Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Maui tourism up, shark fins, abolishing elected School Board in legislative debates, curfew at housing project sparks controversy, county mayors grapple with budgets, more top Hawaii news

A jump in the number of visitors traveling to Maui in February helped offset declines on the other major islands, the Hawai'i Tourism Authority reported yesterday.

The best combination of green and budget for accommodations? Camping, of course

The state House Finance Committee agreed yesterday that voters should decide whether the state school board will be appointed by the governor.

The state stood by its decision yesterday to institute a 10 p.m. curfew at two Kalihi public housing projects following a string of violent confrontations that ended in a shooting Monday, but some residents said the security measure goes too far.

Hawaii got top marks for setting high standards and an agenda for education reform in the competition for Race to the Top federal funds. But it was graded low on helping charter schools and lifting student achievement.

A proposed constitutional amendment to abolish Hawaii's elected school board might be in the hands of voters in November.

Honolulu was ranked the second-most expensive city in the world to do business among 112 cities studied in a recent global survey.

Supporters say it could have been ground breaking legislation to protect sharks, instead Senate Bill 2169 was deferred by State House Judiciary Chair Jon Riki Karamatsu, essentially taking all the bite out of the bill.

The Department of Human Services Kalihi Unit is one of 31 the state's shutting down as DHS switches to an on-line and over-the-phone application system.

Pedestrian safety advocates are urging both drivers and pedestrians to pay attention and avoid taking risks.

While Maui County might be facing its largest budget hole ever, the buses still need to run, and Mayor Charmaine Tavares said she is sticking with her pledge to start building a bevy of benches and shelters this year to protect riders from the sun, rain and wind.

Eliminating more vacant positions, encouraging early retirement and seeking federal money were among the suggestions County Council members gave Monday for avoiding a tax hike and service cuts.

Hawaii County administration plans to plug a $24 million hole in property tax revenues by raising tax rates, but a corresponding decline in property values is supposed to make it a wash for property owners.

A West Hawaii resident is questioning police and other state and county officials' inaction after he spent six months trying to report alleged, ongoing sexual abuse of a minor.

While a burglary-free community might be an unrealistic goal, it is what the Neighborhood Watch program strives to accomplish — and with noted success.