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Tuesday, February 8, 2022
February 8, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 3:19 PM :: 3040 Views

$500M Red Hill Funding on the Move in Congress

Maui Fentanyl Dealer Gets 15 Years 

Grand Wailea Lucrative Target of Next Birdlights Suit

Here’s How Many People Quit Their Jobs in Hawaii

Indicted Max Sword Still on Water Board

CB: … For decades, when Hawaii governors, mayors and legislators needed to fill a seat on a powerful board or commission, they called Max Sword.

A longtime Outrigger hotel executive and lobbyist, Sword was a member of the political class’s inner circle and had the resume to prove it.

At various times, Sword, 70, had a hand in vetting the job applications of state judges, deciding how much money state legislators should make and drawing the maps of Honolulu’s voting districts. And currently, he’s on the board of the Honolulu Board of Water Supply. …

For now, Sword remains a member of the Board of Water Supply’s board, according to BWS.

“While there is no legal provision or requirement for a board member to be removed in the event of an indictment or conviction, we are discussing the situation with Mr. Sword,” BWS said in a statement. …

“The reason to have someone like Max Sword is to have a representative who understands the political context these commissions are operating in,” Moore said….

(Translation: The go-along-to-get-along crowd.)

When he was first nominated to the police commission by then-Mayor Mufi Hannemann in 2009, the Honolulu City Council received letters of support from some of the biggest names in Honolulu.

They included Bank of Hawaii President Peter Ho; then-Punahou School President James Scott; then-KHNL manager John Fink, who now heads Aloha United Way; former city councilman John Henry Felix, T. George Paris, the union boss at the Iron Workers Stabilization Fund; and Chamber of Commerce Hawaii’s Sherry Menor-McNamara, who is now running for lieutenant governor. …

Hawaii House Speaker Joe Souki developed a “special relationship” with Outrigger, the Advertiser reported, and put Sword on the Judicial Selection Commission.

David Kimo Frankel wrote a letter to the Advertiser that same year saying Sword was “as politically active as Gary Rodrigues” – the one-time powerful former head of United Public Workers.

Like Sword, Rodrigues was also appointed to the Judicial Selection Commission. He later served time in federal prison for conspiracy and embezzlement, among other crimes.  …

read … Indictment Puts Spotlight On One Of The Most Connected Men In Honolulu

Class-action lawsuit accuses HMSA of denying needed medical treatments

HNN … A Hawaii Island mother is part of a lawsuit against HMSA accusing the health insurer of denying her coverage for a medication that could have prevented a premature birth.

Charlene Orcino has seven children and her latest pregnancy could be described as an emotional and terrifying experience.

In a news conference Monday, Orcino was joined by Dr. Frederick Nitta. During her pregnancy in late 2020, he prescribed Nifedipine to prevent high blood pressure and pre-term labor.

The lawsuit says HMSA denied coverage of the medicine.

Orcino eventually paid out of pocket for the drugs. But it was too late and her son, Jayson, who was born prematurely at 25 weeks and weighed just under 3 pounds….

Orcino’s son recently celebrated his first birthday and now weighs 23 pounds. He needs to fly to Oahu monthly for medical treatment.

Orcino is among several patients seeking damages.

The suit is being filed as a class-action and Hong is expecting other doctors and patients to join….

HTH: Hilo doctor files suit against HMSA

PDF: Lawsuit

read … Class-action lawsuit accuses HMSA of denying needed medical treatments

Kondo: Facts and truth matter — not political theater

Les Kondo: … At its Jan. 27 hearing, members of the House Investigative Committee to Investigate Compliance with Audit Nos. 19-12 and 21-01 discussed a request they had received from Honolulu Star-Advertiser reporter Dan Nakaso for a copy of the committee’s unfinished draft report provided to us and other witnesses. In support of committee Chairwoman Rep. Della Au Belatti’s recommendation to deny the request, another committee member stated that while she normally favors transparency, she had concerns about being held “politically accountable” and “punished politically” for expressing unpopular positions before reaching a consensus or compromise.

Three days later, the committee released its final report’s executive summary and recommendations. Included are 11 recommendations regarding the Office of the Auditor, the most serious of which call for the establishment of an audit committee to oversee the Office of the Auditor as well as further investigation of the office’s operations: by the Legislature, by an independent third-party and even by the Department of the Attorney General based on Rep. Belatti’s contrived accusations of witness tampering and other wrongdoing.

However, according to Rep. Belatti, those recommendations won’t be addressed by the Legislature during the current session.

“There was a lot of value of the investigative committee … to improve the state,” she told the Star-Advertiser. “But the political temperature around this will not result in productive legislation (regarding Kondo and his office), even though I think it’s important.”

Rep. Belatti’s comment about “political temperature” and her colleague’s concern about the dangers of transparency and public accountability tell us all we need to know about the committee’s final report and the process that created it.

While breathless accusations and innuendo may make for good political theater, when you have to put pen to paper and prove your claims, the facts and the truth matter….

read … Because the facts and truth matter — not political theater

Coalition formed to sue over legislative maps

HTH: … The Reapportionment Justice Coalition has hired attorney Mateo Caballero, former legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii, to present the case before the state Supreme Court.

The coalition was registered Thursday with the state, using a Waikoloa Village address. The corporation is chaired by Kailua, Oahu, resident Bill Hicks, with Puna resident Ralph Boyea as vice president and Waikoloa resident Kathleen Huckabay as treasurer….

Registered agent and secretary, Robert Fox, of Manoa … said he was bothered by the way the Oahu map splits Manoa Valley, but also by the way the map splits the island’s most populous Native Hawaiian districts.  (Argument with potential.)

“It’s so onerous on the surface of it, at one point or another people have to say no,” Fox said. “When Manoa got divided it’s like throwing a hose at a hornet’s nest. … The Big Island was chopped up like carrot cake.”… (Useless arguments.)

The coalition has no beef with the House seat moving but the way the maps were withdrawn, Fox said.

A diferent group of Big Island residents were successful in 2011 appeal to the Supreme Court that ended with changes to how nonresident military and students are counted, leading to a fourth Senate seat for the Big Island that year….

read … Coalition formed to sue over legislative maps

Poll: Majority not Fooled by Aloha Stadium Hype

SA:  … Just eight percentage points separated the 46% who voted for a new stadium in Halawa from the 38% who want the stadium to be on the UH Manoa campus. That doesn’t include 1 out of every 6 responders who said they were either unsure or didn’t approve of either idea.

“I think if you just look at fiscally how the state has been going since 2000, the last thing they need to do is build a new stadium,” said poll respondent Christopher Oli­veira, 38, of Waianae. “We invite only one or two big events a year … and not only that, looking into the future, I don’t see big events being what they were with the internet taking over after COVID shut down society.”….

read … Hawaii voters prefer new Aloha Stadium in Halawa, poll finds

Only 9% of Hawaii public school parents want to go back to exclusively online learning

SA: … respondents statewide had a low opinion of the state Department of Education’s performance during the pandemic. A combined 68% gave ratings of “fair” or “poor” to the department’s efforts to educate students while keeping them and school employees safe.….

Only 3% of respondents rated the department’s response as “excellent,” and 21% said it was “good.”

Meanwhile, 33% chose “fair” and 35% selected “poor.” Eight percent were unsure. This portion of the poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points….

The poll results showed wide variation by political party. A combined 73% of Democrats rated the department’s pandemic performance as good or fair. Among Republicans, however, 78% said it was fair or poor. No Republicans said the DOE’s response was excellent….

Responses also varied dramatically by race and ethnicity, with 48% of respondents of Japanese descent giving the DOE ratings of excellent or good. Only 19% of white, 20% of Hawaiian and 16% of mixed/other respondents gave such positive marks.

Opinions also varied by whether respondents had a child in school. Among those without children in school, 33% rated the department’s response as fair, 32%, poor.

Among those who do have children in school, 33% said the DOE’s response was fair, and 46% said it was poor….

Over half of the respondents preferred some measure of virtual learning: 47% chose “Follow a blended model of in-person and online classes,” and 9% chose “Go back to online- only instruction until the threat is over.”

Meanwhile, 40% went with “Continue in-class instruction.” Four percent chose “None/Not Sure.”…

read … Hawaii public school parents favor online learning, criticize Department of Education, poll finds

Affordable Walk-up Apartments Are Coming Back, Thanks to Honolulu’s Bill 7

HB: … As of Jan. 10, 2022, 17 applications for building permits and fee waivers under Bill 7 had been submitted, for a total of 467 affordable rental units, according to Honolulu’s Department of Planning and Permitting. Three projects have been fully approved….

read … Affordable Walk-up Apartments Are Coming Back, Thanks to Honolulu’s Bill 7

As COVID deaths rise, new research sheds light on the link between fatality rates and race in Hawaii

HNN: … He said data compiled from March 2020 found that if you’re hospitalized with COVID in Hawaii, your overall risk of succumbing to the virus is 27%.

But when you break it down by race, Miller said, “The highest is 53%. It’s in the Japanese and Asians. The lowest is in the whites and Native Hawaiians.”…

Raethel added that vaccinations and especially booster shots drastically increase a patient’s chance of survival. All total, about 512,000 booster shots have been administered statewide….

read … As COVID deaths rise, new research sheds light on the link between fatality rates and race in Hawaii

Bill extends press rights to Hawaii’s student journalists

SA: … Freedom of the press guarantees would be extended to Hawaii public school and college student journalists if House Bill 1848 passes.

It would also protect advisers of student “media” if the advisers support students’ rights to freedom of the press….

read … Bill extends press rights to Hawaii’s student journalists

Campaign poster is hit with antisemitic vandalism

SA: … Peter H. Hoffenberg, a history professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, who has helped document antisemitic vandalism and threats against the Jewish community in Hawaii, notified campaign officials and the police about the antisemitic vandalism.

Hoffenberg told the Star- Advertiser that in recent years he has documented up to 10 instances of swastikas or hate speech directed at Jewish people on construction barriers, lamp posts, park benches, school play areas and public walls….

read … Campaign poster is hit with antisemitic vandalism

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