Monday, March 29, 2021

COVID cases rise as vaccination passport system in works, guilty plea in CARES funds scam, HGEA files grievance over mass rail layoffs, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Humpback whale watching off Hawaii ©2021 All Hawaii News

Data gathered for humpback whale count from Kaua’i, O’ahu, Hawai’i, and Maui. Marine experts held the last humpback whale count of the season Saturday, March 27, 2021. About 68 trained leaders from NOAA gathered data from the 42 sites across Kaua’i, O’ahu, Hawai’i, and Maui. KHON2.

Neighbor island lawmakers’ per diem overlooked as 10% raise could go into effect. Neighbor island state senators and representatives continue to earn $225 for every day of the legislative session, weekends and even after the session — valued at nearly half of their $62,604 legislative salaries — even as some have criticized the possibility of legislative pay raises in July. Star-Advertiser.

Bills to get Hawaii income taxes from real estate investment trusts die. State lawmakers have once again taken a pass at trying to abolish a tax break for real estate investment trusts operating in Hawaii. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Nonprofit Leader Pleads Guilty To Embezzling And Agreeing To Take A Bribe. Hanalei Aipoalani also admitted using his position as a Honolulu grant administrator to direct money to the CEO of Hawaii island’s public access TV station. Civil Beat.

Should Hawaii Invest To Help Workers Displaced By The Pandemic Find New Careers? Hawaii paid hundreds of unemployed tourism workers to learn new job skills last year. Now state lawmakers want to create a permanent jobs corps — but no one knows how to fund it. Civil Beat.

Cocktails To Go? Hawaii Restaurants Hope Service Will Outlast The Pandemic. To help struggling bars and restaurants stay in business amid COVID-19 lockdowns, Gov. David Ige signed an executive order last April to allow establishments with a liquor license to sell alcohol to-go and for home delivery for the first time in state history. Civil Beat.

Many Inmates Leaving Prison Are Still Having Trouble Getting ID Cards. Advocates say something as simple as a state ID card can make all the difference for released convicts. Civil Beat.

Vaccination Passport System in the Works, Lt. Gov. Green Says. Governments in other parts of the world have started setting up vaccination passport systems in an effort to further open up borders, live events and tourism. As for Hawai‘i, Lieutenant Governor Josh Green said he sees a vaccination tracking system coming soon. Hawaii Public Radio.

As COVID case counts rise, health officials push more testing across the state. The statewide COVID case count average rose nearly 60% in the past two weeks, and experts are worried about a drop in testing for the virus. They fear the vaccination rollout has caused people to let down their guard. Hawaii News Now.

March 28, 2021 COVID-19 Update: The state Department of Health reports that there were 102 additional COVID-19 cases reported in Hawai‘i on Sunday, including 61 on O‘ahu, 26 on Maui, and 15 on Hawai‘i Island. Maui Now.

Oahu

Rising COVID-19 cases could push Oahu back to Tier 2.
If the number of positive COVID-19 cases on Oahu continues to climb, the island could move back to Tier 2 restrictions on business and social activities, which limit gatherings to five people. Star-Advertiser.

Police break up another large concert in Kapolei as partiers ignore COVID rules. Another weekend, another large concert on the west side. This time, HPD took action, arresting one man. Hawaii News Now.

In an effort to ‘Stop Asian Hate,’ scores gather at the state Capitol to push for change. Scores rallied at the state Capitol Saturday to call for an end to racism and misogyny. The event on Oahu, known as the “Stop Asian Hate Rally” was one of many rallies that were held across the country to advance an important conversation -- fighting hate against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

Oahu man pleads guilty to embezzlement, bribery over CARES Act funds. Prosecutors say a Waianae man agreed to accept a bribe in exchange of federal pandemic aid money. Hanalei Aipoalani, 42, pleaded guilty to the charges of embezzlement and bribery on Friday. He was hired by the city last August to administer the federal funds. Hawaii News Now. KITV4. Star-Advertiser.

HGEA files grievance against HART after interim CEO lays off dozens without notice.
The state’s largest labor union has filed a grievance against the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation over recent layoffs at the troubled rail project. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu rail’s future tied to questions of federal obligation. Joe Uno, a member of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s board of directors, has been frustrated in trying to get the board to discuss ideas for an unspecified “Plan C” for how to complete and fund the city’s troubled rail project, which faces a budget shortfall of $3.68 billion. Star-Advertiser.

Developers readying affordable apartment projects on Oahu. Thirteen developers have submitted applications for building permits to produce roughly 300 apartments under a 2-year-old city ordinance that provides incentives for private developers to build such projects in areas zoned for apartment use. Star-Advertiser.

Kakaako streets remain in disrepair after judge rules ownership away from two brothers. A state judge recently removed what some Kakaako business owners and residents regarded as a troll of sorts that collected tolls to park on several longtime public streets. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Kahele talks COVID relief, infrastructure. U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele is touting the merits of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan — the third and probably last federal coronavirus relief package — and President Joe Biden’s plan to spend upwards of $3 trillion on America’s infrastructure. Tribune-Herald.

Roth addresses West Hawaii Forum. It’s all still a waiting game as Mayor Mitch Roth works on his proposed budget, with the county awaiting word from the state and the state awaiting word from the federal government before anticipated revenues become more solid. West Hawaii Today.

Solar water tax break program dims. The County Council will soon be considering a bill eliminating a tax break for property owners who install solar hot water panels on their property. West Hawaii Today.

Researcher: Hilo evacuation maps should account for possible megatsunami. Hilo’s existing tsunami evacuation zones are not sufficient to respond to a hypothetical megatsunami, according to a University of Hawaii researcher. Tribune-Herald.

Portuguese cultural center plans scaled back. Nearly five years after fundraising for the effort began in earnest, plans for the Hawaii Island Portuguese Chamber of Commerce Cultural and Educational Center have gone back to the drawing board. Tribune-Herald.

Vaccinating a village: 120 residents of the Miloliʻi Fishing Village receive one-shot vaccine. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

1,000 People Get Shots at Mass Vaccination Site in Wailuku. More than 1,000 eligible individuals, both Kaiser Permanente members and non-members, were vaccinated at a mass vaccination event held on Saturday, March 27, at the Kaiser Permanente Wailuku Medical Office. Maui Now.

As travel returns, some changes here to stay. Airlines, hotels say increased cleaning, digital services among lasting effects. One year later, Hawaii’s travel and tourism industries are turning the page to a “new normal,” a term that has been tossed around throughout the pandemic and at times still feels like a moving target.  Maui News.

More Rental and Mortgage Assistance Available on Maui. A Maui Economic Opportunity rental and mortgage assistance program targeting Maui County residents economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic received an additional infusion of $900,000 from the county managed Community Development Block Grant fund. Maui Now.

Kauai

Half of Kaua‘i’s population vaccinated. Professor Amy Ebesu Hubbard of the Department of Communicology said in Hawai‘i, 31% of the adult population have received at least one dose, and 36% have indicated that they will definitely get the vaccine. Garden Island.

Hanapepe bridge project takes step backward. After a month of pouring new concrete on the north side of the new Kaumuali‘i Highway bridge over the Hanapepe River, Kalaheo resident Robert Brodowy spotted some highway workers jackhammering out yards of the new pour. Garden Island.

Team Rubicon cleans up after flooding. A veteran-led organization has launched a statewide operation to support recovery on three of the most-heavily-impacted islands, including Kaua‘i, which was affected by the recent heavy rain and flooding earlier this month. Garden Island.

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