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Thursday, August 13, 2020
August 13, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:15 PM :: 4525 Views

Election 2020: Democrats Aim to Eliminate All Republicans from Hawaii Legislature

COVID: 116 Cases in OCCC--Jail Inmates Purposefully Spread Disease

COVID Count 355 new cases out of 3,384 tests

Blood Test can Determine Who is Most Likely to Die of COVID

Racketeering Indictments for Saipan Casino Operators

DHHL Submits Wireless Spectrum Applications to FCC

HSTA Files Lawsuit to Block School reopening

Health Department has had new contact tracing leader for a month and nobody noticed

SA: … Okubo said Dr. Emily Robinson was hired on July 16 to lead the Health Department’s Disease Investigation Branch, including its contact tracing program. 

(Bad News: She’s been on the job for a month already and nobody noticed.)

Robinson is now “reorganizing and re-envisioning the efficiency, capacity, reach, and effectiveness of the branch that manages disease investigation and contact tracing,” Okubo wrote….

(Bad News: This is NOT time for ‘re-envisioning.’  Its time to open the phone bank.  That should have been done July 17th.)

Hawaii’s top health officials have turned their much maligned “contact tracing” program over to a new hire, following record numbers of COVID-19 cases and a call for the removal of the state’s health director and epidemiologist.

(Translation: Blame the new person.  Old bureaucratic trick.)

By the end of the week, there should be more than 100 contact tracers spread across the state, including 18 “contact tracer team leaders” from the Hawaii National Guard and approximately 20 contact tracers hired through a University of Hawaii training program, Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in an email Wednesday.

(And when there aren’t we know who to blame.  You never heard of her before this article.)

More than a week ago, Health officials said they already had 105 active contact tracers and possibly some other staff, along with Hawaii National Guard members, public health nurses, and volunteers.

Whatever the exact numbers, the number of Hawaii’s contact tracers appears to be well below the 420 to 564 Lt. Gov. Josh Green said Hawaii needs to be on par with national recommendations…. 

KITV: Dr. Park replaced as head of contact tracing program

CB: Hawaii Department of Health Deputy Director Danette Wong Tomiyasu abruptly replaced other health officials as the lead spokeswoman for the state’s coronavirus response effort.

DB: Hawaii’s Lt. Guv on the ‘Fail’ That Helped COVID Roar Back

AP: Hawaii governor defends virus response of health officials

SA Editorial: Ige must square, share plan details

read … Health Department has new contact tracing leader

Roy Amemiya Needs to Step Down While FBI Investigates

CB: … The city’s Corporation Counsel continues to operate even as its top attorney, Donna Leong, has been on leave since January 2019 after it was revealed she received a target letter from the FBI.

Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro also received a target letter. He’s been on paid leave since March 2019.

Like Amemiya, First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Chasid Sapolu also received a subject letter. He hasn’t been on the office since December 2018.

Honolulu Enterprise Services Director Guy Kaulukukui is also on paid leave, although it’s not related to the federal probe. He’s been named in a civil lawsuit involving a former student at Kamehameha Schools who has alleged an inappropriate sexual relationship when Kaulukukui worked there.

We don’t know the precise nature of the federal case that involves Amemiya. But it seems odd to put someone on leave relating to a civil lawsuit and leave someone singled out in a criminal probe on the job.

Amemiya is involved in many aspects of Honolulu governance. It could be that he is involved in the FBI investigation of the  Honolulu rail project, or it could be the one looking into corruption in the Honolulu Police Department. It could even be both.

Either way, a dark cloud continues to hover and even grow over the City and County of Honolulu. Mayor Caldwell owes it to the public to treat Amemiya the same way he handled Leong’s situation and have his managing director step aside…

Bonus Read: Schatz Endorses Roy’s Cousin for Mayor

Background: Roy Amemiya a ‘Subject of Investigation’ -- dragged before grand jury

read … Top Honolulu Official Needs To Step Down During Criminal Probe

Mayoral race analysis shows Blangiardi won 26 of 34 districts in primary election

HNN: … A Hawaii News Now analysis also shows that Blangiardi won in all but eight House Districts and held double-digit percentage point leads in places like Hawaii Kai and Kailua.

“That shows he has broad support and it’s not concentrated in any one area. So I think that’s a good sign for his campaign,” said Colin Moore, University of Hawaii Political Science professor and Hawaii News Now’s political analyst.

But the analysis shows that as you get closer to town, his lead shrinks to single digits -- like in Waialae and Kahala -- and by the time you get to Manoa, Amemiya wins the district with a 2.5 percentage point lead.

Former Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa won in Chinatown, Waipahu and her home district Waianae and Councilmember Kym Pine won in Kalihi Kai-Pearl Harbor, Makakilo and the Ewa Beach-Ocean Pointe District….

read … Mayoral race analysis shows Blangiardi won 26 of 34 districts in primary election

Tulsi Gabbard's Time In Congress Is Almost Up: What's Next?

NI: …In terms of what’s next for her political career when her time in Congress is up, Gabbard told RollCall, “I’m going to continue to look for ways that I can serve. Stay tuned. I’ll let you know when I know.” …

Related: Gabbard to Run for LG in 2022?

read … Tulsi Gabbard's Time In Congress Is Almost Up: What's Next?

Vote-By-Mail Helped Perk Up Hawaii Turnout But So Did Some Competitive Races

CB: … Turnout this year was about 47.8% in the primary, the best Hawaii has seen in the last two decades. It also beat other vote-by-mail states like Colorado, Washington and Oregon, which tend to have some of the highest voter turnouts in the country.

Across Hawaii’s 51 House districts, turnout increased an average 15% over the 2016 primary election. But the Waianae Coast and parts of central Maui, which traditionally have lower voter turnout, only saw an increase of about 8% to 12%.

Meanwhile, Hawaii’s top voting districts fared even better than average. House Districts 17 and 18, which cover a chunk of Oahu that stretches from Aina Haina to Hawaii Kai, saw increases between 18% and 19%….

In the Democratic race for District 36 representing Mililani, Trish La Chica and former state representative Marilyn Lee drew twice as many votes compared to the same race in 2016.

This year, La Chica and Lee got about 7,100 votes between them compared to the approximately 3,400 votes Lee and her challenger Zuri Aki got in 2016.

District 36 also had the greatest increase in voters since 2016 at 21.4%.

And on Maui, one of the districts that saw a big increase between 2016 and 2020 is also one of the districts that is always at the bottom for voter turnout.

District 10, which covers Lahaina, saw 19% more voters cast ballots in 2020 compared to 2016. That puts the district at 7th in terms of growth….

read … Vote-By-Mail Helped Perk Up Hawaii Turnout But So Did Some Competitive Races

Digital weapon uses cellphones to spy on quarantined arrivals

KHON: .. The digital platform would require travelers to put their personal information into an app that the state monitors. It’s basically the same information in the forms that they fill out on the plane. The state can then text travelers and in doing so, can determine if they are where they’re supposed to be staying through the phone’s GPS.

Keen adds that having all the information in one digital source makes it easier to track everyone. Because police from different counties as well as officers from the State Attorney General’s office will have access to it. But she says there will always be those who will find a way to get around the law.

“There’s always a workaround no mater how you play it and I think until this is over Hawaii Quarantine Kapu Breakers are always gonna be here to be the eyes and ears for the community to keep everybody safe,” said Keen.

She says the group now has more than 6,000 members (the regime has spies everywhere). She has spoken with the State Attorney General about other preventive measures, like having volunteers serve as a welcome committee at the airports, and give friendly reminders to arriving passengers….

read … Volunteer group welcomes state’s new weapon against quarantine violators

Americans Are Heading to Florida and Hawaii for Labor Day Weekend, Data Shows

TL: … While cities in neither state can claim being the most popular destination for Labor Day flights — that honor belongs to Las Vegas — both Florida and Hawaii have seen a notable increase in flight bookings for the holiday weekend. In fact, bookings to the Sunshine State have increased by 200 percent compared to the same time period in 2019, according to the data shared with Travel + Leisure….

TW: Hawaii's Neighbor Islands considering a 'resort bubble'

read … Americans Are Heading to Florida and Hawaii for Labor Day Weekend, Data Shows

Who is Lobbying the Governor During ‘Emergency’  -- You’ll Never Know

ILind: … current law doesn’t require disclosure of these contacts. I thing that’s a key reason that Civil Beat couldn’t really answer the question about why the detailed plan for the staged safe reopening of the economy has been largely ignored. Those guiding the state’s policy are apparently unable or unwilling to explain the basis for their decisions. And lobbyists aren’t required to make their own disclosure.

The problem is that the state’s lobbyist Law turns a blind eye to lobbying executive branch officials and employees, from the governor on down.

Instead, it’s back to the unregulated Wild West when it comes to lobbyists who are paid to pressure, prod, or cajole the governor and his key staff, health officials, or department administrators involved in decision making.

If lobbyists go the capitol to persuade legislators, they are covered by the lobbyist law. But if they continue up to the 5th floor of the capitol building, where the offices of the governor and lieutenant governor are located, they’re exempt.

Why? Because Hawaii’s lobbyist law unfortunately does not apply to most executive branch lobbying. The law only applies to the executive branch when it is considering the adoption, amendment, or repeal of rules governed by the formal process of Hawaii’s Administrative Procedures Act.

So if you’re not lobbying for or against a rule being processed pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act, the lobbyist law doesn’t apply.

If lobbbyists are trying to influence the course of the state’s pandemic response to benefit their clients, it doesn’t apply, and lobbyists are free to do their thing behind the closed doors of the governor’s office or state departments without registering or ever being called on to disclose what they are spending, or who is paying the bills….

CB: The State Has A Plan For When To Reopen Or Reclose. Why Aren’t We Following It?

read … It’s time to shine some light on special interests lobbying the Ige administration during this pandemic

Hospitals could be overwhelmed in a month if cases of COVID-19 continue to increase at the current rate

KHON: … “Queens Punchbowl, they are getting in about 10 to 12 COVID patients a day, they’re discharging about five or six,” Raethel said.

That means each day, they’ve added five to six COVID-19 patients.

According to Green, hospitals are currently at about 50 percent capacity.

Of the patients hospitalized with coronavirus, Green said roughly 20 percent end up in the ICU.

“A week ago our numbers were more towards 100. Now they’re more towards 170 in the hospital. That’s a big change over the course of a week. If we see a leap of a similar magnitude next week, it will start pressuring some of our hospitals and their capacity,” explained Green.

Green said that many who get the virus don’t end up in the hospital right away so it takes hospitals a few weeks to feel the impact from the positive cases that are reported.

“Most people it takes two to three weeks for the lungs to get inflamed and they get pneumonia. All of these cases that we’ve accumulated in the last three weeks, these 2,000-plus cases we have now, that’s what I’m looking at.”

KHON: “At what point are our hospitals going to be overwhelmed and it’s going to be the point of no return?”

“I would say four weeks if we continue at this rate,” Green said…..

HNN: Hawaii nurses union concerned that COVID-19 patients could soon overwhelm Oahu hospitals

read … Hospitals could be overwhelmed in a month if cases of COVID-19 continue to increase at the current rate

Hawaii teacher arrested for violating traveler quarantine

SA: … Agents from the Hawaii attorney general’s office arrested Mark Alan Cooper last week. Cooper, 48, of Mililani, returned to Honolulu from Florida on July 27. An acquaintance spotted him at a post office a few days later, the state said.

The acquaintance reported him to a citizen’s group that helps track down people who violate the quarantine. The group then reported him to authorities.

Cooper was arrested a week after teachers statewide returned to work. It’s not clear if he had been on campus before his arrest.

“We can confirm that Mark Alan Cooper is a teacher at Campbell High School, and that this individual requested the appropriate leave for quarantine purposes,” State Department of Education spokesperson Drew Henmi said in an email….

Meanwhile: HSTA to announce legal action against State of Hawaii, DOE

read … Hawaii teacher arrested for violating traveler quarantine

Soft on Crime: 14-Time Loser Gets a 15th Chance

HNN: … Honolulu police are looking for Herbert Figueroa Junior.

The 34-year-old is wanted on a $300,000 warrant for kidnapping, robbery and firearms charges.

Details surrounding the alleged crimes are limited, but CrimeStoppers Honolulu says Figueroa has 14 prior convictions.

He is known to frequent the Wahiawa area. He’s described as standing 5′10″ tall, and weighing 240 pounds. His mugshot also shows noticeable neck tattoos.

Anyone who may know of his whereabouts is urged to call CrimeStoppers at 955-8300. Online tips can also be submitted by clicking here.

read … Soft on Crime

Young Brothers: We Want a Rate Hike (again)

SA:  …Today, Young Brothers is facing an existential threat brought on by the economic fallout from COVID-19. Since March, we have seen a steep decline in demand for our services as Hawaii shut down and locked down to stop the spread of the virus.

It’s true that Young Brothers was struggling before the pandemic. Our losses mounted to more than $20 million in 2018 and 2019. Before March, we expected to lose $13 million this year, driven by a drop in interisland cargo and increased operating expenses to employ our skilled workforce and maintain YB’s specialized equipment and facilities….

No.  What really happened is that Saltchuck shifted operating expenses from its non-regulated trans-oceanic lines to YB in order to justify YB rate hikes,  This scam has been debunked by the State Consumer Advocate See;  Debunked: YB Demands $25M COVID Relief on Top of Rate Hike and Young Brothers Rate Hike Proposal Based on Fraudulent Numbers.

read … Young Brothers needs a lifeline from the PUC to stay afloat

State pension fund pops in final quarter to end year in the black

SA: … It was a get-well quarter for the state’s largest public pension fund as it overcame the effects of COVID-19 to post a 6.2% investment return and edge into positive territory for fiscal year 2020 ….

read … State pension fund pops in final quarter to end year in the black

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