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Tuesday, February 16, 2021
February 16, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:19 PM :: 2369 Views

Phony Baloney: Hawaiian Electric hits nearly 35% renewable energy

After Acquittal, Hawaii GOP Doubles Down on Trump

VIDEO: Hawaii's flawed accounting practices

Laughing at Your Sacrifice: HSTA Pressures BoE for $14.7M Pay Hike

Hawaii Lawmakers Are Considering Clamping Down On Gov’s Emergency Powers

CB: … House Bill 103, would limit emergency proclamations to 60 days and require two-thirds of the members of the House and Senate to approve any extensions….

Rep. Scott Nishimoto, who sponsored HB 103, says he introduced the measure this year at the request of some of his constituents and neighborhood board members, who were concerned that there was not enough public input on the emergency orders. Nishimoto represents parts of Moiliili, McCully and Kapahulu.

“There needs to be checks. I think that is what my constituents were concerned about, that the governor has unilateral power to do things indefinitely and there is a lack of community input,” Nishimoto said.

Tim Streitz, chair of the McCully-Moilili Neighborhood Board, echoed that sentiment. He said residents raised questions at board meetings over whether extensions of the emergency proclamations were legal.

“It didn’t seem right that one single person had such authority for an extended period of time,” Streitz said….

HB 103 also has support from the nonprofit policy group Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. Joe Kent, the executive vice president of the institute, suggested in written testimony to lawmakers that a provision be added that allows the Legislature to repeal an emergency order at any time.

Public workers unions including the Hawaii Government Employees Association and the state police union also support the bill….

The bill was also opposed by the Maui Chamber of Commerce, which represents businesses on the Valley Isle.

“Hawaii is both a multi-island state and separated from the continental U.S., which makes fast decisions even more critical as we cannot drive for additional resources, and the urgency of decision-making often has a huge impact on our economic, health and local community recovery,” Pamela Tumpap, the chamber president, wrote in testimony to lawmakers.

HB 103 must only clear the House Finance Committee before it moves to the full 51-member House for a floor vote. House Speaker Scott Saiki told Civil Beat in January that lawmakers would focus on reining in extensions to the governor’s emergency powers….

read … Hawaii Lawmakers Are Considering Clamping Down On Gov’s Emergency Powers

U.S. Attorney for Hawaii Kenji Price submits resignation

SA: … Acting U.S. Attorney General Monty Wilkinson spoke with U.S attorneys in a conference call last week and asked them to resign, effective Feb. 28. All but two were reportedly asked to submit their resignations.

Price submitted his letter of resignation on Friday and his last day in office will be Sunday.

In a statement today, Price said serving as U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii “is a privilege that I will forever cherish.”

“The career attorneys, professional staff, and contractors in my office do tremendous work day-in and day-out enforcing the law and defending the interests of the United States in civil litigation. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, they conducted (and continue to conduct) their affairs with the courage, character, and professionalism that exemplifies the finest traditions of the U.S. Department of Justice,” he added. “I truly stand on the shoulders of giants, and look forward to hearing about the fantastic work that my office will continue to do in the months and years to come, working hand in glove with our state and local partners and the broader federal law enforcement community.”… 

read … U.S. Attorney for Hawaii Kenji Price submits resignation

CDC guidance indicates most Hawaii schools should reopen to full, in-person instruction – but HSTA has new excuse for not working

HNN: … The CDC has issued new guidance for reopening public schools for in-person instruction, but the state hasn’t indicated whether it will actually implement it.

According to the CDC guidelines, most — if not all — of the state would fall in low or moderate transmission categories and so should allow full, in-person instruction.

Hawaii News Now reached out to the state Department of Education multiple times for an updated plan on reintegration of more students inside the classroom. The DOE has not yet provided an update.

The teachers union said Friday it is beginning to become more open to the idea of in-person learning because of the new guidelines and the rising number of teachers getting vaccinated. It said a recent survey of 11,000 members revealed 70% received at least one dose or have an appointment to get their first.

Where the union’s concerns continue to lie is whether or not teachers can choose to opt out of in-person teaching if they feeeeeel it is unsafe….

(Translation: Now that they have been inoculated, HSTA has a new excuse for not working.)

read … CDC guidance indicates most Hawaii schools should reopen to full, in-person instruction

COVID Vax: “affluent people trying push to the head of lines”

CB: … When there is a shortage of COVID-19 vaccines in Hawaii, you have to wonder why some young and healthy people at low risk of hospitalization or death from the coronavirus were among the first to get a shot.

My friend wondered about that after his 71-year-old wife with Alzheimer’s disease was informed by her doctor that she would have to wait to be vaccinated even though she is elderly, fragile and clearly at risk with memory problems that prevent her from safe behaviors such as wearing a mask and physically distancing.

Yet young clerks working at the state Capitol had already received their first vaccination dose on Jan. 28.

State lawmakers and their staff members are listed as essential workers “necessary for the functioning of society” in Hawaii’s current vaccination distribution Phase 1b, which includes people 75 and older and “frontline essential workers.”

State House Speaker Scott Saiki says in answer to critics who wonder if lawmakers are jumping to the front of the line: “ I recognize the optics involved, but we can’t risk a breakout of the virus this year because of the many critical issues the Legislature must address, including the distribution of federal funds, the budget, collapse of the economy and health issues.” ….

Medical ethics scholars have considered the issue of affluent people trying push to the head of lines to get the vaccine before they are authorized.

(Translation: Affluent = Influential.)

But Baehr says that in Hawaii’s close-knit culture most people are willing to wait “to protect the kupuna.”

“There will always be people who try to bully their way in ahead of others but people who have tried to jump in early seem to be doing it more out of confusion,” says Baehr ….

For Instance: HSTA survey: 52% of members have received one or two vaccine doses

read … Confusion Surrounds COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation

US Spike In Deaths Surpassed Official COVID-19 Counts, But Not In Hawaii

CB: … Across the U.S., nearly 20% more people have died since the start of the pandemic than would be expected in normal times, according to a New York Times analysis. In some places “excess deaths” have been even higher, as much as 60%….

In Hawaii, however, the fatality rate has barely budged.

It’s a product, first and foremost, of the pandemic being less severe in Hawaii than in almost any other state.

“We have fared remarkably well compared to the rest of the country,” said Tonya Lowery St. John, a public health epidemiologist at the Hawaii Health Data Warehouse. “Our lockdowns when they happened and the safeguards that were put in when we reopened Hawaii all seem to be working.”

But other, sometimes surprising factors have come into play, experts say, including the drastic reduction in tourism, disappearance of the seasonal flu and reduced traffic deaths. Even fewer suicides have occurred.

Fatality records from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show Hawaii recorded approximately 260 more deaths between April and December 2020 than it did the same nine-month period a year prior. That’s about 3% more. Considering that the increase includes 320 Hawaii COVID-19 fatalities, deaths from other causes seem to have even fallen slightly.….

read … US Spike In Deaths Surpassed Official COVID-19 Counts, But Not In Hawaii

HB285: Your Insurance Rates will Increase to pay for Sex-Change Surgery

WHT: … The latest version of House Bill 285 is scheduled for a 2 p.m. hearing today by the House Consumer Protection and Commerce Committee via videoconference.

The original version of the bill would have prohibited the denial of coverage to individuals for the purpose of gender transition if the policy would cover the requested procedure for other purposes.

For example, procedures that are a part of gender transition but have other purposes include hormone therapies, hysterectomies and mastectomies.

The bill unanimously passed Feb. 9 — with amendments, including the requirement of the audit — by the Committee on Health, Human Services and Homelessness.

The measure was introduced by Rep. Adrian Tam, a Democrat and openly gay legislator representing the Honolulu district that includes Ala Moana and Waikiki….

HB285: Text, Status 

Kaiser testimony: “Since this bill is a new mandate to increase coverage, an impact assessment report is statutorily required under Sections 23-51 and 23-52 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes. We also note that any addition of a new mandated coverage may trigger section 1311(d)(3) of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which requires states to defray the additional cost of any benefits enacted after December 31, 2011, in excess of the State’s essential health benefits. “

read … Bill requiring assessments when health insurance companies deny coverage based on gender identity advances in state House

Homeless Drug Addicts Flee Fire at Waikiki Bar

HNN: … Officials say flames broke out on the roof of Moose Mcgillycuddy’s just after 7 p.m. Sunday.

Although the pandemic forced the business to close for good last year, neighbors say the bar didn’t sit empty for long.

People who work nearby say the building had been overrun with squatters for months.

Fast-moving flames engulfed the back-side of building. The fire was so intense its glow could be seen a block over on Kalakaua Avenue.

A witness says he was working across the street when he saw several people scale the side of the pub.

“A whole bunch of chronic people was coming down. Jumping away from the fire,” said Michael Baxter.

He says squatters have been causing problems there since last summer.

“As soon as they closed people was in there,” Baxter said. “They kicked them out a few times now.”

Off camera, several people told HNN the once popular bar had become a drug den with illegal activity often spilling into the neighborhood.

A man who wanted to remain anonymous said, “They’d been trying to board the place up.”

He went on to say one evening he saw people through the windows.

“They were running around inside,” he said.

Another neighbor told HNN he called 911 to report trespassers just a few hours before the fire sparked….

(This bar is toast because we are not FORCING the homeless into shelters.)

read … Arson investigation launched after large blaze at shuttered Waikiki pub

Bristol-Myers, Sanofi ordered to pay Hawaii $834 mln over Plavix warning label

HNN: …Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi have been ordered to pay $834 million to Hawaii for failing to disclose that the drug Plavix was ineffective in reducing the risk of heart attacks, strokes and blood clots for patients of Asian and Pacific Islander descent.

The Hawaii attorney general announced the order Monday.

The companies began marketing the drug in 1998 and only began warning Hawaii physicians and consumers about the drug’s ineffectiveness in March 2010, when the FDA required them to place a “black box” warning on the label accompanying the drug.

After a four-week trial that ended on Nov. 20, Hawaii Circuit Court Judge Dean E. Ochiai concluded that the defendants deliberately withheld vital information about Plavix from the FDA, the greater medical community and Hawaii consumers.….

Bristol-Myers, in an emailed statement to Bloomberg, said both companies will appeal.

“The court’s ruling is unsupported by the law and at odds with the evidence at trial,” Bristol-Myers said.

“The overwhelming body of scientific evidence demonstrates that Plavix is a safe and effective therapy, including for people of Asian descent.’’ ….

CB: Hawaii Court’s Massive Fine Against Drug Makers Could Boost State Budget

read … Bristol-Myers, Sanofi ordered to pay Hawaii $834M over Plavix warning label

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