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Thursday, August 12, 2021
August 12, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:39 PM :: 3317 Views

It was 123 years ago today: Hawaii Becomes US Territory

Vaccine requirement announced for City and County of Honolulu employees

Full Text: Proposed UH Policy Regarding COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination and Testing

New website consolidates Hawaii remote work opportunities

COVID Cash: Honolulu Rent and Utility Program Reopens

Honolulu 2nd Least Pet-Friendly City

Fake it to make it: A Look at Hawai‘i’s GHG Emissions

Airlines begin to see drop in travel demand as virus numbers rise

WaPo: … Southwest Airlines, the nation’s fourth-largest domestic carrier, said it is seeing weaker bookings this month amid a jump in coronavirus infections. The airline said if caseloads remain elevated, that downward demand trend is likely to extend into September.

The report comes after Southwest and several other carriers earlier this summer reported strong passenger numbers and fares above July 2019 levels.

In a filing Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Southwest said “the Company has recently experienced a deceleration in close-in bookings and an increase in close-in trip cancellations in August 2021, which are believed to be driven by the recent rise in COVID-19 cases associated with the Delta variant.”

The announcement is an alarm bell about the variant’s spread for an industry that only last month was expressing confidence that air travel demand would continue to grow….

read … Airlines begin to see drop in travel demand as virus numbers rise

Tech Problems Lead To Undercount In Hawaii COVID Cases (again)

CB: … Hawaii reported 472 new coronavirus cases statewide Wednesday, but that doesn’t reflect the total number of cases.

Technical problems plagued the state on Monday and Tuesday, leading to a reporting delay of an “unknown number of cases,” said Brooks Baehr, spokesman for the Department of Health.

It’s the second time in two weeks that the state’s daily case number has been an undercount. During the last week of July, lab reporting delays culminated in 622 new infections on July 30, which was the highest number of the pandemic at the time.

Hawaii set a new single-day record on Aug. 5 at 655 cases. Over the past month, the state has experienced a sharp uptick in cases driven by the highly contagious delta variant.

Throughout the pandemic, technical issues have impeded the state’s virus response. Last year, the contact tracing team relied on two fax machines to receive thousands of case reports, and sometimes the machines broke down.

The results missing from this week’s count are expected to be reported on Thursday and Friday….

read … Tech Problems Lead To Undercount In Hawaii COVID Cases

Police Shoot Alleged Finger-Chopper Outside ‘Known Game Room’ 

KHON: … Honolulu Police Chief Rade Vanic said the incident started around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday when officers responded to a call about a man with a severed finger in a parking lot on North School Street.

(CLUE: Finger-chopping is a debt-collection technique used by loan sharks.)

“After paramedics arrived and were treating the male a female witness pointed out a male who walked into the parking lot and identified him as a suspect,” Vanic explained….

“When I look out the window, there was a female who came out of the game room screaming,” he said. “I saw her with a guy coming out of the game room. It looked like there was a cloth wrapped around his arm.”

…“We’re really scared. This is not the first time it’s happening like this. There’s always, something going on almost every night there’s noise, there’s loud music, we’re being disturbed,” he explained. “We’ve been reporting this a lot of times but seems like nothing is being done.”

Chief Vanic said police are aware of the game room (since so many officers receive cash payoffs from it) but he said the shooting occurred outside of it.

(Really Obvious Question: Why is it important for HPD to play the game room connection down.  Oh wait, I already answered that question.)

“It is a known game room and I’m sure we’ll be taking some sort of action,” Vanic explained.

He said there is bodycam and surveillance footage, but police have not released any recordings as of Wednesday evening….

SA: Charise Kekawa said a man assaulted her 33-year-old boyfriend, cutting off his pinky finger  (CLUE: Charise Kekawa pops up in this 2004 story about the murder of an 11 yr old girl to cover up child molestation.)

SA: Kekawa said she has previously seen the suspect around in the area but does not know him personally. 

Area residents say they have repeatedly complained to police about loud noises, fights and illegal drug activity in the area since the game room opened three to four years ago. They noted law enforcement raided the game room multiple times in the past but it would reopen within a few days.

“It’s just ridiculous,” said another resident who has lived in the neighborhood for more than 25 years and wants authorities to permanently shut down the game room.

People regularly enter the game room throughout the night and early morning and loiter in the parking lot that residents of the Kapalama Gardens apartment complex use. “This is all so frustrating. Nobody is listening to us,” the resident said. …

…the game room occupies the space of a large storage room of the mixed-use building….

read … Suspect armed with machete killed in officer-involved shooting; Residents near shooting say they’re afraid

Maui PD Chief Candidates Named

MN: … The commission decided at its regular virtual meeting Wednesday that it will seek permission from Mayor Michael Victorino to allow the commission to administer a written test to the five candidates for chief in person as well as hold in-person interviews. The commission expects the test and interviews to be held on separate dates in September.

At its next meeting on Aug. 25, the commission intends to approve the questions that it will pose to the candidates.

The commission also voted Wednesday to accept the temporary investigative group’s recommended candidates: Capt. Everett Ferreira, commander of the Wailuku Patrol Division; former Maui Police Assistant Chief Larry Hudson, who is now retired; current Assistant Chief John Jakubczak; Capt. John Pelletier of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department; and current Assistant Chief Victor Ramos….

read … New chief could be selected by end of September

Bought n paid for Rail Shill Aalto Placed on HART Board 5-4

CB: … Council Chairman Tommy Waters, along with members Radiant Cordero, Brandon Elefante, Esther Kia’aina and Calvin Say voted for Aalto’s appointment.

Council members Carol Fukunaga, Heidi Tsuneyoshi, Augie Tulba and Andria Tupola dissented and supported a separate floor amendment that would have appointed Uno instead. That measure failed along the same voting lines….

read … Shill

3rd Time is Charm: Ann Botticelli Gifted with Seat On The Honolulu Police Commission

CB: … Botticelli (a PR flack) fills the final vacancy on the seven-member commission, which provides oversight of HPD and is in the process of choosing the next police chief amid tensions over racial disparities and recent fatal police shootings….

read … Ann Botticelli Wins Seat On The Honolulu Police Commission

State Employee Vaccine Mandate Effective Monday

HNN: … A spokesperson said that by Monday, all 42,000 of their employees will need to show proof of vaccination or will be subject to testing….

(CLUE: Go get your shot.)

read … With days until state worker vaccine mandate takes effect, educators seek clarity

HPU 90% Vaxxed

KHON: …When school begins, HPU’s freshmen class will feature 850 students, which is a big jump from 475 in 2019….

HPU president Gotanda says 90% of faculty and students will already be vaccinated by the time instruction begins….

Class resumes Monday, Aug. 23….

SA: Hawaii Pacific University to welcome record number of new students

read  … As fall semester approaches, HPU balances enrollment bump with COVID safety

More COVID cases in East Hawaii long-term care homes

HTH: … Four employees and 14 residents have tested positive for the novel coronavirus at Life Care Center of Hilo amid a second outbreak in the facility, according to an update posted on the facility’s website Tuesday.

One resident was receiving treatment in the hospital, and one resident recovered. Two employees have recovered.

In an outbreak last fall, prior to the availability of vaccines against the virus, 55 Life Care residents and 17 employees tested positive for COVID-19, and 10 residents died.

Meanwhile, one employee and 14 long-term care residents at Hale Ho‘ola Hamakua in Honokaa have tested positive in a cluster that started at the end of July.

Of the 14 residents, 12 were vaccinated and two were not, said Elena Cabatu, a spokeswoman for Hilo Medical Center — which is part of the Hawaii Health Systems Corp.’s East Hawaii Region, along with Hale Ho‘ola Hamakua, Ka‘u Hospital, Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home and the HMC Extended Care Facility.

According to Cabatu, 95% of residents and 87% of staff at Hale Ho‘ola Hamakua are vaccinated.

Meanwhile, one employee at the veterans home tested positive for the coronavirus in early August, and a second staff member tested positive a week later, Cabatu said. Those cases do not appear related.

During an outbreak in the veterans home last August, 71 residents and 35 employees tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and 27 residents died.

Cabatu said that 89% of veterans home residents and 90% of staff have been vaccinated against COVID-19….

read … More COVID cases in East Hawaii long-term care homes

‘God-given rights’: Churches rejoice that state’s new COVID rules don’t apply to them

HNN: … On Wednesday, the governor’s office corrected a statement Ige made on Tuesday about the new COVID restrictions applying to churches — they don’t.

Churches are exempt from the new gathering limits. The religious community is happy about that.

“The mandate is a bit confusing. I believe not just for the churches, but for the people of Hawai’i as well,” said Kipi Higa, New Hope Kahului Senior Pastor. …

read … ‘God-given rights’: Churches rejoice that state’s new COVID rules don’t apply to them

Hawaii struggles to find long-term solution for nursing shortage

KHON: … A total of 257 people are in Hawaii’s hospitals as of Wednesday, Aug. 11, due to COVID-19. That is a jump of 102 from just Wednesday, Aug. 4.

The uptick came as critical care nurses said they were burned out from overtime shifts and staffing shortages. FEMA is sending in nurses to fill 540 positions….

“We’re in a nursing shortage, but there are no jobs,” Hawaii Pacific University BSN Chair Dr. Michelle Higgins-Mahe said. “Then there are jobs they’re asking for highly educated high qualified nurses to fill those jobs.”…

The HNA said nurses in Hawaii make about $55 to $70 an hour. Hawaii has the second-highest average nursing salary in the nation, but with the cost of living factored in, it drops to last….

read … Hawaii struggles to find long-term solution for nursing shortage

Island of Retaliation: Rejected Leeward Planning Commission nominee files ethics complaint against council members

WHT: … Five council members — North Kona Councilman Holeka Inaba, Kona Councilwoman Rebecca Villegas, South Kona/Ka‘u Councilwoman Maile David, Hamakua Councilwoman Heather Kimball and Puna Councilman Matt Kanealii-Kleinfelder — rejected Asis’ appointment in April. Asis filed an ethics complaint against all but Kimball.

Eight council members, with David absent, had voted favorably on Asis’ nomination at the Planning Committee. Planning Committee Chairwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz had told Asis she wasn’t required to appear at the council meeting for the official vote, an instruction commonly given to nominees when there’s no opposition at the committee level….

Asis said the council members violated the fair treatment clauses of the county ethics code, in addition to several provisions of the county charter, including one that says no one can be barred from serving on a board or commission based solely on their occupation. She also asked that David be removed as council chairman, an action outside the Board of Ethics’ jurisdiction.

“To be blunt, the rejection of my nomination had nothing to do with my merit, qualification or ability to objectively serve my community. It was based on an unfair, narrow-focused manner that didn’t provide for due process,” Asis said in her seven-page petition to the ethics board. “In a day and age where discrimination is so critically viewed, to have the Council Chair and other council members so blatantly discriminate against me based on occupation alone, and in such a contemptuous manner for the County Charter and Code of Ethics, is nothing shy of a tragic blow to our community.”

Mayor Mitch Roth, who had called the council action “retaliation” over his attempt to have Leeward Planning Commissioner Mark Pernis removed in an unrelated action, had attempted to get the council to reconsider its rejection, but his request for another confirmation vote was not put on a council agenda….

read … Rejected Leeward Planning Commission nominee files ethics complaint against council members

Election Violations Prompt New Vote For Hawaii Hotel Union Leadership

CB: … When Eric Gill was elected to the top job at Hawaii’s biggest hospitality and health care union in May 2019, it might have seemed like little more than a formality – a long-time union leader continuing to hold the job he’s had for years.

But officials of the U.S. Department of Labor have a different view. A labor department investigation, finalized in March 2020, found multiple violations of the federal law governing local union elections: violations serious enough to require a new election – this time monitored by the department.

Now, as hotel and hospital workers submit their ballots to decide who will run the 11,000-member chapter, opposition candidates are crying foul. They say union officials are blocking members from voting or running for union leadership positions by relying on membership rules the union should waive during the pandemic….

Half the opposition candidates seeking to unseat incumbents in an election for UNITE HERE Local 5 leadership, which will be overseen by federal officials, have been found ineligible to run for missing dues payments during the pandemic. …

Members can mail in ballots and will be able to vote in person on Aug. 26….

According to the Department of Labor, the union agreed to hold the new election after a department investigation found the union violated ballot secrecy requirements by printing serial numbers on ballots that could be used to identify how members had voted.

In addition, it found that union and employer funds were improperly used when union staff and members campaigned on employer property during work hours and that the union destroyed certain ballots and records it was supposed to safeguard for a year, another statutory violation.

read … Election Violations Prompt New Vote For Hawaii Hotel Union Leadership

The Appeal Of Sticking With An 'Acting' Official

CB: … Right now, the Hawaii Department of Education has an acting superintendent. The Honolulu Police Department has an acting chief. So does the Honolulu Fire Department. Both chiefs have been temping in office for a few months. There is no end in sight….

Workarounds make Hawaii work. Sort of. At least enough to get by. When it comes to hiring, a C-minus is better than an embarrassment and disaster, or an encounter with a set of procedures so terrifying and stultifying that stalling and avoiding are the best strategies.

It’s about the advantages of not choosing, not coming to a definitive conclusion, of delaying and denying rather than deciding and concluding….

read … The Appeal Of Sticking With An 'Acting' Official

DLNR eyes ‘Love Island’ for impact on wildlife  

HTH: … Department of Land and Natural Resources investigators will observe the set of “Love Island” this week to determine if the production is having a negative effect on local wildlife.

Ninole resident Paul Beighley, who lives next door to Waterfalling Estate — the primary filming location for the CBS reality TV show — said that after his wife told the Tribune-Herald she observed a seabird in distress flying above the bright lights of the production, a DLNR researcher contacted him about a potential connection with an endangered bird found grounded several miles away….

read … DLNR eyes ‘Love Island’ for impact on wildlife

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