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Sunday, December 27, 2020
December 27, 2020 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:40 PM :: 2893 Views

DoJ: Hawaii's Lum Crime Family Trades American Hostages in Trump's White House

Ige to Choose from 3 Candidates for Kahele’s Senate District 1 Vacancy

Collective Bargaining Agreement:  Supreme Law of the Land?

What Emergency? Hawaii Tourism Authority Keeps Funneling Money to WCIT/DTL Scheme

SA: … In 2007, lawmakers appropriated $80,000 for a feasibility study for the Center for Hawaiian Music and Dance. Since 2013, the Legislature has been directing HTA to set aside $1 million annually to fund operations at the future center, for which a budget was never set.

In 2014, under former HTA President and CEO Mike McCartney (now director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism) a contract for a business plan and design study was awarded to WCIT Architecture and subcontractor DTL Hawaii for more than 10 times what the Legislature had allocated.

In 2015, WCIT delivered a $98 million plan that recommended construction of an energy-efficient, 40,000-square-foot Hawaiian center, plus an exterior area for open-air seating with a performance stage and hula space. WCIT’s plan said a nonprofit board should be established to raise private dollars to cover the balance of funds needed to open and operate the Hawaiian center beyond the $1 million annual allocation established by lawmakers in 2013.

There has been little progress beyond the expensive planning phase after more than a decade of stalls. Delays even exacerbated the cost to fix the Convention Center’s rooftop terrace since the maintenance was deferred to allow repairs to be completed at the same time as the Center for Hawaiian Music and Dance.

Project proponents would like to see it finally move ahead, fulfilling an HTA requirement to perpetuate and preserve Hawaiian culture. Still, it’s unclear if spending another $250,000 to explore a change that hasn’t even been approved by lawmakers will draw widespread support.

“This isn’t the time or the place,” said state Sen. Glenn Wakai, chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Economic Development, Tourism, and Technology.

Wakai said the money would be better spent on seeing HTA through the pandemic.

“I told them the way they are spending they are going to spend themselves out of existence by next June and they don’t seem to understand the urgency of what’s in front of them,” he said.

Wakai said HTA’s transient accommodations tax appropriations have been stopped since April and “even if TAT comes back there is no guarantee that the governor will release it to them.”

“Right now nothing is going into their coffers and they are spending like they aren’t in a crisis,” he said “They’ll need to save more money to survive.”

HTA Vice President of Finance Marc Togashi said once encumbrances are removed, HTA has only $18 million in prior funds available for its fiscal year 2021 budget.

With tourism dramatically down and not projected to come back quickly, Wakai said he’s perplexed that HTA has not cut staff or at least hours, especially for those handling marketing contracts for source markets that aren’t in the current budget.

“Somehow they can’t see themselves having to cut payroll. If they were running a business and everything was down 90%, they would decrease expenses but that’s not HTA,” he said….

SA Editorial: On arts center timing

read … Hawaii Tourism Authority will spend another $250K on troubled Center for Hawaiian Music and Dance

Hawaii’s leaders bring profiles in futlessness to dreadful year

SA: … The Legislature opened its 2020 session in January with House Speaker Scott Saiki warning, “As a community, we are at best treading water. At worst, we are drowning.” And that was before COVID-19 hit…..

A Department of Education survey found 70% of kids learned “much less” or “somewhat less” during remote learning. The real story is the 30% who learned more….

Hawaii bankruptcies surged in the pandemic, with half of households losing significant income and unable to pay bills. I’m sure they’re happy to suffer a little more so public workers don’t have to suffer at all….

State Health Director Bruce Anderson resigned after defending botched contact tracing as only one prong of his pandemic response. The other prongs were obfuscation, blame shifting and information hoarding….

Loretta Sheehan, the only police commissioner to call out former Chief Louis Kealoha’s corruption and oppose his $250,000 retirement payoff, was ousted as chairwoman. Our city can handle only so much integrity….

read … Hawaii’s leaders bring profiles in futlessness to dreadful year

Potential Kapolei casino raises concerns in Las Vegas

KITV: … It's far from a done deal - it would still have to get approval from state, the idea is also raising eyebrows in Las Vegas, which relies heavily on visitors from Hawaii who want to gamble.

Nicknamed the 'Ninth Island.' thousands of Hawaii visitors come to Vegas each year, and Hawaii and Utah are the only two states where all forms of gambling are illegal.

"There's a lot of curiosity I would say and I think to some people it's absolutely mortifying that there could be a casino closer to the players," says Scott Roeben with Vital Vegas….

Roeben says even if the plan were to go through, logistics could be a challenge. "Casinos don't just magically happen you have to have company that's more experienced with the gaming side of the business, and I don't believe that talent pool exists in Hawaii right now."

In the meantime, because of travel restrictions to return to Hawaii, Las Vegas is still struggling to get Hawaii visitation back up.  Boyd casinos for example are offering testing sites to satisfy Hawaii's Safe Travel requirements. "They've tried to make it easier, they've got these on site testing centers but the telling moment will be when the Main Street opens back up because that one's almost completely reliant on visitors from Hawaii so the fact that it's not open yet means the demand just hasn't come back yet," Roeben says….

read … Potential Kapolei casino raises concerns in Las Vegas

Over a hundred car break-ins and thefts reported within a week

KHON: … Marc Capener said his car has been broken into twice in the last month, once at a beach park after Thanksgiving and then at his open parking garage just three days before Christmas.

“It totally sucks, of course, like any situation like that,” said Marc Capener. “I never had my car like windows smashed before and stuff stolen like that. So it’s like the first time ever.”

On top of the $500 needed to fix his broken window, the thieves made out with about $2,000worth of fire swords that he uses for his performances as a fire artist.

“I do. There’s a group called quite fire artists,” said Capener. “They they perform all over. They do concerts and all sorts of things. Definitely like there’s, you can make some money doing all of that. So in the past that has been part of my livelihood. They took almost everything that I had.”

Capener’s case is just one of 130 vehicle break-ins and thefts reported within the last week from Dec. 18 to Dec. 24. According to the Honolulu Police Department, there have also been 180 personal property thefts reported during that time….

“There was a case like that recently over the windward area where someone was at home and the person walked right in and snatched an ukulele hanging off the wall,” said Kim.

read … Over a hundred car break-ins and thefts reported within a week

Sick Leave: Lets Pay People to Stay at Home and Do Nothing

SA: … Federal legislation passed in March, the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act, has given many workers the rights to paid sick days and extended family and medical leave. These two provisions have been key to workers being able to take the time they need to keep themselves and our communities safe when they’ve been sick.

They have also helped residents abide by the governor’s emergency orders, which require people who are sick to stay home, unless they are seeking medical care.

But both of these programs expire at the end of 2020. Without another federal package to extend them, our workforce will be put in a perilous dilemma: come to work sick or risk their financial security.

That’s why our state Legislature this coming session should pass a law that permanently gives workers the right to paid sick days (using magic money from the sky). Families should never be forced to choose between their health and the health of their community and making ends meet.

read … COVID Forever

Puna Cell Phone Tower Permit Triggers Anti-5G Nuts

HTH: … The Windward Planning Commission next month will discuss plans to build a cell tower on a rural lot on Highway 130 north of Kalapana….

This is the third proposal for such a tower AT&T has submitted to the Windward Planning Commission in the past year, with towers in Kurtistown and Hawaiian Paradise Park being approved in June and October, respectively.

However, those towers also faced substantial pushback from residents concerned about possible adverse health effects caused by cellular radiation, with scores of people testifying against the proposals during several commission meetings throughout the year.

While the communities near the third tower site do not appear to have unified community associations, John Petrella, a real estate agent who sells properties within Black Sand Beach Subdivision, said he expects the third tower will be similarly controversial among locals.

“I would just ask community activists to show me the dead birds, the dead animals from all the radiation,” Petrella said. “They can’t, because there aren’t any.”

Petrella, a former electrical engineer, said carrying a cellphone exposes a person to more radiation than walking 100 feet below a cell tower and that being concerned about the negligible radiation generated by a tower, compared to the general background radiation of everyday life, is like “seeing a kid at the top of Niagara Falls peeing over the edge and saying he’s contaminating the water.”

Federal laws prohibit a municipality from denying an application to a telecommunications facility solely based on health concerns, and federal and global health authorities have found no link between cellular radiation and adverse health effects in humans….

read … AT&T seeks to build cell tower in lower Puna

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