Friday, April 9, 2021

Gas prices going up, House shelves worker relief bills, Oahu opens vaccine to 50+ as COVID cases continue to rise, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2021 All Hawaii News
Gas prices were very high 10 years ago ©2011 All Hawaii News

AAA Hawaiʻi: State Gas Price Average Reaches 17-Month High. On Thursday, April 8, the statewide average price for regular unleaded is $3.71 a gallon, which is up two cents from last Thursday, April 1, 22 cents higher than a month ago and 40 cents higher than the average last year on the same date. Maui Now. KITV4.

State House leaders shelve bills that would help workers. House leaders are resisting union pressure to revive bills this year that would raise the minimum wage and exempt jobless benefits from state income taxes.  Star-Advertiser.

Gut-and-replace bill threatens Tourism Authority funding. The Hawaii Tourism Authority, the agency responsible for leading tourism recovery across the islands, is at risk of losing funding again due to 11th-hour maneuvering at the state Legislature. Star-Advertiser. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii Bill Would Make Superintendent Hiring Process More Local. House Bill 515 HD1 SD2 would make a "working understanding" of Hawaii's education system a "desired qualification" for the Superintendent position. KITV4.

‘Mismanaged and dysfunctional’: DOH official calls out alleged corruption in department. A longtime Department of Health manager is blowing the whistle on his own department, alleging corruption and mismanagement that is fleecing taxpayers and jeopardizing sanitation and health inspections. Hawaii News Now.

Report: Hawaiʻi Tech Sector has Direct Impact of $3.4 Billion on State’s Economy. The Cyberstates 2021™ report by CompTIA showed that the state is home to nearly 2,300 tech business establishments and the sector has a direct impact of $3.4 billion on the state economy. Maui Now.

Commander of Pearl Harbor destroyer removed from duty. Cmdr. Kathryn Dawley, commanding officer of the Pearl Harbor destroyer USS Hopper was relieved of her duties Tuesday “due to a loss of confidence in her leadership,” the Navy said. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

How People Across Hawaii Are Creating Spaces To Grow Their Own Food. Locally grown vegetables are expensive, so communities are coming together to grow fresh produce. Civil Beat.

Hawaii will receive far fewer doses of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine next week. Fewer shots mean fewer appointments available at vaccination sites. KITV4.

April 8, 2021 COVID-19 Update: The state Department of Health reports that there were 122 additional COVID-19 cases reported in Hawai‘i on Thursday, including 70 on O‘ahu, 40 on Maui, 10 on Hawai‘i Island, one on Kaua‘i, and one in a Hawai‘i resident diagnosed while out of state. Maui Now.

Oahu

Oahu opens COVID-19 vaccinations to those age 50 and over starting Monday. State Health Director Libby Char, in a news release, called the wider eligibility a great opportunity for residents 50 and older on Oahu to register before vaccine eligibility opens to everyone 16 and older on April 19. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.  Hawaii Public Radio.  Maui News Now Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

State investigators raid Honolulu airport baseyard, investigation ongoing. State investigators executed a search warrant Thursday at a baseyard at the Honolulu airport. The state Attorney General’s office raided the airport’s Maintenance Section Airfield and Grounds Maintenance Unit Facility, which is located off Aolele Street. Hawaii News Now. Star-Advertiser.

Aloha Stadium Plan Will Burden Taxpayers. Sources of funding for the $350 million worth of public investment in the new stadium would put more burden on the state’s general fund, and therefore tax dollars, under a proposal moving through the Legislature, House Bill 1348. Civil Beat.

Deadline to use expired licenses quickly approaching. Tuesday, April 13, is the last day a driver’s license or state ID that has expired since March, 2020 will be considered valid. The City and County of Honolulu says thousands of motorists are behind on their renewals. KHON2.

More Oahu retailers close permanently, creating a surge in vacant space. Collateral damage from COVID-19 in Oahu’s retail industry has multiplied greatly in recent months and likely will get worse before the year is over, according to a new report. Star-Advertiser.

Doris Duke breakwater demolition is opposed. Testimony was heard Thursday evening at an online public hearing on the state’s plan to demolish the Diamond Head Breakwater, which forms one wall of a swim basin beneath Doris Duke’s Shangri La, and use the rubble to fortify the seawall and walkway along the shoreline. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

Senate version of state budget includes funding for lifeguards at Kua Bay, Hapuna. Full funding for lifeguard services at two Big Island state beach parks has been restored by the state Senate in its draft of the proposed state budget. West Hawaii Today.

DOH investigates three Big Island COVID clusters. Three COVID-19 clusters have been investigated on the Big Island in the past 14 days, according to a weekly cluster report issued Thursday by the state Department of Health. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Hotly debated housing bill passes council. Measure requires fast-tracked projects to have at least 75% affordable units. Maui News.

New homes to be sold at near cost on Maui.
Local real estate developer Peter Savio unveiled plans Thursday for 81 townhomes and single-family homes on condominium land lots exclusively for Maui residents who have more or less moderate incomes. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now.

Kauai

Rep. Kahele tours Kaua‘i, meets nonprofits, talks proposed Radar system. U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele spent the past week on Kaua‘i, analyzing coastal erosion along the Wailua corridor, touring Hanalei and meeting with nonprofits and officials, including walking through the site of a proposed missile-defense radar at the U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility at Barking Sands near Kekaha. Garden Island.

Gayagas named deputy county engineer.
Mayor Derek Kawakami announced the appointment of Boyd Gayagas as deputy county engineer in the Department of Public Works. Garden Island.


Thursday, April 8, 2021

Maui travelers face mandatory second COVID test, Honolulu plans examiner admits taking bribes, Kauai business mandates employee vaccinations, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2021 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Waikiki Aquarium ©2021 All Hawaii News

Still-closed Waikiki Aquarium holds Earth Month celebration. The Waikiki Aquarium, which has been closed for more than a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, might reopen in June, said Dr. Andrew Rossiter, director of the 116-year-old institution. Star-Advertiser.

What The Pandemic Taught Hawaii Hospitals About Their Capacity To Handle Calamity. Hospitals made do with existing space and invested in some new equipment, but the pandemic exposed a heavy reliance on out-of-state traveling nurses. Civil Beat.

Bill creating statewide Hawaii travel policy dies in House. House Speaker Scott Saiki has requested to kill a bill that he introduced that would have mandated state-wide travel rules, saying COVID-19 conditions have since changed. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Tribune-Herald.

Tourism: Hawaii residents’ reaction to rebound from pandemic. With bookings up, it’s uncertain how island residents will respond to tourism’s sudden rebound, House Speaker Scott Saiki said Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s Transgender Community Pushes For Better Health Insurance Coverage. Experts say getting access to transition services is important, but there’s the debate over how much insurance companies should cover. Civil Beat.

Schatz: Relief package will fend off ‘economic scarring’. Federal coronavirus aid on its way to Hawaii will help the state avoid a prolonged economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, said U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz on Wednesday. Tribune-Herald.

COVID-19 Vaccines Now Available For All Veterans In Hawaii. The Department of Veterans Affairs Pacific Island Healthcare System is now offering vaccines to all veterans, as well as their spouses and live-in caregivers in Hawaii. Civil Beat.

Although millions of doses of the Johnson &Johnson vaccine
manufactured on the mainland had to be destroyed because of quality concerns, state health officials do not yet know how the production issues will affect allocations to Hawaii. Tribune-Herald.

April 7, 2021 COVID-19 Update: The state Department of Health reports that there were 76 additional COVID-19 cases reported in Hawai‘i on Wednesday, including 51 on O‘ahu, 15 on Maui, five on Hawai‘i Island, two on Kaua‘i, and three in Hawai‘i residents diagnosed while out of state.  Maui Now.

Oahu

Honolulu building plans examiner admits to taking bribes. A Honolulu building plans examiner admitted during a court hearing today that she expedited a local architect’s projects in exchange for bribes. Associated Press.  Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

Gov. David Ige, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi agree to leave Tier 3 in place for now. Honolulu will remain in Tier 3 of the city’s COVID-19 reopening framework for at least the next four weeks under an agreement between Mayor Rick Blangiardi and Gov. David Ige that will allow Oahu businesses and activities to maintain current levels of operation. Star-Advertiser.  Hawaii News Now.  Civil Beat. KHON2. KITV4.

Oahu to join other counties that opened vaccine eligibility to 16 and older on April 19.
The state says it will meet the President’s mandate to allow all adults to sign-up for a COVID-19 vaccine by Monday, April 19. Hawaii is going a step further and including 16- and 17-year-olds statewide. KHON2. KITV4.

Police Commission Slams Chief For Leadership Failures, Puts Her On Improvement Plan
. In a stinging performance review, the Honolulu Police Commission said on Wednesday that Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard has failed to adequately lead her department by embracing a “culture of blame” in which she shirks accountability and neglects to communicate clearly with officers and the public. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

New Honolulu Police Policy On Using Force Aims To Defuse Tense Situations. HPD has new rules about when officers can shoot at moving vehicles, use vascular neck restraints and deploy other uses of force. Civil Beat.

Lawmakers seek to honor beloved senator with upcoming veteran clinic in Leeward Oahu. Hawaii’s congressional delegation announced plans to name the Advanced Leeward Outpatient Health Care Access, or “ALOHA” Project after the late Senator Daniel Kahikina Akaka. Hawaii News Now.

Citing safety concerns, state seeks $20,000 fine against owners of Wahiawa dam. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources is seeking a $20,000 fine against the owners of the Wahiawa Dam at Lake Wilson. Hawaii News Now.

Kamehameha Schools wants to adjust second phase of largely high-rise housing development in Kakaako.
The trust is primarily seeking to extend a deadline to carry out development, to shift building densities between blocks and to produce more affordable housing than required if such homes don’t count toward a total maximum density limit for 29 acres in its master plan for the area. Star-Advertiser.

Servco Pacific is said to be planning a big auto lot on land in Kalaeloa. Servco Pacific Inc.
, which says it is Hawaii’s largest private company and one of the top 15 largest automobile dealer groups based in the United States, is planning to lease acreage at the former Naval Air Station Barbers Point for what could eventually be a huge auto lot, according to officials and business owners there. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Chun reiterates UH support of astronomy on Maunakea is not a conflict of interest. During a meeting of the Maunakea Management Board, Greg Chun, UH’s executive director of Maunakea Stewardship, advised the board that an upcoming working group to explore possible alternative management structures for the mountain could present “issues” for UH and suggested that fellow board members preemptively discuss those issues ahead of time. Tribune-Herald.

Council rejects Leeward Planning Commission nominee. The County Council on Wednesday rejected a Mayor Mitch Roth appointee to the Leeward Planning Commission in what the mayor called “retaliation” over his attempt to have a commission member removed in an unrelated action. West Hawaii Today.

Research suggests correlation between earthquake signatures, magma viscosity could help predict impact of future eruptions.
A new study released Wednesday suggests researchers might be able to predict the potential impact of future volcanic eruptions before they happen. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaiʻi County Covered Play Courts To Reopen. The covered play courts at Pana‘ewa Park and Pāhoa District Park reopened on Monday, and Waimea will reopen next week. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News.

Maui

Maui to Implement Mandatory Secondary Test Upon Arrival for Trans-Pacific Flights. Proposed changes have been approved by the governor for the state’s Safe Travels program in Maui County. Trans-Pacific travelers arriving at Kahului Airport will soon be required to undergo a mandatory secondary COVID-19 rapid test upon arrival, or face a mandatory 10-day quarantine. Maui Now.

Court Rules In Favor Of A&B, Land Board In Maui Water Dispute. In a setback for environmentalists and some Native Hawaiian farmers, a First Circuit Court judge on Tuesday sided with the state, Maui County and Alexander & Baldwin in a case regarding the use of stream water from East Maui. Civil Beat. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now.

Bill would reserve half of all beach parking for residents. As tourism numbers and frustrations with overcrowding continue to rise, the Maui County Council is considering measures that would reserve at least half of all public beach access parking for residents and tack on parking fees for visitors. Maui News. Associated Press.

Kauai

MDA briefs Kaua‘i Council on proposed Hawai‘i defense radar. An estimated 200-400 people may be necessary to construct a proposed $1.9 billion federal Homeland Defense Radar – Hawai‘i, and then more than 100 personnel to work there. Garden Island.

Kauai Councilwoman In The Hot Seat After Accepting Paid Trip To Russia. Kauai County Councilwoman Felicia Cowden says a Board of Ethics complaint against her is politically motivated. Civil Beat.

Tiki Iniki mandates employees receive vaccine. In March, Michele Rundgren, owner of Tiki Iniki, made the decision to mandate all employees have a COVID-19 vaccine, including servers, bartenders and cooks. Garden Island.

Lanai

Unexploded munitions dating back to WWII found off Lanai’s south shore. The munitions were reported by two recreational divers. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

University of Hawaii football team quarantined, contact tracing chief resigns, state 50th in work from home rankings, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy UH Manoa
University of Hawaii football, courtesy photo

Entire UH Football Team Heads to Quarantine Following Eight Positive Tests. The football team directed 81 players to quarantine in their homes "out of an abundance of caution after UH medical officials consulted with the Hawaiʻi Department of Health," the school said in a statement. Hawaii Public Radio. Big Island Now. Star-Advertiser. KHON2. KITV4.

CDC finds spread among youth sports, Hawaii pediatrician says play on. While the Rainbow Warriors are regularly tested for COVID-19, youth sports in Hawaii are generally not. This as the Centers for Disease Control says that they’re finding spread of the virus from youth sports. KHON2.

Official In Charge Of Hawaii’s COVID-19 Contact Tracing Resigns. Emily Roberson, an epidemiologist hired last year to revamp Hawaii’s COVID-19 contact tracing efforts, has resigned, she told Civil Beat Tuesday. Department of Health spokeswoman Janice Okubo said that Roberson left her position April 1.  Civil Beat.

Report: Hawaiʻi Ranks 50th in Work from Home Rankings. With 71 percent of people — whose jobs can be done remotely — working from home all or most of the time during the COVID-19 pandemic, the personal-finance website WalletHub released its report on the Best States for Working from Home. Hawai’i was ranked 50th, with only Alaska ranking lower. Maui Now.

Here’s How Hawaii’s New State Budget Is Shaping Up. With just a few weeks left in session, both the House and Senate plan to bail out Hawaii employers and pass some tax increases. Civil Beat.

Hawaii closer to declaring a ‘climate emergency’. A series of symbolic — but widely supported — climate resolutions, including one declaring a climate emergency, continued to move through the Legislature on Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

Dark Clouds Are Looming Over Hawaii Even As The Economy Appears To Be Improving. Economic experts say many people are worse off than they were before the pandemic and a lower unemployment rate is simply masking deeper problems. Civil Beat.

Transition to 10-Digit Dialing (Area Code + Number) to Begin on April 24. Beginning April 24, 2021, callers in Hawai‘i will be encouraged to dial the area code (808) plus the telephone number when making local calls, six months before this will be required for local calls to complete. Maui Now.

Hawaii Expects To Meet Biden’s New Goal Of Offering Vaccines To All Adults By April 19. Hawaii health officials say they can meet a new deadline set by President Biden Tuesday of offering COVID-19 shots to all adults by April 19, supplanting an earlier goal of May 1. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

April 6, 2021 COVID-19 Update: The state Department of Health reports that there were 61 additional COVID-19 cases reported in Hawai‘i on Tuesday, including 30 on O‘ahu, 21 on Maui, three on Hawai‘i Island, and seven in Hawai‘i residents diagnosed while out of state. Maui Now.

Oahu

Mayor Rick Blangiardi makes request to change Oahu’s tier criteria. Blangiardi on Tuesday said he sent a request to Gov. David Ige asking that the criteria for Tier 3 be increased to a seven-day average case count of 50 to 100, which is what it currently is for Tier 2. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii Public Radio.

Business owners say they are disappointed in the lack of clarity surrounding COVID guidelines. Business owners are seeking clarity on tier system as Oahu’s averaging 57 daily COVID cases clearly meeting the criteria to move back to Tier 2 Thursday at 12:01 a.m. Hawaii News Now.

Public reviews proposed rules for short-term rentals. A public hearing Tuesday on the city’s plan to give permits to about 1,700 Oahu homeowners to operate bed-and-breakfast units raised the question of whether the city’s Department of Planning and Permitting can be trusted to distribute the permits fairly. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

Home prices on Oahu surge closer to $1 million median. Oahu’s housing market had another breakout month in March with a record $950,000 single-family home median sale price and an eye-popping number of condominium sales. Star-Advertiser.

City starts fixing Kakaako streets owned by state. Two oversize city pothole patching crews descended on perhaps the worst streets in Kakaako on Tuesday to smooth over a problem that has vexed area residents and business owners for several years. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

State crews clear out more than 30 homeless camps at Diamond Head. More than 30 homeless camps on both sides of Diamond Head are being cleared out this week by state Department of Land and Natural Resources crews. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

State again proposes removing seawall that forms Doris Duke swimming hole. A state Department of Land and Natural Resources proposal to remove the 83-year-old Diamond Head Breakwater, which parallels the seawall beneath Doris Duke’s Shangri La to form a popular ocean swimming hole, will be discussed Thursday at a public hearing. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

A reprieve for Van Pernis:
Council Planning Committee postpones action on ouster of commissioner. Mark Van Pernis was called rude, crusty, insulting, confrontational and condescending, among other adjectives, during a grueling three-hour Tuesday evening session of a County Council panel that ended with a recommendation to not immediately remove him from the powerful Leeward Planning Commission. West Hawaii Today.

Plan calls for 6 low-income housing projects to begin this year. The county will spend nearly $6 million in federal funds on six low-income housing projects this year, according to an action plan presented to a County Council committee. Tribune-Herald.

USA Women’s Water Polo Team donates lane course, valued at $5,500, to county. A gift from the USA Women’s Water Polo Team could result in the County of Hawaii Department of Parks and Recreation implementing a youth water polo program on the Big Island. West Hawaii Today.

Resolution for lava zone insurance study gets lukewarm support. Hawaii County Council members were lukewarm Tuesday about a proposal to investigate ways to manage home insurance rates in Lava Zones 1 and 2. Tribune-Herald.

West Hawaii Veterans Cemetery slated for expansion. The West Hawaii Veterans Cemetery is slated to receive funds for expansion in the Hawaii State Legislature’s Capital Improvement Project proposed budget. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Maui County population could decline with job losses.
With Maui suffering some of the worst pandemic-induced job losses in the state, one of Hawaii’s top economists is predicting the Valley Isle will also be hardest hit in 2020 population decline as people move away for better work opportunities. Maui News.

Maui County Economic Development Office Hosts Virtual Grant Training Workshop April 21. Businesses and nonprofit organizations that administer viable projects that positively impact the economy of Maui County are urged to participate in a virtual grant training workshop Wednesday, April 21, at 1 pm. Maui Now.

Kauai

Cowden fined $500 for ethics violations.
A 2019 county Board of Ethics complaint alleged that Councilwoman Felicia Cowden had used her role and position as a councilmember to secure the benefit of an expense-paid trip to attend a conference in Vologda, Russia, in 2019, and for having county staff use council letterhead to urge others to attend the conference, “which gave the impression attendance at the conference was being promoted by the Kaua‘i County Council,” according to the complaint. Garden Island.

Kauai coronavirus rental, utility assistance program applications open in May. The Kaua’i Government Employees Federal Credit Union (KGEFCU) will be administering the program. KHON2.

Koke‘e Nature Trail trampled Easter weekend. Easter celebrations in Koke‘e State Park over the weekend left native plants destroyed along a trail that runs behind the Koke‘e Museum. Garden Island.

Timbers embraces community throughout pandemic. Timbers Kaua‘i at Hokuala is one of the many resort properties on Kaua‘i now accepting trans-Pacific visitors through the Hawai‘i Safe Travels program. Garden Island.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Hawaii vaccine passports on hold, Honolulu mayor 'dead set' against tightening restrictions in wake of coronavirus upsurge, Kauai joins Safe Travels program, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

from Zoom
Hawaii Gov. David Ige from Zoom

Vaccine passports for Hawaii on hold, Gov. David Ige says. Gov. David Ige said the state is testing the technology needed for a vaccine passport with CommonPass and CLEAR but that they still aren’t ready. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News. KHON2.

Hawaiian Airlines Hopes State Reconsiders Safe Travels Program Amid New CDC Guidelines. Hawaiian Airlines hopes the state will reconsider its Safe Travels Program after new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that fully vaccinated people can travel domestically at low risk to themselves. Hawaii Public Radio.

Officials wait to see how Easter weekend gatherings will impact COVID cases. Authorities got an uptick in complaints about illegal gatherings over the long Easter weekend. Some feel it was a mix of complacency over COVID, pandemic fatigue and mixed messaging over what’s allowed. Hawaii News Now.

=====

Labor Leaders Urge Lawmakers To Move Minimum Wage Increase. Teamsters, ILWU and Local 5 leaders ask House Speaker Scott Saiki to schedule a floor vote by Wednesday. Civil Beat.

Lawmakers Consider Adding ‘Coercive Control’ In Domestic Violence Cases. Supporters say the bill will make it easier to prosecute domestic abusers, but critics including law enforcement say its definition is far too broad. Civil Beat.

State parks seek input to update 5-year recreational plan. This spring, for the first time, the division will focus on how to manage competing cultural and recreational interests as part of its regular, five-year reevaluation and updating of its Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, and is seeking public participation in meetings Wednesday and Saturday. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaiian stilt could shed endangered status
. Agency proposing to downlist bird to threatened category. Survey data and a recent population viability analysis indicate that the population of the ae’o, or Hawaiian stilt, has been “stable to increasing for several decades” across the state, with the trend expected to continue as long as conservation efforts are ongoing, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, which is proposing the change in the bird’s status. Maui News.

Hawaii businesses have taken in $1.26 billion from federal program this year.
Nearly 16,000 Hawaii businesses have benefited so far this year from potentially forgivable federal loans aimed at maintaining jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now.

COVID-related unemployment eligibility disputes on the rise, Hawaii lawyers say. When Kailua resident Carol’s workplace reopened in July, she still felt it was too unsafe to return. Hawaii News Now.

April 5, 2021 COVID-19 Update: The state Department of Health reports that there were 95 additional COVID-19 cases reported in Hawai‘i on Monday, including 54 on O‘ahu, 23 on Maui, 14 on Hawai‘i Island, and four in Hawai‘i residents diagnosed while out of state. Maui Now.

Oahu

Honolulu Mayor Blangiardi is ‘dead set against’ city going back to Tier 2 despite rise in cases.
Mayor Rick Blangiardi is “dead set against” rolling the city’s reopening plan back to Tier 2 as the number of new cases in Honolulu continue to approach the designated limit of a two-week average of 50 new cases a day. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Under New Leadership, HART Purges Nearly Half Its Staff. The move aims to streamline HART, but some worry such severe cuts could hurt the struggling transit project in the long term. Civil Beat.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi working with legal adviser on agency abuses. In response to the federal bribery charges of five Honolulu Department of Planning and Permitting employees, Mayor Rick Blangiardi is working with Dana Viola, one of Honolulu’s new chief legal advisers, to curb abuses within the department. Star-Advertiser.

Applications closed for rent relief 4 hours after city program launches. In less than four hours, the city received 8,000 applications for its Rental and Utility Relief Program, maxing out the amount it was willing to accept in this first round. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

No big changes recommended in 10-year solid waste master plan. As the county grapples with a pandemic economy, closure of the Hilo landfill and loss of overseas markets for recyclables, there are more general priorities than specific recommendations in a 395-page 10-year solid waste plan slated for consideration by the County Council. West Hawaii Today.

EHCC suit seeks removal of endowment trustees. The board of directors of the East Hawaii Cultural Center filed a lawsuit in Hilo Circuit Court asking that a judge remove five trustees of an endowment trust set up in 2009. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

List of Maui COVID-19 Vaccination Sites and Registration Information
. The Department of Health Maui District Health office is currently offering Moderna vaccinations to anyone 18-years and older on Maui. Meantime Maui Health is offering the Pfizer vaccine to individuals ages 16 and older. Maui Now.

Covered bus stop for Kahikinui keiki. A new covered bus stop was installed off Piilani Highway near Mile Marker 23 east of Ulupalakua for seven of the children living in the remote community who attend Punana Leo o Maui and Kula Kaiapuni schools. Maui News.

Kauai

County rejoins state’s Safe Travels.
Kaua‘i re-entered the state’s Safe Travels program for Trans-Pacific travelers, meaning both out-of-state and inter-island fliers can bypass the 10-day travel quarantine by providing a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departing to Kaua‘i. Garden Island. KHON2. KITV4.

Kauai elementary schools back to in-person learning. King Kaumuali‘i Elementary School’s Principal Jason Yoshida said they had 466 students returning to face-to-face learning with approximately 100 students still selecting distance learning yesterday. Garden Island.


Monday, April 5, 2021

Vaccine passport coming to Hawaii, coronavirus surge could take Honolulu back to Tier 2, Maui to begin vaccinating 16-year-olds and up, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

 

copyright 2021 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Hawaii travel ©2021 All Hawaii News

New CDC Guidance Paves The Way For Hawaii To Implement ‘Vaccine Passports’. Guidance issued Friday by the CDC gives Hawaii the green light to modify the program that lets arriving travelers avoid a 10-day quarantine by showing proof of full vaccination, the program’s author said. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

Hawaii Parents Say ‘So Far, So Good’ As Schools Push Toward Full Reopening. Schools had to get creative to accommodate more in-person students while maintaining safety protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Civil Beat.

DOE still waiting on funds, approval to address COVID learning loss. Under the state's allotment of the American Rescue Plan funds for education, the department must use 20 percent of the money to mitigate learning loss, or about $78 million. KITV4.

Hawaii lawmakers poised to reform program that allows police to seize cash and cars. Hawaii lawmakers are poised to pass legislation reforming the state’s civil asset forfeiture program, which allows law enforcement agencies to seize property, such as cars and cash, that they suspect is connected to criminal activity. Star-Advertiser.

Police reform bills progress in Legislature.
As the 2021 legislative session got underway, lawmakers were facing calls to pass measures aimed at law enforcement reforms largely in response to police-involved shootings and other deadly incidents here and on the mainland. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Data Landscape: Antiquated Infrastructure, Widespread Distrust. New report from the Hawaii Data Collaborative lays out the challenges faced by the state’s data ecosystem and recommendations on how to move forward. Civil Beat.

State unemployment office to offer help via phone or video appointment. Come Monday, April 5, claimants can sign up for an appointment to speak directly with unemployment staff, either by phone or via video. KITV4.

Consumer aid, vaccines keep state bankruptcies declining. Statewide bankruptcies in March declined 4.3% to 135 from 141 in the year- earlier period, according to new data released by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Hawaii. Through the first quarter of the year, filings are down 20% to 318 from 398 at the same time a year ago. Star-Advertiser.

April 4, 2021 COVID-19 Update: The state Department of Health reports that there were 96 additional COVID-19 cases reported in Hawai‘i on Sunday, including 51 on O‘ahu, 26 on Maui, 15 on Hawai‘i Island, and four in Hawai‘i residents diagnosed while out of state. Maui Now.

Oahu

Oahu moved up to Tier 3 on Feb. 25; the case count has climbed since March. Mayor Rick Blangiardi will likely have a tough decision to make this week when the Wednesday COVID-19 numbers are reported for Oahu. Star-Advertiser. KHON2.

HPD Chief Susan Ballard Is Up For Review This Week. Is She Still Up To The Job?. Four years ago, she was praised for righting a department in turmoil. Now, under fire from critics inside and outside the department, Ballard faces a new assessment from the Honolulu Police Commission. Civil Beat.

Watchdogs question HPD chief’s personal purchases from vendors awarded CARES Act funds.
Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard bought personal equipment from companies that her agency awarded CARES Act contracts to, Hawaii News Now has learned. Watchdog groups are calling the purchases a conflict of interest. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu mulls registering, regulating, short-term vacation rentals. On Oahu, regulation of short-term rentals has been an especially contentious issue, which some hope will soon come to a head — especially given the rebounding market. There’s a chance for both sides to contribute to bringing additional clarity to the issue Tuesday when the city Department of Planning and Permitting holds a public hearing on the draft rules to regulate and register short-term rentals on Oahu. Star-Advertiser.

University of Hawaii study offers ways Honolulu can adapt to rising ocean waters.
Scientists have been warning that Hawaii could face as much as 3 feet of sea level rise over the coming decades, and Honolulu is perhaps the most vulnerable as coastal flooding threatens to force as many as 13,300 people from their homes and cause an estimated $12.9 billion in economic losses. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

Embattled hotel and condo project near Ala Moana Center hits another major snag. The Hawaii Ocean Plaza — whose plans call for 175 hotel rooms and 216 condos — is part of the city’s transit-oriented development program that allows developers to build more hotel and apartment units. Hawaii News Now.

Remote-working trend for Honolulu employees is here to stay — one year later. More than a year after most companies sent office employees home to work remotely to comply with COVID-19 government mandates, many continue to do so, even as vaccinations are well under way. Star-Advertiser.

Tourism in Waikiki surges, but will it stick? The beaches along world-famous Waikiki on Saturday looked a lot like they did before COVID-19 took hold of the planet: packed. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Auditor candidates narrowed to two: County has been without an auditor five months. A County Council subcommittee searching for a county auditor has narrowed the list to two mainland candidates. West Hawaii Today.

Councilman calls for county to curb climbing coverage costs. Puna Councilman Matt Kaneali‘i-Kleinfelder will introduce a resolution at the County Committee on Governmental Operations, Relations and Economic Development on Tuesday urging the Department of Finance to investigate options to lower home insurance premiums in Lava Zones 1 and 2. Tribune-Herald.

Airport hotel bond bill still alive: Bill would provide up to $50M in revenue bond funding. A bill to issue up to $50 million in revenue bonds for a planned hotel at Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole continues to make it through the Legislature for a final hearing. West Hawaii Today.

Vaccinating the homeless: Clinics in Hilo, Kona slated for April 14. HOPE Services Hawaii will work with West Hawaii Community Health Center and Bay Clinic to help vaccinate the Big Island’s homeless population. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Maui Health to Expand Vaccine Registration to All Residents 16 and Older Starting Monday, April 5. Maui Health announced this afternoon that it will follow the recent announcement by the Maui District Health Office as well as Hawaiʻi and Kauaʻi counties and expand its vaccine efforts to include registration for all residents ages 16* and older, starting Monday, April 5, 2021. Maui Now.

Want to rent a car? It’ll cost you. High demand and short supply that are causing exorbitant prices for rental autos have also been a boon to locally owned rental car companies on Maui. Maui News.

Maui small businesses have no choice but to change. Economists optimistic for recovery but uncertain over long-lasting damage. Maui News.

Kauai

Managing feral-cat populations. In fiscal-year 2021, the county allocated $50,000 to feral-cat control. This upcoming fiscal year, the budget proposes $120,000. Garden Island.

Hyatt associates get more food. The Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort &Spa’s lobby fronting the registration desk bustled with activity Thursday during the final food drive for its furloughed associates. Garden Island.


Friday, April 2, 2021

State auditor slammed in House report, 16-year-olds and up now eligible for vaccines on two islands, Senate panel approves hikes in estate, conveyance taxes, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy state of Hawaii
State Auditor Les Kondo courtesy photo

Report: State Auditor Not In ‘Complete Compliance’ With Constitution. The office, currently led by State Auditor Les Kondo, was “inconsistent” in its application of auditing standards, leading to a years-long project by the staff to revise the office’s own operating and standards manual. The report, released Thursday by the Hawaii House of Representatives, concluded that the State Auditor has “not been in complete compliance” with article VII, section 10 of the Hawaii State Constitution, which could pave the way for Kondo’s removal. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

Senate Panel Approves Increases In Hawaii Estate, Conveyance Taxes. The measure would also suspend some excise tax exemptions for various industries to generate extra tax revenue. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Restaurants Could Escape Shifting Pandemic Rules Under Proposed Program. An initiative to help small businesses avoid government mandates has gained traction with some policymakers and could eventually include other industries. Civil Beat.

Bill to disclose COVID-19 cases by school makes headway at Hawaii Legislature. A bill requiring the Department of Education to publicly identify which schools have coronavirus cases is moving forward at the Legislature, although state officials are concerned it might lead to panic and stigma. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Jockeys For Advantage In Biden’s $2 Trillion Infrastructure Plan. Local politicians, business leaders and labor organizers say Hawaii needs funds to reduce its dependence on petroleum, boost rail and improve wastewater systems. Civil Beat.

How Addressing Hawaii’s Affordable Housing Crisis Could Help Farming Efforts. Farmers say housing insecurity threatens their ability to retain employees and makes it difficult to ramp up production. Civil Beat.

Hawaii officials concerned about dramatic increases in car rental prices. Daily prices for rental cars in Hawaii are in the hundreds and the issue has caught the attention of state authorities. Hawaii has seen car rental prices as high as $600 a day while some are even higher. KHON2.

Hawaii traffic fatalities more than double for first 3 months of 2021. In the first three months of this year, the state of Hawaii tallied 25 traffic-related fatalities, four more than during the same time period last year. Star-Advertiser.

Vaccination sites prepare to ramp up as record number of doses head to Hawaii. It’s the moment health officials have been waiting for: A record number of COVID vaccines are on the way to Hawaii and immunization sites are getting ready. Hawaii News Now.

Neighbor Islands to expand vaccine eligibility to those age 16 and 18 as more doses arrive. As the state receives more COVID vaccine doses, the Department of Health is asking Neighbor Islands to expand eligibility -- and many counties are jumping at the opportunity. Hawaii News Now.

April 1, 2021 COVID-19 Update: The state Department of Health reports that there were 114 additional COVID-19 cases reported in Hawai‘i on Thursday, including 72 on O‘ahu, 30 on Maui, eight on Hawai‘i Island, and four in Hawai‘i residents diagnosed while out of state. Maui Now.

Oahu


Oahu restaurants maneuver new ban on plastic ware. Honolulu restaurants are adjusting to the ban on plastic bags, plastic straws and plastic utensils that went into effect Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

Kahuku Wind Farm Case Goes Before Hawaii Supreme Court. The fate of dozens of endangered hoary bats was at the center of state Supreme Court arguments on Thursday in a case that could stall the operations of a controversial wind farm in Kahuku and raise the stakes for other renewable energy projects in Hawaii. Civil Beat.

Replacing paper passes, HOLO cards are the new way to pay on the bus. A new pass system is being implemented for riders of TheBus. The old paper passes are being replaced with a new, modern HOLO card that riders can tap against a card reader when they enter the bus. Hawaii News Now. Star-Advertiser.

Former Oahu Little League coach charged with 15 counts of child pornography. Federal prosecutors have charged a former Oahu Little League coach with 15 counts of child pornography. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

COVID vaccinations now open to all Big Island residents 16 and older. As it prepares to administer 5,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine on Saturday, Hilo Medical Center announced its expanded eligibility Thursday. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Now.

Post-flight COVID testing to be scaled back. Testing of arriving trans-Pacific travelers at Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole and Hilo International Airport will be reduced by 50% in April, said Cyrus Johnasen, spokesman for Mayor Mitch Roth. West Hawaii Today.

Youth Challenge Academy funds pass budget muster. When the state Senate Ways and Means Committee passed the House’s version of a $31.36 billion operating budget for the next two fiscal years starting July 1, funding was included for the Hawaii National Guard Youth Challenge Academy in Hilo, which had been on the chopping block early in the legislative session. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaiʻi PUC Suspends PGV Docket Pending Environmental Review. Puna Geothermal Ventures and Hawaiian Electric are proposing to expand the geothermal generation facility’s capacity from 38 megawatts to 46 megawatts, extend the PPA term by 30 years, and decrease pricing, among other things. Big Island Video News.

Owners of Hilo Iron Works building request change of zoning. The building, which was built in 1907, was the subject of a Windward Planning Commission discussion Thursday, with the owners of the building requesting a change of zoning for the site in order to make working with the building more palatable for developers. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Maui church, King’s Cathedral & Chapels disputes virus cluster designation. King’s Cathedral &Chapels is pushing back against the state Department of Health’s determination of a COVID- 19 cluster of at least 55 infections among church members, saying the cases were scattered across its two dozen congregations in Maui County. Star-Advertiser. Maui News. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Victorino seeks mandatory post-arrival test for travelers. Citing fast-moving variants sweeping the island, Mayor Michael Victorino on Wednesday said a second test may be mandated come mid-April for returning residents and visitors to Maui County. Maui News.

Virtual Conference To Explore Energy Transition in Hawaiʻi Set for June 22 & 24. The 8th Hawaiʻi Energy Conference to explore the “Energy Transition in Hawaiʻi: Focus on investments in people and projects” will be held virtually June 22 and 24. Maui Now.

Kauai

Vaccines offered to all 16 and older. The county announced that all residents age 16 and over are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines beginning Monday, April 5, at clinics around the island. Garden Island.

Kaua‘i County reentering state Safe Travels program. Kaua‘i is reentering the state’s Safe Travels program on Monday, April 5, and as the island prepares to welcome back more travelers, the County of Kaua‘i is also starting to reopen some doors and restructure some rules at the Lihu‘e Civic Center Kapule Building. Garden Island.

$3.5M capital-improvement-project funds released for Kaua‘i. The projects span from road safety and school improvements to design for the Ahukini landfill and new medical equipment. Garden Island.

Bills HB160, HB161 aim to clean up the streets. The county Abandoned Vehicles Task Force is currently lobbying the state Legislature to pass HB160 and HB161, actions that would help boost owner accountability. Garden Island.


Thursday, April 1, 2021

$30M worth of COVID test kits go to waste, Maui church refuses to stop in-person services amid virus cluster, statewide cases continue steady increase, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Photo by Mufid Majnun on Unsplash
COVID-19 test Photo by Mufid Majnun on Unsplash

Some $30 million worth of COVID-19 test kits purchased by the state have expired as they sat in storage, despite at least one county request to use them. The state Health Department said it is working to get federal approval for an extension to use the 672,000 kits, but that could be a lengthy process. Hawaii News Now.

Despite uptick in new cases, governor says he’s not considering tighter restrictions. He said while people seem to be less careful, he’s monitoring the numbers and isn’t clamping down on restrictions for now. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Hawaii Supreme Court May Lift COVID-19 Order To Free Inmates Without Bail. The order was designed to reduce jail populations and limit the spread of COVID-19, but infections in jails have stabilized, the court says. Civil Beat.

New Sunshine Rules Would Require Requests For Some In-Person Meetings. Senate Bill 1034 would still allow for physical meetings, but there are worries that one provision in the bill could limit meeting access to some individuals. Civil Beat.

Biden’s $2 Trillion Infrastructure Could Bring Billions To Hawaii. The president will unveil his American Jobs Plan, which has the potential to infuse huge sums of money into the islands’ transportation and energy infrastructure. Civil Beat.

Biden Plan To Conserve More Ocean Habitat Worries Hawaii Fishing Interests. Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council wants to know exactly what defines “conservation” under the Biden 30 by 30 plan — and whether it would lead to more no-fish zones such as the one within the largest conservation area on earth: the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, which encompasses the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Civil Beat.

Local entrepreneur Cecil Morton to start ride-hailing company, Holoholo. Cecil Morton, who has been in the tourism transportation business in Hawaii for 20 years on four islands as owner of SpeediShuttle, is launching driver recruitment for holoholo today at driveholoholo.com. Star-Advertiser.

Local Community Health Centers Receive $32M From Stimulus Bill
. Fourteen community health centers throughout the islands are receiving about $32 million from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, the latest federal COVID-19 stimulus bill. Hawaii Public Radio.

More cases slipping through cracks of travel program. The report, which has not been peer reviewed, said that seven out of 1,000 travelers who bypass quarantine via Hawaii’s Safe Travels program probably have COVID-19. State officials had said that fewer than one out of 1,000 travelers using the pre-testing plan would likely bring the illness. Maui News.

DOH Reports Greater Vaccine Supply. The Hawai‘i Department of Health is asking its District Health Offices on the neighbor islands to expand vaccine eligibility as needed to ensure all available vaccination slots are filled. Maui Now.

March 31, 2021 COVID-19 Update: The state Department of Health reports that there were 100 additional COVID-19 cases reported in Hawai‘i on Wednesday, including 42 on O‘ahu, 30 on Maui, 16 on Hawai‘i Island, one on Kaua‘i, one on Lāna‘i, and 10 in Hawai‘i residents diagnosed while out of state. Maui Now.

Oahu

Building industry workers say drastic changes needed at city department after bribery charges. Three city workers accused of accepting bribes to speed up the permitting process made their first appearance in federal court on Wednesday, March 31. KHON2. Star-Advertiser.

Homeowner says former DPP employee arrested by FBI delayed his permits back in 2015. Ian Lind said the FBI’s investigation of the DPP has its roots in his “frustrating” experience with Inouye and the permitting process. He believes he’s one of many homeowners who was allegedly shaken down by DPP officials. Hawaii News Now.

Department of Hawaiian Home Lands gets Ewa Beach land for homesteads. The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has told the federal government it will accept an 80-acre parcel in Ewa Beach that the state agency plans to eventually redevelop to provide homesteads for Native Hawaiians, many of whom have waited years for such offerings. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

More Oahu homeless residents dying from meth overdoses. On average, every three days a homeless resident dies on Oahu's streets. Many of those sudden deaths are being blamed on meth, and so are the chronic conditions killing off this vulnerable population. KITV4.

Hawaii Island

Hawai´i County Official Positive For COVID-19, Contact Tracing to Begin ‘Promptly’. Contact tracing has begun among the ranks of the Hawai´i County Mayor’s Office following a county official testing positive for COVID-19.  Big Island Now. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Roth wants Van Pernis off Leeward Planning Commission. Mayor Mitch Roth wants to oust Mark Van Pernis from the powerful Leeward Planning Commission, in what could be an unprecedented action that is, however, within the authority of the mayor and County Council as defined by the county charter. West Hawaii Today.

‘A WALL OF WATER’: Survivors reflect on devastating tsunami that struck Hilo 75 years ago. The early morning of April 1, 1946, seemed at first to be the start of a normal Monday for residents of Hilo and surrounding villages. Tribune-Herald.

HTA’s Big Island action plan embraces ‘regenerative tourism’. A new plan for tourism on the Big Island highlights the potential for using sustainable tourism to preserve and improve management of resources on the island. Tribune-Herald.

Miloliʻi Vaccinations Push Hawaiian Fishing Village Toward Herd Immunity. The old Hawaiian fishing village of Miloliʻi on Hawaiʻi Island is on its way to achieving herd immunity against COVID-19. Hawaii Public Radio.

Maui

King’s Cathedral is rejecting health officials’ advice and planning Easter services with COVID-19 precautions. The state Department of Health on Wednesday took the unusual step of naming King’s Cathedral as the source of an “imminent health threat” posed by a large coronavirus cluster numbering more than 50 cases, with the infected ranging in age from 10 to 77. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

More than Half of New COVID-19 Cases on Maui are Variants. Health officials say more than half of the COVID-19 cases on Maui at this point, as identified through weekly reports, are represented by “variants of concern,” B.1.429 and B.1.427. Maui Now.

Maui Mayor Michael Victorino proposes vaccination passport, additional coronavirus testing on arrival. Maui Mayor Michael Victorino is proposing changes to Hawaii’s COVID-19 travel restrictions, including a pilot “vaccination passport” program and mandatory rapid testing at Kahului Airport for arriving passengers. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now. KHON2.

Man gets 10 days in jail for violating emergency rules. A judge told a man to “start paying attention, follow the rules,” as he was sentenced to 10 days in jail for twice violating emergency rules by not wearing a face mask. Maui News.

Kauai

Discount Cards for Kaua‘i Visitors Who Take 2nd COVID-19 Test After Arrival. Kauai visitors will receive a discount card for local businesses if they voluntarily take a second coronavirus test three days after arrival, in addition to the required test before travel. Hawaii Public Radio.

Kauai Wants To Reopen Beaches. That Could Put Homeless Back On The Streets. The county’s shelter-in-place program granted some homeless people a measure of stability. Now that it’s over, they say they have nowhere to go. Civil Beat. Garden Island.