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Wednesday, April 13, 2022
April 13, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 4:21 PM :: 2402 Views

State Response to COVID: Hawaii Ranks 39th 

Honolulu Population Down 1.2% in Year

'Sustainability' -- HECO Plans to Close Largest and Cheapest Electricity Plant in September

Ige Announces $276M CIP

People are dying on the neighbor islands at a greater rate than they are on Oahu, "of things that they don't die of on Oahu."

BIVN: … Findings show people are dying on the neighbor islands at a greater rate than they are on Oʻahu, "of things that they don't die of on Oʻahu."

Rantz said 30% percent of the Hawaiʻi island population is currently on Med-QUEST, which is “more than we’ve ever had before.” Providers are unable to keep up with the demand.

People are waiting four and six months to get in for cancer screenings and treatments. “Our folks are dying on the neighbor islands at a greater rate than they are on Oʻahu,” Rantz said, “and we die of things that they don’t die of on Oʻahu. And they certainly don’t die of on the mainland. And that’s just not what our community deserves.”

Rantz said the survey shows providers struggle with low reimbursement rates, and – for solo and small practice providers – the burden of the State’s general excise tax. “Based on the survey, community members are putting off care and it’s primarily our native Hawaiians our Asian Pacific Islanders, our Hawaiian Pacific Islanders,” she added.

Workforce shortages “came up as a huge indicator”. She said 76% percent of community members “said that they can’t get care because of lack of access to providers within the community, and their waiting times.”

“I just actually received an email yesterday from a woman in her early 60’s that waited 4 months to be able to get in to get a diagnostic treatment and she definitely has cancer,” Rantz said. “That’s heartbreaking.”…

HPR: Queen's hospital nurses on Hawai'i Island paid nearly 20% less than Oʻahu counterparts

RELATED: Welcome to the Access to Care Hawaiʻi survey.

read … Presentation Shows Dire Situation For Hawaii Island Health Care

Returning Corrupt Donations?  2/3 of Politicians Keeping the Money

KHON: … It’s been nearly two months since two lawmakers pled guilty to felony charges connected with bribes from a businessman with lucrative government contracts.

Other politicians pledged to give back legal donations they had received. So far about one-third of donations affiliated with Milton Choy have been returned. While unprecedented, there’s still a lot left on the table….

The Campaign Spending Commission tells us they received dozens of returns, known as “escheats” because the money went to the commission and not back to Choy — from February thru March, totaling well over $100,000. Luke gave back the most, more than $25,000, followed by $14,000 from Senate President Ron Kouchi.

Gary Kam, general counsel for the commission, told KHON2: “The sheer number of candidate committees and amount of funds being voluntarily turned over to the state, all from essentially one contributor, is fairly unprecedented.”

Always Investigating saw a handful of big names noticeably absent, including a couple senators who had pledged a giveback, so we followed up. Several thousand more was added, after our calls, from Sen. Dru Kanuha who said his treasurer sent a check for $6,000, and from Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s treasurer saying they gave back $7,500.

All in, that’s more than $130,000 back to the commission so far. Tens of thousands from past candidates or lawmakers will likely never be returned.

Sen. Maile Shimabukuro was on the February pledge list but not on the commission return log. She told KHON2 she gave it to charity instead, $750 so far, another $2,000 pending.

Honolulu City Councilmember Calvin Say he’s also exploring donations to a nonprofit instead.

Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami’s campaign is keeping his donations, telling us they “were not tied to any improper or unethical action.”

“He might have credibility in terms of, well, you know, he wouldn’t take the stand unless he’s clean, right?” Hart said.

Interested in jewelry heists gone wrong, other strange news? Check out Weird News

Still no response back from Gov. Davd Ige who got nearly $20,000 from Choy and affiliates over the years.

“He is sunsetting,” Hart said, “So he does have a lot less political risks.”

read … Donations tied to figure in bribe cases handed off

HB2024 Becomes a ‘Big Win’ for Astronomy

HTH: … A bill proposing a new state agency to manage Maunakea lands has passed its final reading in the state Senate.

House Bill 2024 has had a tumultuous journey through the state Legislature, having had several amendments that drastically altered the measure’s scope.

Originally devised using recommendations from a House working group established last year, the bill was intended to develop an alternative management structure for the mountain that would remove the University of Hawaii as the sole steward of the summit lands.

However, in the latest draft of the bill, UH will remain in charge of the 525-acre Astronomy Precinct — where all the Maunakea telescopes are — the mid-level facility at Halepohaku, and the stretch of the Maunakea Access Road between the two.

The remainder of the land above the 9,200-foot level — about 9,450 acres — would be managed by a new entity, the Maunakea Stewardship and Oversight Authority, which would be placed within the UH for administrative purposes.

Greg Chun, executive director of UH’s Center for Maunakea Stewardship, said the new draft of the bill is “a step in the right direction” and concluded it would be “workable” if some additional concerns are ironed out.

“We have been an advocate for a more collaborative stewardship model for years,” Chun said. “And this would help get us there.” ….

Chun also said that, because the bill likely will go to conference committees, the bill could still easily revert to a previous version.

“At conference committees, there’s no public input — there’s only legislators in the room,” Chun said. “So, what could happen is it goes back to one of those versions that is a threat to astronomy.”…

Mangauil, who was a leader during the 2019 protests against the Thirty Meter Telescope, called the bill a “win-win-win-win” for UH, which would be allowed to continue to manage the lucrative summit lands while offloading responsibility for the rest of the mountain onto a different entity….

read … Wide divide on Maunakea bill

3rd Reading: Senate Sends 120 Bills to Conference Committees

MN: … The Hawaii State Senate passed more than 120 bills on third reading on Tuesday, including measures aimed at raising the minimum wage, extending the earned income tax credit and establishing an oversight body for Mauna Kea….

Bills passed include:

• House Bill 510, which makes the state earned income tax credit refundable and extends the availability of the tax credit for an additional six years.

• House Bill 2024, which establishes the Mauna Kea Stewardship and Oversight Authority as a joint authority with the University of Hawaii. It defines astronomy research lands under UH’s jurisdiction and conservation lands under the authority’s jurisdiction and requires both organizations to manage land uses, human activities, access, stewardship, education, research, disposition and overall operations on their respective lands.

• House Bill 2510, which increases the state’s minimum wage incrementally to $12.00 per hour beginning Oct. 1; $15.00 per hour beginning Jan. 1, 2024; and $18.00 per hour beginning Jan. 1, 2026. It also reduces the tip credit to 35 cents per hour beginning Oct. 1 and zero cents per hour beginning Jan. 1, 2026.

• House Bill 1600, which appropriates funds for the operating costs of the executive branch for the supplemental budget period beginning July 1 and ending June 30, 2023. Senate Draft 2 of the measure would allocate nearly $8.8 billion for fiscal year 2022 and close to $9.3 billion in fiscal year 2023….

HNN: Experts: As more suits are filed, cost to taxpayers for crash involving officers could top $10M

read … Senate passes bills on minimum wage and income tax credit

Erasing Captain Cook:  Resolution moves to Senate

HTH: … A resolution asking the Census to re-designate Captain Cook as Ka‘awaloa has crossed over to the state Senate.

House Concurrent Resolution 27 requests the U.S. Census Bureau re-designate the Census-designated place known as Captain Cook on Hawaii Island as Ka‘awaloa. It further requests the County of Hawaii remove all references to Captain Cook as a place name….

The proposal cleared its final House assignment passing the Committee on Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs on April 5 on a 9-1 vote with two “ayes” with reservations. The lone negative vote was tendered by Rep. Gene Ward (R-Oahu)….

Mitchell Lee, a 30-year resident of Captain Cook, said the 12 to 15 people he’d informally polled who either lived or worked in the town thought it was a bad idea to re-designate it as Ka‘awaloa. He said attempts to glean additional information from Kapela about support in the community for the proposal were fruitless.

“I have always respected and enjoyed learning about Native Hawaiian culture, but I must say that the proposed name change has really little to do with Hawaiian culture but a lot to do with cancel culture,” he said. “I’m not sure with all that’s going on in the world if this is the right thing to do, this will have a financial imposition on both the city and County of Hawaii as well as small business people like myself.”

He closed with a request of a nonbinding referendum to determine if the Captain Cook community, in fact, wants the name change.

“I was very impressed with the testimony on both sides. I’m increasingly seeing what is on the ground level but like in the Mckinley High School proposal to change the name once they talked to those on the ground — i.e. the alumni — they said hey back off,” said Ward before voting no on the resolution. “I’d like to see the 2,600 signatures if they were from the people of Captain Cook or what would be a plebiscite to get a better reading and maybe that’s from representative Kapela but right now I am still in the negative category.”…

read … Captain Cook re-designation resolution moves to Senate

Gerard Puana's terroristic threatening case pushed back to May

KITV: .. Puana's arraignment and plea had been scheduled for Monday but was pushed back to Tuesday.

The prosecution on Tuesday asked the judge for a two week continuance, saying their office may need to conflict out.

Seitz replied: "I'm disgusted by this. They told us they were conflicting out a long time ago and it was reset without anybody contacting me from yesterday to today.

"Mr. Puana is involved in a deposition today with 12 other people present and we've been sitting here. You know this is just absurd. So you know they should've conflicted out a long time ago. And I think this is just a waste of everybody's time, so I'm going to move to dismiss it. If they want to recharge it, let them recharge it."

Judge Ken Shimozono denied the defense's motion to have the case dismissed.

Puana's arraignment and plea is now scheduled for May 26 ….

read … Gerard Puana's terroristic threatening case pushed back to May

Katherine Kealoha won’t be taking the witness stand to testify against her brother after all

HNN: …  There could be several reasons why she was not called.

“There may have been a cumulative objection,” Kau said, explaining that the court doesn’t want to hear from a witness that’s going to repeat what another witness already testified to.

Several witnesses have already provided testimony that Puana and Kealoha were snorting cocaine and committing other alleged crimes together.

Another possible reason Kealoha wasn’t called: She may not be as cooperative against her own brother as originally thought.

“If she changed her mind and decided that she was not going to remember things,” Kau said.

Kealoha could strategically be called later, after the defense presents their case to refute evidence or testimony….

read … Katherine Kealoha won’t be taking the witness stand to testify against her brother after all

Third Lawsuit Filed Against City Alleging Honolulu Police Caused Crash

CB: … A lawsuit has been filed against the city on behalf of the driver of a car that was allegedly run off the road by Honolulu police officers who fled the scene after the crash.

Attorneys Michael Green and Maria Penn filed the complaint Tuesday on behalf of Jonaven Perkins-Sinapati and his children after Perkins-Sinapati was critically injured in the Sept. 12 car crash in Waianae.

It is the third lawsuit filed in the wake of the crash and alleges that HPD officers Joshua Nahulu, Erik Smith and Jake Bartolome never turned on their lights or sirens while pursuing the vehicle being driven by Perkins-Sinapati on Farrington Highway….

read … Third Lawsuit Filed Against City Alleging Honolulu Police Caused Crash

Police Misconduct Records Lawsuit Costs Honolulu Taxpayers Another $83,000

CB: … The city and Honolulu Police Department have been ordered to pay attorney’s fees and costs totaling more than $83,000 in the latest round of legal sparring over whether police misconduct records should be available for public scrutiny.

Circuit Judge Gary Chang issued a ruling Monday awarding The Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest another $83,375 in a case that has been going on more than eight years.

In 2013, Civil Beat filed a lawsuit against the city and HPD seeking 12 disciplinary files for officers who had been suspended for egregious misconduct. The Circuit Court agreed the files were public under Hawaii’s open records law and ordered the city to release them.

The police department paid $43,607 in attorneys fees and costs at the time but the decision was appealed by the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers in 2014….

That brings the total cost to taxpayers since the litigation began to $126,982….

read … Police Misconduct Records Lawsuit Costs Honolulu Taxpayers Another $83,000

Is Hawaii seeing a rise in COVID cases?

KHON: … As of Tuesday April 12, the state of Hawaii has an average positivity rate of 4% with a daily average case rate of 148.

Brooks Baehr with Hawaii Department of Health said the 7-day average the previous Wednesday was 129 and the 7-day average before that was 87.

“You can see we have been on a gradual upward trend for the past three weeks,” said Baehr. “It will be very interesting to see the new number tomorrow.  Will we continue to see an increase in case counts?  Will the trend reverse?  Have we hit a plateau?”…

HNN: Hawaii sees 1,327 new COVID cases, 8 additional deaths over past week  (Average 190 per day)

HTH: Hospitals report few COVID patients; demand for boosters up

AP: CDC extends travel mask requirement to May 3 as COVID rises

read … Is Hawaii seeing a rise in COVID cases?

Falls of Clyde Removal Plan Designed to Fail?

SA: … Last August, the Star-Advertiser published our letter supporting the proposal from Falls of Clyde International (FOCI) to move Falls of Clyde to Scotland for restoration. That proposal met the mutual goals of removing the ship and preserving her. The state Department of Transportation Harbors Division (DOTHD) accepted the proposal and took months to complete the process. DOTHD now wants a performance bond by April 14. It knows prior attempts failed because of the bond requirement.

We question if a bond requirement was in the specifications. Research indicates the performance bond in the statutes is for construction contracts. The administrator has discretion to require a bond, but why, when FOCI’s proposal was vetted with technical details? Where is the logic that the Harbors Division will scrap its long-term goal, since 2015, of removing the ship?

As legal owners of the Falls of Clyde, we question the reasoning of DOTHD.

read … Just finalize contract for Falls of Clyde already

Legislative Agenda: 

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