Friday, March 9, 2012

Hawaii homelessness plan released, new lawsuit threatened on political maps, Tax Department probe widens, pension gap swells as workers spike payments, mobile health van coming to Big Island, Kauai shows no aloha to stranded Colorado couple, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Honolulu homeless (c) 2012 All Hawaii News
State officials have drafted a plan discussing how to end homelessness in Hawaii. West Hawaii Today.

New political boundary maps the state Reapportionment Commission approved unanimously Thursday could wind up in court again. Star-Advertiser.

The state Reapportionment Commission gave final approval Thursday to new political boundary maps for state House and Senate districts. Star-Advertiser.

Commission Gives Unanimous Support to Reapportionment Plan. Civil Beat.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta put on a smile just a day after testifying about the United States' plans to help the people of Syria. KITV4.

Several top managers at the State Tax Department are among 14 employees under investigation for possible criminal wrongdoing in a probe that has lasted nearly three months, sources said. Hawaii News Now.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which oversees the exploration and development of the nation’s offshore energy and mineral resources, met with Hawaii officials this week for the first time to talk about existing regulatory processes and how best to complement the state’s Clean Energy Initiative. Pacific Business News.

One of Gov. Neil Abercrombie's appointments to the Hawaii Community Development Authority is an engineer whose family and business contacts were top donors to Abercrombie's campaign. Star-Advertiser.

Despite piles of opposition testimony from out-of-state owners of Hawaii vacation rentals, the Hawaii Legislature has advanced two measures that require non-resident owners to hire local property managers. Civil Beat.

House committees heard testimony Thursday about a group of bills that some worry could weaken state environmental law, while others say they're necessary to spur development. KHON2.

The nation's largest independent union of federal employees has honored U.S Sen. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii for his support of federal workers. Associated Press.

The gap between the pension benefits promised to Hawaii's public workers and the money set aside to pay for them has swelled 14 percent in one year, according to a valuation report released Thursday. Civil Beat.

Of 5,000 state and county employees who retired since 2009, 674 of them substantially boosted their pension benefits by a practice called “spiking,” a state senate investigating committee was told today. Hawaii Reporter.

Excessive overtime by Hawaii public employees has again become an issue this legislative session. Civil Beat.

Groups with ideas on how to improve access to the legal system for women and children have more time to submit those ideas for grant funding in Hawaii. Hawaii Public Radio.

State roundup for March 8. Associated Press.

Russell Kokubun


 Oahu
Among the influential voices in the debate over the Ho'opili project: Russell Kokubun, the former politician and now director of the state Department of Agriculture who was himself a Big Island farmer, going back a quarter century. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie's vision for an urban village in Kakaako has come into greater focus as the state Legislature advances a potential $200 million land settlement with the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Star-Advertiser.

After heavy rains, Oahu's roadways become pockmarked with potholes as water tears into the hot asphalt mix from earlier repairs. KITV4.

Hawaii

Basic medical care will soon roll into rural south Hawaii communities that face limited access to doctors and nurses. West Hawaii Today.

Mayor Billy Kenoi is leading a 14-member delegation to a sister city the Philippines later this month for a cost of $30,000 to the county. Tribune-Herald.

Members of the commission charged with drawing County Council district lines would have to sit out one election cycle for council, under a charter amendment advanced Thursday by the council’s Governmental Relations Committee. West Hawaii Today.

Two council members expressed frustration Thursday with the county’s fair share system of tapping developers for contributions to roads and other infrastructure during a presentation showing developers would be chipping in only $3 million of a $171.9 million capital improvement budget next fiscal year. West Hawaii Today.

King Kamehameha Hotel is new and improved after last year's tsunami. KHON2.

Maui

Maui residents will have a chance Friday outside Foodland on South Kihei Road to take a test ride in an electric car, like a Chevy Volt or Nissan LEAF, and learn how to use the new electric charging station there. Maui News.

There may only be about 50 electric cars on Maui today, said Anne Ku, director of the University of Hawaii Maui College's new Maui Electric Vehicle Alliance, but alternative-energy investors are banking on big jumps in the number of these more powerful and less expensive cars on Valley Isle streets soon. Maui News.

Maui resident, Michael Champley was confirmed today by the Hawaii State Senate as the newest commissioner for the state Public Utilities Commission. Maui Now.

With 213 tables of demographics and statistics, the Maui County Data Book is a treasure trove of up-to-date information valuable to business and government. Maui Now.

Kauai

An elderly Colorado couple stranded on Kauai because of a canceled flight was ordered Tuesday out of Lihue Airport and into a stormy night and wound up sleeping on the concrete floor of a shelter. Star-Advertiser.

After two hearings this week, 5th Circuit Court decided the Lara Butler-Brady horse cruelty case will be turned over to the state Attorney General. Garden Island.

County officials are urging property owners who sustained damages as a result of the recent flooding to file a claim for remission of taxes on their real property. Garden Island.