Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hawaii tourism up, Honolulu foreclosures surge, judiciary seeks money, mystery surrounds top doc's resignation, food companies fight recalls, more news from the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii tourism begins 2011 with renewed momentum from last year's turnaround; however, it's still expected to fall short of the industry's 2005, 2006 and 2007 banner years. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie is proposing a significant increase in the vehicle weight tax.KITV4.

Abercrombie: Projection of Deficit Was 'Considerably Less' in October 2010. Civil Beat.

A group of nine Hawaii senators held hands, bowed their heads and sought God's blessing today, signaling that they'll still pray despite a vote last week to abandon official invocations. Associated Press.

Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald is asking state lawmakers to approve a judiciary budget that includes $16.2 million to end the two-days-a-month furloughs for about 1,800 court workers on July 1. Star-Advertiser.

The state’s budget crunch is slowing the wheels of justice as $19.7 million of cuts over the past two years a factor in doubling processing times for uncontested divorces and the median age of pending civil cases rising by 40 percent over a year earlier. Hawaii Reporter.

Dr. Neal Palafox on Wednesday pulled out of the running for a cabinet position that required a senate advise and consent process.KHON2.

Interim Hawaii Health Director Dr. Neal Palafox abruptly quit Wednesday, the first of new Gov. Neil Abercrombie's Cabinet appointees to leave.Associated Press.

Gov. Abercrombie is proposing a change to the state retirement law that would dramatically reduce the pensions for many government workers -- particularly police officers. KITV4.

Foreclosure activity in the Honolulu metropolitan area rose by almost 40 percent last year compared to the year before, according to a new report from RealtyTrac. Pacific Business News

After more than three decades running Hawaii’s largest sports complex, Aloha Stadium officials are running out of options to solve their most vexing problem: reversing years of decline at the facility that will take center stage this weekend (Jan. 30) for the NFL Pro Bowl. Honolulu Weekly.

The city has cleared the final major environmental hurdle for it to begin construction of Honolulu's rail project.Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu Rail Transit Project received a key permit approval today from the Honolulu City Council that allows the project to begin early construction activities.Hawaii Independent.

State Department of Health officials said a Waipahu food production plant was shut down because of a failure to do the required testing of products for acidity, an indicator of whether conditions are ripe for botulism. Star-Advertiser.

A recall involving food manufacturer First Commercial Kitchen has outraged many local entrepreneurs.KHON2.

Two Big Island companies whose products are listed in a statewide recall say they don't even use the company shut down by the Health Department this week. West Hawaii Today.

A day after a recall of more than 100 locally-made products, health officials are still trying to figure out which brands should be on the list.Hawaii News Now.

A document has come to light, showing that the operator of the Waimanalo Gulch landfill and the city were fined $424,000 last year for design failures at the landfill. Hawaii News Now.

With cast-off household items piling up on curbsides, Oahu's landfill will remain closed yet another week, city officials announced yesterday.Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro is urging the Legislature to adopt several changes to state criminal law. Associated Press.

A University of Hawaii researcher was elected president of a prestigious coral research group. Hawaii Public Radio.

The Challenge(s) of Geothermal. Big Island Weekly.

State agriculture officials got permission Tuesday to begin field testing a pesticide that may control the coffee berry borer. West Hawaii Today.

An agreement announced Tuesday between the Hawaii Medical Service Association and Healthways won't cost HMSA subscribers extra and may lead to rate reductions, company representatives said. West Hawaii Today.

Wailea association puts end to a court battle over parking. Maui News.

Four months after the workshop that Mayor Billy Kenoi's office said would yield a pedestrian safety plan, the plan is still a work in progress. Tribune-Herald.

The new Safeway store in Hilo is opening in two months, officials confirmed, and the company is now accepting employment applications.Tribune-Herald.