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Friday, August 22, 2014

ACLU sues over Hawaii election, Ige pulls out of gubernatorial debate, Abercrombie asks Obama for disaster declaration, fired DOE official sues, regents approve interim UH-Manoa chancellor, new Obamacare vendor, incinerator bidders want more time, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2014 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Hawaii County polling place © 2014 All Hawaii News
A group of Pahoa residents, working with the American Civil Liberties Union in Hawaii, have filed a complaint with the Hawaii Supreme Court, asking the state’s top judges to allow every resident affected by Tropical Storm Iselle to cast a ballot in the primary. West Hawaii Today.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii on Thursday filed a legal challenge to the primary election on behalf of six voters in Puna on Hawaii island who said they were unable to vote because of the damage left by Tropical Storm Iselle. Star-Advertiser.

Big Island voters who were unable to get to the polls because of Tropical Storm Iselle may get an opportunity to cast their ballots if the American Civil Liberties Union prevails in a lawsuit filed with the Hawaii Supreme Court on Thursday. The ACLU of Hawaii levied the complaint against the state on behalf of six Big Island voters, all of whom live in the rural, storm-ravaged Puna district and all of whom were not allowed to vote because they were trapped by fallen trees and power lines. Civil Beat.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii Thursday filed a legal challenge to the primary election with the Hawaii Supreme Court on behalf of voters in the Puna area of the Big Island who couldn’t vote in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Iselle. Hawaii News Now.

A new lawsuit is asking the State Supreme Court to allow people who weren’t able to vote because of the storm to do so in a special election before Sept. 20. KHON2.

The ACLU and a group of Pahoa residents have filed lawsuit over alleged voting rights violations that came as a result of bad legislative practices in the wake of Hurricane Iselle. Hawaii Independent.

A lawsuit was filed in state Supreme Court today challenging the makeup election held on Friday, August 15, for two Hawaiʻi Island precincts that were closed on primary election day due to the impacts of Tropical Cyclone Iselle. Maui Now.

Hawaii’s Democratic candidate for governor has pulled out of the first debate of the general election because of a disagreement with the forum’s organizers about video distribution. Associated Press.

The company that fixed the federal Obamacare health insurance exchange is preparing to replace embattled contractor CGI Group Inc. as the main technology vendor for the faulty Hawaii Health Connector. Star-Advertiser.

Former DOE official sues department. As the Department of Education's chief procurement officer, Andrell Aoki managed over $100 million in contract awards each year. But in March, the Mililani resident said the DOE fired her because she questioned the legality of several multi-million dollar contracts relating to the DOE's "Race to the Top" program. Hawaii News Now.

The Hawaii Environmental Council’s annual strategic planning meeting on Thursday started with weighty discussions of two major problems confronting the state: climate change and invasive species. Civil Beat.

Opinion: Meet Some of Hawaii’s Civic Hackers. Are you digging into campaign finance data? There are apps for that. Here are the local geeks who built them. Civil Beat.

A magnitude 4.1 earthquake woke some residents up early Friday morning. No tsunami was generated. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

Despite calls from University of Hawaii at Manoa students and faculty for the reinstatement of Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple, the Board of Regents unanimously voted Thursday to approve an interim replacement. Robert Bley-Vroman, dean of Manoa's College of Languages, Linguistics and Literature, was named to a one-year term, effective Sept. 1, with a $275,016 salary. Star-Advertiser.

As University of Hawaii president David Lassner and the Board of Regents listened, testifiers vented their frustration over a lack of information on the firing of former Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple. Hawaii News Now.

The sale of Waikiki's largest shopping center in June contributed to a record level of Hawaii commercial real estate purchases during the first half of the year as institutional investors continued a buying binge that took hold last year. Star-Advertiser.

The area around Ala Moana Center has a lot going for it, according to Nate Cherry, a California architect who has created a new vision for the neighborhood through a new Transit Oriented Development plan for Honolulu's rail system that will be presented to the public next week. Pacific Business News.

The stranding of flying gurnard fish in July on various Oahu beaches was prompted by a natural life-cycle event, the Department of Land and Natural Resources said Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii
Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed a request seeking a Presidential Disaster Declaration for federal assistance in recovery efforts following Tropical Storm Iselle. Tribune-Herald.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed a request Thursday for a presidential disaster declaration for individual assistance for Hawaii island to pay for damage caused by Tropical Storm Iselle. Star-Advertiser.

Finalists for a waste-to-energy incinerator at a pre-bid conference Thursday asked county officials for more time to prepare their proposals, but Mayor Billy Kenoi, on a fast track to get a facility on the ground before he leaves office in late 2016, said three months is long enough. West Hawaii Today.

The Konawaena High School library’s doors remain open. Despite a reduction in the librarian position to part time, the facility is open to students over lunch and recess and to groups of students under the supervision of teachers during class times, Principal Shawn Suzuki said. The library is also used for after-school tutoring, he said. West Hawaii Today.

Kauai

Dillon St. Clair doesn’t ride the school bus. His mother is troubled by the logistics of his transportation from their home in Kalaheo to Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School. If the sixth-grader rode the bus, he would be away from home 10 hours every day. Garden Island.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Superferry resurfaces, Aiona leads in gubernatorial poll, economy gaining, Kauai photographer sues Bieber, GMO advocates and foes not disclosing contributions, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Photo by Christopher Becker, courtesy photo
Hawaii Superferry docked in Kauai, photo courtesy Christopher P.  Becker
People are talking ferry again. The first Hawaiian Inter-Island Ferry Conference to explore pros and cons of Hawaiian Inter-Island Ferry systems is scheduled Oct. 6 in Honolulu. Recent online polls showing 80 percent in favor of ferry service prompted the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association, and the Master Mates and Pilots, to organize six speakers at the five-hour town hall meeting. Garden Island.

With the primary election over, it's now a three-way race for governor. And some experts believe the race is closer than recent polls suggest. In the latest Hawaii News Now/Honolulu Star-Advertiser Hawaii Poll, Republican Duke Aiona is the front-runner in a three-way race with 41 percent of the vote, followed by Democrat David Ige with 34 percent and independent Mufi Hannemann with just 15 percent.

Hawaii's economy is expected to grow faster this year than previously forecast after inflation remained mild during the first six months of 2014. The state revised upward its growth forecast on Wednesday and projects Hawaii's inflation-adjusted gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic output, to rise 2.6 percent this year, up from 2.4 percent in its May forecast, according to a quarterly report released by the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. Star-Advertiser.

State economists are expecting 8.3 million visitors to spend $14.9 billion in Hawaii this year, which would set a new record. The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism’s third-quarter report, released Wednesday, revises Hawaii’s economic growth upward. Civil Beat.

Across the islands, 1 out of every 5 Hawaii residents depends on food aid from the Hawaii Foodbank and its network of agencies, a new report reveals. That's well above the national average of 1 in 7 people relying on food banks and feeding programs. Star-Advertiser.

Funding for vacant special-education services positions at public schools could be cut by more than $9 million under a preliminary plan the state Department of Education is working on as it braces for a reduced budget allocation from the state. Star-Advertiser.

Mark Takai and Charles Djou have much in common. They’re middle-aged family men who grew up in Hawaii, serve in the military and have years of experience in elected office. But there are fundamental differences between the two candidates that will help urban Oahu voters decide Nov. 4 who they want to represent them in Congress for the next two years. Civil Beat.

Aircraft facility named after late U.S. Sen. Inouye. KITV4.

Hawaii’s health-care exchange, the Hawaii Health Connector, has taken another blow. Hawaii Medical Service Association, the state’s largest health insurer, won’t participate in the Connector’s Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP, as of January. Hawaii Reporter.

Oahu

The University of Hawaii athletic department says it is targeting a 5 percent cut on operational budget line items in an attempt to help rein in its projected deficit for the current fiscal year. Star-Advertiser.

The state is wading into a touchy turf war that's pitting stand up paddlers against surfers and bodyboarders. A group called Safe-Surf Hawaii is proposing a one year pilot program. The program would ban stand up paddle boarders from all surf breaks between Ala Wai boat harbor to Kewalo Basin. Hawaii News Now.

Organizers bringing a circus to Honolulu say the show will not feature animals as previously planned. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals protested against the Moscow International Circus' plans to include animals during Honolulu shows in October. Associated Press.

Hawaii

A politically connected pumping company will be allowed to keep a baseyard it built in a Hilo neighborhood that’s zoned residential, despite constructing a five-bay industrial warehouse after getting a permit for a single-family home. West Hawaii Today.

While Tropical Storm Iselle apparently didn’t cause any serious injuries, some lower Puna residents think the same cannot be said for the steam release that occurred at Puna Geothermal Venture while they were hunkering down for Iselle’s arrival. The release, which included hydrogen sulfide, occurred the evening of Aug. 7 when the 38-megawatt plant was cut off from transmission lines and shut down. Tribune-Herald.

A total of 260 Hawaii Island residents reported sustaining damage to their homes as a result of Tropical Storm Iselle, according to the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii Electric Light Co. continues to restore electric service to customers who lost power as a result of Tropical Storm Iselle. However, the company said in a prepared statement Wednesday that it could take another two weeks — in some cases, even longer — to restore power to all affected customers. West Hawaii Today.

Unemployment is dropping, while business is increasing, state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism officials said Wednesday. In the department’s third quarter 2014 statistics and economic report, officials said Hawaii Island’s unemployment rate dropped from 7 percent to 6 percent between the first part of 2013 and first quarter of this year. At the same time, Hawaii County had the second-highest increase in building permit values in the first quarter of 2014, a $13.8 million increase, or 16.2 percent. West Hawaii Today.

Things may be looking up for the critically endangered palila, the small songbird with a yellow head found only in the wild on Hawaii island. Star-Advertiser.

Maui
Donations Pour In to Influence GMO Debate, But Are They Being Disclosed? No ballot issue committees have formed to raise money for or against the proposed Maui County GMO ban on the fall ballot, but a lot has been spent on political candidates. Civil Beat.

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa joins his administration in hosting a series of community meetings in September and October to receive public comment on the fiscal year 2015-2016 budget. Maui Now.

Three ranking Maui Police Department officers and three retired police officers from Maui, Honolulu and New York are the six finalists who will be interviewed for the job of Maui County police chief. Maui News.

A special committee tasked with reviewing applications for the Maui police chief vacancy has narrowed the list to six finalists and has released the names of those still in the running. Maui Now.

Former Maui County mayoral candidate Nelson Waikiki Jr. will be out of jail and placed on supervised release again, after police arrested him following a candidate forum at Seabury Hall in July. Maui News.

Kauai

A Kauai photographer is suing Canadian music star Justin Bieber and his bodyguard for assaulting him and destroying his camera at Shipwreck’s Beach in November. Garden Island.




A photographer who says he was assaulted by Justin Bieber's bodyguard on a Hawaii beach last year is suing the pop singer for assault and negligence. Associated Press.

County of Kauai officials are moving ahead with a new waste management program that would charge residents based on how much they throw away, though some have concerns. Garden Island.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hanabusa concedes election, albizia trees targeted for eradication, DOE wants to cut special ed budget, VA listens to vets' healthcare woes, teachers doing well under new evaluations, medical marijuana task force to hit the road, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2014 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Albizia tree felled by Tropical Storm Iselle © 2014 All Hawaii News
One alien tree species — the albizia — has been fingered in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Iselle as the primary culprit for leaving Puna a quagmire of damaged houses, blocked roads, downed power lines and blackouts. But scientists warn the "albizia monster" is not confined to Puna. Rather, stands of this towering, graceful Indonesian native — described as the fastest growing tree in the world — have taken off across the state. Star-Advertiser.

Albizias may be most menacing on Oahu where they loom over major highways. Arborists say the city would look much like Puna if a hurricane were to hit. Hawaii News Now.

Today, Senator Schatz met with Mayor Kenoi’s cabinet, HELCO, State Senator Ruderman, Director of Civil Defense Darryl Oliveira, representatives from the Big Island Invasive Species Council and the U.S. Forest Service, to begin the process of developing a hazard mitigation plan for albizia on the Big Island. Civil Beat.

U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa will not challenge her narrow loss to U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz in court. She conceded the election to Schatz late Tuesday. Civil Beat.

U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa said Tuesday that she will not legally challenge her Democratic primary loss to U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, but the congresswoman urged the state Legislature to look into the election process to ensure every vote counts. Star-Advertiser.

U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa said Tuesday she will not file a legal challenge of her Democratic primary loss to U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz for the seat once held by the late Sen. Daniel Inouye. Tribune-Herald.

Opinion: With less than nine weeks before early voting begins in the general election, it’s looking like former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann’s role in the governor’s race could be reduced to that of the “spoiler,” with the only lingering suspense around the question of whether his losing cause will suck more votes away from David Ige or Duke Aiona. Civil Beat.

The election may be over, but many questions still remain regarding how the office of elections handled the state’s primary. Later this week, the state Elections Commission will take up the issue during a public meeting on Friday. Hawaii Public Radio.

Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago will likely be in the hot seat Friday as the state Elections Commission takes a look back at this month’s primary. The review is hosted following each election, but the commission is expecting to hear an earful of complaints surrounding the response to Tropical Storm Iselle and for the discovery of about 800 misplaced ballots on Maui following voting Aug. 9. Tribune-Herald.

High-ranking U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs officials from Washington, D.C., and Hawaii on Monday heard directly from island veterans about their long list of frustrations that include delays and the high cost of getting VA medical treatment on Oahu. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii veterans complained to U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono on Tuesday about the reams of bureaucracy that often prevent them from getting timely access to health care and other services. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii Health Connector, which was expecting its funding to end on Dec. 31, now says it can continue using federal grant money throughout 2015. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Department of Education officials told school board members Tuesday that they want to cut $9.15 million from the roughly $326 million in general-fund special education spending because of a likely reduction in state tax revenues. The proposed cut represents a 2.8 percent reduction. Civil Beat.

Roughly 1 in 6 Hawaii public school teachers were deemed highly effective for the 2013-14 academic year under the state's newly implemented teacher evaluation system, while most educators were rated as effective. Star-Advertiser.

Despite concerns from some Kauai and statewide teachers about the burden of a teacher effectiveness program implemented during the past school year, results show that the teachers were doing their jobs well under the new program. Garden Island.

On Wednesday, August 20, KHON2 will host a telethon to raise money for the American Red Cross, Hawaii State Chapter.

Oahu

The HPD isn't calling it a ticket quota, but critics say it sure sounds like one. Hawaii News Now has learned that an email was sent to about 20 Honolulu police officers listing how many citations need to be issued.

Some University of Hawaii at Manoa faculty members called for no confidence votes against the Board of Regents and UH President David Lassner Tuesday for their decision to fire UH Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple last month. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu is famous for golden sand beaches and big waves. But the city's warehouse district, called Kakaako, is famous for a different sort of attraction. You won't find kitschy Hawaiian souvenir shops or hordes of tourists here, but you will find a thriving urban arts scene, with colorful street murals so big they stretch across walls and sometimes entire sides of buildings. Associated Press.

A free housing summit will be held Saturday to provide valuable information to military veterans and active duty members on government homeownership programs. Star-Advertiser.

The operators of Hawaii chef and restaurateur Peter Merriman’s Monkeypod Kitchen will take over the Jimmy Buffet’s at the Beachcomber restaurant, which closes at the end of this month, Outrigger Enterprises Group said Tuesday. Pacific Business News.

A dramatic decrease in apparel prices kept Honolulu inflation tame and helped drop the consumer price index below the U.S. rate for the first time in 11 years. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Almost half the state’s 13,115 medical marijuana patients live on Hawaii Island, but it took a request by state Sen. Will Espero for a medical marijuana task force to schedule a public hearing here. Espero, D-Ewa, prevailed upon the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Task Force at its Aug. 12 meeting to include a Hilo meeting in addition to the six scheduled for Oahu. West Hawaii Today.

A state senator is questioning the results of a Hawaii County Council race after the primary election held in storm-damaged areas of the Big Island. State Sen. Russell Ruderman says he plans to file a complaint with the Hawaii Elections Commission at a meeting Friday. Associated Press.

Workers performing a preliminary damage assessment for the Federal Emergency Management Agency completed Tuesday surveying homes in Puna hit hard by Tropical Storm Iselle. However, approval of federal relief could be a week or more away, as FEMA must also perform an assessment of damage to public infrastructure such as roads and bridges. Tribune-Herald.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard says federal officials have wrapped up their assessment of damage on the Big Island from Tropical Storm Iselle and are close to submitting their report to Gov. Neil Abercrombie. Associated Press.

Members of the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd RCT and the Military Intelligence Service ushered guests through an expansive exhibit of photographs and documents at the Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union’s Kaloko branch. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

The 60-unit Hale Kai O Kihei condominium complex would be assessed a fine and administrative costs of $760 and pay for an independent appraisal to use nearly 3,150 square feet on public land. Maui News.

A proposed 31-acre baseyard and light industrial subdivision project in Waikapu received initial approval Tuesday from the Maui County Council. Maui News.

Despite the attention and controversy generated by anti-GMO (genetically modified organisms) activists in the months leading up to the August primary, their candidates gained little traction in the recent primary election. Both locally and statewide, most who opposed GMOs went down to defeat in partisan races or trailed by a wide margin in non-partisan races.Maui Weekly.

Two paragliders were apprehended at Haleakalā National Park today — one for illegally launching and landing in critical endangered species habitat, and the other for attempting to launch, park officials said. Maui Now.

Kauai

Transforming an old sugar cane road in Lawai Valley — one in use for more than 100 years — into a Biodiversity Trail was what Chipper Wichman called an “audacious dream.” For the National Tropical Botanical Garden, however, it was an important one. Garden Island.

County to review Hanapepe Road. Garden Island.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Calls renewed for Election Chief Nago's ouster, University of Hawaii seeks money for sports, huge Hoopili project advances on Oahu, Kauai mulls separate ag research land tax, Puna Iselle recovery slow, 20 want to be Maui's top cop, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2014 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Hawaii Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago © 2014 All Hawaii News
At least two state senators are calling for the dismissal of the chief elections officer over his handling of the postponed election in the storm-ravaged Puna District and the mishandling of a memory card that led to the late discovery of about 800 absentee ballots on Maui. Elections chief Scott Nago will get a chance to discuss both issues, as well as his office's overall performance in the 2014 primary, at a meeting of the state Elections Commission on Friday. Star-Advertiser.

State Office of Elections officials said Monday that a post-election audit showed that a memory card containing the results of 800 mail-in ballots on Maui was inadvertently not fed into the state Office of Elections system. Maui News.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz says he directly thanked President Barack Obama in a phone call for his support during the Democratic primary. Associated Press.

Athletic director Ben Jay is still seeking $3 million in state aid for the University of Hawaii’s cash-strapped sports program, but on Monday evening he backed away from threats of cutting football or other sports if the money isn’t forthcoming. Star-Advertiser.

University of Hawaii at Manoa Athletics Director Ben Jay said Monday that UH athletics programs — including the men's football team — are in jeopardy because of a $1.5 million to $3 million shortfall, and the state Legislature maybe the only remedy, a member of the university's Board of Regents told Pacific Business News.

University of Hawaii athletics director Ben Jay says he needs another $3 million to keep the sports programs going and without a better financial plan the school may have to resort to cutting programs, including the Rainbow Warrior football team. Hawaii News Now.

Just seven years after earning a spot in the storied Sugar Bowl, could the University of Hawaii football team be in danger of elimination? On Monday, UH athletics director Ben Jay revealed to university president David Lassner and the Board of Regents that it could be a possibility if the athletics department does not get help. KHON2.

The Hawaii Department of Education has spent $26 million since 2013 on new Common Core materials that have some teachers worried about instructional flexibility and others nervous about the hasty implementation of a new learning model. Civil Beat.

Oahu

The long-anticipated rezoning request for the huge Hoopili project in West Oahu was submitted to the city Department of Planning and Permitting this month. Project plans call for up to 11,750 homes on 1,289 acres of agricultural land surrounded by Kapolei, Ewa, Waipahu and Kunia. The Hoopili master plan also proposes 3 million square feet of commercial space, five schools and 159 acres of commercial farms. Star-Advertiser.

For Kihei de Silva, the Kawainui-Hamakua Complex Master Plan is a chance to reclaim part of Kailua. The state plan to build pathways and facilities around the marsh in windward Oahu has attracted fierce resistance from many Kailua residents who fear it would open the door to commercializing Hawaii’s largest wetland. Civil Beat.

Hawaii

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard says federal officials have wrapped up their assessment of damage on the Big Island from Tropical Storm Iselle and are close to submitting their report to Gov. Neil Abercrombie. Associated Press.

Hawaii County Civil Defense reports Monday evening that Puna Geothermal Venture’s Pohoiki plant in Puna is in the process of returning to operation after shutting down Aug. 7 as Tropical Storm Iselle approached the Big Island. West Hawaii Today.

A total of 1,419 Hawaii County residents visited the Disaster Assistance and Recovery Centers (DARCs) organized, set up and ran by the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency from Aug. 14 to 15 at the Pahoa Community Center and from Aug. 16 to 17 at the Mountain View Gym. Hawaii News Now.

It’s been 11 days since Kapoho’s Vacationland Hawaii subdivision was devastated by Tropical Storm Iselle, and neighbors there say they need more guidance and help as they continue to clean up their homes and the popular tide pools around them. At a special meeting of the neighborhood association, residents discussed Monday their concerns with government agency representatives from Civil Defense, the state Department of Health, the University of Hawaii at Hilo and others. Tribune-Herald.

A West Hawaii County Council member says council meetings have lost transparency to the public because some council members have been using a parliamentary maneuver to stifle debate. West Hawaii Today.

Kona Pacific is the first public school in Hawaii to offer breakfast in the classroom to all of its students, regardless of their ability to pay. West Hawaii Today.

While this month’s primary election saw three council incumbents sail smoothly into another two-year term, and another two go unchallenged, the political winds were not as favorable for two lawmakers — state Sen. Malama Solomon and state Rep. Faye Hanohano — who both fell to challengers. Tribune-Herald.

A former employee of the county Department of Finance Vehicle Registration and Licensing Division has pleaded not guilty to embezzling from the county. Tribune-Herald.

Maui
Project coordinators say a plan to revitalize Lahaina's harbor area would make it safer and cater to "pedestrians first." Maui News.

The Maui Police Commission received nearly 20 applications from those seeking to become the county’s next police chief. Associated Press.

The Maui Police Commission continues work to narrow the field of applicants, following an Aug. 12 application deadline for the department’s top job. Maui Now.

The Maui Police Department has received its accreditation renewal for another three years from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. Maui News.

Maui County continues to assess damages sustained in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Iselle, as the state works toward compiling a final estimate to be used in determining qualification for federal funding assistance. Maui Now.

Kauai

The Kauai County Council will revisit a bill on Wednesday aimed at taxing the island’s crop research land separate from other agricultural land. Introduced by Councilman Tim Bynum, Bill 2456 would establish “agronomics” as a new and separate real property tax class and exclude lands used primarily for crop research or parent seed production from the county’s definition of “agricultural use.” Garden Island.

More changes could be on the tax horizon. And visitor industry officials and some Kauai residents say that a proposed Kauai County Council bill to establish a new tax class for timeshare properties could have negative consequences on the island’s economy. Garden Island.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Hawaii Health Connector in jeopardy, Charles Djou opens campaign HQ, lots of opinions in election aftermath, Honolulu Mayor Caldwell builds war chest, Waikiki tourism vs. homeless, Desmond Tutu to speak, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Silversword 
The number of ‘ahinahina, or silverswords, at Haleakala Crater has declined by nearly 60 percent over the last two decades, experts said, and scientists are studying the decline. Maui News.

The future of the Hawaii Health Connector is in jeopardy with the impending departure of one of its strongest supporters in Gov. Neil Abercrombie and the decision by the state's largest medical insurer to pull back from the troubled online marketplace. Star-Advertiser.

Republican Charles Djou opened his campaign headquarters on Sunday as he prepares to face Democrat Mark Takai in November. Both candidates are vying for Colleen Hanabusa's Congressional District one seat. Hawaii News Now.

After sailing through the primary election, Republican Charles Djou opened his campaign headquarters on Sunday. He faces Democrat Mark Takai in the race for Hawaii’s First Congressional District. KHON2.

Elections results were the talk of the town Sunday, but low turnout and bad timing had some officials wondering what can be done to improve the process. KITV4.

Opinion: The irony of Neil Abercrombie's blowout loss to David Ige in the Democratic primary is that he was among the few who had successfully rebranded himself throughout his political career.Star-Advertiser.

Opinion: Primary Lessons, General Expectations. Civil Beat.

Dan Inouye and Brian Schatz: A Lesson in Hawaii Politics. Hawaii's newest senator should learn a few things from its oldest. Civil Beat.

A military cargo jet will be named after the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye. Associated Press.

Oahu

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s first term isn’t up until 2016, but that hasn’t stopped him from padding his campaign reserves. Caldwell reported more than $1.4 million in campaign contributions during the current election cycle, which began Nov. 7, 2012, the day after he beat former Hawaii Gov. Ben Cayetano in the general election. Civil Beat.

Waikiki visitor industry officials say they are trying to raise $500,000 annually to work with the Institute for Human Services on alleviating the area's chronic homeless problem, but in the meantime they want the City Council to pass a pair of contentious bills aimed at cleaning up the tourism district. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu Area Rapid Transit director Daniel Grabauskas pledged on his watch, the city’s $5.26 billion Honolulu rail project would come in “on time and on budget.” Hawaii Reporter.

The late Nelson Mandela formed "The Elders" in hopes that internationally respected, independent leaders could help resolve conflict in the "global village," much as wise kupuna in traditional villages did. Three of these elders — Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu and two pioneering women leaders from Pakistan and Norway — are coming to Honolulu from Aug. 29 through 31 to speak about their work and exchange thoughts with local residents. Star-Advertiser.

Marriott International remains committed to Hawaii, following the news this week, first reported by Pacific Business News, that the Maryland-based hospitality company will lose its management contract for the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa at Ko Olina Resort in West Oahu.

Hawaii

Puna: 15 Minutes of Fame on Hawaii’s ‘Last Frontier’ A delayed end to the 2014 primary election put the colorful community in the national spotlight. Now, some people hope the district can capitalize on it. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Island’s real estate market took a bit of a pause this summer, real estate agents say. But overall, the West Hawaii market continues to grow, with the median residential sale price still increasing about 1 percent a month, said Michael Griggs, who keeps detailed real estate statistics for Big Island sales. “For this phase of the cycle, which is a pretty early one, we’re right on track,” Griggs said. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Hawaii Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald is seeking a Maui County resident to be appointed to a vacancy on the Hawaii State Elections Commission. Maui News.

Kauai

It was her first visit to the Lawai International Center on Sunday. And yet, Susan Marigold said there was a sense of peace unlike anywhere else she had been. Garden Island.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Brian Schatz beats Colleen Hanabusa in Hawaii Democratic primary -- 11 media takes on the race

courtesy Big Island for Brian
Brian Schatz celebrates Democratic victory in Hawaii, courtesy Big Island for Brian
U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz held off U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in a turbulent Democratic primary for Senate that concluded Friday after the storm-battered voters of Puna finally had their say. Schatz claimed a 48.5 percent to 47.8 percent victory over Hanabusa. The senator expanded his narrow lead over the congresswoman after the two Puna precincts that cast ballots in an extraordinary makeup vote on Friday at Keonepoko Elementary School and previously undiscovered ballots on Maui were counted. Star-Advertiser.

Incumbent Brian Schatz clinched the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate as the Hawaii Elections Office released results of Friday’s late voting in storm-damaged Puna, plus 800 previously uncounted Maui ballots. Schatz picked up 1,601 votes in results announced Friday, while U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa got 1,467. That gave him 48.5 percent of the vote to Hanabusa’s 47.8 percent. The total vote count as of Friday evening was 115,401 for Schatz to 113,632 for Hanabusa — a difference of just 1,769 votes. Civil Beat.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz claimed victory over challenger U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa after a postponed primary was held for two Puna precincts on Friday. Schatz received 1,326 Puna votes Friday, bringing his statewide total to 115,401 in the Senate Democratic primary. Hanabusa received 1,126 votes from Puna Friday and 113,632 votes in the final count. The tally also included about 800 ballots from Maui that were not transmitted to the state immediately following the Aug. 9 primary. Tribune-Herald.

Incumbent Sen. Brian Schatz beat U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Hawaii late Friday, closing out a tight, emotional race that went into overtime after a tropical storm kept some voters from the polls. Schatz extended his slim lead, gained in voting across the rest of the state, through a makeup election for more than 8,000 voters in two remote precincts that couldn't cast ballots during Saturday's primary because of blocked roads and power outages. Associated Press.

After nearly two years of campaigning, millions of dollars spent and one tropical storm that delayed voting in this easternmost corner of Hawaii for nearly a week, Senator Brian Schatz won the Democratic nomination for his seat on Friday, bringing one of the longest and most acrimonious primary contests in the state’s history to an apparent end. New York Times.

Incumbent U.S. Senator Brian Schatz has narrowly won Hawaii's Democratic U.S. Senate primary. After two special election printouts which included 800 ballots from Maui, Schatz finished with 115,401 votes to Hanabusa's 113,632. Friday's special election was scheduled after Tropical Storm Iselle forced the closure of two Puna precincts on election day last week, while the rest of the state voted. Out of the 6,782 registered Puna voters who could have voted today a little more than 1,500 actually went to the polls. Hawaii News Now.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz was named the Democratic nominee over Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in the Puna Special Election. KITV4.

Despite several setbacks in the primary election process, Sen. Brian Schatz has won the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat. After the first printout Friday night, Schatz received 115,397 votes or 48.5% versus challenger Rep. Colleen Hanabusa’s 113,628 votes or 47.8%. KHON2.

A controversial chapter in Hawaii’s primary election history seemingly came to a close this evening, as Senator Brian Schatz edged out Representative Colleen Hanabusa in a special election held in Puna for residents impacted by some of the worst effects of Hurricane Iselle. Big Island Now.

The HGEA office building on Manono Street in Hilo played the role of Honolulu campaign headquarters for one night, as U.S. Senator Brian Schatz stopped in to celebrate his primary election victory following a special election in Puna. Big Island Video News.

Key races remained unchanged after Friday night’s make-up election for two precincts on Hawaiʻi Island that were impacted by Tropical Cyclone Iselle, and the addition of 800 absentee ballots on Maui that were unaccounted for in Saturday’s Primary. The margin of victory widened for Senator Brian Schatz who held onto the democratic party nomination, with 1,769 votes more than Representative Colleen Hanabusa. Maui Now.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Judge rules against Hanabusa, election to be held today, state's largest health insurer pulls out of small-business Obamacare plan, federal agent Deedy acquitted of murder, geothermal plant denies toxic release, Honolulu council advances bill raising tobacco age to 21, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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State Deputy Attorney General John Molay defends Election Chief Scott Nago © 2014 All Hawaii News
A judge Thursday denied U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa’s request to delay a make-up election Friday in two Puna precincts where the polls were closed in Saturday’s primary election due to damage from Tropical Storm Iselle. Tribune-Herald.

A Hawaii judge upheld the timing of a makeup primary election Thursday for more than 8,000 voters on the Big Island despite a last-minute challenge from a Senate candidate who said residents should have more time to recover from a tropical storm that damaged the area. Associated Press.

The state primary election will conclude Friday as planned, a Hawaii court ruled Thursday. Circuit Court Judge Greg Nakamura in Hilo rejected a motion to postpone the election from U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who trails U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz by 1,635 votes out of roughly 230,000 ballots cast in last Saturday’s Democratic primary. Civil Beat.

After state Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura in Hilo on Thursday rejected a legal challenge by U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, 6,821 voters in Puna will be able to cast ballots at Keonepoko Elementary on Friday and settle Hanabusa's Democratic primary for Senate against U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and a few other close contests. Star-Advertiser.

After a Hilo judge rejected a last-minute challenge from U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who said residents should have more time to recover from Tropical Storm Iselle, the special election will proceed as scheduled. Polls in Puna are set to open at 7 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. on Friday. Results will be announced shortly thereafter. Hawaii News Now.

On the heels of Thursday’s court decision allowing a special election to go forward on Friday in Puna, Congresswoman and candidate for U.S. Senate Colleen Hanabusa expressed disappointment in Judge Greg Nakamura’s ruling. Big Island Video News.

All eyes are on Puna, as voters get ready to close out Hawaii’s Primary Election. KHON2.

Kauai Republican Party Chairman Bob Hickling said he has been following the race between Schatz and Hanabusa but explained that any divisions within the Democratic Party would not have much of an effect for the Republican Party. Garden Island.

The Congressional District One race will be a contest watched nationally because it has a viable Republican candidate.   The days leading up to the General Election, November 4th will be a sprint to the finish and expensive. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii's largest health insurer is pulling out of the small-business side of the state's troubled health exchange, leaving the Hawaii Health Connector with only one insurance company for employers to select. Associated Press.

The Hawaii Medical Service Association reported a second quarter loss of $8.4 million, compared to a loss of $2.3 million during the same quarter of 2013. Hawaii's largest health insurer had blamed a loss of $30.1 in the first quarter on Affordable Care Act fees that came to about $46.1 million. Pacific Business News.

The Hawaii Department of Education has paid nearly $3.5 million since 2012 to a national nonprofit to design and implement mentoring and induction programs for new public school teachers. Civil Beat.

A former University of Hawaii Foundation executive alleges that he was ousted from his job after he accused his supervisor of having a conflict of interest. In a lawsuit filed in state Circuit Court, Alvin Katahara said his former boss, UH Foundation Vice President Janet Bullard, ordered him to make thousands of dollars in payments to a company headed by her husband. Hawaii News Now.

“Until you’ve lost your dignity, you don’t understand homelessness.” That comment from a guest at Thursday night’s Civil Cafe discussion may be true, but it hasn’t stopped many people from trying to find a solution to a hardship that has afflicted thousands of people in Hawaii. Civil Beat.

PRIMM expansion a critical step toward healthy Pacific region. With a bold vision backed by strong science and important cultural leaders in the Pacific, President Obama could create a unique cultural and conservation legacy at the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. Hawaii Independent.

Opinion: Back in 2010, everyone in Hawaii voted for a liberal hippie governor named Neil Abercrombie. Sure, he called a special session of the state legislature to legalize same-sex marriage, but other than that, he might as well have written the definitive playbook for how not to get re-elected in the State of Hawaii. Civil Beat.

The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism released Thursday the 2013 edition of the State of Hawaii Data Book. The resource is available here and may be downloaded in whole or in part as either PDF or Excel files. West Hawaii Today.

Oahu

University of Hawaii President David Lassner plans to tap UH-Manoa's dean for languages, linguistics and literature as interim chancellor of the flagship campus to replace Tom Apple, whom Lassner terminated last month. Star-Advertiser.

A jury Thursday acquitted a federal agent of murder in his second trial for the 2011 shooting death of a man at a Hawaii fast-food restaurant, but they couldn’t reach a verdict on other lesser charges. Associated Press.

Christopher Deedy sat flanked by his attorneys as the jury verdict of not guilty of murder was announced Thursday in Circuit Judge Karen Ahn's courtroom. He showed no outward emotion as Kollin Elderts' family sat in sadness with their heads bowed. Hawaii News Now.

The state jury in the Christopher Deedy retrial found the U.S. State Department special agent not guilty of murder Thursday but was unable to decide whether he is guilty of any other crimes for fatally shooting Kollin Elderts in a Waikiki McDonald's restaurant in 2011. Star-Advertiser.

A bill raising Oahu's legal age for purchasing tobacco and electronic smoking devices to 21 got the first of three necessary approvals by the Honolulu City Council on Wednesday despite some reservations. Star-Advertiser.

Karl and Judith Sinclair are in a bind. Their $1.4 million home in the Norfolk Subdivision off of Kananianaole Highway in south Kailua is a beautiful, sprawling mansion complete with a swimming pool and gazebo spread over 15,548 square feet, and all they want to do is expand their second-floor lanai by 500 feet. There’s just one problem: their home sits on land zoned agricultural and is technically a “farm dwelling,” meaning it should have been limited to a single structure not exceeding 5,000 square feet. Civil Beat.

New construction bids show the costs to build Honolulu's rail transit system are rising sharply -- and local transit leaders remain uncertain whether they'll ultimately be able to deliver the project on budget. Star-Advertiser.

The Navy is adding to its surface-ship firepower at Pearl Harbor with some home-port switches this week. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Two Big Island organizations are questioning why Puna Geothermal Venture operated its power plant in the face of an approaching hurricane, resulting in PGV's release of hydrogen sulfide into a community trapped by downed trees. Star-Advertiser.

Puna Geothermal Venture today released a statement contradicting “reports by commentators” that warned residents of an uncontrolled release of hydrogen sulfide from the plant, and suggested evacuation if any symptoms were experienced. Big Island Now.

Governor Neil Abercrombie today signed a supplementary proclamation to extend the Hawaii’s state of emergency to Oct. 17, 2014. The original emergency proclamation would’ve expired tomorrow, Friday Aug. 15. The governor’s office has not yet publicly released a statement about the extension of the emergency proclamation but is expected to do so on Friday. Maui Now.

By about 3 p.m. Thursday, 250 people had made their way through a Disaster Assistance and Recovery Center set up at the Pahoa Community Center. Representatives from a wide array of county and state agencies were available to field questions and offer help for Puna residents impacted by Tropical Storm Iselle. Tribune-Herald.

Crouched in the shadow of two massive volcanoes, West Hawaii was spared most of the battering effects of Tropical Storm Iselle. But it won’t always be that way, and those who hold to the belief the island will always shelter them are making a mistake, National Weather Service officials say. West Hawaii Today.

Ron Gonzales, who faces off against District 9 incumbent County Councilwoman Margaret Wille in the Nov. 4 General Election, is the subject of two complaints filed with the county clerk this week. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

An estimated $3.99 million was released today for slope stabilization work on the Hāna Highway, and intersection upgrades on the Haleakalā Highway on Maui, Governor Neil Abercrombie announced. Maui Now.

Kauai

The Kauai County Council has approved a request from the Office of the County Attorney for additional funds to defend the new law regulating pesticides and genetically modified organisms. Star-Advertiser.