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Sunday, August 8, 2021
August 8, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:42 PM :: 5027 Views

First railcar heading to Ala Moana.

A Policy Statement About Fines

Hawaii Congressional Delegation How They Voted August 7, 2021

Blangiardi suddenly pro-rail after pocketing $465,000 in ‘legalized bribery’ scheme

Shapiro: … For most of his term, Mayor Rick Blangiardi downplayed chances of building the $12.5 billion Honolulu rail line all the way to Ala Moana Center, suggesting it was unrealistic with the project more than $7 billion over its original budget and facing a current deficit of more than $3 billion….

But at last week’s meeting of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, he was back on the script the powerful rail lobby has written for Honolulu mayors for 15 years…

“We have our eyes set on Ala Moana,” Blangiardi told rail directors.

One reason for the turnabout might be found in his latest campaign finance filing, in which he reported raising a whopping $639,000 from January to June — the bulk from developers, construction firms and other rail interests.

Most of the money, $465,000, went straight into the pockets of the mayor and his wife, to repay them for loans they made to his campaign.

Sweet deal. You run as the independent candidate, based in part on your large portion of self-financing, then after you’re elected the money you put up is paid back by the special interests you were supposedly independent from….

Much of Blangiardi’s haul came from executives of construction and development firms such as the MacNaughton company, RM Towill, Royal Contracting, Nan Inc., Castle &Cooke, D.R. Horton, Dura Constructors, Avalon Development and the Koba­yashi Group, some of which had multiple executives donating.

Prominent on the list were developers in Kakaako-Ala Moana, who have the highest stake in running the train through their projects to Ala Moana Center no matter the cost to taxpayers….

sugarcoat it as you may with the legalities written by the politicians who feed off the system, and it still has the look of legalized bribery….

read … Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi rides money train to big campaign fund payday

Kirk Who? Usual Insiders Redirect Cash Flow to Josh Green

Borreca: … Popular or not, for a candidate to win a major race, he or she must flash their name around and it takes money to do that.

So the just-released compilation of campaign money shows Lt. Gov. Josh Green as a steady and strong campaign fundraiser in the race for governor.

The state Campaign Spending Commission reports show Kirk Caldwell has raised a minuscule $9,760 in campaign contributions over the past six months. That compares to Green, who took in $424,212 during the same period.

Those close to the Green campaign say Caldwell’s principal historic backers like developers and contractors have gravitated to Green. Fundraiser Lorrie Stone has a prominent role in Green’s campaign finance structure, according to campaign sources…. 

SA: Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green unapologetic in run for governor

read … Campaign reports show Josh Green’s lopsided cash-donation lead over Kirk Caldwell, but it’s still early

Why is a federal watchdog part of the Miske investigation?

Ilind: … Did investigators suspect Miske’s alleged criminal organization was benefiting from an insider’s assistance?…

The Department of Justice Office of Inspector General is the internal watchdog that investigates criminal wrongdoing by FBI agents, prison officials, and other DOJ employees, contractors, and grantees. OIG doesn’t investigate violations of agency rules, or other personnel matters, just actions that may violate criminal laws.

OIG’s participation in the Miske investigation was not made public at the time of Miske’s arrest and indictment….

The Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General investigates alleged violations of criminal law by Department of Justice employees, and also audits and inspects DOJ contractors, grantees, and programs. The OIG regularly reports to Congress, listing cases it has pursued, which include numerous investigations leading to criminal charges against prison officials, law enforcement agents, or other DOJ employees accused of accepting bribes, for example….

I queried several people familiar with the operations of the US Attorneys Office in Hawaii, and each said they were not aware of OIG being involved in any criminal investigations locally. All agreed it is extremely unusual.

An online search turned up one prior case of this kind here in Hawaii that would likely have involved OIG. In 2004, the FBI began an investigation after discovering a secretary in the agency’s Honolulu organized crime and drug unit was tipping off her husband and other members of a drug trafficking ring, providing them information from FBI computers. The two year investigation led to charges against more than 35 people, including five Honolulu police officers, a Honolulu liquor commission inspector, and the head of security for Aloha Stadium. Thousands of pages of FBI wiretap transcripts were handed over to HPD, leading to “a massive internal investigation” which resulted in disciplinary action taken against an unknown number of officers, according to news accounts at the time….

read … Why is a federal watchdog part of the Miske investigation?

‘Listen to science, not social media’: Unvaccinated at high risk for catching delta coronavirus variant

KHON: … The number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital jumped to over 200 on Saturday, Aug. 7.  Officials said they are dealing with a surge in cases in west Oahu. …

“Almost all of our hospitalized patients are unvaccinated, almost all of them, and the ones that are in the hospital that were vaccinated, maybe had one shot or are not that sick,” explained Lt. Gov. Josh Green.

“Usually there’s a reason [a vaccinated person is in the hospital], they’re very old and frail or their immune-compromised in some way,” explained internal medicine Dr. Toni Brayer. “But the hospitals are filled with unvaccinated people that have contracted COVID.”…

Younger patients are being hospitalized nationwide and misinformation continues to spread.

“People who are in the 30 to 55 age range are becoming very ill and having to be hospitalized and dying at a time where they shouldn’t be dying in their life,” Dr. Brayer continued.

“I’ve had family that died from COVID and friends that are scarred and sick forever,” explained waterman and Makaha community leader Brian Keaulana.

“I’ve known the healthiest people that went down, you know, pretty hard, they didn’t die or anything, but they got really, really sick, but on the other hand, they’ve infected other people, you know, so it’s not just yourself, right?” he added.

Keaulana said he decided to get the vaccine for his ohana.

“For me, it was a no-brainer, it’s not really to protect me but to protect those people around me and those that I love,” he added.

“I don’t want to push it, I just want all my friends and family to educate themselves on what’s the right information,” Keaulana added.

Ewa Beach, Ocean Pointe and Ewa Villages districts are seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases. Sen. Kurt Fevella (R) said COVID-19 is ripping through west Oahu due to a lack of education and people not knowing the vaccine is free….

Sen. Fevella said his aunt was infected with COVID-19 while in the hospital for another reason. She ended up in the hospital for three months with COVID-19 and his good friend, former Majority Leader Sen. Kalani English stepped down earlier in 2021 after suffering complications from long-COVID.

“It’s real, it is real,” he said.

“We just get a lot of skeptics out there that listen to social media, and they shouldn’t,” he added….

SA: Blangiardi seeks vaccinated-only policy for University of Hawaii fans

read … ‘Listen to science, not social media’: Unvaccinated at high risk for catching delta coronavirus variant

Nearly half of Ka’ohao School in quarantine after 3 students test positive for coronavirus

KHON: …“We have cases in first, fourth and fifth grade,” Sakurai said. “We are trying to take every precaution to protect our school community, and continue learning for students by having a quarantine of certain classes on campus.”….

… According to Sakurai, it impacts roughly 144 out of the 330 students at the school. He has asked everyone in quarantine to get tested. They will be allowed to return to campus on Monday, Aug. 16, as long as they test negative….

read … Nearly half of Ka’ohao School in quarantine after 3 students test positive for coronavirus

Kindergarten Enrollment Drops 51% near Kuhio Park Terrace

TB: … An analysis by The New York Times in conjunction with Stanford University found that in 33 states, 10,000 public schools lost at least 20 percent of their kindergartners between fall 2019 and fall 2020. The major enrollment decline drive appears to be directly related to the coronavirus pandemic and a Stanford research paper suggests fully remote school districts took a heavier hit. While there were declines in previous years, they were less drastic — in 2019 and in 2018, for example, the Times writes that only about 4,000 schools hit the 20 percent threshold.

Worse still, schools in lower income areas bore the brunt of it. One example highlighted by the Times was Linapuni Elementary School in Honolulu, Hawaii. The school sits in a public housing complex and many of its students are reportedly from Pacific Islander immigrant families that do not speak English. Its enrollment declined by half, from 65 to 32 in the fall, and only 10 of the missing students returned when classrooms reopened for in-person learning in the new year. Read more at The New York Times….

read … The New York Times

How Tasers Became Legal In Hawaii

CB: … under Hawaii law Roberts could not own an electric gun, although its use was allowed by county police departments, officers of state agencies for public safety and conservation enforcement, and the Army and Air National Guard in emergency situations.

So, Roberts hired a lawyer from San Diego and sued the Honolulu police chief, the Hawaii attorney general and the state sheriff.

“The Second Amendment guarantees individuals a fundamental right to keep and carry arms for self-defense and defense of others in the event of a violent confrontation,” the lawsuit states.

Because of that 2018 lawsuit, a Massachusetts case and others, as of Jan. 1, 2022 it will be legal for private citizens in Hawaii 21 years of age and older to own a Taser and other electric guns. House Bill 891, signed into law July 1 by Gov. David Ige as Act 183, regulates the sale and use of electric guns and cartridges and repeals the ban on their possession, sale, gift, loan or delivery….

July, 2021: Starting January 1st, 2022, law-abiding citizens will have the option of owning tasers and stun guns.

read … How Tasers Became Legal In Hawaii

Return of cruise ships still up in the air

HTH: … Exactly 33,400 trans-Pacific passengers arrived Thursday by air at Hawaii’s major airports, but the question of when the Aloha State will once again welcome cruise ship passengers at its ports remains unanswered.

“There are no formally scheduled bookings for any cruises, at any commercial harbor, at this time,” said Shelly Kunishige, spokeswoman for the Hawaii Department of Transportation in an email. “Resumption of cruise activity continues to be conditional on operators meeting the conditions of the CDC order.”

Kunishige is referring to a conditional sail order by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which requires cruise operators to show 95% of crew and passengers are vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, or to hold test cruises with volunteer passengers to prove they can mitigate coronavirus risks.

There were numerous outbreaks of COVID-19 aboard cruise ships early in the pandemic, and the CDC dry-docked the industry in the U.S. with a no-sail order on March 14, 2020….

read … Return of cruise ships still up in the air

Forecast right population for new Oahu Community Correctional Center

SA: …  A recently completed OCCC population forecast shows the male inmate population declining from pre-pandemic levels of 1,316 in 2019, to a projected average daily population (ADP) of 875 inmates in 2024 and a continued decrease to 788 inmates in 2032.

(And the usual soft-on-crime ninnies are using this to ensure that the new jail is too small thus guaranteeing a continual overcrowding situation which will be exploited to force the release of hundreds and hundreds of hardened criminals out on to the streets.  Fortunately their subterfuge is being debunked in this column …)

However, forecasting the ADP is only one part of determining what the total bed requirement will be for the new facility.

It is important to note that no jail should be operating at 100% capacity and that not all beds are always available for use by every inmate. For instance, a vacant bed in a community security housing unit cannot be filled with a medium-security detainee. Similarly, a maximum-security detainee cannot be placed in a vacant bed in a minimum-security housing unit.

Therefore, the population forecast takes into account two key factors. The first is the peaking factor, which reflects the daily and seasonal variations in jail occupancy and the temporary unavailability of beds due to unanticipated circumstances, routine repairs and maintenance, etc.

The second is classification factor, which reflects the need to separate inmates based on security requirements, individual treatment needs, etc. The peaking and classification factors help contribute to providing the necessary flexibility to operate a jail safely and effectively at 85% to 90% of maximum bed capacity.

With the peaking and classification factors applied, the number of beds needed to accommodate the 2024 projected ADP of 875 inmates is 1,012 beds, with a gradual decline of the ADP to 911 by 2032….

(Wham!)

In addition, the OCCC complex also houses pre-release sentenced felony inmates who are nearing the end of their sentence and are preparing to return to the community by accessing jobs, programs and services within the community. The forecast also analyzed this population, which shows a decline over time. With a projected ADP of 362 in 2024, 393 beds will be needed to accommodate this population. The forecasted ADP for this population is expected to decline to 330 inmates by 2032, requiring 358 beds.

Combining the numbers for the OCCC jail and pre-release populations, the forecast shows a combined ADP of 1,237 inmates by 2024, which will require 1,405 beds to accommodate this population. The combined projected ADP is expected to decline to 1,118 in 2032.

(Bam!)

The population forecast report, prepared for the state by Pulitzer/Bogard & Associates, also indicated opportunities to reduce the OCCC average daily population through policy changes and legal reforms that would divert defendants from OCCC detention. These could include reducing or eliminating monetary bail for minor offenses, a proposal considered by the Hawaii Legislature this year. Other public-policy changes could also address diverting individuals who commit certain low-level, nonviolent felonies as well as technical probation violations from OCCC detention.

(In other words, the usual suspects are trying to force this agenda by conning legislators into under-sizing the new jail.)

read … Forecast right population for new Oahu Community Correctional Center

284 have applied for lava buyouts, but some remain frustrated by the process

HTH: … Nearly everyone who was eligible to have their eruption-damaged homes bought out by Hawaii County has applied for the program.

The first phase of the county’s Voluntary Housing Buyout Program ran from the end of April to the end of July, allowing those whose primary residences were destroyed or damaged in the 2018 Kilauea eruption to sell their properties to the county.

Kilauea recovery officer Doug Le said 294 primary residences have been identified in the area targeted by the program. By the end of the first phase, he said, the county had received 284 applications.

“It’s affirming, and not surprising, that we’ve seen such clear interest and uptake from folks who lost their primary residence,” Le said…

The program is funded by $83.8 million in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grants. Meanwhile, an additional $23.7 million in HUD grant funds is pending and will be directed toward the project.

So far, no applicant has received a payout — Le said the process for each applicant should take about six months after the completion of the application process — but the county will pay the 2017 value of the property up to $230,000….

Registrations and applications for the program can be found at recovery.hawaiicounty.gov/resources/housing-buyout-program. Applicants can call (808) 961-8996 for assistance….

SA: Homeowners hit by 2018 Kilauea eruption rush for buyout program

Flashback: HRS 171-93: Law Allows Swap of Lava-Covered Lots for State Property in Zone 3

read … 284 have applied for lava buyouts, but some remain frustrated by the process

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