert excuse here) ….

PDF: Letter to Hawaii County

read … Lawyers Demand Hawaii Island Stop Homeless Sweeps

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