Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Honolulu unveils first rail cars; Legislature kills trespassing, crosswalk, media access, smoking in cars bills; dengue and Zika protections advance; Hawaii County Democrats want Roundup ban; Coco Palms developers get money for project; 'Styrofoam' ban looming, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy Office of the Mayor
Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell in new rail cars, courtesy mayor's office
The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation unveiled the first four-car train on the tracks at the rail operation center next to Leeward Community College today. Star-Advertiser.

Local island leaders and rail advocates got a tour Monday of Honolulu’s first public transit train — a transportation option that they’re betting thousands of Oahu commuters will eventually use to avoid daily gridlock heading in and out of town. Star-Advertiser.

Here’s A 360-Degree View Inside Honolulu Rapid Transit’s First Train Car. What does $6.6 billion and counting buy you in Honolulu? This, for a start. Civil Beat.

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation unveiled the city's first train car on Monday at the rail operations center next to Leeward Community College. Pacific Business News.

The media got its first look at the first train for Oahu's rail project. KITV4.

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The Senate leadership plans to kill a bill backed by Gov. David Ige aimed at making it easier for state officials to enforce criminal trespass laws on state land. That’s because senators from Hawaii island expressed constituents’ concerns that the measure targeted protesters of the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope project. Star-Advertiser.

Among the many bills that died Friday, the last day of conference committee at the Hawaii Legislature, was a measure that would have forbidden smoking in a motor vehicle when people under 18 are present. Civil Beat.

The state legislature will have marathon floor sessions Tuesday to pass bills on final reading before adjournment May 5th. These bills include the executive budget and a few controversial measures. Hawaii Public Radio.

Gov. David Ige joined U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono on Monday in urging the release of emergency federal funding that could bring hundreds of thousands of dollars to Hawaii to prevent a major Zika virus outbreak. Star-Advertiser.

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono and Hawaii Gov. David Ige joined forces on Monday to continue the fight against the mosquito-borne Zika virus. Civil Beat.

Rep. Gregg Takayama's legislation, House Bill 1344, would have allowed journalists and newscasters to cover a hazardous situation, including accessing areas closed by emergency order from the governor or county mayors. But Takayama’s conference committee counterpart, Sen. Clarence Nishihara, told him Friday that the bill would be deferred — that is, killed. Civil Beat.

Airbnb visitors spent more per day than guests of any other accommodations category in Hawaii, a total of $353 million last year, according to an economic impact study conducted by Hospitality Advisors LLC on behalf of Airbnb. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii lawmakers have advanced a bill that would allow online brokers such as Airbnb to collect taxes on behalf of people advertising private rentals on the websites, but they removed part of the proposal that would have targeted illegal camping ads by requiring online brokers to verify the legality of their listings. Associated Press.

Hawaii may waste less food per person than any other U.S. state; but we still wind up throwing out, or wasting, about a quarter of our food supply, according to a recent research report. Civil Beat.

A rare seabird whose population was wiped out of Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands is now hatching healthy chicks on the atoll. Associated Press.

Oahu

Open-government supporters say the Honolulu Ethics Commission is in shambles. There are critical staff shortages and a board keeping close watch on its executive director. KHON2.

The University of Hawaii Sold Three Marine Mammals To Sea Life Park Without A Permit. More than seven months after the transfer, state officials retroactively granted the required permit. Civil Beat.

The president and CEO of Honolulu's Bishop Museum is resigning amid a state investigation into whether he illegally gave himself a loan of more than $14,000. Associated Press.

As graduation approaches for local high school students, transgender advocates are pushing the Hawaii Department of Education for policies to prevent incidents such as one last year in which a transgender student at Kahuku High School said she wasn’t allowed to  participate in her graduation ceremony. Civil Beat.

Proposals aimed at creating a dedicated fund for the Honolulu Zoo and kick-starting development of a multistory parking structure are scheduled for votes at the City Council’s monthly meeting Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

Authorities struggle to curb drag racing at historic Ewa Field. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu City Council is considering approving a $1 million settlement in a case involving a 2-year-old boy who was permanently injured during a city-sponsored Easter Egg hunt in 2008. Civil Beat.

A federal jury awarded a 19-year-old woman and her family $810,000 Monday after it found Hawaii's public school system failed to protect her from a classmate's sexual assault in 2012. Hawaii News Now.

A jury has found that Hawaii’s public school system failed to protect a special education student who says she was raped by a classmate. Associated Press.

Hawaii

One County Council member wants to study the use of so-called “Styrofoam” containers on the island, while another council member wants to ban them outright. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii senators have scheduled a last-minute public hearing Wednesday on a proposed resolution that calls on the Department of Land and Natural Resources to “engage in earnest negotiations” for the state to acquire nearly 8,000 acres in south Kona. Civil Beat.

During a party convention on April 30, Hawaii County Democrats passed a resolution to stop Hawaii government from spraying the glyphosate herbicide in public places.Big Island Video News.

Calling in the big guns; National Guard troops assist in dengue fight by removing tires. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Developers of the proposed Hoku Nui Maui community planned on 258-acres in Piʻiholo seek approval for a sustainable agricultural project with components that include affordable housing and a hula hālau. Maui Now.

Environmental Coordinator to Discuss Coqui Frogs, Zika at Kiwanis Meeting. Maui Now.

Jerome "Tiger" Metcalfe, a candidate for the Maui County Council's South Maui residency seat, will be holding a series of events this month and will be accepting donations of canned food for the Maui Food Bank along with campaign donations. Maui News.

In a follow-up to our March 6th MAUIWatch interview with Kai Pelayo, the new Monsanto Maui community affairs director, Pelayo forwarded a 32-page update to the company’s Memorandum of Understanding with the County of Maui for the year 2015. Maui Watch.

A Maui-based program that allows students to study under award-winning local musicians is now in the running for awards of its own. Maui News.

Kauai

Coco Palms developers have secured funding for demolition, representatives reported Monday. Garden Island.

Honolulu-based Coco Palms Hui LLC went before the Kauai County Planning Commission on Monday to present an update on the Coco Palms project. Pacific Business News.

After nearly four months, today marks the re-opening of the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, just in the nick of time for their annual Lighthouse Day celebration. Garden Island.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Schools shortchange local producers, Legislature moves into final week, Kauai mulls vehicle tax hike, Big Island tax burden uneven, Honolulu Zoo rebuilds after accreditation loss, Maui explores new kind of governance, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2016 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Hilo farmers market workers © 2016 All Hawaii News
The “buy fresh, buy local” movement has caught on at high-end restaurants and grocers across the islands, where customers are willing to pay a premium for locally grown fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat. That’s not yet the case in the public schools with their limited food budget, but the Farm to School initiative is gaining momentum. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii lawmakers negotiated final details on dozens of bills ahead of a major legislative deadline, rushing around the capitol and huddling in groups and trying to reach last-minute agreements. Associated Press.

In a frenzied finish to meet a 6 p.m. deadline Friday, Hawaii lawmakers negotiated agreements to pass a slew of bills out of conference committee and on to the full House and Senate for final approval next week. But they also left a lot on the table during an all-day marathon of meetings, and inserted last-minute amendments to effectively make other measures moot. Civil Beat.

It was do or die time Friday for bills that had not yet passed out of conference committees ahead of a vote by the full Legislature on Tuesday. West Hawaii Today.

Certain high-profile contested case appeals, such as the one that set back the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope, could come to a speedier conclusion under a bill nearing its final vote. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii could soon have an independent review board to oversee all police killings and in-custody deaths to determine whether officers should face prosecution, although the board will not be able to force a prosecutor’s hand. Civil Beat.

Brian Schatz has $3 million in cash on hand for his 2016 re-election campaign — a formidable amount, politically speaking. Civil Beat.

The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has taken steps toward acting on 15 of the 20 recommendations made by the state auditor in 2013, but has not actually implemented any of them, according to a follow-up report released Friday. Civil Beat.

Hawaii’s dependency on for-profit prisons on the mainland shows no signs of waning. Within weeks, if not days, the Hawaii Department of Public Safety is expected to award a new contract to continue housing hundreds of the state’s excess prisoners on the mainland for up to five more years. Civil Beat.

The Hawai‘i state health department has named the first eight licensees who will grow and sell medical marijuana. The winning companies now face the challenge of cultivating the product in time for dispensaries to open as early as July 15. Hawaii Public Radio.

Fire forecasters say Hawaii, Alaska and the Southwest will face an increased threat of wildfires this summer. Associated Press.

It’s curtains for Sports Authority. The Englewood, Colo., company will close or sell off its 450 stores nationwide, including eight stores in Hawaii, possibly affecting hundreds of employees in the islands. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

The 42-acre Honolulu Zoo is a tangle of construction, closed exhibits, broken pavement, dirty bathrooms, overgrown landscaping and dog-eared signage. Observers say that’s because years of internal feuding, political wrangling and unstable operations have taken their toll. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums recently pulled the zoo’s accreditation, which could result in the loss of some animals and hamper access to grant money. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu Zoo’s failed application for reaccreditation included internal memos from animal keepers expressing concerns about how shortcomings at the Waikiki attraction were endangering the welfare of its inhabitants. Star-Advertiser.

In a major blow to one of Gov. David Ige’s top legislative priorities, Hawaii lawmakers killed a measure that would have financed the relocation of the crumbling Oahu Community Correctional Center. Civil Beat.

Bishop Museum President Blair Collis Steps Down. The president and CEO of the financially troubled museum was being probed for taking a personal loan from museum funds. Civil Beat.

A Kapolei wood treatment company has been fined $33,750 for producing and selling a mislabeled pesticide on five occasions in 2013 and 2014, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

If West Hawaii property owners feel sticker shock when they open their tax bills, they may have good reason. West Hawaii’s three council districts — home to a third of the island’s roughly 196,000 population — will be shouldering more than two-thirds of the property tax burden this year. West Hawaii Today.

Mayoral candidates Harry Kim, Wally Lau, and Pete Hoffmann give short speeches in Kona during the Hawaii County Democratic Party convention on Saturday. Big Island Video News.

The retired judge who was selected to preside over the upcoming Thirty Meter Telescope contested case hearing is denying allegations that she maintains a bias in favor of the $1.4 billion project. Star-Advertiser.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources says it is responding to complaints over a seawall built on the shore of Hilo’s Lalakea pond. Tribune-Herald.

Democratic Party delegates, alternates, students and observers came together Saturday at Hawaii Community College Palamanui for the Hawaii County Committee Convention. West Hawaii Today.

Governor David Ige addressed the crowd at the Democratic Party of Hawaii County’s annual convention on Saturday, and he dove right into the nation’s political discussion. Big Island Video News.

Maui

The Special Committee on County Governance on Friday afternoon voted to recommend to the Maui County Council a council-manager system of government which would keep an elected mayor. Maui News.

Saying he wants to make way for upcoming changes, Wesley Lo will step down as head of Maui County's three hospitals and its parent regional organization on July 1. Maui News.

The head of Hawaii Health Systems Corp. is stepping down as the collection of Maui County hospitals is transferred to new private operators. Star-Advertiser.

Maui Land & Pineapple is under contract to sell a 304-acre planned workforce housing project in West Maui for $15 million to an undisclosed buyer, according to the company’s first quarter report. Pacific Business News.

The Hoku Nui Maui development proposes to combine market-priced and fast-tracked affordable housing, farming and a hula halau facility for kumu hula Keali'i Reichel's Halau Ke'alaokamaile on 258 acres abutting the intersection of Piiholo Road and Makawao Avenue and mauka of St. Joseph Catholic Church. Maui News.

Alexander & Baldwin has fully restored water to three of the eight streams in East Maui at Wailuanui as promised last month, but full restorations of the other five streams offer some logistical challenges that may take several months to resolve, the general manager of A&B subsidiary Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. said last week. Maui News.

Kauai

A bill that would raise the vehicle weight tax to fund road repairs will be considered by the Kauai County Council Wednesday. Bill No. 2613 was introduced by Councilmember JoAnn Yukimura. Garden Island.

A Hawaii businessman selected Friday to run medical marijuana dispensaries on Kauai is being sued in civil court for allegedly stealing more than $375,000 from a business partner last October. Civil Beat.

The heavy hum of several hundred honeybees got a little louder when John Nelson popped the top of one of six bee boxes at the Pacific Missile Range Facility. Garden Island.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Hawaii Department of Health Announces the Selection of Medical Marijuana Dispensary Licensees (Press Release)

courtesy pixabay commons
Marijuana bud, courtesy pixabay commons
HONOLULU – The Hawaii State Department of Health has selected eight applicants to receive Medical Marijuana Dispensary Licenses. The Department will award three licenses for the City and County of Honolulu, two licenses each for the Counties of Hawaii and Maui, and one dispensary license for the County of Kauai as allowed in Chapter 329D, Hawaii Revised Statutes.

While the announcement of the selected applicants is being made today, selected applicants are required to pay a licensing fee of $75,000 to the Department of Health within seven days of receiving their written notice of selection to be awarded a dispensary license. If the application fee is not timely paid by close of business on the seventh day, the selected applicant will be disqualified, and the Department shall select the next highest scoring applicant for the county, pursuant to section 329D-4(c) HRS, and section 11-850-21(b), HAR.

The applicants that have been selected for dispensary licenses are:

City and County of Honolulu

  • Aloha Green Holdings Inc.
  • Manoa Botanicals LLC
  • TCG Retro Market 1, LLC dba Cure Oahu

County of Hawaii
  • Hawaiian Ethos LLC
  • Lau Ola LLC

County of Maui
  • Maui Wellness Group, LLC
  • Pono Life Sciences Maui, LLC
County of Kauai
  • Green Aloha, Ltd.
“Upon the completion of the selection process and the awarding of licenses, the Department of Health will begin working with the selected licensees to ensure the safety of their products, and the safety of patients and the public,” said State Health Director Dr. Virginia Pressler. “We look forward to improving access to marijuana for registered patients who have medical needs, and increasing educational opportunities for healthcare professionals.”

After receiving more than 60 applications in January, the department conducted a rigorous review and selection process. A four-member selection panel reviewed and scored applications based on thirteen merit criteria, some of which include the ability to operate a business, a plan and timeline for operations, proof of financial stability, ability to comply with security requirements, and capacity to meet patient needs.

A dispensary licensed pursuant to Chapter 329D, HRS, may begin dispensing marijuana no sooner than July 15, 2016, with the approval of the Department of Health.  Each dispensary licensee may operate up to two production centers and two retail dispensing locations within the county they are licensed to serve. Margaret Leong, Supervisor for the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Licensing Program, explained that, “There are many steps the dispensaries will need to take in order to actually start production and dispensing, so we can’t say exactly when the dispensing will begin. But we are excited to start working with the selected licensees on the next steps.”

Pursuant to section 11-850-20, Hawaii Administrative Rules, the Department is holding unselected applications in reserve to offer a license to the next highest scoring applicant if the selected applicants fail to timely pay the required licensing fee.  When all available licenses have been issued, the unselected applications will be removed from the list of reserved applications and the Department will notify all applicants of their status, at which time they will have an opportunity to appeal the denial.  

The department will post a list of the total scores received by applicants upon completion of the awarding of licenses, which is anticipated to be completed within the next two weeks. The scores will be posted at http://health.hawaii.gov/medicalmarijuana/. More information about both the medical marijuana dispensary program and the registry program are located at the website.

Hawaii House and Senate reach $13.7B budget deal, medical marijuana bid winners to be announced today, Alexander & Baldwin to continue diverting Maui stream, Honolulu has world's most expensive bread, 'Peter Boy' parents indicted on Big Island, Honolulu police chief files civil rights case in corruption probe, man arrested in Kauai pregnant monk seal attack, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy House Majority Office
Hawaii Legislature in joint session, courtesy Hawaii House Majority
House and Senate lawmakers reached an agreement Thursday to finalize the overall state budget, including $160.5 million for the Hawaii State Hospital, $17 million for Hawaiian Home Lands and $81 million to more aggressively pay down unfunded liabilities for health benefits promised to public workers. Civil Beat.

State lawmakers have wrapped up negotiations on a $13.7 billion budget for the coming year that includes a financial bailout for Wahiawa General Hospital and $160 million to rebuild much of the Hawaii State Hospital for the mentally ill. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii state lawmakers have approved a state budget that includes $2.5 million for the Wahiawa General Hospital and another $700,000 for the Wahiawa Center for Community Health. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii state lawmakers have agreed to set aside nearly $62 million of this year’s budget to subsidize the construction of rental housing units and $35 million to repair aging public housing units. But Sen. Jill Tokuda and Rep. Sylvia Luke, who lead each chamber’s money committees, said they don’t plan to hold a hearing for a proposal to increase a tax credit for renters, even though Hawaii renters are among the most cost-burdened in the nation. Civil Beat.

Despite a last-minute legal demand to delay the announcement, Hawaii’s Department of Health plans on Friday to announce the eight companies that will receive licenses to grow and sell medical marijuana. Civil Beat.

After Hawaii sought bids last month for a lucrative new contract to house hundreds of its prisoners on the mainland, no rivals stepped up to challenge the state’s current contractor. The Hawaii Department of Public Safety announced Thursday that Nashville, Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America, the largest for-profit prison company in the country, was the sole bidder for the contract. Civil Beat.


State lawmakers are looking to make Hawaii one of only a few states that allow psychologists to prescribe medication in an effort to increase access to mental health services. Associated Press.

Hawaii has the highest rate of residents using solar panels in the nation, and lawmakers want to extend the state’s leadership role by offering incentives or rebates to those who buy batteries to store their renewable energy. Associated Press.

The head of the Native Hawaiian Education Council and an insurance company executive are among five nominees being considered for positions on the Hawaii State Public Charter School Commission. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Honolulu’s chief of police, Louis Kealoha, and his wife Katherine, a deputy prosecutor, are firing back at the city ethics commission, saying they’ve been unfairly targeted for years.  They also say they’re not the only ones, so they’ve filed a federal civil rights complaint. KHON2.

Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, Katherine Kealoha, took to the television Wednesday to proclaim their innocence in a wide-ranging federal grand jury investigation that involves allegations of corruption and abuse of power. Civil Beat.

A bill that would create more incentive for homeowners to apply for second dwellings on a property got a preliminary approval from the City Council Zoning and Planning Committee on Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

So far this year, there have been eight pedestrians killed on O‘ahu’s roads. Advocates say one solution includes revamping streets to make them safer for all users, whether on bike, car or foot. Hawaii Public Radio.

Honolulu has a new claim to fame. It has the most expensive cost of bread in the world, according to expatistan.com. Pacific Business News.

As rail construction makes its way to the city, small businesses owners in Kalihi are bracing themselves. Pre-construction has already begun along Dillingham Boulevard and major construction is set to begin sometime between 2017 and 2018. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii

The battle of the budget is officially over, with House and Senate committees agreeing Thursday on the 2016-17 supplemental funding bill. Here’s how West Hawaii fared. West Hawaii Today.

The parents of Peter Kema Jr., aka “Peter Boy,” are in police custody and have been charged with his murder. Peter Kema Sr., 45, was arrested at 5:31 p.m. Thursday and charged with second-degree murder for the 1997 death of his 6-year-old son. Kema was already in custody at the police cellblock, having been arrested earlier in the afternoon on a charge of driving without a license. Tribune-Herald.

The 19-year-old disappearance of a 6-year-old Big Island boy, who would have turned 25 on Sunday had he lived, will finally be adjudicated. Star-Advertiser.

Around 15 people testified against tuition increases at a roughly two-hour meeting, which was one of 11 held statewide this spring to gather feedback before regents convene next month to make revisions. A second meeting was held at UH-Hilo later in the day. Tribune-Herald.

Big Island Invasive Species Committee collaborates with retail giant to remove night-blooming jasmine and medinilla from garden centers in Hawaii. Big Island Video News.

Maui

On Thursday, House Bill 2501 HD2 SD 2 CD1, or the Maui water rights bill, was approved. The bill allows Alexander & Baldwin Inc. to continue a previously authorized disposition of water rights for three years or until its pending application for water rights is resolved, whichever occurs sooner. KITV4.

The House on Thursday passed a controversial bill that would allow Alexander & Baldwin to retain the rights to the water flowing through dozens of streams in East Maui while administrative and legal challenges to its request for a long-term lease for water are resolved. Star-Advertiser.

The House voted Thursday evening to approve a bill that lets Alexander & Baldwin continue leasing stream water from East Maui, to divert to farmland in Central Maui, where the last sugar mill in Hawaii is soon to close. That sets up House Bill 2501 for its final vote in the Senate on Tuesday. If passed, the bill would then head to Gov. David Ige for his signature. Civil Beat.

Alexander & Baldwin Properties' new residential community in north Kihei is accepting applications for its first neighborhood, which includes up to 170 condominium homes. Maui News.

Kauai

The Kalalau Valley is world renown for its majestic scenery and breathtaking wilderness. Because of that, it’s a nest of illegal camping activity and ground zero for periodic enforcement sweeps by the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement. Garden Island.

A 19-year-old Eleele man was arrested Thursday in connection with an attack on a Hawaiian monk seal at a Kauai beach. Star-Advertiser.

Shylo Akuna was picked up by Department of Land and Natural Resources DOCARE and NOAA Office of Law Enforcement special agents around 2:30 p.m., just two days after a video showing a man harassing a well-known Kauai monk seal named RK30 began circulating the internet. Garden Island.

The trial for the Kauai police officer charged with negligent homicide for allegedly causing the death of a 19-year-old man on Kaumalii Highway has been moved to October. Garden Island.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Inmates to be released early from overcrowded Hawaii jails, pregnant endangered Kauai monk seal attacked on video, dengue fever ebbs, hotel tax unchanged, Honolulu councilmen scrap church funding plan, 1.2M visitors to Maui's Haleakalā National Park last year, council airs rail audit battle, Department of Education drowning in teacher applications, igloos for homeless, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2016 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Hawaii jail exterior © 2016 All Hawaii News
The state correctional system will likely be able to begin releasing misdemeanor criminal offenders in the coming months as a way to ease severe overcrowding in Hawaii jails. House Bill 2391, part of Gov. David Ige’s legislative package, unanimously passed conference committee on Wednesday, a crucial hurdle in the final days of this legislative session. Star-Advertiser.

Loyalists, Dissidents, the Fab Four and the Three Amigos. These four factions, and others within the 51-member Hawaii House of Representatives, form alliances that determine leadership structures, influence what bills become law and affect who wins elections. Civil Beat.

The state Department of Education has been inundated with thousands of applications from people all over the world after bringing attention to Hawaii’s teacher shortage, but officials say it has been frustrating to find that many applicants have little or no teaching experience. Associated Press.

House and Senate lawmakers agreed Wednesday to give the counties $103 million of state hotel tax money for fiscal 2017, which starts July 1. They left the percent each county receives unchanged. Civil Beat.

House and Senate negotiators have agreed to provide the four counties with the same amounts of money in hotel tax revenues as they are receiving this year. Star-Advertiser.

State lawmakers rejected a bill Tuesday that would have allowed the University of Hawaii system to hire members of the Legislature. Star-Advertiser.

A bill garnering support from advocates of both business interests and social services sets a state goal of developing at least 22,500 affordable rental housing units over the next decade. Civil Beat.

Unless state lawmakers change course in the coming days, Hawaii will continue to lag behind the rest of the country when it comes to certain policies and resources provided to ensure the health and safety of residents living in long-term care facilities. Civil Beat.

House and Senate lawmakers agreed Tuesday to sign off on the payment of nearly $11 million to resolve claims against the state. In all, House Bill 2279 appropriates the funds for 23 settlements or judicial orders involving seven departments. Civil Beat.

Let Hawaii Happen, the Hawaii Visitor Convention Bureau’s marketing campaign, has reached 54 percent of frequent U.S. travelers, via paid advertising, website, social media, or direct public relations. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii will recover more than $400,000 from a pharmaceutical products distributor that underpaid Medicaid drug rebates, state Attorney General Doug Chin announced today in a news release. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

Honolulu City Council Chairman Ernie Martin has deleted his budget request for $250,000 to fund the expansion of an evangelical Christian megachurch in Sand Island on Oahu’s south shore. Civil Beat.

Honolulu City Council Chairman Ernie Martin and Councilman Joey Manahan are backing away from New Hope Church Oahu’s request to have the city provide $250,000 in grants- in-aid for its expansion plans at Sand Island. Star-Advertiser.

Despite the political rhetoric surrounding Honolulu’s rail project, all that is certain when it comes to the final price tag: Nobody will know the ultimate cost until at least next January and it could exceed the current $6.6 billion estimate. Civil Beat.

City Auditor Edwin Young has claimed that rail officials tried to intimidate his audit team when they reviewed the rail authority's finances. Hawaii News Now.

The Honolulu City Council’s Budget Committee focused on the Audit of Honolulu’s Rail Transit Project today. Hawaii Public Radio.

Cooler heads prevailed at a council budget meeting. The tone appeared to be more about clearing the air, than being confrontational. KITV4.

A church in Hawaii looking to address the state's ongoing homelessness crisis has settled on a solution that on first look appears better suited for the frigid winters of Alaska than the islands' tropical climate: igloos. Associated Press.

A large solar energy farm planned for Central Oahu that was rejected by Hawaii regulators last year has been officially canceled, according to public documents. Pacific Business News.

Prosecutor Files Complaint Over Police Officer Actions. Honolulu police are investigating whether an officer misrepresented himself in a high-profile manslaughter case to help a local reporter. Civil Beat.

The University of Hawaii says an independent investigation into what caused a laboratory explosion that seriously injured a visiting researcher has been delayed by several weeks. Associated Press.

Residents and local businesses in the Ko Olina area are being asked to conserve water as the city's Department of Environmental Services responds to a water main break at its West Beach Wastewater Pump Station. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii


With more than 30 days past since the last case of dengue fever on the Big Island, state and county officials could have declared “breakbone fever” officially pau. They didn’t. West Hawaii Today.

State officials said that the dengue fever outbreak is not over during a press conference held on Oahu Wednesday, even though the Big Island reached a “significant milestone” with no reports of locally acquired dengue fever in 30 days. Big Island Video News.

With no new cases of dengue fever reported in 30 days, it appears the Hawaii island dengue fever outbreak has come to an end. Star-Advertiser.

State officials celebrated a big milestone on Wednesday in the fight against dengue fever, but said it’s too soon to declare victory in the outbreak — and warned that Hawaii’s real battle may just be beginning. Civil Beat.

The county Department of Environmental Management isn’t exactly flush with cash, thanks to hundreds of people seriously behind on their sewer bills. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

A new National Park Service report shows that 1,216,772 visitors to Haleakalā National Park in 2015 spent over $76 million in communities near the park. Maui Now.

Honopou taro farmer Lynn Scott sees more water flowing down East Maui streams since Alexander & Baldwin announced last week that it was "fully and permanently" restoring water to eight East Maui streams. Maui News.

A scheduling conflict between the first Maui County Carnival and the third annual Vietnam veterans' memorial ceremony has been resolved with carnival organizers deciding to observe "quiet time" during the veterans' ceremony in front of the War Memorial Gym on Saturday evening. Maui News.

Kauai

One of Kauai’s most popular Hawaiian monk seals was attacked on Tuesday night at Salt Pond Beach Park, and a video recording of the scuffle is circulating on social media. Garden Island.

A video posted on social media that shows a man repeatedly punching a pregnant Hawaiian monk seal at a Kauai beach has touched off an investigation by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Star-Advertiser.

The video of a pregnant monk seal being attacked on Kauai has left many people outraged including Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho. KHON2.

A documentary that spotlights problems tied to illegal camping on Kauai’s Na Pali Coast is slated to air on KFVE to educate the public about the need to protect natural and cultural resources, particularly at Kalalau. Star-Advertiser.

Cyndi Ayonon of the Mayor’s Office coordinated the tallying of contributions from county agencies for transport by the Kauai Independent Food Bank toward its Spring Food and Fund Drive. Garden Island.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Hawaii voters could take selfies with ballots under bill passing Legislature, cool schools funding advances, dengue fever over, Maui council mulls $654.5M budget, church v. state for Honolulu council, insurance companies to be barred from transgender discrimination, hotel tax stalemate, geothermal home rule at issue, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2016 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Seniors at Waikiki beach © 2016 All Hawaii News
The state has launched a campaign to inform travelers about a website that provides almost real time updates on surf, weather and safety conditions at beaches across Hawaii. Associated Press.

Editorial: Disappointed? New Warning Signs Soft-Pedal Real Danger. State and tourism officials just don’t want to say anything that could scare tourists — especially when it comes to drowning in Hawaii. Civil Beat.

Hawaii House lawmakers passed a bill Tuesday explicitly supporting a voter’s right to take a selfie showing their marked ballot, even in the voting booth. The bill, which had already cleared the Senate, now heads to Gov. David Ige for his signature. Civil Beat.

House and Senate negotiators appear close to agreeing on proposed legislation to pay for Gov. David Ige’s pledge to cool 1,000 public school classrooms by the end of 2016. Star-Advertiser.

Insurance companies would not be allowed to discriminate against transgender patients under a bill passed Tuesday by the state House of Representatives. Associated Press.

House and Senate lawmakers have a lot of negotiating to do over the next two days if they want to reach an agreement on how much state hotel tax money to give the counties. The Senate version of the bill simply increases the cap to $103 million for fiscal 2017, which starts July 1, up from $93 million. And it preserves the percentage that each county has long received. The House version of the bill blanks out the overall allocation and dramatically changes the percent each county would get. Civil Beat.

Hawaii lawmakers have agreed to give long-term care facilities more money to help them afford to take care of clients on MedicaidCivil Beat.

Hawaii Medical Service Association's new pre-authorization policy has stirred opposition from many Hawaii doctors who say it is delaying critical imaging tests, resulting in harmful consequences for patients. Star-Advertiser.

The U.S. Pacific Fleet commander said he plans to expand the role of the U.S. 3rd Fleet commander and her staff in the Asia-Pacific region. Associated Press.

Hawaii is the only state in which both legislative and executive branches are perceived to be very corrupt. Civil Beat.

A monument honoring Hawaii's fallen law enforcement officers is almost complete after years of delays. Once the construction work is done, Hawaii will no longer be the only state without a memorial honoring county, state, and federal officers killed in the line of duty. Hawaii News Now.

Oahu
Honolulu City Councilmen Ernie Martin and Joey Manahan contend their proposal to subsidize the expansion of a Christian evangelical megachurch in Kalihi will benefit the community, despite criticism that it’s unconstitutional. Martin and Manahan have suggested providing $250,000 of taxpayer funds to help New Hope Oahu’s $10 million capital campaign to renovate and expand its Sand Island headquarters. Civil Beat.

Using public money to pay for new church facilities. According to the latest budget amendments, two city councilmen want to blur the line between church and state. KHON2.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell tried a soft-sell approach with City Council members Tuesday in his latest attempt to gain funding for a proposed eight-person housing development division. Star-Advertiser.

An Ewa Beach campaign for State House is getting ugly. One man is accused of taking down political signs while the other is accused of violence. Now, the courts and police are involved. Hawaii News  Now.

Honolulu Harbor dredged after 17 years. KITV4.

A luxury condominium-hotel in Waikiki will be opening soon. But first, the developer must obtain approvals from the city two years after construction started. Hawaii Public Radio.

A Chinese company that plans to develop a luxury hotel and residential condominium on 23 acres of land in West Oahu is buying a planned 516-acre master-planned golf course community from James Campbell Co. that would connect the City of Kapolei with Ko Olina Resort, the seller confirmed to Pacific Business News.

Hawaii

State lawmakers will meet today in a conference committee to discuss the fate of a bill aimed at curbing the ability of counties to pass their own geothermal regulations. Tribune-Herald.

The nonprofit corporation that wants to build a giant telescope atop Mauna Kea is asking to participate in a hearing about the project’s construction permit. Associated Press.

After the state Department of Health posted on its website Tuesday that it would no longer be updating daily its dengue fever outbreak numbers, a spokeswoman confirmed to West Hawaii Today that Gov. David Ige would be addressing the vector-borne illness today. West Hawaii Today.

Public opposition to a proposed 306-unit condominium development in Kahaluu has led to a contested case hearing on the massive timeshare plan. West Hawaii Today.

After months of clear skies during a drier-than-usual rainy season, wet weather has pushed back the expected opening date of the Pahoa roundabout. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Maui County Council budget Chairman Riki Hokama unveiled a $654.5 million budget for the county for the next fiscal year, a 5 percent increase over the current year's budget, but $57 million less than Mayor Alan Arakawa's proposal. Maui News.

Protesters gathered on three islands Tuesday morning to send a noisy message to Alexander & Baldwin: Give up the rights to the millions of gallons of water diverted each day from East Maui streams. Star-Advertiser.

Demonstrators on three islands led chants of “e ola i ka wai, mauka to makai” — water is life, from the mountains to the sea — in separate “Free the Streams” rallies focused on water rights and opposition to Alexander & Baldwin’s continued stream diversions. Maui Now.

Dozens protest bill allowing diversion of Maui water. Associated Press.

The photographer who caught a rainbow over cinder cones at Haleakala Crater in an image that will appear on a commemorative U.S. Postal Service Forever Stamp had one chance to be picture perfect. Maui News.

Kauai
In order to give Coco Palms developers time to make sure finances are in order to start demolition on the hotel, the Kauai County Planning Commission voted Tuesday to defer the the topic until next week. Garden Island.

A Kauai man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of sexual assault and attempted sexual assault involving two young girls who belong to the Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii Lihue Clubhouse, where he was a volunteer. Star-Advertiser.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Legislature advances more money for homelessness, tougher gun laws, easier voting; Kouchi says no conflict; Kahele lease questioned; Maui water rallies slated; tax money for church; Honolulu residents struggle for housing; lifeguard raises pending, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2016 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Homeless in Waikiki © 2016 All Hawaii News
Key lawmakers agreed Monday to give Gov. David Ige’s homeless team full discretion on how they want to spend $12 million to address Hawaii’s growing homeless problem. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii lawmakers are allocating $12 million out of the state’s supplemental budget to address the intertwined issues of homelessness and affordable housing. It’s $3 million more than was requested by the Ige administration. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii State Legislature agreed on Monday to boost the state's funding to tackle the homeless crisis in Hawaii. Hawaii News Now.

State senators Monday unanimously approved a measure to establish “continuous background checks” that alert police when Hawaii gun owners are arrested in another county or state. Star-Advertiser.

Up for conference committee hearing Tuesday afternoon are two measures that proponents say could improve voter turnout in Hawaii. Civil Beat.

Two bills aimed at making it easier to vote will head into conference committee today at the state Legislature. Tribune-Herald.

With less than a week to go before Hawaii is scheduled to announce the names of the state’s first medical marijuana dispensary owners, lawmakers are considering a bill to clarify gaps in the dispensary law passed last year. Associated Press.

The state and counties have kicked off a campaign to inform visitors about a website providing almost real-time information about surf, weather and safety conditions at lifeguarded beaches statewide. The website, www.hawaiibeachsafety.com, is sponsored by the Hawaiian Lifeguard Association. Tribune-Herald.

There has been major growth in Hawaii’s tourism industry over the years. More visitors mean more money. KHON2.

The Pipe Dream Of Teaching In Paradise Goes Global. Unemployed college graduates, Hawaii wants you! The islands need you! And they’ll pay a lot for you! Or so the viral story goes — and goes. The Department of Education is submerged with job inquiries — not just from current and aspiring teachers around the mainland, but from across the world. The problem isn’t just that many applicants don’t hold teaching qualifications; it’s that many don’t even have a work permit. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Honolulu rail could soon face another court challenge, even as it grapples with financial trouble. A new group of some 20 local residents dubbed “Do Rail Right” says it’s concerned that long stretches of the multibillion-dollar transit project are being built on Oahu’s flood plain and could be vulnerable to damage from tsunamis, storm surges and sea-level rise linked to climate change. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu City Council Chairman Ernie Martin and Councilman Joey Manahan want to spend $250,000 in taxpayer money to pay for the expansion of New Hope, an international evangelical Christian megachurch with multiple locations on Oahu. Civil Beat.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell's latest request, for $477,000, would fund eight staff positions within a new asset development and management division under the Department of Community Services. The team would acquire land, select developers and oversee project developments. Civil Beat.

A turf battle over the lucrative airport taxi business is breaking out and some claim it's not a fair fight. Taxi operators say that ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft are picking up passengers illegally at Honolulu International Airport. Hawaii News Now.

A state House resolution that would provide emergency funds for Wahiawa General Hospital — which could close within nine months without financial assistance — is still pending as separate plans transpire to move the hospital to the planned Koa Ridge development. Pacific Business News.

Honolulu City and Council officials are looking for the public’s feedback on a renovation plan to Ala Moana Beach Park. Hawaii Public Radio.

The evolving nature of the 25th Infantry Division on Oahu is being demonstrated with the arrival of 24 AH-64 Apache helicopters that are adding significant firepower in the air, while the ongoing departure of Stryker armored vehicles is removing some of it from the ground. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu consumers spent 43 percent of their incomes on housing in 2014, up from 32 percent a decade earlier, according to a new state analysis. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu residents are paying 11% more for housing than they did 11-years ago. KITV4.

The state published a report Monday shedding new light on how Oahu household spending gets distributed. The report — from the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism — produced data on local consumer spending that the federal government quit compiling about a decade ago. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources has not yet acted on a questionable land lease by state Sen. Kai Kahele. West Hawaii Today.

Senate President Ronald Kouchi did have an investment in a company owned by Kevin Showe, who also owns some property that the legislature is looking at in South Kona. But, he said Monday his ties to the landowner don’t create a conflict of interest. Garden Island.

Maui

A water rights rally is scheduled on two islands today (Tuesday, April 26) from 7 to 10 a.m. fronting Alexander & Baldwin’s company offices on Maui and Oʻahu. Maui Now.

Officials from the union representing hundreds of lifeguards and law enforcement officers statewide are concerned that pay raises awarded to more than 700 members may be in jeopardy. The Hawaii Government Employees Association is waiting for the Maui County Council to sign off on the deal. Hawaii News Now.

The Hawai'i Nature Center's Iao Valley facility is set to get solar panels with the capacity to meet nearly all of its demand for electricity, officials said last week. Maui News.

Beginning Monday, several thousand native seed balls will be scattered on the leeward flanks of Haleakala in hopes of helping restore the dryland forests that have suffered hundreds of years of degradation due to feral ungulates, invasive plants and diseases. Maui News.

Kauai

The Charter Review Commission is one step closer in solidifying the charter Kauai residents will vote on in November. On Monday, commissioners approved findings, purposes and ballot questions for four sections of the charter. Garden Island.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Hawaii residents told to be nice to tourists, Hawaiian Airlines applies for more Japan flights, Kouchi's ties to land buy probed, crime victims right bill dies in Legislature, Maui water rights tied to campaign contributions, Kondo named auditor, Airbnb tax will add $15M to state coffers, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2016 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Tourists mix with locals at Kona poolside festival © 2016 All Hawaii News
Agency to Hawaii residents: Don’t hate on tourists. The state agency that promotes tourism in Hawaii is starting an online campaign to remind residents about tourism’s benefits. Associated Press.

Hawaiian Airlines is looking to add a second nonstop route between Hawaii and Tokyo, a move expected to bring more than $100 million to the state each year. Associated Press.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige extended the state’s emergency homelessness proclamation for the fourth time Friday since he declared a state of emergency for homelessness last October. Civil Beat.

A proposal to amend the state Constitution to guarantee certain rights to crime victims and their families during criminal proceedings failed to clear a critical deadline Friday, and is dead for this session of the state Legislature. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii lawmakers are rushing to reach final agreements on hundreds of bills as the Legislature heads into the final two weeks of the 2016 session. Associated Press.

Airbnb estimates it will collect $15 million in taxes from its hosts for the state if a tax broker bill passes at the Hawaii Legislature, and is pushing for the bill to return to its original form after state lawmakers added a land use compliance mandate. Pacific Business News.

Up for conference committee hearing Tuesday afternoon are two measures that proponents say could improve voter turnout in Hawaii. Star-Advertiser.

Prison Officials Quietly Move To Extend An Out-Of-State Contract. Hawaii’s practice of outsourcing prison operations won’t be ending anytime soon. Without much publicity, the Hawaii Department of Public Safety is moving to award a new contract worth tens of millions of dollars to continue housing the state’s excess prisoners on the mainland. Civil Beat.

With the private sector failing to pony up more money, Hawaii lawmakers somewhat reluctantly agreed Friday to put in another $4 million to host one of the world’s biggest conservation events this September. Civil Beat.

During a joint session of the state House and Senate on Friday the legislature approved the appointment of the ombudsman, the director of legislative reference bureau and the legislative auditor. Pacific Business News.

Les Kondo Confirmed As State Auditor. As state ethics director, he had his run-ins with legislators. But that didn’t stop them from approving him for the new job. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii Legislature has appointed Les Kondo, head of the state’s Ethics Commission, to serve as state auditor. That means Kondo will be working for the Legislature to watch over the executive branch, instead of monitoring the ethics of the Legislature. Associated Press.

Getting a liquor license in Hawaii just became less cumbersome, under a bill signed into law Friday by Gov. David Ige. West Hawaii Today.

The Marine Corps said it grounded its CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters from training in Hawaii for 19 days and pulled them from an Australia deployment after the Jan. 14 crash of two of the big choppers off the North Shore of Oahu killed all 12 aboard. The Corps maintains, however, that the helicopters remain safe to fly. Star-Advertiser.

With a legal window scheduled to close Sunday, an estimated 25 lawsuits were expected to be filed at 1st Circuit Court in Honolulu by closing time Friday — the last business day to register the complaints. Most of the cases list the Roman Catholic Church in Hawaii or its affiliates, and concern allegations of sexual assault. Civil Beat.

Oahu

A nonprofit that provides services to mentally ill homeless people says it will be able to continue to operate its daytime activity center in downtown Honolulu despite missing out on a $175,000 federal grant administered by the city. Civil Beat.

An off-the-grid agriculture development in West Oahu that has been under fire for unregulated construction — including a church, a business and apparent homes — can add one more category to its list of questionable structures: inexpensive, rustic vacation cabins. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Senate President Ron Kouchi has had long-standing and substantial business ties with one of the owners of thousands of acres of South Kona conservation and agricultural land that lawmakers now want the state to purchase and preserve, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser has learned.

Is Mayor Billy Kenoi still donating his $22,848 raise to Hawaii Island United Way? Kenoi made the generous gesture in 2014 as the county Salary Commission approved the 20.9 percent increase that started July 1 of that year, bringing his annual salary to $132,000. Tribune-Herald.

A plan for expansion of the cancer treatment center at Kona Community Hospital is designed to bring more comfort and privacy to patients during a difficult time. West Hawaii Today.

In the face of uncertainty regarding the future of Waipio Valley, residents are committed to working with the valley’s primary landowners as new stewardship plans are created. Tribune-Herald.

A community effort to improve Waipi’o Valley river and stream flow could get funded by the state of Hawaii today. Big Island Video News.

There’s an entire chapter in Jim Dooley’s book about the late Waimea rancher and businessman Larry Mehau. But so many mysteries surround the Big Island’s role in government corruption and organized crime that Dooley, already working on his second book, says there’s likely to be at least one more Big Island chapter in that one, too. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Alexander & Baldwin has contributed more than $1 million to political candidates over the past decade, pouring money into the races of state lawmakers, governors, mayors, City Council members and congressional candidates. But as A&B lobbies the Legislature this year to pass a controversial bill that would allow the company to hold on to the rights to millions of gallons of water flowing through dozens of Maui streams, Native Hawaiian advocates and environmentalists worry that the money is unduly influencing lawmakers. Star-Advertiser.

Alexander & Baldwin and its employees, including those working at subsidiaries, have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to political candidates in Hawaii over the past several election cycles, a Civil Beat analysis of state campaign spending data shows.

It took several hours Friday afternoon for legislators to agree on a contentious water rights bill, mainly because lawyers needed to look over the language. But by 5 p.m., state House and Senate committee conferees in House Bill 2501 had reached an agreement that allows the measure to move forward. Civil Beat.

A fundraising effort developed by Maui residents with the Maui United Way aims to provide emergency relief assistance to Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. workers who will be losing their jobs with the end of sugar operations this year. Maui News.

Gov. David Ige announced Saturday that Hawaii Health Systems Corp. has entered into a lease agreement with Maui Health Systems in regard to Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lanai Community Hospital. Maui News.

The number of nontour vehicles visiting the summit of Haleakala for sunrise viewing exceeds the number of available parking spaces almost every day and the situation is only getting worse, National Park Service officials said. Maui News.

September can't come soon enough for Maui Waena Intermediate School Principal Jamie Yap, who has been waiting more than a decade for the completion of a new classroom building to ease overflowing enrollment. Maui News.

Kauai

As president of the Hawaii Senate, Ron Kouchi’s days are what you might call busy. Garden Island.

Kauai County inks new eWaste deal. Puhi Metals Recycling Center will start accepting old electronics on June 1. Garden Island.

New Police Commissioner Catherine Adams took her oath of office for a two-year term during the Friday meeting. Garden Island.

Kahoolawe

The Kahoolawe Rehabilitation Trust Fund has gone from $44 million two decades ago to $394,000 as of January, according to a critical State Auditor's Office report that says the Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission is "not financially self-sufficient." Maui News.