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Friday, May 29, 2020
May 29, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:06 PM :: 2672 Views

Report: HMSA Payment Plan Imposing Burdens On Providers, Hurting Patients

396 Candidates File for Election

How to Reopen Hawaii's Economy--Michael W. Perry Interviews Keli'i Akina

Thanks to Cheap Oil, HECO Forced to Abandon $77M Rate Hike

Prosecutor Race: Alm 21%, Megan Kau 5%

CB: … Two-thirds of voters surveyed in The Civil Beat/Hawaii News Now Poll haven’t a clue ….

read … Retired Judge Enjoys Double-Digit Lead In Prosecutor’s Race

Special master defends early release of Hawaii inmates, says 1-month recidivism rate lower than other criminals lifetime recidivism rate

SA: … Though it’s still too early to judge, Foley said only 50 of the 650 or so inmates released early were arrested again. That’s an 8% recidivism rate (in a month)  — well below the roughly 50% average (in a lifetime) rate for inmates released on probation prior to COVID-19….

(IQ Test: Are you screaming ‘Over what time period?’)

The Hawaii Paroling Authority is still reviewing cases for nearly 500 sentenced felons, but all 1,088 cases for inmates awaiting trial or are on probation with jail time already have been decided….

(They just admitted that 50% of probationers reoffend, yet they want to release more on probation.  See how this works?) 

BIN: Sentenced Prison Population New Focus on Inmate Reduction

read … Special master defends early release of Hawaii inmates, says recidivism rate low

Newest projection: State tax revenues will drop by a jaw-dropping $2.25B this fiscal year

HNN: … The state Council on Revenues on Thursday lowered its estimates on state tax revenues by a jaw-dropping $2.25 billion for this fiscal year and next.

But lawmakers said the lower estimates will not require across-the-board furloughs or pay cuts.

“We think for now we should be able to avoid massive reductions,” said state Rep. Sylvia Luke, chair of the House Finance Committee.

The Council on Revenues estimate is based on the view that Hawaii’s tourism economy won’t recover until 2022.

In their most recent report on the pandemic’s impact, the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization said a pessimistic scenario would mean nearly 5 million fewer visitors this year.

Hawaii would also see double-digit unemployment this year and 9% unemployment next.

“You have an increase in bankruptcies. Tourist businesses that have been shutdown can only last for so long," economist Carl Bonham said of UHERO’s forecast….

read … Newest projection: State tax revenues will drop by a jaw-dropping $2.25B this fiscal year

Rail project expecting $100M shortfall, possibly $100M more

SA: … Tax revenue needed to fund the financially troubled HART project is expected to fall by $100 million over the next few months in response to the COVID-19 pandemic — and the problem could get worse by another $100 million if a critical construction contract is not awarded in July, HART’s directors were told Thursday.

Ruth Lohr, HART’s chief financial officer, told directors that income from general excise and transient accommodation taxes have plummeted as the pandemic stifled Oahu’s tourism industry….

if a critical “P3” public-private partnership contract to build the final segment of the 20-mile, East Kapolei-to-Ala Moana line is not agreed to by a July 23 deadline, the Federal Transit Administration could withhold another $100 million in badly needed financing….

Robbins … insisted “there is a strategy” if no company makes a bid on the project.

Robbins said that all of the “short-listed” potential bidders are “still with us. That’s a big plus. … We are expecting bids in July per our schedule.”

The $100 million in federal funding had been projected to arrive earlier this year, but federal officials withheld it until they see the details of HART’s P3 contract….

Big Q: With dire projections of rail funding being at least $100 million short, what should be done about the project?

read … Rail project expecting $100M shortfall, possibly $100M more

Next Boondoggle: SB2940 Aloha Stadium Authority

SA: … State Sen. Glenn Wakai told the Aloha Stadium Authority Thursday that passage of senate bill 2940 in the coming weeks is “imperative” for plans for the New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District to keep moving toward a targeted 2023 debut.

The bill, authored by Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz (D, Mililani Mauka, Waipio Acres), would transfer authority to issue leases of the lands within the Stadium Development District from the Hawaii Community Development Authority to the Stadium Authority. It would repeal legislation from the 2019 session which had given the HCDA the lead role.

The Legislature is expected to re-convene June 15 and Wakai (D, Kalihi, Pearl Harbor) said, “We’re really in need of passing (2940) because without it the request for proposals (from priority-listed developers) will be in murky waters.” He said, “If we don’t get this passed … we will have some challenges issuing the RFP. If we issue it without the passage of the bill, there could be those (developers with) sour grapes and file some kind of protest, so it is imperative that we have this bill passed.”

read … Passage of bill ‘imperative’ for Aloha Stadium plan staying on course

Ige to extend quarantine for mainland, international travelers beyond June 30

HNN:  … The governor says a mandatory, 14-day quarantine for mainland and international travelers will be extended beyond June 30.

The decision effectively rules out a reopening of the tourism industry by July 1 — a date some had eyed as possible given the state’s low number of new COVID-19 cases.

Gov. David Ige made the announcement Thursday in a virtual gathering with Hawaii’s four mayors. Ige didn’t say when the quarantine might be lifted.

But in the past, the quarantine has been extended a month at a time….

Tourism industry leaders have called on the governor to release a proposed timeline for reopening to mainland and international visitors, saying that without they’re unable to effectively plan.

“That’s the missing ingredient," said Mufi Hannemann, president and CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association. “We need a date."…

SA VIDEO: Gov. David Ige announces 14-day quarantine for Hawaii visitors to extend past June 30

CB: Tensions Grow Over How — And When — To Reopen Tourism

Meanwhile: Hawaii senators support effort for ‘travel bubble’ agreement with Japan 

(CLUE: Extending the quarantine does not necessarily contradict talk of a travel bubble.  In fact, a bubble is impossible without a quarantine from which to grant exemptions. )

read … Ige to extend quarantine for mainland, international travelers beyond June 30

StarAdv: Trade CARES Money for Reduced YB Rate Hike

SA Editorial: … the lawmakers who are currently holding the purse strings of the federal COVID-19 relief funds will have to do their due diligence in vetting the request from Young Brothers for $25 million in CARES Act money….

Young Brothers’ financial woes predate the pandemic by years, partly because of its own mismanagement of its rate structure, leading to annual losses….

(WRONG: Manipulating your books to create paper losses in order to justify a massive rate hike is not ‘mismanagement.’)

In November, Young Brothers submitted a request for a 34% rate increase to the PUC; the docket in which it makes its case is still pending before the commission….

to the extent that the losses accrue from ongoing management problems, the state could offer a loan that can be repaid over time. Young Brothers then should consider revising its PUC rate increase bid downward.

Reality: Debunked: YB Demands $25M COVID Relief on Top of $13M Rate Hike

read … Take hard look at Young Brothers plea for coronavirus relief aid

Maui In-person religious services allowed to resume today with social distancing

MN: … Meanwhile, in-person religious services will be allowed to resume today. Attendees must keep 6 feet away from one another, except for members of the same household, Managing Director Sandy Baz said. Choir singers should be spaced at least 10 feet away from one another and are not required to wear masks.

Organizers and staff should follow current county, state and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines

HTH: Places of worship can reopen this weekend, but some will wait longer before bringing their congregants back

read … In-person religious services allowed to resume today with social distancing

Firm gets warning for hand sanitizer brouhaha

MN: … The county Liquor Control Department on Tuesday handed Maui Brewing Co. a “notice of warning” after investigating the company’s made-in-house hand sanitizer and giveaway promotions.

In a statement released Thursday night, the department said that its investigation last month “revealed that Maui Brewing failed to comply with state law by advertising free hand sanitizer in connection with the sale of liquor” and issued an administrative notice of written caution.

“It is short of subjecting Maui Brewing to an adjudicatory hearing,” according to the department.

However, Maui Brewing CEO Garrett Marrero remained confident that the company did not violate rules. The company, which also gave away the hand sanitizer produced at its facility to first responders and others in the community, received strong community support during the investigation, while the department faced public rebuke.

Maui Brewing, which sells food, alcoholic beverages, coffee, soda and merchandise, had offered the 16-ounce hand sanitizer for free with the purchase of any to-go item — not just alcohol — after both Kihei and Lahaina restaurants closed March 19 due to the COVID-19 emergency orders….

Flashback: Wall Street Journal Denounces Maui Liquor Commission

read … Firm gets warning for hand sanitizer brouhaha

Quarantine is a Joke: 1,000 Party on North Shore (again)

KITV: … Residents told KITV4 the parties, going late into the night, had more than 1,000 people on the beaches.

The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources broke up the party at Ka'ena Point State Park late Sunday night, where they reported well over 170 cars parked along the side of the road. They say it took more than four hours to clear everyone out.

The Honolulu Police Department has opened an investigation into a party at Waimea Bay that occurred over the weekend, where the Honolulu Liquor Commission says they received a complaint of unlicensed alcohol vendors selling liquor.

The United States Army Hawaii also confirmed they are investigating the claims that some service members stations at Schofield Barracks arranged the gatherings. …

Christy Ramos is a Waialua resident and organized beach cleanups this week.

She told KITV4 she collected and properly disposed of "150 pounds of broken glass, nails, screws from wood pallets, blankets, towels, used condoms and drug packets."

The Honolulu Police Department has not yet issued any citations associated with these gatherings over Memorial Day weekend.

Now, residents say the caught wind of another party being planned, possibly by the same people who organized these gatherings, scheduled for June 5.

"There are a bunch of community members planning to go down to Waimea Bay June Fifth to take it upon themselves to patrol the area even after the lifeguards leave to make sure what happened at Mokule'ia doesn't happen again," said T.J. Cuaresma, Wahiawa resident …

read … Quarantine is a Joke

Homeless Shelter-Refusers Get Ticket After Ticket

TA: … Just after 5 p.m. on April 21, Honolulu police spotted Cynthia Falcon, a petite, 65-year-old homeless woman, sitting on a bench across from the Alohilani Resort in Waikiki. The police said Falcon told them she didn’t want to go to a shelter, so (instead of forcibly taking her to a locked shelter) they wrote her a (useless) criminal citation for violating the city’s stay-at-home order.

(If she were a tourist, they would take her to jail.  Why do the homeless have superior rights?)

It was the fourth time police had cited Falcon that month for violating emergency orders by sitting or sleeping around parks and other public places around Waikiki. Each citation generated its own court date. Some dates were later changed due to the coronavirus outbreak—but although a notice of the change was filed in Wahiawa District Court, no notice could be mailed to Falcon, since she has no known address. When police ran into Falcon again on around 7 p.m. on May 21, they arrested her for missing several past court dates.

According to Honolulu Police Department arrest logs, Falcon remained in jail until the next day. She was one of several homeless people brought to jail that day on bench warrants issued for failures to appear in court for past criminal citations. Since June 2016, Falcon has received 22 criminal citations for offenses ranging from entering a closed public park, petty theft, smoking in a park, and violating Honolulu’s sit-lie ordinance, a rule that prohibits people from sitting or lying on certain sidewalks and public places….

read … About People who must be FORCED into Shelter

After Supreme Court Ruling, Big Island Environmental commission urges fast work on sewage discharges

WHT: … Casting a wary eye toward a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said discharging wastewater indirectly into the sea by allowing it to flow through groundwater violates the Clean Water Act, the county Environmental Management Commission on Wednesday unanimously voted to ask the County Council and administration to solicit proposals for public-private partnerships to fix island projects falling into that category.

In particular, commissioners wanted to address planned upgrades to the Kealakehe Wastewater Treatment Plant that would allow it to produce water safe for public irrigation. The $75 million project was supposed to be completed by the end of this year, but it was put on hold pending the Supreme Court decision, which came down April 23.

The sewer plant pumps 1.8 million gallons per day of treated effluent into a lava tube behind the Kealakehe police station just more than half a mile from Honokohau Harbor, said Commissioner Rick Gaffney. He said tracers added at the plant have been detected in the harbor and into the ocean.

“It’s time for us to take this on. … This is a huge topic and there’s a lot of discussion going on statewide,” Gaffney said….

Hawaii Island also has injection wells at Kaloko and Honokaa that pump about 200,000 gallons daily. Both sites operate on an underground injection control permit governed by standards set by the state Department of Health.

Chairman Justin Pequeno appointed a subcommittee of himself, Gaffney and Commissioner Dee Fulton to draft letters to the Department of Environmental Management and County Council members urging them to act as soon as possible to invite dialogue with private companies with intent of developing water reuse plan for the Kealakehe plant….

“Private entities are chomping on the bit to work with the county,” she said….

read … Public-private partnership proposed: Environmental commission urges fast work on sewage discharges

Lawsuit: Oahu Hospital Allegedly Shielded 2 Sexual Harassers

CB: … A female employee at the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific alleges in a lawsuit filed Thursday that she was sexually harassed by two superiors for two years….

The defendants include the hospital; the hospital’s CEO, Timothy Roe; the hospital’s former medical director, Dr. Jason Chang; and former inpatient physical therapy manager Garrett Yamamoto, who was her direct supervisor.

In a different lawsuit last year brought by Chang against Rehab, the hospital said it was forced to close an entire division, affecting hundreds of patients, after Doe filed an internal complaint against Chang and went on indefinite leave….

The Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific is the state’s only hospital specifically dedicated to helping patients recovering from major illnesses and injuries.

The lawsuit asks the court to declare that the hospital is no longer eligible to receive grant funding from the state and seeks unspecified damages….

Chang last year filed a lawsuit against the hospital to prevent it from reporting him to a national oversight organization. In court documents, he acknowledged having a consensual relationship with Doe but denied the allegations of sexual harassment….

The complaint cites a former colleague, Joycelyn Brigoli, who says in a sworn statement that in 2017 she told Rehab Hospital’s human resources director Tina Kobatake that Chang and Yamamoto were abusing their power by frequently requesting free private physical therapy services from Doe during work hours.

Brigoli says she told Kobatake that’s one reason she left the hospital….

PDF: Click here to read the full complaint

read … Lawsuit: Oahu Hospital Allegedly Shielded 2 Sexual Harassers

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