Friday, March 16, 2012

Case renews challenge against Hirono in U.S. Democratic Senate primary, Obama supports Honolulu rail project, state won't regulate ziplines, hospital closures concern two islands, Kauai mayor releases $161M budget, gas keeps going up, more Hawaii news for web and smartphone

U.S. Senate candidate Ed Case and wife Audrey (c) 2012 All Hawaii News
With the primary election less than five months away, Ed Case is trying to get Mazie Hirono to come out of her protective congressional bubble. Civil Beat.

Owners of Hawaii's popular zip lines, under increased scrutiny since a man plunged to his death last year, won't be placed under state supervision — at least for now. Associated Press.

The state Attorney General has warned lawmakers that a bill meant to punish protestors who engage in disorderly or disruptive behavior at the Legislature may be constitutionally defective. Hawaii Reporter.

The Governor’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative is geared toward reducing Hawai’i’s prison population to save 9-million dollars by the end of the next fiscal year. Dog Chapman and other Bail Bond providers say they were not consulted and now oppose an early release provision in a bill. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii's teachers union wants to meet with federal education officials who will visit in about two weeks to monitor the state's progress on Race to the Top reforms. Associated Press.

The state Department of Education has not yet decided whether it will take ground beef containing an ammonia-treated filler dubbed "pink slime" off Hawaii school lunch menus, but is stressing that the meat product is safe to eat. Star-Advertiser.

Money legislation has been all over the map this session, ranging from proposals for a state-run bank and a tax on sugary drinks to hiking the minimum wage and granting employers a payroll tax break. Civil Beat.

More than 70 students are visiting the Capitol on Friday to testify on bills relevant to Hawaii's youth. KHON2.

State lawmakers are looking at ways to make it harder for minors to smoke cigarettes in Hawaii. KHON2.

A national, non-profit transportation group hit the road - and found nearly two-thirds of Hawaii's major highways and thoroughfares have deteriorated. Hawaii News Now.

The statewide average price of gasoline in Hawaii rose by 2 cents this week to $4.44 per gallon, according to AAA Hawaii’s Weekend Gas Watch. Pacific Business News.

Oahu

Oahu's leading hospitals are confirming that the December shuttering of Hawaii Medical Center facilities in Ewa and Li­liha has placed tremendous stress on their facilities through higher occupancy, overflowing emergency rooms and longer waiting times for noncritical patients to receive attention. Star-Advertiser.

The Obama's administration supports the city's rail transit project and "will continue to work through whatever issues need to be worked through," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

The interim director of the city's rail project said Thursday it would be cheaper to start construction now on support columns for the elevated system than it would be to delay construction, and said that would be true even if the city were forced later to rip down the columns. Star-Advertiser.

"City Put Itself in a Pickle": Another Internal FTA Email Surfaces; Outlines Dispute Between FTA, City Over Honolulu Rail. Hawaii Reporter.

The state auditor said the Stadium Authority has failed to provide leadership over the stadium's popular swap meet, its largest revenue source, according to a report released Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

Build rail infrastructure with the risk of tearing it down, or wait for federal money and legal challenges to be resolved? That was among an hours-long debate at Honolulu City Council today. KHON2.

Some vendors at the state’s Aloha Stadium swap meet have failed to pay or underpaid state taxes. Hawaii Reporter.

Two city departments will together look to hire an emergency contractor to clean up mold and lead at Honolulu Hale — an operation that is expected to cost taxpayers at least $100,000. Civil Beat.

Former Governors Make Rare Appearance At Land Use Commission. KITV4.

The Hawaii Public Housing Authority (HPHA) is making changes to improve safety and security for residents at Mayor Wright Homes, a public housing complex in Palama. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii

North Hawaii Community Hospital’s chief executive says no decisions have been made about the future of the Waimea Women’s Center, despite internal reports saying two nurse midwives may lose their jobs. West Hawaii Today.

State Land Board member accused of conflict of interest. Hawaii News Now.

A robot called Benjamin survived gale force storm 26-foot waves, defied turbulent mid-ocean currents, crossed the thrashing Alenuihaha Channel and stayed on course, Thursday becoming the second vehicle of its kind to travel more than 3,200 nautical miles — without human assistance. West Hawaii Today.

Mauna Loa was no cakewalk in 1794, when the first party of European explorers reached its summit. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

A Native Hawaiian leader who played a key role in preventing the continued exhumation of hundreds of Native Hawaiian burials at Honokahua, Maui, died Thursday afternoon. Star-Advertiser.

Members of the Maui County Council's Policy Committee voted 5-0 Wednesday to recommend the rejection of the nomination of Wailuku businessman John Noble to the Maui Redevelopment Agency. Maui News.

The Kahului Airport master plan, including a longer main runway, will take years of public effort before a shovel hits dirt for the major pieces of the more than $1 billion, 20-year-plus plan, said Jeff Chang, engineering program manager for the state Department of Transportation Airports Division. Maui News.

For the Maui Island General Plan, the momentum shifted Wednesday in favor of those who want more details in the plan, rejecting arguments from Department of Planning Director Will Spence, who has maintained that too many details would defeat the purpose of the document as a "general" plan and make it a nightmare for planners to administer and for members of the public to sort out. Maui News.

A proposal to set a 10 p.m. ban on entertainment, music and dancing at the Kihei Kalama Village was voted down today, but could resurface again in six months if noise complaints persist. Maui Now.

Kauai

Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. on Thursday released his budget for Fiscal Year 2013. His administration is proposing to spend $161.2 million in operational expenses between July 1 and June 30, 2013. The budget represents a $24.63 million, or 14 percent, reduction from the current fiscal year, according to Carvalho. Garden Island.

Pohaku kohala unearthed during recent rains. Garden Island.