What they're saying about Hawaii

Loading...

Friday, February 27, 2015

Ige returns from Washington, state economy stagnates, marijuana decriminalization advances, power companies & military top polluters, Hawaiian Electric CEO makes $5.6M, good reviews for Honolulu police chief, Kauai auditor settles, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

photo courtesy Hawaii Governor's Office
Ige at NGO conference, courtesy Governor's Office
Hawaii Gov. David Ige said Thursday that he met with several of members of President Barack Obama’s cabinet during his latest trip to Washington and talked about transportation funding, airports and Native Hawaiian sovereignty, among other topics. Associated Press.

Gov. David Ige took advantage of his recent trip to Washington, D.C., to make a direct pitch to President Barack Obama, encouraging him to choose Hawaii as the location for his presidential library. Ige briefed reporters Thursday about his trip to the National Governors Association Winter Meeting last week as well as a variety of meetings he held with Cabinet members, including Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. David Ige took time Thursday to debrief reporters on his recent visit to Washington, D.C., highlighting his meetings with President Obama, federal officials and other governors. Civil Beat.

Gov. David Ige on Thursday released the names of the people on his transition team who have been advising him on key decisions to appoint members of his Cabinet, including the highly controversial nominee Carleton Ching. The governor’s transition team includes Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui; former vice president of Hawaiian Electric Co. Robbie Alm; real estate attorney Gordon Arakaki; Ige’s campaign manager Keith Hiraoka; University of Hawaii vice president Dan Ishii, who served as an assistant to former Gov. George Ariyoshi; Ige’s longtime office manager Joyce Kami; the governor’s Chief of Staff Mike McCartney; and Lorrie Stone, a land use attorney who is married to developer Jeff Stone. Civil Beat.

Gov. David Ige sent state senators a letter Thursday urging them to support Castle & Cooke lobbyist Carleton Ching to lead the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority says the number of travelers visiting the islands declined 0.6 percent last month over the same month a year ago. Spending by travelers dropped 2.5 percent. Associated Press.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority has set a target of hosting nearly 8.6 million visitors this year, up from the 8.3 million who came last year, despite a dip in January arrivals. The board also set a goal to increase visitor spending to $15.58 billion in 2015. Star-Advertiser.

It's going to be 2014 all over again for the state economy. Hawaii is expected to continue its moderate expansion this year with nominal gains in visitor arrivals, steady labor market improvement and additional income growth, the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization said in a report set for release Friday. Star-Advertiser.

Possession of an ounce or less of marijuana would be punishable by a fine of not more than $100 under a decriminalization bill that is moving through the state Senate. The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday unanimously approved Senate Bill 879 to allow Hawaii to join 19 other states and the District of Columbia that have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. Star-Advertiser.

If Senate Bill 879 becomes law, getting busted with an ounce or less of marijuana would no longer be a petty misdemeanor. Hawaii News Now.

A bill that would relax the state's annual motor vehicle safety check requirement to allow vehicles on the neighbor islands to be inspected just once every two years has won the approval of the key House Consumer Protection Committee. Star-Advertiser.

A full suite of bills related to aquarium fishing continues to move ahead at the state Capitol, and several are set to be heard in the House Committee on Judiciary today. West Hawaii Today.

No Political Pedigree: Can Tulsi Gabbard’s Top Advisor Succeed in D.C.? Many questions surround the Hawaii congresswoman's pick of Kainoa Penaroza as her new chief of staff, mainly his lack of political experience that the job demands. Civil Beat.

It looks more and more like the Obama Presidential Library is headed for Chicago. But Honolulu could play the role of the second city. Hawaii News Now.

Thirty-five Hawaii facilities — mostly power companies, fuel industries and the military — combined to release 3 million pounds of toxic material into the islands' air, water and land in 2013, representing a 12 percent increase from the year before, according to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Star-Advertiser.

Award-winning journalist Naomi Klein blamed Hawaiian Electric Co. for limiting the progress of solar energy during a motivating speech Thursday evening at the University of Hawaii. Civil Beat.

Constance Lau, the president and CEO of Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc., received $5.6 million in total compensation in 2014, more than the $3.8 million in compensation she received the previous year, according to the Honolulu-based firm's 2014 annual report released Thursday. Pacific Business News.

KHON2 has learned the state is issuing an order to Hawaiian Electric following the utility’s decision not to approve solar applications.

The nominating committee for state water commission members is accepting applications for one open position. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources said Wednesday the four-year term for the position begins on July 1. Associated Press.

Oahu


Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha's handling of an incident involving an off-duty officer captured on video punching a woman at a Wai­pahu restaurant may have negatively affected his annual review, but the Hono­­lulu Police Commission still rated his 2014 performance as above average. For the third year in a row, the Police Commission determined Kealoha "exceeds expectation" in his annual review. Star-Advertiser.

According to  Dan Grabauskas, the executive director and CEO of the Honolulu Authority of Rapid Transportation, contract termination would set the city back $1.4 billion on top of the $1.3 billion that's already been spent. Then there are contract obligations at another $400 million and an estimated $100 million to tear down what's already been built. The grand total equals $3.2 billion, or about half what the rail project is now projected to cost. KITV4.

Despite City’s Sit-Lie Crackdown, Homeless Aren’t Moving Into Shelters. Instead, they're moving to other parts of the island as the city enforces bans on sitting and lying on sidewalks in Waikiki and business districts throughout Oahu. Civil Beat.

Bill 82 would create the Waikiki Beach Special Improvement District, where private sector funds would be collected for restoration and improvement projects. However, it's in the language--and the district boundaries---of the bill, where opposition is fervent. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu inflation remained far below its historical average and finished 2014 below the U.S. rate for the first time in 13 years, according to a report released Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Star-Advertiser.

A hotel could be part of a new mixed-use project being planned for the corner of Kapiolani Boulevard and Atkinson Drive in Honolulu across from the Hawaii Convention Center and near Ala Moana Center, the developer told Pacific Business News.

In his State of the City speech Tuesday, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said he wants to tackle that negative perception of the island's parks by pumping $2 million for park refurbishments into the 2016 budget he will submit to the Hono­lulu City Council on Monday. Star-Advertiser.

The University of Hawaii Athletics Department is dealing with a projected $3.5 million deficit. But the department received a big donation from an unknown angel. An anonymous donor has given the athletics department $1.2 million. KHON2.

Hawaii

Some landscape companies are crying foul over a new county policy requiring them to truck their green waste to the Puuanahulu or Hilo landfills and pay a tipping fee to dispose of it. The requirements and tipping fee have been on the books since 2005, but Mayor Billy Kenoi’s administration delayed implementing them during the recession. The law is slated to go into effect Monday. West Hawaii Today.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s chief scientist will step aside next month to focus on research. Associated Press.

Naalehu will lose its only grocery store today after Island Market shuts its doors. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

A monthlong debate among Maui County Council members over whether to confirm the appointment of Maui County Prosecuting Attorney John D. Kim may come to a head at a special council meeting scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Maui News.

Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. has grown sugar cane in Central Maui for more than a century, but a company official said Wednesday that the last sugar plantation in Hawaii is now looking to move into biofuel production. Maui News.

Hawaii’s last sugar cane plantation wants to transition to growing plants for energy. But it hasn’t found another crop that grows as well as sugar cane in a variety of soils or one that can stand up to Maui’s strong winds. Associated Press.

Hawaii's last remaining sugar plantation might not stay a sugar plantation for long. An official with Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company says it has been looking into diversifying its crop, possibly moving more toward biofuel. Hawaii Public Radio.

The infestation of little fire ants in Nahiku is unlike any other in the state - and that may mean that eradicating one of the world's worst invasive species is hopeless if it's not dealt with quickly, an international ant expert said. Maui News.

Kauai

Kauai County Auditor Ernesto Pasion has reached a settlement in his retaliation and whistleblowers complaint against the county. Garden Island.

Kukui Grove Center installed a combination recycle and trash solar-powered system Wednesday in the food court area fronting the Starbucks Coffee and Jamba Juice  — making the shopping center the first in Hawaii to make the transition to such high-tech waste reducing bins. Garden Island.

The Garden Isle saw the biggest increase in visitor arrivals in January while overall traffic to the state was down slightly compared to the year before, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Garden Island.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Hawaii unlikely for Obama library, bill seeks to make super PACs more transparent, Haleakala visitor center closes for repairs, Honolulu hotel employees try to unionize, state second in restaurant employees, Big Island mayor holds line on budget, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2015 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Ala Moana food court © 2015 All Hawaii News
New data released by the National Restaurant Association shows that Hawaii's restaurant workforce represents 14 percent of the state's overall employment — 88,700 jobs in 2015 to be exact — the second highest in the nation. Hawaii follows behind Nevada at 16 percent, and is ahead of Florida at 10 percent. Pacific Business News.

The foundation developing Barack Obama's future presidential library has commissioned polling in Chicago to determine whether residents support building it on the South Side, people close to the foundation said, in the clearest sign to date that the library likely will go to the University of Chicago. Associated Press.

A bill in the Hawaii Legislature would make it easier for voters to understand who is supporting and funding political action committees. The bill targets super PACs, which can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on elections. Associated Press.

Mandating the use of ethanol as a transportation fuel in Hawaii was supposed to revive the local sugar industry and make the state more energy self-sufficient, but those plans never panned out. Instead, motorists here have been burning imported ethanol for almost a decade, and some state lawmakers want to abandon the ethanol requirement. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii could formally establish a statewide public preschool program within the public school system under advancing legislation — but the effort is unlikely to see any boost in funding beyond 21 classrooms set up this school year. Star-Advertiser.

Lawmakers on Wednesday shelved a bill that would have let voters decide whether the University of Hawaii should remain semiautonomous. Senate Bill 637 proposed a constitutional amendment to remove the "exclusive jurisdiction" the university's Board of Regents has over the "internal structure, management and operations of UH." Star-Advertiser.

It's difficult to find anyone who agrees with Hawaiian Electric Company's recent move to block new rooftop solar systems from going online. KITV4.

Living Hawaii: Warning Signs — Many People Can Earn More Elsewhere. The high cost of living in the islands is almost never factored into how much employers will pay here. Civil Beat.

Opinion: Why Does the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Exist? OHA is a well-funded agency with a big and often misunderstood mission on behalf of Native Hawaiians. Civil Beat.

Oahu

A two-sentence state law to boost bicycle safety morphed this month to include a $500,000 grant for Honolulu to help run a vanpool program on Oahu. The evolution of Senate Bill 128 provides the latest example of Hawaii lawmakers shortcutting the legislative process, spurring some would-be supporters of the proposal to come out against it. Civil Beat.

Local developer and former politician D.G. "Andy" Anderson wants to expand Haleiwa's commercial core with more businesses and homes, but the project is drawing flak from North Shore residents. Star-Advertiser.

Unite Here Local 5, the union representing many Hawaii hotel workers, held a rally Wednesday outside the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel. Aston workers are not represented by the union, and the rally was in support of winning union representation for Aston workers. Star-Advertiser.

Decriminalizing Homelessness: Bills Take Aim at City Policies. Hawaii legislators are considering several proposals aimed at helping homeless residents affected by Mayor Kirk Caldwell's "compassionate disruption" policies. Civil Beat.

What happens when UH-Manoa faculty, staff cross the line? KHON2.

Each year, the University Laboratory School in Manoa admits less than 60 new students, earning a reputation for being one of the toughest public schools to get into. But now, the Hawaii State Public Charter School Commission says a legal opinion by the Attorney General's office has determined that the school's admissions policy is legally flawed. Hawaii News Now.

Waialua Estate Coffee Farms has been trying since December to meet quarantine requirements imposed by the state in an effort to contain the destructive coffee berry borer, the state Board of Agriculture was told on Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Property values are averaging about 3 percent higher than last year, giving Hawaii County government enough breathing room to create a no-frills budget without having to resort to increasing property taxes. West Hawaii Today.

The land leases for Uncle Billy’s Hilo Hotel and the Country Club condominiums will expire next month unless the state Board of Land and Natural Resources approves an extension Friday. Tribune-Herald.

Residents of Puuanahulu are hoping to cut their monthly bills by installing a photovoltaic system to power their water supply. The initiative got an initial green light this week with the release of an environmental assessment that found the project would not significantly impact the landscape. West Hawaii Today.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researchers recently tested two drones in the waters off the Kohala Coast, hoping to someday being able to use the combined technologies to locate vessels and marine life in distress, conduct wildlife surveys and access hard-to-reach areas. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

The Haleakala National Park Visitor Center has been closed until further notice due to structural damage, according to a Feb. 25 National Park Service news release. MauiTime.

Funeral services for former state Rep. Mele Carroll will be held on Oahu and Maui. Associated Press.

A Maui mother is on a mission to raise awareness about a dangerous virus and to assure all newborns have a fighting chance at life. Krystyn Aguinaldo-Iokia helped craft “Kulia's Bill” or House Bill 782.  It's aimed to educate pregnant women about the dangers and risks of cytomegalovirus (CMV). Hawaii News Now.

Maui's increase in hotel occupancy, room revenue and room rates last year mirrored overall state increases in all categories, Hospitality Advisors reported Tuesday. Maui News.

Kauai

Although the 11th annual Mayor’s Prayer Luncheon is still a month away, you might need a miracle to get a ticket. People have snapped up 1,050 tickets at $25 each, so the event at the Kilohana Luau Pavilion featuring Christian author Dr. Ravi Zacharias is technically sold out. Garden Island.

A senior engineer with the Department of Water has agreed to an age discrimination settlement with the county. Garden Island.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Navy dolphins to train off Hawaii, Tulsi's pick a head-scratcher, state tops in nursing homes, Ormat wins geothermal bid, rail company sells to Hitachi, Wailuku Stream diversion altered, Coco Palm decision deferred, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

bottlenose dolphin courtesy U.S. Navy
Bottlenose dolphin with tag, courtesy U.S. Navy
A Navy plan to fly four bottlenose dolphins to Hawaii from San Diego in March for sea mine training and research drew some criticism but was approved by the state Board of Agriculture on Tuesday by a 5-2 vote. The dolphins will be used March 10-31 out of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on a training "mobility evolution" measuring the animals' response and medical condition during the transit and use, the Navy said. Star-Advertiser.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is turning to a political neophyte to lead her operations in Washington, D.C. On Tuesday, the Hawaii Democrat announced that she has picked Kainoa Ramananda Penaroza to serve as her chief of staff, making him the third person to hold the top position in the two years she has represented Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District. Civil Beat.

Members of the Hawaii Senate and House of Representatives have filed concurrent resolutions seeking an exemption for Hawaii from a provision in the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (the Jones Act) requiring that all vessels be built in the United States. The resolutions also ask that Alaska, Guam and Puerto Rico be exempt.Hawaii Independent.

Hawaii lawmakers are working through requests to dole out $30 million to five state agencies that are running out of money to meet immediate needs. The Attorney General’s Office, Department of Human Services, Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, the Governor’s Office and the State Public Charter School Commission have asked the Legislature for emergency appropriations to see them through the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. Civil Beat.

Hawaii has a higher percentage of top-rated nursing homes than any other state in the country, according to a newly revised rating system by the federal government that includes tougher standards for evaluating long-term care facilities. Eighteen of Hawaii's 46 nursing homes, or 39 percent, received five stars, the highest score under the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services system. Star-Advertiser.

The House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Karl Rhoads, unanimously passed a measure Tuesday that would protect journalists from having to disclose their confidential sources under certain circumstances. Civil Beat.

Opinion: Forty years after passage of the state’s first law regulating lobbyists, requiring them to publicly register, identify their clients, and disclose what they spend to influence the legislative process, the agency charged with administering and enforcing the law is suffering a major crisis of confidence. Civil Beat.

It could get a lot harder to smoke traditional and electronic cigarettes in Hawaii, especially for young people. State lawmakers are considering raising the legal smoking age from 18 to 21 for traditional and electronic cigarettes. They're also considering banning both forms of smoking in the state's parks and public hospital system. Associated Press.

The group challenging Hawaii Rep. Calvin Say's qualifications is asking why the chairman of the special House committee investigating the matter shared evidence with Say's attorneys. Associated Press.

State Rep. Bob McDermott is suing the University of Hawaii over access to a survey being given to public school students participating in the controversial Pono Choices sexual education program. Star-Advertiser.

The state Senate has confirmed Randall Iwase's appointment to lead the Public Utilities Commission. Iwase has been the commission's acting chairman since his nomination in January. Associated Press.

Hawaiian Electric Co. is sending out letters to potential solar customers saying their rooftop systems won't be approved until the state Public Utilities Commission rules on HECO's request to decrease the rate it pays for energy from home solar systems. HECO sent the letters last week to Hawaii island customers in neighborhoods with high solar penetration and will follow soon with similar letters to applicants on Oahu and in Maui County. Star-Advertiser.

An estimated 18,000 current and former members of the Hawaii Medical Service Association had their personal information stolen during a cyberattack on Anthem Inc., a Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan that serves residents in 14 states. Star-Advertiser.

The state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs encourages the 18,000 HMSA members who may have sought treatment in one of the 14 mainland states where Anthem Inc. operates, and Anthem members who have moved to Hawaii, to visit anthemfacts.com following the company’s security breach. Associated Press.

Oahu

In a State of the City address that contained no surprises and just a smattering of new initiatives, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell reaffirmed his position on three contentious issues: rail, homelessness and the bicycle track along South King Street. Star-Advertiser.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell stressed the need to move forward on the Honolulu rail project with an extension of the General Excise Tax during his 2015 State of the City address Tuesday while emphasizing the progress he has made since taking office two years ago on road repaving, park rejuvenation, bike lanes and the homelessness problem. Civil Beat.

After nearly four years of trying to land a buyer for its rail assets, the Italian defense firm Finmeccanica has announced that it will sell the company that's creating the trains and operating system for Honolulu's future rail transit system to Hitachi Ltd. Star-Advertiser.

Some longtime critics of the city’s rail project have stated repeatedly that Honolulu can make major changes to how the elevated line is built without facing penalties from the federal government. But after a Tuesday meeting in Washington, D.C., with top officials from the Federal Transit Administration, City Council members Joey Manahan and Ernie Martin came away with a much different understanding of what can actually be done under a full funding grant agreement signed in December 2012. KITV4.

The administration of former Gov. Neil Abercrombie, which unveiled an H1 Freeway re paving and improvement project just days before the primary election last year, decided against including key safety upgrades that would have taken months longer to complete, Hawaii News Now has learned.

The state Ethics Commission is looking into potential conflicts of interest at the Department of Land and Natural Resources' enforcement division. A complaint filed by environmental activist Carroll Cox alleges potential misconduct by staffers with the DLNR's Conservation and Resource Enforcement Division, who do part-time security work for Sodexo, the concessionaire for the Blaisdell Center and the Waikiki Shell. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii boy Barack Obama made it official Tuesday, signing a presidential proclamation designating the Honouliuli Internment Camp on Oahu as a national monument. On hand to witness the historic event were Hawaii Gov. David Ige, Sens. Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz, Rep. Mark Takai and Interior Secretary Sally Jewel. Civil Beat.

A $25 million penthouse is still available in the east tower of the Ritz-Carlton Residences Wai­kiki Beach tower, which broke ground Tuesday and is projected to open in 2017. Star-Advertiser.

Starting Wednesday, Feb. 25, coffee grown in all areas of Oahu will be placed under the same quarantine restrictions as coffee grown in Waialua on Oahu and Hawaii Island. KHON2.

Quarantine restrictions on Oahu-grown coffee have been expanded islandwide, limiting transport and shipping in an effort to prevent the spread of a coffee berry borer infestation. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Hawaii Electric Light Co. announced Tuesday that Ormat Technologies was selected to provide an additional 25 megawatts of geothermal power to the utility. But where that power will be produced remained a secret. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii Electric Light Co. has selected Nevada-based Ormat Technologies Inc., which operates the 38-megawatt Puna Geothermal Venture plant on the Big Island, to develop an additional 25-megawatts of geothermal energy on the island, the Hawaiian Electric Co. subsidiary said Tuesday. Pacific Business News.

Hopes for an international arrivals terminal at Kona International Airport, future bus service to Palamanui and plans for new Department of Motor Vehicles service in Waimea were highlights of a Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Tuesday with Mayor Billy Kenoi. West Hawaii Today.

Many months of paperwork and a lot of fundraising are culminating in the planned July opening of a new charter school in Naalehu. Ka‘u Learning Academy faces one of its final hurdles next week, when it seeks Windward Planning Commission approval of the Discovery Harbour golf course clubhouse as a temporary facility. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. began work Tuesday to alter its Spreckels Ditch diversion of Wailuku Stream near Happy Valley in Wailuku. Maui News.

Recognizing the need for more affordable rental housing, the Maui Planning Commission agreed Tuesday to send a letter to the Maui County Council calling for a moratorium on all new short-term vacation rental permits until more housing is available. Maui News.

There’s a big meeting about little fire ants Wednesday night at the Haiku Community Center. MauiTime.

Kauai

The seven-member Kauai Planning Commission deferred any decisions on current Coco Palms Hui, LLC plans to reconstruct and restore the Coco Palms Resort in Wailua until their March 10 meeting so they can receive more information on options to mitigate traffic impacts. Garden Island.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Former DLNR chairman Aila to be deputy Hawaiian Home Lands director, Green Party missed vote requirements, Honolulu Mayor Caldwell's state of the city today, rail transit board planned political strategy in secret, new doctors for Maui, Steve Case, Pierre Omidyar plans unveiled in book, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2015 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
DHHL housing © 2015 All Hawaii News
A legislative panel has recommended that the state Senate approve Gov. David Ige's nominees to lead the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. The Senate Committee on Hawaiian Affairs on Monday approved Jobie Masagatani to remain as the department's director and chairwoman of the Hawaiian Homes Commission, over the opposition of some key groups that represent Native Hawaiians. The panel also approved William Aila, who until recently was chairman of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, to be her deputy director. Associated Press.

David Ige says he was caught by surprise when President Barack Obama singled him out early during remarks Saturday at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Civil Beat.

Hawaii’s Green Party will have to step up its game if it wants to continue fielding candidates beyond the 2022 election, according to the state Office of Elections. The office found the Green Party last year did not meet the voting threshold set in state law to continue qualifying as a political party after 10 years. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii's public education system has a difficult time recruiting experienced technology workers to support the state's schools, and the Department of Education is now backing a bill at the Legislature to allow high-tech employees to move more freely from one employer to the next. Star-Advertiser.

A program that allows retired law enforcement officers to carry a concealed firearm is drawing controversy at the state Capitol. The program is based on a federal law adopted in 2004. The federal Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act, or LEOSA, allows for active and retired officers to carry a concealed firearm. KHON2.

The state Senate is reviewing two bills that would grant county mayors the power to fire police chiefs and require more qualifications for police commissioners. Garden Island.

Bill aims to tighten access at public housing properties. KHON2.

The 12 countries involved in a proposed Pacific-Rim free trade initiative will convene a chief negotiators’ meeting in mid-March in Hawaii, sources close to the matter said on Friday, as they scramble to secure a deal by the end of this spring. Japan Times.

This week marks the start of the 3rd Annual Hawaiʻi Invasive Species Awareness Week. In observance, state agencies and private partners working to rid the islands of these damaging species are highlighting 10 particularly bad offenders. Maui Now.

Opinion: Being Black in Hawaii Is Something Few People Talk About. It has been my experience that some black people will attempt to find alliances with non-white people when they come to Hawaii. Civil Beat.

Opinion: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Hawaii and Annexation. A student from Hawaii queried the judicial firebrand about the way the U.S. took formal control of the Islands. He got an answer. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Using the Foster Botanical Garden as his backdrop, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is expected to emphasize park improvements Tuesday morning during his third State of the City speech. Star-Advertiser.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell will deliver his third annual State of the City address on Tuesday at 8 a.m. at Foster Botanical Garden. It’s an invitation-only event, as was the mayor’s first address in 2013. Civil Beat.

An announcement on a new Honolulu zoo director, the unveiling of the city's first hybrid electric bus and progress on how the city is battling Oahu's homeless problem are among key topics Mayor Kirk Caldwell will address in his State of the City speech Tuesday morning. Hawaii News Now.

Newly released records show top Honolulu rail officials were pumping state lawmakers for money before telling the public the project was over budget and facing a nearly $1 billion shortfall. The documents describe what was said during a Dec. 18 closed-door meeting between the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board of directors and city attorney Gary Takeuchi. Civil Beat.

Mililani Uka Elementary School teacher Jana Fukada, 32, was named a recipient of the Milken Educator Award, a national honor that recognizes excellence in education and comes with an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize. Star-Advertiser.

The National Park Service is suggesting historic designation for a larger area of the Dec. 7, 1941, Ewa Field battlefield, which would help preserve the site and stave off development plans, said John Bond, a proponent of the measure. Star-Advertiser.

The Army in Hawai’i is in the midst of completing another environmental study related to Makua Valley, the military’s live-fire range on O’ahu.  Hawaii Public Radio.

The Navy's public ceremony at Pearl Harbor will have African-American history and heritage as its theme this month. The ceremony will be held at the Pearl Harbor visitors' center at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday. Associated Press.

The Honolulu Board of Water Supply is moving forward with plans to demolish one of Oahu's most sought-after hikes. On Monday, the Board approved a $500,000 budget to study the demolition of Haiku Stairs, also known as the Stairway to Heaven. Hawaii News Now.

Opinion: It is remarkable that while public open space in Honolulu is increasingly threatened by development, a beautiful new public park has quietly sprung up in the heart of the urban core. This is the new Fort Ruger Pathway on the exterior backside of Diamond Head crater along Diamond Head Road. Civil Beat.

Hawaii

A 3rd Circuit Court judge heard arguments Monday on the dispute regarding whether Environmental Management Director Bobby Jean Leithead Todd is qualified for the position she has held for the past three years. West Hawaii Today.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources has issued a finding of no significant environmental impact for the second phase of improvements to Kekaha Kai State Park. The finding, released Monday, says a full environmental impact statement isn’t needed because of the minor nature of the expected improvements. West Hawaii Today.

Two lanes will be available for Pahoa-bound motorists on Highway 130 near Keaau during peak hours as early as today, a state Department of Transportation spokeswoman said. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Three doctors have joined Maui Memorial Medical Center's new outpatient clinic in Maui Lani, a welcome sight for Maui County as residents cope with a shortage of doctors. Maui News.

More competition in Central Maui is one reason the Salvation Army's Kahului Corps will close its Family Store in Kahului on Saturday, an official said Monday. Maui News.

Kauai

Grove Farm once planned to build resorts along Kauai's South Shore, but heavy community opposition nixed those plans, according to a new book about one of Hawaii's largest landowners. Grove Farm, which is owned by AOL founder Steve Case, instead opted to partner with Ulupono Initiative, eBay founder Pierre Omdiyar's investment firm, on a dairy farm project near the existing Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort in Poipu. Pacific Business News.

The county is considering a plan to transform the vacant Nawiliwili Bulk Sugar Building into a self-storage facility and recycling center for construction materials. Garden Island.

A former county public works employee claims his dismissal was due to race, age and disability. Amadeo Dullaga, 65, was hired as a temporary assignment markings crew lead supervisor for the county on May 1, 1996. He was seeking a full-time permanent supervisor position when his job was terminated on Sept. 9, 2013. Garden Island.

Rental units are still available in the new Rice Camp Senior Apartments on Hoala Street behind the Lihue fire station. Garden Island.

Molokai

More than a decade after Molokai veterans first began the process to build their own center, the Kaunakakai building is only one step away from being complete, veterans said Monday. Maui News.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Lawmakers push gas tax hike, Hawaii's union power, state land chairman nominee in cross hairs, Honolulu rail needs more money, shield law mulled again, digital election a success, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2015 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Hawaii gas prices © 2015 All Hawaii News
Hawaii lawmakers are pushing a plan that could increase the fuel taxes that drivers pay at the pump. The proposal comes as states throughout the nation are dealing with crumbling roads and infrastructure at the same time that federal funds for highways are declining. Associated Press.

The mountain of bills that Hawaii lawmakers are tackling now looks more like a hill. More than half of the bills introduced just a month ago in the Hawaii House of Representatives have died, and lawmakers are left with 737 of the original 1,515 bills that were on the list in that chamber after pushing key proposals through legislative deadlines. Associated Press.

Pension Promises Are Getting Harder for Hawaii Lawmakers To Keep. Billions of dollars in the hole, Hawaii lawmakers are searching for ways to afford the health and retirement benefits promised to thousands of public employees. Legislative efforts to make public workers pay more or sacrifice benefits face strong union opposition. Civil Beat.

Hawai‘i remains a relative stronghold for unions. In fact, according to recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this is one of the most unionized states in America. Hawaii Public Radio.

The impetus for a package of bills introduced by the joint Senate and House task force on housing and homelessness is the fact that in the Aloha State, the difference between being homeless and having a home can be a razor-thin line. Hawai‘i has a chronic housing shortage and a high cost of housing. Maui Now.

Voters would get to decide whether the University of Hawaii should keep its current level of autonomy under a proposed constitutional amendment moving through the state Legislature. Star-Advertiser.

Lawmakers being asked to help close the digital divide. DOE asks for $30 million to expand computer pilot project. KITV4.

The Hawaii Attorney General’s Office is again opposing a bill that would that would put in place a shield law to protect members of the news media from having to disclose their sources or unpublished information in most cases. Civil Beat.

A state House committee on agriculture rejected a bill Thursday that sought to impose buffer zones for large agricultural companies that spray restricted-use pesticides near schools and other sensitive areas. Civil Beat.

State Sen. Josh Green has asked Gov. David Ige to withdraw his nomination of Castle & Cooke lobbyist Carleton Ching to lead the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. Civil Beat.

Opinion: The ill will Gov. David Ige generated by naming Castle and Cooke lobbyist Carleton Ching to head the Department of Land and Natural Resources is compounded by his adamant refusal to explain his rationale for turning over state lands — our precious jewels — to a guy known for making bling. Star-Advertiser.

She covered the Legislature as a reporter, but now former TV news reporter and anchor Jill Kura­moto will be on the other side of the phone calls, cameras and microphones in her new role as Senate communications director. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

Ultimate price tag for rail likely to remain a mystery. City officials refuse to share their projections with state lawmakers, saying it would tarnish the bid process. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and other supporters of the city rail project are lobbying state lawmakers to extend a tax to pay for the project, but they say they can't reveal a projected final price to build it. Associated Press.

Harvard University is recognizing Honolulu's all-digital neighborhood board elections for their innovative use of technology. Associated Press.

Kamehameha Schools on Friday filed a lawsuit in District Court in Honolulu seeking to evict office supply company Fisher Hawaii from its Kakaako location on Cooke Street. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii

Is an English degree or a law degree “related” to an engineering degree? That’s the crux of the dispute that will play out in a Kona courtroom Monday over whether Environmental Management Director Bobby Jean Leithead Todd is qualified for her position. Third Circuit Court Judge Ronald Ibarra is scheduled to hear motions for summary judgment in the case at 4 p.m. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii County officials say they continue to take steps to acquire the Papaikou Mill Beach trail more than two years after the County Council passed a resolution authorizing the purchase. But when an eminent domain action will be filed in court remains to be seen. Tribune-Herald.

Two Big Island lawmakers are leading the charge to expand video testimony for people unable to get to Honolulu for legislative committee hearings. But a video testimony pilot program, while welcomed by neighbor islanders, has had its share of problems. West Hawaii Today.

New bills in the Legislature that would alter and reduce police commission powers aren’t sitting well with the body that oversees the Big Island’s men and women in blue. West Hawaii Today.

As state officials announce success in eliminating little fire ants in an Oahu neighborhood, the battle against the tiny pest on the Big Island, where it all started, continues to look bleak. Tribune-Herald.

Mystery of ohia deaths solved? Tribune-Herald.

A fungal pathogen may be responsible for recent die-offs of beloved Hawaii trees, according to state scientists and tree experts. Associated Press.

Maui

The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, expected to rank as the world's largest solar telescope when it is unveiled in 2019, will include never-before-seen camera technology developed by a technology company based in Ireland and a consortium of eight leading universities in the United Kingdom. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige is appointing a Molokai farmer to fill the vacant seat in the Hawaii House of Representatives. Lynn DeCoite would succeed Rep. Mele Carroll, who resigned last month for health reasons. Carroll died Wednesday. Associated Press.

Pro-GMO farmer to lead anti-GMO district. Lynn DeCroite, a Molokai farmer with ties to Monsanto, was sworn-in today to the state House to represent District 13, which voted in favor of the Maui GMO moratorium. Hawaii Independent.

Kauai

Longstanding tensions surrounding a proposal to construct a grass-fed dairy in Mahaulepu resurfaced on Thursday, when nearly 150 people packed into the Koloa Elementary School cafeteria. Garden Island.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

This blogger's greatest challenge: Keeping the news alive

copyright 2015 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Sunrise over the Pacific © 2015 All Hawaii News
The greatest challenge to running a one-person news aggregate blog is this:

How do I take a vacation?

Because All Hawaii News collects and highlights the day's top government and political news, it's simply not possible to prewrite and schedule posts.

I usually find some time on vacation days to skim through my long list of media sites and post the best of them for the day. I need to keep on top of the biggest news of the day anyway, even if I am on vacation.

Sometimes, I'll write a few articles in advance and substitute them for the daily aggregate. However, with a long weekend looming and articles not prewritten, this doesn't appear to be one of those times.

So, please bear with me, loyal readers, for not publishing a blog post today. Everyone needs a day off now and then, especially to celebrate a major life milestone.

All Hawaii News isn't fancy, but it wins awards. You can read what the judges said here.

By the way, this would be a perfect time to help keep the news alive.

All Hawaii News is a labor of love. I've been doing this day in and day out for more than five years now. Advertising is kept to a minimum.

Small contributions from loyal followers help pay to keep All Hawaii News online. A donation no matter how modest is seen as a vote of confidence in my efforts.

How to donate:
  •         Click the donate button at the top right of the page.
  •         Donate using a major credit card or PayPal account.
  •         Send an email to nclauer@gmail.com to get your name and/or link on the sponsor list. (otherwise, your gift will remain anonymous)

Mahalo to everyone who clicks, comments or contributes to All Hawaii News. I can't do it without you!

Signed,
Publisher, aggregator, columnist, editor and chief bottle-washer Nancy Cook Lauer

Hawaii mourns death of Maui state representative, Honolulu council blocks bus money for rail, Aldrich named state librarian, huge Hoopili housing project advances, Maui council nixes county prosecutor reappointment, counties seek greater share of hotel tax, game commission shot down, REIT tax killed, more news from all the Hawaiian islands

copyright 2015 All Hawaii News
Hawaii Rep. Mele Carroll, file photo © 2015 All Hawaii News
Former state Rep. Diana "Mele" Carroll, who was elected to six terms in the House of Representatives and was remembered for supporting issues of the underdogs, died Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

Former Hawaii state Rep. Mele Carroll died early Wednesday after battling cancer. She was 50 years old. Fighting back tears, House lawmakers took a moment of silence to acknowledge their colleague’s untimely death during their floor session in the afternoon. A black ribbon marked her empty seat. Civil Beat.

The word “mele” in Hawaiian evokes a song or dance, but at a somber floor session of the Hawaii House of Representatives, “mele” was chosen as the Hawaiian word of the day to honor a former colleague. Hawaii Rep. Mele Carroll, who represented Lanai, Molokai and parts of Maui in the Hawaii House of Representatives for nearly a decade, died Wednesday morning surrounded by family, a spokeswoman for the House majority said. She was 50 years old. Associated Press.

The Hawaii House of Representatives on Wednesday announced the passing of former state House Representative Diana "Mele" Carroll. She died at 3:50 a.m. on Wednesday, February 18, with her family at her side. Hawaii News Now.

A black ribbon marked the vacant seat where Mele Carroll used to represent her beloved Maui. KITV4.

Former Maui state House Rep. Mele Carroll was remembered Wednesday as a tireless representative for her district, a great listener and for a calm and mellow demeanor that won over constituents. Maui News.

State House Representative Diana “Mele” Carroll passed at 3:50 a.m. on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 with her family at her side. At this time services are pending and will be announced at a later date. Hawaii Independent.

Former State Representative Diana “Mele” Carroll of Maui passed away at 3:50 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2015, according to an announcement from the state House of Representatives. Maui Now.

The adult care home industry supported a bill Wednesday that would increase the number and types of facilities subject to having their state inspection reports posted on the Department of Health’s website. A House panel ended up scrapping the plan, but the industry’s willingness to support an expansion of the online posting of inspection reports represented a remarkable turnaround from two years ago when care home operators strongly opposed the idea. Civil Beat.

With state lawmakers in session weighing decisions on government spending, the state Department of Health sent out a message urging the protection of millions of dollars in tobacco settlement funds earmarked for smoking prevention programs. Star-Advertiser.

A Hawaii Senate panel is planning a confirmation hearing to take up Gov. David Ige's pick to lead the Department of Land and Natural Resources. The Senate Committee on Water and Land will hold the hearing on Carleton Ching's nomination on March 11. Associated Press.

The Senate Committee on Water and Land announced today that the confirmation hearing for the controversial appointment of Carleton Ching as Director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) will be held on Wednesday March 11 at 10 a.m. in room 229. Hawaii Independent.

A bill moving through the Hawaii House would enable people to switch the gender identification on their birth certificates without getting gender-reassignment surgery. Instead, they would provide a statement from a licensed medical or mental health provider. The bill advanced out of the House Committee on Health on Wednesday. It now moves to the Judiciary Committee. Associated Press.

A bill to create a statewide game management advisory commission appears to be dead for this legislative session after missing a deadline to be heard by its second committee. The commission would advise the state Board of Land and Natural Resources on hunting matters and be responsible for developing a five-year game management plan, in addition to other duties. Tribune-Herald.

A state Senate panel has watered down a bill that sought to remove a long-standing income tax break for real estate investment trusts that own more than $13 billion worth of property in Hawaii. The Senate Ways and Means Committee voted Wednesday to amend Senate Bill 118 to ask the state to simply study the issue and report back to the Legislature in December. Civil Beat.

Hawaii ranks as one of the top states in the country when it comes to providing the most solar energy jobs per capita, yet the state lost about 400 jobs in this sector in 2014 when comparing the previous year, according to a new report. Pacific Business News.

Stacey Aldrich has been named state librarian to oversee Hawaii's system of 50 public libraries. Previously, Aldrich served as state librarian of California and as deputy secretary for the Office of Commonwealth Libraries of Pennsylvania. Star-Advertiser.

The Board of Education announced a new State Librarian on Wednesday. Stacey Aldrich will take over the position, which was held by Richard Burns prior to his retirement in December 2014. Big Island Now.

Oahu

The proposed 1,554-acre Hoopili housing project cleared a hurdle Wednesday with a unanimous first-reading approval from the Hono­lulu City Council. Bill 3, D.R. Horton-Schuler Division's request for 11,750 housing units, would rezone what are now largely farm lands between Ewa and Kapolei, the largest residential project to be considered by the Council in at least two decades. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu’s lush agricultural past and increasingly urban future were juxtaposed on both sides of Punchbowl Street on Wednesday as City Council members at Honolulu Hale and legislators at the Capitol discussed the fate of farmland in Hawaii. Civil Beat.

A new Honolulu City Council resolution directs that all federal "bus funds" be removed from the financial plan guiding construction of the island's cash- strapped rail project. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu City Council has voted to place city bus funds off limits for the rail transit project. Due to increased construction costs, delays and lower tax revenues, the price tag for the rail transit project has ballooned by $500 million to $700 million. Hawaii News Now.

The City Council voted 8-1 Wednesday to remove $210 million in federal bus funds from the rail project's official financial plan. KITV4.

The Honolulu City Council is working to ensure millions of dollars used to maintain city buses and HandiVans will not go toward rail. Concerned about the financial struggles of the rail project, council members are making a move to protect funds for other services. KHON2.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz wants Honolulu’s 20-mile commuter rail line to get built, but he says it will be up to local officials to find a way to pay for it. The $6 billion project has a projected shortfall of up to $910 million, and Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell has been asking state lawmakers to increase taxes to bridge the gap. There’s worry that construction could come to a stop by this summer if new money isn’t found. Civil Beat.

Honolulu City Councilman Ikaika Anderson says time may be running out to save Haiku Stairs as the Board of Water Supply prepares to set aside $500,000 to study the possible removal of the once-popular Windward Oahu attraction, which gives hikers sweeping views of the Koolau mountain range. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu City Council is considering two bills to provide funding to maintain Waikiki Beach. Hawaii Public Radio.

A city councilman is trying to clean up the parks by keeping drug dealers out. KHON2.

Hawaii

The Hawaii County Council continued to push Wednesday for a greater county share of the short-term lodging tax, approving two nonbinding resolutions to send to the state Legislature. West Hawaii Today.

A recycling company is suing the county for $5.4 million, alleging it breached a contract for the removal and disposal of scrap metal from the Hilo and Kona landfills. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Hilo Circuit Court by Honolulu attorneys James Bickerton and Steven Tannenbaum on behalf of Big Island Scrap Metal LLC, the parent company of Island Recycling and Atlas Recycling Centers. Tribune-Herald.

No more Hilo Hattie in Hilo. Tribune-Herald.

A U.S. Forest Service plan to convert an old schoolhouse in Puuanahulu into a science and education center is off the table. Instead, the federal agency plans to pursue build-out of the facility at an old landing strip site located within the 38,800-acre experimental Puu Waawaa dryland forest. West Hawaii Today.

Homelessness on Hawaii Island is a challenging issue requiring creative solutions that combine compassion, sustained effort, collaboration of resources and knowledge, county Managing Director Wally Lau said during Wednesday’s Rotary Club of Kona Sunrise meeting. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Five Maui County Council members changed their votes to "no" on reappointing John D. Kim as Maui County's prosecuting attorney Wednesday after receiving distressed "phone calls and face-to-face" visits from former and current employees who criticized Kim's leadership. Maui News.

We look at what state and local government is doing to alleviate their employee parking in Wailuku Town. MauiTime.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Obama to name Japanese internment camp a national monument, medical marijuana dispensaries advance in House, Senate to hear GMO labeling bill, school lunch prices could increase, Iwase popular PUC pick, Maui biogas project on hold, Galuteria owes $7k for declaring wrong residence, 160 acres on Oahu to be blanketed in solar panels, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy National Park Service
Old Honouliuli Internment Camp in Kunia, courtesy National Park Service

President Barack Obama will announce Thursday the designation of the old Honouliuli Internment Camp in Kunia as a national monument to "help tell the difficult story of the internment camp's impact on the Japanese American community and the fragility of civil rights during times of conflict," the White House said. Star-Advertiser.

For more than half a century, what had once been Hawaii’s largest and longest-operating internment camp was ignored and forgotten. To the hundreds of Japanese Americans who had been forcibly confined at the camp, the experience was a source of shame and rarely spoken of until it was rediscovered by historians more than a decade ago. Tribune-Washington Bureau.

A bill that would establish medical marijuana dispensaries and production centers in Hawaii passed through the House committees on Judiciary and Health on Tuesday afternoon. Civil Beat.

A bill to allow medical marijuana dispensaries across Hawaii — nearly 15 years after state leaders made medical use of the drug permissible — is still alive in the House. Star-Advertiser.

Michelle Tippens is one of nearly 13,000 patients in Hawaii who have conditions that could be treated with medical marijuana. But because there are no dispensaries in Hawaii, they’re left to fend for themselves, buying on the black market or growing it themselves. Associated Press.

The state Senate committees on Health and Agriculture will take testimony Thursday on a bill calling for the labeling of food with genetically modified organisms. Civil Beat.

Randy Iwase, whose nomination to head the state Public Utilities Commission was unanimously recommended Tuesday by a Senate committee, said it could take a year to 18 months for the commission to decide whether to approve the sale of Hawaiian Electric Industries to Juno Beach, Fla.-based NextEra Energy Inc. Star-Advertiser.

There seems to be nothing but love for Randy Iwase. Gov. David Ige’s nominee to head the state Public Utilities Commission easily cleared a Senate committee hurdle Tuesday. He’s on track to be confirmed by the full Senate, possibly by the end of this week. Civil Beat.

Randall Iwase told state senators that if he’s confirmed as chairman of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, he will make public input a priority when tackling the commission’s biggest issue — reviewing NextEra Energy’s plan to take over Hawaiian Electric. Associated Press.

The Governor’s nominee to head the Public Utilities Commission was unanimously approved by a Senate panel today. Hawaii Public Radio.

The Board of Education's finance committee Tuesday tabled a proposal to raise school lunch prices by 30 percent over the next three years and challenged officials to instead look at cutting costs and boosting student demand for meals. Star-Advertiser.

The Department of Education is asking for an increase of 10 cents more for breakfast and 25 cents for lunch not just for next year, but for the next three years. KITV4.

Warmer temperatures and unstable conditions created by climate change could make it harder for Hawaii's native species to survive, while creating a opening for invasive disease-spreaders like mice and mosquitoes, state Health Department officials said Tuesday. Maui News.

ALTRES Office/Professional and ALTRES Technical, divisions of ALTRES Staffing, Hawaii’s largest human resources organization, announced today a significant spike in demand for office and technical professionals across all islands. While the state continues to experience unemployment rates at record lows, Hawaii’s available workforce is thinning out. Hawaii Independent.

Opinion: Gov. David Ige’s nomination of development lobbyist Carleton Ching to head the Department of Land and Natural Resources continues to generate lots of heated reaction. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Hawaii Sen. Brickwood Galuteria owes the City and County of Honolulu more than $7,200 in property taxes and fees after improperly claiming a homeowners’ tax break on property in Palolo Valley for the past four years. Civil Beat.

About 200,000 solar panels may soon cover about 160 open acres of land laced with kiawe trees and brush that stretch from the edges of Kamaile Academy to the base of the Waianae Mountains. The 27.6-megawatt project is one of eight large solar farms planned for Oahu that are expected to break ground by the end of the year in order to take advantage of lucrative federal tax credits. Civil Beat.

Two plans aimed at making it easier for Oahu properties to have two living units, and a bill cracking down on illegal vacation rentals, will be aired by the Honolulu Planning Commission at a public hearing Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

Building a 95-unit condominium in place of 19 homes on the slopes of Punchbowl didn't go over well with neighbors when it was proposed eight years ago. Now a revised plan with 140 condo units is raising even more opposition. Star-Advertiser.

Nasty weather over the weekend wreaked havoc on many parts of the windward side including one of Oahu's very popular and illegal hiking trails. Haiku Stairs, better known as the Stairway to Heaven, saw "extensive damage" according to Ernest Lau, Manager and Chief Engineer at the Honolulu Board of Water Supply. Lau says that plans are being made to conduct an assessment of the "stairs" and they want to see if a landslide was responsible for some of the damage. Hawaii News Now.

In an effort to combat websites and blogs that have been driving people to the off-limits Sacred Falls State Park, the Department of Land and Natural Resources is stepping up its communication efforts about the consequences of trespassing. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii officials have long been warning people to stay away from Sacred Falls, a dramatic waterfall where a landslide killed eight hikers more than 15 years ago. Associated Press.

Hawaii

What if Hawaii Island residents owned their own electric utility? That’s the question being posed by a nonprofit group that filed on Feb. 11 a motion with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission to intervene in the pending $4.3 billion sale of Hawaii Electric Light Co’s parent company, Hawaiian Electric Co. (HEI), to NextEra Energy. Tribune-Herald.

The Hawaii Island Energy Cooperative is seeking a seat at the table as the Public Utilities Commission considers the proposed merger of Hawaiian Electric Industries and NextEra Energy. Star-Advertiser.

Big Island business and community leaders have formed a nonprofit coop called the Hawaii Island Energy Cooperative to explore taking over Hawaii Electric Light Co., a subsidiary of Hawaiian Electric Co. Civil Beat.

An Ocean View man who has become the poster child for the debate over the harvest of aquarium fish pleaded no contest Tuesday to tearing the regulator from the mouth of Maui reef activist Rene Umberger in West Hawaii waters last May. Jay Lovell, an aquarium fisherman of 30 years, received a deferred six-month prison sentence on the charge of second-degree terroristic threatening. West Hawaii Today.

More than 50 testifiers and three experts on aquarium fish collection kept a Hawaii County Council committee busy into the evening Tuesday, as council members pondered two bills attempting to regulate sea life collectors and set standards for transporting fish. West Hawaii Today.

Kulani Correctional Facility warden Ruth Forbes has been put on leave pending a review of allegations by employees at the facility, the state Department of Public Safety said Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz will hold a town hall meeting today in Hilo. The meeting will last from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Hilo High School cafeteria. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Maui Electric Co. has decided to hold off on submitting to Hawaii regulators a power purchase agreement with California-based Anaergia Services for a proposed agricultural energy project that would generate up to 6 megawatts of biogas energy, according to a letter from the utility's president to the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission. Pacific Business News.

The House Labor and Public Employment Committee on Tuesday passed House Bill 1075, which would allow the Maui region of HHSC — including Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lanai Community Hospital — to transition into a new private nonprofit under Hawai‘i Pacific Health, the state's largest medical provider. Star-Advertiser.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of State Parks will close the Puʻuōlaʻi (Little Beach) area and a portion of Mākena Beach State Park in South Maui on Wednesday, Feb. 18, while DLNR staff and military ordnance experts conduct an investigation. Maui Now.

Heavy winds and rain Saturday knocked out power to more than 3,500 Maui Electric customers - and to a wastewater pump in Waiehu that caused a sewage spill. Maui News.

Kauai
Officials from Starwood Hotels and Resort say they intend to convert a portion of the Sheraton Kauai Resort into timeshares by the end of this year as a part of a larger proposal to turn the worldwide corporation’s vacation ownership arm into a separate, publicly traded company. Garden Island.