Friday, July 6, 2012

Scientists selected for simulated Mars mission, Honolulu Ethics Commission looking into fire consultant contract, Hawaii Island mayoral candidates face off, Hirono, Case set TV debate, Maui wind project advances, Inouye defends rail transit cost, food stamp fraud down, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Cornell University
Mars team building training courtesy Cornell University
Six scientists have been chosen to make up the crew of a simulated mission to Mars that will include living in isolation in a Hawaii lava field. Pacific Business News.

U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono and former U.S. Rep. Ed Case will appear in a televised debate July 26. Star-Advertiser.

Congressman Ed Case, D-Hawaii (2002-2007) and Congresswoman Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, will come together for a televised debate on Thursday, July 26 between 6:30 pm and 8 pm on KHNL, KGMB and KFVE., Hawaii News Now announced today. Hawaii Reporter.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie, putting aside his concerns about equity, has signed a bill into law that makes private hospitals pay the state provider fees that in turn will attract millions in federal money to help finance medical care for the poor. Star-Advertiser.

The number of food stamp recipients in Hawaii who have been yanked from the program because of fraud has dropped dramatically since 2007 despite a huge expansion in the population getting such public assistance. Star-Advertiser.

The number of initial unemployment claims filed in Hawaii fell 11 percent last week, the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism said Thursday. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii hotels ran fuller as July arrived, aided by increased air connections and the arrival of RIMPAC guests. Hawaii News Now.

Oahu

Rail opponents, including mayoral candidate and former Gov. Ben Cayetano, are "misinformed" if they believe the Federal Transit Administration does not support the city's $5.26 billion project, U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye said. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu Ethics Commission has opened an investigation into how the Honolulu Fire Department handed out a consulting contract to evaluate the merits of a merger with the Emergency Services Department. Civil Beat.

The city Ethics Commission is investigating allegations of wrongdoing in the 2010 award of a $175,000 consultant contract that recommended a merger of the Fire Department with the Emergency Services Department. Hawaii Reporter.

City of Honolulu officials within the Department of Environmental Services met for five hours today on how to respond to our questions about the Denny Wong Design dumping chemicals down the drain investigation.  They concluded their response was not to say anything because of the lawsuits involved. Hawaii News Now.

The federal agency that oversees fishery regulations opened a service center Thursday at the Commercial Fishing Village at Pier 38. Star-Advertiser.

A new building at Pier 38 in Honolulu promises to make life for commercial fishermen a whole lot easier. KITV4.

Pro-rail political action committee Pacific Resource Partnership hit the $500,000 mark this week, according to Civil Beat’s most recent look into who's buying political TV ads. Civil Beat.

World-famous Lanikai Beach attracts more visitors each year and with that comes an increasing amount of garbage. KHON2.

Hawaii
Santa Claus meets the bully pulpit meets Just Call Me Harry. There are as many campaign styles as there are major candidates for Hawaii County mayor. West Hawaii Today.

The three leading mayoral candidates held a largely cordial discussion about county priorities Thursday evening during their first major forum of the campaign season. West Hawaii Today.

The Fourth of July may have been a day earlier, but that didn’t stop the fireworks from flying Thursday night as three of Hawaii County’s mayoral candidates faced off in their first major debate of the election season. Tribune-Herald.

It was a mostly civil affair tonight as the top three contenders for Big Island mayor squared off for the first time, but the evening wasn’t without some sniping. Big Island Now.

A new biodiesel plant could change the face of locally-produced biodiesel and the Big Island's farming landscape. Civil Beat.

Hawaii County is now handling 17 relocation requests from Puna residents wanting to move away from the district’s geothermal power plant. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii Islanders could be riding on a hydrogen fuel cell-powered Hele-On shuttle bus by the end of this year, or early 2013. Tribune-Herald.

A state task force is seeking Big Islanders’ input and concern regarding the number of Native Hawaiians incarcerated in Hawaii and on the U.S. mainland. West Hawaii Today.

Maui
A council committee this afternoon chose not to place land proposed for the Upcountry Town Center, a commercial and housing project across from Pukalani Superette, into an urban growth boundary. Maui News.

With assurances from Mayor Alan Arakawa that the community and the council will be involved with its development, a council committee on Tuesday voted to recommend the purchase of 100 acres in Waikapu for a county consolidated baseyard project. Maui News.

The second phase of Maui's Kaheawa wind energy project began commercial operations Thursday with a battery storage system that will allow Maui Electric Co. to absorb a higher share of intermittent wind power into the relatively small island electrical grid. Star-Advertiser.

A&B Properties, Inc., the real estate subsidiary of Alexander & Baldwin, Inc., announced today that it has begun sales in Phase II of its 179-acre Maui Business Park in Kahului. Maui Now.

Kauai

First, smokers got kicked out of restaurants, bars and enclosed public establishments. Now, they are getting pretty close to being confined to parking lots at county parks. Garden Island.

The public will have the opportunity to address public safety questions and concerns with community leaders from the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney, the Kaua‘i Police Department and the County Council’s Chair of Public Safety at a series of public meetings in July. Garden Island.

Two candidates for U.S. Congress paid visits to Kaua‘i Thursday morning, on the heels of Independence Day celebrations. Garden Island.

Molokai

In an attempt to aid west end Molokai residents paying some of the highest water rates in the nation, Maui County filed an appeal last year in the state Intermediate Court of Appeals against the utilities of Molokai Properties, Ltd. (MPL), better known as Molokai Ranch. That appeal was recently denied, leaving ratepayers struggling under rates that have been called outrageous. Molokai Dispatch.