Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hawaii train is coming, 1k inmates may be released, Legislature opens in disarray, councilman recovering from heart attack, Army helicopter plan panned, lava consumes home, coffee production dips, more news

The City of Honolulu has leapt over a major hurdle by winning federal approval to construct its commuter rail project. Associated Press.

The city expects to break ground on Honolulu's rail system in March, moving ahead with construction of the $5.5 billion transit project after receiving final environmental approval from the Federal Transit Administration.Star-Advertiser.

The Federal Transit Administration issued a Record of Decision for Honolulu's rail transit project Tuesday. The document affirms the project has met all the requirements of the environmental review process as required by the federal government. Hawaii News Now.

Video: After years of preparations and studies, the federal government approves Oahu's rail transit project. KITV4.

The checklist city officials must complete before they can start construction on Honolulu's $5.5 billion rail project is shrinking. Rail planners Tuesday afternoon got the word from Mayor Peter Carlisle, who is in Washington D.C., that the Federal Transit Administration issued a Record of Decision approving the project. Civil Beat.

The Federal Transit Administration has given the City & County of Honolulu the green light to proceed with its $5.5 billion rail transit system. Pacific Business News

The Honolulu Rail Transit Project passed a major hurdle yesterday. Hawaii Independent.

Kohala Councilman Pete Hoffmann is recovering from a heart attack and surgery at The Queen's Medical Center on Oahu. West Hawaii Today.

State House Democrats, unable to agree on leadership, were on the brink last night of allowing internal differences to affect opening day of the state Legislature. Star-Advertiser.

George Fontaine is among the 51 Hawaii House Representatives waiting to learn where their offices will be, what committees they will be serving on, who will hold chairman and vice chairman positions and what their office budget will be. Hawaii Reporter.

The state Legislature opens today, but law-makers have been busy for the last couple of months, preparing for the first session in eight years under a Democrat governor. Garden Island.

A civil unions bill is likely to resurface this year. KHON2.

Prisons May Release Up To 1,000 Offenders. Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s pledge to bring home 1,900 Hawaii inmates in mainland prisons had lawmakers worried about how they would pay for the new prison space required. KITV4.

"Our department stance is, why are we going to pay somebody else to do our jobs?" said Jodie Maesaki-Hirata, interim director of the State Department of Public Safety. Hawaii News Now.

The perennially cash-strapped Hawaii Health Systems Corp. won’t need an emergency cash infusion to make it through the remainder of this fiscal year. Hawaii Reporter.

Medical services, school repairs and energy projects will be among the priorities of lawmakers from Maui's rural districts in the upcoming legislative session. Maui News.

The eight Republicans in the Hawaii House want to prevent new taxes unless they have overwhelming support, promote home solar power installations and reduce the cost of medical lawsuits. Garden Island.

A military plan to run helicopter training exercises from Pohakuloa Training Area to landing zones on Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa is encountering opposition from national parks and environmental and native rights groups.
 West Hawaii Today


Two humpback whales — one of them dragging a net and a buoy — were spotted off Na Pali Coast on Tuesday, prompting immediate response from the United States Coast Guard and the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Garden Island.

The federal government plans to host a public hearing in Honolulu this week on whether a small population of dolphins living near Hawaii be placed on the endangered species list. Associated Press.

How long Waimanalo Gulch Landfill will remain closed depends largely on whether heavy duty plastic liners designed to prevent leaching were compromised by last week's storm. KHON2.

The city is in the process of collecting thousands of gallons of storm water from the Waimanalo Gulch landfill and then sending it right down the drain. Hawaii News Now.

Disagreement over how members of an appointed school board should be chosen could delay implementing a voter mandate to do away with an elected board. Star-Advertiser.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released its annual summery report of crop production. One Hawaii crop hit particularly hard was coffee. Hawaii Public Radio.

Consumers in Hawaii want safe food, but there is a gap between the amount of regulation food purchasers want and the food safety rules that Hawaii's farmers are willing to implement. Star-Advertiser.

Federal regulators have given Sirius XM Radio Inc. permission to temporarily establish a 2,000-watt transmitter in Hawaii. Associated Press.

A meeting was held Tuesday night on a planned affordable housing project for seniors in the master-planned community of Mililani Mauka. KHON2.

Disney is looking to hire 1,200 employees for its new resort. KITV4.

A wind farm on Lanai came one step closer to becoming a towering reality last week. Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) and Castle & Cooke announced reaching an agreement on electric rates and benefits to residents once wind power is up and running on the island. But grassroots organizations and community members on the island say the wind farm deal is “not inevitable.” Molokai Dispatch.

The Nature Conservancy has received a $10,000 grant from the Monsanto Fund for its conservation work on the island of Molokai. Molokai Dispatch.

A former supervisor for the City of Honolulu is headed to prison for a year after pleading no contest to charges he collected overtime pay for work he didn't perform. Associated Press.

Chef Michael Symon doesn't know just yet what will be on the menu this weekend during the James Beard Foundation Celebrity Chef Tour at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel. West Hawaii Today.