Friday, July 17, 2009

Japan's emperor visits Big Island and other news

It was over almost before it began. But even after standing in a reception line for about an hour Thursday, most of the 130 or so who caught a glimpse of the emperor and empress of Japan said it was well worth the wait.

Japan's royal couple watched Hawai'i-style cattle roping yesterday before returning to their homeland after a two-week tour of Canada and Hawai'i.

With the imperial couple of Japan looking on, 10 paniolo on horseback set about to demonstrate calf roping yesterday on the dry, open pastureland of sprawling Parker Ranch.

With labor talks between the state and the public worker unions still stalled, Gov. Linda Lingle put some pressure on the unions yesterday by announcing that her Cabinet would be taking a pay cut equal to two furlough days a month through two years.

Gov. Linda Lingle, seeking leverage with public-sector labor unions, said yesterday that she and her Cabinet would take two furlough days a month starting in August to help with the state's budget deficit.

This year marked the second year of dramatic increases in the number of schools failing to meet the federal goals, known as "adequate yearly progress." Only 34 percent of schools — or 97 campuses — made AYP this year compared with 42 percent a year ago.

Public school students performed better on the Hawaii State Assessment again this year, moving up another few percentage points in reading and math, but it was not enough to meet the requirements of federal law.

The state Board of Education last night voted unanimously to defer a decision on the proposed closure of five Hawai'i libraries to allow State Librarian Richard Burns and his staff time to propose a budget-reduction plan that would not include library closures.

A judge Wednesday afternoon denied a motion for an injunction to prevent developers from conducting construction activities within 50 feet of historic Hapa Trail.