Friday, March 4, 2011

More Hawaii hotel rooms full, appointed education board passed, Big Island bag ban bogs down, land chief confirmed, budget bills nixed, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Volunteers counting humpback whales last month saw an average of five every 15 minutes from sites on Oahu and Kauai. Those on the Big Island saw an average of four. Associated Press.

More than 800 volunteers gathered data from the shores of Oahu, Kauai, and the Big Island for Saturday’s annual Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Ocean Count. Hawaii 24/7

William Aila Jr. was confirmed unanimously yesterday by the state Senate as director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, a vote of confidence in the former Waianae harbormaster's ability to manage a sprawling department that has struggled to protect the state's unique environment. Star-Advertiser.

Environmental groups are celebrating the confirmation of William Aila Jr. as the new Director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources. Hawaii News Now.

The state House Finance Committee has moved nearly two dozen bills that would generate revenue or reduce benefit costs, an alternative blueprint to Gov. Neil Abercrombie's plan to help balance the state budget. Star-Advertiser.

As Hawaii lawmakers near the half-way point of the legislative session, Gov. Neil Abercrombie's major revenue-generating proposals have mostly flopped.Civil Beat.

Hawaii moved a step closer to taxing certain pension payments and eliminating deductions for state taxes Thursday, after first turning down a Republican-led effort to table the measure. Hawaii Reporter.

After the Senate unanimously approved a measure yesterday giving him the power to directly appoint Board of Education members, Gov. Neil Abercrombie called for people who can "help bring change" to public schools to apply. Star-Advertiser.

After Hawaii voters approved the change to the constitution, the BOE could be fully replaced as soon as the middle of this month as a bill to establish an appointed school board heads for the governor's signature. KHON2.

The state transportation department has begun a big beautification and resurfacing project that will improve Ala Moana Boulevard and Nimitz Highway from Waikiki to Fort Street in downtown Honolulu. KITV4.

U.S. Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka say Hawaii is due to receive a $250,000 grant to help local businesses cater to the 20,000 visitors expected to come to Honolulu for November's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting. Associated Press.

The Honolulu Police Commission is finalizing its review of Louis Kealoha's first year as chief of police, after a closed-door discussion with him Wednesday. Hawaii News Now.

The Hawaii County Council bogged down on its bag ban bill Wednesday, after a minority-led move to schedule six public hearings effectively pushed a decision back until late November. West Hawaii Today.

Aina Koa Pono, the company planning on building a biofuel plant in Ka'u, is promising well-paying jobs, a more stable fuel supply and minimal environmental impacts once the project is completed. West Hawaii Today.

More and more homeless people are setting up tents on the sidewalks and in the park around the UH medical school in Kakaako. KITV4.

The Veterans Administration estimates there are more than 100-thousand former service members who are homeless on any given night in America. Hawaii Public Radio.

Developers would have to offer affordable homes to buyers and renters with varying incomes under a bill the County Council advanced by a unanimous vote Wednesday. Tribune-Herald.

North Shore’s shave ice attractions have taken center stage in plans to redevelop the historically popular area. Hawaii Independent.

More than eight out of every 10 Hawaii hotel rooms were full during the week ending Feb. 26, and average room rates across the state were notably higher than during the same week in 2010, according to data compiled by Smith Travel Research and Hospitality Advisors. Pacific Business News

Nominees for the 2011 Charter Commission were grilled about their opinions on district voting and other issues Wednesday, but a vote to approve them was postponed. Maui News.

Kaua‘i’s keiki are now able to enjoy new playground equipment at Puhi and ‘Oma‘o county parks, a county press release announced Wednesday. Garden Island.

Creighton and Cathy Mattoon thought they were helping the City develop a plan for the North Shore.