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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Hawaii Democrats to let Ige, other candidates speak, supporters fret over ukulele bill, Maui bans smoking at parks, beaches, Honolulu bans sweepstakes gambling machines, Kauai mulls golf fees, Hawaii garrison tops in the Army, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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The decision to name the ukulele the state instrument in Hawaii is proving more difficult than some lawmakers expected. Associated Press.

The National Conference of State Legislatures ranked Hawai’i number one for having the most interesting legislative proposal in the country.   It has nothing to do with the state budget … minimum wage increase or proposals to buy conservation land.  The number one topic in the national publication’s monthly magazine has to do with a bill naming Hawai’i’s official musical instrument. Hawaii Public Radio.

The Democratic Party of Hawaii on Tuesday evening reversed course and agreed to allow state Sen. David Ige, who is challenging Gov. Neil Abercrombie in the primary, to speak at the party's state convention in May. Star-Advertiser.

Private school teachers typically make far less than their public school counterparts. That applies nationally as well as locally. The median public school teacher salary in the Aloha State is about $55,300 this year, according to Hawaii Department of Education spokeswoman Dara Young. Meanwhile, for a private school teacher it is roughly $48,700, according to Myra McGovern of the National Association of Independent Schools, an umbrella organization that collects compensation data from member teachers. Civil Beat.

Lawmakers are fast-tracking legislation that would make kindergarten mandatory for 5-year-olds in hopes of giving the state time to run a public education campaign about the change before the school year ends next month. Under Senate Bill 2768, beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, kindergarten attendance would be mandatory for children who are 5 years old on or before July 31 preceding the school year. Hawaii's compulsory education age currently starts at 6. Star-Advertiser.

When the chair of the House Finance Committee dropped key provisions of a bill intended to further limit the legal liability of the state and counties for injuries occurring on public property as long as signs warning of dangerous conditions are property posted, some supporters of the measure responded by accusing Rep. Sylvia Luke of violating the conflict of interest provisions of the state ethics law. Civil Beat.

U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii has received the 2014 Army Community of Excellence Award as the top installation in the Army. Hawaii Reporter.

On Tap at the Hawaii Legislature: April 23. A selective list of bills, resolutions, hearings, briefings, meetings and events for Wednesday at the state Capitol. Civil Beat.

State roundup for April 23. Associated Press.

Oahu

The odds are looking good that sweepstakes gaming machines will be outlawed on Oahu after a Hono­lulu City Council committee Tuesday endorsed a proposed ordinance. Star-Advertiser.

House negotiators on a controversial bill allowing residential development in Kakaako Makai are signaling they may be willing to compromise. Rep. Cindy Evans told Sen. Maile Shimabukuro Tuesday at the State Capitol that the House wants "to move" on Senate Bill 3122 "and that definitely we need to find a solution." Civil Beat.

The 21-year-old woman accused of damaging a 130-year-old glass door at Iolani Palace two months ago entered a plea of not guilty Monday in Circuit Court to criminal property damage and burglary. Drew Paahau is scheduled for trial the week of June 23 before Circuit Judge Rom Trader. Star-Advertiser.

On Tuesday, Forest City Military Communities announced the completion of a decade-long military housing proj­ect to renovate and rebuild about half of the Navy and Marine Corps' more than 6,700 housing units in 36 neighborhoods on Oahu and Kauai as part of just such a public-private venture with the Department of the Navy. Star-Advertiser.

Walgreens plans to open its 19th store in Hawaii in Downtown Honolulu this fall right across from its biggest rival, CVS-owned Longs Drugs, a spokesman for the nation’s largest drugstore chain told Pacific Business News.

Hawaii

State officials are proposing two agreements to settle 11 of the 12 complaints against Dr. John D. Stover for medical and dental work. The pre-petition settlement agreements, filed April 15, will be sent to the state Medical Board and state Board of Dental Examiners for consideration. Tribune-Herald.

Changes to flood zone maps in South Kona could mean elevations of houses as well as insurance premiums. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is in the process of updating flood maps for several areas in Hawaii County, with South Kona and Waikoloa among the most recent areas. South Hilo will also come under FEMA scrutiny in the near future. West Hawaii Today.

Lincoln Ashida, the county’s top civil attorney for the past 13 years, is moving to the private sector. The longtime government lawyer is resigning at the end of the month to join the law firm Torkildson, Katz, Moore, Hetherington & Harris. Big Island Now.

A group of protesters gathered outside of Lincoln Park in downtown Hilo on Tuesday morning, sporting signs that read “Aloha not racism” and “Park for Peace.” Tribune-Herald.

Maui

A bill that effectively bans tobacco use at county parks, beaches and recreational facilities in Maui County, passed second and final reading today in the Maui County Council. Maui Now.

The chairman of the Maui County Council's Budget and Finance Committee is not looking to make any "significant rate changes" or to do any "upheaval" to current real property tax rates - in contrast to Mayor Alan Arakawa's proposed budget calling for an across-the-board 6.5 percent increase in rates. Maui News.

Kauai

It’s been eight months since the County of Kauai began closing Hanamaulu Beach Park at night in an effort to combat excessive vandalism, illegal activity and vagrancy. Garden Island.

For more than eight decades, the County of Kauai-owned Wailua Golf Course has been known as one of the more affordable pastimes on the island. But deciding fees for the golf course could change. The Kauai County Council is expected to decide today whether to put the issue on this year’s ballot for voters to decide. Garden Island.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Raises for Hawaii principals, UH culls presidential candidates, attorneys call Kauai GMO opponents 'eco-terrorists,' hotel workers fight condo conversion, Mauii stream deal reached, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy Earth Justice
Maui stream, courtesy Earthjustice
The state Commission on Water Resource Management has approved a settlement to a decade-long legal dispute that is expected to assure continuous flow of streams in an area of the West Maui Mountains, particularly Iao Stream. Star-Advertiser.

For the first time in more than a century, there will be a steady flow of water from mauka to makai in all four Na Wai Eha streambeds. Maui News.

A decade–long Maui water dispute has been settled. Over the past 10 years, Native Hawaiian and conservation groups have been caught in a legal battle with Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company and Wailuku Water Company over how much water the companies should divert from Na Wai Eha, or The Four Great Waters. These include Iao, Waihee, Waiehu and Waikapu streams. Hawaii Public Radio.

An arbitration panel has awarded annual 4.5 percent pay raises to approximately 850 Department of Education principals, vice principals and other school and district-level educational officers, the Hawaii Government Employees Association announced Monday. Star-Advertiser.

The University of Hawaii presidential committee has completed its work and will send a shortlist of names to the full Board of Regents on April 28, according to a UH news release. Star-Advertiser.

The House and Senate remain apart on what to do with the minimum wage. The House wants it to increase to $10 by 2018 but the Senate wants a $10.10 wage by 2017. The House also wants to increase the tip credit — the amount that businesses like restaurants can deduct from employees who rely on tips — to 75 cents by 2016, while the Senate wants to keep it at 25 cents. Civil Beat.

State Rep. Tom Brower hinted Monday at how the Legislature might amend the law that determines how much hotel tax money each of Hawaii’s four counties receives annually. Brower, one of the co-chairs on a joint House-Senate committee that is working on the bill, said the House is working on one of two possibilities: removing the cap in step increases or raising the cap. Civil Beat.

Parents are pushing the Hawaii Legislature to pass a bill that would require insurance companies to cover treatments for autism, a move opposed by some insurers, who say it could lead to higher costs for people seeking coverage. Associated Press.

House and Senate budget conferees have agreed to a $50 million kickoff of a statewide program to provide financing for photovoltaic and other alternative energy initiatives. It is designed to make clean energy projects available for under-served community members, including low- and moderate-income homeowners and renters and non-profit organizations. Big Island Now.

Hawaii’s healthy citizens owe much to the state’s trailblazing health system and its long history of near-universal health insurance. Tribune.

On Tap at the Hawaii Legislature: April 22. A selective list of bills, resolutions, hearings, briefings and events for Tuesday at the state Capitol. Civil Beat.

Oahu

A Honolulu City Council committee is planning to take up a measure on Tuesday that aims to protect hospitality jobs lost when hotels convert rooms to condos and time shares. Bill 16 would require companies to apply for a permit before transforming more than 20 percent of their hotel rooms to condo or time share units. Civil Beat.

Chinatown has attracted its share of hip restaurants, bars and art houses over the last decade. Now the lure of flexible office space and business support might attract start-up companies and technology entrepreneurs to the area. Star-Advertiser.

Construction of the Honolulu rail system is expected to spark a development boom along the transit corridor running from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center and a key element in the city's emerging transit-oriented development plans is supposed to be affordable housing. Civil Beat.

CBRE Inc. Hawaii, one of the largest commercial real estate firms in the state, is cutting its office space in half at its headquarters in Downtown Honolulu. The “Workplace 360” model, which is currently being constructed in one-half of CBRE’s office at Bishop Square’s Pauahi Tower in Downtown Honolulu, will be a 100 percent free-address environment, where no one has an assigned office or workstation. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii
Prospects are good that a bill will pass this legislative session allowing experimental sustainability communities in Maui and Hawaii counties, following the appointment of a House-Senate conference committee and dismissal of ethics charges against the bill’s sponsor. West Hawaii Today.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced Monday the release of $3.3 million for a new aircraft rescue and firefighting facility (ARFF) at Hilo International Airport. The amount was part of a larger release of $335 million for various airport projects around the state. Associated Press.

Hawaii County officials have asked a federal bankruptcy court to allow them to foreclose on $20 million worth of South Kona land. West Hawaii Today.

Three former Hawaii Community College student government officers say they were voted off the Hilo school's student council after trying to account for an estimated $1.8 million in student fees that have been collected over the past five years. Star-Advertiser.

The Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority is seeking a new lease for the former HGP-A geothermal test site. NELHA Executive Director Greg Barbour said the new lease would not allow for additional geothermal use on the property. Tribune-Herald.

Maui
A total of $305.5 million is being released for the planned Consolidated Car Rental Facility and roadway improvements projects at Kahului Airport on Maui, Governor Neil Abercrombie announced today. Maui Now.

A teenager who stowed away in a wheel well Sunday during a Hawaiian Airlines flight from San Jose, Calif., to Maui was found to be in stable condition at Kahului Airport and was later transported to Honolulu for follow-up medical care, an ambulance company official said. Maui News.

Kauai

Kauai’s biotech seed industry is asking a judge to nullify the county’s pesticide and genetically modified crop ordinance without going to trial. Plaintiffs Syngenta, Pioneer Hi-Bred, Agrigenetics and BASF jointly filed a pair of motions last week seeking summary judgment in their legal challenge of Ordinance 960 (formerly Bill 2491). Garden Island.

County residents can give their two cents on four bills seeking to generate more money for county services and reallocate future tax revenues Wednesday. Of those four proposals which will go before the County Council, three were pitched by Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.’s administration this year and range from increasing landfill tipping fees to modifying county tax allocations for open space projects. Garden Island.

Jeff Davis, known commonly by his radio show host name, “The Solar Guy,” has announced his run for governor as a member of the Libertarian party. Garden Island.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Week of hula in Hilo, revenge porn in lawmakers' sights, stowaway boy survives cross-Pacific wheel-well flight to Maui, counties to learn their share of hotel tax, EMS staff shortage threatens Honolulu, Kauai fights wastewater quality standards, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2014 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Merrie Monarch file photo © 2014 All Hawaii News
About 2,500 witnessed a Sunday midday performance by Halau O Ka Ua Kani Lehua under the direction of kumu hula Johnny Lum Ho. The performance was part of the Merrie Monarch Festival’s Ho‘olaule‘a, the kick-off event for Merrie Monarch week in Hilo. Tribune-Herald.

See this week's full Merrie Monarch schedule here.

There's a juggling act going on at the Hawaii Legislature as lawmakers negotiate the finer details of hundreds of bills. Members of the House and Senate are getting together in conference committees this week to bridge the gaps between their goals. Associated Press.

The counties will likely know Monday afternoon if the state is going to give them millions of dollars in additional hotel tax money. Hawaii lawmakers are scheduled to meet in conference committee to finally decide the issue that has kept local officials guessing all session. Civil Beat.

Legislation designed to protect victims and punish perpetrators of "revenge porn" is making its way through the Hawaii Legislature. House Bill 1750 has advanced in the state Senate and House of Representatives with little opposition. The bill would make it a first-degree violation of privacy to post an image or video of another person either nude or engaging in sexual contact without their consent and with the intent to "substantially harm" that person. Civil Beat.

Money Floods Campaign Coffers in CD1 Race. Civil Beat.

You can trace the genetic makeup of most corn grown in the U.S., and in many other places around the world, to Hawaii. But these same farms have become a flashpoint in a spreading debate over genetic engineering in agriculture. Associated Press.

Hawaii's community college students lag far behind the national average when it comes to timely graduations. Data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that fewer than 13 percent of the students who enrolled in one of Hawaii’s community colleges in 2009 graduated from their programs within three years, the benchmark typically used by the federal government to describe “on-time” graduation.  Civil Beat.

Hawaii hotel rates rose 4.5 percent during the week of April 6-12, while statewide occupancy was relatively flat, according to a report by Hospitality Advisors LLC and STR Inc. Pacific Business News.

Oahu

It’s the first time the Honolulu Emergency Medical Services Division has faced this problem: too many employees calling in sick. EMS couldn’t talk on camera or by phone, but told KHON2 the unexpected staff shortage forced them to temporarily suspend service at four of its 22 units on Oahu.

Honolulu has endured 12 straight weeks of rising gasoline prices, but an industry expert says fuel prices may peak finally in the next two to four weeks before a possible slide back down. Star-Advertiser.

Updated rules should make it easier for the city to maintain and regulate Wai­kiki publication dispensing racks and their enclosures. Bill 67 (2013) was approved 9-0 by the Hono­lulu City Council on Wednesday and signed into law Thursday by Mayor Kirk Caldwell. Star-Advertiser.

On Monday, construction will begin on a 6-foot-high aluminum fence along the Cromwell's seawall to prevent jumping and injuries. Star-Advertiser.

USS Port Royal to remain with Navy. The cruiser will be "laid up" at Pearl Harbor until it is returned to service. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

The U.S. Department of Agriculture in September eased rules prohibiting the export of the avocados to the mainland, allowing farmers here to ship the Sharwils to 32 cold weather states each winter, from November through March. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

A 16-year-old boy who stowed away in the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines jet that traveled from San Jose, Calif., to Maui on Sunday has been released to Child Protective Services and will soon be reunited with his family, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Star-Advertiser.

The FBI says a teenager stowed away on a Hawaiian Airlines flight to Maui from San Jose, California. Hawaii News Now.

A 2nd Circuit judge has granted Maui County a partial summary judgment and a preliminary injunction against Paia businessman Michael Baskin, ruling that he's prohibited from continuing to operate two of his short-term rental properties without required permits. Maui News.

A disabled Maui man who was forced to crawl on his hands and knees by airline workers has reached a legal settlement with the carrier. Baraka Kanaan made national headlines when he sued Delta Airlines last year, alleging that he was twice forced to crawl down the aisle of his plane, down a flight of stairs and onto the tarmac, even though he is partially paralyzed. Hawaii News Now.

Kauai

The County of Kauai is fighting stricter water quality standards at its Wailua Wastewater Treatment Plant, which already has a history of exceeding certain pollutant limitations. Garden Island.

The Elections Division of the Office of the County Clerk will be mailing Yellow Notice of Voter Registration Postcards to all voters on Monday. Also known as the “Yellow Card,” the postcard provides election dates and  information for the upcoming elections. Garden Island.

Molokai

Managing the kitchen at Lanikeha Community Center on Molokai had been the Molokai Community Service Council's kuleana for more than a decade, but the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands turned over the responsibility to another community group last month. Maui News.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Hawaii, Turtle Bay reach conservation deal, salary hikes for Honolulu, Hawaii County officials, minimum wage hike could be delayed, GAO to probe Hawaii Obamacare exchange, police to be barred from sex with prostitutes, Maui County to settle blogger's First Amendment lawsuit, Ethics Commission to investigate nepotism at state hospital, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Oahu Hawaii North Shore
Turtle Bay Resort public domain image
The owner of Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu's North Shore has agreed to sell some of its development rights to the state, the city and a trust for $48.5 million in a deal that will reduce the resort's expansion plan and preserve much undeveloped land. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii state and city officials have reached a $48.5 million deal with Turtle Bay Resort to conserve more than 600 acres of the resort's land that was slated for development. Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced the agreement on Thursday at the Hawaii State Capitol along with Attorney General David Louie, Sen. Clayton Hee, Turtle Bay's CEO Drew Stotesbury, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Honolulu City Council Chairman Ernie Martin, the Trust for Public Land Hawaiian Islands Program Director Lea Hong, and North Shore Community Land Trust Executive Director Douglass Cole. Civil Beat.

North Shore Oahu Hawaii
Turtle Bay Resort public domain image
A $48.5 million deal has been reached to establish a conservation easement on about 666 acres of land at Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu’s North Shore, saving portions of this land from future development forever, Hawaii state officials said Thursday. Pacific Business News.

Turtle Bay Resort is agreeing to protect more than 660 acres of land on Oahu’s North Shore in a deal reached with the state, county and a nonprofit organization. The resort will continue to own and use the land. But it and future owners will be bound by conservation easement restrictions. Associated Press.
Oahu Hawaii North Shore
Turtle Bay Resort public domain image

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced an agreement has been reached between the State of Hawaii, City and County of Honolulu, The Trust for Public Land, and Turtle Bay Resort (TBR) to establish a conservation easement on 665.8 acres of land at Turtle Bay Resort in Kahuku. Hawaii News Now.

There’s been a new development in the battle over land belonging to the Turtle Bay Resort. Governor Neil Abercrombie has announced a deal that would conserve 665 acres of land on Oahu’s North Shore. The $48.5 million agreement establishes a conservation easement, protecting the coastal area from future resort development. Hawaii Public Radio.

State lawmakers in both chambers agree that legal permission for police to have sex with prostitutes should end. House and Senate members are still negotiating on the version of House Bill 1926 they will send to the governor. But they concur that the crime bill should revoke a peculiar exemption that permits police in Hawaii, in the course of their duties, to have sex with prostitutes. Associated Press.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office said Wednesday it will investigate Hawaii Health Connector’s spending of its $204 million federal grant. Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom filed a complaint March 27, asking for the investigation. Hawaii Reporter.

Republican state Sen. Sam Slom said the U.S. Government Accountability Office will investigate the Hawaii Health Connector's use of $204 million in federal grants. Slom complained in March to the GAO, an independent, nonpartisan agency that investigates federal government spending for Congress, that Hawaii had spent more than $80 million on information technology contracts for a faulty website. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii House members put forward a new minimum wage plan Thursday that would allow most employers in the state to take a longer time to increase wages. In the new proposal presented to a conference committee of Senate and House members, employers with fewer than 100 employees — most employers in the state — would not have to pay $10 an hour until 2019, phasing in the increase over five years. Associated Press.

House and Senate lawmakers found common ground Thursday on a few dozen differences between their chambers’ respective versions of the state budget, but it was mostly minor stuff on the second day of hearings in conference. But with an April 25 deadline to iron out a final draft, the pressure will be on the 29-member joint committee to tackle the bigger disagreements when it reconvenes Monday. Civil Beat.

Sen. Clayton Hee wants to see how Gov. Neil Abercrombie feels about requiring some of the most powerful state boards and commissions to start filing public financial disclosure statements.  If Senate Bill 2682 can avoid a veto, Hee said he’s inclined to go along with the House version of the legislation despite its broader reach. Civil Beat.

The state Ethics Commission has agreed to open an investigation into nepotism at the Hawaii State Hospital. A state Senate panel investigating mismanagement and assaults on staff at the Kaneohe psychiatric hospital has documented that at least eight staffers have relatives working at the facility. Star-Advertiser.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is making her first trip to Japan, South Korea and China as a member of Congress. Gabbard, a Democrat, announced Thursday she will be part of a mostly Republican delegation to meet with leaders in the three Asian powerhouse nations. Star-Advertiser.

State roundup for April 18. Associated Press.

Oahu

The Honolulu Salary Commission is proposing 8 percent raises be given to Mayor Kirk Caldwell, City Council members and most department heads starting July 1. Star-Advertiser.

With its court battles behind it, Oahu's elevated rail project is poised to become a concrete-and-steel reality and city officials have launched an effort to show the public the construction that's already happening. Star-Advertiser.

If you change channels between local television newscasts, you may have noticed that some of the broadcasts are identical. The Federal Communications Commission, which has the power to regulate such matters, recently concluded that it is a problem worthy of its attention. A recent FCC decision will prohibit a single company from controlling two or more television stations in the same market, which could signal changes in Hawaii’s TV news market. Civil Beat.

A high ranking Honolulu Police officer has been stripped of his police powers.  Maj. Ryan Borges has turned in his gun and badge while the department investigates harassment complaints from a 33-year-old man. Hawaii News Now.

A study on traffic lights passed second reading and would cost $5.6 million. KHON2 wanted to know why this study would be so expensive and how it would help.

Hawaii

The county Salary Commission has pay hikes in store for county officials who didn’t get raises last year, including the next mayor and County Council. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii Island’s tourism industry has steadily increased over the years, but an increase in hotel prices and air fares could have an adverse effect on the market this year. That was the message David Uchiyama, brand manager and vice president of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, gave at a luncheon with the Japenese Chamber of Commerce Thursday. Tribune-Herald.

EPA official tours Kona reuse site. West Hawaii Today.

An advocacy group for victims of sexual abuse is asking the state Department of Human Services and Catholic Charities to explain how children were continually placed in the care of Jay Ram, accused in a lawsuit of abusing boys he fostered and adopted. Tribune-Herald.

The Leeward Planning Commission is sending a bill requiring subdivision site visits back to the County Council with an unfavorable recommendation, but not before conceding the concept behind the proposal has some value. West Hawaii Today.

Maui
For the first Lanai Planning Commission meeting since the February plane crash that killed two Maui County planning staff members, all county officials from Maui attending Wednesday night's meeting elected to take the ferry to and from Lanai. Maui News.

A Maui County Council committee recommended Wednesday to authorize a settlement of a federal lawsuit in which county administration officials were alleged to have violated an employee's First Amendment right to free speech in a case involving the popular MAUIWatch Facebook page. Maui News.

Maui Fire Chief Jeffrey Murray received a positive evaluation from the Maui County Fire and Public Safety Commission during its annual mandated review, the commission announced today. Maui Now.

Despite having to relocate their businesses to Lahaina and Maalaea harbors after Mala Wharf closed for repairs March 16, boaters and commercial tour operators say business is still "on par." Maui News.

Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. is researching options that could possibly end the need to burn the leaves off its sugar cane crop before harvest. Maui News.

Kauai

Review: Police shooting justified. Following a Kauai Police Department investigation, the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney has concluded its review of the police-involved shooting of Mason Saio on Aug. 16. Garden Island.

Court documents released Wednesday by the state attorney general’s office show a company owned by retired auto dealer James Pflueger has paid $350,000 to the state of Hawaii. The money was part of a controversial plea deal that let’s Pflueger’s company, Pacific 808 Properties LP, and not Pflueger himself, take responsibility for 7 manslaughter charges. Hawaii Reporter. In November 2008, Pflueger was charged with 7 counts of manslaughter and one count of reckless endangerment in the first degree for recklessly causing the deaths of 7 people when his Ka Loko dam breached on March 14, 2006. Hawaii Reporter.

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.