Month of May Electric Bill Higher? Here’s Why

Hawaiian Electric residential customers may be receiving higher bills than last month, for several reasons:

  • For the safety of customers and our workforce and to stop the spread of COVID 19 in the community, we announced in late March that we would scale back meter reading temporarily. As a result, bills were estimated based on each customer’s respective usage in the prior month. We apologize for any misunderstanding or inconvenience.
  • As a result of working together to minimize the spread, Hawaiian Electric was able to safely restart meter reading in May. Customers are now receiving true-up bills that reflect the amount of electricity actually used. For accounts that reduced energy use during the pandemic, the true-up bill will account for any overestimation from the prior estimated bill. For accounts that increased energy usage, the true-up bill will account for any underestimation from the prior estimated bill.
  • Stay-at-home orders resulted in many residents using more electricity in March, April and part of May – air conditioners, computers, lights, appliances – because they didn’t go out for school, work and weekend activities. On average, residential customers used about 13 percent more electricity, with above-average users consuming as much as 17 percent more. Depending on the individual customer’s use, the increase could be more or less.

Lower oil prices mean lower electric rates this summer and should help offset higher usage, depending on how efficiently customers manage their use of air conditioners and other appliances. Tips are available at https://www.hawaiianelectric.com/products-and-services/save-energy-and-money. Hawaii Energy also is a trusted resource for tips and rebates to help offset the costs of energy-saving equipment and services. For more information, please visit https://hawaiienergy.com/tips or call (808) 537-5577.

Hawaiian Electric encourages customers who are having a difficult time paying a higher true-up bill to contact customer service so that a payment arrangement can be made to help smooth the payment of that bill over more than one month. No late fees or interest will apply at this time. While customers are responsible for paying for their bills, there are options available to help keep accounts current.

The quickest option is to fill out a Payment Arrangement Request Form at www.hawaiianelectric.com/CustomerServiceOptions. Those with concerns or questions may also contact customer service representatives by calling the phone number listed on the company website or on the bill.

Service disconnections for nonpayment have been suspended through June 30, but customers should not wait until then to contact Hawaiian Electric if they are experiencing financial strain as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Pearl Harbor Selected as Site for 5G Technology Testing, Experimentation

The Department of Defense has named seven U.S. military installations as the latest sites where it will conduct fifth-generation (5G) communications technology experimentation and testing. They are Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii; Naval Base Norfolk, Virginia; Joint Base San Antonio, Texas; the National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin, California; Fort Hood, Texas; Camp Pendleton, California; and Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma.

190908-N-UD469-0004 JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM Sept. 8, 2019 — The Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Olympia (SSN 717) returns home following a seven-month deployment. Olympia conducted an around-the-world deployment in support of maritime security operations with allies and partners to ensure high-end war fighting capabilities in this era of great power competition. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Amanda Gray/Released)

This second round, referred to as Tranche 2, brings the total number of installations selected to host 5G testing to 12. This tranche builds on DOD’s previously-announced 5G communications technology prototyping and experimentation and is part of a 5G development roadmap guided by the Department of Defense 5G Strategy.

5G technology is vital to maintaining America’s military and economic advantages. 5G is the fifth-generation of cellular network technology. It is the advent of ubiquitous connectivity – the connectivity of everything and everyone everywhere – through wireless communications. DOD’s efforts focus on large-scale experimentation and prototyping of dual-use (military and commercial) 5G technology that will provide high speeds, quicker response times and the ability to handle many more wireless devices than current wireless technology.

Last year, the department announced the selection of the Tranche 1 bases: Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington; Hill Air Force Base, Utah; Naval Base San Diego, California; and Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Georgia as the first U.S. military installations to host testing and experimentation for 5G technology. In May of 2020, DOD announced Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada had also been selected.

The bases were selected for their ability to provide streamlined access to site spectrum bands, mature fiber and wireless infrastructure, access to key facilities, support for new or improved infrastructure requirements and the ability to conduct controlled experimentation with dynamic spectrum sharing.

DOD recognizes industry will play a key role in the development of leap-ahead 5G technology for both military and civilian uses. In the coming weeks, the department will issue requests for prototype proposals from industry partners. The new round of opportunities will focus on the following areas:

  • Ship-wide/Pier Connectivity at Naval Station Norfolk
  • Enhancing Aircraft Mission Readiness at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam
  • Augmented Reality Support of Maintenance and Training at Joint Base San Antonio
  • Wireless Connectivity for Forward Operating Bases (FOB) and Tactical Operations Centers (TOC) at the NTC at Fort Irwin and Fort Hood, Texas  
  • Wireless Connectivity for FOBs and TOCs at Camp Pendleton
  • DOD 5G Core Security Experimentation Network at Joint Base San Antonio and multiple remote locations
  • Bi-directional Spectrum Sharing – DOD / Commercial at Tinker AFB

U.S. Coast Guard, NOAA, USACE, HI-DOT Sign MOU for Maritime Emergency Harbor Assessments

The U.S. Coast Guard signed a memorandum of understanding in June with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office of Coast Survey, State of Hawaii Department of Transportation, and United States Army Corps of Engineers regarding maritime emergency harbor assessments within federal waterways in Hawaii.

This agreement means the partners can work more efficiently and effectively to assess the State’s harbors following disasters, such as severe weather events, to restore the flow of commerce vital to the health and safety of residents and the economy.

“This is an important agreement for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and our Federal and State partners,” said Lt. Col. Kathryn P. Sanborn, commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Honolulu District. “It improves our response time and communication collaboration during a navigation emergency.”

The partners work together often to ensure harbor safety and emergency response. In 2017 and 2018, the team undertook joint surveys following heavy rains and Hurricanes Lane and Olivia before the reopening of commercial harbors. In 2016 the Coast Guard worked with NOAA, USACE, and DOT Harbors to temporarily relocate aids to navigation and advise mariners as necessary dredging work took place throughout the island’s commercial harbor entrances.

“Hawaii’s commercial ports are crucial to sustaining Hawaii’s communities throughout six islands as 98 percent of all imported goods come through these ports. Hawaii’s direct shipments come from the U.S. west coast and from Asia.  Restoring port operations in a timely manner after a storm is the objective of this multi-agency MOU”, said DOT Director Jade Butay.

“Hawaii’s supply chain is reliant on the maritime transport of goods. NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey plays an important role in not only charting but all preparedness and resilience in the event of an emergency disaster,” said Rear Adm. Shepard Smith, director of the Office of the Coast Survey. “Our navigation managers work with maritime stakeholders to strengthen relationships in these critical areas, and this MOU is a result of that work.”

The importance of tourism to Hawaii’s economy cannot be understated, directly contributing over $15.9 billion annually in visitor expenditures, according to the 2016 Hawaii Dept. of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism figures. Hawaii’s robust cruise ship industry, small passenger vessel operations, and other forms of maritime recreation derive a significant portion of these revenues. Additionally, the MTS directly supports all types of tourism through the delivery of goods and energy sources.

Hawaii’s MTS also plays a vital role in supporting the national defense and security infrastructures of the United States. Hawaii is home to U.S. Pacific Command and each component command headquarters: U.S. Pacific Fleet, U.S. Pacific Air Forces, U.S. Army Pacific, and U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific. Along with the USCG, five military branches maintain one or more significant bases and numerous other facilities on the island of Oahu alone. Hawaii’s commercial port system delivers heavy equipment, vehicles, fuel, ammunition, logistical supplies, and many other necessities that support defense operations and military member families.

“Our strategic intent is to formalize the local logistical support between our interagency partners and industry to augment our maritime port recovery and resiliency in Hawaii,” said Capt. Arex Avanni, commander, Sector Honolulu, Captain of the Port. “Sector Honolulu regularly coordinates with our partners during port recovery operations throughout the main Hawaiian Islands harbors. This document [the MOU] delineates interagency expectations in support of the rapid resumption of the maritime transportation system, which directly benefits the people of Hawaii.”

LETTER: Superintendent Kishimoto to HIDOE Parents & Guardians

Aloha parents and guardians, 

Supt. Christina M. Kishimoto

I want to personally thank you for supporting your child’s education over these past few months. This pandemic has forced families to not only increase their responsibilities as caregivers but also as educators. Mahalo for working with us to deliver your child’s education amid these challenging times.

Moving forward, the delivery of public education will look different in classrooms and schools across our nation. We recognize that our learning channels must be expanded and improved to incorporate more technology and distance learning. The pandemic has also amplified areas of inequity, including a lack of devices in some households and inconsistent connectivity in rural communities. I want to reassure you that I am committed to achieving universal access to technology. It is no longer a luxury, but a necessity.

As part of this effort, the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education (HIDOE) has distributed 12,000 devices to students statewide over the past couple of months, ordered 10,000 more to support learning over the summer, and will launch mobile learning labs to provide WiFi access and push learning into our hard-to-reach communities. However, we cannot do this alone. The HIDOE is part of a Broadband Hui working collectively to articulate a resolution to the state’s connectivity and access challenges and advance this effort.

The Department recently launched a multi-phase distance learning survey for teachers, secondary students and families to assess other gap areas and identify where we can enhance our support. Surveys were distributed to all HIDOE teachers and eligible secondary students this week, and the family survey will be distributed in early June.

We are going to grow from this experience and apply all that we’ve learned to better support our students through the summer and into the fall. The HIDOE ʻohana is diligently working on plans for next school year and we are relying on the expertise of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state’s Department of Health to inform our policies and procedures. 

Parents will undoubtedly have concerns about their children physically returning to campuses. As a parent and on behalf of our leadership team, many of whom are parents of public school students, I assure you that your child’s safety and well-being is truly of the utmost importance. It will always be at the heart of every decision we make as we navigate these unprecedented times.

We look forward to welcoming our haumana back in the fall and will continue to communicate with you over the coming weeks regarding our plans for school year 2020-21. Stay safe and have a restful summer break. 


Sincerely,
 KishimotoeSig.JPG
Dr. Christina M. Kishimoto

Superintendent 

Some Social Media Sites Posting False Information About Visitors

Law enforcement agencies across the state are reminding Hawai‘i residents to only rely on official sources of information for the latest on the COVID-19 pandemic and other issues involving government agencies and their responses.

This was circulating on Facebook

Some social media sites have recently posted false information suggesting that out-of-state individuals are coming to Hawai‘i to cause trouble.

Attorney General Clare Connors, the state’s chief law enforcement official said, “While social media can be helpful in distributing information broadly, everyone knows there are countless examples of where social media platforms have spread misinformation through false postings. We encourage readers and viewers to be discerning, to rely only on official sources of information and to avoid getting caught up in the dissemination of rumors and/or gossip online.”

Law enforcement agencies constantly monitor activities associated with groups and individuals planning to insert themselves inappropriately or illegally into activities in the state.

The Queen’s Health System had to send out a memorandum squashing some of the rumors that have been circulating:

Hawaii Film & TV Production Approved to Restart

Mayor Kirk Caldwell today announced that the film and television industry will be able to reopen for production and on-location filming starting Friday, June 5. Governor David Ige approved the request by the City and County of Honolulu as part of Honolulu’s Amended Emergency Order 2020-15.

The Jurassic Park movies are partly filmed on Oahu.

“Honolulu has been the premier tropical location for filming since the early 1900’s, and we have missed their presence around the island, and strong contribution to a diversified economy,” said Mayor Caldwell. “I want to thank the many industry members and representatives, including the State and Neighbor Island County film offices, who helped the Honolulu Film Office put together such comprehensive guidelines. In addition to production requirements in general, it includes a modified quarantine process for out of state productions which have historically put Hawai‘i on the map as a safe yet exotic film location. The guidelines are the key to reopening this important part of our local economy and creative community.”

Guidelines

The reopening of production requires following health and safety guidelines taken from a deep dive into guidelines and best practices from around the world of the motion picture, television, and commercial production industries. The guidelines are a framework for set safety procedures, physical distancing, symptoms awareness, protective measures, and considerations for security, catering, and other standard departments on a typical set, and are designed to be complimentary to working protocols that unions and guilds are establishing.

Permitting requirements

The restart of the film and television industry under this amendment applies to production doing business on the island of O‘ahu. Productions will still be required to get the usual permits for city jurisdictions from the Honolulu Film Office, state permits from the Hawaii Film Office as they are allowed to issue, and the standard agreements usually obtained for filming on private property. Permitting services through the Honolulu Film Office will be in effect starting June 5. While a city permit is not required for private locations, we are requiring that productions register any activity with the Honolulu Film Office in case location information is ever needed for the purposes of a COVID-19 outbreak and immediate contact tracing.

Modified Quarantine

For out-of-state productions seeking to film on O‘ahu, a modified quarantine process will be in place for use by the film and television industry until the 14-day quarantine requirement for out of state visitors and returning residents is lifted. The process includes testing of travelers prior to boarding a flight to Honolulu, testing several days after arrival, and creating a ‘quarantine bubble’ of limited travel on island only between the hotel/residence and reporting to a place of work. If no testing is completed, the 14 day quarantine applies.

Those seeking to restart their production activity on O‘ahu are encouraged to read and follow the guidelines to the fullest extent practicable. To view the guidelines, head here: http://www.honolulu.gov/ecodev/film-office.html

If there are any questions regarding film and television production on O‘ahu, please contact the Honolulu Film Office at 808-768-6100 or by email at info@filmhonolulu.com.

1,621 people arrived in Hawaii Yesterday

Yesterday, 1,621 people arrived in Hawaii. During this same time last year, nearly 30,000 passengers arrived in Hawaii daily, including residents and visitors.

Yesterday marks ten weeks since the state’s mandatory 14-day self-quarantine started for all passengers arriving in Hawaii from out of state. The quarantine order was expanded on April 1st to include interisland travelers.

This table shows the number of people who arrived by air from out of state yesterday and does not include interisland travel. This data was collected from the Hawaii Department of Transportation’s (DOT) new Mandatory Travel Declaration Form.

The following table shows what the Oahu visitors indicated as the purpose of their trip, and they can choose more than one. This data was collected from the DOT’s new Mandatory Travel Declaration Form.

Hawaiian Electric to Host Online eBus Planning Discussion

Hawaiian Electric will host the first of three Drive Electric Dialogues focused on Electric Bus Make Ready Infrastructure on Wednesday, June 10, 10-11:30 am.

“We believe in a ‘new normal’ where electric buses powered by clean energy help transport our critical workers and community members while reducing congestion and creating quieter, less polluted but more interconnected neighborhoods on all our islands,” said Aki Marceau, director of Electrification of Transportation at Hawaiian Electric.

“As with private electric vehicles, charging infrastructure is a big stumbling block for bus fleets, especially public bus and school bus fleets. We hope to discuss ways Hawaiian Electric can support this transition and how to pay for it efficiently and fairly.”

The online meeting will include Jon Nouchi, Honolulu Department of Transportation Services deputy director, speaking on “Heroes Transporting Heroes – Bus transit during COVID-19.”

Marceau will host the meeting with a presentation of plans by Michael Colόn, Hawaiian Electric Electrification of Transportation manager.

To attend, please RSVP to eMob@hawaiianelectric.com.

On July 29, the meeting will follow up on Hawaiian Electric’s “critical backbone” study pinpointing where expanded public charging would support commuters and tourists to drive electric and help optimize operation of the electric grid.

On Oct. 1, the discussion will focus on commercial make-ready infrastructure to support fleet and facilities for workplace electric vehicle charging.

Hawaii to Receive $3.7M in COVID-19 Disaster Relief Funding to Purchase PPE, Medical Equipment for Hospitals, Nursing Homes, Dental Clinics

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz announced that the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) received $3,704,731.64 in new federal funding to cover the costs of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers and first responders throughout the state. The funding, awarded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), comes after Hawai‘i was granted a Presidential Disaster Declaration to help the state respond to the pandemic.

“These new funds will help cover the cost of PPE and medical equipment for frontline workers, ensuring they can keep themselves and our communities safe,” said Sen. Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “As Hawai‘i begins to reopen, we’ll need additional PPE and supplies so that we can conduct widespread testing and prepare for any future surge in cases.”

HI-EMA will use the funds to help supplement the supply needs of hospitals, nursing homes, private providers, and dentists that are either unable to source PPE or cannot afford to. In addition, non-medical PPE – such as cloth masks, hand sanitizers, and cleaning products – will be distributed to a range of government facilities like airports, schools, and homeless shelters.

The $3.7 million is a first, expedited payment on Hawai‘i’s application for FEMA Public Assistance funding under the Presidential Disaster Declaration. As the COVID-19 response continues, the state should be eligible for further FEMA funding.

Gov. Ige Approves Request to Re-Open More Businesses on Oahu

Gov. David Ige yesterday approved Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s proposal to re-open designated indoor/outdoor businesses and operations, including fitness facilities and bars.

The businesses/operations will open with limitations starting on June 19. 

They include: 

  • Education and care facilities
  • Indoor attractions (including bowling alleys, arcades, museums, theatres)
  • Outdoor organized team sports (two phases, with phase 1 beginning June 19)
  • Fitness facilities
  • Bars
  • Film and television production (approved re-opening as of June 5)

The designated businesses and operations must follow safety guidelines and conditions that ensure the safety of employees, clients and customers. 

The signed Amendment is posted online here.

For more information on businesses/operations/activities designated for re-opening and for a list of requirements and conditions for the re-opening and resumption of operations go to: http://www.honolulu.gov/mayor/proclamations-orders-and-rules.html.

STUDY: Threat to Coral Found Through Bacteria

Though corals worldwide are threatened due to climate change and local stressors, the front lines of the battle are microscopic in scale. Under stress, many reefs that were formerly dominated by coral are shifting to systems dominated by turf and fleshy algae. 

PC: Ty Roach

new study published in PNAS, led by researchers at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa and San Diego State University, found that the outcome of the competition between coral and turf algae is determined by the assemblage of microbes at the interface where the contenders meet.

PC: Ty Roach

All plants and animals are associated with communities of viruses and microbes—their microbiome—that interact via a suite of chemicals produced by their metabolism, termed metabolites. The study investigated the role of each component, host organisms, viruses, bacteria and metabolites, in coral-turf algal interactions. The researchers gathered data on genes, proteins and metabolic products associated with corals and algae on a reef and directly looked at the bacteria and viruses under a microscope.

“We found that when coral interacts with turf algae on a reef, there is a unique chemical and bacterial community that forms at the interface between these two organisms, an emergent microbiome,” said Ty Roach, postdoctoral researcher at the Hawai‘i Institute of Marine Biology in the UH Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology and co-lead author of the study. “This interface community is made up of larger bacterial cells that use energy at a faster rate. Our data suggest that this change in bacterial size and energy use, which can negatively affect coral, is driven by a change in which types of bacteria dominate the microbiome.”

PC: Ty Roach

“Our chemical analysis indicates this change is driven by bacteria that feed on algal-derived biochemicals, a phenomenon we call the Algal Feeding Hypothesis,” said co-lead author Mark Little, a doctoral candidate at San Diego State University. “Interestingly, these changes in bacterial groups and their energy use, which comes from feeding on specific chemicals, are similar to changes seen in the human gut, with dominant bacteria linked to obesity.” 

Coral reefs are valued for their cultural and ecological importance, providing protection against storms and waves, and serve as reservoirs of biodiversity. Restoring coral cover and building reef resilience provides the foundation essential to a functional and healthy reef ecosystem, which is critical for the surrounding community.

Viruses, bacteria and biochemical mediate coral-algae competition. PC: Ty Roach.

“This highlights the fact that many ecological interactions between organisms are actually mediated by viruses and bacteria,” said Forest Rohwer, biology professor at San Diego State University and senior author of the study. “This provides opportunities to engineer probiotics to alleviate the effects of stressors on corals.”  

The research team plans to use the insight gained from this study to design and test probiotic blends for use on corals. In this way, they aim to utilize personalized medicine techniques to help corals gain an ecological advantage over competitors such as harmful algae.

Flags to Fly at Half-Staff in Honor of Former Hawaii Lawmaker Joe Bertram III

As a mark of respect for former state Rep. Joseph “Joe” Bertram III, Gov. David Ige has ordered that the flags of the United States and State of Hawaiʻi shall be flown at half-staff at all state offices and agencies, as well as the Hawaiʻi National Guard, from sunrise to sunset on Monday, June 8, 2020.

Bertram died on May 24 at the age of 63. Bertram was elected to the state House in 2006 and re-elected in 2008. He represented the South Maui communities of Kihei, Wailea and Makena (District 11). Bertram was known for taking on many challenging issues and advocating for change that would make his community a better place.

Flags will fly at half-staff on Monday, June 8, to honor Bertram on the day of his memorial service.

2020 Census Operations Restarting in Hawaii

Hawaii’s Local Census Office has reopened, and field operations have resumed.

Due to COVID-19, the 2020 Census team adapted and delayed operations for the safety of the public and Census Bureau employees. The Census Bureau has been consulting with federal, state and local health officials and have resumed field operations under a phased approach. The Census Bureau will always incorporate the most current guidance from authorities to ensure the health and safety of staff and the public. 

Which Operations are Resuming Now?

Starting June 1, the Hawaii Census team has resumed Update Leave operations. Update Leave involves delivering Census invitations to households in rural areas which do not have city-style addresses, areas that do not receive mail to their home address, and areas that have high concentrations of seasonally vacant housing. 

Census Bureau staff are also resuming fingerprinting protocols for new hires.

What to Expect

  • Census packets delivered to your home address containing your Census ID.
  • Census field staff canvassing areas for places people might be living and dropping off a census invitation and paper questionnaire. 
  • No in-person interactions; the Update Leave operations are strictly no-contact.

What to Not Expect

  • At this time, you should not expect census takers visiting your homes to help you complete the 2020 Census. 

If you have not done so already, you can respond online at my2020census.gov or by calling 1-844-330-2020.

For more information on Hawaii’s response rates, visit our 2020 Census Response Rate Tracker

Learn more at http://census.hawaii.gov/census_2020/.

Hawaii AG Urges Congress to Give State Attorneys General Authority to Investigate Unconstitutional Policing

Hawaii Attorney General Clare E. Connors today joined a coalition of 18 attorneys general led by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and New York Attorney General Letitia James urging Congress to expand federal law to give state attorneys general clear statutory authority to investigate patterns or practices of unconstitutional policing.

In a letter issued to Congressional leadership, the coalition is asking Congress to expand the law enforcement misconduct section of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which was enacted following the severe beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles Police Department officers in 1991. The coalition argues that attorneys general should have authority to investigate and resolve patterns or practices of unconstitutional policing, particularly in the event that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) fails to use its authority to act.

“State Attorneys General have a duty to defend the Constitution and to ensure that our government institutions act justly,” said Attorney General Connors. “Accordingly, we should have the same authority as the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate unconstitutional policing and to mandate changes.”

Attorney General Connors and the coalition are calling on Congress to take urgent action as thousands of Americans march in cities throughout the country to protest police brutality and the systemic failures that perpetuate misconduct. The coalition is asking Congress to grant them statutory authority to conduct “pattern-or-practice” investigations, to obtain data regarding excessive use of force by law enforcement officers, and to bring appropriate actions in federal court to ensure constitutional policing in states, in particular when the federal government is unwilling or unable to act.

According to the attorneys general, the DOJ initiated 69 pattern-or-practice investigations between 1994 and 2017, which resulted in 40 court-enforceable consent decrees. However since 2017, the DOJ has largely curtailed the ability of federal law enforcement to use court-enforced agreements to reform local police departments. Since January 2017, the DOJ has initiated zero pattern-or-practice investigations into police conduct and has not entered any consent decrees. The attorneys general state that the DOJ’s refusal to address the pervasive problem of police misconduct has left communities without critical civil rights protections. As a remedy, the coalition is asking Congress to authorize state attorneys general, in addition to the DOJ, to investigate complaints of pattern-or-practice violations through the use of investigative subpoenas, which the DOJ has proposed in the past to help strengthen its oversight capacity.

In addition, the coalition is asking that attorneys general be granted authority to gather data about the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers. Such data would be essential when identifying law enforcement agencies that have above-average rates of excessive force complaints, which can also help identify at-risk law enforcement agencies before a devastating incident occurs.

For example, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of killing 46-year-old George Floyd on May 25 had 18 prior complaints filed against him with the Minneapolis Police Department’s Internal Affairs.

According to a 2018 report issued by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, people of color comprise less than 38 percent of the nation’s population, yet they make up almost 63 percent of unarmed people killed by police. Additionally, unlawful use of force by police officers rarely leads to discipline, termination or criminal punishment. The advocacy group Mapping Police Violence found that 99% of police killings from 2014 to 2019 did not result in officers being charged with or convicted of a crime.

Joining Attorneys General Raoul, James and Connors in filing the comment letter are the attorneys general of California, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.

A copy of the letter can be found here.

Permit Services for Beach Weddings & Vow Renewals Resume

Effective immediately Wiki Permits, the online permitting system for limited commercial activities on state beaches, such as weddings and vow renewals, is resuming service subject to the following COVID-19 “Act With Care” restrictions:

  • No group shall exceed 10 persons.
  • Members of each group who are not part of the same household shall comply with social distancing requirements, provided that a caregiver may accompany a dependent.
  • The beach or sand area may only be used one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.
  • All other restrictions found within the Governor’s emergency proclamations on COVID-19 and applicable county Mayor’s orders shall be followed, such as any applicable quarantine restrictions.
  • All standard terms and conditions of Wiki Permits shall also be complied with, including restrictions on placement of accessories, structures, devices, etc. on the beach, with limited exception (see standard permit condition no. 14).

For more information, visit: https://dlnr.ehawaii.gov/permits/welcome.html

With the exception of Wiki Permits events (weddings, vow renewals, etc.), State beaches remain closed to all other commercial activity.

First Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Carnival & Princess Cruise Lines Over Coronavirus Exposures

The first class action lawsuit was filed today on behalf of the more than 2,800 passengers negligently exposed to COVID-19 on the Princess Cruise Lines Grand Princess cruise from San Francisco to Mexico from February 11, 2020 through February 21, 2020. The law firms Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, Mary Alexander & Associates, and Nelson & Fraenkel, LLP filed the suit in the United States District Court for the Central District of California.

The complaint alleges that at least 100 passengers who traveled onboard the Grand Princess Mexico trip have tested positive for COVID-19, and two died after disembarking. One of these fatalities was, at the time, the first-reported death caused by COVID-19 in California. All told, Carnival cruises have reportedly been associated with more than 1,500 positive COVID-19 infections and nearly 40 deaths. 

“Carnival and Princess allowed potentially infected individuals on the Mexico cruise to share confined space with other passengers, casually and callously exposing all 2,500 passengers to serious illness from COVID-19,” said Lieff Cabraser partner Elizabeth Cabraser, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Plaintiffs. 

As detailed in the complaint, before the Mexico cruise, Carnival and Princess became aware of an outbreak of COVID-19 aboard another of their cruise ships, the Diamond Princess, during cruises in Asia. Ten cases were originally diagnosed, and that number rapidly escalated to over 700 cases—over one-fifth of the passengers onboard—with 14 deaths. 

On February 11, 2020, approximately ten days after Carnival and Princess learned about the infections aboard the Diamond Princess, the defendants boarded plaintiffs and approximately 2,500 other passengers onto the Grand Princess for a roundtrip voyage to Mexico without conducting any effective medical screenings for passengers and without providing any additional information about best practices to mitigate or prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

The complaint alleges that on or around February 19, 2020, Carnival and Princess became aware of at least one passenger suffering from COVID-19 symptoms onboard the Grand Princess Mexico cruise, but they did not warn passengers aboard the ship, nor did they put into place any quarantine requirements, social distancing protocols, or meaningfully alter their on-ship protocols, event itineraries, or cleaning and disinfectant practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As alleged in the complaint, after Carnival and Princess became aware of the first case aboard the ship, they worked to “keep the fun going” by “encouraging [guests] to mingle.”

While onboard the Grand Princess, Plaintiff Dwight Everett began to experience symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and chose to self-isolate in his cabin. After disembarking from the cruise and returning to his home, Mr. Everett tested positive for COVID-19. Plaintiff Connie Simmons also became extremely ill while aboard the cruise, and suffered from a fever. She contacted medical staff on the ship, but did not receive any response for three days. When a doctor finally visited her room, the doctor refused to enter. 

“We are shocked and disappointed that Carnival and Princess endangered our family,” said Plaintiff James Simmons, who traveled aboard the Grand Princess with his family, including his mother, Connie Simmons. “We have been loyal customers for years and never imagined that Carnival and Princess would so carelessly put our health at risk.”

“Multiple passengers on the Grand Princess’s Mexico trip suffered from COVID-19 symptoms while on the vessel,” noted Mary Alexander, who also represents the plaintiffs in the case, “exposing other passengers and crew members trapped on board the ship to the virus. This is categorically unacceptable.”

The lawsuit sets forth claims of negligence, gross negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and seeks injunctive as well as compensatory damages, including the implementation by Carnival and Princess of new and meaningful appropriate social distancing and communicable disease communication and disinfection protocols upon all cruise ships, as well as ongoing medical monitoring, diagnostics, and treatment for all infected class members.

To read the complaint, click here.

$1.5 Million in Funding Headed for Hawaii to Train Healthcare Workers, Expand Telehealth, Purchase PPE During Pandemic

Today, Sen. Brian Schatz announced that Hawai’i will receive $1,500,000 to support the preparedness and response needs of hospitals, health systems, and health care providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds can be used to train health care workers, expand the use of telehealth services, replenish stockpiles of supplies such as personal protective equipment, and coordinate efforts across health care facilities.

“Hospitals and health care workers are working tirelessly to help keep our families safe and healthy,” said Sen. Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “These new federal dollars will help ensure that they have the resources they need to prepare for and respond to this pandemic.”

Authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, this funding comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP). The HPP provides the only federal funding for health care system preparedness and response for disasters like the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously, Hawai’i received $400,682 in HPP emergency supplemental funding through the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2020. These funds will be managed by Hawai’i Healthcare Emergency Management and the Department of Health.

In addition to the funding announced today, Hawai’i has received federal grants to support care for rural communitiesexpand contact tracing capacity, and help local providers respond to the pandemic.

Schatz, Warren Release GAO Report Detailing ‘Mar-a-Lago Crowd’ of Trump Cronies’ Undue Influence Over Dept. of Veterans Affairs

United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) released the results of a Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation revealing the undue influence of unqualified, unaccountable private citizens – with no official government role or responsibilities – over Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) decisions. The investigation was initially requested by the senators in August 2018 following reports that a trio of President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago cronies (Mr. Ike Perlmutter, Dr. Bruce Moskowitz, and Mr. Marc Sherman) “are secretly shaping the Trump administration’s veterans policies.”

Senators Brian Schatz and Elizabeth Warren

“VA should be led by those who understand veterans’ concerns and have their best interests at heart,” said Senator Schatz, top Democratic on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. “This new report confirms that three of Trump’s friends, who have no experience in government let alone with veterans matters, were secretly shaping the VA’s policies without any transparency or oversight. Being a member of the president’s club does not qualify you to influence decisions that affect the millions who served in uniform.”

“This independent government watchdog’s report finds that Trump Administration corruption ran rampant at the VA, revealing that three unqualified, unaccountable cronies used their personal relationship with the President and membership at his country club as leverage to exert personal influence over health care, technology, personnel, and other key decisions at the Department of Veterans Affairs,” said Senator Warren. “The VA must make decisions based only on the best interests of veterans – not on the whims of private individuals with special access to the President. This is another example of why Congress needs to act on behalf of the American people and wipe out corruption and cronyism. I thank GAO for its thorough investigation of this matter.”

The GAO’s report confirmed the following, based on a review that identified hundreds of phone calls and emails between Perlmutter, Moskowitz, or Sherman and key VA officials:

  • The trio often “acted as advisors by making recommendations” on a number of key VA initiatives, and “created a ‘shadow reporting structure’ in which they were stakeholders without a formal role, creating confusion for some VA staff who recognized the power and influence of the three private citizens but were not given clear guidance on how to handle that power or make decisions under that influence.”
  • Then-VA Secretary David Shulkin “had to ‘bring along’ the three private citizens and get their buy-in on certain decisions… due, in part, to their direct access to the White House.”
  • Input from the trio may have contributed to the “strategic pause” that VA took on the electronic health record system contract negotiation with Cerner, a company that provides health care IT services.
  • VA officials and Mr. Moskowitz exchanged emails about developing a mobile app for a year in which Mr. Moskowitz took a leadership role to organize meetings and make introductions.
  • Moskowitz “participated in weekly meetings to plan a medical device registry summit hosted by VA. Moskowitz also invited his son, Aaron Moskowitz, to join in planning the summit, and they both worked to connect VA to other private citizens to participate in the summit.”
  • Mr. Perlmutter, Chairman of Marvel Entertainment, helped arrange then-Secretary Shulkin’s November 2017 appearance at the New York Stock Exchange, and “arranged for Marvel characters” to be present at the ringing and for a public service announcement that his company worked with Johnson & Johnson and VA on this effort.
  • The trio meddled in key personnel decisions, “suggest(ing) potential candidates for the CIO and Under Secretary for Health positions and that VA attempted to hire one of these potential candidates for the CIO position.”

On August 10, 2018, Senators Warren and Brian Schatz sent a letter to the GAO in the wake of a ProPublica investigation revealing numerous examples of potential ethics abuses and misuse of government resources for private gain. Mr. Perlmutter, the Chairman of Marvel Entertainment, used then-VA Secretary Shulkin to promote his own company.  Dr. Moskowitz reportedly pushed his idea for Apple and the VA to develop an application to help veterans locate medical services, but simultaneously recommended his son – who happened to develop a similar app – to serve as a technical advisor on the proposed project.

In 2018, Senator Warren introduced the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act, the most sweeping set of anti-corruption proposals since Watergate. Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and John Sarbanes (D-Md.) introduced the companion legislation in the House. The legislation would require outside, unpaid advisors to the White House – like Messrs, Perlmutter, Moskowitz, and Sherman – to follow the same ethics rules as government employees and apply those rules to all government employees.  

Senators Urge DOD Not to Use Military to Suppress Nationwide Protests

Yesterday, Senator Mazie K. Hirono and Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), along with 19 of their colleagues, wrote to Department of Defense (DOD) Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley to express their alarm at President Trump’s threat to invoke the Insurrection Act as a response to protests across the country calling for justice and accountability for George Floyd’s murder and an end to police brutality and systemic racism.

Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.)

The letter instructs DOD to answer whether it would deploy combat designated troops; what the mission, scope, and rules would entail for the use of force; if the troops would be authorized to perform arrests; how these troops would be trained and prepared; and whether the Department would deploy federal troops apart from the use of the Insurrection Act.

“President Trump’s behavior over the last three years has repeatedly politicized our Armed Forces and portrayed their mission not as one to protect and defend the Constitution, but rather to protect and defend his political interests,” the Senators wrote. “Those peacefully protesting are not ‘thugs’ or ‘terrorists’ but are individuals exercising their fundamental Constitutional rights. The military should never be weaponized by the President to limit these expressions for liberty and justice. We believe it is antithetical to what those in uniform have sworn to protect and defend, and a serious threat to our democratic system.”

The Senators continued, “This is a critical moment for our nation. How our institutions respond will determine whether the coming weeks and months lead to healing and unity, or continued derision, discord and injustice. We urge you to refrain from using the United States military to diminish or suppress the peaceful, free expression of Americans who are exercising their civil liberties in a call to hold government institutions to a higher standard in the fight for racial justice.” 

In addition to Senators Hirono and Bennet, the letter was also signed by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).

The letter can be read below:

Dear Secretary Esper and General Milley:

We write to express our grave concern regarding President Trump’s recent announcement that he intends to invoke the Insurrection Act to mobilize active duty military personnel or federalize National Guard personnel to deploy within the United States in response to nationwide protests following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Under the Posse Comitatus Act, the U.S. Armed Forces are prohibited from performing law enforcement duties in the United States outside of Constitutional authorization or an act of Congress. Under exigent circumstances, the Insurrection Act of 1807 allows the President to deploy military personnel within U.S. borders in the event of an insurrection, rebellion, or extreme civil unrest. The Insurrection Act, last used in 1992, is an exception to the Posse Comitatus Act that is understood to only be invoked under extreme conditions. We believe the President’s interpretation of the Insurrection Act contravenes its purpose and spirit significantly departs from previous applications throughout our nation’s history. While the first part of the Act (10 U.S.C. §251) allows states to request support from the federal government, other provisions of the Act (10 U.S.C. §252, §253, and §254) allow the President to activate federal troops independent of a state’s request – under specific and limited conditions which are not currently met.

The Act has historically been invoked under these narrower provisions in order to protect equal access to civil rights, as was the case when federal forces protected the desegregation of public schools in Arkansas in 1957 and in Mississippi and Alabama in 1962 and 1963, respectively. Invoking the Act to restrict Americans’ right to freedom of assembly, speech, and protest under current circumstances would be a significant departure from important historical uses of the law.

President Trump’s behavior over the last three years has repeatedly politicized our Armed Forces and portrayed their mission not as one to protect and defend the Constitution, but rather to protect and defend his political interests. We are deeply concerned by your description of the United States, and those exercising their right to protest, as a “battlespace.” America is not a “battlespace” and protestors should never be “dominated” by the government or the military. Those peacefully protesting are not “thugs” or “terrorists” but are individuals exercising their fundamental Constitutional rights. The military should never be weaponized by the President to limit these expressions for liberty and justice. We believe it is antithetical to what those in uniform have sworn to protect and defend, and a serious threat to our democratic system.

Furthermore, General Milley, we are deeply concerned that your appointment to lead the Armed Forces’ response to ongoing protests will further militarize the government’s response. The scope of your leadership role remains unclear and concerning. The appointment of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to manage the response to nationwide domestic protests represents a highly disturbing delegation of authority and injects confusion within the chain of command.

In short, we oppose in the strongest terms the use of the U.S. military to impede the First Amendment rights of Americans. In cases where there is a need for additional security, state and local law enforcement, with support from the state National Guard, who live with and within the communities they serve, under the control of each state, are fully capable of responding.

Given the urgency of this situation and the potential for abuse of the Insurrection Act, we ask that you brief our staff to address the following questions concerning the possible invocation of the Act and use of other military personnel domestically not later than 3:00 pm Friday, June 5, 2020.

1.              Will the Department of Defense (DoD) use Title 10 forces without the invocation of the Insurrection Act?

2.              What is the mission and rules of engagement of any Title 10 servicemember, specifically, Military Police, who have already deployed in response to protests, and how are they coordinating with state and local law enforcement entities? Are they authorized to carry out arrests and other law enforcement activities? Are they authorized to use lethal force? What is their chain of command? What is their relationship to law enforcement entities?

3.              Have any state legislatures requested deployment of the federal troops to “suppress an insurrection” pursuant to 10 U.S.C. §251, or for any other purpose in relation to the protests?

4.              Will DoD deploy federal troops to a state where the state either has not requested military support or expressly states they do not want federal support? In this situation, to whom would these forces report?

5.              In accordance with 10 U.S.C. §252, do current conditions “make it impracticable to enforce the laws of the United States in any State by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings” as required by statute? If so, where and why?

6.              In accordance with 10 U.S.C. §253, do current conditions hinder “the execution of the laws of [a] State and of the United States . . . that any part or class of its people is deprived of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law”? If so, please explain why and provide examples. Further, have any state authorities “[been] unable, fail[ed], or refuse[d] to protect th[ose] right[s], privilege[s], or immunit[ies], or to give that protection?” Alternatively, where do current conditions “oppose[] or obstruct[] the execution of the laws of the United States or impede[] the course of justice under those laws,” as opposed to state law?

7.              Pursuant to 10 U.S.C. §254, will DoD only deploy federal troops following a presidential proclamation ordering people to “disperse and retire peaceably to their abodes within a limited time” before invoking the Insurrection Act, as required by law?

8.              Are there any circumstances in which DoD envisions deploying combat troops (i.e. not Military Police)?

9.              Although we do not believe invoking the Insurrection Act is warranted and believe the deployment of federal forces would be a grave mistake, we remain concerned about the assigned mission and scope in such an event. What are the rules for the use of force for any Title 10 unit that is activated to deploy to respond to protests under the Insurrection Act?

a.              Will the servicemembers receive training concerning protests, riots, implicit bias, contextual sensitivity, and/or restraint?

b.              Will the servicemembers be authorized to use lethal force?

c.              Will they be armed with weapons? Will those weapons carry live rounds? What non-lethal riot control tools will be issued?

d.              What is their designated mission?

e.              Will they be authorized to make arrests, and if so, under what circumstances?

f.               What is their chain of command?

g.              What is their relationship to state and local law enforcement entities?

h.              What will their relationship be to National Guard personnel on State Active Duty orders?

i.               If military personnel are credibly alleged to have used excessive force or engaged in other abuses, will they be subject to civilian law, depending on their chain of command, or the Uniformed Code of Military Justice?

10.           If National Guard personnel are federalized for this mission, will this take resources away from ongoing COVID-19 pandemic response activities?

This is a critical moment for our nation. How our institutions respond will determine whether the coming weeks and months lead to healing and unity, or continued derision, discord and injustice. We urge you to refrain from using the United States military to diminish or suppress the peaceful, free expression of Americans who are exercising their civil liberties in a call to hold government institutions to a higher standard in the fight for racial justice. We believe strongly in a healthy civil-military relationship. The inappropriate use of U.S. federal military personnel in this context could result in irrevocable damage to our nation.

We appreciate your response within the week.

Revolutionary Dry Fog Sanitation Implemented in Correctional Facilities to Prevent Spread of COVID-19

The Department of Public Safety (PSD) has been diligently working on the prevention and mitigation of the spread of the COVID-19 virus in correctional facilities statewide by increasing the sanitation and disinfecting of common “hot spot” areas.  

PC: Department of Public Safety (PSD)

In researching innovative sanitation/disinfecting solutions, PSD’s Hawai‘i Correctional Industries (HCI) recently partnered with Hawai‘i Unified (Hui Restoration), which holds proprietary rights for a patented dry fog sanitation system. The dry fog creates an antimicrobial barrier that continues to kill pathogens such as mold, bacteria, and viruses, including COVID-19, for up to 90 days. The sanitation solution out-performs other disinfectant routines, is non-toxic, is EPA and FDA approved, and does not damage electronic mechanisms. This dry fog method was applied in high traffic areas at the Maui Community Correctional Center (MCCC), O‘ahu Community Correctional Center (OCCC) and the Halawa Correctional Facility (HCF), including inmate intake areas and inside inmate transport vehicles. PSD is in the process of scheduling applications at other facilities statewide. 

PC: Department of Public Safety (PSD)

“We’re just excited to be able to work with the community and help all of our first responders and our correctional systems stay safe from any contagions that could spread,” said Ryno Irwin, CEO of Hawai‘i Unified Industries, LLC. “The fog application settles on surfaces and it’s like a microscopic bed of spikes. If any cells, viruses, mold, or bacteria lands on those surfaces it will pop the cell killing it on contact. This is an approved process, is completely non-toxic and is safe for people and animals.”

In addition, inmates participating in this new HCI workline will receive specialized on-the-job training and a Dry Fog Sanitation Certification from the National Institute of Dry Fog Technology. Other job training skills they will learn through this program include mold inspection and removal, water damage restoration, microbial restoration, and remediation. This is an important re-entry achievement that will help inmates find jobs once released into the community.

PC: Department of Public Safety (PSD)

HCI is offering this service to all county, state and federal government agencies and will then eventually open services to the public.  

“PSD and HCI want to be a part of the successful reopening of the State of Hawai‘i, especially to our government employees, school keiki and tourists, and we believe this innovative sanitation solution is the key,” says Jonah Ka’auwai, HCI Division Administrator. “We are grateful for this partnership with Hawai‘i Unified and for their willingness to teach our inmate work lines this specialized and valuable trade skill.”

Hawai‘i Correctional Industries offers various COVID-19 related products and services including: 

  • Dry-fogging, disinfection, and sanitation
  • Facial masks
  • Modular furniture installation, and counter shields for social distancing
  • Moving and reconfiguring of office spaces for social distancing