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Monday, November 30, 2009

Beach ownership at issue, changes in H1N1 vaccine rules, North Shore land for sale and other news

The Intermediate Court of Appeals is scrutinizing a Hawaii law passed in 2003 that declares that new, naturally formed beach land above the high-water mark should belong to the public -- not adjoining private property owners.

In response to mounting criticism about how the short supply of swine flu vaccine is being distributed in Hawai'i, the state will change the way it doles out the vaccine.

Nearly 100 acres of agricultural land next to the Turtle Bay Resort on O'ahu's North Shore are headed for a sealed-bid sale, four years after a Florida-based investment firm bought the oceanfront property for $2 million with plans to subdivide it for potential residential use.

U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka will be holding 15 information briefings from December 1 to December 8 to explain changes in the way federal workers in Hawaii will be paid.

Honolulu police said officers opened fire on a car that as accelerating toward them on Saturday, marking the third officer-involved shooting in a month.

A North Shore surf instructor on Saturday rescued a family visiting from the Mainland who had been swept out to sea while bodyboarding at Hanalei Bay.

Longtime Hana community leader, Realtor and former Maui News community correspondent Carl Lindquist and his wife, Rae, have been reported missing after the wreckage of their car was found in a Hana streambed, police said Saturday evening.

Hundreds of children and children-at-heart lined the streets of downtown Hilo Saturday evening to catch their first glimpse of Santa Claus.

On a Sunday in October, three Waimea men gather at 7 a.m. on private grazing land in South Kohala to hunt goats. For them it is partly foraging and partly tradition.

Ulupalakua Ranch owner Pardee Erdman has donated more than 11,000 acres to the Maui Coastal Land Trust.

When Debbie Hecht suggested to the Hawaii County Charter Commission that it should add an amendment making the Two Percent for Public Lands law a part of the County Charter, she got less than she bargained for.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lucky we live Hawaii, Legislature hiring, but not partying, DUI checkpoints going up, more news

The holidays give us the opportunity to count our Hawaiian blessings. Where else in the U.S. but in the makai areas of Hawaii can a person harvest pineapples, citrus, mangoes, papayas, bananas and avocados throughout the year and in the mauka areas, enjoy apples, plums, strawberries and pears.

Hawaii's recession and sputtering economy have claimed another victim: the state Legislature's opening day celebration featuring lavish parties, floral and musical presentations, and guest lists that choked both chambers.

The legislature needs more than 300 employees to work during the legislative session next year. The House and Senate hire extra employees for the session every year, but this year is different because of the bad economy.

State harbors officials plan to increase user fees statewide to finance $618 million in repairs and improvement at harbors on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association said yesterday that teachers are willing to go back to the classroom on furlough days if they are paid to do so, calling into question a portion of Gov. Linda Lingle's proposal to restore 27 "furlough Fridays" beginning in January.

About 5.5 million tourists visited Hawai'i in the first 10 months of the year, putting the state on track for an annual visitor count of about 6.5 million.

Stimulus funds of $35 million have paved the way for a new road on the Big Island.

Hawaii is full of extreme sport enthusiasts from big wave surfing to skydiving. One activity that is growing in popularity is base jumping, but it's also extremely dangerous.

Six Hawaii Community Correctional Center employees have filed a complaint against the state and their labor union, charging that both violated the collective bargaining agreement in the aftermath of the closing of Kulani Correctional Facility.

The search for the successor to Chancellor Rose Tseng is beginning, with seven months remaining before she steps down.

Free taxi rides will be offered for the first time to West Hawaii residents as part of county efforts to make the roads safer from drivers who have had too much holiday spirits.

Kaua‘i Police Department officers have promised stepped-up efforts to try to make this holiday season free of deaths on the road.

A West Hawaii surfing group is poised to file a lawsuit and request a cease and desist notice against the county and a condominium complex for work on a seawall in Kailua-Kona.

The Maui County Council Land Use Committee put off a decision on the Hanzawa's Variety Store rezoning Monday, and committee members asked everybody to "cool down."

An October letter from the state Historic Preservation Division to the county in support of the makai route for the multi-use path factored into Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.’s decision Monday recommending the multi-use path on Wailua Beach, a county spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mauna Kea shows global warming, Lingle stands by Liu, islanders cranking up credit and other news


The readings at the 2-mile-high Mauna Loa Observatory show a troubling upward curve as the world counts down to crucial climate talks: Global warming gases are building in the atmosphere at record levels from emissions that match scientists' worst-case scenarios.

Gov. Linda Lingle is standing by Ted Liu, her state business director, as the legislative auditor insists Lingle should consider firing him for "numerous and egregious acts."

The state auditor, citing "numerous and egregious acts," has recommended that Gov. Linda Lingle remove Ted Liu as director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

Gov. Linda Lingle said yesterday that she would not "rubber stamp" the final environmental impact statement on Honolulu's $5.5 billion rail project, promising a thorough review of whether the city adequately explored alternatives and whether the financial plan remains sound given the recession.

Disabled Maui veteran Robert Glass said a proposal to reduce state child-care subsidies for preschoolers, including his 3-year-old son, is taking away their chance for a bright future.

Hawaii credit card users were saddled with an average card debt of $6,002 in the third quarter and posted the steepest percentage increase over the second quarter of any state.

The University of Hawaii West Hawaii Center has cleared one hurdle, but several more remain before the community finally sees construction on a long-promised West Hawaii campus.

Kaua‘i Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. on Monday announced his recommendation that Phase III of the multi-use coastal path along the island’s Eastside continue on Wailua Beach as previously planned rather than be diverted to a mauka route to assuage cultural concerns.

The Honolulu City Council will be considering a proposal from Mayor Mufi Hannemann's administration to levy fines against people who put bulky trash items on curbs in front of their homes well before the scheduled pick-up day.

Honolulu police on Monday arrested a driver accused of dragging an officer during a routine traffic stop in Kakaako on Sunday.

The Hawaii County Council is moving its Puna office to a smaller space in the same Pahoa Marketplace shopping center, which will save $2,000 in monthly rental fees.

A Maui man accused of selling military secrets to China has been found competent to stand trial.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bridges need repair, homeless find loophole, Legislature looks into stimulus, more top news

More of Hawaii's bridges are in need of modernization than bridges in most other states, according to an annual survey of state and county bridges by Better Roads magazine.

Leaders of Hawai'i's Neighbor Island counties say they'll manage to get through the fiscal year without budget deficits, but next year could bring employee furloughs and property tax increases.

Homeless camping in Kapiolani Park in the heart of the Waikiki tourist district is a problem the city can't make go away.

A joint panel of the state Legislature will examine the use of federal economic stimulus money in the state departments of health and human services.

For the second time in less than three weeks, a Honolulu police officer has fired multiple shots at a vehicle.

A probable cause hearing on a Hilo contractor's lien application against the state's biggest Burger King franchisee has been delayed.

Maui County is in the process of reaching settlements with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Health over alleged violations at the county's landfills from more than three years ago.

A trio of experts on the workings of local government say while the existing “strong mayor” system has its faults, those problems can be addressed through elections, downplaying the need for a proposed switch to a council-county manager system.

The holidays and the birth of a new year give us the opportunity to count our Hawaiian blessings. Where else in the U.S. but in the makai areas of Hawaii can a person harvest pineapples, citrus, mangoes, papayas, bananas and avocados throughout the year and in the mauka areas, enjoy apples, plums, strawberries and peaches?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Selling the family jewels, state workers get priorty for H1N1 shots, school bus fares going up, other news


The sale of 737 acres in Hamakua will go forward without a transparency amendment, thanks to County Council flip-flops Wednesday.

The Hawaii County Council voted 6-3 Wednesday to approve Mayor Billy Kenoi's controversial proposal to attempt to sell 737 acres of Hawaii County land to help pay for government operations.

School bus fares for Hawaii public school students will be going up at the beginning of 2010.

Public school parents will pay more for their kids to ride the school bus come next year after the state Board of Education last night voted 8-2 to raise one-way fares from 35 cents to 75 cents.

The Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) announced Thursday that the state’s film office will remain intact despite layoffs.

Senate leaders say they are ready to come back into session to halt next year's Furlough Fridays.

The state Legislature is likely to return for a special session to address the issue of school furloughs, possibly in early December, according to state Sen. Roz Baker.

U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye is encouraging many people to run for office and is urging "healthy competition" but has not formally endorsed Mayor Mufi Hannemann's expected bid for governor in 2010, according to an Inouye spokesman.

Though this week the number of flu cases in Hawai‘i is just elevated or at the historic baseline, flu season has arrived in the state earlier than normal, state Department of Health officials said.

More than 7,000 state workers identified as critical personnel have been offered priority access to the H1N1 vaccine to ensure that government operations continue running smoothly in the event of a worst-case flu scenario.

The state wants to use the old Hilo Memorial Hospital building to provide job training to certain Hawaii Community Correctional Center inmates.

Faced with opposition from both sides of the island, the Hawaii County Council on Wednesday postponed a resolution reducing the number of Kona meetings, saying the measure will be brought up again later in the budget process.

A longtime dream of a Hawaii Community College campus at Kona took a step forward yesterday with the Board of Regents' approval of a development plan for the new campus.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Monk seal protection, stimu-less funding, Jehovah Witnesses coming, Christmas trees arrive and more

There are only 1,100 Hawaiian Monk Seals left in the wild. One of them named KP2 (Kauai Pup 2) is going blind and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA is trying to help him see again.

About 30,000 people are expected to attend an international Jehovah's Witnesses convention opening here today — the largest event of its kind ever held at the Hawai'i Convention Center.

Honolulu's new police chief says his five-year plan includes "restructuring" the department, increasing community service and boosting morale, including possibly bringing back a popular three-day, 12-hour work schedule for some police officers.

The Honolulu Police Department's plans to post the names and photos of alleged drunken drivers on a new Web page have disturbed some attorneys, who say it's unconstitutional and will infringe on the person's right to a fair trial.

Nearly one-third of Honolulu real estate listing prices have dropped in the last six months, with the average decline in the 10 percent range, according to online real estate marketplace Trulia.com

The Hawaii County Council wants to abolish the state Land Use Commission and allow county governments to have full oversight over big developers.

As the county moves forward with plans to construct a new landfill on a Kalaheo property currently in agricultural production, Kaua‘i Coffee Company this week renewed its objections to the proposal in advance of an important community meeting.

Imagine an elevated concrete train viaduct rising from abandoned sugarcane fields just east of Kapolei and barreling through Waipahu, Pearl City and ‘Aiea, past Pearl Harbor and the airport and into downtown.

Nearly 40 containers of Christmas trees are on the docks at Honolulu harbor Wednesday.

About nine months ago, the Obama administration and Congress agreed to set aside $787 billion in stimulus dollars to help revitalize Main Street America. On Tuesday, Maui County Managing Director Sheri Morrison compared the glacial and byzantine efforts of 75 federal agencies - most of which never gave out grants before - to release those funds with "a snake trying to swallow a horse."

Less than a year after the Hawaii County Council started a new term by pledging unprecedented unity, lawmakers' infighting has cost taxpayers nearly $50,000 in legal fees.

The U.S. Census Bureau has hired 600 of the 2,500 people it needs on Hawaii Island, leaving 1,900 positions unfilled.

Hawaii County will see its rent payments drop at the end of this year, as two leases expire and several offices return to the county building on Aupuni Street.

Greatly curtailed hours for garbage transfer stations will go into effect Dec. 1, despite opposition from the public and questions from the Hawaii County Council.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wealthy recovering first, mixed economic signs, rail underway, health ranking drops and other news

The Trump International Hotel & Tower Waikiki Beach Walk, the first new Waikiki luxury property to open in more than 20 years, welcomed its first guests Monday.

Sales are up -- way up -- at Hualalai Resort.

The current downturn in the visitor industry will end and 2010 will be a stabilizing year, members of the Maui Chamber of Commerce were told Monday morning. Speakers predicted a full-scale recovery should be in progress by 2011.

Yet another forecast predicts Hawai'i won't come roaring back from a stubborn economic downturn, projecting only lackluster gains next year followed by modest growth in 2011.

Hawaii's economy, which has endured rising unemployment, soaring foreclosures, mass layoffs and business shutdowns over the last 18 months, is expected to worsen before it begins turning the corner.

Hawai'i has lost its distinction as the healthiest state in the nation, according to a new report by America's Health Rankings.

A deal signed yesterday to get Honolulu's $5.3 billion rail project rolling means that the general excise tax money raised for the project is off-limits to state legislators trying to plug Hawaii's $1 billion budget gap, according to Mayor Mufi Hannemann.

A Saturday meeting with state Sen. Brian Taniguchi helped persuade Gov. Linda Lingle to push a compromise offer to solve the Furlough Friday dilemma.

Just days before the Hawaii County Council is set to decide if one chunk of Hamakua land should be sold to balance the budget, Mayor Billy Kenoi has announced a new community farming plan for another chunk.

The Kaua‘i Police Department has confirmed a link between a man found murdered this month and an organized crime family from the East Coast, but would not elaborate at this time.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Special session may be in the works to save school days, rail funds fall short, other state news

The state House and Senate may have to amend the law to use the "rainy day" fund to reduce teacher furloughs because money from the fund cannot cover wages for state workers.

Political leaders are supporting Gov. Linda Lingle's proposal to end Furlough Fridays next year by changing the public school teachers' labor contract and raiding the state rainy day fund.

The 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders meeting in Honolulu will be the largest intergovernmental meeting of world leaders in the state's history, according to the president of the East-West Center, who played a key role in coordinating the bid.

Tax collections needed to build Honolulu's planned $5.5 billion elevated rail transit line fell 30 percent in October from a year earlier. The total collected — $8.9 million — was the lowest amount since February 2007, when just $2.2 million was collected during the second month after the excise tax surcharge was enacted.

There are 7,000 tons of garbage waiting for a ride to Washington State.

Members of the Honolulu City Council are calling on the Honolulu Police Commission to delay choosing the next police chief until its chairwoman answers council members' questions about the controversial selection process.

The 72-foot sailing vessel Momentum remains stranded offshore of the Sheraton Waikiki after running aground about 2:15 AM Monday.

Kona coffee has finally made its mark as ichi ban, or number one. According to some top coffee marketers, Kona coffee is now considered to be the world's most sought after gourmet coffee

Kauai's North Shore residents and business owners were working hard Monday to clean up after what they said was the worst rainstorm and flooding in recent memory.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Farewell to furloughs, globe-trotting governor, no one wants to be No. 2, more Hawaii news


Gov. Linda Lingle, in a significant concession, said yesterday that the state should tap its "rainy day" fund and teachers should agree to give up planning and collaboration days to end teacher furloughs.

Gov. Linda Lingle plans to eliminate 27 Furlough Fridays at Hawaii's public schools by tapping the so-called rainy day fund and switching teacher training days to class time

Gov. Linda Lingle on Sunday announced a plan to restore 27 school furlough days over the next year and a half.

Three legislative committees will jointly examine budget cuts to the state's Healthy Start program on Monday.

Only one Republican is running for lieutenant governor in Hawaii next year while a handful of Democrats are actively campaigning for their party's nomination.

Gov. Linda Lingle leaves Monday for three-day conference of the Republican Governors Association in Austin, Texas. The Governor is taking personal time and no state funds are being used for the trip

Having retrieved 22 iwi po'o, or Hawaiian skulls, from Stockholm's antiquities museum over the weekend, a Native Hawaiian delegation arrived in Boston yesterday to take possession of eight more from Harvard University's anatomical collection, William Aila, the group's spokesman said last night.

Despite the down economy, the North Kona Coast's luxurious Hualalai Resort sold a record $43.5 million in real estate in August and is on track to close $130 million in transactions by year's end.

Heavy rains brought serious property damage to Oahu this weekend.

Heavy rains and flooding over the past few days has caused water service interruptions for county Department of Water customers in Hanalei town and parts of Wailua Houselots.

Hawai'i and China may reach agreement by the end of the year to feature Island products at a showroom in Shanghai, Gov. Linda Lingle said yesterday, which could help small and medium-sized businesses gain a foothold in the world's largest market.

Kona Coffee & Tea Co., owned by the Bolton family, became the winner of the 2009 Gevalia Crown Competition at the Outrigger Keauhou Beach Resort,

Beach access, limited facilities and harassment of visitors were among the many concerns Big Islanders feel the state needs to address in its new master plan for the Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park

Ordinarily, once a developer gets a special management area permit, the rest of the path to construction is routine. But SVO Pacific Inc., the developer of the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort and Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort North at North Beach, has had its SMA permit since March 2008 for a nearly identical third resort next to the other two, but it has not been able to get building permits.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Everyone's talking about the weather, feds give Hawaii schools demerits, samurai subs spotted

A weather system spinning around the state is bringing high surf, heavy rain and even snow to the islands.

A flash-flood warning has been issued for windward and some north shore areas of Kauai and Oahu this morning.

A storm continues to push through the state. Heavy rain and thunderstorms will be lingering through today and flash flooding is possible. Drier conditions are due back next week.

Snow fell on the slopes of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on Thursday.

Young Brothers said yesterday that barge arrivals to Kahului Harbor on Maui have been disrupted by continuous large swells that made it unsafe to attempt to enter the port. The next port arrival has been postponed until today.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, in a telephone news conference yesterday, again scolded Hawai'i for its decision to furlough teachers for 17 school days and said the move could hinder the state's ability to garner competitive federal grant money.

Hawaii's intrepid "samurai sub" hunters will look this weekend for two Japanese World War II submarines that have eluded previous searches in a graveyard of military debris south of Oahu.

The Lingle administration announced yesterday that about 650 state workers will lose their jobs to help the state reduce labor costs and close a budget deficit, down from the 1,100 originally targeted for layoffs last summer.

Hundreds of state workers will start to be laid off in waves starting on Friday.

Six career police officers each with more than two decades in law enforcement are the finalists for Honolulu police chief, according to biographical information released yesterday.

Moanalua Middle School was scheduled today to became the first Hawaii school to inoculate children, faculty and staff for H1N1 influenza, or swine flu.

The value of building permits on the Big Island in the first eight months of 2009 is little over half of what it was for the same period last year.

The movie "The Men who Stare at Goats" doesn't treat Hawi resident Jim Channon very nicely.

The lifeless body of Daniel Bonanno was discovered in a white Ford Ranger pickup truck Monday morning, just one day after the 47-year-old Kapa‘a man, owner of a long criminal record, was released after years behind bars.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Akaka reforms stalled, elder pedestrians at risk, Aiona snubbed by unions, more Hawaii news

A raft of reforms that U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawai'i, chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, has been working on for months is now tied up by one of the Senate's most ardent fiscal hawks.

Hundreds of state employees will start losing their jobs tomorrow beginning with nonunion, exempt workers, but the exact number — and who — is still being worked out, the head of Hawai'i's human resources department said yesterday.

No one has responded to Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona's calls for meetings between the Hawaii teachers union and public school officials to halt the ongoing teacher furloughs.

For years, Hawaii environmentalists have been complaining that the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council, which the New York Times editorial page has described as “notorious among environmental groups as a chronic enabler of reckless commercial fishing,” was illegally lobbying Hawaiian politicians to push its anti-conservation agenda and prevent the creation of any marine reserves in Hawaii

Hawaii is the most dangerous state for pedestrians ages 65 and older, according to a report by the coalition group Transportation for America.

About 24,000 Jehovah's Witnesses from around the world are expected to spend about $100 million in the state when they meet at the Hawaii Convention Center on the next two weekends, said David Uchiyama of the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

The rainy season is forcing more and more homeless people to set up camp at the city's bus stops, but attempts to make it illegal to sleep at bus shelters have been unsuccessful.

KITV has learned the state health department has gone undercover to determine if pharmacies and doctors are giving the H1N1 vaccine to people with the highest risk of contracting swine flu.

A storm is sitting north of the state with heavy rain and thunderstorms likely through Friday. Flash flooding is also possible with drier conditions due back next week.

Surf along north facing shores will be 10 to 15 feet through Thursday morning, decreasing to 8 to 12 feet Thursday afternoon. Surf along east facing shores will be 10 to 14 feet through Thursday.

Two more lanes will be added to Highway 130 as part of a $14 million state plan to improve motorists' safety and reduce traffic congestion in lower Puna.

Alaska Airlines announced this week that it would offer four flights a week from San Jose, Calif., into Kona beginning March 12, making the California city the seventh from which airline passengers can embark on direct flights to Kona.

Heads up, the state Department of Education is telling the public, the much-anticipated environmental impact statement for the proposed Kihei high school is on its way.

A public information meeting regarding the proposed construction of a roadway segment that would connect the two Koloa bypass roads is scheduled for Thursday, a county press release states.

The newest building at Hawai'i Preparatory Academy (HPA) in Waimea, the Energy Lab, is being considered one of the latest and most environmentally comprehensive structures in the country, according to its application as a "living building."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Weather moody, layoffs looming, Maui hotel occupancy down, state wants out of housing

First storm of the season expected to bring strange, moody weather

The Hawaii Public Housing Authority is considering a radical solution to decades of backlogged repairs, aging projects and limited resources: selling properties or units and ending state oversight of public housing.

Eighteen people died on the job in Hawaii last year, according to preliminary numbers released yesterday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands yesterday told people in the Ho'olehua area of Moloka'i to reduce their water usage by 50 percent while the department works to recharge a water reservoir and complete repairs at the Kala'e well site.

It is not the kind of publicity Hawaii wants, but the state's decision to shut public schools for 17 Furlough Fridays has made a big media splash.

The first round of massive state layoffs is just a few days away and by the end of next week, hundreds of people will be out of work. In all, the state called for 1,100 layoffs and most of them will be out of work by next Friday.

Guillermo Navarro was shocked when he read an article two years ago about homebuyers and renters unwittingly moving into places that had been used as clandestine laboratories to manufacture methamphetamine.

Maui hotel occupancies dropped to 55.8 percent in September.

Cultural practitioners are set to hold a 24-hour vigil from noon Friday until noon Saturday featuring Hawaiian prayer, chants and temple dances to raise public awareness about development in Wailua, one of Hawai‘i’s most sacred places, event organizers said this week.

A 50-year-old Hawaii Kai woman and her 12-year-old daughter returned home yesterday -- a day late -- after they were forced off a flight leaving Tampa, Fla., on Monday morning because she was suspected of having the flu after asking for an airsickness bag.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Furlough fighting, coffee picking, sugar era ends, floods threatening and other Hawaii news

State senators on a special legislative committee examining public teacher furloughs yesterday said they want to urge Gov. Linda Lingle to make use of $35 million in federal stimulus money that is entirely under her control.

Parents who want their children back in school on Furlough Fridays lost a round in federal court yesterday, but one attorney plans to appeal the ruling, and the judge urged both sides to settle the issue before it goes to trial.

State tax collection have dropped again.

The impending auction of a partial silver-plated serving set salvaged from the USS Arizona just months after the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor is being condemned by at least one former sailor who witnessed the sinking of the battleship.

The National Weather Service on Monday issued a flash flood watch for all of the Hawaiian Islands to start on Tuesday night and last through Thursday.

Renee Mokihana Nobriga, 25, was crowned the 2010 Miss Hawaii USA on November 9, 2009 at LEVEL4 in the Royal Hawaiian Center in Waikiki.

Parker Ranch is selling its realty arm as the 152-year-old operation continues to liquidate assets and trim operating costs following a year of multimillion-dollar losses.

Kona resident Anthony Caravalho Jr.'s fingers flew Sunday morning, searching for and picking sun-kissed, ruby coffee cherries from trees at the Ueshima Coffee Co. estate in Holualoa.

Fifty-seven divers from Maui, Lanai and Oahu came out to the third and last Roi Roundup of the year.

The official end of Kaua‘i processed sugar officially came around 4 p.m. Monday, when the transport ship Moku Pahu left Nawiliwili Harbor with the last Gay & Robinson sugar from the final harvest.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The 'Earmark Guy,' searching for pineapples, blending Kona coffee and grappling with the budget

Inouye's earmarks go to his donors

Hawaii companies that would benefit from earmarks sponsored by U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye that are in the Senate version of the fiscal year 2010 defense appropriations measure. The firms' workers have contributed to Inouye's campaign committees since 1997.

A $76 million budget deficit, a standoff between the University of Hawaii's administration and its faculty union, and fears of massive cuts to programs, departments and schools have longtime professors calling the situation at UH the worst money and morale crisis they have known.

Planned increases in park and boating fees are being opposed by many Hawaii residents who have spoken at public hearings held across the state.

A Hilo contractor is alleging that the state's biggest Burger King franchisee is delinquent in payment of construction costs for the new Hilo restaurant -- and the remainder owed is a whopper.

Hawaii County's 2 percent land fund would be downsized to 0.5 percent as part of a county Charter Commission proposal, but it could become part of the county's charter, protecting it from raids by the administration.

Maui County finance officials are stepping up efforts to collect delinquent taxes, reclassifying some nonfarmers who claim agricultural tax assessments, and taking other steps that could add to the county’s revenues ahead of what’s expected to be a tight year in 2010.

Mr. Pineapple - aka Jimmy Hutaff - needs 350 delicious Maui pineapples a day, and when Maui Pine closes down later this year, he doesn't know where he will get them.

Expanding the county Black Pot Park in Hanalei remains the primary objective for the Kaua‘i Public Land Trust, said Jennifer Luck, KPLT executive director.

As the Kona Coffee Cultural Festival celebrates its 39th year this week, a controversy that started two decades ago about what defines Kona coffee is brewing anew.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Kilauea on the move, garbage shipments delayed, special session averted, more Hawaii news

The U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory says that dozens of small lava flows have moved down the pali and across the coastal plain of Kilauea's south flank in the past several weeks.

Everyone who testified Wednesday about the state Department of Land and Natural Resource's proposed rule changes that will allow the department to go forward with its Recreational Renaissance plan did so with reservations or opposition to the plan.

The state Board of Education last night approved 95 schools' requests to convert teacher training days into instructional days, an action that restores as many as six classroom days that would have been lost because of staff furloughs.

Hawaii State Representatives have caucused, and say there will be no special session over furlough days at schools.

About 75,000 children and at least 10,000 staff and faculty members have been vaccinated in this year's seasonal flu school clinics, and state health officials hope to see the turnout repeated in H1N1 school clinics starting next Friday.

A faith-based community group marched on Honolulu Hale yesterday, calling for the mayor to create a policy and a department to deal with a widespread housing crisis on Oahu.

The first shipment of garbage will be sent from Oahu to the mainland about two weeks later than originally planned because the trash facility ran into some startup problems and had to shut down for nearly half its first month of operations.

Furloughs and other economic concerns dominated an informal public meeting Wednesday night with state lawmakers.

A potentially deadlocked Hawaii County Council unanimously agreed Wednesday to let absent Council Vice Chairwoman Emily Naeole be the tiebreaker on two hotly contested measures relating to land sales.

Planning consultant Chris Hart has announced he will run for mayor of Maui County in 2010.

A request from the county Office of Boards and Commissions to destroy audio recordings of meetings after they are transcribed into minutes and approved was withdrawn Wednesday, but could return to the Kaua‘i County Council’s agenda.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Obama coming home for Christmas, Hawaiians win homelands lawsuit, first female U.S. attorney, more

After a 10-year court battle and decades of waiting in vain for homesteads, plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit won a judgment against the state for failing to promptly award home lots to native Hawaiians under the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust.

More than 2,700 Native Hawaiians have won a class-action lawsuit that accused the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands of failing to meet its trust obligations.

Hawaii News Now has learned that President Barack Obama is planning to spend the Christmas holidays in Hawaii.

Kaiser Permanente Hawaii is seeking double-digit rate hikes for most of its members under proposed increases pending before the state Insurance Division.

The state Department of Health is advising the public to be patient while waiting for wider availability of the H1N1 influenza vaccine — and, meanwhile, to keep washing your hands and covering your coughs and sneezes.

The District of Hawaii's very first female U.S. Attorney is now officially appointed.

Friends, family, colleagues and leaders of Hawaii law enforcement filled a federal court yesterday afternoon as Florence Nakakuni was sworn in as the first female U.S. attorney in the history of the state.

Proposals floating in the Senate would restore public school days lost to teacher furloughs by raiding the $180 million Hurricane Relief Fund or a combination of the disaster fund and federal stimulus dollars.

Just a day after five city sweepers were indicted on a charge of theft in an overtime scam, KITV has learned that two of the indicted men were city supervisors, who nearly doubled their income with overtime, making almost $100,000 a year.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources came under fire Tuesday night for a proposal to begin charging entrance fees at Akaka Falls and Hapuna Beach state parks, among numerous other proposals.

The Kaua‘i County Council on Wednesday unanimously passed a bill that gives the Planning Department greater flexibility in deciding when to require a costly shoreline certification.

It turns out there is a free ride after all. Just ask the thousands of people who use Hawaii County's Hele-On bus service.

More than 400 streetlights will soon be sporting a new glow, thanks to a $737,800 grant Hawaii County has received from the federal government.

When Billy Kenoi recently vetoed a trial program to allow Puna residents to live in tents on their property while they built homes, he said the bill singled out one district for unequal treatment.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Agriculture takes another big hit, Oahu home sales up, health insurance worries employers

Hawaii will be left with just one big grower of pineapple, Dole Food Co., and a handful of small farms next month when Maui Land & Pineapple ends production of what was once the state's single biggest cash crop.

Hawaii's once-rich agricultural industry, renowned throughout the 1900s for its pineapple and sugar crops, has suffered another devastating blow.

Maui Land & Pineapple Co. announced today that it will cease pineapple operations by the end of the year and restructure its resort and land development division.

Department of Land and Natural Resources officials are continuing their public pitch to garner support for their Recreational Renaissance plan.

Sales of Oahu homes rose to their highest level in more than a year and a half in October, although still below the peak of recent years.

Hawaii's congressional delegation said bills in both the U.S. House and the Senate will protect Hawaii's system of employer-paid health insurance, but that worries many local employers who said health insurance costs soaring higher each year are a huge burden.

Balancing Hawaii County's budget could require selling more property than the 737 acres of vacant Paauilo lands up for County Council liquidation approval Wednesday.

More than 50 people spoke up about a land transparency bill during a public hearing Monday night, and this time, most were against it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Kona Coffee Festival perking, symphony struggles, dining inspections down, furlough fights continue

The Kona Coffee Cultural Festival has been celebrating and promoting Kona coffee for 39 years. The theme of this year's festival, which runs Friday through Nov. 15, is "Kona Coffee: Aroma of Aloha."

Ninety-five public schools have applied to turn teacher training days into instructional days and restore some of the class time students are losing to furloughs.

A group of state Senate and House members plans to meet with staff members of the Lingle administration to discuss reducing the number of days public schools are closed due to budget cuts.

The House and Senate Republican Caucus is urging the Hawaii State Teachers Association to rework its (relatively new) contract with the Department of Education. GOP lawmakers want the HSTA and DOE to scrap the teachers' existing contract and negotiate a new deal that will end furlough Fridays.

Perennial guests at a 54-year-old Waikiki hotel say they are saddened that they might not be able to return to their favorite winter retreat, fearing it could close.

Just three years ago, inspectors used to make unannounced inspections on restaurants about once a year. However, that situation has worsened.

People in Hawaii love to dine out at all kinds of eateries. There are about 5,800 restaurants on Oahu, and the results of some inspections might make you think twice about dining out.

The Honolulu Symphony may file for bankruptcy protection as early as tomorrow, according to people familiar with the situation.

Jenna Roussy, an employee at Hilo Shark's Coffee, holds a 7-pound Keitt mango on Friday at the shop. The fruit is possibly the largest mango ever grown in the U.S., and surpassed only by the current world record holder, a 7-pound, 7-ounce Keitt cultivated in the Philippines.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Push to count Native Hawaiians, furloughs could spell OT, ICA agrees substitute teachers underpaid

Group pushing Hawaiians for census: In the 16th century, Big Island ruler Umi a Liloa made sure all native Hawaiians on the island were counted.

The decision to furlough Hawaii government workers could result in an increase in overtime costs at facilities operated 24 hours a day.

The Intermediate Court of Appeals has upheld a 2005 Circuit Court ruling that found the Department of Education underpaid Hawaii substitute teachers millions of dollars

Gov. Linda Lingle is promoting Hawaii as a tourism destination during her two-week trip to China, but a Democratic leader said she should have stayed home.

The Navy said it has relieved a Pearl Harbor-based submarine commander of his command.

Lifeguards conducted over 600 preventative actions Sunday after high surf rolled in on north shores, essentially keeping the inexperienced out of the water.

Though rape reports on the Big Island rose more than 73 percent during the past decade, police say the increase is in reporting, not attacks.

"Huge cuts" will be required to balance a police budget shortfall expected in fiscal 2010-11, however, police and county officials refused to divulge details

A survey distributed by the Maui County Farm Bureau at the recent Maui County Fair reveals that almost all Mauians think farming is important. And half believe it will expand, although the recent trend goes the other way.

Proponents of small wind systems got a lift this week when the county attorney said a proposed bill designed to streamline the permitting process would not open the county to legal or financial liability should an applicant’s windmill kill an endangered seabird.