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Monday, July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:38 PM :: 2712 Views

How Rail Contractor Run by Convicted Felon Got $100M for job 92% incomplete

CB: … Costs are mounting for a botched utility relocation effort for Honolulu rail, demonstrating how snafus in Hawaii’s largest-ever infrastructure project often have expensive ripple effects.

Private construction company Nan Inc. so far has charged about $100 million on a contract worth up to $400 million to relocate utilities for rail’s last four miles into town. Nan only managed to finish about 8% of the work involved, according to official reports

That’s largely because the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, under its new leadership, canceled the Nan contract earlier this year after the rail agency failed to secure approvals for the utility work. ….

As a result, rail’s whole utility relocation effort imploded.

Nan continues to submit charges related to the canceled contract, rail officials said last week. They didn’t specify how much. 

In March, HART Interim Executive Director Lori Kahkina said too much of the money was going to executives and top-level employees at Nan. She added that the company was often being paid to mobilize crews that didn’t have work to do.

But it’s not just Nan that’s billing. 

Stantec, the rail project’s construction engineering and inspection contractor, has also recently asked HART for millions of additional dollars, much of it to cover its own costs associated with Nan’s defunct contract. …

More Nan News: Corona Towers: Council Hides Behind Quarantine, Gives Development Deal to Convicted Felon 

read … Paid To Stand By: How A Botched Rail Contract Multiplied Costs

Legal motion seeks public disclosure of latest plea agreement in Miske case

ILind: … The Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest (CBLC) filed a motion in US District Court on Friday to unseal and make public the written plea agreement between prosecutors and Norman Lani Akau III, who pleaded guilty on June 9 to being part of a racketeering conspiracy allegedly controlled and directed by former Honolulu businessman Michael J. Miske Jr….

PDF: Motion to Unseal Norman Lan…

read … Legal motion seeks public disclosure of latest plea agreement in Miske case

The Choice For Workers At A Honolulu Care Facility — Get Vaccinated Or Get Fired

CB: … With the coronavirus pandemic showing no signs of ending, a senior living center in Kapolei mandated that all its employees get a COVID-19 vaccine by August or face termination.

That was bad news for Wendi Ortiz, certified nursing assistant at Ilima at Leihano, who is fiercely opposed to getting a shot but was denied a religious exemption.

“I’ll be terminated on August 7 if I don’t get vaccinated,” Ortiz said, adding that she doesn’t plan to change her mind.

“I’m frustrated and I’m very scared,” she said. “I don’t know where my funds are going to come from.”…

(SOLUTION: Get the vax.)

Ilima at Leihano made the COVID-19 vaccination mandatory on May 20 but gave staff a grace period of nearly three months. In an email, the facility said it was an effort to create the “safest environment possible,” but also provided information for people to apply for vaccine exemptions.

Ilima at Leihano executive director Mark Tsuda said it’s his moral and ethical responsibility to protect the residents, whose average age is over 86.

“You know, it’s a choice to take the vaccination and work in the company, or to find employment elsewhere,” Tsuda said….

read … The Choice For Workers At A Honolulu Care Facility — Get Vaccinated Or Get Fired

Department of Veterans Affairs will require health workers to be vaccinated

AP: … The Department of Veterans Affairs will require many of its frontline health workers to be vaccinated, the agency announced on Monday, making it the first area of the federal government to require shots among some of its workers….

AP: Jill Biden calls on unvaccinated in Hawaii to get COVID-19 shots

read … Department of Veterans Affairs will require health workers to be vaccinated

During The Pandemic, School Vouchers Make Sense

CB: … if the upcoming session of the Legislature were to propose an amendment to Article X of the state constitution to create a brief voucher pilot project just to cover the COVID-19 pandemic for, say, the next four years, this might provide a way for parents to get their children through school without worrying about infections….

SA: Major Honolulu private schools commit to in-person learning

read … During The Pandemic, School Vouchers Make Sense

Hawai`i -- Renewable Energy Can Worsen the Climate Crisis

IM: … Hawai`i has a 2045 net-zero GHG goal (a political compromise between those who wanted 2040 and those who wanted 2050). Only in the electricity sector, but not in the gas utility sector, nor in the transportation sector, are there interim goals for the years between 2021 and 2045.

In Hawai`i, biofuels made with a little bit of vegetation and a lot of fossil fuel, and some caustic chemicals, count as 100% renewable energy. This law was passed to encourage the local construction of large ethanol refineries.

The Hawai`i Legislature established renewable hydrogen goals while intentionally encouraging the use of dirty fossil fuel-based hydrogen for researching the clean hydrogen future….

Hawai`i has made multiple major revisions to the definition of renewable energy over the past two decades.

The simplest ways of getting to 100% renewable energy are to redefine what renewable energy means or to redefine what 100% means.

Hawai`i law allows for the state to assert that electricity is 100% renewable while being 80% fossil fuel. It`s all in how terms are defined and what loopholes are created, unintentionally or otherwise….

Many of the top law firms in Hawai`i are funded by the fossil fuel industry to fight off climate change lawsuits….

read … Hawai`i -- Renewable Energy Can Worsen the Climate Crisis

Out-Of-State Renters Are Driving The Market In Honolulu

CB: … Most people searching for a place to rent in Honolulu are from out of state and have more money to spend on housing than most locals.

That’s according to a recent analysis by the rental search website Apartment List. The study found that while nationally, about 30% of people who look for rentals in a city are coming from another area, more than one in two searches for rentals in Honolulu on Apartment List’s platform came from people who don’t live there.

“That is very unusual,” said Igor Popov, chief economist at Apartment List.

He thinks Honolulu is experiencing an amplified version of national trends: more remote workers, more renters competing for housing and more people looking for short-term housing, which could lead to higher rents….

The analysis found that in the second quarter of 2021, out-of-state renters most frequently came from Los Angeles, New York or San Francisco, while people leaving Honolulu most frequently looked for rentals in Las Vegas, Seattle and Los Angeles.

“In total, 53% of searches into Honolulu are coming from out-of-town apartment seekers,” the analysis concluded. “This migration flow is putting pressure on local rent prices because these movers have budgets that are 10% higher than the existing residents who are also searching for a new apartment.”….

read … Wealthy Out-Of-State Renters Are Driving The Market In Honolulu 

Slight uptick for Maui County jobless rate

MN: … Maui County’s unemployment rate ticked up slightly from 10.3 percent in May to 10.7 percent in June as the economy slowly marches toward recovery and businesses try to call back workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unemployment on Maui island was 10.9 percent in June, followed by Molokai at 8.8 percent and Lanai at 4.1 percent, according to the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, which released the latest numbers on Thursday. The rates, while still higher than they were before the pandemic, are for the most part an improvement over June 2020, when Maui County’s unemployment rate was at 22.8 percent — 23.5 percent on Maui, 10.2 percent on Molokai and 3.9 percent on Lanai.

The county’s rates were the highest in the state at the time; last month they were second only to Kauai County, which reported an 11.2 percent jobless rate in June. Unemployment was at 7.9 percent in Hawaii County and 7.1 percent in Honolulu County.

County data had not been adjusted for seasonal hiring changes.

Statewide, the nonseasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.9 percent in June, while the seasonally adjusted rate was 7.7 percent.

Hawaii is seeing slightly higher rates than the U.S. overall, which had a nonseasonally adjusted jobless rate of 6.1 percent and a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.9 percent in June.

The number of out-of-work residents in Hawaii declined slightly, going from 52,100 in May to 49,750 in June, while the total of employed residents increased from 595,400 in May to 596,500 in June. However, the labor force as a whole declined from 647,500 in May to 646,250 in June.

read … Slight uptick for Maui County jobless rate

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