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July 31, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 2:46 PM :: 2476 Views

Victorino signs agreements with Expedia and Airbnb to curb illegal TVRs

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3% Hotel Tax to Fund Rail ‘Recovery Plan’?

CB: … HART officials now hope to shore up rail’s finances with money from the 3% hotel tax the city is authorized to impose….

The board of directors for the Honolulu rail authority unanimously elected former U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa chairwoman of the board on Friday, marking the second time she has filled that role for the troubled transit project.

The HART board also was told that the rail authority is seeking a share of the new city hotel room tax of up to 3% that the Legislature authorized earlier this year. Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi told the board Friday that “we have our eyes set on Ala Moana” as the end of the rail line….

Lori Kahikina, interim executive director for HART, told board members that HART is in touch weekly with City Council Chairman Tommy Waters and Mayor Rick Blangiardi. The authority plans to develop a recovery plan for the rail project and submit it to the Federal Transit Administration sometime after the end of this year, she said.

Board member Kika Bukoski noted that the Legislature just authorized the city to levy its own 3% hotel room tax.

“I think a lot of people have been talking about this as a potential vehicle,” Bukoski said. “Do you see that being a part of what is submitted to the FTA, or would that come after?”

Kahikina replied that “yes, that is an opportunity. It’s not concrete yet. There’s still a lot of logistics that need to be done on the council side.”

She said the city needs to use some of the money from the new tax to cover its own costs, so “we’re not sure exactly what we’re going to get, but I think there’s some confidence that we can expect something.”

“Right now it’s still in administration and (the) council chair, the ball is in their court right now to address that. So, once we get that information, that will roll up into our financial plan,” she said.

Kahikina also told the board a city bond issuance is about to close that would provide $425 million in borrowed money for HART. Of that sum, $275 million will be used to pay off short-term debt HART already incurred, and another $130 million will be available for HART to cover the cost of ongoing construction.

“This should carry us, (it’s) enough cash flow for the next year,” she told the board….

Blangiardi addressed the board publicly for the first time Friday but did not announce any specific plans for helping HART to cope with its financial crisis.

He said his administration walked into an “almost toxic” situation with the firing of former HART Executive Director Andy Robbins, the failure of a public-private partnership that was supposed to complete the last four miles of the rail project, a budget shortfall of $3.5 billion, and years of additional delays for rail.

Blangiardi said the FTA told him he needs to develop collaborative relationships with the council and the management of HART, and he has tried to do that.

“Recently we’ve had very good conversations with the FTA — I’m not allowed right now to go into any of that — but I’m feeling really good about where we are and what we’ve been able to say, and the plans that we’ve been developing.”

He said the city has “made up a lot of ground” in recent months.

“We’re really committed here. Lest anybody be confused about it, we’re very committed to this project, we’re very committed to building the most functional and best system we can, and we have our eyes set on Ala Moana.”

Earlier this year Blangiardi suggested the rail line might have to stop short of Ala Moana.

read … Hanabusa Becomes Chair Of The Honolulu Rail Authority Board — Again

Bid Rigging News: Hanabusa elected unanimously to serve again as Honolulu rail board chairwoman

SA: … Former congresswoman and state senator Colleen Hanabusa is the new chairwoman of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board of directors.

She was voted in unanimously during her first HART board meeting today.

(Solution: Federal penitentiary.)

Hanabusa replaces Toby Martyn who resigned from the HART Board this month for “personal reasons.”…

Hanabusa was appointed to the board by Mayor Rick Blangiardi, and her term began at the beginning of the month.

This is Hanabusa’s second time on the HART board. She served from June 2015 to October 2016 and was chairwoman from May to October 2016.

She accepted her nomination to the HART board, an unpaid position, after rejecting a controversial $924,000 consulting contract with the city’s rail project….

CB: Hanabusa Becomes Chair Of The Honolulu Rail Authority Board — Again -- Republican State Sen. Kurt Fevella, who has criticized Hanabusa’s involvement in rail in the past, said he was “very disappointed” in her election as chairwoman. Fevella said he believes that was the plan from the time Hanabusa was appointed to the board.


read … Hanabusa elected to serve again as Honolulu rail board chairwoman

Laughable: Another rail problem for Oahu

SA Editorial: … If it wasn’t all so serious, with billions of taxpayer dollars on the line, the problems plaguing Oahu’s under-construction rail would be laughable.

On construction alone, physical “issues” continue emerging: The latest came this week, over a malfunctioning railcar door. As reported by the Star-Advertiser’s Dan Nakaso, daily test runs of the train cars have been halted for at least one week after a door was found open with the railcar running. The automated trains are not supposed to be able to run while a door is open, for obvious safety reasons.

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation was hoping to receive an explanation from rail operator Hitachi Rail this week or next….

>> In March, it was revealed that the railcars were running on wheels that were too narrow for track “frogs” at 12 junctions where the tracks cross one another. HART and Hitachi have yet to figure out whether it’s better to swap out the 32 wheels of each train or replace the frogs, plus related cost implications.

>> In 2016, cracks were found in thousands of “shims,” plastic paddings along the first 10 miles of the elevated track; contractor Kiewit Infrastructure West covered that repair cost.

Even supporters of the rail — who see its potential to move people across Oahu, ease traffic and incentivize affordable housing — have been discouraged, as this 20-mile project has ballooned from an estimated $5.3 billion to the current $12.5 billion….

read … Another rail problem for Oahu

Incoming Interim Schools Chief Priority: Getting Kids to Show up for School

CB: … The incoming interim Hawaii school superintendent gave educators a glimpse of his vision for the upcoming academic year in a brief video greeting.

Keith Hayashi, who will replace Christina Kishimoto as school chief on Sunday, said he will prioritize attendance, academics and social-emotional learning for students as well as staff well-being and the safe return to schools for everyone….

(Translation: Setting bar very low.) 

read … Incoming Interim Schools Chief Previews Broad Vision For Hawaii

Where the COVID is -- Surge Areas

HNN: … Over the past 14 days, the following areas saw over 100 COVID cases:

  • Waianae - 172 cases
  • Ewa Beach - 151 cases
  • Hilo - 130 cases
  • Kailua-Kona - 130 cases
  • Kapolei - 128 cases
  • Kaneohe - 114 cases
  • Wahiawa - 105 cases

read … Amid surge in cases, state reports high COVID infections in certain areas of Oahu, Big Island

Hawaii doctors see sharp increase in COVID hospitalizations among pregnant women

HNN: … Hawaii maternity doctors say they’re seeing a sharp increase in pregnant women hospitalized with COVID-19, and are urging patients to get vaccinated.

“When I see a patient who’s pregnant with COVID-19 and they are looking at me with a mask on. I have my mask on. I see the fear in their eyes. I see the fear in their families,” said Dr. Stacy Tsai, a high-risk pregnancy physician in Honolulu.

Added Dr. Men-Jean Lee, also a high-risk pregnancy doctor:

“We are trying to sound the alarms right now that pregnant women are getting hit particularly hard in this next wave and they were all unvaccinated.”

As overall hospitalizations have risen into the triple digits, Lee says about 3 to 5% of the hospitalizations are pregnant women.

“They were all a lot sicker than what we had seen during the first few waves of the COVID pandemic here in Hawaii and we were caught off guard,” said Lee, of University Health Partners of Hawaii.

On Friday, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, two leading organizations representing specialists in obstetric care, announced they are recommending the vaccine for pregnant women….

“There have been some larger studies now that have been published recently over the past month showing that the COVID vaccine does not affect the placenta or the afterbirth so the vaccine doesn’t get across to the baby,” said Lee….

read … Hawaii doctors see sharp increase in COVID hospitalizations among pregnant women

Notapimp Convicted in Waikiki Robbery 

HNN: … The 35-year-old faces 10 years behind bars for a robbery that took place in Waikiki in 2019.

Officials from the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney say Pulliam and his accomplice, Isaiah McCoy, "brutally beat the victim and stole his watch as he stood outside a Kuhio Avenue bar."

"The victim suffered numerous injuries as a result of the robbery," a release from the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney reads.

The accomplice, McCoy, was convicted of second degree robbery on May 3, 2021.

“We are thankful for the jury’s service and for HPD’s work to investigate this case,” said Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm. "We will be seeking the maximum prison term for Pulliam at sentencing,” he said….

(Reality: 10 yrs = 5yrs.  With time served, Pulliam will be out in 4 yrs or so.)



read … Oahu man convicted for 2019 Waikiki robbery

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