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Monday, September 27, 2021
September 27, 2021 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 5:50 PM :: 2784 Views

Friends and Family Plan: How Education Consultant 'Earns' $25K

Kauai County: Supervisors on FlexTime, Employees Moonlighting

Hawaii AG Backs Debunked 'Sue Big Oil' Lawsuit

Herd Immunity? Low COVID Infection Rate Leaves Hawaii LEAST Protected in USA

B: … (When considering rates of vaccination plus rates of previous infection) Hawaii has the highest vulnerable percentage, at 34.5%. It has a modestly better-than-the-national-average full-vaccination rate, at 57.1%, but fewer than 20% of its residents have been infected, according to As a result, it faces a less extreme version of what Australia and New Zealand, both considered Covid success stories, are now going through. The state’s governor last month urged tourists to stay away and warned that those who come “will not have the typical kind of holiday that they expect to get when they visit Hawaii.”

It’s certainly not the worst problem in the world to have — among U.S. states, Hawaii has had the second-fewest Covid deaths relative to population, trailing only Vermont. But it’s still a problem…. 

(IQ Test: Does this vindicate the antivaxxers?)   

read … State-by-State Vulnerability Guide to Covid-19

Confronting Inconsistencies in Hawai`i Agriculture, Climate and Renewable Energy Goals

IM: … Plant a tree to stop climate change. Burn the same tree and it is renewable energy. Most developed nations have legislation or regulations in place that assert that chopping down trees and burning them to generate heat and electricity is renewable energy.

Most developed nations also have legislation or regulations in place that assert burning long dead trees (coal) releases dangerous levels of greenhouse gases but burning newly dead trees (biomass) is greenhouse gas neutral, not because it is so, but because political horse-trading on legislation has defined it to be so.

Thus, Hawai`i has joined the world in a mass rush to plant and burn trees. Planting is analyzed in one silo, burning trees is analyzed and ignored in another silo, and as long as the silos don`t meet, it is a win-win-win for everyone. Meanwhile global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.

About 15 years ago Hawai`i law was changed. In an effort to appease economic interests Hawai`i redefined the definition of renewable energy. Prior to the law change, if 100 energy units of coal and 100 energy units of biomass were processed together to produce 150 units of fuel, only 50 units could be counted as renewable.

But to make ethanol, huge amounts of fossil fuel are needed. In some cases, the energy content of the resulting ethanol would be less that the energy content of the fossil fuel used to make it. The Legislature decided, that in the interest of economic development, the resulting ethanol would be politically defined as 100% renewable energy.

Similarly, the Legislature took on the hydrogen issue. Hydrogen can serve to store energy analogous to batteries. But practically all hydrogen generated in the world comes from fossil fuel.

So Hawai`i set a goal to green hydrogen goal but said that research could use large amounts of fossil fuel-based hydrogen. To isolate black hydrogen from fossil fuel, one must remove sulfur impurities. So, researchers at the university and at the electric utility set about studying ways to remove sulfur from fossil fuel….

Related: Easy Eco Promises: DLNR Pledges 100M Trees by 2030

read … Confronting Inconsistencies in Hawai`i Agriculture, Climate and Renewable Energy Goals

Homeowners and travel groups say potential new short-term rental rules for Oahu will hurt businesses

SA: … The rules for short-term rentals are looking at a drastic change — increasing the minimum number of days that a property can be rented without a special permit to 180 from 30 — and runs counter to years of talks with homeowners and vacation rental companies.

The Planning Commission on Wednesday is scheduled to consider the new measure, which is intended to cut down on illegal short-term rentals. It would allow the current 808 legal bed-and-breakfast and transient vacation units to continue operating but would not allow any new short-term rental properties in residential areas.

New permits would be issued only in resort areas such as Kuilima, Ko Olina, Waikiki and Makaha. Changes also would require properties to display their certification registration number on all advertisements….

The measure also plans to charge bed-and-breakfasts and transient vacation units in residential areas at the B&B property tax rate, which is higher than the residential rate. The new nonconforming units would be taxed at the resort rate, which is even higher. Up to $3.12 million in real property taxes from the B&B, hotel and resort tax classifications would then be used to staff the city’s Department of Planning and Permitting special short-term rental enforcement unit.

The City Council previously granted the DPP seven positions specifically for enforcement. However, the positions were not funded and went unfilled.

In 2019 then-Mayor Kirk Caldwell passed Ordinance 19-18 — more commonly referred to as Bill 89 — which kept the 30-day minimum for short-term rentals without a permit but included a lottery system to select 1,700 Oahu homeowners to receive permits to rent their properties for fewer than 30 days.

During that time, Expedia Group signed a Memorandum of Understanding to help enforce the new rules, said Expedia Group Government Affairs Vice President Amanda Pedigo….

read … Homeowners and travel groups say potential new short-term rental rules for Oahu will hurt businesses

Proposed international COVID rules bring hope to Hawaii tourism

SA: … Hawaii’s international travel counts have essentially flatlined over the past 18 months. Eric Takahata, managing director of Hawaii Tourism Japan, said the airlines and travel sellers who cater to Japan, Hawaii’s top source market for international tourists, still are losing upward of $200 million a month. The businesses that serve their customers and other international visitors are losing millions of dollars, too, he said.

The downturn has left visible scars in Waikiki, where about half of the pre-pandemic visitors were international. T-Galleria Hawaii by DFS is shuttered, and yellow caution tape blocks diners from entering the Japanese food court Waikiki Yokocho.

The Biden administration’s easing of international travel policies will allow foreigners to fly into the U.S. if they have vaccination proof and a negative COVID-19 test — changes replacing a hodgepodge of more restrictive rules that had irritated allies.

U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are not fully vaccinated will still be able to fly to the U.S., but they will see tougher testing and contact tracing protocols. They will need to be tested within 24 hours of boarding a flight and then undergo testing upon return.

All adult foreign nationals traveling to the U.S. will be required to be fully vaccinated before boarding a flight. This is in addition to the current requirement that travelers show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure to the U.S….

read … Proposed international COVID rules bring hope to Hawaii tourism

Hawaii residents share firsthand stories of breakthrough COVID cases

SA: … Miranda, 41, started feeling symptoms in early July after a trip to the West Coast that involved stops in Seattle, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Utah and San Diego.

After returning to Hawaii, he began to experience a fever, followed by chills. At first he thought it was a cold or sinusitis, which he often gets after traveling on planes.

After having been fully vaccinated with Moderna, he figured the chances were slim that he would catch COVID-19. Then he ordered pizza and realized he could not taste the marinara or cheese.

He called his doctor, got tested and woke up to a notification the next morning that he had tested positive.

At first Miranda, a probation officer, was in disbelief.

“I started blaming everyone that wasn’t wearing mask in Las Vegas,” he said, “then I started wondering if my conditions were going to get worse and if I was going to die.”

Eventually, he realized his symptoms were improving. But it was nerve-wracking worrying about whether he had infected any close contacts. He was part of a large family group that went on the trip. Five others tested positive, he said, but he was the only one with symptoms.

His sense of smell returned after eight days. He always did, and still does, wear a mask.

“I would say get vaccinated and stay vigilant because you never know if you will spread it to someone who is more vulnerable or could be affected in a worse way than I experienced it,” Miranda said….

read … Hawaii residents share firsthand stories of breakthrough COVID cases

A growing number of Hawaii parents turn to home schooling

SA: … “There are plenty of successful home-schoolers,” she said. “You don’t have to be afraid to do it anymore, and there’s a lot more willing to make the jump.”

Indeed, Hawaii is experiencing a wave of parents turning to home schooling, driven in the last couple years by those seeking a safer alternative to educating children in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Nearly 3,300 parents informed the state Department of Education over the last year that they were pulling their child from public school in favor of home schooling, according to department records. That’s on top of the more than 6,000 parents the previous year who gave formal notification they were turning to home schooling.

The figures mirror a national trend that saw home-schooling rates soar over the course of the pandemic.

In the spring of 2019, there were 2.5 million home-schooled students in America, according to the National Home Education Research Institute. By the 2020-2021 school year, the number ballooned to 3.7 million, representing 6% to 7% of school-age children….

SA Editorial: Monitor results of home-schooling

read … A growing number of Hawaii parents turn to home schooling

Obama monument expansion cost Hawaii fleet $3.5m, study asserts

UCN: … Though contested by two other research efforts, a study concludes that Hawaiian-based bigeye tuna and swordfish longliners and US-flagged purse seiners lost $3.5 million in revenue in the first 16 months after the 442,781-square-mile expansion of one...

read … Obama monument expansion cost Hawaii fleet $3.5m, study asserts

Can Marijuana Grow-Op Tech be Used for ‘Urban Farming’?

CB: … As the state strives to grow more food and produce more green energy, relocating some farming into urban settings could help ease competition for land between the agriculture and renewable energy sectors, said state Sen. Mike Gabbard, chairman of the agriculture committee.

The senator said he wants to revisit a bill that died in the Legislature in 2019 that would require the Hawaii Department of Agriculture to study the feasibility of designating Kalihi, Kakaako, Moanalua and Waianae as ag-tech zones.

Incentives, such as land tax breaks, could be used to attract farmers to jump-start a new sector in urban farming, he said….

read … It’s a Grow-Op

State-Run Hospitals And Clinics Pay Some Of Hawaii’s Highest Public Wages

CB: … Some of the highest salaries in state government go to employees of the Hawaii Health Services Corp., but its officials say the pay is essential to recruit and retain physicians and top administrators.

And they point to far-higher salaries sometimes paid to their contemporaries in the private sector.

HHSC runs a network of medical facilities around the state, with an emphasis on providing services on neighbor islands and in rural portions of Oahu. These include five hospitals on the Big Island and two on Kauai. In 2017, the operation of its three Maui County hospitals was taken over by Kaiser Permanente.

The Maui transition removed about 1,500 people from the rolls of Hawaii public employees, but there are still more than 63,000 government workers. …

read … State-Run Hospitals And Clinics Pay Some Of Hawaii’s Highest Public Wages

Congress Considers Extending Higher Medicaid Funding For Island Territories

CB: … The U.S. Senate is expected to vote Monday on a resolution that would raise the debt ceiling. But one lesser-known provision is significant for the health care of residents of America’s five island territories.

The provision would extend Medicaid reimbursement rates for U.S. territories through Dec. 3. If the proposal doesn’t pass by Thursday, reimbursement rates for the public health insurance program serving low-income patients would revert to previous lower levels.

The congressional vote approaches as federal officials are implementing an administrative way to avert a Medicaid fiscal cliff. Several territorial government officials said that they learned recently that President Joe Biden’s administration is reinterpreting an existing law in a way that would provide more Medicaid funding for territories.

But officials still are pushing Congress to extend higher reimbursement levels to avoid any effect on what health services patients in U.S. territories may access….

read … Congress Considers Extending Higher Medicaid Funding For Island Territories

Protection For A Price: Waikiki Businesses Pay Extra For Police

CB: … The Waikiki Business Improvement District Association, a nonprofit comprised of business owners and tenants, gave the Honolulu Police Department $85,000 last September to “address various illegal activities on the public sidewalks in specific areas in Waikiki.”

Since then, the money has been used to conduct 45 operations resulting in more than 840 citations and seven misdemeanor arrests for crimes such as disorderly conduct and unlawfully selling goods on public property.

According to monthly reports by the Honolulu Police Department detailing the use of the donation, operations funded by the business improvement district have also led to over 380 citations for disobeying park rules or the mayor’s emergency order, 104 citations for smoking in prohibited areas and 66 citations for littering since the money was awarded last year….

(First rule of bureaucracy: Maintain the problem.  As long as police profit from bum-clearance operations, they will never completely clear out all the bums.)

read … Protection For A Price: Waikiki Businesses Pay Extra For Police

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