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Friday, October 30, 2020
October 30, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:31 PM :: 3258 Views

Will Hawaii's emergency lockdowns ever be declared illegal in court?

Hawaii Among Only Seven States to Tax Groceries

Federal PVSA is pilau

COVID Count 94 new cases out of 4,171 tests

457K Votes Received so Far—Breaks Record

CB: … As of Wednesday, more than 457,294 ballots were received. That puts turnout at about 55%. It also means Hawaii has broken the record for total number of ballots cast in a general election previously set in 2008, the year Barack Obama was elected president….

read … A Majority Of Hawaii Voters Have Already Cast Their Ballots

Privacy?  Vigilantes Gain Access to State Quarantine List 

SA: … Question: You’re a founder of the Hawaii Quarantine Kapu Breakers Facebook group, which now has thousands of members. How many quarantine breakers tracked down so far?

Answer: The latest tally statewide is around 70 people. … I’m a former TV news reporter. In my days at KGMB News (now Hawaii News Now), I often would dig up information for colleagues simply because I enjoyed being a super sleuth. For quarantine breakers, if a checked name comes back as someone who should be in quarantine, I then do a deep dig online. I use open source data and have complicated search tactics that help me dig up information.

(How do these vigilantes gain access to quarantine list????)

The effort of my lead teams is incredible. We communicate via end-to-end encrypted texting daily. … We build a digital folder with photos, video, documentation and witness information. This is then handed off to a law enforcement partner at the state Attorney General’s Office. Within 48 to 72 hours the quarantine breaker is usually arrested. They must then post a 100% cash bail. In most cases quarantine breakers receive a $2,000 fine. Some choose to make a guilty plea and go home immediately….

Meanwhile: Honolulu mayor says he's received 'zero information' from state's surveillance program

NR: STATE LAUNCHES NEW ONLINE TIP PORTAL TO REPORT UNLICENSED ACTIVITY

read … Nebraska Native Leads Kapu

Hawaii Criminal Inmates Can Now File For $1200 Federal Stimulus Checks

CB: … U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton (Clinton appointee) issued an injunction in a lawsuit on Oct. 14 that prohibits U.S. Department of Treasury officials from withholding stimulus payments from prisoners “on the sole basis of their incarcerated status.”…

The U.S. Treasury made payments to about 85,000 inmates under the CARES Act in April, but then began withholding stimulus payments to prisoners. In many cases the Internal Revenue Service attempted to claw back the payments it had already made to inmates.

But since Hamilton’s ruling that inmates are eligible for the payments in the class action lawsuit in California, the IRS has been delivering forms to correctional facilities to distribute to prisoners to use to file for the payments.

Hawaii Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Toni Schwartz said the state prisons and jails here will distribute the forms to inmates at every facility, and said the department will collect the completed documents by the deadline to file, which is Wednesday.

Hawaii is holding about 2,600 men and women at in-state prisons or on the mainland as well as more than 1,500 inmates in state-run jails. It is not known how many of those inmates will actually qualify for the payments….

Inmates at Maui Community Correctional Center and Kulani Correctional Facility have received the forms and returned them, but it is unclear how much progress other Hawaii facilities have made, Brady said.

At Halawa Correctional Facility, the state’s largest prison, the forms are being held at the prison law library, but inmates have only limited access to the library, she said….

Amanda Gilchrist, director of public affairs for Saguaro operator CoreCivic, said in a written statement Thursday that the prison staff “has distributed the proper forms to all (Hawaii) inmates and will collect the completed documents by the November 4 deadline.”…

“Paying them stimulus while they’re in prison for crimes — violent crimes — seems a bit insane to me,” McDermott said…

(Really Obvious Question: What is being done to garnish fines and victim compensation payments from these $1200 checks?)

read … Hawaii Inmates Can Now File For $1200 Federal Stimulus Checks

Supreme Court Rejects Suit Seeking Prompt Payments For Hawaii’s Jobless

CB: … The Hawaii Supreme Court has rejected a class-action lawsuit that tried to spur faster action from the state’s labor department on thousands of outstanding unemployment claims.

On Thursday, the court denied a petition filed last month on behalf of thousands of workers left jobless amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Specifically, the suit aimed to compel the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations to process unemployment insurance claims “promptly” as required under state law, particularly thousands of challenging claims that have languished for months without resolution or payment.

It sought what’s called an “extraordinary writ” from the court to intervene with the DLIR. But the Supreme Court, in rejecting the petition Thursday, wrote that the case wasn’t there “to warrant this court’s intervention in the agency’s process.”

“In addition,” the court’s order continued, “it cannot be said that petitioners lack alternative means to seek relief.” …

HTH: Program created for 650 displaced workers

read … Supreme Court Rejects Suit Seeking Prompt Payments For Hawaii’s Jobless

Hawaii’s Medicaid numbers up 7% year-over-year

SR: … Over the past year, Hawaii’s Medicaid enrollment increased by approximately 39,000 people, or 7%. In October 2019, the state had 322,527 individuals enrolled in Medicaid. That number now stands at 381,661….

read … Hawaii’s Medicaid numbers up 7% year-over-year

As economic pain of pandemic widens, need for food stamps soars in Hawaii

HNN: …According to the state Department of Human Services, the number of residents receiving SNAP benefits has risen from about 155,000 last year to 179,000. That’s a 15.4% increase.

That surge in demand has contributed to a backlog. Hancock said her application has been delayed by two months and that she’s still waiting for approval. She said she has applied several times.

There’s another reason for the log jam….

The federal government used to require states to interview new applicants but it waived that requirement at the beginning of the pandemic. But that waiver expired in August.

“Our state, like every state, had a backlog of like five months of eligibility interviews and re-certifications and so some people ran into long wait periods. They probably got caught in that huge wave," said Nicole Woo, policy analyst at the Hawaii Appleseed Center.

Woo, who spoke with the DHS about the backlog on Wednesday, said the good news is that the federal government once again dropped the interview requirement at the end of September.

The state said it has since reduced wait times to an average of about eight days….

read … As economic pain of pandemic widens, need for food stamps soars in Hawaii

3,000,000 lbs of Free Food per Month

SA: … In less than six months after Hawaii’s first COVID-19 cases surfaced, the Hawaii Foodbank distributed more than 13 million pounds of food on Oahu and Kauai. In all of 2019, it distributed just more than 12 million pounds. It’s unsettling that due to demand, the food bank is now on pace for an October total of 3 million pounds….

read … More food distribution events

CARES Act Funding Lifted Hawaii Residents’ Incomes

SA: … The state Council on Revenues projects total personal income will actually increase by 5% this year but decline by 4% next year….

read … CARES Act Funding Lifted Hawaii Residents’ Incomes

Hawaii Tourist Count Drops in 2nd Week

SA: … In the second week of Hawaii’s pre-travel testing program, visitor arrivals fell 25% compared with the first week.

The first week brought 27,028 visitors, but that number dropped to 20,188 during the second week….

HTH: More than 83,000 flew to Hawaii since Oct. 15 (includes non-tourists)

read … Hawaii tourism struggles to gain momentum

Post-Arrival Tests Find only 6 Positives

HNN: … The state has pledged to conduct post-arrival tests of about 10% of incoming travelers.

Out of 9,323 tests conducted so far, Green said, six passengers tested positive for COVID-19. That translates into 1 out 1,553 passengers ― lower than what the state had anticipated.

If that rate holds, it would mean that roughly 50 of the more than 82,000 travelers who have come into the state through the pre-travel testing program since it’s launch Oct. 15 have been positive for coronavirus ― even though they tested negative before departure.

Secondary, post-arrival tests conducted through the surveillance testing program are voluntary. Travelers are selected at random and offered a free COVID-19 test to be taken four days after landing.

It’s unclear what the breakdown (residents to visitors) of those being tested is….

As Explained: Hawai'i Tourism Reopening Strategy: Make COVID Positivity Numbers Look Good 

Meanwhile: Honolulu mayor says he's received 'zero information' from state's surveillance program

KITV: Lessons learned from first two weeks of the state's Safe Travels platform

read … Post-arrival surveillance testing finds a handful of Hawaii travelers with COVID-19

Chemophobia Front and Center as HTA starts process to create new model for managed tourism

MN: … Traffic jams topped the list of problems created by tourism in a Hawaii Tourism Authority survey of Maui County residents, followed by cost of living, a lack of respect for the culture, damage to the environment and overcrowding.

Sherry Duong, executive director of the Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau, made note of the survey Wednesday evening at a virtual HTA forum on building a new model for tourism for Maui County amid the COVID-19 pandemic and lack of tourism.

“This global pandemic fundamentally turned off the economic engine, put us into a total collapse,” said John De Fries, HTA president, at the forum. “Here we are eight months later and we are still in an economic free fall.

“But what’s also becoming evident is that the most responsible model of tourism is regenerative tourism, tourism that will look two, three, five, seven generations from now, and begins to understand and envision the responsibility of making sure the natural resource base is there for every generation to be able to build and implement fair quality of life (not tourism.) ”

Each county will develop its own Destination Management Action Plan (DMAP) created by a local steering committee — a select group of residents working for local nonprofits, different business sectors, community projects and the visitor industry.

“This is a critical step in making a move to becoming a more responsible manager to the future of tourism,” Fries said. “Essentially, inviting the community to give definition to the kind of tourism you believe will be congruent and able to coexist with your community.”

This pandemic is a time to “reset and reboot” the economy and “change how we manage tourism,” he said.

Steering committee and public meetings, which began in September, will run through December. Maui residents can provide feedback and input on the proposed actions online at https://bit.ly/MauiDMAPForm by Nov. 9.

To achieve the long-term vision by 2025, HTA representatives said they will focus on five components: respect for natural and cultural resources, support for Native Hawaiian culture and community, ensure that tourism and communities enrich one another, strengthen tourism contribution and manage island resources.

(Translation: Payoffs to profitable nonprofits.)

Implementation of the DMAP is projected to start in January.

The first proposed action in the DMAP plan is to initiate, fund and continue programs that protect coral reefs, shorelines, clean ocean water, native fish and marine wildlife, as well as land-based ecosystems and bio security.

“We hope to do this by promoting Hawaii’s sunscreen law and by educating visitors on sunscreen use,” said Kawika Freitas, director of public and cultural relations at Old Lahaina Luau and member of the Maui steering committee….

(Translation: If tourism is a indoctrination system for the chemophobia campaign of the day, then we will tolerate the traffic.)

read … HTA starts process to create new model for managed tourism

A&B Profitable Again: 81% of Tenants Paying Rent

SA: … Hawaii’s second-largest retail property landlord, Alexander & Baldwin Inc., earned $3.2 million during the third quarter in part from more tenants opening and paying rent as the local economy slowly improves.

The company, which owns more than a dozen shopping centers statewide primarily anchored by grocery stores, said 95% of its tenants are now open, up from 93% in July, 75% in June and 62% in April.

Honolulu-based A&B also said it was able to collect 81% of tenant rent in the July-September quarter, up from 74% in the preceding three months….

read … Alexander & Baldwin resumes profitability in improving economy

COVID-19 taking a toll on island real estate market

MN: … The inventory of condos grew by a third from March (569 units) to September (754). Looking at the data year over year, inventory logged double-digit monthly increases from June to September — 21 percent in June, 30 percent in July, 56 percent in August and 51 percent in September.

Realtor Joseph Hogin, RAM president, said Wednesday that the lack of tourism is affecting the condo market on Maui. Most of the “vacation condos” that are hitting the market are not being rented and the lack of income for those owners are causing them to sell, he said.

For homes, the inventory has gone the other way with a 30 percent reduction from March (479 units) to September (337) and double-digit monthly declines year over year from July to September — 11 percent in July, 24 percent in August and 27 percent in September.

Closed sales have fallen for both condos and homes since March for the most part, though more severely for condos….

read  … COVID-19 taking a toll on island real estate market

City cleanup effort removes 52 tons of homeless rubbish from Oahu’s Leeward Coast

KHON: …  The project took place on undeveloped park land north of Kea’au Beach Park Campground.

Coordination included organizing up to 100 City staff as well as several pieces of heavy equipment over the course of more than a week.

The effort is also aimed at keeping Oahu’s homeless population from contributing to the garbage problem. Prior to this latest cleanup, 40 homeless people in the area were offered outreach services from Keaalahou West Oahu. Approximately 20 accepted transitional and emergency shelter assistance….

read … City cleanup effort removes 52 tons of rubbish from Oahu’s Leeward Coast

An 8-year battle with the law

HNN: … It took eight years and four failed trial attempts before the courts finally set Sefo Fatai free….Records show Medford had been given $1,900 in police “buy” money to purchase drugs. But that money was never recovered. Police records also show there were no female police officers to properly frisk Medford before or after the August 2011 meeting with Fatai….

read … An 8-year battle with the law left him hopeless and on the streets. Now he’s fighting back.

Geothermal Power and Big Cable Date Back to Hawaiian Kingdom

IM: … The dream, or myth, or desire of powering the state with geothermal energy was born in the 1800s.

In an era before any geothermal energy generation facilities anywhere in the world and before the existence of any undersea electric cables anywhere, a haole minister during the Kingdom of Hawai`i suggested using Big Island geothermal energy as a substitute for coal and to transfer the energy to neighboring islands via a cable.

The dream gathered speed after statehood.

During the 1970s-1990s, Hawai`i had spent $17 million over 15 years laying the groundwork for geothermal to generate half of the State’s electricity needs and to transmit it to Maui and Oahu via an undersea cable.

In June 1991 federal Judge David Ezra ruled that Phase III (research) and Phase IV (implementation) of the Geothermal/Cable Project “are ‘connected actions’ under NEPA regulations and must be made the subject of a single EIS. … Moreover, the ‘research work’ contemplated by Phase III alone easily satisfies the statutory standards for ‘major federal action’ based simply on the extent of federal funding.”

Federal Judge Ezra ruled that all federal agencies were prohibited from assisting the State in developing geothermal until a federal Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was completed. The project died.

Six Environmental Impact Statements were started – but none completed -- for an undersea high-voltage inter-island transmission line: Hawaii Geothermal Roundtable (1989), United States Department of Energy (1992), Castle & Cooke Resorts (2008), DBEDT (2010), U.S. Department of Energy (2010) and U.S. Department of Energy (2012).

Big Wind replaced Geothermal. The idea of building massive wind farms on Moloka`i and Lana`i to feed power hungry O`ahu dates from 2007. …

Only two ships in the world were equipped to lay heavy electric cables at depth between Maui and Hawai`i Islands. (Telecom cables are lighter). In the event of cable damage, no company in the world could lift and repair the cable, therefore no one would insure it….

read … Hawai`i Public Utilities Commission and the Public Trust

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