Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Pay to Play: Feds bust Honolulu Planning Department employees for allegedly accepting bribes, Legislature adds tax hikes, keeps budget papers secret, vaccination passport in the works, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Five Honolulu Planning Department Employees Indicted For Bribery. Federal prosecutors say city workers accepted tens of thousands of dollars to fast track permits and provide other special treatment. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now. KHON2. KITV4.

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State officials won’t release unemployment office budget. As state House leaders finalized their version of the biennial budget last week, they announced they had appropriated $105 million to Hawaii’s labor department to tackle a massive problem: thousands of unpaid unemployment claims and a call center so overwhelmed that some residents have tried for months to get through to an agent without success. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Senate Committee Mulls Inheritance And Conveyance Tax Increases.
Even after a $1.6 billion federal bailout, a key lawmaker says the state might need more money. Civil Beat.

A bill that would provide rent relief to businesses advances in state Legislature. As more businesses bite the dust and fall victim to the economic impact of the pandemic, the state passed a bill to help businesses recover from back rent. Hawaii News Now.

House panel suspends state Rep. Sharon Har DUI inquiry. A special committee in the House of Representatives set up to investigate state Rep. Sharon Har’s arrest on suspicion of drunken driving in February is suspending its proceedings until charges in the criminal case are resolved. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

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Ige Names 3 To UH Board Of Regents. The 11-member board is tasked with overseeing the 10-campus University of Hawaii system. Civil Beat.

University of Hawaii researchers are the first to track freshwater plumes rising from the ocean floor. University of Hawaii at Manoa scientists have figured out how to detect and image underwater freshwater plumes rising from the ocean floor, a scientific first that could have wide-ranging implications for oceanography, hydrology and the study of sea life in coastal waters. Star-Advertiser.

Most visitors would recommend going to the Hawaiian islands if quarantine lifted. Hawaii has seen a travel resurgence since spring break travelers began appearing. The seven-day average of trans-Pacific travelers was 20,330 as another 19,491 travelers flew into Hawaii on Monday. Star-Advertiser. Tribune-Herald. Maui Now. KITV4.

Hawaii moving forward using coronavirus vaccine passport for travel. State officials are moving toward issuing some type of vaccination passport to travel in and out of Hawaii as thousands of Hawaii residents get vaccinated against COVID-19 every day. KHON2.

For Many Hawaii Companies, The Pandemic Has Changed Work Forever. Many companies are grappling with when — and whether — to bring workers back to the office and how to do so safely. Civil Beat.

Army gets long-range missiles to guard against China. In a discussion Tuesday on the future of the Army in the Indo-Pacific, two top service leaders reiterated that the ground force isn’t stepping on the toes of the Marine Corps or Air Force budgetwise or operationally in developing long-range missiles. Star-Advertiser.

Lieutenant Governor Josh Green: Hawaii Still on Track for July Herd Immunity. He predicts that 1.7 million vaccine doses will be administered by then and roughly 80 percent of the state's population will be inoculated. KITV4.

In big milestone, 25% of eligible population in each county received at least 1 dose of vaccine. In a major milestone in Hawaii’s vaccination efforts, a quarter of the eligible population in each county has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the state Department of Health reported Monday. Hawaii News Now.

March 30, 2021 COVID-19 Update: The state Department of Health reports that there were 71 additional COVID-19 cases reported in Hawai‘i on Tuesday, including 45 on O‘ahu, 12 on Maui, six on Hawai‘i Island one on Kaua‘i, and seven in Hawai‘i residents diagnosed while out of state. Maui Now.

Oahu

Ban on disposable plastic food utensils and single-use bags starts Thursday in Honolulu. Starting Thursday, when a city ordinance aimed at reducing plastic pollution takes effect, Honolulu food vendors will be prohibited from providing or offering conventional, disposable service ware made of petroleum-derived plastic. Star-Advertiser. KHON2.

Violent crimes are happening around Oahu, yet HPD is failing to provide crucial info. There was another high-profile murder in Honolulu this week — and once again, there was a lack of communication from the Honolulu Police Department in sharing crucial information. Hawaii News Now.

Kaiser Permanente opens mass vaccination clinic at Kapolei movie theater. People were lining up at Kapolei’s Consolidated Theatres on Tuesday, March 30, not for movie tickets but for a COVID-19 shot. KHON2.

Hawaii Island

3 isle schools to get capital improvement funds. Gov. David Ige on Tuesday announced the release of more than $165 million in CIP money to fund critical infrastructure projects. Tribune-Herald.

Bill would partially restore lifeguard funding. State senators are set to take up Thursday the House’s proposed two-year budget bill that restores some funding for lifeguard services at five state beach parks, including two on the Big Island. West Hawaii Today.

Wayne Higaki Returns To UH Board of Regents. Governor David Ige on Tuesday announced the appointment of Higaki, who has served on the BOR representing Hawai‘i County (West) since 2015. Big Island Video News.

Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Orchards LP sues Hawaiian Host affiliate over debt. Hawaii’s largest macadamia nut farm has sued an affiliate of Hawaiian Host Group over unpaid nut deliveries two months after investors saved the local candy and snack maker from potential bankruptcy. Star-Advertiser.

New Malama Market Pahoa opens today. Malama Market’s new location will be the largest in the state. At 35,000 square feet, it is more than three times larger than its previous location down the road. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Inmate injured in 2019 riot sues state, cites overcrowding.
Lawsuit alleges department failed to keep prisoners safe. Maui News.

Transport of inmates to court may resume with cluster ‘under control’. Maui Community Correctional Center and court officials are discussing resuming the transport of inmates to court “now that the virus spread has been mitigated” at the Wailuku jail, a state Department of Public Safety spokeswoman said Monday. Maui News.

Kauai

KFD and KPD take budget, positions cuts in FY 22 proposal. The county was recently tasked with balancing core services and operations with a tighter belt, and proposed a $243-million operating budget and $24.3-million capital improvement projects budget, with no position layoffs. Garden Island.

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