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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Waikiki hotels fight tax hike, Democrats shut out Ige, Micronesians seek benefits, X-Men director accused of sex abuse, H-1 construction ahead of schedule, Maui seeks water solution, vendors vie for waste contract, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2014 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Waikiki beach © 2014 All Hawaii News
Waikiki hotel and resort officials say they oppose the idea that their tax rate will rise next year when rates for most other property owners will not. Star-Advertiser.

State Sen. David Ige said Wednesday that he is disappointed he will not get a speaking role at the state Democratic convention in May while Gov. Neil Abercrombie will be able to address the delegates. Convention planners have decided that only the party's top eight elected officials — including Abercrombie — will get to speak about progress on the party's platform during the two-day event at the Sheraton Waikiki.  Star-Advertiser.

Al Gore might have brought 9,000 people to their feet Tuesday night, but it’s U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz who took center stage during this week’s sustainability conference at the University of Hawaii. Schatz is locked in a tight primary race with U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, which makes it hard to leave election politics out of any decision he makes even if it is, as he says, for the betterment of Hawaii. Civil Beat.

State Rep. Mark Takai leverages his military experience in the first TV ad to come from the crowded field of Democratic candidates vying for the open 1st Congressional District seat. Civil Beat.

Stanley Chang, running for Congressional District 1, spoke today on the need for millionaires to carry a higher tax burden. Hawaii Independent.

Micronesian community members marched from Kalihi to the federal building in Honolulu on Wednesday to rally for migrant health care and ask Hawaii's congressional delegation to redouble its efforts to reinstate Medicaid payments. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled earlier this month that the state has no obligation to offer paid health care benefits to Micronesian migrants covered under the Compact of Free Association, which allows Palau, Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia citizens to live and work in the United States. Star-Advertiser.

The State’s Affordable Care Act Insurance Portal, the Hawai’i Health Connector, needs more money to stay in business next year. Hawaii Public Radio.

Electricity rates in Hawaii remain by far the highest in the nation. And among the products used to generate electricity in the state, oil remains the undisputed leader. Civil Beat.

A former child model and aspiring actor is accusing “X-Men” franchise director Bryan Singer of sexually abusing him as a teenager in a federal lawsuit filed in Hawaii. Associated Press.

A former child model and aspiring actor is accusing "X-Men" franchise director Bryan Singer of sexually abusing him as a teenager in a federal lawsuit filed in Hawaii. The lawsuit filed Wednesday says the prominent director of the forthcoming "X-Men: Days of Future Past" forced Michael Egan III into sex during parties in California and Hawaii when he was 17 in the late 1990s. Star-Advertiser.

Dozens of seniors participated in Kupuna Power Day at the State Capitol Wednesday morning. KITV4.

Every few years, lawmakers and their staffers come and go -- but one smiling face at the State Capitol has been a constant for nearly two decades.  60-year old Cheryl Derby has been volunteering in State Representative Mark Takai's office since 1999. Hawaii News Now.

On Tap at the Hawaii Legislature: April 17. A selective list of bills, resolutions, hearings, briefings and events for Thursday at the state Capitol. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Representatives of more than two dozen nonprofits appeared at a Honolulu City Council hearing on Wednesday to cheer on a budget proposal that would restore about $1.2 million in funding to such organizations after the money was cut during last year's budget negotiations. Civil Beat.

Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent to fix Oahu’s roads and sewer lines, but lawmakers are asking to spend taxpayers’ money in other ways, including studying climate change and its effects on Hawaii. For that, Honolulu City Council Chairman Ernie Martin is asking for $2 million in the budget. The request passed a second reading late Wednesday afternoon. KHON2.

The state has agreed to settle three lawsuits filed by parents who alleged "cruel and unusual punishment" and abuse of their daughters, special education students, at the hands of Kipapa Elementary School employees. Star-Advertiser.

After months of dealing with heavy construction along the H-1 between the Likelike highway and Ward Avenue, Honolulu motorists received good news Wednesday. The extensive rehabilitation project is two months ahead of schedule and on budget.  Its set to finish in July at a cost of $42 million. Hawaii News Now.

The ambitious redevelopment plans for the former Kam Drive-In site across from Pearlridge Center won final approval Wednesday from the Honolulu City Council. Star-Advertiser.

Kapio News, the newspaper run by students at Kapiolani Community College, is printing its final issue at the end of this month. The school administration made the decision to shutter the paper because it wants to “move Kapio in a new direction.” Civil Beat.

Hawaii
Eight companies submitted bids to build a waste reduction facility by the Tuesday deadline. The county at first refused to provide the number of bidders, but provided the information Wednesday evening after the newspaper made repeated calls to county officials and the state Office of Information Practices. West Hawaii Today.

The Big Island’s new resident physician training program run by Hilo Medical Center is expecting to hear by the end of the week whether or not the $2.8 million in state funding it needs to run the program will come through or not. Pacific Business News.

The Hawaii state Judiciary says a Hilo lawyer has been appointed as a family court judge on the Big Island. Court officials said Wednesday that Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald appointed Henry Nakamoto as judge of Third Circuit Family Court. Associated Press.

Real estate sales are increasing in the Puna district and decreasing in South Hilo for the first quarter of 2014. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

At least two main ideas vied Tuesday night as ways for Maui County to raise the millions of dollars needed over the next 20 years for water system improvements, with the most costly being for waterlines, pumps and reservoirs to supply water to drought-plagued Upcountry residents, farmers and ranchers. Maui News.

Maui County Council members expressed dismay Tuesday morning when Fire Chief Jeff Murray asked for a delay until July 2015 for the long-anticipated transfer of beach lifeguards to the Maui Fire Department. Maui News.

A bill in the state Legislature that could assist with the financing of a long-awaited West Maui hospital is currently in a state House-Senate conference committee awaiting scheduling, Maui legislators said this week. Maui News.

Kauai

It’s back to the drawing board, again. The state Department of Transportation will be looking at several options over the next year aimed at relieving traffic congestion on Kuhio Highway, including one to open the Pouli Road connection to the Kapaa Bypass Road — re-addressing a problem officials have been trying to solve for at least 20 years. Garden Island.

A year behind schedule, the state is set to tackle the issue of drifting beach sand at the Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor in Kekaha. The upcoming project, initially slated to begin last summer, involves relocating 80,000 cubic yards of beach sand from the east end of Kikiaola Small Boat Harbor to the west side. Garden Island.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Al Gore raises climate awareness in Honolulu, Schatz holds money lead over Hanabusa, Obamacare health exchange extends sign-up deadline, Oahu farm fined for labor practices, Hawaii County kills homeless bill, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Al Gore audience photo courtesy Sen. Brian Schatz
Climate change crowd, Brian Schatz courtesy photo
The man who was almost president graced Honolulu with his presence Tuesday and walked us through a "seminar of sustainability." By turns a university professor, a wry observer, a recovering politician, a joke teller and a Southern preacher, Al Gore fired up an audience of thousands at the Stan Sheriff Center to believe that global warming can be stopped. But it's possible only if each of us does our part. Civil Beat.

photo by Robert Olivier
Al Gore
Al Gore brought his inconvenient truth to Hawaii on Tuesday night, praising local officials for making progress on global warming issues but saying there's more work ahead. Star-Advertiser.

Even though the world faces melting Arctic sea ice, more violent storms and flooding, dying coral reefs, more droughts and wildfires, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer suggested in Honolulu on Tuesday that Americans shouldn't expect great solutions from the nation's capital. Civil Beat.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz preserved his fundraising lead over U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa during the past quarter, but both Democrats saw their donations dip as the competition for campaign money increased nationally. Schatz raised about $601,320 from January through March and has topped $4 million overall, according to his federal campaign finance report. Hanabusa raised about $427,860 during the past quarter and more than $2 million overall, her report shows. Star-Advertiser.

You know it's election season when politicians and political action committees start buying up ads on TV. In the past six months, more than $700,000 has been spent on political TV spots, public records kept by each local TV station show. Much of that has been spent since January, as campaign season kicks into a higher gear ahead of the Aug. 9 primary. Civil Beat.

Help to shape the agenda for the 2014 elections. Hawaii Independent.

Hawaii environmental and cultural groups are raising the alarm about two bills in the Legislature that would make it easier for developers to get projects approved without undergoing the state’s review process for historic buildings. The measures, Senate Bill 2633 and House Bill 1678, limit the definition of “historic property” in state law and specify what types of residences need to go through the review process. Civil Beat.

State lawmakers began deliberations today on the state budget in a joint Senate-House conference committee.   The largest state funding outlay – about one-third of total spending – goes to Hawai’i’s public school system. Hawaii Public Radio.

The Hawaii Health Connector has extended the  initial grace period— which would have ended on Tuesday — given to individuals in need of extra time completing the enrollment application process for health insurance by a couple of weeks to April 30. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii lawmakers are weighing whether insurance companies should be required to cover more treatments for infertility and to update a law that some say discriminates against unmarried women. The resolution (SCR 35) calls on the state auditor to study the social and economic impacts of the fertility-coverage proposal. Associated Press.

Beginning May 1, the cost of a state identification card and the documents required to obtain a driver’s license will increase. KHON2.

Russia's out and China is in. Two years ago it was the other way around. This year's Rim of the Pacific war games in and around Hawaii, from late June to early August, are expected to be among the biggest ever, with 23 nations and 25,000 people, officials said. Star-Advertiser.

On Tap at the Hawaii Legislature:
April 16. A selective list of bills, resolutions, hearings, briefings and events for Wednesday at the state Capitol. Civil Beat.

State briefs for April 16. Associated Press.

Oahu

Fat Law Farm, which distributes herbs and vegetables to Safeway, D. Otani Produce and a number of other stores locally, and is the main exporter of Hawaiian-grown basil to the U.S. mainland and Canada, has been fined nearly a half a million dollars by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour division for its treatment of its Laotian workers. Hawaii Reporter.

The Coast Guard cutter Morgenthau, berthed at Coast Guard Base Sand Island, improperly discharged about 4,600 gallons of wastewater and sewage into Honolulu Harbor, the Coast Guard confirmed Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

The state House on Monday approved a bill that would place new restrictions on the Hawaii Community Development Authority and increase public notice requirements for development projects in burgeoning Kakaako. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

If the county moves ahead with the purchase of more than 1,200 acres of Ka‘u coastline, as the County Council’s Finance Committee recommended Tuesday, it will create the largest beach park in the state, Lehua Lopez-Mau said. West Hawaii Today.

Homeless bill heads back to drawing board. West Hawaii Today.

Not a single Hawaii County resident showed up for Tuesday night’s budget hearing. The Hawaii County Council held the hearing at the West Hawaii Civic Center, with videoconference sites in Hilo, Pahoa and Waimea. Council members adjourned the hearing, the first opportunity county residents had to weigh in on the administration’s proposed budget, within minutes of its 5 p.m. start time. West Hawaii Today.

A Hawaii News Now investigation revealed that Hawaii Community College failed to spend a majority of its student government and activities fees last year, leaving $173,000 leftover, alarming state lawmakers.  Those unspent funds are in addition to $245,000 in publication, recreation and campus center fees for which students said they got little or nothing.

It’s been about 10 years since a Volcano charter school has seen any renovations. But all that is about to change with the recent release of $618,000 to the Friends of Volcano School of Arts &Sciences from Gov. Neil Abercrombie. Tribune-Herald.

A former Big Island man accused of sexually abusing boys he fostered and adopted is shown fleeing a film crew in an online documentary published Monday. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Recent letters to local media criticizing the Maui Humane Society's animal euthanasia practices and urging the organization to hire a new leader with a no-kill philosophy have led some of the nonprofit's board members and supporters to fork out their own money for a public advertisement to address those letters, a board member said Monday. Maui News.

A "Maui County Remembers" memorial fund has been established by Pulama Lana'i to provide financial assistance to the families of those who perished or were injured in the Lana'i plane crash on February 26, 2014. All funds will be allocated to assist crash victims and their families. Hawaii News Now.

Kauai

NASA recently showed off a saucer-shaped Mars entry vehicle in California that is bound for Hawaii for a unique series of test flights starting in June. NASA previously said the Kauai flights will represent the first supersonic parachute tests for re-entry missions in more than 40 years. Star-Advertiser.

A rapid transit hub on Eiwa Street and office spaces in the now vacant Big Save building is what county officials are envisioning for the Lihue Civic Center as plans move ahead to redefine the busy area of town. Garden Island.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lunar eclipse delights Hawaii, court lets groups join Kauai GMO lawsuit, Abercrombie apologizes for Inouye comments, Hawaiian Airlines fined, good government bills die, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2014 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Hawaii lunar eclipse (c) 2014 All Hawaii News
Crowds gather at lunar eclipse viewing parties. KHON2.

Clouds blocked some of Monday's lunar eclipse in Honolulu, but every so often a reddish moon appeared through the clouds as the earth's shadow covered the moon. The eclipse actually began at 6:53 p.m. but wasn't visible until 7:58 p.m. when the earth's shadow began to take a bite out of the moon. Star-Advertiser.

Almost all of the bills to boost government transparency and hold public officials more accountable are dead this legislative session, but a handful have managed to make it to the final days of decision-making. Still, the fate of the measures to reform Hawaii’s lax lobbying laws and shine a broad ray of sunlight on the financial interests of state board and commission members is far from certain.  Civil Beat.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie apologized on Monday for casting doubt on a letter from U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye that urged the governor to name U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa as his successor. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. Abercrombie issues apology for remarks on Sen. Inouye "death bed" letter. KITV4.

A recent Los Angeles Times article quotes Gov. Neil Abercrombie questioning a "dying wish" letter he received from the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, recommending his successor be U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. Hawaii News Now.

Governor Abercrombie said in an interview with Mark Z. Barabak of the L.A. Times that late US Senator Daniel Inouye didn’t have a “dying wish” for his seat to go to Colleen Hanabusa. It would be far stronger for Governor Abercrombie to articulate his reasons for picking Brian Schatz, and say no more about the Inouye letter. Hawaii Independent.

When Should We Take Candidates Seriously? How does Hawaii media decide who are serious candidates, and who are not? Civil Beat.

Reaching Out to Women Voters. In Hawaii's top political races, leading candidates are fighting for the hearts of important primary voters — women. Civil Beat.

Hawaiian Airlines is facing a $547,500 civil fine for operating one of its planes for eight years without properly inspecting certain components that could cause a rapid decompression of the aircraft. Star-Advertiser.

Today is Tax Freedom Day in Hawaii, the day the average taxpayer has earned enough money to pay off all his or her federal, state and local taxes for the year. West Hawaii Today.

On Tap at the Hawaii Legislature: April 15. A selective list of bills, resolutions, hearings, briefings and events for Tuesday at the state Capitol. Civil Beat.

State roundup for April 15. Associated Press.

Oahu

The discovery of asbestos in the flooring of the City Council chambers at Honolulu Hale may have upped the price tag and stalled completion of the historic room's first major face-lift in roughly four decades, but work has begun anew. Star-Advertiser.

A bill that aims to improve management, legislative oversight and public participation of the Hawaii Community Development Authority, which oversees the redevelopment of Kakaako, was sent to Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Monday. Pacific Business News.

Within a month, state agricultural crews will begin eradicating colonies of little fire ants within about a 4-acre area of Waimanalo. During a briefing about little fire ants, state Agriculture Department officials said Monday the colonies, pinpointed by a survey, will be controlled and eradicated in about a year. Star-Advertiser.

The University of Hawaii-Manoa's new recreation center, which opened after 16 months of delays on Friday, is off limits to alumni for now, in spite of initial UH announcements to the contrary. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii
The successful appeal of a Planning Department decision spurred Kona/Ka‘u Councilwoman Brenda Ford to craft a bill requiring a department representative to visit the site of proposed subdivisions. West Hawaii Today.

Supporters of Hilo-based Connections New Century Public Charter School were dealt last week another blow in their long-delayed effort to build a new campus in Kaumana. In a report issued April 7, a hearing officer recommended that Hawaii County’s Windward Planning Commission deny a special permit for Connections to build its school on agricultural land given to it by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Fifty years ago, Seabury Hall opened its doors as an all-girls, Episcopal boarding school tucked away on the rural slopes of Haleakala. Maui News.

Seabury Hall Headmaster Joseph J. Schmidt will retire at the end of the 2014-15 school year after spending two decades at the Olinda campus. Maui News.

Kauai
Four nonprofit organizations were allowed to join Kauai County in defending a new ordinance that regulates pesticide use and genetically modified crops against a federal lawsuit by seed companies challenging its legality. U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren on Monday granted the motion to allow Ka Makani Ho‘opono, the Center for Food Safety, the Pesticide Action Network North America and the Surfrider Foundation to intervene in the suit. Syngenta Seeds, DuPont Pioneer, Agrigenetics Inc., doing business as Dow Agrosciences, and BASF Plant Sciences LP are seeking a permanent injunction against Ordinance 960. Star-Advertiser.

A federal judge is allowing the Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice to intervene as defendants in the legal challenge of Ordinance 960 by Kauai’s four biotech seed corporations. Garden Island.

A federal judge has agreed to allow the Center for Food Safety, Earthjustice and several other organizations to join a lawsuit to defend Kauai County’s restrictions on genetically modified farming. Syngenta and other seed corporations are suing Kauai County over Ordinance 960, formerly Bill 2491, which requires the companies to disclose certain details about their use of pesticides and genetically modified organisms, as well as adhere to pesticide buffer zones around homes, roads, parks and other areas. Civil Beat.

Kauai Fire Department employees, according to budget documents, racked up more than $1.1 million in overtime expenses during the 2013 fiscal year. For next year, fire department officials are seeking a 22 percent bump in those funds, totaling $1.4 million, to cover future overtime costs. Garden Island.

The Kauai County Council Planning Committee will rework a bill that calls for an update and tightening of the setback law for construction on shoreline properties. On June 4, the committee is expected to present proposed revisions to the county's existing law, which establishes the proximity a building can be to the shore. Star-Advertiser.

Lanai

Richard’s Market, one of only a few supermarkets in Lanai City, ceased selling cigarette and tobacco products on Monday in a move mirroring Longs Drugs parent CVS Caremark, citing the right thing to do for its customers as they strive for better health. Pacific Business News.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Al Gore in Hawaii for Tuesday climate conference, Honolulu seeks to curb gambling machines, Kauai GMO law in federal court today, Hawaii County bill targets homeless, Monsanto could pay $3k for polluting Molokai, emergency powers coming to governor, mayors, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2014 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Ka'u freshwater stream meets the sea (c) 2014 All Hawaii News
House, Senate Disagree on Budget to Protect Hawaii's Clean Water Sources. Environmental groups, large landowners, ranchers and developers are calling on the Legislature to spend more money to protect a steady supply of fresh water. Specifically, they want funding for “The Rain Follows the Forest”, a Department of Land and Natural Resources initiative. Civil Beat.

Former Vice President Al Gore and U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer will be in town Tuesday to headline a conference about Hawaii's sustainability, clean energy and smart growth initiatives. Star-Advertiser.

Former Vice President Al Gore and other national environmental leaders will be scuttling around Honolulu this week. But don't expect the glitz and glamour that surrounds most other visiting dignitaries. The relative austerity underscores the theme of the conference: to help build a secure water and energy future for Hawaii in the midst of global warming and threatened natural resources. Civil Beat.

For political and emotional drama, it's hard to top this: U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, the most beloved and respected figure in Hawaii state history, makes a deathbed request to name his successor in Washington. But now Gov. Neil Abercrombie has challenged that much-told narrative, implying that it had been manufactured to pressure him into choosing Colleen Hanabusa. He questioned whether Inouye even wrote the letter, marked "personal" and dispatched just before he died, seeking Hanabusa's appointment. Associated Press.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz sure has good timing. He released a new campaign ad last week saying he finds the pay disparity between men and women to be “outrageous.” Civil Beat.

Hawaii lawmakers will be doing some heavy lifting this week as they meet to tackle the trickiest bills. Both chambers have passed hundreds of measures, but the finer details of many proposals will be hashed out in conference committees, which will begin popping up this week. Associated Press.

Hawaii’s governor and four county mayors may be granted unprecedented emergency powers during a crisis, such as a natural disaster like the 1992 Hurricane Iniki that hit Kauai and Oahu or a terrorist attack. The bill, HB 849, is designed to bring Hawaii’s emergency management plan to federal standards. It renames the state civil defense agency the "Hawaii Emergency Management Agency" and houses it under the state Department of Defense. Hawaii Reporter.

The Hawaiʻi State Senate advanced a list of more than 170 bills ahead of the legislative second crossover deadline, including a measure that would remove the cap on the transient accommodations tax revenues to be distributed to the counties. Maui Now.

A new, multifaceted evaluation system has sparked plenty of controversy since it went into development two years ago. Under the Educator Effectiveness System, teachers are evaluated on a range of rigorous metrics designed to assess the quality of their instruction and its impact on student achievement. To comply with each of five metrics, educators have to devote significant time over the course of the year collecting data, designing and implementing goals and meeting with administrators outside of class, among myriad other requirements. Teachers' performance on all of these requirements will ultimately affect their pay. Civil Beat.

A measure aimed at reducing the threat of identity theft and credit card fraud goes before three state senate committees Monday. Hawaii News Now.

A federal judge is not inclined to dismiss a lawsuit alleging Hawaii discriminates against those with limited English skills by making it difficult for them to obtain a driver’s license. Associated Press.

The value of Hawaii’s seed industry is estimated at $217 million for the 2012-13 season. This preliminary estimate represents an 10 percent decline from the 2011-12 revised estimate of $242 million, which was a record high. This decline is attributed to operating and organizational changes, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service — Pacific Region. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii residents will be treated to two total lunar eclipses this year, the first one Monday night. Roy Gal, assistant astronomer and outreach coordinator at the University of Hawaii at Manoa's Institute for Astronomy, said it is uncommon for Hawaii to get two total lunar eclipses in one year. Star-Advertiser.

On Tap at the Hawaii Legislature: April 14. A selective list of bills, resolutions, hearings, briefings and events for Monday at the state Capitol. Civil Beat.

Oahu

A bill before the Honolulu City Council would make it illegal to own, operate or use a simulated gambling machine on Oahu. Star-Advertiser.

How many years does it take to repair a public restroom? At least one case – at Maunalua Bay in Hawaii Kai - it took the City & County of Honolulu about four years to repair the public restroom facilities. Hawaii Reporter.

It started with a Boys & Girls Club several years ago. Recently, affordable rental housing was added. Next year the first piece of a retail center could be built, followed by a community services and education complex. These projects — planned for nearly two decades in Nanakuli — are helping crystallize a community vision to create a piko, or central gathering place, for residents in a region of Oahu often neglected by public improvement work. Star-Advertiser.

A handful of inmates indicted on charges of being part of a prison gang have waged a hunger strike to protest conditions at Honolulu’s Federal Detention Center. Associated Press.

Crumbling concrete along a walkway of famed Kuhio Beach has some local residents concerned. The walkway is the one behind the statue of Prince Kuhio, and divides the two enclosed swimming areas at Kuhio Beach, which draws thousands of visitors every day. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii

The Hawaii County Council is preparing to tackle an issue that’s generated a great deal of controversy in Honolulu — clearing public areas of possessions owned by homeless people. West Hawaii Today.

The Hawaii County Council’s Finance Committee will discuss purchasing 1,264 acres in Ka‘u for public use Tuesday. The lands mainly run from Mamalahoa Highway to the coastline near Naalehu. Tribune-Herald.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is making one last push to increase participation in its nation-building efforts. With the passing of Act 195 in 2011, OHA and the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission have sought to register Native Hawaiians to allow them to participate in the selection of delegates for a constitutional convention. But participation has been below expectations and the deadline to register has been pushed back several times. Tribune-Herald.

VIDEO: OHA Nation Building Meetings Begin. Keaukaha Hawaiians speaks out. Big Island Video News.

Some Hawaii Island residents are concerned that a dry summer could increase the risk that fires set by lava could eat through the thick forest behind their houses. But Kilauea's sluggish Kahaualea 2 flow, less than two miles from some Puna homes, poses no imminent danger to residents, Hawaii County Civil Defense and community leaders are emphasizing. Star-Advertiser.

If you’re looking for an ultra-ritzy neighborhood in Hawaii, don’t bother with the Big Island. Big Island Now.

Maui

An audit filed with Maui Land & Pineapple's annual report says there is "substantial doubt" the company can continue as a going concern, as the company prepares for its April 23 annual shareholder meeting and a May 1 maturity date approaches on two loans totaling $50 million. Pacific Business News.

While iconic island company Maui Land & Pineapple made strides in reducing its financial liabilities in 2013, a May 1 maturity date on two loans totaling about $50 million looms over the company as an auditor said there is "substantial doubt" about ML&P's ability to continue as a going concern. Maui News.

Maui Electric Co. is asking the Public Utilities Commission to approve a proposed change in what consumers are charged for the utility's "Revenue Balancing Account." Civil Beat.

Kauai
A hearing is scheduled on Monday in Hawaii’s U.S. District Court in the lawsuit filed by Syngenta and other biotech companies challenging Kauai County Ordinance 960. The court will hear oral arguments regarding the pending motion to intervene filed by Center for Food Safety, Surfrider Foundation, Pesticide Action Network North America and Ka Makani Ho‘opono seeking status as intervenor-defendants. The nonprofits, jointly represented by counsel from CFS and Earthjustice, seek an order granting them participation in the lawsuit in order to defend the County of Kauai’s pesticide and GMO disclosure law. Garden Island.

A plan to build the state's first grass-fed dairy, Hawai‘i Dairy Farms, on former Kauai sugar lands has heated up into a big-money battle pitting powerful — and somewhat unlikely — opponents over environmental and economic concerns. Star-Advertiser.

The County of Kauai sees no reason to intervene with Hawaii Dairy Farms’ proposed $17.5 million, 582-acre dairy in Mahaulepu. On Friday, County Engineer Larry Dill responded in writing to concerns voiced by a group of local biologists and residents. The group recently requested that the county step in and reconsider any decisions it has made or permit exemptions it has granted to HDF. Garden Island.

A civil rights lawsuit filed nearly two years ago against the County of Kauai by current Councilman Tim Bynum may be coming to a close soon. The County Council agreed Friday by a 4-2 vote to accept a $290,000 settlement for Bynum that was reached by Everest National Insurance Company, the county’s insurance carrier. Garden Island.

Molokai

Monsanto Co. would pay the state $3,000 to settle a case involving air pollution violations in 2012 at its Molokai operations, according to a proposed settlement. Maui News.

Tagging Kioea: Learning about Molokai’s Rare Shorebirds. Molokai Dispatch.

Friday, April 11, 2014

El Nino predicted, ethics complaint filed over trail liability bill, minimum wage bill goes to conference committee, Kauai group fights dairy, laptop plan falters, Kakaako fight gets personal, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2014 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Hawaii dawn (c) 2014 All Hawaii News
A warm-water mass churning across the tropical Pacific points to the development of El Nino, a periodic phenomenon that typically brings destructive weather across far reaches of the planet, two University of Hawaii scientists warn. Star-Advertiser.

The chances are growing that a weather-altering El Nino will develop in the Pacific Ocean later this year, the U.S. Climate Prediction Center said. Bloomberg.

Climate change is a critical development for anyone living on an island.  On Hawaii Island, it's not just a matter of concern, it's a topic of study.  And that will be highlighted as part of an upcoming television series. Hawaii Public Radio.

Rock climbers, mountain bikers and other outdoors enthusiasts filed an ethics complaint Thursday against a state House lawmaker over changes her committee made changes to a bill that could help expand public access to Hawaii's mountains and trails. Associated Press.

Disagreeing with the wishes of state Senate leaders, senators Thursday opted for conference committee negotiations with the state House over the minimum wage. Star-Advertiser.

A bill to raise Hawaii's minimum wage to $10 an hour by 2018 will go to conference committee after the state Senate decided to disagree with amendments made by the House. Pacific Business News.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has picked Edmund Aczon of the Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters to join the state Land Use Commission, one of the most influential boards managing land use in Hawaii. The Senate Committee on Water and Land will take up his nomination on Monday afternoon. Civil Beat.

The future of a pilot program eyed as a model to eventually put laptops in the hands of all Hawaii public school students and teachers is uncertain now that lawmakers have zeroed out funds to continue supporting the initiative. Star-Advertiser.

EDU committee defends, confirms Don Horner. Concerns raised by the LGBT community and its supporters over Horner's ability to keep his faith out of his job backfire. Hawaii Independent.

On Tap at the Hawaii Legislature: April 11
. A selective list of bills, resolutions, hearings, briefings and events for Friday at the state Capitol. Civil Beat.

State roundup for April 11. Associated Press.

Oahu

In a rare public outburst, state Senate Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria on Thursday lashed out at state House Majority Leader Scott Saiki for implying that a bill that would allow the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs to pursue residential development near the waterfront in Kakaako is dead before conference committee negotiations have started. Star-Advertiser.

The majority leader of the state Senate is upset with the majority leader of the state House of Representatives over a bill regarding residential development in Kakaako. Sen. Brickwood Galuteria said on the Senate floor today that he was "incensed" about Rep. Scott Saiki reportedly saying that Senate Bill 3122 was "dead on arrival," even though the House on Tuesday voted 41-10 in favor of the bill's passage. Civil Beat.

A 21-year-old woman accused of breaking into Iolani Palace in February has been charged with criminal felonies. An Oahu grand jury returned an indictment Thursday charging Drew Paahao with criminal property damage and burglary. Star-Advertiser.

The City of Honolulu is facing tens of thousands of dollars in fines every day it fails to comply with stricter environmental controls at its Kailua Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant. Every day, up to 15 million gallons of treated sewage and other waste is discharged from the plant into the coastal waters off Kailua and Mokapu Peninsula. Civil Beat.

Honolulu city officials are entering the second phase of a cleanup of toxic chemicals at the Waipahu Ash Landfill, which will focus on evaluating the long-term health and environmental risks at the site, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said. Star-Advertiser.

City to roll out nearly 100 Handi-Vans this year. KHON2.

Residents fed up with condition of Wahiawa District Park. Hawaii News Now.

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Drone (c) 2014 All Hawaii News

Hawaii

Pohakuloa Training Area would host drone training flights for up to 12 weeks a year under a proposal to relocate a squadron of the unmanned aircraft from California to Hawaii. Tribune-Herald.

Construction of Hawaii Community College at Palamanui is moving ahead, with the pouring of concrete columns and foundations. This foundation work began last week and is expected to be completed at the end of April by the project’s general contractor F&H Construction, said Thatcher Moats of Hawaii Community College’s external affairs and relations. West Hawaii Today.

If the company is successful in its attempts to raise capital, one day the majority of the electricity on the leeward side of Hawaii Island could be produced by newly founded Parker Ranch subsidiary Paniolo Power Co. Tribune-Herald.

With the help of a new Big Island-based media program, local filmmakers, television producers and other entrepreneurs in the creative industries will now get to develop their projects in Hawaii, rather than having to take them to the mainland. Hawaii News Now.

A Kona woman and her newborn daughter are doing well, three days after roadside delivery by the father, a Hawaii Police Department officer. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

A wall in Pāʻia that was repeatedly vandalized and plagued by weeds, bottles, and trash, was transformed into a mural by youth from Maui Economic Opportunity. Maui Now.

Kauai

A budget proposal by Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. to shift nearly $1 million in future tax revenues for public access and open space initiatives to an emergency fund is causing a stir among some county officials. Garden Island.

The Kauai County Council approved a measure that would let voters decide if county officials and employees may represent private interests before boards, commissions and agencies they are not employed by. Garden Island.

A group of biologists and local residents are calling for the County of Kauai to reconsider allowing Hawaii Dairy Farms to move forward with its proposed $17.5 million, 582-acre dairy in Mahaulepu. Garden Island.

Pflueger's Sentencing for Ka Loko Dam Deaths Delayed Again. Hawaii Reporter.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Dirty tricks in Hawaii Legislature, Democrats fight open primary, 2k acres of Maui farmland could go to bioenergy, state mental hospital under fire, safe harbor for child prostitutes, Obamacare health exchange seeks more money, Pfleuger trial delayed again, developer stymied by graves, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2014 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Hawaii state Capitol (c) 2014 All Hawaii News
A series of bills lawmakers passed in the Hawaii Senate were drafted without giving the public the proper chance to weigh in, following a “gut-and-replace” maneuver scorned by government watchdog groups. Associated Press.

The Democratic Party of Hawaii argues in a new legal filing that there is no important difference between Hawaii's open primary and a California blanket primary that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled was unconstitutional in 2000. The Democratic Party of Hawaii has challenged the state's open primary as a violation of the First Amendment right to free association. The party wants to restrict primaries to party members and voters who publicly choose to affiliate with the party before the elections. Star-Advertiser.

The head of the Hawaii Health Connector told a panel of lawmakers Wednesday that the troubled health exchange will need $4.7 million to be financially sustainable next year. Associated Press.

The Hawaii Health Connector, which has struggled to enroll Hawaii residents in health insurance plans, is proposing to shift a key part of the application process to the state Department of Human Services. Star-Advertiser.

The state Senate has passed a measure that would allow some child prostitutes to go free, in the hopes of sending them to so-called "safe harbors," such as social service agencies. Hawaii News Now.

Sens. Josh Green and Clayton Hee are certain nepotism runs rampant at the Hawaii State Hospital, they’re just looking for more proof. During an investigative committee hearing Wednesday, the senators peppered the hospital’s acting administrator William Elliott with questions about hiring practices and employee relationships at the facility. Civil Beat.

The acting director of the troubled Hawaii State Hospital admitted Wednesday that he lacks the minimum educational qualifications to head the facility and was grilled about charges that managers manipulate the hiring process to unfairly hire some of their relatives. Hawaii News Now.

The state Senate Education Committee unanimously voted Wednesday to recommend retired bank executive Don Horner for a second term on the board overseeing Hawaii public schools, crediting his leadership as chairman for recent strides in student achievement and more accountability within the Department of Education. Star-Advertiser.

The Senate Education Committee got an earful Wednesday about why Don Horner should not be reappointed to a new three-year term as chairman of the Hawaii Board of Education. Civil Beat.

Civil Beat obtained Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s travel records for August, September and October in response to a Uniform Information Practices Act request.

Hawaii state government no longer is failing when it comes to spending transparency. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund’s new report “Following the Money 2014: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data” gives Hawaii a “C” this year. Hawaii Reporter.

On Tap at the Hawaii Legislature: April 10. A selective list of bills, resolutions, hearings, briefings and events for Thursday at the state Capitol. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Honolulu city and rail leaders are in Washington, D.C., this week to discuss the latest on the island's 20-mile transit project with lawmakers and transportation officials. Star-Advertiser.

Three bills designed to significantly increase penalties and stiffen other language against illegal dumping, stockpiling and grading have been introduced by West Oahu City Councilwoman Kymberly Pine to stem a growing environmental problem along the Leeward Coast. Star-Advertiser.

The Palolo Chinese Home has received a $750,000 capital improvement grant from the state of Hawaii on Wednesday to support the fourth phase of the nonprofit’s $25.5 million master plan to build a progressive care complex. Pacific Business News.

King's Village, a retail complex in Waikiki designed to resemble Honolulu around 1900, along with Prince Edward Apartments and Hale Waikiki would be razed to make way for a project's 256-unit condominium hotel, parking deck, retail and office center, and a small park. Star-Advertiser.

Veteran Honolulu editor A. Kam Napier has been named editor-in-chief of Pacific Business News, Publisher Bob Charlet announced Wednesday.

Hawaii

Maile David can keep her position as deputy county clerk while running for the County Council, the Board of Ethics voted Wednesday after hearing about certain “shields” that have been put into place to protect the integrity of the election. West Hawaii Today.

The head of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources visited Honokohau Harbor on Wednesday to make the case that the island is not getting the short end of the stick. West Hawaii Today.

Keauhou Bay isn’t too shallow to accommodate planned expanded use there, several proposed new moorings won’t prevent Keauhou Canoe Club from operating in the bay and the Department of Land and Natural Resources isn’t in violation of Chapter 343, the state statute that requires environmental assessments for state projects. Those were just some of the denials DLNR made in its response to Keauhou Canoe Club’s lawsuit, filed in December, about the department’s plan to add moorings to the bay. West Hawaii Today.

Developers of a proposed timeshare and single-family home development just above Alii Drive say they’re working with families concerned about graves on the site and preparing a revised cultural impact statement before proceeding with their plans. West Hawaii Today.

The state House of Representatives voted in favor of a bill that looks to further implement the University of Hawaii and Hawaii Community College’s aviation programs on Tuesday. Tribune-Herald.

Kona police officer delivers his own baby in squad car. Hawaii News Now.

Maui

A California-based renewable energy company hopes to revitalize about 2,000 acres of West Maui's fallow farm lands to grow a biocrop that could be used to generate electricity while using county wastewater for irrigation. Maui News.

The Maui County Council Budget and Finance Committee is considering deferring the mayor's proposed water service fee increases until it gets more input from the public. Maui News.

A grenade and 12-inch mortar shell, found by a man in his late father's belongings, were disposed of at the Ukumehame Firing Range on Tuesday night by a bomb disposal team in an incident that shutdown the Maui County Service Center, parking lots in the area and part of East Kamehameha Avenue for most of the afternoon and early evening. Maui News.

The public is invited to comment on the Maui Police Department's services and performance as a team of assessors from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies will be visiting Maui County Monday to April 17. Maui News.

Kauai

Big changes, Kauai County officials say, are in store for Hardy Street as contractors fine tune the last details needed to kick off a multi-million dollar project aimed at improving connectivity in the area. Garden Island.

Sentencing has once again been delayed for James Pflueger. The retired car dealer pleaded no contest in July to first-degree reckless endangerment for his role in the deadly 2006 Ka Loko dam disaster on Kauai’s North Shore. Garden Island.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Army to stay in Hawaii, House OKs minimum wage hike, anti-GMO amendment headed to Maui ballot, feds renew $10.7M homeless grant, Schatz, Hanabusa, same but different, state ponders hiker protection after Kauai Kalalau Trail rescue, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Pohakuloa Army training area (c) 2014 All Hawaii News
The Army's presence in the Pacific has grown to 106,000 active-duty soldiers from about 90,000, a nearly 18 percent increase, as the service re-balances in the region while planning drastic cuts elsewhere, officials said. Star-Advertiser.

The state House on Tuesday approved a minimum wage increase, and there were new signs that the state Senate might accept the House draft rather than force conference committee negotiations that could endanger a pay raise for low-income workers. The minimum wage would increase to $10 an hour by January 2018 and the tip credit would expand to 75 cents an hour under the House bill. Star-Advertiser.

Lawmakers have passed a bill that will raise the minimum wage in Hawaii. The House passed the measure Tuesday. Before it goes to the governor to become law, its details will have to be hammered out in conference with the Senate. Associated Press.

The state attorney general said Hawaii will continue to provide health benefits for Micronesian migrants until a lawsuit on the issue is resolved. Attorney General David Louie said Tuesday the migrants will receive uninterrupted access to health benefits while the suit is pending. Star-Advertiser.

In the senatorial contest between U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, it can be challenging to find clear ideological differences. Both are Democrats in a left-leaning state, and their votes tend to align with their party. In terms of their track records in Washington, it can be about a sliver here or a nuance there. But campaigns are often fought — and won — by making the right contrasts. Civil Beat.

LGBT, Church groups mobilize around Horner nomination The BOE chairman's Senate re-appointment confirmation hearing could become a flash point for the first skirmish of the new year between the groups that fought over same-sex marriage in October. Hawaii Independent.

Rebounding from an “F” in government transparency last year, Hawaii this year has attained a “C” grade as the second most improved state in the nation, according to a “Following the Money” study released Tuesday. West Hawaii Today.

Federal housing officials have renewed $10.7 million in grants for 38 Hawaii homeless housing and service programs through the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Continuum of Care Program. The programs deal with a variety of services from street outreach to client assessment to direct housing assistance to homeless individuals and families with children. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii auditor has commended the State Public Charter School Commission for so quickly turning around an education system that lacked serious oversight. In a report the office released Tuesday, the auditor says a 2012 law that re-established charter schools’ governance structure and clarified the lines of accountability shows real promise. Civil Beat.

Teach for America in Hawaii says losing about $1 million in state funding will drastically hamper efforts to train and support teachers in struggling schools that need them the most. Associated Press.

State is pursuing initiatives to keep kids' teeth healthy. The state Health Department's dental hygiene branch was eliminated in 2009 due to budget cuts. Star-Advertiser.

The top 10 University of Hawaii employees make on average almost 13 times more than the bottom 100 workers earn, salary data for 2013 shows. The highest paid position last year was again the football coach. Norm Chow's base salary was $550,000. Civil Beat.

Oahu

An effort to permit residential towers on land owned by the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs in a makai portion of Kaka­ako could be on shaky ground at the Legislature. Star-Advertiser.

Red-shirted sign-wavers rallied at the state Capitol Tuesday, trying to defeat legislation that will allow the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to develop residential buildings in Kakaako Makai. Surfers, fishermen, environmental groups and park users held signs that read "No High Rises!" and "Save Our Kakaako." They later massed in the House of Representatives gallery to listen to lawmakers deliberate over Senate Bill 3122. Civil Beat.

State Health Department officials are investigating the alleged illegal dumping of tons of potentially hazardous materials in Kalaeloa. Investigators with Health Department's hazardous waste branch are testing the corrosiveness of the white powdery substance stored on land owned by the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands near the Kalaeloa Airport. Hawaii News Now.

Instead of being used as a farm and generating rental income for the state, an agricultural plot in Waimanalo has been vacant for six years, prompting complaints from a state senator. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii

The state’s public hospital network says it is in need of emergency funding if it is to maintain its current level of service as Hawaii’s health care safety net. Specifically, administrators of Hawaii Health Systems Corp.’s East Hawaii Region — encompassing four acute and long-term care facilities and 11 clinics on the windward side of the Big Isle — say they expect to come up short this year to the tune of just less than $5 million unless aided by the state. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii County is still a few years away from being able to offer treated water for reuse in landscaping irrigation, Environmental Management Director Bobby Jean Leithead Todd said Tuesday evening. West Hawaii Today.

The state House of Representatives on Tuesday voted in favor of a bill establishing a temporary working group to help the state acquire lands in Waipio Valley. Tribune-Herald.

Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority officials are looking two decades down the road with a draft environmental assessment for several internal connector roads. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

The Sustainable Hawaiian Agriculture for the Keiki and the Aina (SHAKA) Movement submitted more than 9,500 signatures Monday in support of a temporary ban on growing or testing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Maui County, becoming the first citizen's initiative in the county to garner enough signatures to be considered for the ballot. Maui News.

A total of 9,500 signatures were submitted to the county on Monday as part of a petition calling for the suspension of genetically-engineered operations and practices in Maui County. Maui News.

A Maui group says it has submitted more than 9,500 signatures in support of a temporary ban on growing or testing genetically modified organisms in Maui County. The measure will be heard by the Maui County Council if the group, the Sustainable Hawaiian Agriculture for the Keiki and the Aina Movement, has been found to have gathered at least 8,500 valid signatures. Associated Press.

Kauai

Shall the Code of Ethics be amended to allow members of boards and commissions to appear before boards they are not a member of to represent private interests? It’s an issue that voters may take up in this year’s election if the County Council approves a resolution today authorizing the ballot question. Garden Island.

The Kauai Fire Commission on Monday said it would wait for a task force report before deciding whether to support legislation that could dictate when emergency responders could use sirens and lights. Garden Island.

When it comes to closing Kauai’s Kalalau Trail, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources relies exclusively on warnings from the National Weather Service and information from its ranger in Haena. Garden Island.

Kauai’s Kalalau Trail reopened Tuesday, one day day after an exhaustive rescue that involved firefighters flying 121 hikers out of an area near Hanakapiai stream over a two-day period. KHON2.

Oahu native Ho‘omanawanui makes House bid. Garden Island.