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Saturday, September 11, 2021
September 11, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:24 PM :: 3047 Views

FEMA Sends 30 Medics to Administer Antibody Treatment

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Former Na Leo TV exec pleads guilty to embezzlement and bribery

SA: … Former Na Leo TV CEO Stacy Higa is pleading guilty to federal charges of federal programs embezzlement and bribery.

Higa, a former Hawaii County councilman and 2020 mayoral candidate, entered into a plea agreement Aug. 19 with the federal government, although no documents have yet been filed, according to his lawyer, William Harrison.

The government filed a charging document Sept. 2 in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia against Higa.

The crimes are linked to former Olelo TV executive Hanalei Aipoalani, who also took a plea deal in March and was sentenced June 30 to three years and 10 months in prison for embezzlement and accepting a bribe.

Higa bribed Aipoalani, who was working as the CARES Act program administrator for the city’s Department of Community Serv­ices, in connection with the authorization of two fraudulent applications under the CARES Act totaling $845,000 in the names of two companies, the charging document said.

They are Na Leo o Hawaii, a nonprofit operating Hawaii island’s public-access cable channels, and a company called Makaala. Harrison said he does not know the nature of the latter business, and his client has no ownership in that company….

With regard to the embezzlement charge, Higa fraudulently took $38,642 in AmeriCorps funds from the Hawaii Commission for National and Community Services, where he had served as executive director from 2011 until May 31, 2020, when he resigned to run for Hawaii County mayor.

He did this by causing the commission to fraudulently enter into contracts with Na Leo and Olelo Community Media, Oahu’s public-access cable channels operator, in order to convert the funds to his own and others’ personal use. This occurred between February 2018 and September 2020….

PDF: CASE #: 1:21-cr-00557-RBW-1

March 27, 2021: Guilty of Bribery, Embezzlement: Caldwell Admin CARES Act Administrator Hanalei Aipoalani

March 29, 2021: Na Leo CEO Stacy Higa To Take Leave Following Bribery Allegations

read … Former Na Leo TV exec charged with embezzlement and bribery

Thousands enroll in Hawaii’s SMART Health Card, but it doesn’t work for everyone

HNN: … it does not work for everyone.

Bernicea Worrell, who recently retired from the military, said it could not verify her coronavirus vaccination.

“I put my information in and though my information would clear in other travel apps, it didn’t work for me,” Worrell explained. “So, I’ll carry my vaccination card.”

The information must be in the State’s database for verification. The Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs and selected Federal Agencies do not submit vaccination data to the state.

According to the Office of Enterprise Technology Services, 19,125 people successfully created their digital cards as of Friday afternoon — a success rate of 75%.

In a statement, they said “the roll-out was the first iteration of the application” and they are “continuously working to improve the application and its features.”

People can still use their physical card as proof of vaccination if they cannot verify it online….

SA: Nearly 20,000 sign up for new Hawaii SMART Health Card on first day…Maui County has proposed a similar program called Safer Outside for restaurants, bars and gyms, starting Wednesday, but without the testing option.

read … Thousands enroll in Hawaii’s SMART Health Card, but it doesn’t work for everyone

Team Hanabusa Ousts HART Chief Financial Officer

CB: … An additional five employees have either recently left or are about to leave the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation. They represent the latest round of staff to depart the local rail agency, which has seen extensive turnover in its decade or so of existence.

Among HART’s recently departed is the agency’s most recent chief financial officer, Ruth Lohr, who’s been in that job since 2018. Also gone is David Conrad, who worked on rail’s property acquisition efforts. Brian Lewis, who helped oversee rail’s utility relocation efforts along the line’s last four miles, including Dillingham Boulevard, will leave soon, according to HART spokesman Joey Manahan….


read … HART Sheds More Staff, Including Its Latest Chief Financial Officer

Governor’s sweeping vaccine-or-test order to impact thousands of state contractors

HNN: … On Thursday, the governor issued an executive order requiring vaccination or testing for all state contractors. Now companies are scrambling to meet the new rules.

One of the biggest impacts is at airports across the state.

Hawaii Department of Transportation spokesman Jai Cunningham listed all those impacted:

“Everyone from a pilot of a passenger plane to flight attendants, to folks who may work at the gates, to folks who may work at the gift shop, restaurants, Burger King, bartenders, all the way to curbside, so the luggage services that are used, taxis that are used, Ubers that are used.”

Cunningham said put simply, thousands of private sector workers who step onto airport property, whether it be contractors, vendors or permit holders, will have to be vaccinated or test weekly.

Many of those people haven’t been informed, yet.

And the order takes effect Monday for most state contractors….

HNN: Oahu businesses, state facilities prepare to start checking vaccine cards and COVID tests

read … Governor’s sweeping vaccine-or-test order to impact thousands of state contractors

United Airlines workers with ‘religious’ objections to the Covid vaccine will be placed on unpaid leave

AP: … United Airlines told employees that they will be placed on indefinite unpaid leave if they refuse to get a Covid vaccine for religious reasons.

The company's vaccine mandate is much tougher than those imposed by many other companies, or the ones announced by President Joe Biden Thursday. The federal mandate, and many already announced at other companies, give employees a choice between getting vaccinated or getting weekly Covid tests. At United, it's essentially vaccination or termination….

read … United Airlines workers with religious objections to the Covid vaccine will be placed on unpaid leave

Progress made on Kauai tourism reduction initiatives

TGI: … Thirty-six Phase One actions were slated for implementation under the Kaua‘i DMAP in 2021. Twenty-two, or 61% of the total actions, were in progress as of July 30, in addition to two Phase Two actions initiated ahead of schedule.

Ongoing efforts include the propagation of educational videos on appropriate behavior toward endangered species like the Hawaiian monk seal, honu and others. Multiple reports of visitors harassing such animals occurred throughout the summer, sparking outrage among Hawai‘i residents.

HTA has already posted the videos on social media and is working to play the videos on flights, in the airport and on hotel TV channels.

The management plan also calls for measures to address overtourism on Kaua‘i by keeping track of visitor statistics and enacting reservation systems at so-called visitor hotspots….

Both the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and HTA are in the midst of establishing such reservation systems, according to the progress report.

Other DMAP initiatives cover the promotion and accurate representation of Kaua‘i cultural practices, values and products.

Kaua‘i County has published “Tips from Aunty Lani: How to travel with Aloha” online, and a “Kaua‘i 101” curriculum for visitors and new residents is under consideration. A brick-and-mortar retail and networking space for Kaua‘i products, funded by HTA, is anticipated to open on Rice Street in Lihu‘e sometime this fall.

read … Progress made on tourism initiatives

COVID Kills 10th Criminal

HNN: … A death investigation is underway after sources say a 30-year-old inmate sick with COVID was found unresponsive in his cell at Halawa Correctional Facility on Thursday.

The news comes days before an oversight committee is set to begin investigating the alleged failure of the state to control the spread of the virus within its correctional facilities.

Inmate advocates say it’s at least the 10th COVID-related death of a prisoner that’s currently under review within the Hawaii state correctional system.

Corrections officials confirm staff responded to a medical call after an inmate had been found “unconscious and unresponsive” in his cell just after 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

An hour and a half later that man was pronounced dead at the hospital.

HNN sources say the inmate had been diagnosed with COVID about 10 days ago and was being treated by the prison’s medical staff….

(IDEA: Mandatory vax for all inmates.)

SoR: Hawaii’s incarcerated population 5.5 times more likely to die of COVID-19, report finds

AP: Lawsuit settlement sets up panel for Hawaii prisons during coronavirus pandemic

read … Death investigation underway after Hawaii inmate with COVID found unconscious in cell

September 11th -- 20 Years Later
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