Friday, June 1, 2012

Gay military color guard to lead Honolulu Pride Parade, April sets tourism record, state reverses Medicaid cuts, Lingle's record on Hawaiian home lots scrutinized, Hawaii council passes $365.1M budget, Maui tutu blames state for child's death, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Honolulu
Honolulu Pride Parade, courtesy photo
For the first time in the history of the Honolulu Pride Parade, a gay military color guard will lead the procession through the streets of Waikiki now that the "don't ask, don't tell" policy has been repealed. Star-Advertiser.

Skygazers who want the full transit of Venus experience are flocking to Hawaii, considered one of the prime viewing spots since the whole transit will be visible. Associated Press.

Hawaii set an April record for visitor arrivals and spending, pumping $1.17 billion into the state's economy last month, according to statistics released Thursday by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Star-Advertiser.

Visitor spending is on the rise, according to Hawaii Tourism Authority, and reaching record levels. Pacific Business News.

The months of April and May are typically slower periods for tourism in the islands.  Not this year.  According to the Hawai’i Tourism Authority … the industry is experiencing phenomenal growth. Hawaii Public Radio.

The U.S. unemployment rate rose one tenth in May to 8.2 percent, but the newest Hawaii weekly jobless claims report shows a decline in total filings to the lowest level in years. Hawaii News Now.

Nearly half of Native Hawaiians awarded homestead lots under former Gov. Linda Lingle still haven't gotten their homes. Civil Beat.

The Abercrombie administration announced Thursday that the state will not go through with benefit reductions for adults in QUEST, the state's health plan for the poor, choosing to preserve patient access to a full range of medical services, including unlimited hospital stays. Star-Advertiser.

Military operations in Hawaii will play a critical role in developing new technologies, more agile forces and partnerships throughout the Asia-Pacific region for a downsizing U.S. military, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday at U.S. Pacific Command at Camp H.M. Smith in Halawa Heights. Star-Advertiser.

The Gas Co. is moving ahead with plans to bring U.S.-produced natural gas to Hawaii, announcing Thursday it has chosen an engineering firm to help with the proj­ect, which would give local residents and businesses access to a new and potentially cheaper energy alternative. Star-Advertiser.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a Regional Haze Federal Implementation Plan for Hawaii that could force certain oil refineries to burn cleaner fuel with the aim of improving visibility at nearby national parks. Civil Beat.

State roundup for June 1. Associated Press.

Oahu

A project to widen an eroding section of world-famous Waikiki beach has been completed. Associated Press.

It's a Hawaii icon the state describes as a $200 million-a-year asset. KHON2.

Honolulu city officials are looking at making some safety improvements at the Koko Head rifle range after claims that bullets have been found in neighborhoods in the area. Hawaii News Now.

Currently, the Honolulu City Council's operating budget calls for $1.96 billion in new spending. That's only $5 million more than what the mayor had hoped for. KITV4.

On Thursday, Circuit Court Judge Karen Ahn sealed court records that were submitted by the attorney for a federal agent who shot and killed 23-year-old Kailua resident Kollin Elderts at a McDonald’s in Waikiki last November that included a surveillance video from the restaurant and cell phone video captured by a bystander after the shooting. Civil Beat.

Honolulu mayoral candidate Kirk Caldwell made it official this afternoon, filing his campaign paperwork with the City Clerk's office. Hawaii Reporter.

A pro-rail union group has stepped up its attack against mayoral candidate Ben Cayetano, buying thousands of dollars worth of ads on local stations this week. Civil Beat.

Hawaii

The Hawaii County Council approved Mayor Billy Kenoi’s’s $365.1 million operating budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, making minimal changes and no cuts. Tribune-Herald.

Anticipating a veto from Mayor Billy Kenoi and not enough votes to override it, Council Chairman Dominic Yagong on Thursday backed off his plan to amend the annual budget to put payments into the county’s retiree benefits account. West Hawaii Today.

Chelsea Yagong, who turns 26 on Saturday, has filed for the Hawaii County Council seat being vacated by her father, who is running for mayor. Tribune-Herald.

The Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority is on the hot seat following an auditor’s report released Wednesday that outlined years of poor management and lack of transparency. West Hawaii Today.

Waiakea Village, the struggling commercial property fronting Waiakea Pond in Hilo that once was a Sheraton resort, will return to the ownership of the bank following a foreclosure auction that was held Tuesday. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

The grandmother of a 4-year-old Maui boy who died Wednesday of apparent abuse injuries said the state failed to protect her grandson by giving him back to an allegedly abusive parent after it had taken custody of the boy when he was severely injured at 6 months old. Star-Advertiser.

A Wailuku man and his live-in girlfriend were charged Thursday with second-degree murder for the death of the man's 4-year-old son, who was taken to the hospital emergency room Tuesday night, police said. Maui News.

Concerns about possible development being too close to Mokulele Highway and a lack of information regarding two state agencies' plans for its land in the Puunene area led a Maui County Council committee on Wednesday to deny their requests for new urban growth boundary areas for several hundred acres of land. Maui News.

Maui County Council Member Mike Victorino and state Sen. Roz Baker filed nomination papers Wednesday for re-election to their seats. Maui News.

Kauai

The Kaua‘i County Council on Wednesday sent its official message for the Fiscal Year 2013 budget, highlighting the process to reach an operational budget of $166 million and $64 million in capital improvement projects. Garden Island.

A blessing was held last week to mark the start of the Koke‘e Road enhancement project. Garden Island.