What they're saying about Hawaii

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Akaka bids farewell to Senate, Hawaii lawmakers report more gifts, Supreme Court rebuffs teachers union, Honolulu rail's day in court, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii senator farewell speech
U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka farewell speech courtesy photo
U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka was honored by friends and colleagues on Wednesday as a gentleman who embodied the spirit of aloha even when the political climate in Washington, D.C., turned dark and unforgiving. Star-Advertiser.

Sen. Daniel Akaka today delivered his farewell address on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Civil Beat.

Retiring Sen. Daniel Akaka on Wednesday urged Congress to do all it can for U.S. veterans and their families and made one last appeal to allow for Native Hawaiians to form a federally recognized government, an issue he’s unsuccessfully pushed for years. Associated Press.

Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye is expected to remain chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Associated Press.

A Civil Beat analysis of lawmakers' 2012 disclosure forms shows that Hawaii legislators received $278,416 in gifts between July 2011 and June 2012, more than twice what they reported receiving last year. Civil Beat.

One day after two environmental groups sued the state over controversial new rules that effectively reduce the number of state tax credits that can be claimed on solar systems, the Hawaii Department of Taxation has exempted some projects from the rules. Civil Beat.

Hawaii's already booming solar industry is seeing a new stampede of business in the wake of new state rules that will reduce Hawaii's generous solar tax credits by half. Hawaii News Now.

A teachers union bid to compel the state labor board to issue a ruling in a petition for relief from the terms of a contract imposed on teachers in July 2011 has failed. Star-Advertiser.

This morning the Hawaii Supreme Court denied a petition by the Hawaii State Teachers Association trying to force the Hawaii Labor Relations Board to prematurely issue a decision regarding the ongoing labor dispute about HSTA's current contract. Hawaii Reporter.

Substitute teachers won millions in back pay on Wednesday in court, but the state has yet to pay for past rulings. KHON2.

The U.S. attorney for Hawaii collected $3.3 million related to civil and criminal cases during the latest fiscal year. Associated Press.

There's growing concern in Hawaii over the impacts of a new federal law aimed at improving food safety and security at everything from roadside stands to big-chain supermarkets. Civil Beat.

Hawai’i lawmakers have been trying to pass Food Safety legislation in Hawai’i for the last two years but have been unsuccessful.  The topic was discussed again yesterday at a House Agriculture Committee meeting. Hawaii Public Radio.

It took 14 years, but Angel Yanagihara, a biochemist and assistant research professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, has developed a treatment for painful and possibly life-threatening box jellyfish stings. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii is one of 32 states that will share, with the District of Columbia, in a $42.9 million settlement with Pfizer Inc. that resolves claims the drug maker used unfair and deceptive practices to market its drugs Zyvox and Lyrica. Pacific Business News.

State briefs 12/13. Associated Press.

Oahu

A federal judge will soon decide whether to issue a court order that would essentially halt the city’s rail project and its federal funding, or issue a more limited injunction suggested by the city to stop construction only in the project’s final downtown segment of the 20-mile rail line. Star-Advertiser.

The $1.55 billion Honolulu expects to receive from the Federal Transit Administration to help build the controversial Honolulu rail project could now hinge on the opinion of a federal judge. Civil Beat.

A ruling that could ultimately decide the fate of Honolulu’s elevated-rail project will be made in “short order,” U.S. District Judge A. Wallace Tashima said Wednesday after hearing arguments from attorneys for the plaintiffs and defendants in the federal lawsuit challenging the $5.16 billion project. Pacific Business News.

A federal judge today listened to new arguments in the legal challenge to Honolulu’s $5.3 billion rapid transit project and said he will rule shortly on whether to order a halt to the project. Hawaii Reporter.

The city of Honolulu has launched a yearlong project to study tsunami inundation zones and determine where improved escape routes or clear signs are needed to better inform the public of where to go during a tsunami warning and evacuation. Star-Advertiser.

A group of Honolulu paramedics and emergency medical technicians filed a legal complaint Wednesday accusing the city of failing to pay them overtime earned during the past six years. Star-Advertiser.

Come January 22nd, all your daily water use will be billed to you on a monthly schedule. KHON2.

Observers reported seeing 10 Hawaiian monk seals Wednesday on various Oahu beaches, including an offshore islet. Star-Advertiser.

After Hawaii Reporter published news stories about local businessman Daniel Doi’s legal problems with the state, Doi created his own web site, called Hawaii Reported, that claims he is the victim of a political vendetta orchestrated by state officials. Hawaii Reporter.

Hawaii

County Council members who leave office are no longer under the jurisdiction of the Board of Ethics, even if their actions took place during their tenure with the county. West Hawaii Today.

U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye announced Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved a biocontrol project aimed at slowing the spread of fireweed, or Madagascar ragwort, on the islands of Hawaii and Maui. Tribune-Herald.

The state Department of Transportation is moving ahead with plans for a roundabout on Highway 130 near Pahoa. Tribune-Herald.

Terry Oliver, a four-decade forestry veteran, has high hopes for the eucalyptus timber industry on the Big Island. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

An imported case of dengue fever has been reported on Maui, but the state Department of Health says there have been no additional cases so far. Maui News.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's approval of using moth caterpillars from Madagascar in the battle against fireweed was welcomed Wednesday as a long-awaited, effective weapon to kill the noxious weed that sickens and sometimes kills cattle. Maui News.

The Iao Valley State Monument was reopened Tuesday after the state Department of Land and Natural Resources completed repairs to park walkway sections. Maui News.

Kauai

A proposal to raise the minimum real property tax by 500 percent on Kaua‘i died in the hands of the Kaua‘i County Council’s Finance and Economic Development Committee Wednesday. Garden Island.

Hanalei Pier shed removal triggers restoration efforts. Garden Island.

Local residents are reminded that experts from the University of Hawai‘i will discuss the health of coral along Kaua‘i’s North Shore during a community briefing today in Hanalei. Garden Island.

Molokai

The 113th Audubon Christmas Bird Count will take place on Molokai Thursday, Dec. 20. Molokai Dispatch.