Friday, June 26, 2009

Top Hawaii Headlines: Friday morning edition

Straw huts, hula dancers and kids with hula hoops were all on display last night in the White House's backyard -- not the typical congressional picnic.

The White House luau was actually not a concept cooked up by the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, though it and the rest of the state likely will benefit from the hula-hoopla it generated.


Hawaii businesses may donate the same amounts to political candidates as individuals, according to a Thursday ruling by the state Intermediate Court of Appeals upholding a lower court's decision.

About 6.9 percent fewer visitors came to the Islands in May and spent $133 million, or 15 percent, less than a year ago, but industry leaders were encouraged that the decline in tourism seems to be slowing.

Matson and the unions representing ship captains and other crew members have agreed to continue contract talks today in San Francisco, averting for at least a day the threat of a shipping strike as contracts expired last night.

Saying a 22 percent raise "flies in the face of reason and common sense" during tough economic times, a Hawaii County councilman wants the County Salary Commission to roll back council pay hikes that went into effect last year.

Hawaii County Councilman Kelly Greenwell recently sent a letter to President Barack Obama, asking the Hawaii-born commander-in-chief to consider sending prisoners to be released from the prison at the naval base in Guantanamo Bay to the Big Island.

The Arc of Hilo and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are teaming up to process local food products with cutting-edge "green" energy technology.

The Hawaii County Council's recent reorganization violated Hawaii's Sunshine Law and stemmed from a lack of respect and communication among members, rather than a turf battle, said the architect of the leadership change.

The Maui County Department of Water Supply declared a drought watch Thursday for Upcountry, requesting residents and businesses from Haiku to Kanaio to voluntarily reduce water consumption by 5 percent.

Gov. Linda Lingle isn’t planning on releasing $750,000 for expansion of the county’s Black Pot Beach Park, Department of Land and Natural Resources Chair Laura Thielen said this week.