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Friday, April 29, 2011

Hawaii lawmakers agree on budget, Kauai burial site protestors arrested, Lanai fights wind farm, Maui gas hits $6, Four Seasons Resort reopens after tsunami damage, hula proves popular, more Hawaii news

Four Seasons Resort Hualalai
Four Seasons Resort Hualalai will reopen its doors Saturday to the delight of new and loyal patrons who have enjoyed its hospitality and luxury for 15 years. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii legislators agreed on a final version of the state's $11 billion annual budget Thursday before determining exactly how to pay for it. Associated Press.

Hawaii lawmakers agreed on an operating budget Thursday evening that calls for spending an additional $800 million a year for each of the next two years. Civil Beat.

Pushing up against a midnight deadline, state lawmakers are expected to choose today the tax and revenue-generating options they need to balance the budget. Star-Advertiser.

In an unusually early end to an unusually challenging budget process, state lawmakers began laying out the details of the two-year budget that they said eliminated a $1.3 billion potential deficit. KITV4.

The conference committee made up of both House Representatives and Senators approved the state budget by a vote of 28-0 Wednesday night. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii legislators are planning a state budget that funds an end to public employee furloughs while reducing the cost of running the government. KHON2.

Late this afternoon, Hawaii’s House and Senate money committees passed a budget that grows the size of government, restores many cuts lawmakers made earlier this session to Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s budget proposal and includes funding for new state positions. Hawaii Reporter.

A requirement for more class time in Hawaii public schools will be phased in over the next few years, according to compromise legislation reached Thursday that delays parts of a law designed to increase student instruction. Associated Press.

In a last-ditch effort, Sen. Malama Solomon revives casino proposal. Civil Beat.

Taxing pensions is a contentious issue at the legislature this session as lawmakers look at all potential sources of revenue to balance the budget. Hawaii Public Radio.

A proposal to impose "instant runoff" voting in county elections has been tabled at the state Legislature this year. Star-Advertiser.

The state Legislature has given final approval to a two-year extension of a law protecting journalists from having to reveal anonymous sources and private notes. Star-Advertiser.

Ask any council member or county finance officer where Kaua‘i County’s budget stands today and the story is the same: “We’re in a sound financial position,” thanks to years of conservative tax-and-spend policies. Garden Island.

Law enforcement officers arrested two protesters Thursday morning for obstructing a contractor hired by the state government to dig a leach field in Kaumuali‘i Park, next to Wailua River, in an area were human skeletons and old Hawaiian artifacts were reportedly unearthed. Garden Island.

Friends of Lāna‘i petitioned Hawaii’s Public Utilities Commission to reopen the competitive bidding process for the multi-island “Big Wind” project yesterday. Hawaii Independent.

Hula links Hawaii with dancers from hard-hit Japan. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii visitor arrivals in March came in 4.2 percent higher than last year, and spending rose 11.8 percent, despite a plunge in Japan arrivals after the earthquake, tsunami and radiation leaks that began March 11. Hawaii News Now.

The price for a gallon of regular gas broke the $6 mark this week in remote Hana, Maui, notching a record that is consistently being topped. Star-Advertiser.

The rising price of gasoline has affected what shoppers pay for food and consumer items, but one business not allowed to pass increases along to the consumer is taxicabs. Tribune-Herald.

In a case of getting what you pay for, Hele-On bus riders may be charged fares for the first time in years and also receive improved service. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii disaster planners continue to learn from the March 11 tsunami event the caused an estimated $30.6 million in damage, most of it at boat harbors on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island. KHON2.

Six Hawaii schools travel to St. Louis for FIRST Championships. KHON2.

Three public advocacy groups have asked the state Reapportionment Commission to rescind its decision to require only three days' public notice for its meetings. Star-Advertiser.

The state Transportation Department’s Halawa Stream Bridge project has run into numerous problems and delays, causing a five-and-a-half-year delay and millions of dollars in cost overruns. KITV4.

The Maui Planning Commission unanimously endorsed an interim state Department of Transportation plan Tuesday to protect Honoapiilani Highway where the ocean continues to threaten the roadway on the Lahaina side of the pali on a pebble beach in Olowalu. Maui News.

It was Maui’s Tori Hulali Canha of Halau Ke‘alaokamaile who took the Miss Aloha Hula title at Merrie Monarch last night by a slim margin of three points. Star-Advertiser.

Thousands of people packed into Hilo's old tennis stadium to witness a performance the likes of which has not been seen for more than a hundred years. Tribune-Herald.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hawaii hopes Obama birther controversy behind it, milk radiation levels drop, Legislature in budget stalemate, state Supreme Court rejects Native Hawaiian tax issue, Maui to sell bus signs, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Kilauea lehua (c) 2011 All Hawaii News
For kumu hula Maelia Loebenstein Carter, a certain lehua tree at the edge of Kilauea Caldera holds symbolic meaning. Star-Advertiser.

Time is running out in the Hawaii legislative session and lawmakers have reached a stalemate over the budget. Civil Beat.

Hawaii lawmakers are racing to craft a State Budget that provides essential government services but closes a 1.3 billion dollar spending gap over the next two years. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii lawmakers are nearing decisions on raising a variety taxes and cutting government programs, but they haven't agreed on how to do so yet. Associated Press.

The Hawaii Supreme Court yesterday rejected a taxpayer lawsuit by non-Native Hawaiians seeking the same tax exemptions given to Native Hawaiian lessees under the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act. Star-Advertiser.

For the first time since the nuclear disaster in Japan, extremely miniscule amounts of radioactive strontium has been found in milk samples taken from the Big Island. KHON2.

The state Health Department confirmed that strontium-89 from Japan's nuclear release was detected in Big Island dairy milk after a nationwide high level of cesium also was found in the same April 4 testing. Star-Advertiser.

Until this week, Hawaii officials said they wouldn't release original birth records for anyone, under any circumstances. Even if it was President Barack Obama. Associated Press.

Short-handed staff at the offices of the governor, attorney general and Health Department hope they can finally move on from spending untold hours devoted to the issue of President Barack Obama's place of birth after he released copies of his "long form" birth certificate yesterday. Star-Advertiser.

President Obama’s birth certificate delivers news to doctor’s family. Hawaii News Now.

Ivalee Sinclair always knew her late husband lived an accomplished life, but a call from her daughter early Wednesday morning exceeded her imagination. KITV4.

Dr. David Sinclair's six children grew up accustomed to him often leaving home at all hours and holidays to deliver babies. Associated Press.

According to the state, the president sent a letter April 22 requesting two certified copies of the original certificate of live birth. KHON2.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie said it's an insult for anyone to continue to question if President Barrack Obama was born in Hawaii after the state issued his original Certificate of Live Birth Wednesday. Hawaii News Now.

The Hawaii State Health Department announced that it complied with a request by President Barack Obama for certified copies of his original Certificate of Live Birth, which is sometimes referred to in the media as a “long form” birth certificate. Hawaii Independent.

Real Estate Mogul Donald Trump received international publicity recently when he dispatched an investigative team to Hawaii to find President Barack Obama’s long form certificate of live birth. Hawaii Reporter.

State Sen. Josh Green, an emergency room physician from Kona, said he has seen too much abuse of the medical marijuana law, especially by young people who claimed severe, chronic pain in order to get a doctor to certify them as a marijuana patient. KITV4.

The county could sell advertising space on the Maui Bus, under a proposal before the Maui County Council. Maui News.

Maui County Council members are balking at a proposal that could significantly increase some Department of Planning permit fees. Maui News.

People whose property was damaged in the March 11 tsunami aren't required to obtain permits before starting repairs. West Hawaii Today.

Honolulu’s jobless rate improved to 5.1 percent in March, down from the 5.3 percent in February and 5.6 percent in March 2010, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ preliminary data that has not been seasonally adjusted. Pacific Business News

State Librarian Richard Burns recently sent a press release stating that libraries have seen “impressive increases” in circulation as e-books and e-readers have surged in popularity. Garden Island.

The friendly Hawaiian monk seal known as KP2, later named Ho`ailona, that frequented Molokai waters and made many friends is turning three years old this May. Molokai Dispatch.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Obama Hawaii birth certificate released, human trafficking bill advances, Ed Board gets to work, pilot medical marijuana bill advances, Hawaii County going green, more island news

Obama Hawaii Birth Certificate
The White House released the long form of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate Wednesday in response to questions about whether he was really born in the U.S. Associated Press.

He’s No ‘Birther’ but Hawaii Senator Tackles Issues Surrounding Obama’s Birth Certificate. Hawaii Reporter.

Hawaii lawmakers are killing a proposal that would have allowed residents to pay off upfront costs of solar panels and other energy-saving appliances through their power bills. Associated Press.

Hawaii may well be on its way to finally putting a human trafficking statute on the books. Civil Beat.

Lawmakers say they're close to reaching a compromise on implementing a law that lengthens the school day. Star-Advertiser.

The new appointed Board of Education held its first public meeting on Tuesday. KHON2.

After taking a moment to recognize their elected predecessors, the appointed Board of Education tackled its first meeting yesterday, approving new bylaws and committees while pledging to find and fix problems in Hawaii’s public education system. Star-Advertiser.

Public hospital nurses in Hawaii said they rejected a proposal for 5 percent pay cuts because they are already woefully underpaid compared to the private sector. KITV4.

The attorney general wants you to do a little spring cleaning in your medicine cabinet. Hawaii News Now.

A two-year pilot program to establish a medical marijuana distribution center aims to treat patients and crack down on abuses that have led to more than 500 people under age 21 receiving marijuana prescriptions in Hawaii County alone, a state senator said. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii County officials are hoping to lead by example by establishing a baseline for carbon emissions and fossil fuel use, then working to reduce both figures, the county's Green Team coordinator says. West Hawaii Today.

The U.S. Small Business Administration Tuesday opened a temporary SBA Disaster Loan Outreach Center on Oahu to assist residents and businesses affected by the March 11 tsunami. Pacific Business News

Fuel price increases are hitting home for the county Department of Water Supply, which on Tuesday recommended a 9 percent hike to the power cost surcharge the utility charges on top of a previously planned 6.8 percent general water rate increase. West Hawaii Today.

Merrie Monarch Festival Schedule Of Events. Tribune-Herald.

A wonderful gift arrived at Kilohana School last month – a computer for every fourth through sixth grade student to use in the classroom. Molokai Dispatch.

Ground will be broken at 10 a.m. today for a Courtyard by Marriott hotel near Kahului Airport. Maui News.

Kathy Miyake of Central Pacific Bank was installed to a two-year term as president of the Kaua‘i United Way before more than 100 people who attended the 68th Annual Meeting and Mahalo Celebration recently at Duke’s Canoe Club at Kalapaki Beach. Garden Island.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hawaii proposed online tax could hurt tech business, Maui showing signs of recovery, Hawaii County property rolls lower, governor signs bills, Merrie Monarch begins, more news

Hawaii hula (c) 2011 All Hawaii News
The 48th Merrie Monarch Festival kicked off in grand fashion Sunday. Tribune-Herald.

NOAA crews have returned from a trip to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands to survey damage from last month's tsunami. KHON2.

Hawaii lawmakers are looking for creative ways to tax online shopping, either by requiring Internet sellers to hand over customer information to the government, or by enrolling in a multistate program in which websites voluntarily collect taxes. Associated Press.

Governor Abercrombie signed eight more bills that were passed out of the 2011 legislature into law on Monday. Hawaii News Now.

Six of seven bargaining units of the state's largest public-sector labor union yesterday ratified a new two-year contract that will mean a 5 percent pay cut, an increase in their health care premium payments and an increase in time off. Star-Advertiser.

The state Senate Education Committee rejected two of Gov. Neil Abercrombie's nominees for the University of Hawaii Board of Regents yesterday, making it unlikely that the full Senate will confirm them. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Monday announced a plan to provide more help to the homeless in Hawaii. KITV4.

With Maui County's economy showing signs of recovery, the administration of Mayor Alan Arakawa wants to provide more money to nonprofit agencies because they "provide a service to the community, often its neediest," said Sandy Baz, the administration's budget director. Maui News.

Hawaii County real property valuations came in about 4 percent less than last year, good news for County Council members fearing losses as high as 10 percent. West Hawaii Today.

A Civil Beat investigation of public financial disclosures shows the real estate values listed by 14 Hawaii lawmakers differed from public assessments. Civil Beat.

City & County of Honolulu Details Rail Bond Financing. Hawaii Reporter.

If you were waiting for crunch time to see how all the powerful talk at the Hawaii State Legislature would translate into the actual definition of the people’s business in 2011, and the balanced budget to pay for it, you’re in luck. Hawaii Independent.

Hawaii County will honor permits already issued for DW Aina Lea's the Villages at Aina Lea, Planning Director Bobby Jean Leithead-Todd said Monday. West Hawaii Today.

Northwynd Resort Properties Ltd., the owner of Makaha Resort & Golf Club, has sold the resort’s 18-hole golf course to Hawaiian Golf Properties LLC. Pacific Business News

The county Redistricting Commission had barely gotten itself organized Monday before some members started questioning a new county code setting strict rules for its operation. West Hawaii Today.

Residents of the Garden Island celebrated Earth Day this past Friday by working on projects, such as cleaning up beaches and planting trees around the island. Garden Island.

Researchers on a recent trip to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands helped rescue a Hawaiian monk seal found tangled in marine debris. Associated Press.

On one of the holiest days of the year for Christians, Hilo's faithful flocked to see a "corpse" -- flower that is. Tribune-Herald.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hawaii Supreme Court takes up native squatting rights, Real ID real expensive for counties, Maui group sues over Main Street name, budget struggles continue, more news from the Hawaiian Islands

Waikiki homeless (c) 2011 All Hawaii News
Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie and his point man on homeless issues are scheduled to announce a new initiative to help people without shelter. Associated Press.

It's decision time at the Hawaii Capitol, where lawmakers enter their final days scrounging for money to keep the state running with a full slate of proposed tax increases and spending cuts.  Associated Press.

The deadline is looming at the State Capitol, House and Senate conference committees must agree on how to close a $1.3 billion budget gap. KHON2.

University of Hawaii students are bracing for another tuition hike as state lawmakers struggle to close a major budget shortfall. Hawaii News Now.

The Hawaii Legislature's endgame is a mystery even to those who work in the state Capitol. Civil Beat.

An increase in Hawaii's general excise tax is dead for now, but Rep. George Fontaine worries that it could make a comeback. Associated Press.

The Department of Taxation reported that tax collections in Hawaii were coming in below expectations, down by 5.5 percent through the first nine months of this fiscal year. KITV4.

The Hawaii Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case in which a Native Hawaiian argues he has a constitutional right to take up residence as a caretaker of a remote state park on Kauai. Civil Beat.

An unfunded federal mandate that the state passed down to the four counties will likely increase expenses for Kaua‘i in the near future, officials said last week. Garden Island.

Lost in the renewed scrutiny into President Barack Obama's birth records is the fact that anyone can walk into a Hawaii vital records office, wait in line behind couples getting marriage licenses and open a baby-blue government binder containing basic information about his birth. Associated Press.

The Wailuku Main Street Association is suing the National Trust for Historic Preservation over its right to use the Main Street name. Maui News.

The State Land Use Commission has denied Tropic Land LLC’s petition to allow a light industrial park’s construction on Lualualei valley farmland. Hawaii Independent.

Relocation of utility lines is expected to begin today as the city moves forward with work on its $5.3 billion rail transit system. Star-Advertiser.

The odor of rotting flesh emanating from a single "corpse flower" drew hundreds of new visitors yesterday to Hilo's Pana­‘ewa Rainforest Zoo & Gardens on a typically quiet Easter Sunday. Star-Advertiser.

Mitsubishi has chosen Hawaii to be the first state in the nation to get the company's new electric car. KHON2.

Continental Airlines has begun hiring airport workers as it prepares to launch its direct mainland-to-Hilo service this summer. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii state health officials have sent samples of Big Island groundwater for testing after the release of radiation from Japanese nuclear power plants last month. Associated Press.

The Queen Liliuokalani Trust is getting quite a tax break on a $9.9 million commercial parcel it owns at a prime Kona crossroads. West Hawaii Today.

“Ua Mau Ke Ea O Ka Aina I Ka Pono – The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.” This, the state motto of Hawaii, is one of the few if not only state mottos that alludes to man’s integral relationship to the natural world. Molokai Dispatch.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Hawaii tourism brightens, reapportionment commission already at odds, state looks to car rental fees, fishponds opened by tsunami, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hapuna Beach (c) 2011 All Hawaii News
The Hawaii Legislature has adopted a resolution urging the governor not to transfer Hapuna Beach State Park to Hawaii County. Big Island Video News.

Hawaii hotels were three-fourths full during the week ending April 16, and most island’s average room rates were higher compared to the same week in 2010, according to data from Smith Travel Research and Hospitality Advisors. Pacific Business News

Hunting for a ready source of cash to help balance the budget, state lawmakers might divert some of the daily surcharges that tourists and others pay on rental cars. Star-Advertiser.

With just a few weeks left before the legislature adjourns, there's a battle brewing between state lawmakers and the teacher's union.Hawaii News Now.

The Hawaii Supreme Court is stepping in to pick a leader of the group charged with redrawing election district lines after it failed to agree on a chairperson itself. Associated Press.

Voting districts across the state will be changed within the year. It's a process that takes place by law every ten years by law. KHON2.

With one Constitutional deadline already missed and another bearing down on them, the state's Reapportionment Commission is asking for more time. Civil Beat.

The state Supreme Court began soliciting for nominees yesterday to lead the Hawaii Reapportionment Commission after the eight sitting members announced they have been unable to reach consensus on a ninth member to serve as chairman. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu City Council is looking at ways to close a projected 100 million dollar budget gap. Hawaii Public Radio.

Visitor industry leaders appealed to Maui County Council members on Wednesday not to raise their property tax rates. Maui News.

The state Land Use Commission on Thursday affirmed its decision to revert land owned by Bridge Aina Lea and DW Aina Lea to agriculture. West Hawaii Today.

Don Horner doesn't sit on the board of every nonprofit and key organization in the state. Star-Advertiser.

Lawsuits describing “deplorable and hazardous” living conditions at the state-owned Mayor Wright Homes project were filed in state and federal court today, alleging that residents, including severely disabled individuals, have endured years of rat, roach and bedbug infestations, leaky and broken pipes, and “an almost total lack of hot water.” Hawaii Reporter.

"The state is the largest landlord in this state. It's also by far the largest slum lord in the state." Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle on Thursday appointed Robert Godbey as the new corporation counsel for the city. KITV4.

Less than a week after the Kaua‘i Planning Commission granted permits to allow Phase II of the Anaina Hou Project in Kilauea to go forward, the Executive Committee of Kaua‘i’s Sierra Club expressed its concerns in writing. Garden Island.

Kohala kupuna and state biologists are hoping a breach created by the March 11 tsunami at the Kuualii fish pond may turn into a permanent ocean opening. West Hawaii Today.

Donations are needed at Keawanui Fishpond to help restore the walls, after the March 11 tsunami. Molokai Dispatch.

Data released Wednesday morning by the Environmental Protection Agency reveal that radiation levels found in Big Isle milk have dropped by more than half. Tribune-Herald.

Community colleges in Hawaii expect to slash their energy use by nearly one-quarter and save a combined $58 million over the next 20 years due to conservation measures they are adopting. Associated Press.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

EEOC farmworker lawsuit hits six Hawaii farms, Hawaii County passes $56M bond issue, Gov. Abercrombie, Maui mayor calling for tax hikes, community college chancellor candidates woo Big Island, more news from the Hawaiian Islands

Honolulu gay rights rally (c) 2011 All Hawaii News

Gender equity bill on governor's desk a bookend to civil unions bill earlier in session. Civil Beat.

Federal authorities have filed a civil lawsuit accusing six Hawaii farms of "unlawful employment practices" in association with federally indicted farm labor contractor Global Horizons Manpower Inc. Star-Advertiser.

A federal agency calls it the largest human trafficking lawsuit ever against the agriculture industry. KHON2.

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Files Lawsuit in Thai Human Trafficking Case, but Defendants, Attorneys Question Timing, Motives Hawaii Reporter.

Captain Cook Coffee Co. and MacFarms of Hawaii were two of six Hawaii farms named in a human trafficking lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Tuesday. West Hawaii Today.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced Wednesday that it has filed its largest agricultural human trafficking lawsuit against labor contractor Global Horizons and eight farms, including Kaua‘i Coffee Company. Garden Island.

A federal agency has sued a California-based labor contractor and farms in Washington and Hawaii alleging discrimination against more than 200 Thai workers in what it has called its largest human trafficking case in agriculture to date. Associated Press.

House and Senate negotiators meeting in conference committees are agreeing on a few bills that will now get final floor votes. Garden Island.

With the budget year mostly over, Hawaii state tax revenue is up less than inflation, sharpening the state budget crisis. Hawaii News Now.

Golden Week in Hawaii will lose some of its shine this year. Hawaii News Now.

Verbatim: Abercrombie email says moving forward means raising taxes. Hawaii Independent.

Teachers bombarded state Sen. Jill Tokuda's office with hundreds of calls and more than 1,200 emails yesterday, concerned that a law aimed at lengthening public school days would require them to work longer hours without more pay. Star-Advertiser.

The University of Hawaii and various Hawaii public schools plan to donate textbooks and bookshelves to public libraries in Micronesia suffering from budget cuts. Associated Press.

The Honolulu City Council held a marathon session day over a combination of spending cuts and hikes in taxes and fees. KHON2.

Mayor Alan Arakawa is calling for a smaller increase in property tax rates than he originally proposed. Maui News.

County Clerk Peter Nakamura’s mayoral re-appointment and subsequent Kaua‘i County Council confirmation in December stirred controversy after two council members questioned a pay raise that pushed his salary slightly past the mayor’s. Garden Island.

Comments among County Council members got a bit heated Wednesday morning, but by lunchtime, the council gave the final approval to a $56 million bond. West Hawaii Today.

The cost to build Honolulu's rail transit system has decreased to $5.3 billion from $5.5 billion, according to the latest draft of the city's financial plan, released yesterday. Star-Advertiser.

Complaints that Maui County Council Member Mike White acted improperly when he called for more funding for the Maui Visitors Bureau have been dismissed by the county Board of Ethics. Maui News.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie Wednesday presented Hawaii Green Business Office and Government awards to eight institutions. Pacific Business News

“I felt like I was cleaning the rubbish off the reef,” said Dicky Dowling, who speared 46 roi for first place honors in last weekend’s Molokai Roi Tournament. Molokai Dispatch.

Working together will help move Hawaii Community College into the future, four finalists seeking the college's chancellor position emphasized during a forum held Wednesday in Kealakekua. West Hawaii Today.

East Hawaii residents got their first chance Tuesday to interact with the final four candidates vying for the chancellorship of Hawaii Community College. Tribune-Herald.

For many of the 52,000 local Bank of America mortgage holders who have lost–or could lose–their houses due to the bank’s nationwide frenzy of mortgage foreclosures, the possibility of being houseless is terrifying. Honolulu Weekly.

University of Hawaii officials, UH medical students and contractors gathered Wednesday to bless the university's Cancer Center in Kakaako at the medical school. KITV4.

Hawai’i got its first news that radioisotopes from the Japanese nuclear crisis had appeared in local food on April 10, when the Environmental Protection Agency posted results of testing on milk from a Big Island dairy. Big Island Weekly.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Feds announce human trafficking sweep, gas hits record high, bedbugs invade Waikiki restaurant, Maui nurses protest pay, Sanjay Gupta bringing Fit Nation to Kona, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Honolulu Hale (c) 2011 All Hawaii News
Deep funding cuts proposed for the city Office of Economic Development and the Mayor's Office on Culture and the Arts could be scaled back, a key lawmaker says, depending on the support each agency receives when the City Council meets today to weigh budget plans. Star-Advertiser.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will announce the filing of a major human trafficking lawsuit today, involving hundreds of Thai workers throughout California, Washington and Hawai‘i. Garden Island.

Members of the House Finance and Senate Ways and Means committees kicked off a conference committee Tuesday night to start negotiating a final budget draft for the coming two fiscal years.Civil Beat.

Hawaii Republicans are holding a "Balanced Budget Summit" intended to show the public that tax increases aren't needed to address the state's shortfall. Associated Press.

Gas prices hit a new record high in Hawaii today and oil industry analysts say prices are likely to continue rising. Star-Advertiser.

As rising gasoline prices drive up the cost of transportation in Hawaii, the Hawaii State Legislature is poised to pass laws that sharply increase the cost of owning a car or truck. Hawaii Reporter.

A company that builds electric vehicle charging stations announced Tuesday the first steps toward building a network of chargers across Hawaii. KITV4.

O’ahu students rallied at the Capitol to show their support of Clean Energy legislation. Hawaii Public Radio.

A Waikiki restaurant is currently receiving treatment for bed bugs. KHON2.

A 1,200-acre lowland forest preserve in Ka'u is blossoming with native species once thought to have vanished. West Hawaii Today.

An effort by Kohala Councilman Pete Hoffmann to increase the list of eligible public land purchase properties faltered in the council's Finance Committee Tuesday. West Hawaii Today.

Work continues at the 1,739-acre Kapulena Agricultural Park in Hamakua, as inmates build fences for initial use as pasture land. Tribune-Herald.

Debris swept into the sea after the Great East Japan Earthquake likely will reach the shores of the Hawaiian Islands in about a year and the West Coast of North America in 2014, according to a Japan-U.S. joint research organization. Hawaii Independent.

CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta bringing Fit Nation to Big Island of Hawaii. Big Island Video News.

The federal government is awarding researchers $25 million to study how to prevent obesity among native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. Associated Press.

A newly released study by the State Land and Natural Resources Department and the University of Hawaii’s Sea Grant program is proposing ways to protect Kailua Beach from erosion, and the expected rise in the ocean levels. KITV4.

The state and coastal geologists have prepared a plan to protect sand dunes on Oahu's Kailua Beach from erosion that scientists predict will occur as global warming causes sea levels to rise. Associated Press.

It's been named one of the prettiest beaches in the world but some say the parking at Lanikai Beach in Kailua is getting downright ugly. KHON2.

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation 2011 Hawaii Host Committee Tuesday issued a request for proposals for a company to sell Hawaii tours and activities to APEC attendees in November. Pacific Business News

Federal authorities investigating a deadly fireworks explosion on Oahu have started to slowly remove explosives that remain in the underground bunker where five workers were killed. Associated Press.

More than 100 nurses from Maui Memorial Medical Center rallied Monday and plan to gather again Thursday to protest terms of a new contract with the state. Maui News.

University of Hawaii at Hilo administrators anticipate canceling a number of classes next academic year in an effort to cut expenses. Tribune-Herald.

Federal trial for marijuana minister Roger Christie and 13 others has been delayed again. Tribune-Herald.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hawaii officials reassure on radiation scare, bills labeling coffee, barring gender ID bias go to governor, Big Island evicting Native Hawaiians, Maui police want disoriented database, more Hawaii news

Hawaiian Abel Lui (c) 2011 All Hawaii News
Hawaii County and a Kawa Bay property owner have gone to court to evict a Native Hawaiian group claiming ownership of property the county is buying for preservation. West Hawaii Today.

State health officials are testing large rainwater catchment systems this week on the Big Island, Maui and Kauai for radiation from Japan's nuclear release, but re-emphasized that radiation in milk, rainwater and likely in locally grown produce remains minute. Star-Advertiser.

State health officials said Monday trace amounts of radiation from Japan detected in milk and rain water in Hawaii do not pose a threat to public health. KITV4.

Officials with the state Health Department told members of the Senate Health Committee Monday that radiation from the nuclear disaster in Japan has been found in Hawaii's rain water and milk but the levels are so miniscule the contamination poses no threat to the public. KHON2.

There have been no public health threats generated so far in Hawaii by ongoing nuclear radiation leaks in Japan, officials of the state Health Department and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration told a Senate committee today. Hawaii Reporter.

Hawaii health officials say tiny amounts of radiation detected in milk and rainwater don't pose a public health risk. Associated Press.

The next two years of federal Medicaid cuts will chop at least $150 million out of health care, affecting one out of every five Hawaii residents, and state legislators are looking for an additional $30 million in savings, the head of the state Department of Human Services told groups attending simultaneous town hall meetings last night. Star-Advertiser.

A bill that would explicitly bar discrimination on the basis of gender identiy or expression in employment in Hawaii now awaits Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s signature. Hawaii Independent.

A bill awaiting Gov. Neil Abercrombie's signature is intended to prevent mislabeling of Kona coffee blends. But Big Island coffee farmers opposed to the bill say it will actually make the problem worse. Civil Beat.

Waikiki Beach widening project on hold. Hawaii News Now.

Coqui frog hunting? There's an app for that. West Hawaii Today.

Police seek database for disoriented people. Maui News.

City officials on Monday introduced the six appointees for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation. KITV4.

First Hawaiian Bank CEO and Chairman Don Horner has topped a number of important short-lists lately. Less than a week after being sworn in as chairman of the new appointed state Board of Education, Horner on Monday was named one of 10 members on the board of a new Honolulu mass transit agency. Civil Beat.

Koke‘e State Park is full of wonder. Where else can you witness rare Hawaiian birds in their native environment? Garden Island.

Hawaii’s first electric vehicle charging network will be unveiled Tuesday, a project of Better Place. Pacific Business News

Molokai Occupational Center’s new management is putting a rocky past aside and working toward building a better future and making stronger ties with the community it serves. Molokai Dispatch.

A Probate Court-appointed screening committee is looking for candidates for a new Kamehameha Schools trustee. Associated Press.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Hawaii tourism feeling tsunami pain, Legislature enters last round, anti-trafficking, state slaughterhouse, pet store laws advance, more news from all the Hawaiian islands

Iolani Palace (c) 2011 All Hawaii News
For the first time since the overthrow of the Hawaiian Monarchy in 1893, a room at Iolani Palace has been restored to how it may have appeared during the time. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii would be the first state to own a slaughterhouse, under a bill moving in the Legislature. Star-Advertiser.

House and Senate negotiators are beginning to meet to create the final form of bills before they can receive final votes. Associated Press.

Two bills that help to establish anti-human trafficking laws in Hawaii will be heard in conference by Senate and House committees. Hawaii Independent.

Selling Sex in Honolulu: Police Use Massage License Law Against Prostitutes. Civil Beat.

The new labor contract offered to the state’s largest government workers’ union “is the best settlement that could be obtained” under Hawaii’s current fiscal climate, the union told the rank-and-file this week. Hawaii Reporter.

Hawaii lawmakers are considering a bill that would require pet stores to sterilize cats and dogs before they're sold. Associated Press.

More feet on the beat.That’s what Kaua‘i Police Department officials said they need most to do their jobs better for the 2012 fiscal year, which starts July 1. Garden Island.

Hawaii County's new prosecutor says she's "excited and lucky" to succeed Jay Kimura, who retired April 1 after more than 18 years on the job. Tribune-Herald.

Japan Airlines Co. extended reductions in overseas flights, including Honolulu,  because demand has dropped following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii is still an option for Dallas-based discount carrier Southwest Airlines, and its partnership with Boeing, the maker of the jets Southwest would use to fly to the isles, is intact in the wake of a recent fuselage rupture. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii's leisure and hospitality industry lost jobs in March for the first time after eight straight months of growth. Associated Press.

Foreclosure Davids and banking Goliaths have been doing battle in East Hawaii for years. Tribune-Herald.

Nearly every county in the state has reported possible cases of dengue fever to the Department of Health. KHON2.

In the next couple of weeks, Nguyen Le, owner of Momentum Multi-sport, a local triathlon store, and the State Department of Health are rolling out Hawaii’s first bike sharing program to drive motorists from gas power to pedal power. KITV4.

A longtime local nonprofit is defending its record after a review of financial reports showed that it had accumulated more than $374,000 in unspent county grants. Maui News.

On Tuesday night in Wailuku Maui, Tommy Russo spotted Bounty Hunter Duane "Dog" Chapman in the public parking lot near his office. KHON2.

Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha says the department is reviewing whether it's complying with the law when it comes to public records. Civil Beat.

Friendly Market Center has recently been approved for a Special Management Area permit to subdivide a lot, a first step in widening Kamoi and Alohi Streets along FMC property. Molokai Dispatch.

Contract award protests will result in uncertain delays for the city’s rail transit system, officials acknowledge. Star-Advertiser.

The new, multimillion-dollar roof of Hawaii County's main office building in Hilo has started leaking -- again. Tribune-Herald.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Hawaii gas highest in the nation, state workers to get 64 days off, appointed ed board seated, West Hawaii gets new civic center, Hilo sewer leak could go to sea, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii gas prices (c) 2011 All Hawaii News
Hawaii's average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline hit a nation-leading $4.46 on Thursday, 28 cents higher than second-place California. Associated Press.

With gas prices on Oahu around $4.50 a gallon, the operators of the city's bus system said more people are buying bus passes and taking the bus. KITV4.

Gas prices in Wailuku, Maui reached a new all-time record price on Wednesday, according to the AAA Hawaii Weekend Gas Watch. KHON2.

House Republicans question amount of paid time off for state workers. Hawaii News Now.

Ratification vote dates have been set for members of the state's largest public worker union to decide on a new contract. KHON2.

Hawaii saw 2,447 initial jobless claims filed during the week ending April 9, down 14.7 percent from the 2,868 claims filed during the same week last year, according to the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. Pacific Business News

McDonald's restaurants are looking to fill 1,000 jobs in Hawaii. Associated Press.

Two of Hawaii’s largest hotel brands, Hilton and Starwood, are likely to host three of the top countries at the 2011 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in November, and other hotels cleared for the high-level international event are in the final stages of negotiations. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s health disparities and gaps in care need community collaboration to help residents make healthier choices and to increase longevity among the state’s neediest population, according to a report that will be released today.Star-Advertiser.

In an unusual display of bipartisan acclaim, nine new members of the board of education were confirmed by the state senate Thursday and were to take office immediately. KITV4.

The State Senate approved Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s nominees for Hawaii’s Board of Education on Thursday, Hawaii Independent.

Representatives of more than 50 social service agencies rallied at the state Capitol yesterday to urge lawmakers to restore proposed cuts to human services programs. Star-Advertiser.

PHOCUSED gathered its members and supporters — some with walkers, some in wheelchairs — Thursday in the Rotunda, most wearing green, all fighting to protect their share of the haupia. Civil Beat.

Citizens concerned with Hawaii Legislature’s plan to hike their taxes will hold “tea parties” across the state on Friday, April 15. Hawaii Reporter.

County officials and former elected officials recalled the long process it took to bring the West Hawaii County Civic Center to fruition Thursday as they formally dedicated the new facility. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii County may have to release raw sewage into Hilo Bay in order to fix a sewer pipe found leaking Saturday, its Department of Environmental Management announced Wednesday. Tribune-Herald.

Now that the county's land fund is back in the budget, Kohala Councilman Pete Hoffmann wants to expand the list of eligible properties and give the Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Commission more power to set priorities. West Hawaii Today.

A Hawaii Community College chancellor search committee has named four finalists for the position. Garden Island.

Three new cases of dengue fever are suspected in Hana, along with a possible case in Haliimaile and an additional two or three Upcountry, according to health officials. Maui News.

Sparks were flying Thursday morning between County Council members during a heated discussion at the Nawiliwili Council Chambers. Garden Island.

The Honolulu medical examiner's office says three of the victims in an underground fireworks blast last week suffered carbon monoxide inhalation before dying.Associated Press.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Oahu gas tax hike debated, state taxes still alive in Legislature, Maui dengue cases increase, Honolulu fireworks ban could affect neighbor island supply, bill could revive Ka'u biomass plant, more

Hawaii Capitol
The largest remaining tax measures pending before Hawaii lawmakers would eliminate business exemptions, raise car rental fees and take hotel tax money from the counties. Associated Press.

There are more than two-dozen tax bills still alive at the Hawaii State Capitol. Hawaii Reporter.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie made a final push to keep legislation alive that would fund programs and policies that support his fiscal plan. KITV4.

The state collected more than $190 million in general excise taxes in February, but overall, general fund deposits are down. KHON2.

Hawaii general fund deposits for February were down 4 percent compared to the same month in 2010, according to a report from the Hawaii Department of Taxation. Pacific Business News

It's been relatively calm on Hawaii's home foreclosure front during the past several months, but the storm could soon return. Star-Advertiser.

A hearing on proposed fees and fee increases for city facilities and services drew only a handful of interested citizens Wednesday at Honolulu Hale.KITV4.

A proposal to increase the city’s gasoline tax by 1 cent per gallon has advanced in the City Council, but appears unlikely to go much further. Star-Advertiser.

Politicians are getting feisty over rail transit money and some are turning on each other as there are accusations of greed and skimming off the top. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu Managing Director Doug Chin said Oahu residents can expect to see "a lot more road work" between now and the end of the fiscal year on June 30. Civil Beat.

Three new cases of dengue fever are suspected in Hana, along with a possible case in Haliimaile and an additional two or three Upcountry, according to health officials. Maui News.

The intent of a draft commercial air tour management plan for Haleakala National Park got a thumbs up Tuesday evening as those attending a public meeting agreed that regulations should be in place to limit or prevent impacts to the park, its visitors and resources. Maui News.

Hawaii taxpayers are covering a quarter of the cost of a new solar parking canopy project for Oceanic Time Warner Cable. KITV4.

New bill could breathe new life into Pahala biofuel project. Big Island Weekly.

Kaua‘i Fire Chief Robert Westerman on Monday told County Council members that despite financial and operational challenges the department has achieved improvements and will implement initiatives for Fiscal Year 2012, which starts July 1. Garden Island.

The county Office of the County Auditor is requesting a 34 percent budget increase for next fiscal year, which starts July 1. Garden Island.

The underground storage facility in Waikele where five Donaldson Enterprises employees were killed during a violent explosion Friday morning was being used by the company to prepare highly explosive fireworks for final disposal, an investigator from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board said yesterday. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu is the only county with a fireworks ban, but the neighbor islands may soon find it very difficult to purchase most consumer fireworks.KHON2.

Over a month after more than 150 dogs were seized in a puppy farm raid in Waimanalo, the Hawaiian Humane Society still has custody of them. Hawaii News Now.

Picture the Hawaii Island Humane Society's Kona Shelter. West Hawaii Today.

Something is out of place at many of Molokai’s fishponds – many of their rocks. Molokai Dispatch.

The engineering firm that designed a $1.9 million water tank officials say is defective has been considered for 18 additional county contracts but was awarded only one since the county filed a lawsuit against it. West Hawaii Today.

What is our capacity to endure? That’s the question that living sustainably asks of us. Honolulu Weekly.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hawaii Legislature advancing tax hikes, company sues over Honolulu fireworks ban, Kauai OKs development, industry coming to Lualualei valley, more Hawaii news

Honolulu homeless (c) 2011 All Hawaii News
Putting homeless to work. KITV4.

Hawaii lawmakers are considering tax increases amid hundreds of bills getting votes Tuesday as the Legislature enters the final weeks of this year's session facing deep budget difficulties. Associated Press.

The state Senate approved its version of the budget yesterday and grudgingly agreed to suspend general excise tax exemptions on several business activities to help make it balance. Star-Advertiser.

The state House of Representatives today passed bills to tax well-to-do pensioners, boost liquor and motor vehicle taxes, eliminate numerous existing tax exemptions, and impose 10 cent fees on plastic and paper shopping bags. Hawaii Reporter.

Hawaii lawmakers are hearing from legal experts about a national project designed to increase public safety, reduce prison spending and create alternate criminal justice strategies. Associated Press.

Poll finds favorable, unfavorable politicians. Hawaii News Now.

Taxes were on the agenda at the Honolulu City Council, particularly property taxes and how to handle certain rate and exemptions. KHON2.

The city Office of Economic Development and Mayor’s Office of Culture and the Arts remain on the chopping block after a recommendation by the City Council’s Budget Committee yesterday. Star-Advertiser.

Executive assistants hired temporarily by the City and County of Honolulu make more money than most of their civil engineer, police officer, project manager and chemist counterparts. Civil Beat.

Hawaii charities strained by support for Japan. Hawaii News Now.

A deal has been reached to bring back the symphony in Honolulu. KHON2.

A fireworks import and wholesale company is going to court to block the city from enforcing its recent fireworks ban. Star-Advertiser.

A glut of distressed properties, both from foreclosures and short sales, continued to weigh down Maui real estate prices in the first quarter of this year, real estate experts said Monday. Maui News.

The county Planning Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved the necessary permits for Anaina Hou to proceed with the next phase of an increasingly controversial project in Kilauea. Garden Island.

She's not calling it by that name, but Ka'u Councilwoman Brittany Smart is asking for a development moratorium in Ka'u until a planning group comes up with a community development plan the County Council can agree upon. West Hawaii Today.

The State Land Use Commission’s (LUC) decision to allow a light industrial park to be built on Lualualei valley farmland has been rescheduled for April 20 or 21 due to voting constraints. Hawaii Independent.

The Small Business Administration on Tuesday announced it will offer low-interest federal disaster loans to Maui County businesses that sustained damage from the March tsunami. KITV4.

Got milk? Then you may have radiation from the damaged nuclear reactors in Japan … but only a "minute" amount. Hawaii News Now.

Food and Drug Administration inspections of food being brought to Hawaii and other parts of the country from Japan are showing no increases in radiation levels, an FDA spokeswoman said Tuesday. West Hawaii Today.

Marine biologists are taking a "wait-and-see" approach before deciding what to do with an unwanted visitor that washed up near the Wai Opae tidepools in Puna. Tribune-Herald.