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Friday, December 19, 2014

Ige tours Puna lava flow, Honolulu rail $700M over budget, state Supreme Court mulls gay marriage law, e-cig ban coming to Hawaii County, Kauai auditor sues county, environmental workers face job cuts, University of Hawaii wants $70M more, alcohol at Ward theater, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy Governor's Office
Gov. Ige lava flyover, courtesy Governor's Office
Gov. David Ige toured the lava flow Thursday by air and on the ground. Ige also spoke at a community meeting Thursday night in Pahoa. Ige, while speaking with reporters, said it helps to see the flow with his own eyes. Tribune-Herald.

Gov. David Ige on Thursday met with civil defense officials, stopped by area schools, and visited the Pahoa Recycling and Transfer Station where the public may view a cooling lava flow. Star-Advertiser.

The State’s Chief Executive paid a visit to the Puna district Thursday. Governor David Ige’s schedule included a briefing with Hawaii County Civil Defense Chief Darryl Oliveira, a meeting in Kea’au with teachers from schools affected by the Puna lava flow, and a personal look at the lava flow. Big Island Video News.

Gov. David Ige made his first visit to Puna to see the lava flow first-hand Thursday as Hawaii County officials prepare to open a detour on Railroad Avenue. Hawaii News Now.

The state Supreme Court heard arguments Thursday in a lawsuit challenging Hawaii’s gay marriage law, more than a year after same-sex couples were allowed to legally marry on the islands. Associated Press.

With legal opinion nationally shifting toward marriage equality, justices on the state Supreme Court on Thursday took a skeptical view of a state House lawmaker's challenge to Hawaii's marriage law. Star-Advertiser.

Dozens of state workers who protect our environment could lose their jobs because of something that's good for the environment. The state Department of Health says the funding to pay for workers who ensure Hawaii's drinking water is safe, investigate illegal dumping and respond to oil spills and other environmental disasters could run out in less than three months. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii's economy is showing steady improvement, with the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations reporting a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 4 percent for the month of November, falling from 4.1 percent in October. Star-Advertiser.

Groups affiliated with Pacific Resource Partnership, an advocacy group for union carpenters and contractors, were fined $3,100 by the state Campaign Spending Commission on Wednesday for failing to report expenses and other information. The commission voted 4-0 to levy penalties on the Hawaii Carpenters Market Recovery Program Fund, Forward Progress and PRP executive director John White. Civil Beat.

The University of Hawaii System presented its 2015 to 2017 biennium budget proposal to state lawmakers Thursday morning, asking for an additional $35.5 million in general funds for the 2016 fiscal year and nearly $39 million for the 2017 fiscal year, in addition to the $405 million already appropriated by the Legislature for the current fiscal year. Pacific Business News.

University of Hawaii officials want state taxpayers to help the 10-campus system pay its electric bills and unfunded federal mandates like the gender-equity dictates of Title IX that they project will cost more than $70 million over the next two years. Civil Beat.

The University of Hawaii will wait until after the legislative session to decide whether to raise tuition in the fall, officials told lawmakers Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

An international team led by University of Hawaii scientists says they have set a record for observing the deepest fish during an expedition to the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific. The scholars said Thursday they saw the fish more than 5 miles underwater. Associated Press.

Opinion:  Obama does not represent Hawaii. When it comes to the Obama Presidential Library, we're better off without it. Hawaii Independent.

Oahu

The transit system could cost as much as $700 million more than projected, and officials may push to extend a tax surcharge. Facing lagging revenues and soaring costs, Oahu's rail transit system — the largest public works project ever built in Hawaii — finds itself at yet another crossroads. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu’s $5.2 billion rail project could go over budget by as much as $700 million, causing Mayor Kirk Caldwell and top transit officials to seek more funds elsewhere. Officials blame lawsuit delays, a lag in tax collections and higher-than-expected construction bids. Extension of a tax surcharge may be sought. Civil Beat.

O’ahu’s 5.3 billion dollar rail transit project is facing harsh financial challenges and probably will not be built on budget or on time. Hawaii Public Radio.

It wasn't exactly the news rail supporters wanted right before the holidays, but after crunching all the numbers the cost for rail could come in $500 to $750 million more than expected. Hawaii News Now.

Consolidated Theatres filed an application with the Honolulu Liquor Commission to serve alcohol at its Ward location. The application cleared its first hurdle, but barely. KHON2.

Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard said it plans to hire 731 workers this fiscal year, a significant boost for high-paying jobs at the state's largest industrial employer. The shipyard has 4,523 civilian workers and 462 military members. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Hawaii County will likely start the new year as the only county in the state banning electronic cigarettes at parks, beaches and other public places. A 5-4 council majority late Wednesday passed Bill 302, prohibiting the use of electronic cigarettes anywhere smoking traditional cigarettes is banned. West Hawaii Today.

The Leeward Planning Commission on Thursday joined its east side counterpart with a vote to place the approval process for PUDs with the commissions rather than solely with the planning director. West Hawaii Today.

The $80 million project to widen Queen Kaahumanu Highway is awaiting sign-offs from the parties that have a stake in how construction is aligned. West Hawaii Today.

The Big Island’s unemployment rate decreased for a third straight month in November, the Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations reported Thursday. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Haleakala National Park officials are warning drivers to slow down for nene, which are more active along Crater Road with the arrival of breeding season. Maui News.

Opinion: The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii elevated Christopher J. Benjamin, Alexander & Baldwin‘s President and Chief Operating Officer, to chairman of their Board of Trustees. Maui Time.

Kauai

The county auditor’s civil case against the County of Kauai is back in state court. Kauai County Auditor Ernesto Pasion, of Kalaheo, filed a complaint claiming common law retaliation of the Hawaii Whistleblowers’ Protection Act, negligence, and declaratory relief in 5th Circuit on Nov. 25, 2013. Garden Island.

The Kauai County Council voted Wednesday to confirm Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.’s nomination of two-year Kauai resident Allan Parachini to the Charter Review Commission. Garden Island.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Judge bans state aerial hunting, Hawaii council OKs GMO appeal, Kauai kills biotech land tax, super PAC fined for campaign violations, Aloha United Way cleared in no-bid state-run giving program, Hawaiian Home Lands telecom contractor indicted, Honolulu Police commission bows out of police chief probe, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2014 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Feral goats, sheep, graze on Mauna Loa © 2014 All Hawaii News
A judge Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit that sought to exempt state employees and contractors from county and state laws banning aerial hunting. The ruling by Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn Hara thwarts state plans, at least for now, to conduct aerial hunting of feral ungulates such as sheep, goats, swine, cattle and axis deer beyond critical habitat of the native palila bird on Mauna Kea. Tribune-Herald.

The Hawaii Carpenters Market Recovery Program Fund, a partnership of the Hawaii Carpenters Union and trade contractors also known as the Pacific Resource Partnership, has been fined $3,100 over campaign activities supporting a ballot initiative and two county council races in the last election. Campaign Spending commissioners voted 4-0 on Wednesday to accept the fines rather than send the complaint to the city prosecutor. Star-Advertiser.

The state Ethics Commission on Wednesday rebuffed a staff recommendation to advise Gov. David Ige to consider replacing Aloha United Way as the state's workplace giving program with a combined state-run campaign. Star-Advertiser.

A federal indictment alleges the president of Sandwich Isles Communications Inc. telecommunications company that serves Hawaiian home lands residents siphoned off $4 million of the corporation's money for a decade to pay for personal expenses, including $92,000 in massages, a $1.3 million house and $1.3 million in false wages for his wife and three children. Star-Advertiser.

A company that receives heavy federal government subsidies paid more than $4 million for its founder's personal expenses, a new indictment alleges. Hawaii News Now.

The University of Hawaii Athletics Department has faced a series of fiscal and staffing troubles in recent months, leading legislators, administrators and regents to debate the future of the state’s only athletic program. Hawaii Reporter.

Oahu

Before taking action on allegations of police misconduct, the Honolulu Police Commission will wait until the conclusion of a possible FBI probe into the Honolulu Police Department's handling of a federal case involving police Chief Louis Kealoha's stolen mailbox, commission Chairman Ron Taketa said Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu Police Commission will not launch its own investigation into Police Chief Louis Kealoha for his actions related to a family dispute involving his prosecutor wife and her estranged uncle, who they accused of stealing their mailbox. Civil Beat.

A nonprofit developer wanting to build loft-style apartments for low-income artists has secured the land for the project in Kakaako. The developer, Artspace, was awarded a 65-year lease for a 30,000-square-foot lot on Waimanu Street by the Hawaii Community Development Authority, which agreed to nominal rent of $1 a year. Star-Advertiser.

A new construction project in Kaka’ako was unveiled today. It’s one-fourth the height of a high-rise and targets individuals who earn 20-thousand dollars annually. Hawaii Public Radio.

They camp, people complain and the city cleans up. It's a cycle happening more and more when it comes to dealing with Oahu's homeless. KITV4.

Debit cards for Halau Lokahi Charter School's bank account have been canceled and the co-director of the school placed on administrative leave in the wake of a raid by the Attorney General's office. Star-Advertiser.

Opinion: The King Street protected lane is a great start. But Honolulu needs to work quickly to beef up its bike-friendly projects. Civil Beat.

Hawaii

The Hawaii County Council voted 5-4 Wednesday to appeal a federal judge’s ruling striking a law that restricts genetically modified crops on the island. “This is an important decision with far-reaching impact on home rule,” said Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille, author of the original bill limiting GMO. “It’s not just about GMO.” West Hawaii Today.

The June 27 lava flow could reach Pahoa Marketplace by Christmas. Darryl Oliveira, Hawaii County Civil Defense administrator, said Wednesday the flow was about five to six days from reaching the shopping center based on its current rate. Tribune-Herald.

Wednesday was the first day of public viewing of lava at the former transfer station on Apa’a Street. This is the spot where the lava from the June 27 flow first entered Pahoa in October, covering the road and inflating before eventually stalling out. Big Island Video News.

The Hawaii State Department of Health has installed three temporary particulate monitors to measure and inform residents on the Big Island of the air quality levels from the lava flow from Kilauea volcano. West Hawaii Today.

The Hawaii State Judiciary and Department of Accounting and General Services unveiled preliminary design concepts Tuesday of the proposed $90 million Kona Judiciary Complex slated for a 10-acre parcel in Keahuolu, North Kona. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

The Maui County Council is set to vote Friday on a housing ordinance that would drastically reduce how much affordable housing developers are required to build on the islands of Maui, Molokai and Lanai. Civil Beat.

Maui-based sustainability group SHAKA Movement will be allowed to intervene in Maui County's GMO case; Judge Kurren has reassigned the case. Hawaii Independent.

Experts hope to control rampant little fire ants that have infested more than 20 acres in East Maui by shooting a gellike insecticide onto tall trees in which the ants are known to nest. Maui News.

State Department of Land and Natural Resources enforcement officers will be at the Maui Mall this weekend to tell people know about new fishing rules that took effect last month. Associated Press.

The Makawao History Museum moved to a new location last month to gain more exposure within the Makawao community. The museum now is at 3643 Baldwin Ave., the main street of Makawao town, in a "quaint little spot right at the heart of town," project coordinator Cheryl Ambrozic said Tuesday. Maui News.

Kauai

The Kauai County Council on Wednesday officially killed a bill that would have used lease rents, rather than fair market values, to help calculate real property tax assessments for biotech research land users. The decision, by a 5-1 vote, affirmed Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.’s veto against the bill earlier this month in which he expressed concerns about the bill’s impact on the agricultural industry on Kauai and the county’s ability to enforce it. Garden Island.

Kauai County Council Vice Chair Ross Kagawa said he believes the seven-member board made a mistake two months ago when it passed the state’s first variable rate structure for refuse services, called pay as you throw, that’s based on how much people throw away. That bill is now headed for a public hearing on Jan. 14 after the board agreed, by a 5-2 vote, to consider the proposal. Garden Island.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Fishing changes coming, FBI probes Honolulu Police Department, rail audit to be revealed, lava viewing area to open, shops close in path of lava, rooftop solar slides, albatross eggs moved off Kauai missile range, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2014 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Fish rules workshop © 2014 All Hawaii News
Fisheries management officials are considering changes that could have profound effects on the catch and sale of popular island fish — from yellowfin ahi to deep-water species such as opakapaka and onaga. State and federal officials last weekend held the last of seven community meetings around the islands to discuss fish-related proposals that will be taken up separately next year by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources and the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council. Star-Advertiser.

The union for Hawaii public school teachers says some of its members are being caught up in lengthy investigations for alleged misconduct that 7 out of 10 times results in clearance of wrongdoing by schools — but their reputations are maligned in the process. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaiian Homes Commission on Tuesday approved sweeping changes to the basic framework for the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands' controversial month-to-month land leasing program, authorizing reforms intended to make the process more transparent and more fair. Star-Advertiser.

The state’s Early Intervention Program helps more than 2-thousand disabled children up to age 3. Proponents want to reinstate the program to include all children who need help. Hawaii Public Radio.

Opinion: Do Public Agencies Have to Keep Reasonably Accurate Records? A recent Hawaii Supreme Court ruling may condone foot-dragging in the maintenance of public records. Civil Beat.

Oahu

The federal criminal case against the man accused of stealing Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha's mailbox has been dismissed and the FBI might now be looking into the Honolulu Police Department's handling of the case. Star-Advertiser.

The FBI has been asked to investigate how the Honolulu Police Department handled a case involving HPD Chief Louis Kealoha, his stolen mailbox and his wife’s estranged uncle, who was accused in the crime. Civil Beat.

The board of directors for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, the agency charged with overseeing the construction of the city's $5.16 billion rail transit system, will hear the results of an audit of HART's finances on Thursday. Pacific Business News.

The number of rooftop solar permits Honolulu issued in November fell by 50 percent from the prior year, marking 19 months of year-over-year decline for the solar industry. Star-Advertiser.

Seven proposed solar farms recently announced by Hawaiian Electric Co. are projected to raise Oahu residents’ electricity bills in the long run. That’s in part because natural gas, which Hawaii is planning to import in coming years, is expected to drive down overall electricity rates, making the solar pricing less competitive. Civil Beat.

Coffee grown at Waialua Estate Coffee Farms and roasted at the Old Waialua Sugar Mill were placed under quarantine on Tuesday due to a coffee berry borer infestation. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

The active front of the June 27 lava flow continued marching down the steepest path of descent Tuesday, still headed in the direction of the Pahoa Marketplace, albeit moving a bit slower than in days past. Tribune-Herald.

The first shops began to shutter, while many others prepared to follow suit, Tuesday at Pahoa Marketplace as the June 27 lava flow continued its approach less than a mile away. Tribune-Herald.

An area for viewing cooled lava will open in Pahoa on Wednesday, even as a breakout from Kilauea Volcano continued advancing toward a shopping center and prompted the closure of a gas station. Star-Advertiser.

Maui

In addition to recently terminated Programming Director Shawn Michael, four additional former Akaku employees appeared at the Dec. 15, 2014 meeting of the public access cable channel’s board of directors to call for an independent investigation of management practices at the station. Maui Time.

Saving Hawaii’s Native Crows — on Maui. The Maui Bird Conservation Center is doing incredible work, but federal budget cuts are slowing the birds' return to the wild. Civil Beat.

The authors of a new Maui law banning the cultivation of genetically modified organisms won standing Monday to intervene in a federal lawsuit challenging the measure. Maui News.

Proponents of the recently passed GMO Initiative on Maui have been given the green light to intervene in a federal lawsuit challenging the measure, attorneys confirmed. Maui Now.

Kauai

Dozens of Laysan albatross eggs will be relocated to Oahu from Kauai’s Pacific Missile Range Facility today in a first-of-its-kind attempt to establish a new colony of the nesting seabirds on Hawaii’s most populated island. Garden Island.

U.S. Navy officials on Wednesday plan to transport some 45 Laysan albatross eggs in need of refuge to a Windward Oahu site from a nesting area at the Pacific Missile Range Facility in West Kauai. Star-Advertiser.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

GMO battles heat up on Maui and Hawaii Island, shopping center closing in advance of lava flow, Kauai Council limits media coverage, Ige resists records release, Abercrombie pardons 80, class-action lawsuit over Hawaiian Electric sale, unemployment tax cut, mac nut farms profit from Korean airline dust-up, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2014 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
anti-GMO rally in Hawaii County © 2014 All Hawaii News
With three new council members weighing in for the first time, the Hawaii County Council on Wednesday is scheduled to decide whether to appeal a federal court ruling overturning the county’s ban on growing genetically modified crops in open-air conditions. West Hawaii Today.

The authors of a new Maui law banning the cultivation of genetically modified organisms won standing on Monday to intervene in a federal lawsuit challenging the measure. Michael Carroll, an attorney for the group SHAKA Movement, said Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren's ruling will allow his clients to file their own motions and to respond to motions filed by the plaintiffs. Associated Press.

Gov. David Ige’s burgeoning administration is following in the footsteps of Gov. Neil Abercrombie when it comes to resisting the release of certain state board members’ financial disclosure statements. State lawmakers unanimously passed a bill in April adding 15 boards to the list of those whose members must annually disclose their financial interests. Ige, a member of the Senate at the time, also voiced support for it in his campaign for governor. Civil Beat.

Neil Abercrombie pardoned more than 80 people during his single term as governor of Hawaii, with most of those actions coming after he lost the Democratic primary Aug. 9. A few pardons are still pending, but the current totals show that Abercrombie pardoned more people this year — 50 — than his Republican predecessor, Linda Lingle, who forgave 49 people for their crimes in her last year in office in 2010. Civil Beat.

Some 37,000 Hawaii businesses will save $50 million in taxes next year due to a reduction in unemployment insurance contribution rates. The state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations said Monday it would cut by 22 percent the rate employers must pay into the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund that distributes jobless benefits. Star-Advertiser.

The unemployment insurance contribution rates for Hawaii employers will be reduced by 22 percent in 2015, or about $100 per employee, the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations said Monday. Pacific Business News.

A class-action lawsuit challenging the sale of Hawaiian Electric Industries to Florida-based NextEra Energy alleges that HEI's board undervalued the company. The suit also accuses board members of not seeking competing offers when it inked the multibillion dollar deal. Hawaii News Now.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is appealing a ruling that its board violated the state’s open-meeting law during a dispute over CEO Kamanaopono Crabbe’s conduct. Associated Press.

Federal Fisheries Group Uses Public Money to Lobby Against Protecting Fish. Wespac officials produced a glossy brochure and lobbied in D.C. but the cost to the public has yet to be revealed. Civil Beat.

The embarrassing inflight outburst of a Korean Air Lines executive over the protocol for serving macadamia nuts has resulted in an unexpected windfall for Hawaii: a boom in macadamia sales. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

Coast Guard law enforcement officers will once again enforce a temporary security zone in waters off Kailua Bay as President Barack Obama spends his annual Christmas vacation on Oahu. The security zone is scheduled to be in effect from 6 a.m. Thursday to 10 p.m. Jan. 5. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii's largest private landowner is asking the state Land Use Commission to designate nearly 10,000 acres on Oahu as important agricultural lands. Kamehameha Schools said Monday the land includes 421 acres in Punaluu and more than 9,100 acres on the North Shore. It also identified surrounding lands for processing facilities and farmer's markets. Associated Press.

A small lei stand surrounded by luxury stores in Waikiki is struggling to survive. The owner is trying to carry on her family's legacy of sharing the Hawaiian culture with visitors. Hawaii News Now.

A popular rock-climbing area known as Mokuleia Wall will soon reopen to the public after 2 1⁄2 years. The Board of Land and Natural Resources approved a month-to-month revocable permit Friday for the Hawaii Climbing Coalition, a nonprofit organization, to manage the basalt rock-climbing site. Star-Advertiser.

The City and County of Honolulu is projecting the Leeward Coast to grow by more than 200-thousand people in the future.  Today, the City dedicated a new district park financed by a major developer. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii

Malama Market, the anchor tenant at Pahoa Marketplace, will close Thursday as a result of the threat from the June 27 lava flow. The flow was approximately 1 mile from the shopping center Monday and could arrive there in seven to 10 days at its current rate, according to Hawaii County Civil Defense. Tribune-Herald.

With the possibility of lava reaching a shopping center and gas station shortly before Christmas Day, Malama Market is planning to close. Star-Advertiser.

Lava from a volcano on Hawaii's Big Island is on course to reach a shopping center with a gas station and a supermarket in seven to 10 days, officials said. Lava is about 1 mile from the shopping center in the small town of Pahoa, Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira said Monday. The shopping center also contains a hardware store, pharmacy and auto repair shop. Associated Press.

With the lava flow again closing in on Highway 130 — the only permanent route in and out of lower Puna — county and state officials say they are continuing to assess the possibility of creating a road over the flow to maintain access to the region. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

With lower sale prices and apparently more available properties, Central Maui is the county's hottest market for homes as the islands' still-recovering real estate market nears the end of 2014, statistics released by the Realtors Association of Maui show. Maui News.

Kauai

Some Kauai County Council members are defending a new rule that asks reporters and media organizations to provide a week’s notice to videotape or photograph one of their meetings. That rule, which was approved by the seven-member board nearly two weeks ago and included in their governing guidelines and procedures for the next two years, also includes a provision that allows Council Chair Mel Rapozo to assign spaces to reporters that do not interfere “with the convenience of the council or its committees.” Garden Island.

A Kauai County Councilman says he would like to see state laws changed so more officials on the seven-member board can attend community meetings. Garden Island.

The idyllic island of Kauai has become a playground for the ultra-rich. Kauai, known as the Garden Isle, has attracted in recent years more than two dozen billionaires and celebrities who are acquiring large swaths of mostly undeveloped land. Star-Advertiser.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Undersea cable mulled in new energy mix, OHA appeals Sunshine Law ruling, Kauai reef restoration approved, Kilauea lodge for sale, Honolulu churches appeal ethics ruling, Obama family to vacation on Oahu, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii undersea cable
As the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission continues to study the feasibility of a proposed high-voltage undersea cable between Maui and Oahu, the position of two major players in that project appears to be shifting in light of the announced multibillion-dollar absorption of Hawaiian Electric Industries by Florida-based NextEra Energy. Maui News.

Opinion: Since Florida-based NextEra Energy announced it will buy Hawaiian Electric for $4.3 billion, many public officials have hoped the new owner will better HEI's dismal record on reducing fossil fuels and cutting rates. Our leaders can do more than hope. Star-Advertiser.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is fighting back in court against a ruling that found the Board of Trustees in violation of the state's open-meeting law in two instances involving a dispute over the conduct of CEO Kamana‘opono Crabbe. Star-Advertiser.

A new report released today shows the use of electronic cigarettes among teens is growing in Hawai‘i. The study, coming out of the University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center, shows adolescents are smoking e-cigarettes three times the national average. Hawaii Public Radio.

Opinion: Are E-cigs Creating the Next Generation of Smokers? Civil Beat.

The U.S. Congress may soon be controlled by Republicans, but Hawaii’s Democrats in the Senate have secured important committee assignments that begin early next year. Civil Beat.

President Barack Obama and his family plan to leave Washington, D.C., on Dec. 19 for their annual Christmas vacation in Hawaii. Pacific Business News.

The governor is appointing an executive at Hawaii’s largest health care provider to be the director of the state Department of Health. Gov. David Ige on Friday announced the appointment of Dr. Virginia “Ginny” Pressler. Her appointment is subject to state Senate confirmation. Associated Press.

More than 600 public-sector employees will be attending the Hawaii Digital Government Summit. Associated Press.

Monday is the deadline for Hawaii residents to enroll with the Hawaii Health Connector for coverage taking effect on Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015. You can change your plan at any time during their open enrollment period that runs through Feb. 15, 2015. However, if you change your plan after Monday, Dec. 15, your new plan coverage will take effect on the first of the following month. KHON2.

Oahu

Two Oahu churches being sued for allegedly underpaying the state Department of Education for using school facilities for religious services are appealing a state judge's refusal to throw out the lawsuit. Star-Advertiser.

Deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha, wife of the Honolulu chief of police, has fired another volley in a legal dispute involving her family. Star-Advertiser.

The U.S. Navy does not agree that double-lining massive tanks at the Red Hill Fuel Storage Facility is the best way to prevent groundwater contamination. Associated Press.

Gas prices dipped below $3 a gallon in some parts of Oahu for the first time in seven years. But the state still has the highest gas prices in the nation, followed by Alaska and New York. Star-Advertiser.

Commentary: The Little Solution to the Big Housing Crisis. On islands where real estate is so precious, how small do we need to think to bring down the cost of living? Civil Beat.

Hawaii

Changes to the size limit for commercial ahi is in the works. State and federal fisheries regulators seeking comment on raising the minimum size of ahi from 3 pounds — along with other rule changes — took input from about two dozen commercial fishermen in Kailua-Kona on Saturday. West Hawaii Today.

Hawai'i County Civil Defense officials say the Puna lava flow advanced east-northeast another 300 yards since Saturday and is now 1.4 miles from the Highway 130 and Pahoa Village Road intersection. Hawaii News Now.

Burglaries, car break-ins and stolen vehicles all fell in November in Hawaii island's Puna district after invading lava prompted Mayor Billy Kenoi to declare a state of emergency that includes increased penalties for some crimes committed there. Star-Advertiser.

A historic piece of Volcano Village is for sale. Kilauea Lodge, a landmark hotel and restaurant that was originally a YMCA camp, was put on the market recently with an asking price of $5.9 million. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Former Maui County Council candidate Ka'ala Buenconsejo has been appointed as the county's new Department of Parks and Recreation director. Maui News.

Kauai

Marine biologist Katherine Muzik has been given the green light for a reef restoration pilot project along a dredged area of reef in Kapaa. Garden Island.

Opinion: Four years. That’s a long time to wait for the cavalry to come to your rescue. But that’s how long it took the Hawaii Office of Information Practices to rule when I sought its help obtaining public records in 2010 after being stonewalled by government officials on Kauai. Civil Beat.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Hawaii pitches Obama library, Honolulu mulls 300-sq-ft micro-apartments, whale freed from fishing line, Hawaiians sue over Pohakuloa munitions, Omidyar dairy spurs Kauai community opposition, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Allied Works Architecture conceptual design of Obama presidential library
Allied Works Architecture conceptual design of Obama presidential library
Hawaii's formal pitch to win the Barack Obama presidential library was submitted Thursday in a bid that projects between $25 million and $40 million in tax revenue and more than $2 billion in economic activity over its first 10 years. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii hopes it has an offer Honolulu-born President Barack Obama won't be able to turn down. It hopes to build him a presidential library on the ocean, with a dramatic view of his hometown's famed Diamond Head volcanic crater. The state's abundant sunshine would generate solar power and support vegetable gardens on site. Associated Press.

On Thursday, Hawaii officials submitted a written proposal to host the Barack Obama Presidential Center in Honolulu. The effort was coordinated by the University of Hawaii with the full backing of the State of Hawaii, the City and Council of Honolulu and numerous community partners, including the nonprofit group, Hawaii Presidential Center. KHON2.

A Journey Into the Basement With Hawaii Tech Chief Keone Kali. The chief information officer talks about the precarious state of information locked in outdated equipment in the bowels of downtown Honolulu. Civil Beat.

Hawaii wildlife officials freed a young humpback whale from fishing line that was wrapped around its tail. The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary said Thursday the line had cut deep wounds into the 30-foot whale. The weakened animal also had parasites and shark bites. Associated Press.

The Land Use Research Foundation convened its 2014 Housing Summit today. The goal is to develop policies and strategies to build more affordable rental and for sale units throughout the state. Star-Advertiser.

Allowing Aloha United Way to solicit donations from state workers gives the charity an unfair advantage over other nonprofits and violates the state ethics code, Hawaii's state Ethics Commission has concluded. Associated Press.

If Ben Jay had known the depth of the task confronting him at the University of Hawaii, he said Thursday, he might not have taken the job as its athletic director. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

Micro units, or small efficiency apartments, are seen as one part of a solution to Hawaii's housing shortage, and the state agency regulating development in Kakaako is looking to build more of them. Star-Advertiser.

Park Lane Ala Moana, the $300 million luxury condominium project being built on what was once a parking area at Ala Moana Center by a trio of Honolulu firms — Kobayashi Group, The MacNaughton Group, BlackSand Capital — and landowner General Growth Properties Inc., plans to price the units between at least $1 million and at least $20 million. Pacific Business News.

The City Council postpones a vote on Bill 62, which would ban sitting and lying on sidewalks and planters in five downtown Honolulu and Chinatown malls. Civil Beat.

Federal, state and city officials on a task force asked to evaluate the effects of the January fuel leak at the Navy's Red Hill Fuel Storage Facility recommended Thursday that the giant tanks be double-lined to prevent groundwater contamination. But the Navy continues to have serious objections to that approach. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu City Council has agreed to pay $250,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by a man police pulled out of a car window and kicked in the torso, and $165,000 to the mother of a boy who cut his leg on an irrigation valve at a Liliha park. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Two Native Hawaiians are suing the Department of Land and Natural Resources, saying the state has breached its duty to protect ceded lands at the Pohakuloa Training Area. West Hawaii Today.

University of Hawaii President David Lassner and John Morton, vice president for community colleges, sketched their vision for the new Hawaii Community College — Palamanui at a forum Thursday evening in Kealakehe. The forum was attended by about 170 people. West Hawaii Today.

Lava flow T-shirts a hit for Pahoa merchant. Tribune-Herald.

The June 27 lava flow was continuing to follow a path of steepest descent Thursday morning that could take it through Pahoa Marketplace. Hawaii County Civil Defense said the flow front was 1.9 miles from the intersection of Highway 130 and Pahoa Village Road after advancing 340 yards within 24 hours. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Former Maui County mayoral candidate Beau Hawkes, who was Tasered as he ran from a police officer in a viral video, was found guilty as charged Wednesday for disregarding the officer's orders and driving away from a traffic stop. Maui News.

The Westin Maui Resort & Spa is seeking a special management area permit and a shoreline setback variance as part of an estimated $55 million in master plan improvements that call for, among other things, a new four-level parking garage and more ballroom and spa space, according to a final environmental assessment. - Maui News.

AAA Hawaiʻi Weekend Gas Watch metro area report for Wailuku showed the price of a gallon of regular gas at $4.05 today, down six cents from last week, 20 cents from last month, 12 cents from last year, and down 93 cents from the high of $4.98 reported on May 9, 2011. Maui Now.

On Tuesday, Dec. 9, Ka‘ala Buenconsejo became the new County of Maui Parks Department Director, according to an inter-office email sent out by the department’s interim director. Maui Time.


Kauai

A set of annual audit reports found that Kauai County officials are still struggling to address longstanding financial and record-keeping deficiencies that were raised as red flags over the past several years. Garden Island.

The lush Mahaulepu Valley on Kauai's South Shore is the setting of a growing environmental battle pitting local residents against Hawaii's richest man. About 200 people packed the Koloa Neighborhood Center Thursday night to voice their concerns about billionaire eBay founder Pierre Omidyar's plans to build a high-tech dairy there. Hawaii News Now.

A promising outlook for attracting visitors to Hawaii was evoked by a host of speakers at the Kauai Visitors Bureau annual luncheon Thursday. Garden Island.

Real property owners that believe their properties were given the wrong tax classifications for the 2014 tax year can apply for reclassification if the application is received no later than Dec. 31. Garden Island.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Office of Hawaiian Affairs inducts new trustees, Kauhou aquifer plan delayed, lava turns toward shopping center, Pearl Harbor workers killed, youth e-cig use climbs, coffee beetle comes to Oahu, oceans clogged with plastic, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

image courtesy Hawaii Office of Hawaiian Affairs
Office of Hawaiian Affairs investiture, photo courtesy HA
Though Native Hawaiians have made progress in education, health, economic self-sufficiency and other areas, there remains work to be done on nation building and overall community improvement, Kama­na‘o­pono Crabbe, chief executive officer of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, said Wednesday in his State of OHA address. Star-Advertiser.

Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees will be “servant leaders at our people’s table,” said newly elected chairman Robert Lindsey at an investiture of board members Wednesday in Honolulu. West Hawaii Today.

A new study estimates about 269,000 tons of plastic — enough to fill more than 38,500 garbage trucks — is floating in the world’s oceans. Associated Press.

Allowing Aloha United Way to solicit donations from state workers gives the private charity an "unfair advantage" over other nonprofits and is inconsistent with the fair treatment provision of the state ethics code, the staff at the state Ethics Commission has concluded. Star-Advertiser.

Reform measures and high returns on investments in recent years have helped Hawaii start to crawl out of its $20 billion hole in retirement benefits promised to thousands of public workers. But the state still has a long way to go — 26 years to be exact, based on the latest actuarial report for the Hawaii Employees’ Retirement System. State senators are set to learn more about the financial status and valuation of the public pension system Thursday morning during a legislative briefing at the Capitol. Civil Beat.

State health officials and a community organization are alerting the public to what they call an alarming increase in the use of electronic cigarettes among Hawaii's youth. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii has won a $14.8 million multiyear federal grant to launch public preschool programs at charter schools statewide. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu
Two civilian contract workers were killed and two others injured Wednesday while working on a barge at Pearl Harbor's Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility off Waipio Peninsula. Star-Advertiser.

Two men were killed when a 10,000-pound buoy fell from a crane onto contractors in Pearl Harbor. Honolulu Fire Department spokesman Capt. David Jenkins says the men were on a barge that was servicing the Navy's fleet of inactive ships at the time of Wednesday's incident. Associated Press.

The City Council postpones a vote on Bill 62, which would ban sitting and lying on sidewalks and planters in five downtown Honolulu and Chinatown malls. Civil Beat.

The Queen's Medical Center, Hawaii's largest private hospital, has signed an agreement with Honolulu Seawater Air Conditioning LLC to use the long-planned $250 million project that will cool Downtown Honolulu office buildings and condominium towers with cold water from the ocean. Pacific Business News.

The invasive coffee pest with which Hawaii Island growers have struggled for the last four years now has been found elsewhere in the state. The state Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday the coffee berry borer was discovered last week on farms owned by Dole Foods in Waialua, Oahu. Tribune-Herald.

Mayor Wright Homes may be the last place you'd expect to see a hotel, but developers are floating the idea to help pay for the aging housing project's redevelopment. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii

Hawaii County can stay in the driver’s seat of the Keauhou aquifer — but the reprieve is only temporary and comes with conditions. After nine hours of testimony in Kailua-Kona on Wednesday, the state Commission on Water Resource Management delayed making a decision on whether to put the aquifer under its control. West Hawaii Today.

The June 27 lava flow appears to have chosen which path it will follow. And it’s not good news for Pahoa’s main shopping center. Tribune-Herald.

The Volcano transfer station will be expanded and undergo structural repairs as part of a $1.06 million project that broke ground Tuesday. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Makila Land Co. is seeking to develop 11 agricultural lots on 214 acres north of 186 acres of oceanfront at Launiupoko that the landowner sold to Maui County for $13 million earlier this year. Maui News.

The Maui Planning Commission unanimously approved Tuesday a special management area permit for the Cove Beach Village project, a 32-unit apartment complex located on an acre along Kanani Road in Kihei. Maui News.

Kauai

The Kauai County Council will decide next week whether they want to override a vetoed law that would use lease rents, rather than fair market values, to calculate the real property taxes of biotech research land users. The seven-member board, by a 5-0 vote, decided to revive the killed law during their meeting Wednesday, paving the way for a final vote on it to take place during their Wednesday meeting. Garden Island.

Developers aren't saying why a planned Lihue shopping center is being delayed. Associated Press.

Investigating the death of an endangered species — in this case, a Hawaiian monk seal pup — is exactly what you might expect in any homicide investigation. Garden Island.

The Federal District Court in Hawai’i struck down Kaua’i and Hawai’i County ordinances that sought to restrict cultivation of genetically engineered crops. Both cases are being appealed. In his final report on the Maui GMO debate, Hawaii Public Radio’s Wayne Yoshioka asked residents what actions can be taken beyond the Courts.

Molokai

Four fishermen from Molokai have been indicted for allegedly boarding another fishing vessel and robbing and harassing the people on board. The four men will be arraigned in Maui Circuit Court later this month, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources said Wednesday. Associated Press.

Four Molokaʻi men were arrested and charged for their alleged involvement in a confrontation between two groups of fishermen in Molokaʻi waters earlier this year. Maui Now.