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No Bid Contract: Hawaiian Telcom Scores $25 Million After Ige Writes it into State of State Speech
CB: … Gov. David Ige’s administration has awarded a $25 million no-bid contract to Hawaiian Telcom to deliver broadband to eight underserved areas of the state after Hawaiian Telcom submitted an unsolicited proposal for the project to the state Department of Transportation.
The unusual contract raises questions about whether Ige had any role in the deal because the governor worked for Hawaiian Telcom for 18 years, and for a time was the company’s lobbyist. He has also received nearly $18,000 in campaign donations from Hawaiian Telcom in the past decade….
Sniffen said Hawaiian Telcom sent an unsolicited proposal to DOT shortly after the State of the State address, and transportation officials then began discussions with the company….
Transportation officials justified the no-bid contract in a filing with the State Procurement Office by asserting that Hawaiian Telcom “is the only provider in the state to own and operate broadband capacity on the Inter-Island fiber network.”
However, a spokesman for Charter Communications countered that “of course the contract should have been competitively bid. Hawaii residents deserve the best products at the lowest price, especially when tens of millions of public dollars are being spent.”
Charter offers broadband, cable and other services in Hawaii as Spectrum, and competes with Hawaiian Telcom….
Sniffen said that under the state’s partnership with Hawaiian Telcom, the company will string lines within rights-of-way belonging to the Highways Division, expanding the reach of broadband service. When the contract is finished, Hawaiian Telcom will own the fiber and other wiring it installed, he said….
PDF: Procurement Exemption Request
2014: Conflict of Interest: Ige Was Both Legislator and Lobbyist While Serving on Committee Overseeing His Employer
Jan 25, 2021: State of State: Ige Punts Tax Hike to Legislature
A critical part of re-programming our economy is also the creation of a healthy statewide broadband network. During the pandemic, the importance of broadband to everything that we do was made all too real. All of us dramatically increased online activities, such as online learning, telework, telehealth, and workforce development and training.
At the same time, a broadband hui, made up of more than 200 local stakeholders, met to find a path through the pandemic to the future. Their long-term goal aligns with the state’s in developing a broadband infrastructure that is accessible and equitable for all. My thanks to members of the hui and the State’s Broadband Officer, Burt Lum, and many others for their collective efforts to increase our connectivity both during and after the pandemic.
I can assure you that broadband will be a priority for the state in the coming years. I have directed Ed Sniffen, DOT Deputy Director of Highways, to accelerate his pilot project to connect rural communities to broadband service. He will be leveraging federal funds with state and private sector resources. The project will focus on Puna, Kaʻu, Hana, Nānākuli, Waiʻanae, Waimānalo, Kalihi and Kapaʻa. I am also directing my cabinet to implement projects to connect rural and underserved communities to similar projects.
Clearly, the pandemic has highlighted the digital inequity in Hawaiʻi. Part of our task is to make sure that a student in Nānākuli can access an online lesson plan as easily as a student in Kāhala—and that, in a digital Hawaiʻi, everyone’s connected. Likewise, with an FCC grant, we will support a telehealth initiative to connect low-income patients with high medical risks to healthcare providers. DHHL will receive at least $30 million in federal funds to benefit Native Hawaiians.
In addition, my legislative package this year includes a bill to create a Broadband and Digital Equity Office to oversee these efforts. This office will also enable us to identify and secure Hawaiʻi’s share of $7 billion in new federal funds for broadband infrastructure and digital equity programs.
The pandemic has made it painfully clear that life in the future will be ALL about being connected.
read … No Bid, No Problem? Hawaiian Telcom Lands A $25 Million State Broadband Contract
Grandiose Projects Fail Again and Again
Cataluna: … For example, all the grandiose plans for a new Aloha Stadium gloss over the fact that the University of Hawaii has had a hard time filling the seats for football games over the years. The stadium has a capacity of 50,000. In recent years, if the place was half-full for a game, that was considered a good crowd.
However, for the next three years (at least), the UH football team will be playing on campus in the new/old Clarence T.C. Ching athletic complex.
Imagine, a Saturday night football game right there on campus, just like at a big university. Imagine, every one of the 9,000 seats filled. Imagine, a UH football game where people are clamoring to get in, where tickets are hard to get. That excitement would feel like success — maybe not quantifiable, but palpable.
What if the rental car industry didn’t ship back thousands of cars, and tourists had to rent bikes, take shuttles or just stay on the resort grounds and spend money supporting the economy rather than go off-roading to some remote off-limits area to get injured, stranded and in need of rescue? Fewer rental cars on the road should be a goal. Visitors to Hawaii are currently scrambling to get around because there aren’t enough cars for them to rent, yet the traffic is terrible.
And then there’s the rail, which reliably supplies the worst example of every bad policy and practice in play in Hawaii. Even before construction started, its capacity was greater that projected ridership. People were going to have to be persuaded to ride the train.
Now that remote work has proven doable for many companies and preferable for many workers for more than a year, and now that distance and hybrid has been a part of classes from kindergarten through graduate programs, the need for rail does not seem as dire. It is another project that was begun to meet projected, or even hopeful, growth projections, like the Hawaii Convention Center, which was supposed to be home to high-end international conferences and ended up being just another Neal Blaisdell exhibition hall with nicer bathrooms and newer carpeting….
read … Rightsizing Hawaii Is A Better Goal Than Constant Growth
Honolulu police robo-dog plays mean game of fetch with tax dollars
Shapiro: … Honolulu police turned the CARES Act, meant by Congress to bring relief from the COVID-19 outbreak, into the AINOKEA Act by blowing the funding on expensive toys such as trucks, ATVs and a $150,000 robotic dog named Spot.
HPD tried to justify the spending spree, which prompted a federal inquiry, by recently trotting out the yellow-and-black robo-dog to do tricks for the news media….
As of February, according to The New York Times, Honolulu was one of only three U.S. police departments that have tried the robotic dog, along with New York City and the Massachusetts State Police….
“Right now it seems to be a fancy toy in search of an actual use,” said one critic in New York….
read … Honolulu police robo-dog plays mean game of fetch with tax dollars
Hawaii food prices continue to rise
KITV: … The cost of food continues to soar — for some items prices increased by as a much as 50%.
"I think I will have to increase the price on our food otherwise we're going to have so much debt," said Natalie Tew, co-owner of To Thai For in Kaimuki. "We are worried every day."
Tew's most recent grocery receipts from March to April shows the cost of broccoli and green beans alone increased about 45%.
Unyong Nakata, spokeswoman for wholesale distributor Y. Hata & Co., said the problem is simply supply versus demand.
"We're all coming out of COVID very excited to come out of COVID safely, but there was a sudden rush of pressure on the system — the system being the supply chain as a whole," she said.
Manufacturers are experiencing extreme labor shortages due to COVID-19 safety concerns and not enough employees returning in addition to a nationwide shortage of raw materials, Nakata said.
"For Hawaii you've got the added pressure of the logistics and the freight because we are in the middle of the Pacific," she said.
Prices aren't expected to go down anytime soon. As tourism rebounds, residents plan summer activities and families prepare to send their keiki back to school in-class during the fall, Nakata said it'll all take a toll on the supply chain.
"Everyone again is going to the same well," she said. "Fortunately, unfortunately, the supply chain may not be able to keep up with the rebound in the economy."
That may mean emptier wallets. She predicts prices will keep rising for at least six more months….
read … Hawaii food prices continue to rise
When will cruises return?
HTH: … Several cruise lines announced their intentions last week to resume vacation cruises this summer to ports in Alaska, Florida or Texas — but it doesn’t appear Hawaii will be on any port of call itineraries anytime soon.
“I’d be surprised if we have any cruises in Hawaii before the end of the year,” a source close to the industry who requested anonymity said Friday.
Congress has approved a bill to allow large foreign-flagged cruise ships to sail directly from Washington state to Alaska, bypassing the Passenger Vessel Services Act, an 1886 federal law barring foreign-flagged ships from carrying passengers between two U.S. ports without a stop in another country. President Joe Biden is expected to sign the measure into law. ….
NCL Hawaii owns the MS Pride of America, the only large U.S.-flagged cruise ship in operation — which prior to the pandemic had been cruising between Hawaii ports, but has since sat idle in Honolulu Harbor. Any other large cruise ship that sails from a U.S. port to Hawaii has to make a stop at a foreign port — usually at Fanning Island in the Republic of Kiribati, about 1,000 miles south of Hawaii.
NCL’s website advertises bookings for summer and fall cruises, including Hawaii interisland cruises starting in August, but that doesn’t mean those cruises will actually occur. Even though the CDC has eased restrictions on mask wearing for fully vaccinated people, the state still has emergency orders mandating the wearing of masks in public, which Gov. David Ige said will remain in place for now.
GRIH: What happens after Pride of America says ‘aloha’ to Hawaii?
ADN: US House passes bill allowing large cruise ships to visit Alaska this summer; Biden expected to sign
read … When will cruises return?
Corona Virus News: