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Sunday, May 31, 2020
May 31, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:10 PM :: 4140 Views

The Governor, The Legislature, and The Billion Dollar Mess

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted May 30, 2020

Case, Gabbard Pursue First National Forest for Hawai’i 

COVID Count: Hawaii Down to only 27 Active Cases

HGEA: 40% Furlough for State Employees?  

HNN: … The head of the state’s largest public employee union said that Gov. David Ige’s administration is still considering furloughs for state workers.

“At this point, they are now suggesting that furloughs of up to three years would be necessary, potentially 40 percent in the first year -- which would be two days a week -- and then 20 (percent) and 20 (percent) in the next years,” said Randy Perreira, the HGEA’s executive director.

“The talk of furloughs is nothing but demoralizing for our workers and workforce.”

Perreira said furloughs will not only cause financial hardship for the state’s 73,000 workers and their families but they will hurt the economy.

“It would put people into poverty. Frankly, I don’t think anyone can afford a 40 percent cut," he said….

Governor Ige said today that furloughs -- and even layoffs -- are not off the table.

“We’re required to have a balanced budget, and the Council on Revenues is projecting a significant shortfall," the governor said in an emailed statement.

"We continue to look at federal funding to replace lost revenue. Layoffs and furloughs continue to be our last option.”

The talks of furloughs comes as the Council on Revenues is forecasting a $2.3 billion shortfall in the state budget. But lawmakers said that during the recent special session, they made up for all but $400 million of the shortfall.

Legislators said the state can close the gap -- through belt-tightening and strategic cuts -- without resorting to furloughs.

“Because we set aside over $1 billion, we think that at least for now we should be able to avoid massive reductions," said state Rep. Sylvia Luke, chair of the House Finance Committee….

(Translation: Some Legislators are still trying to illegally grab the CARES money to fund ongoing operations.  CARES money is reserved for COVID-related expenses such as unemployment benefits.  If HGEA steals the money from unemployment, small businesses will have to pay higher UComp insurance rates to make up the shortfall.  Those who have suffered the most will be paying more to ensure that HGEA does not suffer at all.)

read … HGEA says the state could still furlough workers to make up lost revenue

HGEA Endorsement The Kiss of Death?

Borreca: … Two years ago, Colleen Hanabusa was the go-to candidate in the endorsement rodeo. Her Democratic primary campaign against incumbent Gov. David Ige started with big poll numbers, strong name recognition and an amazing collection of fans. The Waianae Democrat was endorsed by the AFL-CIO, the HGEA, the state’s newspapers and progressive outfits such as the Patsy T. Mink Political Action Committee. Then the campaign lost track, wavered, and Ige won with 50.2% of the vote to Hanabusa’s 43.4%….

Then last week, the largest public employees union, the Hawaii Government Employees Association, endorsed the campaign of insurance executive Keith Amemiya.

“We are very, very pleased to support him,” HGEA executive director Randy Perreira said. “He brings a very fresh perspective to government. It is not one burdened by politics of the past.”

Amemiya, however, is not a new kid of the block. He is a senior vice president of Island Holdings Inc., the parent company of Island Insurance, Atlas Insurance Agency, Tradewind Capital Group, IC International and Pacxa. Amemiya’s years of leadership of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association earned him important connections. Today he enjoys support from Duane Kurisu, Lionel Tokioka and Micah Kane. Amemiya may not be burdened “by politics of the past,” but his past is certainly not unburdened by politics…

read … Borreca: Endorsements add some spark to Honolulu mayoral campaigns

COVID Restrictions Help Incumbents to Reelection

SA: … Consider 47-year-old Makawao resident Simon Russell, a farmer, consultant and watershed protection lobbyist who is challenging state Rep. Kyle Yamashita in the Democratic Party primary for the state House of Representatives District 12 seat (Spreckelsville, Upcountry, Kahului), which Yamashita has occupied since 2004.

Russell, who ran for the District 13 seat, which includes East Maui, in 2012, filed papers early with the intention of growing his campaign organically through traditional canvassing and community gatherings. But that was before the arrival of COVID-19 and subsequent declarations of emergency measures to prevent its spread.

“COVID-19 has not been healthy for my candidacy,” said Russell with a mirthless chuckle. “You have to shake hands and knock on doors. It’s the only way to get elected. It’s nice to have a website and do social media, but there’s nothing like looking someone in the eye and asking for their vote.”…

read … Maui candidates have to work around restrictions that have been keeping them from engaging voters

Mayor Victorino Asks Governor to Lift Interisland Quarantine on June 15

MN: … Maui Mayor Michael Victorino sent a letter to the Governor David Ige today asking him to lift the 14-day restriction on interisland travelers starting June 15, 2020.

In his letter, Mayor Victorino said he “strongly supports” lifting the quarantine for interisland travel to allow island airports the opportunity to enhance policies and procedures, and test necessary equipment needed for screening arriving and departing passengers.

“This would allow our airports to prepare for future trans-Pacific travel,” the Mayor wrote.

Mayor Victorino said the action would also provide the community with a “sense of normalcy, especially for those with family and friends on the neighbor islands.”…

Link: Letter to Governor

read … Mayor Victorino Asks Governor to Lift Interisland Quarantine on June 15

Alaska will lift mandatory quarantine for travelers, instead requiring they be tested before flying to Alaska

ADN: … Alaska is revising its policy for incoming travelers, soon requiring that they be tested for COVID-19 before boarding a plane to the state instead of quarantining for 14 days upon arrival, Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced Friday evening.

Dunleavy said in a media briefing Friday that travelers from out of state, who will need to be tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours of boarding a plane to Alaska, will be asked to provide test results and fill out paperwork when they arrive.

Those who are unable to submit their complete paperwork — for example, if they lost their paperwork or test results while traveling — will be provided a test at airport terminals upon arrival, Dunleavy said. Instead of being tested at the airport, travelers may opt instead for a 14-day quarantine, Dunleavy added….

LINK: AK Health mandates

read … State will lift mandatory quarantine for travelers, instead requiring they be tested before flying to Alaska

USDOJ Challenges Quarantine Rules in Maine, Michigan 

HIEMA Survey: Hawaii Is Already Enduring Widespread Socioeconomic Strain

CB: … Their preliminary results, taken from the responses of 121 local community groups and released this week, provides a bleak if perhaps unsurprising glimpse into the situation in Hawaii….

The community groups reported that collectively they had capacity to expand their services by 32% to help accommodate the growing need…

In six months, they could expand capacity by 43%, according to the survey. The groups expect most of these problems to persist through the next year. They anticipate issues such as domestic violence and child abuse, as well as a sense of isolation and loss of community, will worsen as the economic crisis deepens.

Qureshi, the lead member of HI-EMA’s Community Care – Outreach Unit, said this is just the first phase. The group next plans to survey individual community members directly and see how their responses compare to those of the service groups….

PDF: Survey Results (6pgs)

read … Pandemic Survey: Hawaii Is Already Enduring Widespread Socioeconomic Strain

COVID Releases: “Dummies that are beating somebody up or stealing something or threatening somebody”

Shapiro: … the quote of the month … from Assistant Public Defender Lee Hayakawa, defending COVID-related prison releases: “The world didn’t end. Yeah, you’ve got these dummies that are beating somebody up or stealing something or threatening somebody, but … nothing’s gone to hell, you know?”

As long as he’s not the one getting beaten, threatened or stolen from .…

read … Shapiro: Color-coded mayhem marks Hawaii coronavirus response

Vigilantes hunt tourists

CB: …The group, seeing gaps in enforcement, has helped state and local investigators track down scofflaw tourists….

read … Breaking Quarantine In Hawaii? A Citizens’ Group Is Watching

Hawaii has never done a successful P3 project.

SA: … Looking to the state of Hawaii, on April 13 approximately 200 companies from development and building industries participated in an online RFQ pre-response conference prior to the release of a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for the New Aloha Stadium and Entertainment District (NASED).

The RFQ release is a major milestone for the project as the state begins its process to select a development team partner for the 98-acre, mixed-use public-private-partnership (P3) development in Halawa, where the current Aloha Stadium stands.

Some may question why this P3 project is moving forward in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, many others are asking why more projects of this nature aren’t in the works.

The state of Hawaii’s approach of utilizing a P3 project should be part of every state’s plans. P3 projects are predicated on leveraging both public and private expertise and capital to define a long-term arrangement that converts a dollar of state investment to become three dollars through the involvement of a private partner.

While P3 is not a panacea, aligning the interests of government with the private sector enables the public sector to distribute risk, partner with experienced project planners, and secure alternative funding sources. Perhaps the biggest misconception is that P3 projects are about “privatization.” This is untrue and an unfortunate perception.

The P3 approach makes the difference between projects breaking ground and plans for needed projects collecting dust on a shelf. To our knowledge, Hawaii has never done a successful P3 project….

read … P3 approach can make Hawaii projects happen during pandemic

Hawaii County Finally Completes TVR Registrations

HTH: … The Hawaii County Planning Department has finally been able to process almost all the approximately 4,000 short term vacation rental applications it received following last year’s implementation of a mandatory registration system.

But it may be months before the newly approved rentals — or any short-term rentals other than hotels — will be allowed to operate, under emergency proclamations from Gov. David Ige and Mayor Harry Kim. Until travel restrictions are lifted, the rentals can be used only to house tenants who were already there when the restrictions went into effect or workers of essential businesses or operations, such as first responders….

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell estimated 800 legal vacation rentals on Oahu and another 8,000 operating illegally.

“As we come back to new normal, (they) should be in resort areas and not in our neighborhoods,” Caldwell said.

Maui Mayor Mike Victorino agreed. He’d like to be able to keep visitors in the resort areas of his county and not “utilizing our residential facilities.”

Victorino said he wants to “make sure our hotels, our resorts, open first and allow them to reestablish themselves. … We have a large number of illegal vacation rentals and many are closing them down,” he said.

Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami said the Planning Department on his island is working with police and National Guard to ensure the transient rentals aren’t taking tenants.

Kim also didn’t think the rentals will be allowed to open soon….

County Planning Director Michael Yee said his office has received complaints from concerned neighbors that some transient rentals may still be open or still taking reservations.

“I think people have been upset,” Yee said. “In most cases, it hasn’t warranted enforcement under the procedures.”…

On the bright side, the county’s backlog of building permits has been whittled down so that what previously took as much as a month or more has been reduced to a week or two. Building permits took a big hit last summer, when vacation rental applicants were scrambling to get their permits in order to meet the September application deadline.

“There were a lot of building permits that certainly got behind during the vacation rental registration period. During this period of COVID crisis, we have been able to catch up on many of our backlogged building permits,” Yee said. “That was certainly a positive during this challenging time for this department.”…

HTH: Waimea neighbors protest STVR

read … Mayors unenthusiastic about vacation rentals

Airfield advocates hopeful Dillingham survives past June 2021

KITV: … tenants mobilizing to save the airfield are hopeful and already have leads on avenues to keep the airfield alive for the general public.

Ben Devine, Executive Director of savedillinghamairfield.com told KITV4 they see viable options for airfield management if the DOT does not want full responsibility.

“Have a third party operator come in and work with the DOT to solve some of the concerns they mentioned,” Devine explained is one option….

tenants mobilizing to save the airfield are hopeful and already have leads on avenues to keep the airfield alive for the general public.

Ben Devine, Executive Director of savedillinghamairfield.com told KITV4 they see viable options for airfield management if the DOT does not want full responsibility.

“Have a third party operator come in and work with the DOT to solve some of the concerns they mentioned,” Devine explained is one option….

Devine and Senator Gil Riviere also said they are reaching out to third-party airfield operators to possibly engage in a form of a public-private partnership….

Senator Riviere told KITV4 he intends to submit authorizing legislation in January if they can develop a path forward ….

Link: savedillinghamairfield.org 

read … Airfield advocates hopeful Dillingham survives past June 2021

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