(Hawaii News Now) Stay-at-home order for Oahu set to begin in ‘extraordinary’ push to stop spread of virus

(Source: Hawaii News Now)

Stay-at-home order for Oahu set to begin in ‘extraordinary’ push to stop spread of virus

Oahu, Maui issue stay-at-home orders in ‘extraordinary’ push to stop spread of virusBy HNN Staff| March 22, 2020 at 2:01 PM HST – Updated March 23 at 11:42 AM

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) – A broad stay-at-home order will go into effect on Oahu starting Monday afternoon as part of what the city called an “extraordinary” but necessary push to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Maui and Kauai were also planning similar orders while the governor said he was working with the state Attorney General on a plan to take the order statewide.

The city’s order is aimed at ensuring only employees who deliver essential services — from health care to banking to groceries, gas and car repair — are leaving the house every day to report to work.

Caldwell, who announced the order Sunday, said the emergency mandate goes into effect at 4:30 p.m. and extends through April 30.

See what’s defined as essential:

LIST: Essential services, workers and activities under city’s stay-at-home order

Later Sunday, Maui Mayor Mike Victorino issued a similar order — and the governor said he was conferring with the state Attorney General’s Office to issue a statewide “stay at home” mandate.

Maui’s order starts Wednesday and also extends through April 30. (Read more about the order here.)Honolulu mayor details stay-at-home order for Oahu

“We want to see folks staying at home, only doing the things are essential,” Caldwell said.

Under the order, essential activities are broadly defined to include:

  • Those required for health and safety;
  • Those needed to get necessary services and supplies, including groceries;
  • Outdoor activities “as permitted by law”;
  • Work performed to provide essential products and services;
  • and caring for a family member or pet.

Businesses considered essential, meanwhile, include those that deliver health care, food, services for the homeless, gas stations, banks, hardware stores, maintenance workers, delivery services and more.

Caldwell said that the number of businesses considered essential could be amended in the future. He added that the order is based on those issued in other cities and states on the mainland.

The mayor stressed that residents can continue to shop for groceries and city buses will still run.

Places of worship are not exempt from the order, but hotel workers are considered essential. Work on construction projects, including rail, can continue.

And while you won’t be able to run in a city park, you can do so on a sidewalk.

In other words, he said, the order isn’t meant to “shut down everything.”

“We’re just looking for people to stay at home if it’s not necessary for them to travel about,” Caldwell said.

At the news conference Sunday, he called the order a “hammer action” — a strong push to bring down the number of people potentially exposed to the coronavirus.

Read the full proclamation below:

Emergency Order No 2020-02 by HNN on Scribd

RELATED COVERAGE:

Ige announces 14-day quarantine measure; Hawaii-based Marine tests positive

Hawaii’s total cases of COVID-19 climbs to 56, health officials say

Coronavirus advances around the world as medical supplies dwindle

He noted that Oahu has seen the highest number of coronavirus cases — 41 of the 56 so far statewide.

“A week ago, we had three. We now have many, many more cases,” he said. “We’re taking this action to buy time. It will make a tremendous difference.”

He warned that a lack of action could lead to a dire future in which Oahu was overwhelmed hospitals — with limited resources — were scrambling to help thousands of sick patients.

A group of Hawaii medical professionals made the same argument over the weekend as they called on government to take aggressive action to prevent widespread transmission of the virus.

In an open letter to the community, the group said without any intervention, Hawaii could see more than 1,000 cases of coronavirus by the end of the month. They also said hospitals are already feeling the strain of the pandemic and are short of necessary supplies, including personal protective gear.

Caldwell’s stay-at-home order is in addition to other mandates the city has already issued, including the shuttering of dine-in options at Oahu eateries and the closure of city parks and large venues.

Other counties have also taken similar measures.

The announcement also comes a day after the governor instituted a mandatory 14-day quarantine for visitors and returning residents — an order that goes into effect Thursday.

Together, the mandates are aimed at bringing tourism — the state’s no. 1 economic driver — to a standstill and keeping the vast majority of the population at home until the risk of an exponential rise in cases subsides.

Caldwell noted that if public schools resume as scheduled on April, the order would not apply to students.

Violators of the stay-at-home order, meanwhile, will largely face warnings. But “flagrant” violators could face citations, he said.

“We moved beyond the mitigation level today to the fighting level,” he said.

“I want to ask everyone in the City and County of Honolulu — almost a million strong — to work together and to care for each other and appeal to the very best angels we have in our heart as we go forward.”

This story will be updated.

Copyright 2020 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

(KITV) State, city leaders challenge Governor's actions to stop COVID-19

State, city leaders challenge Governor’s actions to stop COVID-19

(Source: KITV) They ask the Governor to do more than the 14-day quarantine, or to answer how that quarantine will be executed.Monday, March 23rd 2020, 5:27 AM HST by Diane Ako

Image

HONOLULU – Hawaii’s House and Senate on Sunday sent a letter to Governor David Y. Ige urging him to take stronger action to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  The letter says the group is “extremely disappointed that you and your administration continue to fail to realize the gravity of the situation Hawaii faces and have not led our state with one decisive voice.”

The letter was signed by 68 lawmakers. There are 76 total in the legislature.

The letter challenges Gov. Ige’s March 21 call for quarantine of arriving persons entering the State, saying that action completely contradicts the Department of Health’s (DOH) statement (“There are residents of Hawaii who believe the COVID-19 positive cases here are all visitors to the state, and unfortunately, there is stigma developing against visitors in Hawaii. I am asking the media to help the public understand that of the 37 positive test results to date, 32 of them are the result of traveling residents. The majority of cases are residents who returned home after traveling.”)

The letter says all the early COVID-19 cases came from travel related circumstances and it is because of this unimpeded travel that community spread is occurring.

The group also complains quarantine should have been “instituted earlier and at this point in time, falls short of what is needed to comprehensively address this pandemic.”

It asks for a shelter-in-place directive upon all persons in Hawaii, which is something the administration on Sunday indicated it would probably announce early this week.

Legislators warn, though, that a stay-at-home policy would only be effective if coupled with an aggressive shelter-in-place protocol for all residents. “General Hara admitted at the March 21 press conference that a quarantining process will be difficult to enforce. General Hara’s statement further underscores the need for a directed shelter-in-place order for all residents in conjunction with quarantining of arriving passengers,” the letter continues.

Click here for full letter.

Senator Kai Kahele (D-Hilo) signed the aforemention letter and also sent a separate letter to Governor Ige on Sunday. “I am gravely alarmed by the section of the order that invokes a mandatory self-quarantine of all individuals entering the State of Hawaii set to go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on March 26, 2020,” he writes. He lays out six detailed concerns about how the quarantine will be implemented; for example: What is the procedure for private and corporate jets? What are the specific enforcement procedures to ensure that the individuals in a mandatory self-quarantine actually comply with the order? What is the State and your administration doing working with the airline industry to ensure that flight crews are provided the minimum personal protective equipment (PPE?s) while they fly and perform their duties in confined spaces throughout the aircraft?

(Star Advertiser) HPD says bar and restaurant owners who flout Mayor Caldwell’s closure order could face fines, prison

HPD says bar and restaurant owners who flout Mayor Caldwell’s closure order could face fines, prison

  • BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Mayor Kirk Caldwell announces the most recent measures taken by the City to combat the spread of COVID-19, today in Honolulu Hale.

    BRUCE ASATO / BASATO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Mayor Kirk Caldwell announces the most recent measures taken by the City to combat the spread of COVID-19, today in Honolulu Hale.

UPDATE: 7:10 p.m.

Honolulu Police Department officials said the operator of a restaurant or bar could “in rare cases” be arrested and face a hefty fine and/or jail time for violating Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s new emergency proclamation requiring the closure of all bars and nightclubs, and mandating restaurants and cafes that serve food to either offer drive-through, pickup and/or delivery service or shutter its doors.

Caldwell’s proclamation is effective 8:30 a.m. Friday.

Upon a receiving a report of a possible violation, “an officer will be sent to the establishment to meet with and inform the owner or manager of the rules and orders that have been put in place due to the current state of emergency,” HPD spokeswoman Michelle Yu said. “Anyone who refuses to comply could be warned, cited or, in rare cases, arrested. The penalty is up to a $2,000 fine and/or one year imprisonment.”

“We really think that our business owners are conscientious and that they will be responsible and comply on their own,” Police Chief Susan Ballard said.

Previous Coverage:

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed an order requiring all Oahu restaurants, bars and nightclubs to close indoor and outdoor dining services starting at 8:30 a.m. Friday.

“We do not want people to gather together,” the mayor said.

The order will be good for at least 15 days, Caldwell said at an afternoon news conference from Honolulu Hale where he discussed city government’s latest response to the coronavirus crisis.

Takeouts and delivery services will be allowed to continue and Caldwell urged restaurateurs to do so.

The prohibition does not apply to stores, supermarkets, offices or other types of businesses although state and federal health officials are strongly recommending that no more than 10 people gather in one place.

In response to questions, Caldwell said he consulted with city Acting Corporation Counsel Paul Aoki before making the decision to sign the order. “We’re on solid legal ground,” he said.

The mayor was not clear on specifically how the restaurant closure order would be enforced. “We’re hoping that businesses will comply,” Caldwell said. “I believe that we are a community where we care about each other and that when orders are issued, most people if not all will follow them.”

Caldwell said he thinks customers will provide those who don’t observe the order the proper ramifications by not patronizing them.

“If need be, we can investigate and crack down but I’m hoping that does not occur,” Caldwell said. “That would fall partly to to the Honolulu Police Department — they’re super busy with all kinds of other issues and we don’t want to put this burden on their plate so I’m hopeful we’ll get the compliance that this order mandates.”

Caldwell also announced that all city facilities including parks will be closed through April 30. The city does not have jurisdiction over the sand below the so-called “high water mark” to the ocean. In acknowledgement of that, city lifeguards will continue to work their areas.

Other city facilities that will be closed and weren’t announced before today: the Honolulu Zoo, city golf coourses and tennis courts. Comfort stations at all city facilities will be closed, he said.

Caldwell also signed into law Bill 35, allowing him to tap $120 million in rainy day funds to tackle the affects of the coronavirus crisis. The City Council voted 7-0 this morning to approve the measure.

He said city bus and Handi-Van services will continue on a regular schedule, but urged riders to maintain social distance.

Core city services, including police fire, ambulance, and ocean safety will function as normal, he said, as will city garbage, sewer and water services.

Managing Director Roy Amemiya said those city employees who are deemed “non-essential” will be required to work from home if the job allows it. Other non-essential workers would be required to stay at home and not work, but will get paid but he stressed that there are only a limited number of employees in that category.

The city has roughly 10,000 employees, including about 2,000 police officers, 1,000 firefighters, 500 paramedics and emergency medical technicians. They will all be working.

Among other city services that will continue: satellite city halls and Department of Planning and Permitting customer service desks as well as inspection services.

———

Watch the livestream video from today’s press conference beginning at 3 p.m.

RELATED: COVID-19: Hawaii event cancellations, closures and postponements due to the coronavirus outbreak

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak.

 Commen

Councilmember Manahan’s Staff Helps to Promote Reading and sharing Kindness

DA Makalapa

Staff members from Councilmember Joey Manahan’s office responded to request for readers for Makalapa Elementary Schools annual Read Aloud & Career day on Wednesday, February 19, 2020.  This year’s theme was “Be Kind” focusing on kindness and respecting one another and how those values are shared in our careers and in our personal life.

Chief of Staff, Radiant Cordero and Community Liaison, Dennis Arakaki, shared highlights of their careers in government service and how important reading is to their work.  They also offered a glimpse of what it is like to serve in government and working to improve conditions in the City and County of Honolulu and their neighborhoods.  Cordero and Arakaki also shared how important it is to develop partnerships and work together with all parts of the community making it relevant to the students who came from military families and long-time residents.

Cordero read to the Kindergartners who were excited and enthusiastic, while Arakaki read to fifth graders who were responsive and inquisitive.Untitled

Hawaii’s Most Populated Island Passes Sweeping Single-Use Plastic Ban

(Source: Huffpost)

Honolulu passed a bill banning most plastic utensils, food containers and straws on the island of Oahu, where almost 70% of the state’s residents live.

Lawmakers in Hawaii’s largest city just passed what could be one of the strictest bans on single-use plastics in the country.

The Honolulu City Council this week voted 7-2 to pass Bill 40, which bans businesses and restaurants in Honolulu County from serving food and beverages with plastic straws and utensils and containers made of polystyrene foam. The legislation will take effect in phases, with polystyrene foam being banned first in 2021 and disposable plastic being banned in 2022.

The measure will cover Honolulu County, which the council oversees and includes the entirety of Oahu, Hawaii’s most populated island.

PAID FOR BY Happy Family Organics

Lawmakers on the Big Island and Maui County, which includes the islands of Maui and Molokai, have previously banned foam containers but those measures do not cover plastic utensils. Honolulu County followed suit in 2015 and banned plastic bags in grocery stores, making Hawaii the only state at the time to completely ban most plastic bags.

Hawaii’s efforts to reduce use of disposable plastic is part of a growing wave across the country. This year, legislatures and city councils in at least 34 states have passed or considered measures that ban or discourage single-use plastic bags, polystyrene foam and single-use plastic utensils.

California started years ago, passing a statewide ban on plastic bags at large retail stores in 2014; a referendum forced the issue onto the November 2016 ballot where it passed to remain in effect. New York passed a similar measure this April. However, few governments have passed sweeping bans that cover a wide variety of plastic products, such as the one in Honolulu.

Surfrider Foundation

@Surfrider

VICTORY: Oahu passes a historic single-use plastic ban.

Congratulations to @SurfriderOahu, who achieved a huge win with the City Council vote to put Bill 40 —a sweeping single-use plastic ban — into law. https://www.surfrider.org/coastal-blog/entry/historic-single-use-plastic-ban-passes-in-honolulu 

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Local and national environmental groups are celebrating the measure as a major win in the fight against single-use plastics, which contribute to climate change with greenhouse gas emissions during production and transportation and account for about 85% of trash found in beaches and waterways.

Isolated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, residents of Hawaii depend heavily on imports for everyday products including milk, gas, bread, clothes and construction materials, making it one of the most expensive states to live in the U.S. Hawaii is also uniquely affected by the world’s plastic pollution problem, collecting plastic trash that originated from various places around the world.

Business groups in Hawaii pushed back against previous versions of the bill, arguing the measure unfairly burdened local businesses, pitting them against big box stores and forcing them to increase their prices ― thus making products in the state even more expensive.

Chamber of Commerce

@cochawaii

A broad coalition of Hawaii businesses came together to fight for the survival of local jobs and beloved local brands. We care for our environment, but passing Honolulu City Council Bill 40 would hurt local businesses. Sign our petition at https://ujoin.co/campaigns/715/actions/public 

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Hawaii’s Chamber of Commerce was concerned the measure would threaten smaller businesses who would have to invest in more expensive non-plastic materials to package their food products.

Hawaiian Chip Co. owner Jimmy Chan, speaking for the Hawaii Food Manufacturers Association, said Wednesday that there aren’t sustainable plastic alternatives that are affordable, the Pacific Business Journal reported. He also said plastic provides consumers with “a certain amount of food safety.”

Before the bill was passed, lawmakers amended it to resolve both environmentalists’ and the food industry’s concerns. The version that was passed this week includes exemptions for prepackaged items such as musubi wraps, chip bags, bread bags, ice bags and plastic bags used for loose items including vegetables, ground coffee, raw fish and meat, and newspapers.

Paul Kosasa, the CEO of ABC Stores, a local general store chain in Hawaii, previously opposed the bill but later accepted it after lawmakers made revisions to the bill to address business owners’ concerns.

Kosasa told HuffPost that businesses like his were initially blindsided when the bill banning plastics first came out but lawmakers started to pay attention to business owners once they protested against the proposed measure.

“While [the bill] is still not perfect, it did enough to alleviate our concerns,” Kosasa said, noting that the exemptions for raw meat and fish products were important for businesses to keep their products safe for consumers.

“There’s more things that have to happen to it but there’s been enough changes to it that gives us some time to become more eco-friendly,” he added.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is expected to sign the bill into law.

(Civil Beat) Criminal Probe Into Rail Might Creep Into Honolulu Hale, Attorneys Fear

(Source: Civil Beat)

Honolulu city attorneys worry the federal criminal probe that has ensnared the island’s troubled rail project might soon reach Honolulu Hale as well, according to Councilman Ron Menor.

On Tuesday, the council’s Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee, which Menor chairs, met behind closed doors to consider allowing the private firm Farella Braun & Martel to represent city employees in the rail matter, but rejected the idea.

The city’s corporation counsel felt the California firm’s expertise would be vital should the federal investigation into rail expand past the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, Menor said.

The semi-autonomous agency, which oversees rail construction for the city, was hit with three federal Grand Jury subpoenas in February. An unspecified number of HART employees have also received individual subpoenas since then.

“We need to anticipate that their investigation will entail attempting to obtain additional information about the rail project from city employees and personnel,” Menor said. “And so this request for information could come by way of federal subpoenas as well as requests on the part of federal prosecutors to interview city employees and personnel.”

Honolulu City Council Chair Ron Menor during full council meeting.

Nonetheless, council members shot down the proposal to retain Farella Braun & Martel with a 4-3 vote. The move would have retained the firm’s services for $50,000, according to Menor.

Now, he said, some city employees might eventually have to seek their own legal representation, similar to staffers at HART impacted by the probe.

The corporation counsel department has said it lacks the in-house expertise to deal with the criminal investigation, responding to any subpoenas or interview requests, according to Menor.

Thus, the department hoped to retain Farella Braun & Martell for its “expertise in criminal matters to ensure that federal investigators don’t overreach, or conduct their investigation in an overly broad fashion,” the councilman added.

It’s the same law firm the city hired in January to limit the disclosure of documents seized under a search warrant by federal officials investigating the Kealoha corruption scandal.

That month, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced that Corporation Counsel Donna Leong had received a target letter from the FBI as part of the Kealoha corruption probe. She remains on paid leave.

Paul Aoki, who’s served as the city’s acting corporation counsel ever since, did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday after the council’s committee meeting.

During the closed-door briefing corporation counsel officials said Farella Braun & Martell’s work “was favorable to the city,” Menor said. It helped the city obtain a sealed District Court order to limit the documents federal authorities could seize under search warrants served to the Department of Information Technology as well as Budget and Fiscal Services, he added.

In an email Tuesday, Caldwell spokesman Andrew Pereira said he’s not aware of any city employees receiving rail-related subpoenas other than those already sent to HART.

Council members Carol Fukunaga, Ann Kobayashi, Heidi Tsuneyoshi and Tommy Waters voted against retaining Farella Braun & Martell on Tuesday. Councilman Ikaika Anderson and Brandon Elefante joined Menor to vote in favor.

Council members Joey Manahan and Kymberly Pine didn’t attend.

Rail Employees Already On Their Own

The move to hire attorneys to represent city employees in the rail probe follows a similar failed attempt to hire lawyers for HART employees.

At an Aug. 20 committee meeting, council members considered retaining Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP as special deputy counsel to represent HART, its officers and employees “in matters relating to their official powers and duties in matters involving federal criminal law.”

Committee members were split 4-4 and the matter did not advance to a full council vote. As a result, HART employees facing subpoenas in the investigation will have to hire their own lawyers, HART Executive Director Andrew Robbins said last month.

“The corporation counsel is still available — whatever help they can provide,” Robbins said after a Sept. 5 agency meeting, “but we certainly encouraged the employees to reach out to private attorneys if they so felt they should.”

“Some of them even suggested maybe they could bring a friend (for support at interviews), and I guess that would be up to the prosecutors,” he added. “We didn’t know how to advise them on that. I think it’s fair to say the employees were disappointed with the council action.”

“We’re going to comply as much as we can.” – Damien Kim, former HART board chairman

Taken together, federal investigators’ orders for information from HART have been broad, covering multiple aspects of the rail project.

The first sweeping order required thousands of pages from the agency’s records on design, planning and construction work, as well as correspondence on the city’s rail-funding deal with the Federal Transit Administration. The second one called for files on HART’s relocation payments to property owners along the line.

To comply, the agency provided four terabytes of documents to the feds, Robbins said.

The third subpoena — aimed directly at HART’s board — has proven much more complicated. It demands a full and unredacted record of the board’s closed-door meetings, and there’s no exception listed for discussions that might fall under attorney-client privilege.

“We’re going to comply as much as we can,” former HART board chairman Damien Kim said in February when the subpoena was served.

The goal in retaining Farella Braun & Martel was to ensure “there is not going to be any overreach that will enable them to conduct a fishing expedition or to do an investigation that is overly broad,” if the rail probes reach Honolulu Hale, Menor said Tuesday.

That said, “we want to cooperate with the federal investigation,” he added. “We want to turn over…any and all information that is relevant to their investigation” into “whether any wrongdoing was committed by any city official.”

(Civil Beat) Criminal Probe Into Rail Might Creep Into Honolulu Hale, Attorneys Fear

(Source: Civil Beat)

Honolulu city attorneys worry the federal criminal probe that has ensnared the island’s troubled rail project might soon reach Honolulu Hale as well, according to Councilman Ron Menor.

On Tuesday, the council’s Executive Matters and Legal Affairs Committee, which Menor chairs, met behind closed doors to consider allowing the private firm Farella Braun & Martel to represent city employees in the rail matter, but rejected the idea.

The city’s corporation counsel felt the California firm’s expertise would be vital should the federal investigation into rail expand past the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, Menor said.

The semi-autonomous agency, which oversees rail construction for the city, was hit with three federal Grand Jury subpoenas in February. An unspecified number of HART employees have also received individual subpoenas since then.

“We need to anticipate that their investigation will entail attempting to obtain additional information about the rail project from city employees and personnel,” Menor said. “And so this request for information could come by way of federal subpoenas as well as requests on the part of federal prosecutors to interview city employees and personnel.”

Honolulu City Council Chair Ron Menor during full council meeting.

Nonetheless, council members shot down the proposal to retain Farella Braun & Martel with a 4-3 vote. The move would have retained the firm’s services for $50,000, according to Menor.

Now, he said, some city employees might eventually have to seek their own legal representation, similar to staffers at HART impacted by the probe.

The corporation counsel department has said it lacks the in-house expertise to deal with the criminal investigation, responding to any subpoenas or interview requests, according to Menor.

Thus, the department hoped to retain Farella Braun & Martell for its “expertise in criminal matters to ensure that federal investigators don’t overreach, or conduct their investigation in an overly broad fashion,” the councilman added.

It’s the same law firm the city hired in January to limit the disclosure of documents seized under a search warrant by federal officials investigating the Kealoha corruption scandal.

That month, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced that Corporation Counsel Donna Leong had received a target letter from the FBI as part of the Kealoha corruption probe. She remains on paid leave.

Paul Aoki, who’s served as the city’s acting corporation counsel ever since, did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday after the council’s committee meeting.

During the closed-door briefing corporation counsel officials said Farella Braun & Martell’s work “was favorable to the city,” Menor said. It helped the city obtain a sealed District Court order to limit the documents federal authorities could seize under search warrants served to the Department of Information Technology as well as Budget and Fiscal Services, he added.

In an email Tuesday, Caldwell spokesman Andrew Pereira said he’s not aware of any city employees receiving rail-related subpoenas other than those already sent to HART.

Council members Carol Fukunaga, Ann Kobayashi, Heidi Tsuneyoshi and Tommy Waters voted against retaining Farella Braun & Martell on Tuesday. Councilman Ikaika Anderson and Brandon Elefante joined Menor to vote in favor.

Council members Joey Manahan and Kymberly Pine didn’t attend.

Rail Employees Already On Their Own

The move to hire attorneys to represent city employees in the rail probe follows a similar failed attempt to hire lawyers for HART employees.

At an Aug. 20 committee meeting, council members considered retaining Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP as special deputy counsel to represent HART, its officers and employees “in matters relating to their official powers and duties in matters involving federal criminal law.”

Committee members were split 4-4 and the matter did not advance to a full council vote. As a result, HART employees facing subpoenas in the investigation will have to hire their own lawyers, HART Executive Director Andrew Robbins said last month.

“The corporation counsel is still available — whatever help they can provide,” Robbins said after a Sept. 5 agency meeting, “but we certainly encouraged the employees to reach out to private attorneys if they so felt they should.”

“Some of them even suggested maybe they could bring a friend (for support at interviews), and I guess that would be up to the prosecutors,” he added. “We didn’t know how to advise them on that. I think it’s fair to say the employees were disappointed with the council action.”

“We’re going to comply as much as we can.” – Damien Kim, former HART board chairman

Taken together, federal investigators’ orders for information from HART have been broad, covering multiple aspects of the rail project.

The first sweeping order required thousands of pages from the agency’s records on design, planning and construction work, as well as correspondence on the city’s rail-funding deal with the Federal Transit Administration. The second one called for files on HART’s relocation payments to property owners along the line.

To comply, the agency provided four terabytes of documents to the feds, Robbins said.

The third subpoena — aimed directly at HART’s board — has proven much more complicated. It demands a full and unredacted record of the board’s closed-door meetings, and there’s no exception listed for discussions that might fall under attorney-client privilege.

“We’re going to comply as much as we can,” former HART board chairman Damien Kim said in February when the subpoena was served.

The goal in retaining Farella Braun & Martel was to ensure “there is not going to be any overreach that will enable them to conduct a fishing expedition or to do an investigation that is overly broad,” if the rail probes reach Honolulu Hale, Menor said Tuesday.

That said, “we want to cooperate with the federal investigation,” he added. “We want to turn over…any and all information that is relevant to their investigation” into “whether any wrongdoing was committed by any city official.”

(Civil Beat) How To Remove Homeless People From A Park? Close It, Honolulu Says

(Source: Civil Beat)

Opponents of the city proposal say closing parks is not the answer when better enforcement and maintenance is needed.

Faced with complaints of illegal drug use, unpermitted camping, and public urination in a Honolulu park, City Council members are moving to close it.

Members of the council’s parks committee voted on Tuesday to advance Resolution 19-250 to repurpose Kamalii Mini Park, a small grassy area located mauka of a Beretania Street fire station.

“Because this location has become a site frequented by people who are homeless and (experience) drug addition and those kinds of issues, it’s a sore spot,” said Councilwoman Carol Fukunaga, the resolution sponsor. “We would prefer to see this area used for purposes other than parks.”

Councilmember Carol Fukunaga during meeting with other city officials / HPD and housing director Marc Alexander at Honolulu Hale.

The park is “underutilized by the community,” according to the resolution. And its concrete planters and dividers “appear to provide cover for illegal activity and support for illegal camping structures,” the resolution states.

The police department, parks and recreation department and fire department have tried to address problems with park cleanups and enforcement actions, the resolution states, but those efforts result in only temporary relief.

“Non-park uses, such as expansion of the adjacent fire station, could eliminate the opportunity to use the space for illegal activity, and could contribute to substantial savings in city resources and manpower,” the resolutions states.

The nearby association of apartment owners supports the measure, Fukunaga said, and so does the city parks department. Assistant Fire Chief Socrates Bratakos also testified in support.

One person spoke in opposition to the measure.

“We would like to look more deeply at this because we’re seeing this pattern across the city where we don’t have enough resources for our parks, so therefore the answer is to close them early, to shut all people off from using the park,” said Winston Welch, executive director of The Outdoor Circle, a nonprofit that advocates for green spaces.

Welch said his group sympathizes with the city’s problems, but that closing the park is not the answer. The city should instead make the park a showcase that welcomes people to downtown Honolulu.

“It should be a place of beauty,” he said. “Instead, we’re closing it because we’re not having maintenance and enforcement of existing laws. That’s just a sad indictment of the city right now.”

Honolulu council members are also considering Bill 52 which would allow the city parks director to close parks at night.

Under the proposal, introduced by Councilwoman Kymberly Pine, it would be illegal to enter a closed park, and violators could face penalties of up to $500 and/or imprisonment of up to 30 days.