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Friday, August 29, 2014

Big bucks pouring into GMO battle, homeless tent city planned for Sand Island, Supreme Court dismisses election challenge, Abercrombie to appeal FEMA rejection, group appeals Thirty Meter Telescope ruling, hospital layoffs loom, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

photo courtesy University of Hawaii
University of Hawaii GMO researcher James Brewbaker, courtesy photo
The Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation is planning a $400,000 public relations campaign to generate support for farmers and persuade voters to support genetic engineering in agriculture. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a primary election challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii, which had alleged that six voters on Hawaii island had been deprived of their constitutional right to vote by the state's actions in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Iselle. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Supreme Court sided with the state today and dismissed an election challenge launched by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Big Island voters who were unable to cast ballots on Aug. 9 due to Tropical Storm Iselle. Civil Beat.

The state Supreme Court has rejected an ACLU lawsuit on behalf of voters in Puna. The American Civil Liberties Union and six Puna voters say they were denied their right to vote because the election was held when conditions after Tropical Storm Iselle made it impossible for them to leave their homes. Hawaii News Now.

The Hawaii Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit seeking to allow voters on the storm-damaged Big Island to vote. The court said in an opinion released Thursday that it didn’t have jurisdiction to grant the relief sought by the American Civil Liberties Union with the lawsuit. Associated Press.

The financially strapped Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, which runs 13 state hospital facilities across Hawaii, announced Thursday it will lay off less than one percent of its workforce, but warned more layoffs may be looming. Hawaii News Now.

Dozens of people who work for Hawaii’s public hospital system are expected to receive official notices within the next week that they are going to be laid off. The Hawaii Health Systems Corporation said Thursday that it is implementing a system-wide reduction in force, eliminating positions as early as mid-December, to help address a $48 million shortfall for fiscal 2015. Civil Beat.

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s recent hearings in Hawai‘i revealed a number of those testifying believe the U.S. government does not have jurisdiction over these islands. The Interior Department hearings are a starting point for a broader discussion this coming Tuesday at the William S. Richardson School of Law. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii tourism officials are courting about a dozen airlines not currently serving Hawaii, which they hope will some day set up shop here. Star-Advertiser.

A federal judge in Hawaii says she won't consider approving $2.4 million in settlements for hundreds of Thai farm workers until the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission holds a news conference clarifying that the agreements are still subject to court approval. The EEOC is planning a news conference in Honolulu on Friday to comply with the order. Associated Press.

Oahu

The city is negotiating with the state to use vacant property at Sand Island as a temporary site for Oahu's homeless individuals and families to set up tents and receive help from service providers, Caldwell administration officials told members of the City Council Zoning and Planning Committee Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu’s homeless may have a new housing option — tents on Sand Island. Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration has been working to procure a parcel of land on the small island off of Honolulu Harbor as a temporary housing solution for the street homeless population. Civil Beat.

State Rep. Calvin Say's residency in the district he represents and his ability to continue to represent that district in Hawaii’s state House is being threatened in state Circuit Court. Hawaii Reporter.

Hawaiian Electric Co. President and CEO Dick Rosenblum defended the utility's proposed rate changes Thursday, including the $55 minimum rate for all customers and higher monthly charge for new solar owners. Star-Advertiser.

The USS Missouri Memorial Association, Inc., is looking at new markets to generate revenue to pay for improvements and maintenance for the Battleship Missouri Memorial in Pearl Harbor, and has hired a sales manager within the past year to focus on the China and Japan visitor markets for one of Hawaii's most popular visitor attractions. Pacific Business News.

Members of the City Council on Thursday continued to explore Honolulu's nascent paid ride-sharing industry and openly asked whether it should be up to the city or state to impose regulations similar to the rules required of the city's 1,500 taxicab drivers. Star-Advertiser.

There could be fewer moderate-priced homes in the Ward Village master-planned community in Kakaako if the state approves a request from project developer Howard Hughes Corp. Star-Advertiser.

The books and computers are ready, but more than three years after construction began, students at Waialua Elementary School still can’t use their new library and media center. Construction began in Jan. 2011. Now, there’s a $3.3 million building on campus that looks ready to use, but sits empty. KHON2.

Hawaii

The state plans to appeal a decision by the Federal Emergency Management Agency denying a request for a major disaster declaration that would provide federal aid to assist in the recovery from damage inflicted by Tropical Storm Iselle. Star-Advertiser.

Mayor Billy Kenoi said he is “very disappointed” by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s decision to deny the state’s request for a major disaster declaration in the wake of Tropical Storm Iselle. Tribune-Herald.

Six Kona Community Hospital employees are among 34 Hawaii Health Systems Corp. workers set to lose their jobs by December. HHSC Acting President and Chief Executive Officer Alice Hall said the number of affected employees is lower than some workers expected, based on HHSC officials’ warnings after seeing how much funding the state Legislature provided for this year. West Hawaii Today.

Civil Defense officials will call for an evacuation should a worrisome lava flow approaching neighborhoods near Pahoa appear to be within five days of encroaching on populated areas. Such a possibility is still a long way off, however, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Scientist-in-Charge Jim Kauahikaua told a packed house Thursday night at the Pahoa Community Center. Tribune-Herald.

Scientists with U.S. Geological Survey say steam was spotted rising above a crack extending east beyond the end of the lava pad, suggesting that lava was once again advancing within a crack below ground. Hawaii News Now.

Four Big Island residents denied a contested case hearing for the Thirty Meter Telescope’s sublease are taking the issue to court. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

There was no clear consensus this week on how a federal judge's ruling against a Kauai County pesticides and bioengineered crops bill would affect a Nov. 4 vote on an initiative measure calling for a moratorium on genetically modified crops and activities in Maui County. Maui News.

The public is being asked weigh in on a proposed Maui affordable housing project for seniors. The Maui County Land Use Committee has scheduled a site inspection and meeting next week to consider the proposed Hale Mahaolu Ewalu Senior Residential Housing Project. Associated Press.

Maui Memorial Medical Center administrators said this week that they do not anticipate cutting staff positions other than those associated with the closure of the hospital's adolescent behavioral health unit, Molokini II, at least for now. Maui News.

A fever chart for Maui Electric Co.'s customer bills from 2014 to 2030 shows monthly residential prices dropping from the current average, nearly $230 per month, to a bit more than $160 per month in 2030. Maui News.

A former officer with the Maui Police Department filed a lawsuit alleging disability discrimination against the County of Maui and former Police Chief Gary Yabuta following the officer’s termination in December 2013, after 13 years of service. Maui Now.

Kauai

Garden Isle greenbacks. A look at the money being spent in Kauaʻi County’s legal battle to preserve Ordinance 960, regulating pesticides and GMOs. Hawaii Independent.

Arguing tax reform. Residents sound off, officials explain why changes were necessary. Garden Island.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hawaii wage report released, tourism surges, Kauai health workers face layoffs, police investigate Hawaii County candidate, more solar panels planned, trash shortage could cost Honolulu $2M, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2014 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Coral in Hawaii © 2014 All Hawaii News
The federal government is protecting 20 types of colorful coral by putting them on the list of threatened species, partly because of climate change. Associated Press.

Federal authorities released a list of 20 corals they now classify as threatened. However, none are in Hawaii, meaning the blue rice coral — one of three species being impacted by an outbreak of black band coral disease on Kauai’s North Shore — will not receive federal protection. Garden Island.

Medical field tops wage ranking in Hawaii, labor report shows. The Labor Department collected the data in a semiannual mail survey over a three-year cycle. Star-Advertiser.

Read the full labor report here.

After achieving the highest July on record for the state in visitor spending and arrivals, Hawaii's visitor industry is trending ahead of last year's record-breaking pace for tourism. Star-Advertiser.

Opinion: Hawaii’s political polls are regularly erratic and wrong. As a recent Washington Post headline put it, Hawaii is a place “where good polling goes to die.” Civil Beat.

Opinion: Hawaii General Election Gubernatorial Candidates on the Jones Act. Hawaii Reporter.

State House Speaker Joseph Souki will not have to testify this week about when he first heard of a legal challenge to state Rep. Calvin Say's residency, a state Circuit Court judge ruled Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

A new Hawaii law that makes domestic violence a felony if it’s committed in the presence of children has been criticized as excessive and vague. Associated Press.

Hawaiian Electric Co. released aggressive new energy plans on Tuesday that seek to increase the amount of energy derived from renewable energy sources from 30 percent to 65 percent by 2030, as well as triple the amount of solar energy on its electric grids on Oahu, the Big Island and in Maui County. Civil Beat.

Hawaiian Electric Companies submitted a plan to the Public Utilities Commission that is designed to achieve specific goals by 2030 for Hawaiʻi’s Energy Future. Maui Now.

Hawaiian Electric Company has released details of its vision for the state’s energy future, and part of the plan calls for 65 percent of all electricity generated on Oahu, the Big Island and Maui County to come from renewable sources. KITV4.

Hawaiian Electric has been under fire for its slow conversion to renewable energy, but its newly released long-term plan promises to change that. KHON2.

Monsanto, GMOs and the importance of independent research at the University of Hawaiʻi. Hawaii Independent.

USGS is working with other government agencies, the University of Hawaii and the American Red Cross to improve earthquake preparedness through the 2014 Great Hawaii ShakeOut, part of a worldwide event Oct. 16. Civil Beat.

The Army in the Pacific is starting a new deployment concept this week that sends soldiers out into the region for multiple exercises and longer stays in foreign countries that are intended to reassure partner nations and develop closer relationships as the United States continues its "rebalance" to the Pacific. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

The city could be on the hook for as much as $2 million for not handing over enough trash to the operators of the HPOWER waste-to-energy plant, a Honolulu City Council committee was told Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu’s top rail executive told members of the City Council Budget Committee on Wednesday that the project has a “healthy contingency fund” despite the fact that recent construction bids came in more than $100 million higher than expected. Civil Beat.

Honolulu City Council members questioned rail leaders about the budget and a recent contract coming in significantly overbid. The lowest bid to build the first nine transit stations was $110 million more than anticipated. Hawaii News Now.

A measure exempting compostable products from an upcoming Oahu plastic bag ban won key approval from a Honolulu City Council committee Wednesday while a bill requiring takeout containers to be more environmentally friendly was shelved in favor of more study. Star-Advertiser.

Move over, Kakaako. Honolulu planners have big dreams for another neighborhood. They want to transform Ala Moana into a more vibrant, inviting cityscape complete with bike lanes, green spaces and denser development. Civil Beat.

Hawaiian Electric Co.'s new energy plan angered solar customers, who could face higher monthly bills, but pleased non-solar customers, who might see their costs drop. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaiian Electric Co. plans to level the playing field when it comes to customers who have rooftop solar, and others who don’t, noting that the current net energy metering program utilized by rooftop solar customers is not sustainable. Pacific Business News.

A Honolulu planning board plans to revisit a controversial set of bills that would ban sitting and lying down on sidewalks in Waikiki. Hawaii News Now.

A proposal for a one-year restriction on stand-up paddleboards at select spots along Oahu's south shore has been withdrawn, but state officials could still consider changes. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Five months ago, Michael Kaha signed in as the Wheelabrator representative at a pre-bid conference for a waste-to-energy incinerator in Hawaii County. Last week, he was named to a newly created position as the county’s deputy solid waste division chief. West Hawaii Today.

Police will investigate a complaint alleging Hawaii County Council District 5 candidate Tiffany Edwards Hunt committed voter fraud by registering to vote from her husband’s surf shop in Pahoa rather than her home in Hawaiian Acres during the 2012 election. Tribune-Herald.

The National Park Service is stressing the importance of a “margin of safety” for its ecosystems, while acknowledging there is no evidence that current water pumping practices pose an immediate threat to the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii Electric Light Co. is proposing to boost its use of renewable energy sources by 2030, providing for 92 percent of the Big Isle’s energy needs, but would also require customers with rooftop solar to pay more than they do now. Tribune-Herald.

While all but a relative handful of electrical customers have been restored service after the devastation of Tropical Storm Iselle, about 1,600 Hawaiian Telcom customers remain without landline telephone and/or Internet service. Tribune-Herald.

Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey who have been carefully monitoring the lava flow heading toward lower Puna say Wednesday's aerial assessment indicates there is little to no activity in the area that once posed the greatest threat to the Kaohe Homesteads subdivision. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii’s largest health insurance provider is teaming up with a bestselling author to help communities here get healthier. West Hawaii Today.

Maui
The coral reefs offshore between Lahaina and Kaanapali may be some of the least healthy reefs along West Maui, possibly due to pollution from the Lahaina wastewater treatment plant and Olowalu landfill runoff, according to an expert hired by the state to conduct a West Maui reef study. Maui News.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife is looking to hire two planners to conduct outreach and provide technical assistance to new landowners participating in the department's Hawaii Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, the department announced. Maui News.

Visitors to Maui Spend $206 Per Person Per Day, Up 10%. Maui Now.

Kauai
Officials from Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, which operates the island’s two public, critical-access hospitals and three primary care clinics, said they will institute a round of layoffs system wide as the struggling state-subsidized health provider seeks to offset its projected $48 million budget shortfall this fiscal year. Garden Island.

The Kauai County Council gave their first stamp of approval to a Department of Public Works proposal that would create the state’s first pay-as-you-throw program, which charges all property owners variable rates that are based how much they discard each month. Garden Island.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Gubernatorial candidates debate, Oahu to raise smoking age, Puna prepares for lava, Hawaiian Electric companies file long-term plans, Kauai property tax bills rise, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

screen grab
Hawaii gubernatorial candidates debate, screen grab
Hawaii can stimulate its economy and generate jobs without raising taxes, the state's gubernatorial candidates said in a forum Tuesday. The debate hosted by the West Oahu Economic Development Association marked the first time that the four candidates met since the primary election earlier this month. Associated Press.

Mufi, David, Duke and Jeff: Our Candidates for Governor Get Together. Hawaii's contenders for top job talk about economic growth in West Oahu, same-sex marriage and elephants in the room. Civil Beat.

The first forum featuring all four candidates for Governor overlooked the first section of Oahu's rail line from the UH West Oahu Campus Center. It was a fitting focal point to discuss the economy and future of Hawaii. Hawaii News Now.

Two weeks after his upset of Gov. Neil Abercrombie for the Democratic Party's gubernatorial nomination, Oahu state Sen. David Ige expressed confidence Saturday that he and Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui would ride a wave of voter support to win in the Nov. 4 general election. Maui News.

The Hawaiian Electric Cos. plan to lower customers' electric bills by 20 percent, nearly triple the amount of rooftop solar and give customers more service options by 2030, while attaining the highest level of renewable energy in the nation, according to response released late Tuesday to directives by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission that were handed down in April. Pacific Business News.

The Hawaiian electric companies filed new long-term energy plans with the state Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday that outline their strategies for increasing clean energy, reducing consumer costs, and improving the integration of solar into their electric grids on Oahu, Maui County and the Big Island. Civil Beat.

The Hawaiian Electric Companies late Tuesday afternoon filed what can be described as a massive energy transition plan with the Public Utilities Commission. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaiian Electric delivered on its promise on Tuesday, presenting its plan to reduce costs and allow more people to use renewable energy . HECO delivered binders full of documents late Tuesday afternoon to the Public Utilities Commission.  The PUC then posted it online. KHON2.

It’s Women’s Equality Day. How Does Hawaii Compare? Very well on a number of fronts, thank you, and overall we're No. 1. Civil Beat.

A new University of Hawaii report on global warming doesn't specify when the impacts will hit but warns the tourism industry to start preparing now for the effects linked to climate change because they likely will have a profound effect on the state and its No. 1 business. Star-Advertiser.

Opinion: Puna Voters Had Practical Problems, Not Legal Defects. Natural disasters occasionally disrupt elections but legal challenges have not materialized or succeeded in other states. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann said Tuesday that the city, not the Hawaii Community Development Authority, should have planning oversight in Kakaako. Star-Advertiser.

A bill that would raise the smoking age to 21 won preliminary approval Tuesday from the City Council's Public Safety and Economic Development Committee. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu may join a growing number of jurisdictions throughout the country, including Hawaii County, to raise the minimum age for buying cigarettes from 18 to 21. Civil Beat.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources will hold a public meeting Wednesday to discuss a proposed one-year pilot project to regulate the use of stand-up paddleboards at certain surf breaks on Oahu's South Shore. Star-Advertiser.

Legislation seeking to create a quasi-independent agency to manage Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve was shelved by a Honolulu City Council committee Tuesday to allow the Parks and Recreation Department time to provide specific financial information to Council members and others who want to know where up to $6 million in annual revenue from the popular attraction is being used. Star-Advertiser.

Hanauma Bay to be audited over repair backlog and improper budget accusations. Hawaii News Now.

The City Council Executive Matters and Legislative Affairs Committee on Tuesday deferred Bill 50, which would have given the Council the authority to determine how much in fines should be paid by those who violate city land use laws. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaiian Electric Co. wants 65 percent of its power to come from renewable sources by 2030, cut customer bills by 20 percent, convert remaining power plants to liquefied natural gas and charge customers with rooftop solar much more. Star-Advertiser.

Drivers in Honolulu rank among the top 30 percent accident-prone motorists in the U.S., according to an annual ranking of the nation's 200 biggest urban areas, according to Allstate Corp. Star-Advertiser.

Homeless people living on University of Hawaii Manoa land just steps away from dorms and faculty housing have left behind piles of trash, making parts of Waahila Ridge look like a small garbage dump. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii

One of the finalists for Hawaii County’s waste-to-energy incinerator is expected to penalize the City and County of Honolulu big bucks for not providing enough garbage for its plant last year. But Hawaii County Environmental Management Director Bobby Jean Leithead Todd said Tuesday the Big Island isn’t likely to run into the same problem because it’s planning a much smaller facility. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii Island public safety officials are asking lower Puna residents to remain vigilant as scientists continue to track a lava flow that is within 2 miles of homes. The June 27 flow, named for the date it began, is moving at a speed of about 200 to 300 feet per day, according to Jim Kauahikaua, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientist-in-charge. Tribune-Herald.

The ordinarily quiet streets of Kaohe Homesteads south of Pahoa bustled with activity Tuesday. Neighbors visited with each other to share the latest news, and residents from nearby communities were busy driving through to see what they could see — scoping out the area public safety officials say could be the first in line if an unpredictable lava flow 2 miles away continues on its path. Tribune-Herald.

Councilwoman Brenda Ford says South Kona needs a new well — the sooner, the better. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Developers for the proposed Piʻilani Promenade in South Maui have filed a draft environmental impact statement for the project. Maui Now.

Opponents of Revised Pi‘ilani Promenade Project Express Concern. Maui Weekly.

The state Board of Land and Natural Resources approved a deal Friday to resolve encroachments onto Kihei state beach reserve land, officials said Monday. Maui News.

Kula Elementary School lowered its student absentee rate by nearly 20 percentage points in the last school year, after a third of its students missed 15 days or more in the previous school year, according to statistics released Monday by the state Department of Education. Maui News.

Kauai

County officials say 5,293 property owners in the county’s homestead class received increases on their real property taxes this year. Another 5,651 people, according to Department of Finance data, received decreases on their tax returns. Garden Island.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Judge strikes down Kauai GMO law, Honolulu running out of garbage to feed incinerator, state fights election lawsuit, crowd gathers to hear about lava danger, absenteeism, math and reading scores drop at public schools, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

photo courtesy Katja Jordan King
Kauai anti GMO rally, 2013 photo courtesy Katja Jordan King
A federal judge has struck down a Kauai County law regulating pesticides and genetically modified crops by large agribusinesses, and the mayors of two other islands said the ruling could have wide implications for their counties. Star-Advertiser.

A federal judge has struck down Kauai County’s ordinance requiring more disclosure from biotechnology companies about pesticide use and genetically engineered farming practices. The court ruling is a setback for the growing movement against biotechnology companies in Hawaii, where seed corn is the biggest export crop.Civil Beat.

Judge rules Kauaʻi pesticide law is pre-empted by state law. Kauaʻi residents and community leaders respond to a federal court ruling in the lawsuit brought by chemical companies against Kauaʻi's Ordinance 960: “This battle is far from over.” Hawaii Independent.

A Kauai County law requiring companies to disclose their use of pesticides and genetically modified crops is invalid, a federal judge ruled Monday. U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren ruled in favor of four seed companies seeking to stop Kauai’s new law from going into effect in October. Associated Press.

A federal judge ruled Monday that Ordinance 960, a county law regulating the use of pesticides and genetically modified crops, is pre-empted by state law and therefore invalid. Garden Island.

Monday marked a big win for 'big ag' companies on Kauai in district court. Judge Barry Kurren ruled Ordinance 960, which established pesticide free buffer zones, mandated environmental and public health impact studies, and established penalties for non-compliance, was invalid because state laws preempt county laws. Hawaii News Now.

A federal judge ruled Monday that a Kauai County ordinance that requires large-scale agricultural operations to disclose the presence and use of pesticides and genetically-modified crops is preempted by state law and therefore unenforceable. KHON2.

A federal judge who struck down Kauai County’s GMO and pesticide disclosure law will also decide the fate of Hawaii County’s ban on most genetically modified crops. Anti-GMO activists pushed for both laws last year, and arguments that they are pre-empted by state and federal law proved to be enough to find Kauai County’s law invalid Monday. Tribune-Herald.

The Hawaii Attorney General's Office in a court filing has asked the state Supreme Court to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the primary election. Associated Press.

The state on Monday asked the Hawaii Supreme Court to dismiss a legal challenge to the primary election filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii, arguing that the court does not have jurisdiction to hear the case and that the lawsuit threatens to derail preparations for the November general election. Star-Advertiser.

With health care premiums and costs going up each year, Hawaii health plans could be subject to a 40 percent excise tax in 2018, says head of Family Health Hawaii. Pacific Business News.

The Hawaii Medical Service Association boosted compensation for its chief executive Michael Gold by 19 percent to $1.3 million last year as the state's top insurer prepared to roll out Obamacare. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s elementary schools have significantly improved their attendance rates, according to the most recent results of Strive HI, the state Department of Education’s system for measuring student performance and growth. Schools across the board have also made strides in science proficiency. But math and reading scores are down from last year, while college-readiness, graduation and college-going rates have remained steady. Civil Beat.

After a decade of steady growth, the number of Hawaii public school students scoring proficient in math dipped slightly last school year while reading scores also slid — decreases officials say were expected as the state continues its transition to a more rigorous set of curriculum standards and as schools gear up for a new standardized assessment this year. Star-Advertiser.

The percentage of Hawaii public school students absent for 15 days or more dropped sharply last school year.Associated Press.

Chronic absenteeism in Hawaii public schools showed a significant drop last year, according to the Department of Education’s 2013-14 Strive HI Performance System Results. Tribune-Herald.

Newly minted U.S. Army soldiers marching in graduation ceremonies at Fort Benning, Ga., will soon be treading in the figurative footsteps of the late U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, one of Hawaii’s best-known leaders. The parade field, adjacent to the National Infantry Museum, is the site of all U.S. Army Infantry basic training graduations. West Hawaii Today.

Unlike a hurricane or most tsunamis, earthquakes hit with little if any advance notice.  But new technology is changing that. KHON2.

Oahu

After a major expansion, the city of Honolulu now says it's not collecting enough trash for its HPOWER Plant. And that shortfall could cost the city millions of dollars. The city is required to collect 800,000 tons of trash a year for the Campbell Industrial Park power plant, which burns garbage to produce electricity. But right now it's only getting 678,000 tons a year. The city has to pay operator Covanta Honolulu for the difference but so far, the company has not yet told the city what that amount will be. Hawaii News Now.

A Honolulu City Council bill that would potentially exempt a westside landfill from millions of dollars in city fees is generating pushback from the director of the city’s Department of Environmental Services, who says it gives preferential treatment to a single company and could result in a significant loss in city revenue. Civil Beat.

Five bills that would have major impacts on the homeless and others who spend considerable time on Oahu's sidewalks will once again take center stage at the Honolulu City Council's Zoning and Planning Committee meeting Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

City to hold public meeting on homeless bills. KITV4.

New results from the first month of the state's color-coded inspection system show an improvement in the number of restaurants receiving a green "pass" placard. Hawaii News Now.

More than a dozen protesters joined the Sierra Club Hawaii outside Hawaiian Electric Co.'s Ward Avenue headquarters Monday, a day before HECO submits its plan for making the transition to clean energy with the Public Utilities Commission. Star-Advertiser.

The chairman and chief executive officer of a major Hawaii employment firm has stepped down after being arrested for allegedly hiring a prostitute. Matthew Delaney, a co-founder of The Hawaii Group, is no longer involved in day-to-day operations, the company announced Monday. Star-Advertiser.

The Lofts @ The Collection sold out Saturday. A&B Properties Inc.announced Monday morning that the second phase of its condominium development, consisting of 54 units, sold out in a little over half a day. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii
Hawaii Island public safety officials asked Monday night for Lower Puna residents to remain vigilant as scientists continue to track a lava flow that is now within 2 miles of a populated subdivision. Tribune-Herald.

Members of the Puna community faced many challenges the night of Tropical Storm Iselle.  One was, the Puna Geothermal Ventures plant at Leilani Estates shut down, causing a release of geothermal steam that some people say caused them distress. Hawaii Public Radio.

The Puna Community Medical Center’s plan to bring emergency room facilities to Pahoa took a major step forward Friday with the granting of a 65-year land lease. The state Board of Land and Natural Resources approved the lease request for a 5-acre state-owned parcel on the mauka side of Highway 130. Tribune-Herald.

The attorney for a Kona artist who sued an online publishing company said Monday a settlement reached last week was “amicable.” West Hawaii Today.

Maui

The Sustainable Living Institute of Maui at UH Maui College hosts a pau hana discussion with experts at Green Building Hawaiʻi this Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. Maui Now.

Maui Job Corps marks 50th.‘Wonderful alternative’ to traditional school. Maui News.

Kauai

When people in Kauai took to the streets last year to protest against GMO crops, police monitored the demonstrations. But officers weren’t dressed in battle uniforms, and didn’t ride on armored vehicles carrying military-style weapons to confront the crowd. And for the most part, the events went off smoothly. Garden Island.

Pflueger's sentencing in Ka loko dam breach case delayed a third time. Retired auto dealer James Pflueger was scheduled to be in court Thursday, Aug. 28, to be sentenced in Kauai’s Fifth Circuit Court for recklessly causing the deaths of 7 people when his Ka Loko dam breached on March 14, 2006. Hawaii Reporter.

Lanai

Oracle Corp. billionaire CEO Larry Ellison, the majority owner of the Hawaiian island of Lanai, has added to his property portfolio on the Pineapple Island with a recent purchase of another condominium unit at the Terraces Manele Bay condominium, according to public records. Pacific Business News.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Hanauma Bay supporters seek funds, Kauai looks to body cameras for police, whales distressed by RIMPAC, Oahu land reclassified in flood zone, Maui mulls plan for Patsy Mink's school, election fallout and more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2014 All Hawaii News
Hanauma Bay © 2014 All Hawaii News
Frustrated members of Friends of Hanauma Bay said that they've tried repeatedly to determine whether a portion of the money from the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve Fund is being siphoned off for other city parks. Now the City Council will consider asking the city administration to remove itself from the picture entirely. Star-Advertiser.

Whales beware. Naval exercises like RIMPAC cause clear harm and distress to marine life including dolphins, fish and especially whales. Hawaii Independent.

The state Elections Commission on Friday appointed three subcommittees to examine issues surrounding the 2014 primary election and the actions of the chief election officer, who faced heavy criticism over the decision to carry out two elections in a tropical-storm ravaged district on Hawaii island and the late discovery of about 800 mail-in ballots on Maui. Star-Advertiser.

State lawmakers and concerned citizens took turns Friday accusing Hawaii Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago of disenfranchising voters as Elections Commission members nodded and prodded him for answers. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Chief Election Officer Scott Nago tried to explain a host of problems that occurred during the recent primary election held in the wake of a tropical storm — from why a makeup election was held after initially telling voters of closed Big Island precincts they would be mailed ballots to why 800 ballots went uncounted on Maui. Associated Press.

The Hawai‘i Elections Commission is investigating the state’s primary. Nearly 70 people packed into the commission meeting on Friday, with several calling for chief elections officer Scott Nago to be fired. Hawaii Public Radio.

The state Office of Hawaiian Affairs administrator paid a controversial political scientist $25,000 to write a memo that calls into question the validity of OHA's nation-building effort, even raising the question of whether the office's trustees are committing war crimes by pursuing it. But the board apparently has not been swayed by his arguments. Star-Advertiser.

Three out of four candidates for Hawaii governor say they agree Hawaii’s health exchange is a mess, taxes are burdensome and leadership style in the state’s top office needs to change. The fourth — and most formidable opponent to each of the other candidates — was absent Friday during the first debate of the General Election after a disagreement with organizers. Associated Press.

PACs aim to build congressional rivals' name recognition. The race between Djou and Takai garners interest from the VoteVets organization. Star-Advertiser.

Opinion: I’ve seen this parade before. Dozens of hopeful candidates from diverse walks of life, hopeful, excited, sporting banners and signs and buttons and T-shirts and stickers and websites, all believing this will be the election year that Hawaii elects more than a token representation of Republicans. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Hundreds of property owners on Oahu have been told their land has been reclassified and is now in a "high-risk" flood zone as the result of remapping by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Star-Advertiser.

Lately the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s finances have garnered a lot of attention as faculty members, students and the public speculate about the mysterious firing of Chancellor Tom Apple and its connection with his directive to freeze all hiring in an effort to stop the budget bleeding. Civil Beat.

With evacuated residents allowed back to their homes, Honolulu firefighters shifted their focus Sunday to stopping a massive brush fire from reaching the Honouliuli Forest Reserve — home to dozens of threatened and endangered species. Star-Advertiser.

Opinion: City transit officials are tiresome in their dishonest attempts to blame citizen lawsuits for massive cost overruns that are shredding their promise to build Oahu's $5.26 billion rail line on time and on budget. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu-based solar energy firms RevoluSun and Distributed Energy Partners, which together have designed and built solar energy systems totaling more than 50-megawatts of energy in Hawaii since 2009, are restructuring to divide work for the residential and commercial markets. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii

The state of Hawaii depleted its Major Disaster Fund in response to Tropical Storm Iselle, according to a Thursday letter sent by Gov. Neil Abercrombie to President Barack Obama seeking federal assistance. Tribune-Herald.

A day after completing its two-week effort to restore power to upper Puna, Hawaii Electric Light Co. personnel continued to work with county crews and other agencies Sunday to clear debris left by Tropical Storm Iselle. Star-Advertiser.

He was a hotelier, a police commissioner, a County Council member, a state senator, a state representative and, more recently, a member of the Hawaii Tourism Authority. But most of all, Robert “Bob” Herkes was a dogged fighter for the people. West Hawaii Today.

Tawn Keeney is determined that the Honokaa People’s Theater will not follow so many others of its kind into the twilight. West Hawaii Today.

There will be an increase in nighttime aircraft traffic over Hilo throughout this week due to runway repairs at the Hilo International Airport. Hawaii News Now.

Maui

Maui officials are looking for ideas on how to repurpose a high school campus that was once home to Congresswoman Patsy Mink, its class valedictorian for 1944. Associated Press.

Pulama Lana'i continues to move ahead with development of a facility to convert salty groundwater to drinking water and for irrigation use. Maui News.

Kauai

The Kauai Police Department may become the first law enforcement agency in the state with all officers wearing body cameras. Garden Island.

County of Kauai officials say they would like to give nonresidential landowners more time to construct additional dwelling units on their property as the economy continues to recover. Garden Island.

Friday, August 22, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oahu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kauai

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

Thursday, August 21, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oahu

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

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

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

Hawaii

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kauai

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




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

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