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Tuesday, August 3, 2021
August 3, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:57 PM :: 2652 Views

'Keep Your Kids at Home' -- HSTA Plans Chaos for Opening Day

'Safe Return to Schools' -- Ige Outlines Plan

UHPA: Vaccine Mandates Subject to Collective Bargaining

Tax Hike News: Kai Kahele Co-Sponsors Carbon Pricing Bill

Hawai‘i Promise helps hundreds with financial hurdles

Ethics: DOCARE Officers Fix Personal Vehicle During Work Hours

Why reform of Hawaii’s emergency powers law failed

Federal Transit Project Cost Overruns and Ridership Shortfalls: The Honolulu Rail Debacle Beats Them All

Guam Mango Seizure Unconstitutional

Rail costs ‘unimaginable,’ retired transit official says

SA: … A retired Federal Transit Administration official who had evaluation responsibility for America’s rail projects — including the city’s troubled system — called Honolulu’s spiraling costs and $3 billion deficit “unimaginable” and “far beyond” anything he has seen across the country in 30 years with the FTA.

Twenty-one rail projects around the nation averaged cost overruns of just over 6% compared with their original funding plans between 2003 and 2007. So the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s current cost estimate of $12.449 billion represents a 143% escalation above its original cost estimate of $5.12 billion when the city signed its Full Funding Grant Agreement with the FTA in 2012.

Ron Fisher retired in 2009, before the FFGA, but continues to follow the HART project. Fisher spent 30 years at the FTA and retired as director of the Office of Project Planning in the FTA’s Washington, D.C., headquarters, with the responsibility for rating and evaluating every rail project in the country that sought federal funds, including HART….

Fisher called Honolulu’s escalating costs and shortfall “unimaginable” and unprecedented in his career evaluating dozens — if not hundreds — of rail projects.

He cited a 2007 study by the FTA’s Office of Planning and Environment that found that “21 projects completed between 2003 and 2007 … exceeded the inflation-adjusted estimates developed in alternatives analysis by 40.2 percent, the final design entry cost estimates by 11.8 percent, and the FFGA estimates by 6.2 percent.”…

The higher costs and budget shortfall put rail officials in a tough place because Fisher assumes they have little credibility left with the FTA to seek additional funds.

“The $3.5 billion shortfall is a lot,” Fisher said. “We don’t know that the $3.5 billion shortfall is reliable. It could be even more. There’s nothing in the project history that suggests HART can bring in the project at the estimates. … It would be highly unusual for FTA to say, ‘We’re going to reward you with additional money for a project that seems to be incurring incredible cost overruns.’”…

“If the shortfall of funding to complete the project to Ala Moana Center cannot be found, then this project can no longer proceed as being in the construction phase. The reality is there are fundamental planning issues which must be addressed given there are now optional ending locations for the stations. To make informed decisions of the best terminus location, reliable information should be developed for each optional terminus that addresses ridership, cost, bus connection operations, environmental impacts and other impacts. This is critical if HART wants to produce credible information for the public and decision makers to examine a shortened project that has never been vetted with the public and other interested parties.”…

RELATED: Federal Transit Project Cost Overruns and Ridership Shortfalls: The Honolulu Rail Debacle Beats Them All

SA: Hanabusa reboards the HART train

read … Rail costs ‘unimaginable,’ retired transit official says

Hawaii COVID growth rate on pace with U.S. mainland for the first time during the pandemic  

KITV: … For the first time during the pandemic, the rate of COVID-19 infections in Hawaii is now on pace with that of the U.S Mainland.

That's according to data from the University of Hawai?i Economic Research Organization.

The report was presented to state lawmakers on Monday on the House Select Committee on COVID-19.

Throughout the pandemic, Hawaii's growth rate of infections remained below national levels.

The increase is believed to be tied to the rise of the delta variant and people spreading the virus in large gatherings.

Management from the state's largest hospitals told committee members they are already seeing rapid changes.….

read … Hawaii COVID growth rate on pace with U.S. mainland for the first time during the pandemic

Governor Rejects Roth, Victorino Requests to Delay School Reopening

HNN: … Statewide, there are about 150 hospitalized COVID patients.

But as more unvaccinated residents get infected, that number could increase to about 200 over the next several weeks.

“It speaks to the rapid spread of the delta variant. We’ve got to stop it now,” said Dr. Jill Hoggard Green, CEO of the Queen’s Health Systems.

Healthcare executives on Oahu said they’re better prepared for an increase in patients.

They pointed to the high statewide vaccination rate and to the improved treatment plans for sick patients. They added that most of the people getting sick today are younger, unvaccinated residents who recover faster.

“The likelihood of us going back to a complete lockdown ... is very low or not possible at all,” said Ray Vara, CEO of Hawaii Pacific Health.

But mayors on Maui and the Big Island worry that their hospitals will soon be overrun.

And with the public schools returning for in-person classes Tuesday, both Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth and Mayor Mike Victorino of Maui have asked for a delay.

But Gov. David Ige rejected the requests.

“You have to remember that Hawaii Island prior to the pandemic ... already had a shortage and that shortage of doctors has grown even more,” said Roth.

“We have 25 or 24 ICU (intensive care unit) beds on our island and I believe those ICU bed spaces are almost fully taken.”…

read … Hawaii’s health care system showing signs of strain as COVID cases continue to soar 

Revived visitor industry soars, but job market underperforms

TGI: … “The pent-up demand, the excess savings, the wanderlust, everything that drove the visitor arrivals … put us at roughly 90% of 2019 levels (in July).”

The number of visitors exceeds experts’ most optimistic projections, according to Bonham. However, jobs recovery is only 40% complete.

“Back in the early part of the pandemic — April, early May (2020) — we lost 153,000 jobs,” he said. “We’re still down 94,000 jobs.”

Bonham had no “exact answer” for the state’s underperforming job market, but offered several theories for the nationwide phenomenon, which is predominant in the service industry. These included hesitancy to work, for fear of exposure to COVID-19, businesses attempting to maximize profits through smaller staffs, and low wages.

“Benefits are having some impact on people’s willingness to work. There’s no doubt about that,” he said…. 

read … Revived visitor industry soars, but job market underperforms

Commission again extends deadline in search for Honolulu police chief

SA: … The 24 people who applied to serve as Honolulu’s 12th police chief have been informed whether they met the minimum qualifications, and the deadline to hire a consultant to pick the finalists for Honolulu police commissioners and the public to consider was extended again, to 4:30 p.m. Friday.

The Police Commission is not saying who met the minimum qualifications and is not releasing the names of the applicants to commissioners or the public until a consultant is hired to pick finalists.

“Candidates that have not met minimum qualifications are given a period of ten days to provide additional information for review,” Honolulu Police Commission Chairwoman Shannon L. Alivado told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in a statement. “Commissioners will be updated during the Aug. 18 meeting as to the total number of qualified applicants eligible to move forward in the process.”…

The lack of qualified consultants applying to serve the commission delayed the selection process by more than 30 days….

(Translation: The consultant selection is being artificially jammed up in order to provide insiders with an opportunity to decide who the next chief will be. A consultant will then be brought in to ratify the inevitable.)

read … Commission again extends deadline in search for Honolulu police chief  

Gerard Puana pursues civil lawsuit

SA: … Two years after federal criminal conspiracy convictions of former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, the victim in the case is still pursuing damages from the city and several former law enforcement officers in civil court….

read … Gerard Puana pursues civil lawsuit

Fund Race: Green $600K, Caldwell $509K

CB: … Green’s campaign finance reports show he raised $424,000 between Jan. 1 and June 30. That raised his total campaign coffers to more than $600,000 when combined with previous donations.

Former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, who intends to run as well, raised just $9,000 during the same period. Caldwell’s campaign finance report filed late Monday shows that he has just over $509,000 in the bank.

Former First Lady Vicky Cayetano has also said she is considering running for governor, but she has yet to form a candidate committee that can receive political donations….

SA: Josh Green pulls far ahead of Kirk Caldwell in Hawaii gubernatorial fund-raising

read … Green Has $600K In Campaign Cash More Than A Year Before Election Day

End of eviction protections puts formerly homeless Oahu families at risk again

HNN: … Many of the 128 formerly homeless people living in Kahauki Village, an affordable housing complex near Keehi Lagoon, are behind in rent because of the pandemic.

And with the eviction moratorium ending this week, some are concerned about losing their homes.

“A lot of them have been working in industries that were impacted very severely by COVID,” said Jill Wright, community relations director at the Institute for Human Services. “We have a lot of families that were in the hospitality industry, the retail industry and restaurant industry.”…

Rent for a one-bedroom unit remains $725 per month, while a two-bedroom unit is $900 a month.

Residents are screened by IHS and all formerly lived in the agency’s shelter.

Wright said case workers have been trying to educate those who fear eviction about rent relief programs and mediation, which is now required before a tenant can be evicted….

read … End of eviction protections puts formerly homeless Oahu families at risk again 

Court Limits A&B East Maui Stream Diversion

CB: … Judge Jeffrey Crabtree of Hawaii’s Environmental Courts said in a written order Friday that A&B — a major real estate company in Hawaii — and subsidiary East Maui Irrigation Co. must limit diversion of the water to no more than 25 million gallons per day.

“This should be more than enough water to allow all users the water they require, while hopefully reducing apparent or potential waste,” Crabtree wrote.

A&B did not respond to a request for comment. The Sierra Club of Hawaii, which has long challenged A&B’s state-approved permits to divert the water, called Crabtree’s ruling “a big deal.”…

PDF: Court Order

read … Court Limits A&B East Maui Stream Diversion

Hawaii pioneered growth management in the 1960s

TA: … Hawaii pioneered growth management in the 1960s, which explains why Honolulu became unaffordable in 1970. Many California urban areas drew growth boundaries in the 1970s and have not expanded them since then. Development outside of the boundaries is almost impossible. As a result, California and Hawaii are the least-affordable states in the country and are suffering from a genuine, if government-induced, housing crisis….

read … Housing Affordability from 1950 through 2019 

Puppetry News: Disbarred Lawyer Dubin Writing Waihee Declaration?

ILind: … Former Honolulu attorney Gary Victor Dubin, who was disbarred by order of the Hawaii Supreme Court late last year after a lengthy legal battle, now appears to be on a fast track towards loss of his license to practice law in federal court as well….

Dubin promoted himself and garnered a national audience by hosting a weekly radio program, The Foreclosure Hour, from 2013 through most of last year. His co-host John Waihee III, served as Hawaii governor from 1986 to 1994. Dubin also successfully argued a number of cases before the Hawaii Supreme Court over the years.

… in four sharp rulings last week, Judge Jill Otake rejected requests made by or on behalf the 82-year old Dubin to deflect or further delay the ongoing disbarment proceedings and avoid dismissal of a related civil lawsuit Dubin filed earlier this year in Honolulu’s US District Court….

Otake said that “as a courtesy,” she would allow Dubin to submit a declaration by former Gov. John Waihee, who represented Dubin during hearings held by the disciplinary counsel. Dubin said Waihee would testify to improper behind-the-scenes communication between the Supreme Court and disciplinary counsel which, he argued, prejudiced those proceedings.

Otake set a July 28 deadline to submit the Waihee declaration. But on July 28, the original deadline, Keith Kiuchi filed a motion on behalf of Dubin requesting an extension of the deadline until Monday, August 2, citing Dubin’s “health and medical issues,” and time pressure from other deadlines….

Otake’s order also said the motion failed to explain “why he [Dubin] is personally preparing filings — and is the only person who is purportedly able to do so — when he is represented by Mr. Kiuchi.“

“[T]he declaration of John D. Waihee III must be drafted by Mr. Dubin because he alone has had communications with Gov. Waihee both during the process before the Office of Disciplinary Counsel and after.”…

read … Recent rulings suggest foreclosure attorney Dubin faces likely disbarment in federal court

Hawaii Has A Ban On Sunscreen Chemicals But No One’s Sure Who Should Enforce It

CB: …Selling sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate became illegal this year, but lawmakers are relying on sellers to self-police and consumers to hold them accountable….

REALITY: Chemical Company Behind Anti-Sunscreen Campaign

read … Hawaii Has A Ban On Sunscreen Chemicals But No One’s Sure Who Should Enforce It

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