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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hawaii poll: Dems likely to keep U.S. Senate seat, tourism bounces back, election nominations start Wednesday with no legislative maps, Oprah Winfrey mulls Maui move, Georgia woman pleads guilty to stealing Sen. Inouye's Identity, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Polynesian Cultural Center (c) 2012 All Hawaii News
Hawaii is seeing a solid recovery in tourism with increases in both arrivals and tourist spending. Associated Press.

An improving global economy and more air service helped boost tourist arrivals and spending in Hawaii to near-record levels last year. Star-Advertiser.

The month of December 2011 reached $1.298 billion in visitor spending, the highest single month on record. Hawaii Reporter.

Both Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate have the edge over former Gov. Linda Lingle, according to the latest Civil Beat Poll. Civil Beat.

The 2012 election season in Hawaii officially gets underway on Wednesday, February 1, with the commencement of the candidate filing period. Maui Now.

The State Office of Elections is unable to start establishing polling locations and assigning the roughly 600-thousand Hawaii residents to polling locations across the state. KITV4.

Under a best case scenario, the Technical Committee of the Reapportionment Commission would start redrawing political districts as early as Feb. 9. Civil Beat.

Candidates for state House and Senate races will not be able to file for election when the season officially kicks off this Wednesday. But fundraising can get underway. KHON2.

U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye (c) 2012 All Hawaii News
A Georgia woman pleads guilty to being involved in stealing the identity of a U.S. Senator from Hawaii Monday. KITV4.

The teachers union is calling bills before the state House and Senate that would nullify teacher tenure protections a "direct attack on our membership." Star-Advertiser.

Although Gov. Neil Abercrombie's administration has made much of its need for the Hawaii State Teachers Association's cooperation in reaching federal Race to the Top grant targets, a veteran labor attorney says the grant is not dependent on the teachers union, thanks to a loophole in state labor law. Civil Beat.

Retired Washington Army National Guard Lt. Col. Doug Mayne will assume the duties of vice director of state Civil Defense in March, the state announced Monday. Star-Advertiser.

State lawmakers cleaned up and advanced a bill Monday that would require motorists to move over and slow down when approaching and passing stopped emergency vehicles. Star-Advertiser.

Restaurants going to the dogs: Senate Bill 3032 would allow dogs in restaurants at the restaurant owner’s or manager’s discretion if certain conditions are met. Garden Island.

Several protests have been filed with the Hawaii Republican Party over the selection of Ted Liu as the party’s new national committeeman. Civil Beat.

A half-hour television special illustrating the importance of Hawaii’s watershed and its protection will be airing on local stations this month and next. Molokai Dispatch.

State roundup for Jan. 31. Associated Press.

Oahu
Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle collected $53,000 in campaign donations in the second half of 2011, less than 20 percent of his haul from the first half of the year, according to a filing Monday with the Campaign Spending Commission. Civil Beat.

The closure of two Hawaii Medical Center emergency rooms on O’ahu has prompted State lawmakers to pass legislation that could provide additional funds for county ambulance service island-wide. Hawaii Public Radio.

Doubling the rate for parking meters outside public parks like Kapiolani and Aala would help raise money for park maintenance, but it's a move that opponents say could spread beyond Waikiki and downtown and keep people out of public parks and beaches. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu Mayor announces new smart phone reporting system. KHON2.

The swell was big Monday evening at Waimea, as surfers -- and spectators -- tried to catch the last waves before sunset. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii

Just who would be responsible for building the Mamalahoa Highway bypass remained unclear Monday, following a court hearing on a motion to enforce a recently reached settlement. West Hawaii Today.

A Honokaa woman said Monday she's running for mayor. West Hawaii Today.

There's some buzz about a bill seeking $10,000 in funding from the Legislature to establish new bee hives for the University of Hawaii at Hilo's beekeeping program.  Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Media mogul Oprah Winfrey, who owns hundreds of acres of land on Maui, is thinking about making Hawaii her home. Pacific Business News.

Kaiser Permanente Hawaii held a traditional Hawaiian blessing ceremony Friday morning for the completion of the expansion and renovation of its pharmacy at its Maui Lani Clinic. Maui News.

Kauai

An audit of the Kilauea Gym project suggests that loss of experienced staff is hindering the ability of the Department of Public Works’ Building Division to execute capital projects. Garden Island.

Kaua‘i saw strong growth in both visitor arrivals and spending in 2011, the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority reported Monday. Garden Island.


Monday, January 30, 2012

Case and Hirono tied in U.S. Senate poll, Hawaii libraries to get wi-fi, Legislature tinkering with civil union law, Caylee's Law coming to Hawaii, Jeff Corwin dives Kona coast, Maui could get state's biggest outlet mall, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hilo Public Library (c) 2012 All Hawaii News
Wi-Fi will soon be available at libraries across the state. Star-Advertiser.

Ed Case and Mazie Hirono are in a dead heat for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Daniel Akaka, according to a new Civil Beat Poll. Civil Beat.

The automated telephone survey of 1,358 likely voters found Case at 41 percent, Hirono at 39 percent, with 8 percent saying neither candidate and 12 percent still unsure.

Hawaii may soon join dozens of other states in banning lawmakers from holding political fundraisers during the four months the Hawaii Legislature is in session under a new proposal. Civil Beat

Legislative "fixes" to the civil unions law that took effect this year are working their way through the Legislature. Star-Advertiser.

State lawmakers have introduced a host of bills in the new legislative session aimed at keeping pace with Hawaii's rapidly evolving energy sector, including one proposal that would force Hawaiian Electric Co. out of the power generation business and have it focus strictly on delivering electricity to customers. Star-Advertiser.

Nearly one-third of Hawaii's 256 public schools will use revamped teacher evaluations next school year in a pilot program that will take into account student academic growth, amid concerns from teachers over how the new rating system eventually will be tied to their pay. Star-Advertiser.

Parents and guardians who fail to report missing children could face felony charges under a bill before the Hawaii Senate. KITV4.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Friday released more than $15.6 million for capital improvement projects statewide that are designed to improve the state’s public safety, wastewater, civil defense and communications infrastructure. Pacific Business News.

The possibility of another big northwest swell has prompted the National Weather Service to issue a High Surf Warning that will take effect Monday at 6 a.m. Hawaii News Now.

"Living in the Moment:" New campaign launches to market Hawaiian Islands. KHON2.

State roundup for Jan. 30. Associated Press.

Oahu

As contract expires, many hope Pro Bowl will stay in Hawaii. KHON2.

Cayetano: Rail A Wall of Concrete Snaking Along Honolulu's Waterfront. Civil Beat.

Prostitution Bust At University of Hawaii Professor's Apartment following website' sting. Hawaii Reporter.

Hawaii


The decision to fire four Hawaii County elections workers may soon start costing Big Island taxpayers. Tribune-Herald.

The waters off the Kona Coast are teeming with life, a sign world-renowned animal expert Jeff Corwin said Sunday is hopeful and encouraging. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

A California developer wants to begin construction this spring on a shopping center that would be the largest outlet mall in Hawaii. Maui News.

The Maui County Council General Plan Committee will conduct an informational meeting this week on the urban-growth boundaries being proposed in the draft Maui Island Plan. Maui News.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii filed a complaint letter with the County of Maui this week citing concerns over First Amendment rights of protesters demonstrating near the Monsanto facility along the Pi’ilani Highway in Kihei. Maui Now.

Kauai

State Sen. Ron Kouchi, D-Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau, said the March 24 election of board members of the Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative will have a “tremendous impact” on diversifying the future economic base of the island. Garden Island.

Kaua‘i volunteers spotted more whales than their counterparts on Hawaii’s other islands during a weekend ocean count coordinated by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Garden Island.

Molokai

Department of Land and Natural Resources is holding a community meeting regarding the security perimeter at the Kauanakakai Wharf to accommodate American Safari Cruises visits to Molokai. Molokai Dispatch.




Friday, January 27, 2012

Military beefing up in Hawaii, no drug testing of welfare recipients, three quit charter school board in protest, gambling proposed on Hawaiian lands, Internet tracking bill unpopular, bag fee in the works, land fund headed to Hawaii County ballot, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Pohakuloa Training Area (c) 2012 All Hawaii News
Hawaii's military future could include another Navy cruiser and at least 1,000 more Marines if some forces are removed from Okinawa. Star-Advertiser

Sen. Daniel Inouye said on Thursday that he expects “an increase of military personnel and assets” in the Pacific, including in Hawaii. Inouye’s remarks came after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta outlined his department’s budget plan for the next five years. Civil Beat.

A host of bills before the State Legislature are dedicated to women veterans this year. KHON2.

Once again, Hawaii state and county government agencies spent far more money lobbying in Washington D.C. than private companies did, according to 2011 U.S. Senate lobbyist disclosure reports. Hawaii Reporter.

State Rep. Mele Carroll has reintroduced a bill that would allow gaming on Hawaiian homestead lands to provide a source of funds for the Department of Hawaiian Home Land's developments and programs. Maui News.

Two Maui law makers are introducing separate gaming measures in the state legislature this session. Maui Now.

Spurred by a dramatic rise in computer-related crimes — including possibly affecting one of their own colleagues — lawmakers have introduced more than 30 measures in the Hawaii Legislature concerning cybercrime. Civil Beat.

State lawmakers decided Thursday to leave online piracy legislation to Congress after hearing vehement opposition to a bill that called for keeping records of Hawaii users' Internet activity. Associated Press.

Internet privacy advocates, web entrepreneurs and business owners turned out in droves on Thursday to denounce a bill before the Hawaii Legislature that would require Internet service providers to keep a record of every website visited by subscribers for no less than two years. Civil Beat.

Hawaii won't be drug testing public assistance applicants and recipients any time soon. Associated Press.

State politicians are running some old plays this week in an effort to convince the NFL that the Pro Bowl belongs in Hawaii. Pacific Business News.

The Legislature is considering a statewide measure to have consumers pay for plastic and paper shopping bags. Hawaii Public Radio.

Consumers Could Be Charged for Plastic and Paper Bags. Civil Beat.

"Bag ban" could go state-wide & include paper. Hawaii News Now.

Credit monitoring and fraud restoration services will be provided to about 98,000 University of Hawaii students, alumni, faculty, employees and others potentially affected by five data breaches that occurred from 2009 to 2011, under a settlement reached in a class-action lawsuit. Star-Advertiser.

Federal data show cutting Hawaiian monk seals free from fishing nets, moving vulnerable pups away from preying sharks and other efforts to rescue the animals are significantly helping the endangered species. Associated Press.

Oahu

The city will agree to a new change order worth about $15 million to pay the company holding the contract to build the first segment of the rail line because of delays in the start of construction, according to officials with the Hono­lulu Authority for Rapid Transportation. Star-Advertiser.

Inspectors from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA ) have identified a snake killed on Wednesday near Honolulu airport as a bullsnake. Hawaii News Now.

Longtime Hawaii television newsman Jack Kellner died Wednesday night in California. KITV4.

Hawaii

Three longtime members of the Charter School Review Panel — Chairman Carl Takamura, former Chairwoman Ruth Tschumy and Pualani Akaka — resigned Thursday to protest the state Board of Education's reversal of the panel's decisions on converting Laupahoehoe School to a charter school. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii County voters will once again get the opportunity to weigh in on a 2 percent land fund, now that Mayor Billy Kenoi has signed a bill putting it on the ballot. West Hawaii Today.

Big Brother is watching — but he is supposed to be helping. West Hawaii Today.

Some day, a new gym on the Hilo High School campus will give students, athletes and their fans the chance to enjoy games at home. Tribune-Herald.

Oahu-based military units will convoy from Pohakuloa Training Area to Kawaihae Harbor on Saturday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. via Saddle Road, Mamalahoa Highway, Waikoloa Road, Queen Kaahumanu Highway and Akoni Pule corridor. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Staffing levels at Maui's only Veterans Affairs clinic are at 50 percent, resulting in long waits for veterans who need care, officials acknowledged Tuesday. Maui News.

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa expressed enthusiasm as the state Legislative session gets underway. Maui Now.

Southerly winds are expected to prevail through today, and volcanic haze, or vog, should continue to hang in the air Friday and start to clear up Saturday, National Weather Service forecaster Vic DeJesus said Wednesday. Maui News.

Kauai

In 2011 Kauai’s beaches and surfbreaks were mostly clean, but some were definitely not. Garden Island.

In response to the growing trend of crimes perpetrated against the elderly, Kaua‘i County Prosecuting Attorney Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho will be holding several senior fraud presentations across the island. Garden Island.

The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement has joined other national community advocates in an amicus (friend of the court) brief to be filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the Affordable Care Act. Garden Island.

Molokai

Department of Land and Natural Resources is holding a community meeting regarding the security perimeter at the Kauanakakai Wharf to accommodate American Safari Cruises visits to Molokai. Molokai Dispatch.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

GOP Lingle almost triples fund-raising of closest rival Hirono, UH prof caught in x-rated escort sting, Education leaders detail plans, HGEA grumbles about contract, emergency contraception bill advances, appeals court upholds Mauna Kea plan, Maui's Papapawahawa Bridge opens Friday, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle
Former Gov. Linda Lingle, in a display of national fundraising prowess, has raised more than $1.7 million since she announced her Republican campaign for the U.S. Senate in October. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii may not be known for its Republicans, but the first fundraising figures out of former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle's campaign for U.S. Senate shows that Republicans are committed to changing the balance of power in the aloha state. Civil Beat.

Former Congressman Ed Case said in a statement that he raised “substantially less” money last quarter than U.S. Senate opponents Linda Lingle and Mazie Hirono. Civil Beat

State education leaders sought to reassure lawmakers Wednesday about the future of Hawaii's $75 million Race to the Top grant, saying they are making gains and plan to seek more clarity about the kind of progress federal authorities want to see in order to take the grant off "high-risk" status. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Department of Education leaders described the state's school district as a deteriorating house at a legislative briefing Wednesday, and their Race to the Top plan as the remodeling program for that house. Civil Beat.

Hawaii's public schools superintendent said Wednesday she hopes the state makes headway on adopting new teacher evaluations by the end of March, when U.S. Department of Education officials are scheduled to visit the islands for an update on the state's progress with Race to the Top reforms. Associated Press.

Taken For A Ride: Roberts Hawaii's Very Own Race to the Top of School Bus Biz. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Government Employees Association officials have told PBN they may file a complaint with the Hawaii Labor Relations Board because Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s administration has failed to advance talks regarding the favored nation clause of the union’s contract. Pacific Business News.

The state appeals court has upheld the approval of a University of Hawaii-developed management plan for Mauna Kea. Tribune-Herald.

The House Committee on Judiciary passed a measure (House Bill 127 House Draft 1) that would require hospitals and health care providers to provide information about emergency contraception to women who have been sexually assaulted, and to dispense the medication when requested. Hawaii Reporter.

It’s difficult to tell how many people experience homelessness. Nevertheless a national count is done at this time every year attempting to measure how many people are without homes. Hawaii Public Radio.

State roundup for Jan. 26. Associated Press.

Oahu

An x-rated local escort service called “The Volcano Girls” is being operated out of the Waikiki residence of University of Hawaii Professor Lawrence W. Boyd, Jr. Hawaii Reporter.
http://www.hawaiireporter.com/university-of-hawaii-professor-tied-to-x-rated-escort-service/123

Food trucks and lunch wagons would have two hours to operate at one location on a street before being required to move, under a proposal in the City Council that aims to ease a law that made it difficult for some vendors to operate legally. Star-Advertiser.

A bill that would allow lunch wagons and other street vendors to remain at a single location for two hours instead of fifteen minutes passed the first of three required readings Wednesday at the Honolulu City Council. KHON2.

The principal at August Ahrens Elementary School, a second school administrator and a teacher have been placed on leave while the state Department of Education investigates an allegation of financial impropriety. Star-Advertiser.

North Shore residents demand solution to 'Turtle Beach' traffic. Hawaii News Now.

The city has spent more than $1.87 million and hired seven private law firms to handle legal work related to its rail project. Star-Advertiser.

The State Department of Agriculture says road crews working on Nimitz Highway near Honolulu Airport killed a two foot snake Wednesday morning. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii

The Hawaii Tourism Authority has approved spending more than $1 million this year for Big Island programs, sporting events and festivals. Tribune-Herald.

After sitting fallow for the last 18 years, 718 acres of Hawaii County's Paauilo lands are closer than ever to being returned to productive agriculture. Tribune-Herald.

An illegal ferret was captured early Sunday morning in the parking lot of Coqui's Hideaway Restaurant & Sports Bar in Hilo. Tribune-Herald.


Maui

Of the three options for repairing the main runway at Kahului Airport, the most expensive was overwhelmingly preferred at a standing-room-only public meeting Monday, because it would not require a temporary shutdown of Mainland flights. Maui News.

Project challenges several layers thick. Maui News.

The new Papapawahawa Bridge in East Maui opens this Friday, January 27, 2012, following eight months of construction. Maui Now.

A $2.3 million project to replace Papahawahawa Bridge is nearly complete, the county Department of Public Works announced. Maui News.

Maui County officials say they are in the process of closing a three-mile stretch of shoreline near Wailea-Makena after a shark sighting Wednesday afternoon. KITV4.

Kauai

How can the Garden Isle grow green jobs? Garden Island.

Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. and other local leaders Wednesday greeted the first planeload of visitors from Shanghai as part of an effort to increase island visits from China. Garden Island.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Abercrombie, NFL skirmish over Pro Bowl, Hawaii lawmakers tackle minimum wage, open meetings, political commmittees, pension fund, GOP seeks candidate for Congress, Honolulu mulls property taxes, Kona coffee labeling proposed, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaiian monk seal, NOAA courtesy photo
A proposal to expand federal protections for the endangered Hawaiian monk seal is facing major push back from the state. Civil Beat.

A bill moving through the state Legislature could increase Hawaii's minimum wage for the first time since 2007, but opinions are mixed as to whether elevating the wage floor would help or hinder Hawaii's economic recovery. Associated Press.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie compared Pro Bowl negotiations to having a gun held to the state's head by the NFL, but later said, "We would like to continue to have (the game) and we're going to do everything we can to make sure that comes about in a fashion that will make everybody very, very happy." Star-Advertiser.

NFL flags Hawaii governor’s Pro Bowl comments . Pacific Business News.

Governor Neil Abercrombie made a surprise visit to the NFL’s Pro Bowl kickoff news conference to speak glowingly about the relationship between Hawaii and the NFL, after criticizing NFL owners earlier in the day. KITV4.

Hawaii political committees that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of campaign money would be required to disclose the candidates their expenditures are attacking or supporting under a proposal moving through the Legislature. Civil Beat.

Hawaii lawmakers are entertaining amendments to the state Sunshine Law to allow board members to attend public meetings, community events and professional association conferences without violating the open meetings law. Associated Press.

Lawmakers will be briefed on the state of the Race to the Top program on Wednesday. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Electric Co., and its subsidiaries on Maui and the Big Island, would no longer be allowed to generate electricity if they wished to sell it under a proposed bill from Rep. Denny Coffman. West Hawaii Today.

A Hollywood hit is shining the spotlight on Hawaii's film industry. "The Descendants," which was shot in Hawaii, has captured five Oscar nominations. Lawmakers hope to cash in on the movie's success by attracting new productions to the islands. Hawaii News Now.

A recent report shows that Hawaii's public pension fund ranked at the bottom among comparable funds for its investment returns over the past decade. Civil Beat.

The state Department of Human Services says it has introduced a new food stamps benefits processing system to address an applications backlog. Associated Press.

House Speaker Calvin Say and Senate President Shan Tsutsui said yesterday they are opposed to tax increases even though the State Council on Revenue lowered its state revenue projects by $130 million. Hawaii Reporter.

Hawaii GOP Still Looking For CD2 Candidate. Civil Beat.

Obama's Blueprint for Energy, Defense Could Mean Jobs in Hawaii. Civil Beat.

State roundup for Jan. 25. Associated Press.

Oahu

The City Council might consider reforms of some property tax exemptions, but reducing or eliminating the standard exemption for Oahu's 144,000 homeowners would be a tough sell to the public in an election year, the Council's budget chairwoman says. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu City Council Budget Committee conducted a special public hearing yesterday on a controversial recommendation by an Advisory Commission to repeal nearly all of the property tax exemptions for O’ahu owners. Hawaii Public Radio.

Gambling proponents are eyeing the convention center as a possible venue to allow gaming in the state. KITV4.

Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle likely will seek Honolulu City Council approval for a "contingency plan" to raise additional funding for the Honolulu rail project if that becomes necessary. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu Zoo is under fire over the entrance fee it charges students on school field trips. KHON2.

Hawaii

A group of Kona coffee growers hopes legislators pass a bill that would require businesses to more thoroughly describe the contents of coffee sold in Hawaii -- a change that critics claim would increase the price. Star-Advertiser.

American Motorists Insurance Co. will pay $12.5 million to Hawaii County as part of a proposed settlement agreement a series of lawsuits regarding the stalled Hokulia development. West Hawaii Today.

The jobs are coming back, but so are the job-seekers. Tribune-Herald.

Farmers, agricultural experts and educators gathered Tuesday in Hilo to help map the future of Hawaii's agricultural industry and attract workers needed to run it. Tribune-Herald.

The Hawaii Board of Education cleared the way Tuesday for the Laupahoehoe charter school to open its doors in July.  Tribune-Herald.

The state Board of Education overruled the Charter School Review Panel for a second time Tuesday and ordered that Laupahoehoe High and Elementary School open as a charter school for the 2012-13 academic year. Star-Advertiser.

Maui
A standing room only crowd gathered at the Pomaikai Elementary School Cafeteria on Maui for an evening meeting on Monday to discuss runway rehabilitation options at the Kahului Airport. Maui Now.

The Hawai‘i State Department of Labor & Industrial Relations announced today that the non-seasonally adjusted annual unemployment rate for Maui County in December was 7.3% for 2011, down from 7.4% in December 2010. Maui Now.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie received praise Monday for supporting an extension of television and film production tax credits, alternative energy development and investment in the state's building projects in his State of the State address. Maui News.

Kauai

A Kaua‘i native who prepared oral arguments for the U.S. Supreme Court last November was very pleased to see a unanimous decision in his favor on Monday. Garden Island.

After Jan. 29, Red Box kiosks will be the only way for Kaua‘i movie lovers to grab a last-minute new release on the go. Garden Island.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Abercrombie's State of the State emphasizes recovery, $2.8M for fired Honolulu whistleblower, federal judge cites Hawaii for slow food stamp processing, rail tax better than expected, Honolulu wages average, governor, teachers union mull contract failure, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Gov. Abercrombie's 2012 State of the State address, courtesy photo
Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Monday that Hawaii has weathered the most difficult choices needed to balance the budget, urging lawmakers to leave the drama of the past few years behind and consider targeted investments to improve the state's economic future. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie told the state Legislature on Monday that it's time to move forward and leave behind the drama of the recent past, saying lawmakers have an opportunity to maintain economic momentum, bolster education and help provide older Hawaii residents better access to long-term support. Associated Press.

The State’s Chief Executive says the worst of the Great Recession is behind us…and he’s committed to moving forward … Hawaii Public Radio.

"We have started to turn the corner," Governor Neil Abercrombie said while delivering his State of the State address Monday at the State Capitol. Hawaii News Now.

Governor Abercrombie pledged Monday to keep Hawaii on the path of economic recovery during his second State of the State address. KHON2.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Monday that he is asking state lawmakers for $10 million to consolidate all of Hawaii’s state technology under one office, and for another $2.9 million for the state’s Broadband Initiative. Pacific Business News.

In his State of the State address, Neil Abercrombie made sure the Hawaii Legislature — especially leaders Calvin Say and Shan Tsutsui — understands his gratitude. Civil Beat.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie in his State of the State address Monday touched on one of Hawaii's hottest topics — sustainable and renewable energy. West Hawaii Today.

Governor Neil Abercrombie reiterated his request for the Hawaii State Teachers Association to provide a new proposal for a contract in his 2012 State Of The State Address Monday. KITV4.

Hawaii House Republicans Respond to Governor's State of the State. Hawaii Reporter.

One Year Later - 2011 State of the State Scorecard. Civil Beat.

Governor Neil Abercrombie delivered his second state of the state address this morning, touching upon early childhood education, investment in infrastructure and moving forward on the state’s broadband initiative. Maui Now.

A federal judge has issued preliminary injunction against the state of Hawaii for failing to process food stamp applications quickly enough. Civil Beat.

The state will provide seed money to help the Queen's Medical Center quickly launch an organ transplant facility to replace the one closed in the Hawaii Medical Center's bankruptcy. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Supreme Court wants the state Reapportionment Commission to get out of court and get back to work, according to a tersely worded order filed Friday. West Hawaii Today.

The leader of Hawaii's teachers union said Monday he should have given members more time to consider a six-year proposed contract they overwhelmingly rejected last week, and has been "humbled" by the vote. Star-Advertiser.

"I cannot think of a single thing we did not do to try to accommodate the concerns of the teachers union in this agreement," Gov. Neil Abercrombie said at a press conference last week about the vote by Hawaii teachers to reject a tentative contract with the state. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving is calling the first year of the state's ignition interlock law a success. Tribune-Herald.

State roundup for January 24. Associated Press.
Oahu


The half-percent excise tax surcharge levied on Oahu residents and visitors has brought in more than $810 million so far to fund the Honolulu rail project, with collections continuing to run ahead of projections, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation said Monday. Star-Advertiser.

Paychecks for workers in Honolulu fall somewhere in the middle when compared to 405 other metropolitan areas in the nation. Pacific Business News.

A woman who said she lost her job with the city for blowing the whistle on wrongdoing nearly ten years ago has been awarded a $2.8 million settlement by the Honolulu City Council. Hawaii News Now.

A 2010 report commissioned by the Department of Environmental Services shows the city could recuperate tens of millions of dollars every year by charging Oahu residents for regular trash pickup. KHON2.

Hawaii

Seven Hawaii County Council candidates have so far filed declarations of intent to seek public funding as the second election year of the three-election-cycle pilot program begins. West Hawaii Today.

Hunters and their supporters took to a Hilo street Monday to protest a state plan to ban hunting within 4,800 acres of public forest located south of Hilo. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Students attending summer classes at the University of Hawaii Maui College will benefit from a reduction in tuition, following action taken by the university's Board of Regents last week on Kauai. Maui News.

The last in a series of community outreach meetings hosted by the Maui Charter Commission takes place this Wednesday in Pukalani. Maui Now.

Maui County could streamline the way it grants millions of dollars to nonprofit agencies and eliminate the volunteer Grants Review Committee under changes being considered by the administration and County Council. Maui News.

Kauai

Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. will hold two community outreach meetings this week. Star-Advertiser.

An update on the Victim Witness Program requested by the Kaua‘i County Council to the Office of Prosecuting Attorney last week turned into a heated, four-hour discussion, marked by the recusal of one council member and repeated interruptions for discussions with attorneys. Garden Island.

More than two dozen people spent a couple of hours removing two large chunks of derelict netting which washed ashore during the recent storm at a Wailua beach. Garden Island.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Gov. Neil Abercrombie's 2012 State of the State Address: “Investing Now for Hawai'i’s Future”


Hawaii House (c) 2012 All Hawaii News
“Investing Now for Hawai'i’s Future”
State of the State 2012
The Honorable Neil Abercrombie
Governor, State of Hawai'i
January 23, 2012
(as prepared)

Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, former Governors, distinguished justices of the courts, mayors, representatives of our Congressional Delegation, members of the Hawai'i State Legislature, other elected officials, honored guests, family and friends.  Aloha.

One year ago, I stood before you to present the sobering fiscal reality facing Hawai'i.  At that time, we faced an enormous deficit and the effects of fractured government services.  The discussion was not about “whether” we needed to find additional revenues, but about “where” we needed to find them.

But by working together and through shared sacrifice, we have started to turn the corner.  This past year has not been easy but we have accomplished our purpose.

I want to thank the Legislature for your collaboration.  

Thank you to the public for weathering through those difficult choices.  

Thank you, especially to our state employees, who agreed to labor savings and additional payments for health benefits.
 
There was no way for us to have balanced our budget and achieved today’s fiscally favorable outlook without the commitment of everyone.  To all of you who came to work each day bearing the burden of cuts and slashes to your programs for the past three years; and to those of you who gave up furloughs because of your commitment to serving Hawai'i’s people, I thank you.  Mahalo plenty to each and every one of you.

Together, we are moving forward.  And moving forward means leaving behind the drama of the recent past.

It is for that reason that I have again, requested that the Hawai'i State Teachers Association provide us with a proposal as soon as possible.  After good faith negotiations achieving two agreements, the teachers still have not ratified a contract.  I will continue to press for a resolution.  

Nonetheless, we must continue our focus on our children and students’ performance.  We cannot wait any longer.  We wanted to cross the Race to the Top finish line side-by-side with the HSTA.  Make no mistake we will cross that finish line.  Our students deserve no less.  We will be using all management, administrative, legislative and legal tools we have at our disposal to implement an evaluation system that not only measures, but achieves student growth; turns around low-performing schools; and supports teachers in increasing their effectiveness. 
      
Just as we must concentrate on providing for our children’s future, it is critical that we continue the economic momentum we have achieved.  Since last year, Hawai'i’s recovery has been steady.  

·        The visitor industry – a key element – saw 3.4 percent growth in the number of visitor arrivals, and total visitor expenditures have grown by 15.1 percent, resulting in an additional $5 billion dollars flowing into Hawai'i’s economy.
·        A solid indicator of our growth is the average 8 percent increase in our general excise tax revenue compared to last year. 
·        Despite the unfortunate closing of Hawai'i Medical Center, our unemployment remains one of the lowest in the nation.
·        Payroll employment increased 1.3 percent after three years of decline.
·        Initial unemployment claims declined 8 percent in 2011.
·        Bankruptcies dropped 15.9 percent.

Nonetheless, my budget team and House and Senate fiscal committees have warned, we must remain wary of the current national and European economic uncertainties, which continue to loom ahead.  Earlier this month, the Council of Revenues projected a 3 percent decline in our revenue forecast, which amounts to $130 million.

The question then, is how do we address what could be a daunting fiscal picture.

Last year, when the revenue projections plummeted, we met the enormous challenge of our shortfall through shared sacrifice and collaboration.  We instituted fiscal prudence and discipline, through tools provided by the Legislature.  The result was a general fund balance of $126 million.  This was the first positive balance achieved in three years.

Despite this budget success then, current fiscal uncertainties swirling around us mean that our supplemental budget proposal must reflect continued discipline.  Through our strong management of resources in 2011, we were able to achieve nearly $86 million in general fund savings.  It is these savings that we will use to propose initiatives that will support and strengthen our economic recovery.

The first is construction.  All the signs show that private investment and construction appears hesitant and tentative.  Therefore, it is the public sector that must step up to invest in repairs and maintenance, construction projects and infrastructure improvements.  By aggressively putting these projects into action, we will ensure that job creation continues.

Our recent bond and refinancing sale of nearly $1.3 billion, along with $1 billion of projects that are already on the budget books and another $300 million proposed in this supplemental budget will spur an immediate rise in job growth.

These New Day Work Projects were chosen because they not only address critical infrastructure needs, but more importantly, they are primed and ready to go.  We looked for projects that were not mired in permitting delays, or only in design and planning stages, but those that are ready to provide impact now.

After my initial discussions with the House and Senate, I know that we are all committed to looking at an aggressive budget schedule for these repair and maintenance construction projects.  I am committed as well to working with you to make sure that we have a healthy and strong construction budget and a solid plan to continue our investment in our economy.

But, investment is not only about immediate impacts to the economy.  It is about our long term vision towards the future.  A prime example is the proposed Pohukaina project that is designed around the consolidation of mixed-use and mixed-income.  To curtail sprawl and protect our precious available lands, we must focus on urban density and provide working families affordable housing opportunities.  This is a central project, and the first step in future plans for further smart development along the 'Iwilei to Waikiki corridor.    

Not only is it important to emphasize brick and mortar, we must also build an infrastructure for technology to meet the demands of the 21st century.  This is the intellectual and social infrastructure that we must have to provide opportunities and experience for our people to become an advanced workforce that can compete in the global marketplace.  

We will move forward on our Hawai'i Broadband Initiative by requesting $2.9 million to enhance online services for eHawaii.gov, advance research for transpacific fiber landing stations statewide, and initiate a “one-to-one” laptop program for Hawai'i’s public schools, to provide laptops for every student.  Not only are these advances needed, but they are crucial in ensuring Hawai'i’s global connectivity and technological advancement.

We will also be seeking to move oversight of telecommunications to the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.  Telecom will now be regulated by one agency, rather than having multiple functions spread out over multiple departments.  

Similarly, we are moving forward on our comprehensive plan to consolidate all of our state technology under the Office of Information Management and Technology, led by Hawai'i’s first Chief Information Officer.  For this important mission, we are requesting $10 million.

Finally, in this area of our economic future, we must never forget that we need to invest in being proper stewards of our Hawai'i nei.  We must nurture our environment, not only because it is pono, but because it is an essential investment for kama'aina and visitors alike.

It is for that reason that I am proposing that we invest $5 million in protecting our watersheds.  If we are going to nurture the ahupua'a of every island, if we are to keep our oceans blue, then we must save Hawai'i’s forests and preserve our water resources.

Paradise is our home, it needs our devotion and care.  

Our islands attract travelers from around the world.  So too, the film industry also depends on showcasing the beauty and variety of our aloha state. We’ve seen what these islands can look like on big screen and television. Having top-rated television shows and award-winning films like “The Descendants,” speaks volumes about Hawai'i as a television/cinema venue.  

It is for that reason that we will be requesting the legislature look at the TV and Film Tax Credit with the intention of drafting necessary changes in making it permanent.

All of our work comes down to one underlying purpose – to serve Hawai'i and its people.  I mean it broadly and inclusively.  It is part of our culture and our history.  We are one 'ohana, one family, one state.  So, we create programs, establish services and pass laws to meet that obligation.  In short, we best care for our people by investing in them.
 
That investment begins with our youngest children.  Early childhood education lays the foundation for a lifetime of learning and results in productive citizens who will someday manage our businesses, build our homes and offices, welcome our visitors, care for the sick, make new discoveries in science, and lead us into the future.

We are at a crossroads when it comes to early childhood education.  For too long, we have continued old patterns that treated early education as something that is optional, a luxury for only those few who have the means.  

“Research shows that 85 percent of a child’s brain development takes place before the age of five and that children who have quality early experiences are more likely to graduate from high school, attend college, and contribute positively to the economy.  Yet, many of Hawai'i’s children are entering school unprepared.  It’s time to invest in our children, and invest in our future, so that our state can thrive.”

This observation from Be My Voice Hawai'i, illustrates without equivocation that early education is not just an option, it is a fundamental necessity if we are to set the broader educational stage for our children.  It is not just about learning to read and write, it establishes healthy attitudes towards learning that will stay with them throughout their lives.  We also know that early education greatly enhances a young person’s sense of self-worth and confidence that, in turn, positively affects learning.  

Early childhood education must be the initial step on the education ladder.  Failure to act now virtually ensures that our children will fall behind.  If they are not our priority, then we no longer know the meaning of the word.  

The state’s Early Childhood Coordinator Terry Lock has put together a team to create a unified framework.  This early education plan for the state will be the guide for building a stronger quality early care and education system for our youngest children and their families.

Investing in the next generation is the wisest decision that we can make as a people.  And make no mistake – it is an investment with long-term returns that will far outweigh initial costs.

Last session, I forwarded difficult proposals to address difficult times.  In stark contrast to one year ago, as a result of tough-minded administrative and legislative action, the state finds itself in an all-too-rare financial situation of not having to pay for debt or to balance the budget by raising taxes.  

We will continue on this path of strong fiscal management and strategic financial investments, as indicated in Opening Day remarks by President Tsutsui and Speaker Say.

We now have the luxury of weighing solutions to behavioral and societal issues on their own merit.  We can ask ourselves what will be most effective and do the most good for our children without the distraction of having to balance the budget on a new tax program.

The fact remains that the link between sugar-sweetened beverages and health is undeniable.  I have proposed the establishment of a task force, with members from the public and private sectors, to identify and then implement a solution to this very real health issue in our state.  The group’s objective will be navigating us away from the path that has led obesity rates in Hawai'i to have doubled in the last 15 years.  Sadly, more deaths and illnesses have occurred from chronic diseases than from contagious diseases in Hawai'i.

As our Director of the state Department of Health recently noted, obesity is not just about losing weight for our children…  “It is a deadly accurate predictor of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other mental and physical ailments” that can follow our children throughout their lives.
For these early childhood education and health initiatives, we are requesting $1 million.

As important as these issues are for our children, the issues affecting our kupuna are growing in importance in conjunction with their numbers.  Last year, the first of the Baby Boomers reached retirement age.  Hawai'i acutely felt this demographic shift not only because of their sheer numbers, but also because Hawai'i enjoys one of the highest life expectancies in the nation.

That is why I am proposing $1.4 million to begin to create one-stop shops across the state for information on aging, to assist all of our kupuna who face the challenges of aging and restricted mobility.  We are working with federal, county and community partners to establish Aging and Disabilities Resource Centers, which will serve as a single point of entry for all long-term care support and services in the state.  The centers will streamline eligibility determination, minimize the need to navigate multiple bureaucracies, and facilitate informed choices about long-term care.

But this initiative to ease access to services is only the start.  We need to have a further and deeper conversation about long-term care.  Seniors want to age in their communities, they want to age in their homes.  But more importantly, they deserve to do so.  And they deserve to do so with dignity.  That is why I am committed to strengthening our system of home- and community-based services.  Their needs can no longer, and should no longer, be ignored.  

The sudden shut down of two Hawai'i Medical Center hospitals on 'Oahu at the start of this year emphasizes this issue and had widespread ramifications through the medical community and the state, including those who suffer from kidney-related illnesses.

An emergency appropriation for a grant of $1.8 million to the National Kidney Foundation of Hawai'i will support this important health service.  We pledge to help those who have stepped forward in the private sector to ensure that the people of Hawai'i have crucial medical care and expertise.

Our state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations immediately provided rapid response services to employees at both Hawai'i Medical Center worksites, giving them information on applying for unemployment benefits, health insurance options, potential workforce training programs and other services.

We appreciate all the assistance the department has received in putting together these opportunities, which will help workers transition.  In Hawai'i, we must think of ourselves as 'ohana first.
This spirit of aloha is deeply rooted in the diverse cultures of these islands.  We must never forget that it is the culture of our Native Hawaiians that we so proudly share with ourselves and the world.  The recent settlement in principle with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs directly addresses ongoing issues that have remained unresolved for decades.  The proposed settlement transfers about 25 acres in Kaka'ako to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.  OHA can use that resource to immediately benefit Native Hawaiians.  In turn, the proposal provides approximately $200 million in value to settle claims against the state.  More importantly, it brings closure to this longstanding rift allowing both the Native Hawaiian community and the state to move forward.  It is my hope that this heals old wounds.

We have also begun to make progress in one of the biggest challenges faced by our community – homelessness. A coordinated approach and strong desire to help people has been the basis of a multi-pronged effort to assist the homeless in Hawai'i – to provide not only temporary shelter for those who need it but to help them to become productive citizens.  

We have and we will continue to invest in the potential of those who are currently homeless.  In July 2011, I signed an executive order that established the Hawai'i Interagency Council on Homelessness, a 24-member council comprised of community leaders, state department directors, and federal agency representatives to develop a unified plan on addressing homelessness.  The Council aligns its efforts with the U.S. Interagency Council on Homeless, established by President Obama in 2009.

Led by the state’s first Coordinator on Homelessness, Marc Alexander, the council worked to bring together a patchwork of organizations that are now seamed together as a single quilt to meet their goals of 1) increasing transitional and permanent housing options, and 2) acquiring increased federal funding.

All these initiatives are not only about saving or spending money or programs and projects.  It is about "how" to spend precious taxpayer dollars.  A key example of this is the Justice Reinvestment Initiative.  The data is clear that from 1997 to 2010, violent and property crime has steadily decreased by nearly half.  Despite these improvements in public safety, the incarceration population has remained the same.  We must change the way in which our laws work, change the way in which the system works, so that we can make a clear distinction between those who need to stay in prison to keep the public safe versus those who present little risk.  But, we must also provide proper and consistent supervision to those who are released so that we act with dispatch when any offender fails to take advantage of the opportunity offered for a productive life.

After an unprecedented collaboration between the Governor’s Office, Justice Department, Public Safety Department, key lawmakers, the Judiciary and The Council of State Governments Justice Center, we will be proposing legislation that improves the criminal justice system utilizing the most up-to-date strategies.  And we will do this with existing resources.  

And when we talk about “how” we spend our money, we must ask ourselves about why we continue to send billions of dollars a year outside of our islands to meet our energy needs.

Two weeks ago, Tesoro Corporation announced it would be selling its refinery here in Hawai'i.  This news was not a surprise.  Over the years, I have indicated we are at risk given the rising cost of crude oil and the severity of speculation in the global oil market.  I know that there is uncertainty for current employees at Tesoro as it starts the process of seeking an appropriate buyer.  Our Department of Labor and Industrial Relations stands ready to provide job assistance for those who need it.
I also know there is uncertainty for those who are wondering what the sale of the state’s largest refinery means for the cost of fuel in the state.  Well, Hawai'i has never had control over the high cost of energy.  So, one thing is certain – and you have heard this before – we must lessen our dependence on imported oil.  

This is not just an issue about sustainability.  This is about the survival of our state.  In moving forward on our path to advance a clean energy future, failure is not an option.  Reducing our dependence on imported oil will take an equal commitment by government, business, community, family and individuals.  We can no longer view energy production or distribution in an island-by-island context.  We must be united on a statewide basis.  My administration is committed to clean alternative and renewable energies for the benefit of all of our islands.

In November, I signed two international agreements that demonstrate that commitment.
The first was signed during the APEC Summit with the Vice Chairman of the China Council for Promotion of International Trade to pursue mutual interests in clean energy development.  This year, we will continue to build upon that relationship and, by April, I hope to have a more defined memorandum of understanding to advance projects that will result in business opportunities.
I signed a second agreement with Japan-based New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) to collaborate on building a first-of-its-kind smart grid demonstration project on the island of Maui.  

For this project, Hitachi, NEDO and Mizuho are investing $37 million in advanced smart grid technology to improve integration of variable renewable resources into the electrical grid.  
These agreements mark Hawai'i’s emergence as the test bed of the Pacific for clean energy demonstrations and clearly indicate the promise that energy projects offer for economic growth.
   
Currently there are about 80 renewable energy projects that are demonstrating progress in becoming commercial enterprises that have the potential to help the State of Hawai'i achieve its collective energy goals.  This Administration will continue to look at every option – wind, solar, natural gas, photovoltaic, geothermal, biofuels, ocean energy and other technologies.  We will be aggressive but respectful in our approach to our island environment.  

These projects are just the first step, and in the next few months we will be unveiling a comprehensive roadmap for the state, beginning on Hawai'i Island, for building a world leading, sustainable economy standing on our people’s history of self-sufficiency in both food and energy.  It is time for us to work together to put willpower to our resources and make this a reality for the state.
That is why I have assigned Lt. Governor Brian Schatz to coordinate and support our energy priorities.  We must stay the course when it comes to advancing our clean energy future and ensure that collaborative decisions are being made.  Swift and appropriate regulation must take place, as well as healthy competition and local entrepreneurship, community involvement and integration.
The time of sustainability rhetoric is over.  Bold action is needed now.  We must address two critical issues to position ourselves for increasing use of alternative energy – reliability and infrastructure.

While Hawai'i has an abundance of natural resources to tap into, the system cannot maintain itself solely with sources that shift with changing winds or the sun hiding behind the clouds.  The system demands a clear measure of reliability of energy to feed into the grid.  Therefore, one of my primary energy initiatives will be to provide the Public Utilities Commission with the explicit authority to develop, adopt and monitor electricity reliability standards.  This will include jurisdiction over how independent power producers connect to the grid.  Currently, while the PUC can take on issues through its formal docket process, there is no comprehensive authority to oversee reliability standards.  To ensure that we have control over the reliability of the energy feeding into the system, we need to give the PUC this authority.

But more importantly, we need to create the infrastructure for stability.  This means making the long-term infrastructure investments that ensure our electric grids are stable, reliable and modern enough to integrate alternative and renewable energy technologies.  Our investment now will benefit future generations.  Had we made this commitment in years past we would be benefitting from it today.  

One of those investments is an undersea cable that can connect our island grids to provide stable, reliable electricity between islands.  This integrated grid will provide stable energy prices and equalize rates between the islands, which will benefit all of us.  To pay for this critical piece of infrastructure, we are proposing legislation that will attract private capital resources and expertise.  In today’s uncertain world, we cannot postpone Hawai'i’s clean energy future any longer.  We can only get there if we move now.  There is no legislation more critical to our future.

I assure you, the energy debates that will take place this session will echo the debates that took place here when I was a legislator in these chambers in the 1970s.  Let us not repeat a history of failure to act in 2012.

Whether these initiatives are aimed at reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, or to assist and uplift the homeless, or to help our kupuna or our children, all represent wise and prudent investments in our people.  The cost of not taking action now will most certainly result in higher costs not only in dollars, but in social dysfunction as well.

I am deeply grateful to Speaker Say and President Tsutsui for clearly recognizing and delineating the opportunity to work together on these issues in their respective Opening Day remarks.
With the theme of “Pupukahi I Holomua – Unite to Move Forward,” they specifically referenced the main objectives – growing a sustainable economy, investing in people and transforming government.  I want to extend my pledge to members of both the House and Senate here assembled, to work collaboratively with you as we serve all our constituents.  

I know for many it is hard to see beyond today’s needs when today’s needs loom so large and immediate.  But unless dealt with now, today’s challenges can only multiply in difficulty.  This is not acceptable.  We have the obligation to make a better future for our children.  We live in paradise and taking care of each other is a value that is fundamental to the aloha spirit.  This is about having aloha for one another and doing what is pono.

I want to close then with something that exemplifies what aloha for each other is all about.  At one point when the way forward was not always clear, Representative Karen Awana gave me a note, the essence of which was “A'ohe Hana Nui Ke Alu 'Ia” – no task is too big when done together by all.  I keep it in my desk for those times when I can use a little reminder of the meaning of aloha for each other.  Her kindness and goodness is truly aloha in every way.  
I pledge my aloha to you all in that spirit.  Mahalo nui.

Hawaii bridge report in, Honolulu nation's least affordable housing, Department of Hawaiian Homelands seeks new Maui prison, big security presence allows yacht to dock on Molokai, fired election workers sue Hawaii County, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

With 756 state-owned bridges in Hawai‘i, the Senate Committee on Transportation and International Affairs is taking a closer look at the condition and integrity of the structures. Hawaii Reporter.

Hawaii is the only state in the country that doesn't have a law requiring drivers to give police, EMS or any freeway responder room on the roadway. KHON2.

Performance pay linked to annual evaluations was often cited by Hawaii teachers as one of the key reasons for rejecting a proposed 6-year contract with the state. Civil Beat.

The University of Hawaii is looking for people to participate in a study with New York’s Cornell University to develop foods that can be used on a mission to Mars. Pacific Business News.

The Hawai‘i Children’s Trust Fund partnered with the Joyful Heart Foundation to begin a statewide public awareness campaign called “One Strong ‘Ohana.” Garden Island.

State roundup for January 23. Associated Press.

Oahu

The Honolulu City Council routinely introduces bills and resolutions with multiple cosponsors despite a state law that bars members of public boards from discussing board business outside of public meetings. Civil Beat.

Last year Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle told a radio audience that Honolulu's rail project had "too much momentum" to be stopped. Now former Gov. Ben Caye­tano plans to put Carlisle's claim to the test, and is running for mayor with the stated intention of killing the $5.27 billion rail project. Star-Advertiser.

This promises to be a wild year in Honolulu. Civil Beat.

Police Chief Louis Kealoha bowed his head before a memorial erected to patrol officer Garret Davis on Sunday, then implored Oahu drivers to be more careful — especially when officers are doing their jobs. Star-Advertiser.

A study of 325 metropolitan areas worldwide says Honolulu is the least-affordable housing market in the United States. Star-Advertiser.

A former Hawaii state senator announced Sunday that he's running for a Honolulu City Council seat. KHON2.

Hawaii

Alleging they were wrongly fired, two former Hawaii County senior elections officials on Friday asked for $500,000 apiece to settle a defamation claim and offset their emotional suffering. Tribune-Herald.

The Hawaii County administration has made an end run around the County Council by soliciting bids for recycling services without the council's blessing. West Hawaii Today.

Jack Hash thought he was getting an idyllic setting, but a multiyear battle over a neighbor's illegal home has him regretting the move, contemplating selling and wondering where's the building enforcement. Tribune-Herald.

A magnitude-5.0 earthquake and several small aftershocks shook the Big Island on Sunday, but there were no reports of injury or damage. Associated Press.

Maui

Runway options would halt Mainland flights for weeks. Maui News.

The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands is taking the lead in resuscitating what had been an estimated $235 million project to build an 843-inmate, minimum- and medium-security prison in Puunene. Maui News.

Maui County could streamline the way it grants millions of dollars to nonprofit agencies and eliminate the volunteer Grants Review Committee under changes being considered by the administration and County Council. Maui News.

Lehuanani Huddleston-Hafoka of Kihei said she'd save about $560 a year in bus transportation to send her two children to Maui High School in Kahului if a high school were built in South Maui. Star-Advertiser.

Kauai

Where did you sleep last night? This is the question volunteers across Kaua‘i will be asking starting Tuesday through Jan. 29 when the Kaua‘i Community Alliance, a member of a Neighbor Island continuum of care called Bridging the Gap, oversees the annual Point in Time homeless count, states a news release from Catholic Charities Hawai‘i. Garden Island.

Molokai

In 30 years of community activism, Molokai's Walter Ritte Jr. said he never saw anything like Saturday at dawn at Kaunakakai Harbor: about 80 cruise ship protesters matched up against at least twice as many county, state and federal officers. Maui News.

Nearly 50 U.S. Coast Guard personnel, as well as dozens of county, state and federal law enforcement guarded a security zone around Kaunakakai Harbor for the return of American Safari Cruises’ yacht Safari Explorer last Saturday. Molokai Dispatch.

There was no blockade on the water for the American Safari Explorer, a 36-passenger tour boat as it pulled into port at Kaunakakai Harbor at 7:30 a.m. Saturday. KITV4.