Thursday, October 7, 2021

Native Hawaiians hard hit by COVID, Health Department denies researchers data, local hotel tax advances on Oahu and Maui, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Surge in COVID deaths took heavy toll on Native Hawaiian community. Experts say in the past two weeks, Native Hawaiians have accounted for up to 40% of the state’s COVID deaths. Hawaii News Now.

Local researchers say Department of Health officials have refused to collaborate and share COVID-19 data. Local epidemiologists and researchers say the Hawaii Department of Health has continually rebuffed their requests for data throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and that the department’s latest decision to scale back the information it has been releasing to the public daily on COVID-19 deaths is just the latest example of the department’s lack of openness. Star-Advertiser.
 
State Auditor Les Kondo faces ‘illegal’ act or prosecution. State Auditor Les Kondo told a House committee investigating his handling of two critical audits that a subpoena forces him to commit an illegal act or face a possible criminal contempt charge. Star-Advertiser.

Jill Tokuda Makes Official Her Bid To Be Hawaii Lt. Governor. The former state senator will be part of what is expected to be a large Democratic Primary field. Civil Beat.

Tourism leaders urge Ige to declare it’s OK to visit Hawaii. The president and CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association said Hawaii’s visitor industry is “in jeopardy if we don’t get a positive statement soon from the governor that we’re ready to open up again.” Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii records 7 new coronavirus-related deaths, 168 additional infections. The new confirmed and probable infection count by island includes 100 new cases on Oahu, 18 on Maui, 34 on Hawaii Island, 11 on Kauai, one on Molokai and four Hawaii residents diagnosed outside the state. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

City Council advances proposal for Oahu visitor tax. Bill 40 would levy a 3% city transient accommodations tax on visitor accommodations. It would be imposed in addition to the state’s current 10.25% visitor tax. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said Oahu’s ban on large gatherings will likely be allowed to expire Oct. 19, as long as COVID cases don’t surge again. The policy prohibits any gatherings larger than 25 people outdoors or 10 indoors. Hawaii News Now. KHON2. KITV4.

Salary Data Show Hundreds Of Honolulu City Employees Earn Well Over The State Average. The medical examiner and the top executives at HART are making the biggest salaries. Civil Beat.

Honolulu Police Commission Hears From HPD Whistleblower
. A Honolulu Police Department whistleblower who accused her superiors of retaliation and discrimination told the Honolulu Police Commission Wednesday that the department is “broken” and said her complaints have been “completely ignored” in the past. Star-Advertiser. KHON2.

Honolulu Police Department seeks city help with inquiry on Major Stephen Gerona
. The Honolulu Police Department asked the city administration for help with an internal investigation into allegations that a major harassed and bullied subordinates who did not agree with his management style and decision-making. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

City Council Approves Dave Matlin To Honolulu Fire Commission
. But the new commissioner says he will abstain from the current deadlock over hiring a new fire chief. Civil Beat.

Firm to pay delinquent Kakaako housing fees. Affordable rental apartments in Kakaako serving low-income seniors could shift from state to private ownership as part of an effort to address financial challenges with the property. Star-Advertiser.

Council unanimously votes to take over ownership of embattled Diamond Head road. The Honolulu City Council unanimously voted on Wednesday to have the city take over ownership of Leahi Avenue near Diamond Head. Hawaii News Now. 

Lawmakers, stakeholders weigh in on future of AES coal plant. There are different opinions on whether the Barbers Point facility and its 180 megawatts of generating capacity should be allowed to retire, or be converted into biomass power — a firm renewable form of energy from burning wood, but one that has generated controversy, in part because it still involves releasing carbon emissions.  Pacific Business News.

Hawaii Island

Maunakea forum measured
: Moderated update on master plan features more information than interaction. A tightly moderated forum about the University of Hawaii’s updated Maunakea Master Plan was informative Wednesday, but left participants little opportunity to interact. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Mayor signs tax bill. Mayor Michael Victorino signed Bill 101 on Tuesday establishing a 3 percent transient accommodations tax. Maui News.

Proposal before Maui council would phase out thousands of short-term rentals. The Maui County Council is considering phasing out all short-term rentals in apartment districts on the island. Hawaii News Now.

Charter Commission Discussion Continues on Proposed Charter Amendments. The Maui Charter Commission will meet again on Thursday at 9 a.m. to receive testimony and discuss additional proposed revisions to the Maui County Charter. Maui Now.

Father and son on Maui charged after officer finds dead turtle in fishing net. Randall Del Castillo Sr., 57, and Randall Del Castillo Jr., 33, were cited for taking and possessing a green sea turtle, which is a protected species. Star-Advertiser. Big Island Now. Maui Now. KITV4.

Kauai

County to use eminent domain for affordable housing in Kilauea.
The Kaua‘i County Council voted unanimously Wednesday to proceed with the acquisition of 23.5 acres of property in Kilauea using the process of eminent domain. Garden Island.

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