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Tuesday, August 23, 2022
August 23, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 7:20 PM :: 1869 Views

Hawaii Taxes are 2nd Largest Household Expense

COVID: Hawaii Lifespan Drop Lowest in USA

Alleged Russian spies in Hawaii to remain in federal custody until September trial

Honolulu City Lights display application deadline is September 9th

Wastewater Company At Center Of Bribery Scandal Won Big Maui Contracts

CB: … H2O Process Systems has won no-bid and sole source awards in other Hawaii counties  for wastewater equipment and cleaning supplies, but its business has been perhaps most prolific in Maui County.

Most of the publicly accessible award notices for contracts to H2O Process Systems say that it’s the only company in Hawaii authorized to provide products required for some of the wastewater upgrades and other equipment that needed to be replaced.

Most of those contracts were awarded between 2015 and 2017, when Maui County gave Choy’s business nearly $12 million worth of wastewater work, far more than other companies during the same time period.

Contracts to H2O Process Systems during those three fiscal years also made the environmental management department one of the biggest spenders on sole-source work compared to all other county departments….

Michael Miyamoto was a deputy director for the department between 2016 and 2019 and signed off on most of the contract awards that went to H2O Process Systems. Attempts to reach Miyamoto were not successful.

He was appointed director of the environmental management department in 2019 but left in April of that year. Maui Mayor Mike Victorino cited health concerns.

Stewart Stant was director of the department at the time H2O Process Systems was being awarded most of its wastewater contracts. His signature is on a handful of contract awards to H2O Process Systems.

Earlier this year, Stant said in an interview with Maui journalist Deborah Rybak that he is close friends with Choy….

POM: “Milton Choy is like my brother.”  Former Maui environmental management director stands firm on friendship, dismisses no-bid contract concerns

read … Wastewater Company At Center Of Bribery Scandal Won Big Maui Contracts

Hawaii's last outdated mainframe computer system shut down

KITV: … From backlogs in unemployment benefits to the handling of child welfare services, the state's had its fair share of bureaucratic red tape made worse by the pandemic.

Gov. David Ige today shut down the state's last mainframe computer, which handled major application systems -- some up to 60 years old.

Those systems were moved to modern cloud-based servers on the mainland, which have better security and greater flexibility to scale up in the event of an emergency.

During the height of the pandemic, the outdated systems were overwhelmed by the hundreds of thousands of jobless applicants -- many of whom waited months for benefits….

read … Hawaii's last outdated mainframe computer system shut down

Kauai 8th graders confront Vice President Kamala Harris over Red Hill 

KITV: … "There were actually people on the pier with guns and they were watching her with binoculars," says 8th grader Welina Dudoit Wong.

And while some might just be happy for chance for a quick handshake or a picture, Wong and fellow Kanuikapono Charter School 8th grader Bea Kaaumoana had a message.

"The important thing about it was delivering that message and letting her know that the keiki of Oahu do need help with their families and their water," Kaaumoana says.

Throughout Vice President Kamala Harris' vacation on the Garden Isle, groups like the Oahu Water Protectors have held up signs near her Kalihiwai Ridge vacation home, urging more action on the Red Hill water crisis.

But in the end it was the two local 8th graders who mustered up the courage and walk across the sand and seize the moment and take those concerns directly to Harris.

After asking the Veep about Red Hill, Harris replied to Kaaumoana and Wong "I agree with you, we need to handle that, it's a very big issue."  She stopped to take a picture, before encouraging the girls to "continue to active and lead."

Both Bea and Welina taking that advice to heart - the students say they're both hoping to continued to grow as leaders in the Native Hawaiian community.

The students say they've been getting a lot of attention: "All of our family has been congratulating us for like going up to her and being brave," Bea says.

read … Kauai 8th graders confront Vice President Kamala Harris over Red Hill 

Keeping the Lights On? Hawaii is about to get rid of coal power for good

CM: … The timing of the closure was dictated by another piece of legislation passed in 2020 specifically ​“to eliminate the use of coal in Hawaii for electricity production.”

But the glide path to a cleaner island grid hit unexpected turbulence. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggered a global energy crisis and forced Hawaii to find new sources for a third of its oil. The result is sky-high prices at the gas station and for electricity, which in Hawaii mostly comes from burning oil. The AES closure makes the state’s grid more oil-dependent in the near term; that means electricity rates will go up before the new renewables shift the balance with much cheaper power….

besides running the coal plant, AES is deeply involved in the future of Hawaii’s grid. The company built the largest solar-paired battery project in the world on Kauai in 2019, and it is constructing numerous other solar and battery facilities across the state….

The 30-year-old power plant wasn’t the only thing looming in the background of the farewell party. So was the knowledge that its closure would temporarily increase Oahu’s dependence on oil-fired electricity, at a time when oil prices are unusually high….

(No problem.  Rolling blackouts reduce energy usage, thus reducing bills.)

Hawaii until recently imported one-third of its oil from Russia, and the state scrambled to source the fuel elsewhere this spring, at higher cost. Meanwhile, the solar and battery projects intended to replace the coal plant’s production have largely fallen behind schedule. Clearway Energy completed its 39-megawatt Mililani project in July, which now sends much cheaper electricity to the grid than the oil plants can. But eight other clean-energy sites on Oahu are still finishing up construction.

“We do know, over the next 12 to 24 months as those projects come online here on Oahu, that our residents will begin to see more stable energy prices and ultimately a reduction in their energy bill,” Ige said (without laughing)…

The site of the coal plant could resurface in that permitting queue. After several months of remediation work, demolition is scheduled to begin in January, Larsen said. Once the old equipment is cleared out, the site’s sizable grid hookup will be an attractive asset for new clean power development.

“There’s definitely a lot of discussion and different things being explored,” Larsen said…..

KHON: What does the plant closure mean for Hawaii and its residents in the coming months?

read … Hawaii is about to get rid of coal power for good

Defeated Branco Seeks Gig in Green Administration

SA: … State Rep. Patrick Branco is supporting former rival state Sen. Jill Tokuda in her congressional campaign and serves as an unpaid volunteer in Lt. Gov. Josh Green’s run to become Hawaii’s next governor as Branco’s own political future is now uncertain after election commercials on his behalf linked Tokuda to the National Rifle Association while showing images of the Uvalde, Texas, school massacre….

read … State Rep. Patrick Branco’s future uncertain following congressional loss

Amid severe shortage, Hilo hospital to hire nurse aides with no experience and train them

HNN: … The only Certified Nursing Assistant program on Hawaii Island shut down prior to the pandemic, crippling the pipeline for new workers.

“We posted all these jobs and we are noticing the vacancies were staying open,” said Hilo Medical Center Director of Public Affairs Elena Cabatu. “We just weren’t getting the candidates that we were looking for.”

While the hospital has been able to bring in some traveling nurses from the continent, officials say it would be too expensive to import nurse aides.

“So we decided to organize a nurse aid training program and actually pay them to be trained,” Cabatu said.

The entry level position earns about $40,000 a year. And the tasks nurse aides perform are critical.

“They help with activities of daily living. Helping with baths, helping brush teeth, helping us feed the patients. Doing vitals,” said Hilo Medical Center House Supervisor Angela Kanae.

The paid training program is a first in Hawaii….

“We’ve been operating at about 130% capacity throughout the hospital. And in the ER we’re seeing between 140 to 160 patients at day,” said registered nurse Tyler Sumner….

read … Amid severe shortage, Hilo hospital to hire nurse aides with no experience and train them

Kaiser’s mental health shortage puts patient safety at risk, national agency finds

SA: … Kaiser hasn’t denied it has a shortage of mental health specialists, but has stressed that those shortages exist nationwide and were exacerbated by the pandemic. A 2021 Kaiser Family Foundation study found that shortages were particularly bad in Hawaii, where just 14.6% of the statewide need for mental health professionals is met, compared with the national average of 27.2%….

read … Kaiser’s mental health shortage puts patient safety at risk, national agency finds

Several West Maui routes canceled due to school bus driver shortage

MN: … Due to a recent loss of school bus drivers, eight bus routes serving Lahaina schools were suspended as of Monday, the state Department of Education confirmed….The DOE said in an email Monday afternoon that across the state, it has lost more than 100 school bus drivers during the pandemic. At the start of this school year, it was still short more than 90 drivers….

read … Several West Maui routes canceled due to school bus driver shortage

Distributor sues HPD over damage to dozens of sweepstakes machines

HNN: …  After a bitter, decade-long legal and political battle, the Hawaii distributor of sweepstakes gaming machines is suing the HPD for damaging his equipment.

The lawsuit alleges that when Honolulu police seized PJY Enteprises LLC’s 77 sweepstakes machines in 2012, the machines were new and in working condition.

But a recent examination found that 62 of the machines are now damaged and unusable, the suit said.

The company’s lawyer estimated the loss at about $162,000….

While the suit details the alleged damage to the machines, the city’s liability could be more extensive.

Police seized another 150 machines from other operators ― valued at around $400,000 ― but the machines are nowhere to be found….

2021: Police Corruption Scandals Revenge for Gambling Prosecutions?

read … Distributor sues HPD over damage to dozens of sweepstakes machines

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