Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Caldwell investigation centers on COVID contract and campaign cash, candidates return $142k in suspect contributions, GOP steps up to monitor elections, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Campaign Spending Commission investigates COVID testing company that got big city contract. The state Campaign Spending Commission is investigating one of the companies that was awarded a multi-million dollar COVID testing contract by former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration. Hawaii News Now has learned that the commission has subpoenaed the bank records of two employees of Capture Diagnostics, which is part of a consortium awarded a $19.5 million emergency contract in 2020 for the city’s testing program at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii political candidates return $142,000 from besieged executive. The former vice chair of the House Committee on Finance who pleaded guilty in February to accepting bribes in the form of cash and casino chips from a Honolulu wastewater systems executive is among 31 state and county lawmakers to return more than $142,000 in campaign contributions from the owner of H20 Process Systems, according to the state Campaign Spending Commission. Star-Advertiser.

Fueled by doubts, hundreds of Hawaii Republicans sign up as election observers. Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago said the Republican Party of Hawaii sent about 200 people to be volunteer observers this year. In a typical year, the state Office of Elections would be lucky to get only 50. Hawaii News Now.

University of Hawaii study suggests onslaught of disease amid global warming. As if drought, heat waves, coastal flooding and other extreme weather aren’t enough in a warming world influenced by greenhouse gas emissions, a new study from researchers at the University of Hawaii suggests that humanity also will be threatened by growing incidence of life-threatening disease. Star-Advertiser.

‘It lasts as long as the money lasts’: Enrollment in discounted broadband program low. The Affordable Connectivity Program began at the beginning of 2022, offering eligible low-income families $30 off of their monthly internet bills, or $75 off for households on Hawaiian Home Lands. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Now. Maui Now.

RIMPAC: Tankers central as military looks beyond Red Hill. The largest-ever iteration of the biennial Exercise Rim of the Pacific came to an end last week as ships from the 26 participating countries began either making their way home or moving on to overseas deployments around the Indo-Pacific region. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaiian Electric Industries’ earnings decline 17.7%. Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. posted a 17.7% drop in second-quarter earnings as utility maintenance expenses increased and subsidiary American Savings Bank set aside money for potential loan losses after releasing a significant amount from its loan-loss reserve in the year- earlier period. Revenue, however, jumped 31.7% to $895.6 million from $680.3 million. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

$30 million COVID-19 relief fund established for Honolulu County nonprofit organizations
. The City and County of Honolulu is setting aside $30-million for local non-profit organizations that were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. KITV4.

Honolulu’s Embattled Leahi Avenue Will Be Returning To City Control. City officials say they will put the street back to essentially the way it was before a private owner angered resident, took away street parking and allowed food trucks to operate. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

SEC sues Semisub tour boat, alleging investor fraud. The Securities and Exchange Commission has filed a suit against the Hawaii Semisub tour boat and its founders, who they allege misappropriated at least $1.5 million from investors to pay for personal expenses, including $8,500 per month to rent a Kahala home and over $200,000 on psychics and recreational drugs. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu City Council Candidates Spend Big Bucks On Campaigns As Primary Nears. Ron Menor, Makua Rothman and Tyler Dos Santos-Tam led in fundraising and spending in each of their races last month, according to campaign finance reports. Civil Beat.

Over 141,000 ballots already received in primary. Here's how they're being processed. Ballots collected via mail or dropped off at a deposit box on O’ahu eventually make it to the Hawaiʻi State Capitol building for pre-processing following signature verification from the Honolulu City Clerk’s Office, Scott Nago, the state’s Chief Election Officer, said. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii Island

Three vie for Senate District 1. The Democratic primary for state Senate District 1 has two sitting senators facing off against each other and a third candidate who’s a former high-level appointed government executive and union chief. Tribune-Herald.

Program rolled out to ease burden on families for school supplies. Monday marked the official roll-out of the school supply subsidy pilot program, designed to cover the cost of supplies for all schools within the state that meet the financial qualifications. Tribune-Herald.

New Judge Sworn in at Kona Courthouse. Joanna E. Sokolow was sworn in as Judge of the District Family Court of the Third Circuit before colleagues, special guests, family, and friends – many of whom watched remotely. Big Island Now.

Maui

Mayor announces $25M federal grant for Waiʻale Road extension. Mayor Michael Victorino announced today the County of Maui will be awarded $25 million for the Waiʻale Road extension through the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity discretionary grant program. Maui Now. KHON2.

In Haleakala National Park, Crews Look To The Past To Understand The Present. More funding and focus has recently been put toward restoring some of Maui’s most historic places. Civil Beat.

Kauai

Kaua‘i gets $25 million in RAISE grant infrastructure funds. The federal government awarded the County of Kaua‘i a $25 million grant Monday, which will be used for South Shore transportation improvements. Garden Island.

EPA Fines State Agency For Illegal Kauai Cesspool. The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources agreed to scour its 1.3 million acres of property for any additional illegal cesspools. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources paid federal regulators a six-figure fine for operating an illegal cesspool at the site of the former Kamokila Hawaiian Village in Kapaa. Civil Beat. Garden Island.


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