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Friday, August 28, 2020
August 28, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 9:14 PM :: 3266 Views

COVID Count 265 cases out of 2,757 tests  

HART Copies Leong’s Kealoha Trick to Hide P3 Contract—Delayed For 6th Time

CB: … Thursday was the most recent award date announced by HART that has come and gone…. The city and the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation have again delayed awarding an all-important contract for a multi-billion-dollar segment of the 20-mile rail line from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center.

The HART board of directors also announced Thursday that the completion date for the full rail line has been pushed back slightly….

At least two companies or conglomerates submitted bids on July 23 to compete for the contract, but they have not been identified publicly. HART reported Thursday that the panel tasked with evaluating the proposals from those entities has produced a report on its findings.

Andrew Robbins, who is executive director and chief procurement officer for HART, said it now falls to him and his counterpart with the city to decide “what the next steps are from that point.” Robbins said he is working with the acting city director of the Department of Budget and Fiscal Services on the selection, who is Manuel Valbuena….

having the chief procurement officers for HART and the city exclusively control the award of such a huge contract does not sit well with some. The procurement process does not give the HART board of directors or the Honolulu City Council veto power over the contract, which has drawn criticism from some observers.

HART Vice Chairman Terrence Lee noted there have been press reports that have been demanding that the board have oversight over the P3 award. He said it appears that is not possible given how the procurement code has been interpreted by the relevant agencies and the legal counsel to the board, putting the directors “in a tough spot because the public expects us to have this oversight” but the agency doesn’t….

(Translation: Some lawyer told us we can’t vote on this and we are pretending we are upset about that.)

(NOTE: Politically motivated ‘legal advice’ freezes board into one course of action.  This is the same game Leong played with the Police Comm when they voted on Kealoha’s severance pay.  How did that work out for her?)

read … Crucial Contract For Honolulu Rail Project Delayed For 6th Time

Feds Kick P3 Drop Dead date to Dec 31

SA: … While Robbins declined to tell the board when to expect a decision on the contract, a letter recently sent by Federal Transit Administration Regional Administrator Raymond Tellis suggests that HART expects it to happen by the end of the month.

“During our virtual meeting on June 18th, you indicated that HART intends to complete the contract award by the end of August 2020,” Tellis wrote.

Tellis’ letter to Robbins last week said that the FTA is now giving HART four additional months, until Dec. 31, to determine how it will fund the final construction phase. The letter said HART has to show “satisfactory project progress” on an approved recovery plan that’s supposed to address how the city is to meet the project’s escalating price tag. 

(Caldwell thinks this will remove him from responsibility for the outcome of the P3 contract.)

HART was supposed to have that done by Sept. 30 or risk having $250 million in federal funding lapse. The money is part of a $744 million tranche of the FTA’s $1.55 billion share of the project that’s been withheld by federal officials until they are satisfied with the city’s plan to move forward….

The extension “will provide sufficient time to complete the grant award if HART completes the city center contract award by its target date,” Tellis said.

The allowable time for the city to obtain the money was already extended once, for a year dating back to September 2019.

It’s possible that public-private partnership proposals will be rejected by the city. If that’s the case, “at the end of the day, there is the opportunity to cancel, perhaps re-procure, what we have called the Plan B,” Robbins said. “There are … contingency plans in the event we have to look at the worst case as well … and we’re prepared for that.” ….

CB: Leave Rail’s Future To New Honolulu Mayor And Council

read … Details of Honolulu’s rail P3 plan remain concealed

Judge intervenes in prison housing for alleged crime boss Mike Miske

SA: … Michael Miske Jr. was being held in a special housing unit, known in the federal detention system as the “SHU,” without any explanation, one of his attorneys, Lynn Panagakos, said at a hearing today…..

While he was segregated, Miske’s lawyers were unable to meet with him and officials at the Honolulu Federal Detention provided no explanation for why, she said.

Because U.S. Magistrate Judge Kenneth Mansfield intervened, Miske will be moved into general population, she said.

Efforts are now being made to allow him to have meetings and phone calls with his attorneys, including video conferencing with one of his attorneys on the U.S. mainland….

(Translation: Witnesses will now be targeted.)

Related: Miske-Lawyer-Behind-Campaign-to-Unseat-OHA-Trustee-Kelii-Akina

read … Judge intervenes in prison housing for alleged crime boss Mike Miske

10,000+ people on Oahu registered for a COVID-19 test in the last two days

KITV: … The city's newest tool in the fight to help stop COVID-19 from spreading is a second-day free surge testing provided by the federal government. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell on Thursday, reported more 10,000 people have registered online over the past two-days, others are also taking the walk-in route.

The Mayor says walk-ins are the best way to test people dense neighborhoods. The average wait time at Kalakaua District Park in Kalihi was about 15-minutes, a dramatic drop from the up to two hours some people waited at drive-through test-sites on Wednesday…

read … 10,000+ people on Oahu registered for a COVID-19 test in the last two days

Number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized on Hawaii Island could soon test capacity

HNN: … Hawaii County reported 10 new coronavirus cases Thursday, with the number of hospitalizations on the island now up to 14.

Four of those patients are in the Intensive Care Unit, authorities say.

“A week ago, we didn’t have any. So this has certainly been a surge for us,” said Dan Brinkman, East Hawaii Regional CEO at Hilo Medical Center.

Two of the four ICU patients are from next door at the Yukio Okutsu Veterans State Home, where seven residents and three staff members recently tested positive.

“The other five are still here at the veterans home in our (COVID-19) unit, so they’re separated from the rest of the residents,” said Douglas Taylor, the administrator at the home.

(THIS IS A BAD IDEA.  COVID + Nursing Home = Disaster.  They must be moved to a COVID –specific facility or the disease WILL spread.)

“We only have 24 ICU beds, I believe, on the Big Island, so we could surge past our capacity fast,” added Lt. Gov. Josh Green, who is also an emergency room doctor.

In addition to the outbreak at the care home, another cluster has been traced to Liberty Dialysis in Hilo. The Department of Health also recently cited a large funeral service as the source of another cluster….

KHON: Trump Administration now requires nursing homes to test staff, residents for COVID-19

read … Number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized on Hawaii Island could soon test capacity

Candidates for Honolulu mayor land support of major unions ahead of election

HNN: …Amemiya has earned the support of 3 chapters of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, along with the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers.

Meanwhile, members of the ILWU 142 longshore workers’ union announced Thursday that they were supporting Blangiardi in the race.

The union announcements come on the heels of what were a pair of endorsements from Hawaii politicos.

Earlier this month, former U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa announced she was supporting Blangiardi in the upcoming race, while Amemiya has secured the endorsement of Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz last week. The two have a long-standing relationship, and Amemiya served as treasurer for Schatz’s Senate re-election campaign in 2018.

read … Candidates for Honolulu mayor land support of major unions ahead of election

Government workers who got paid for pretending to work from home before now deemed essential

KHON: … Oahu government workers who were able to work from home during the first lockdown aren’t allowed to this time around. That is according to the head of their union, who says there is no good reason for it because it goes against the goal of stopping the spread of COVID-19…

The head of the Hawaii Government Employees Association (HGEA) says he is just as confused as everyone else as to why the workers are not allowed to (pretend to) telework this time around (and get paid for it). Many of those who were considered nonessential back in March are now deemed essential.

“What was the case a few months ago now is not the case, and that all government workers are effectively deemed essential and they’re all being asked to report to work unless told otherwise,” said Randy Perreira, Executive Director of HGEA….

HNN: HGEA leader blasting state response to coronavirus

read … Government workers who worked from home before now deemed essential

DOH Won’t Give Honolulu The Data It Needs To Detect Coronavirus In Our Sewage

CB: … Researchers need access to coronavirus test results by zip code in order to corroborate what they are finding in the island’s wastewater system….,The University of Hawaii has been testing nine samples, one from every public wastewater treatment plant on Oahu, for 10 weeks now and the virus has been detected in almost every sample….

read … DOH Won’t Give Honolulu The Data It Needs To Detect Coronavirus In Our Sewage

DoH Budget Gambit—Threaten to Cut EMS

MN: … The state Department of Health, which proposed the changes last month, said it has been in talks with EMS providers in all four counties over the past few months in preparation for potential statewide budget reductions for the coming year. The Maui County Paramedics Association held membership meetings last week to discuss ways that EMS could meet those cuts.

(IQ Test: Are you laughing?)

“Nothing is set in stone, nothing is for sure going to be cut, according to what they say,” union officer Kapena Hill said Wednesday night. “We just won’t know until whatever deadline they give themselves.”

Hill said he understood the decrease in revenue and financial hardship that everyone is facing but said now was not the time to scale back health services.

“During a health care crisis like this, if you cut any health care services, especially the emergency services, it just doesn’t make any sense,” he said.

The DOH said Thursday that the proposals are for “discussion purposes,” and that no timeline for a decision has been established. They asked the four county EMS providers to develop budget scenarios based on possible funding restrictions.

“The Department of Health recognizes EMS is an essential public health service and is committed to doing everything in its power to maintain Hawaii’s EMS service during this pandemic,” DOH said in a statement to The Maui News.

West and South Maui Sen. Roz Baker, who chairs the Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health Committee in the state Legislature, said that from her understanding, “it was just an exercise.”…  (Yes.  Or maybe ‘gambit’ would be a better word.)

RELATED: Washington Monument gambit

read … Gambit

State Asks Lawyers, Law Students To Help With Unemployment Claims Backlog — Pro Bono

CB: … Any volunteers accepted to help would work with the agency’s examiners on some of the most complex claims — those involving disputes over how exactly the claimant left their job, Kunstman said.

These “job-separation” issues tend to appear in the regular unemployment insurance program, not the special Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which launched in May for independent contractors and those deemed ineligible for regular UI.

DLIR has reported paying out nearly 170,000 claims in the regular UI program since the pandemic hit. But the total number of claims “requiring DLIR action” has consistently hovered at over 10,000 throughout August.

Most of the 10,372 claims awaiting DLIR action as of Thursday had job-separation issues, Kunstman said.

Some claimants, however, have been stuck in that pile for months, growing more desperate for payment or at least some resolution….

read … State Asks Lawyers, Law Students To Help With Unemployment Claims Backlog — Pro Bono

Payments From Honolulu’s $25 Million Hardship Fund Are Mired In Red Tape

CB: …The city’s application requires an unemployment insurance certification or verification letter.

It also requires bank statements….The city also requires “proof of liquid assets” for every adult in the household….“If you’re a single adult who has a formal termination notice and access to a bank statement, you’re probably in good shape,” she said. “If you have any variation of that, not so much….

read … Payments From Honolulu’s $25 Million Hardship Fund Are Mired In Red Tape

UH Facing Fiscal Crossroads With Expected $100M Revenue Shortfall

HPR: … The regents have asked the UH administration for both a two-year and 10-year plan going forward. 

"And we know that because of the measures we potentially might be taking, the vision of what our university will be 10 years from now is going to be different than what it is today."

Kudo says more federal aid is under discussion in Washington, but it may not be coming soon.

"We have reserves we can dig into that would cover us depending on our burn rate per month, which varies depending on how we can reduce our expenditures -- that would last us about a year or less.  Once those reserves are gone, we have nothing left. So we are keeping reserves to be used strategically for those types of expenditures we need absolutely." 

Planning for this crisis follows a major humanities reorganization at UH Manoa.

The new College of Arts, Languages and Letters, or CALL, combines 17 departments, and around 300 permanent faculty. It's the largest college at Manoa with 3,200 students enrolled in arts, languages, literature, and Pacific and Asian studies….

Navy establishes long-requested ROTC program at UH Mānoa

$85M raised by UH Foundation for students, programs and research

Bill would allow for more group living facilities

read … UH Facing Fiscal Crossroads With Expected $100M Revenue Shortfall

Chinatown Bumfight Sends Homeless Dude to ER

SA: … Honolulu police have opened an assault investigation in connection with a stabbing of a 38-year-old homeless man at Chinatown Thursday.

Police said the victim and a 36-year-old homeless woman were involved in an argument in the area of River and Pauahi streets at about 6:50 p.m.

Police said the argument escalated and the woman stabbed the victim in the upper torso.

Emergency Medical Services personnel treated the victim and took him to a hospital in critical condition.

There are no arrests at this time….

read … Bumfights are expensive

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