Friday, March 30, 2012

Bright Hawaii outlook for tourism, jobs; Maui telescope hearing officer fired, Pearl Harbor cutting three ships, no tax cut for Kauai, Abercrombie touts progress to Kona group, TSA workers implicated in drug ring, state leads nation in electric vehicle charging stations, more Hawaii news for smartphone and web browsing

Coconut climber (c) 2012 All Hawaii News

Some 626,367 visitors came to Hawaii last month and spent $1.09 billion, or about $183 per person per day, according to preliminary statistics released Thursday by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. February was the seventh consecutive month of arrivals growth for Hawaii's visitor industry and the 23rd month of spending rises. Star-Advertiser.

Total expenditures by visitors who came to Hawai'i in February 2012 rose 8.5 percent, or by $85.7 million, to $1.099 billion, according to preliminary statistics released Thursday by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. KITV4.

Hawaii's unemployment rate fell in February for the fourth consecutive month to its lowest level in three years, the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations reported Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has fallen to the lowest level in three years. KHON2.

A group trying to mount a novel third-party presidential campaign has gained a spot on the Hawaii general election ballot this fall. Associated Press.

Fulfilling a long-standing obligation, the state House is expected to vote today for a $200 million settlement between the state and the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs over OHA's share of revenue from former crown lands since 1978. Star-Advertiser.

Lawmakers are looking for guidance from the Abercrombie administration on controversial environmental legislation, but top officials are giving very mixed signals. Civil Beat.

Legislation aimed at streamlining Hawaii’s construction permitting process could have broad environmental and cultural consequences, some state officials worry. Associated Press.

There are about a dozen bills advancing in the legislature that waive environmental requirements for state and public projects.  Members of the House Hawaiian Affairs Committee summoned key department directors today to ask them what was going on. Hawaii Public Radio.

Staff Turnover Doesn't Bother Abercrombie. Civil Beat.

With federal officials watching, state lawmakers are demonstrating their commitment to keep $75 million in Race to the Top money to reform Hawaii's ailing educational system. Civil Beat.

More young people are taking up farming in Hawaii, and consumers are moving toward sustainable and locally-grown food choices. Those were among trends at the annual "Agriculture Awareness Day" at the State Capitol. KHON2.

More than 200 new electric vehicle charging stations have been installed at more than 80 public locations in Hawaii, putting the state in the lead for the number of public charging stations, the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism said Thursday. Pacific Business News.

Oahu

The Navy plans to decommission three Pearl Harbor ships in fiscal 2013 — a move that would drop the surface fleet to eight, affect ship repair jobs and take millions from Hawaii's economy. Star-Advertiser.

Former Gov. Benjamin Cayetano said Thursday the city's Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation Board of Directors, who were appointed to oversee the construction and maintenance of the city's $5.3 billion planned 20-mile elevated steel on steel rail system, "had better get a lawyer if he is elected mayor" this fall, "because he will go after them for malfeasance." Hawaii Reporter.

Kailua residents are organizing to prevent commercial activities at area beaches. Hawaii Independent.

Five people have been arrested in a major drug trafficking ring between Hawaii and California.  It's an inside job as investigators say some of the suspects work for Delta Airlines and the Transportation Security Administration. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii

Two Puna residents have filed suit in 3rd Circuit Court, seeking to stop the implementation of a new county building code that went into effect Wednesday. West Hawaii Today.


Gov. Neil Abercrombie
Gov. Neil Abercrombie took on a triumvirate of state touchstones Thursday, criticizing “self-designated” Hawaiian activists, challenging environmental protection regulations and touting his labor bonafides while criticizing the state teachers’ union. West Hawaii Today.

Ka‘u County Councilwoman Brittany Smart announced Thursday she plans to run for the state House seat being vacated by Rep. Bob Herkes, a fellow Democrat, in his run for state Senate. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

A controversial solar telescope atop Haleakala suffered a setback Thursday when the hearing officer was fired and his recommendation to approve the project was thrown out by the Board of Land and Natural Resources. Civil Beat.

The state Board of Land and Natural Resources has discharged a hearings officer and his recommendations about the proposed Advanced Technology Solar Telescope on Maui to avoid "even the appearance of impropriety" due to unauthorized communications with the permit applicant for the project, Chairman William Aila announced Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

Maui parents will soon get a chance to help save lives by donating their babies' cord blood. Maui News.

Kauai

County council members Tim Bynum and JoAnn Yukimura lost their battle to lower property taxes for Kaua‘i residents Thursday, with their opposition citing economic uncertainty. Garden Island.

Morgan’s ponds at Lydgate closed as Health Department takes water samples. Garden Island.

Nonprofits join up to care for Kaua‘i’s land, culture. Garden Island.