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Friday, March 30, 2012

Bright Hawaii outlook for tourism, jobs; Maui telescope hearing officer fired, Pearl Harbor cutting three ships, no tax cut for Kauai, Abercrombie touts progress to Kona group, TSA workers implicated in drug ring, state leads nation in electric vehicle charging stations, more Hawaii news for smartphone and web browsing

Coconut climber (c) 2012 All Hawaii News

Some 626,367 visitors came to Hawaii last month and spent $1.09 billion, or about $183 per person per day, according to preliminary statistics released Thursday by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. February was the seventh consecutive month of arrivals growth for Hawaii's visitor industry and the 23rd month of spending rises. Star-Advertiser.

Total expenditures by visitors who came to Hawai'i in February 2012 rose 8.5 percent, or by $85.7 million, to $1.099 billion, according to preliminary statistics released Thursday by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. KITV4.

Hawaii's unemployment rate fell in February for the fourth consecutive month to its lowest level in three years, the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations reported Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has fallen to the lowest level in three years. KHON2.

A group trying to mount a novel third-party presidential campaign has gained a spot on the Hawaii general election ballot this fall. Associated Press.

Fulfilling a long-standing obligation, the state House is expected to vote today for a $200 million settlement between the state and the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs over OHA's share of revenue from former crown lands since 1978. Star-Advertiser.

Lawmakers are looking for guidance from the Abercrombie administration on controversial environmental legislation, but top officials are giving very mixed signals. Civil Beat.

Legislation aimed at streamlining Hawaii’s construction permitting process could have broad environmental and cultural consequences, some state officials worry. Associated Press.

There are about a dozen bills advancing in the legislature that waive environmental requirements for state and public projects.  Members of the House Hawaiian Affairs Committee summoned key department directors today to ask them what was going on. Hawaii Public Radio.

Staff Turnover Doesn't Bother Abercrombie. Civil Beat.

With federal officials watching, state lawmakers are demonstrating their commitment to keep $75 million in Race to the Top money to reform Hawaii's ailing educational system. Civil Beat.

More young people are taking up farming in Hawaii, and consumers are moving toward sustainable and locally-grown food choices. Those were among trends at the annual "Agriculture Awareness Day" at the State Capitol. KHON2.

More than 200 new electric vehicle charging stations have been installed at more than 80 public locations in Hawaii, putting the state in the lead for the number of public charging stations, the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism said Thursday. Pacific Business News.

Oahu

The Navy plans to decommission three Pearl Harbor ships in fiscal 2013 — a move that would drop the surface fleet to eight, affect ship repair jobs and take millions from Hawaii's economy. Star-Advertiser.

Former Gov. Benjamin Cayetano said Thursday the city's Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation Board of Directors, who were appointed to oversee the construction and maintenance of the city's $5.3 billion planned 20-mile elevated steel on steel rail system, "had better get a lawyer if he is elected mayor" this fall, "because he will go after them for malfeasance." Hawaii Reporter.

Kailua residents are organizing to prevent commercial activities at area beaches. Hawaii Independent.

Five people have been arrested in a major drug trafficking ring between Hawaii and California.  It's an inside job as investigators say some of the suspects work for Delta Airlines and the Transportation Security Administration. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii

Two Puna residents have filed suit in 3rd Circuit Court, seeking to stop the implementation of a new county building code that went into effect Wednesday. West Hawaii Today.


Gov. Neil Abercrombie
Gov. Neil Abercrombie took on a triumvirate of state touchstones Thursday, criticizing “self-designated” Hawaiian activists, challenging environmental protection regulations and touting his labor bonafides while criticizing the state teachers’ union. West Hawaii Today.

Ka‘u County Councilwoman Brittany Smart announced Thursday she plans to run for the state House seat being vacated by Rep. Bob Herkes, a fellow Democrat, in his run for state Senate. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

A controversial solar telescope atop Haleakala suffered a setback Thursday when the hearing officer was fired and his recommendation to approve the project was thrown out by the Board of Land and Natural Resources. Civil Beat.

The state Board of Land and Natural Resources has discharged a hearings officer and his recommendations about the proposed Advanced Technology Solar Telescope on Maui to avoid "even the appearance of impropriety" due to unauthorized communications with the permit applicant for the project, Chairman William Aila announced Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

Maui parents will soon get a chance to help save lives by donating their babies' cord blood. Maui News.

Kauai

County council members Tim Bynum and JoAnn Yukimura lost their battle to lower property taxes for Kaua‘i residents Thursday, with their opposition citing economic uncertainty. Garden Island.

Morgan’s ponds at Lydgate closed as Health Department takes water samples. Garden Island.

Nonprofits join up to care for Kaua‘i’s land, culture. Garden Island.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hawaii Medal of Honor ceremony honors war dead, Honolulu Civil Beat editor heads to Washington Post, Legislature mulls state bank, mandatory sick leave, charter schools, new garbage study for Big Island, hostess bars for Maui, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii Medal of Honor ceremony, courtesy House Majority Office
Hundreds of people gathered at the State Capitol Wednesday to remember 24 servicemen with Hawaii ties who died during the past year in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hawaii News Now.

The annual Hawaii Medal of Honor ceremony is more than just a time to recognize and honor fallen troops. It's a time for friends, colleagues and loved ones of the dead to gather, console and connect with each other, to be reassured that those close to them will not be forgotten, and to be welcomed into the island ohana. Star-Advertiser.


courtesy House Majority
The families of two dozen fallen service members received the Hawaii Medal of Honor on Wednesday. It was a chance to thank them and their loved ones for protecting our country. KITV4.

Abercrombie: Environmental Critics Are 'Apocalyptic Naysayers' Civil Beat.

Large private sector employers without labor contracts would have to provide workers with up to five days a year in paid sick and safe leave under a bill approved Wednesday by the state Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee. Star-Advertiser.

Should the State of Hawaii open up its own bank? Some lawmakers want to saying it will stimulate economic growth and development.  But opponents say taxpayers shouldn't be backing risky loans. Hawaii News Now.

Public assistance recipients might be able to put away more in savings under a proposal before the state legislature. Associated Press.

A 90-plus-page bill to boost the accountability of Hawaii charter schools is racing toward passage in the Legislature. Civil Beat.

A bill that would relax some of the state building code requirements was gutted when it crossed from the House to the Senate, Rep. Robert Herkes, D-Puna, Ka‘u, South Kona, North Kona, said. West Hawaii Today.

Dog fighting bill ripped, gutted and turned into something else. KHON2.

Hawaii Land Use Commission’s top exec Dan Davidson will retire. Pacific Business News.

Navy Seeks Expanded Partnerships to Reach Clean Energy Goals. Hawaii Public Radio.

Oahu

Civil Beat Editor and General Manager John Temple has accepted a new position as managing editor of The Washington Post. Civil Beat.

The arrest of four city supervisors and eight inmates on drug and contraband charges has triggered scrutiny of the prison work lines. KITV4.

More new Honolulu residents moved from San Diego than from any other county in the United States, and more former Honolulu residents moved to San Diego than anywhere else. Civil Beat.

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation's newly appointed CEO Daniel  met with the head of the Federal Transit Administration and Hawaii's congressional delegation this week to lobby for federal funds for the city's planned $5.3 billion elevated steel on steel rail project. Hawaii Reporter.

As the city and county of Honolulu prepare to begin construction of the $5.3 billion rail project, KITV4 News has learned some out-of-state workers are already on the job. KITV4.

Honolulu Zoo staff Wednesday were trying to lure back three exotic birds after they escaped earlier this week when vandals cut holes in their cages. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

The county could save up to $1.5 million annually by trucking East Hawaii’s garbage to West Hawaii rather than expanding the Hilo landfill, according to a consultant’s report released Wednesday. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii's largest grower of macadamia nuts plans to break into the business of making and selling processed food products after decades of selling raw nuts to processing and marketing companies, including Hershey Co. Star-Advertiser.

The Hilo Veterans Administration clinic is looking for a new location in town to call home. Tribune-Herald.

Spilled mercury found Wednesday at a Hawaii County Department of Water Supply facility in Waimea resulted in no reported injuries, according to the Hawaii Fire Department. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Mayor Alan Arakawa said that the county can cut around 33 positions from its payroll for 2013, thanks to his employee attrition policy. Maui News.

The Liquor Commission’s recommendation to remove the 12 cap limit for hostess bar licenses on the island, “is too extreme a change all at one time,” said Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa. Maui Now.

A settlement has been reached in a dispute over the proposed 310-room expansion of the Grand Wailea. Maui News.

Kauai

The entire island of Kauai went dark, some communities for six hours Wednesday, when a transformer failed at Kauai Island Utility Cooperative's Port Allen Generating Station. Star-Advertiser.

The power outage that occurred at the peak of the Wednesday afternoon rush hour was an island-wide shutdown. Garden Island.

The Kaua‘i County Council spent the entire day deliberating on a bill proposing further property tax exemption for Kaua‘i residents, only to see decision-making cut short by the island-wide power failure about 5:15 p.m. Garden Island.

Molokai

Molokai residents are used to some of the highest gas prices in the nation. But with an overnight jump of 25 cents last week – reaching $5.36 for regular unleaded – even locals were left in disbelief. Molokai Dispatch.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Kona lava graffiti removed, raises for Honolulu officials, council, rate hike for health insurer HMSA, Kauai in top 10 for film locations, still no GOP candidate for Congress, rail project needs more credit, waste to energy on Maui mulled, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Kona lava (c) 2012 All Hawaii News
Less white coral graffiti decorates the lava on the shoulders of Queen Kaahumanu Highway these days. West Hawaii Today.

Families of fallen war heroes have been invited to a special joint session of the state Legislature on Wednesday. Associated Press.

March is almost over and still no Republican candidate in the open 2nd Congressional District race. Civil Beat.

Two good government advocacy groups are taking state Sen. Rosalyn Baker to task over her conduct of a confirmation hearing Friday. Civil Beat.

Lawmakers question UH Manoa Chancellor's necessity. KHON2.

Hawaii Medical Service Association plans to raise health insurance premiums for roughly 84,000 small-business members by 3.8 percent after posting a more than eightfold profit to $43.8 million in 2011. Star-Advertiser.

The State Department of Education is being put to the test.  Federal officials are in town to decide if Hawaii should get $75 million in Race to the Top grant money. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu

Honolulu's job market still had not recovered fully from the 2008-2009 recession by the end of last year, although the city fared better than three-quarters of the nation's largest metropolitan areas, according to a report due out today by the Brookings Institution. Star-Advertiser.

The Salary Commission of the City and County of Honolulu voted to recommend raises of 5.5 percent for the police chief and his deputies, 4 percent for the fire chief and his deputy, and 3 percent for city council members, and most directors and department heads and their deputies. KHON2.

Rhetoric is heating up over the financial impact of the city's planned $5.27 billion rail transit project as two top contenders for the mayor's job traded accusations Tuesday of reckless spending and misinformation. Star-Advertiser.

Extending Honolulu's line of credit is the "big piece that's outstanding" before officials can formally ask for funding from the federal government to help pay for Honolulu's $5.2 billion rail project, incoming HART CEO Daniel Grabauskas told Civil Beat in an exclusive interview Tuesday. Civil Beat.

The new CEO and executive director of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation met with the head of the Federal Transit Administration and with Hawaii's congressional delegations in Washington Tuesday. KITV4.

Rail debt is going up, and spending on other capital projects is coming down. Civil Beat.

This letter was submitted March 26, 2012 to Leslie T. Rogers, the Regional Administrator for the Federal Transit Administration, Region IX with the U.S. Department of Transportation, 201 Mission Street, Suite 1650, San Francisco, CA 94105 by University of Hawaii Law Professor Randall Roth, Honolulu Transportation Expert Cliff Slater and Retired Judge Walter Heen, who are plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the City & county of Honolulu and the FTA over the city's planned $5.3 billion elevated steel on steel rail project. Hawaii Reporter.

Honolulu City Council members learned yesterday that one possible step to lower obesity rates is to link health with transportation options. Hawaii Public Radio.

Community, Castle complex in high-risk redesign program. KITV4.

Hawaii

The county Water Board approved a budget Tuesday that’s 6 percent less than this year’s spending plan and relies on an already approved 2.2 percent increase in water rates starting July 1. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union employees improperly accessed the names, addresses and last four digits of Social Security numbers of “several hundred” Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union members, President James Takamine said Tuesday. West Hawaii Today.

A “fecal incident” over the weekend, and a slowed water filtration rate, closed the Kona Community Aquatic Center Sunday, Parks and Recreation Director Bob Fitzgerald said Tuesday. West Hawaii Today.

Major changes at Old Kona Airport Park are unlikely to happen until the state transfers the 117-acre recreation and beach area to the county. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Mayor Alan Arakawa's administration is exploring ways to turn waste into energy at the Central Maui Landfill. Maui News.

Eight years after becoming stuck on a reef off of Lahaina, Maui, the “Dolphin” vessel was finally carted away in pieces by helicopter at around 11 a.m. today, according to state officials. Maui Now.

Kauai

The Kaua‘i Planning Commission on Tuesday approved a $10 million multiplex cinema project, complete with nine movie screens and 1,274 seats, to be built on the back parking lot of Kmart, at Kukui Grove Center. Garden Island.

The Hawaiian island of Kauai has made a list of the top 10 film locations around the world. Pacific Business News.

With the global box office success of the Hunger Games movie filmed in North Carolina, Cheapflights.com listed the top 10 film locations worldwide that included Kauai. Star-Advertiser.

Kaua‘i will share in $600,000 in federal grants that were awarded to public housing agencies in Hawai‘i to help homeless veterans transition into permanent housing. Garden Island.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Race to the Top focus of federal visit today, teacher pay analyzed, Honolulu Police Department loses records, rail transit foes respond, invasive ogo seaweed overtakes Waikiki, Molokai couple get $3.9M in condo dispute, new manager for Volcano House, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii schoolchildren (c) 2012 All Hawaii News



A new report by an education policy think-tank echoes the U.S. Department of Education’s concern about progress by Hawaii schools on promised Race to the Top reforms. Associated Press.

A four-person review team from the U.S. Department of Education is in Hawaii to meet with state education officials about progress island schools are making under the Race to the Top program. Hawaii News Now.

The Hawaii Department of Education spends a wide range on salaries per pupil, depending on which school they attend, according to an analysis by Civil Beat. Civil Beat.

The last two years at Hawaii's Department of Education were marked by leadership turnover and pay cuts, even as the overall budget and student enrollment grew. Civil Beat.

Bill would require paid leave for domestic violence victims. Star-Advertiser.

March 27 — At the Ledge. Civil Beat.

The state terminated three Medicaid physicians who were prescribing relatively high amounts of potent psychiatric and pain drugs, while two other providers are under investigation by federal agencies, according to information provided to a U.S. senator. Star-Advertiser.

The Missile Defense Agency's big Sea-Based X-Band Radar tracking ship sailed out of Pearl Harbor on Friday — about three weeks ahead of North Korea's planned space launch. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu
Tens of thousands of Honolulu Police Department reports are missing from HPD's computerized records system and the department has launched an investigation to figure out the scope of the problem. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu is one of the 10 markets identified as a “hot spot” when it comes for foreign investment in residential real estate. Pacific Business News.

Waikiki Beach is under siege by a silent enemy. Invasive algae is taking over in the waters causing negative impacts to the environment. Hawaii News Now.

It's a battle for survival on the beach in Waikiki. The delicate ecosystem there is being destroyed by invasive algae. Which is why Monday's cleanup was more than just a good deed. It's a critical effort to save a dying species. KITV4.

Despite Sewer Work, Storms Still Cause Spills. Civil Beat.

Grading and other groundwork for a future subdivision in Nuuanu has generated three notices of violation this month that some neighbors say have come far too late. Star-Advertiser.

Plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit aiming to stop construction of the city’s $5.3 billion elevated steel on steel rail system have a new secret weapon in the fight against the project - energetic and enthusiastic law students. Hawaii Reporter.

Ben Cayetano responds to the Star-Advertiser’s criticism of his release of rail-related emails. Hawaii Independent.

First Wounded Warrior Conference Held in Honolulu. Hawaii Public Radio.

A professor at UH Manoa was part of movie director James Cameron's deep sea submarine dive.  KHON2.

Hawaii

After many false starts, the National Park Service has awarded a contract to operate the historic Volcano House hotel, with a full renovation by early next year. Tribune-Herald.

Two Hawaii Island robotics teams will be part of the state’s delegation to an international robotics competition next month. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

14 recruits earn Maui Police Department badges. Maui News.

MauiGrown Coffee is reporting a record harvest this year of their Arabica coffee varieties grown at their 500-acre Kaanapali Estate, which includes portions of Ka‘anapali Coffee Farms. Maui Now.

HC&S Responds to ‘Cane Burning Dangerous?’ Article. Maui Now.

Kauai
Throughout the past week, festivities honoring Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana‘ole Pi‘ikoi have centered around Po‘ipu and Koloa, coordinated by Stella Burgess of the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort and Spa. Garden Island.

The Kaua‘i County Council on Wednesday is expected to consider a bill first introduced in January that would significantly increase real property tax exemptions for resident homeowners. Garden Island.

Molokai

A jury awarded Molokai residents Jim and Nancy Bevill last week $3.87 million in general and punitive damages against a condominium association, according to an attorney representing the Bevills. KITV4.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Gas hits $5/gal on Kauai, green energy tax cuts face reduction, dengue-carrying mosquito breeding on Oahu, audit says Honolulu not collecting enough taxes, Hearing officer pressured over Maui telescope, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Solar panels installed in Honolulu, courtesy photo
High electricity bills, sunny weather and improved technology have made solar power an increasingly popular option in Hawaii. But tax credit for renewable energy faces reductions, curtailed caps.  Star-Advertiser.

A Honolulu federal judge confirmed Friday that the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission cannot limit contributions to political committees that solely make "independent" expenditures. Civil Beat.

As protestors demonstrated at the federal building against the Affordable Care Act, state legislators wrestled with Hawaii’s plans to implement the law, which mandates universal health insurance coverage for all Americans. Hawaii Reporter.

The last two years at Hawaii's Department of Education were marked by leadership turnover and pay cuts, even as the overall budget and student enrollment grew. Civil Beat.

There are growing calls to address chronic absenteeism in Hawaii schools in the state’s education reform agenda, with proponents pointing out that better instruction and longer school days won’t do much for kids who don’t attend regularly. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Lawmakers Revive Vacation Rental Bill. Civil Beat.


Touted as a possible model for streamlining the state’s procurement process, the University of Hawaii’s new system for awarding multimillion-dollar construction contracts already is producing benefits. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

The city needs to be more aggressive in collecting delinquent real property taxes and consider actions such as fines or denial of city services to compel payments from those who continually skirt their taxes, according to a city auditor’s report. Star-Advertiser.

The Department of Veterans Affairs wants to build a $125 million, 125,000-square-foot medical center with 1,000 parking spaces in the Ewa area that would take some pressure off Tripler Army Medical Center and provide outpatient primary care and mental health services for veterans as well as treatment for active-duty Army, Navy and Coast Guard and their families. Star-Advertiser.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to the power of the National Labor Relations Board's general counsel over a labor dispute at the Pacific Beach Hotel in Waikiki. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii state Department of Health is urging the public to exercise caution after the disease-carrying mosquito, Aedes aegypti, laid eggs at one of four traps at the Honolulu International Airport. KITV4.

They've been warned, arrested and had their belongings confiscated five times since members of Occupy Honolulu moved into — and later around — Thomas Square in October, but Hawaii's history with protests suggests that the end of Occupy Honolulu might not come quickly. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Taggart Nakamoto, a 12-year-old sixth-grader at Konawaena Middle School on Hawaii island, will represent Hawaii at the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee after becoming the Hawaii State Spelling Bee Champion Saturday night. Star-Advertiser.

A study aimed at defining the interconnectivity between Kona’s high-level and coastal groundwater systems and the possible impacts a connection could have on the area’s hydrologic resources is slated to get under way in May. West Hawaii Today.

A planned pavilion to house community, cultural, educational and recreational activities at Hookena Beach Park is now up for public review. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

A hearings officer reviewing a contested case petition and a permit for the proposed $300 million Advanced Technology Solar Telescope atop Haleakala is reporting that he came under "considerable" outside pressure "to simply spit out a recommended decision quickly" and get the matter before the state Board of Land and Natural Resources. Maui News.

The Days Inn-flagged Maui Oceanfront Inn is for sale as part of a bankruptcy by its owner, Western Apartments Supply & Maintenance Co. Star-Advertiser.

Maui’s Cane Burning – How Dangerous Is It? Maui Now.

Kauai

While the rest of the country was bemoaning the distant possibility of $5 a gallon gasoline, drivers on the North Shore of Kaua‘i on Sunday were  paying $5.05 a gallon for regular at the local Chevron station. Garden Island.

The state Department of Health has confirmed a third and fourth case of flesh-eating bacteria on Kauai. KITV4.

The Kaua‘i Fire Department’s headquarters will move to a new location at   the Lihu‘e Civic Center at 4444 Rice St. in Lihu‘e. Garden Island.


Molokai

As the Molokai community continues to determine its future and where tourism fits into the economical equation, the Aha Kiole, a resource management group, has compiled the results from a series of community meetings and surveys. The document outlines guidelines for tour companies arriving to the island by boat, including American Safari Cruises (ASC), which has been making controversial stops to Molokai since October 2011. Molokai Dispatch.

Despite heavy rains three weeks ago, Molokai farmers are concerned that the summer may bring continued drought and adverse effects for agriculture. That concern motivated Molokai Irrigation System (MIS) board members to vote in favor of an emergency drought declaration for Maui County, which could bring government assistance. Molokai Dispatch.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Hawaii libraries doing more with less, geothermal energy coming to Maui, Case renews Hirono debate challenge, state DOE prepares for federal Race to the Top visit, officials eye Kakaako development, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii state public library (c) 2012 All Hawaii News
The budget for Hawaii's State Public Library System has been steadily shrinking over the past five years, while demand for an array of library services has gone up. Civil Beat.

Former U.S. Rep. Ed Case, in his Hilo hometown Thursday for a fundraiser, renewed his call for U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono to debate him prior to the August primary for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate. West Hawaii Today.

Ed Case
The contest to replace U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Akaka is on, as former Hawaii congressman Ed Case became the first candidate to file nomination papers at the Office of Elections on Thursday. Associated Press.

US Senate candidate and former Congressman Ed Case officially files his nomination papers for election at 10 a.m. today. Maui Now.

State House lawmakers advanced a bill Thursday that would temporarily give the governor the power to exempt specific types of state construction projects from environmental review if the potential impact is minimal. Star-Advertiser.

A bill with the potential to scuttle the state’s pending $200 million land transfer to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs was reluctantly approved today by the state House Judiciary Committee. Hawaii Reporter.

The State Auditor's office will be zeroing in on potential problems in the way the Hawaii Department of Education contracts with school bus companies and how the agency monitors the service once it's in place. Civil Beat.

The city of Honolulu says its bus system might be unable to accommodate the big influx in ridership expected if the Department of Education eliminates school bus service on Oahu next school year, as is being discussed in a worst-case scenario. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii State Department of Education will attempt to highlight various accomplishments when federal officials visit to examine the state's Race to the Top progress. Associated Press.

The Hawaii State Department of Education is preparing for a visit from the U.S. Department of Education next week to examine the state's Race To The Top progress. KITV4.

Feeling it got shorted out of a lucrative government contract with Hawaii, four years ago Election Systems & Software challenged the state's decision to award a contract for e-voting machines to another company. Civil Beat.

A Hawaiian monk seal removed from the wild because he was attacking fellow monk seals pups is moving to the mainland. Hawaii News Now.

Stephen Schatz, the public schools’ assistant superintendent of strategic reform says Hawaii is making progress. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

Honolulu mayoral candidate Kirk Caldwell
Six labor unions announced Thursday their endorsement of former city Managing Director Kirk Caldwell for Hono­lulu mayor. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Community Development Authority, a state agency that administers 660 acres in Kakaako, 3,770 acres in Kalaeloa and 400 acres in Heeia, is pursuing the construction of the tallest building in the state — the 650-foot 690 Pohukaina. Civil Beat.

The future of the 600-acre Kakaako district was the focus of a panel discussion sponsored by the Hawaii Venture Capital Association and Think-Tech. Hawaii Public Radio.

The shakers and movers of Kakaako, past, present and future, gathered at a power lunch at the Plaza Club Thursday. KITV4.

The University of Hawaii System has narrowed the search for chancellor of its Manoa campus to four candidates, each of whom will visit the campus next month and make presentations to students, faculty, staff and the community. Pacific Business News.

Cancer radiation treatment specialist Dr. John Lederer will be able to continue using oncology radiation facilities at the Queen's Medical Center, but the other five doctors at Pacific Radiation Oncology will not, under a preliminary injunction issued this week by a federal judge. Star-Advertiser.

More than 1200 people are expected to show up at Magic Island Saturday. KHON2.

Hawaii

Some Hawaii County Council members are questioning why Mayor Billy Kenoi hasn’t acted on eviction orders a judge granted more than three months ago to clear almost $6 million worth of county-owned Kawa Bay property of people living there. West Hawaii Today.

A former County Council apparently hired a special attorney without legal authority to do so. West Hawaii Today.

The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline reached a record high of $4.669 in Hilo on Thursday, according to AAA Hawaii's daily fuel gauge report. Star-Advertiser.

The community is invited to attend The Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce’s annual focus luncheon with this year’s speaker Governor Neil Abercrombie on March 29 at Keauhou Beach Resort. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Drilling could begin next year on test wells for a geothermal energy project on Haleakala. Maui News.

The public will have a chance to provide input on the County’s Fiscal Year 2013 Budget during a series of district meetings planned over the next several weeks. Maui Now.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has signed another disaster proclamation that expands his earlier proclamations to include Maui County. Associated Press.

Members of the Maui Canoe Club collaborated with a nurse at the Maui Memorial Medical Center to develop a CPR method that could be used within the confines of a canoe. Maui Now.

Kauai

Karen Ikemoto being Kaua‘i’s first Librarian of the Year was reason for Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. to declare Thursday as Karen Ikemoto Day on Kaua‘i. Garden Island.

Retired police officers on Kaua‘i have found support from within as an organization of people that worked together to make the island safe. Garden Island.

Molokai

Lynn DeCoite, owner of two Molokai businesses, has been appointed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie to the state Board of Agriculture's Maui County seat. Maui News.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Environmental exemption bill to be heard today, Maui seeks waste-to-energy plant, bid protest costs state $1.2M, cheaper to rent than buy in Honolulu, HART gets grilling, new AP chief at Hawaii helm, Hawaiian land bill advances, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Ka'u coastline (c) 2012 All Hawaii News
Environmentalists, clean energy advocates, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, a few lawmakers are among those who vehemently oppose Senate Bill 755 — a measure to be heard Thursday that gives the governor and county mayors latitude in exempting state and county projects from regulatory review. Civil Beat.

Environmental Bills Criticized by GOP lawmakers. Hawaii Public Radio.

A “must-pass” priority of Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s administration this legislative session – transfer of $200 million worth of land to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs  -- has survived unscathed to date and has just a few more hurdles to clear before enactment. Hawaii Reporter.

The Attorney General's Office is seeking $1.2 million in state funds to settle a 2008 protest filed against the Office of Elections over the agency's awarding of a contract for electronic voting machines that year. Star-Advertiser.

The state Department of Health has doubled the number of mosquito traps it has at Honolulu International Airport from twenty to forty after a rare species, efficient at spreading disease, was found there early this year. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii’s Ambassador of Energy could be a fitting title for Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz. Civil Beat.

Former Congressman Ed Case will be filing nomination papers Thursday so he can run for U.S. Senate in Hawaii's August primary. Hawaii News Now.

The number of female-owned businesses in Hawaii has grown by 55 percent over the past 15 years with 39,900 establishments today, accounting for $5.34 billion in sales annually, according to a study released Wednesday by American Express. Star-Advertiser.

Oskar Garcia, a versatile reporter for The Associated Press in Las Vegas and leader in the company's use of social media as a reporting tool, has been named news editor for Hawaii and the Pacific Rim. Associated Press.

Oahu

The City Council grilled members of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit Wednesday on points ranging from spending federal dollars for coloring books to the wisdom of approving preliminarily the sale of bonds they may reject later. Star-Advertiser.

Two Honolulu media entrepreneurs have formed separate independent political committees aimed at helping Ben Cayetano win the Honolulu mayor's race. Civil Beat.

A bill designed to allow lunch trucks more time to sell food along city streets is poised for a final vote after the City Council Wednesday voted unanimously to give Bill 59 the second of three necessary approvals. Star-Advertiser.

United Steelworkers union members at Tesoro Corp’s Hawaii refinery in Kapolei have ratified a new contract. Pacific Business News.

It might be cheaper to rent a home rather than buy in Honolulu, according to Trulia’s Winter 2012 Rent vs. Buy Index. Pacific Business News.

The controversy over a new study analyzing the best site to build new apartments for university professors spilled over into a legislative hearing Wednesday. KITV4.

Several business owners in Kakaako have sent a letter to the city asking that they put an end to a "he said - she said" situation over a stretch of land on Queen street. KHON2.

City should provide cost breakdown of Occupy Honolulu raids. Hawaii Independent.

Hawaii

The Hilo car dealership that had already set aside five electric hybrid vehicles in Mayor Billy Kenoi’s preferred color was the sole bidder on a $234,536 sealed bid solicitation opened earlier this week. West Hawaii Today.

Innovations Public Charter School plans to begin the next school year with eight more classrooms, a soccer field, a covered basketball court and two new grade levels with a $2.9 million federal government loan for expansion. West Hawaii Today.

A West Hawaii councilwoman’s attempt to stop an executive session failed Wednesday. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

The County of Maui plans to covert trash into energy and lighten its carbon footprint by developing a Waste Conversion Plant in Pu’unene. Maui Now.

A spot on the edge of Haleakala National Park overlooking Hana at about 5,400 feet elevation may be the wettest place in Hawaii and among the spots with the most rainfall in the world, said a University of Hawaii climatologist. Maui News.

Maui County officials are scheduled to start Tuesday to rebuild an eroded dirt road that has virtually stranded some 40 residents in a remote, rural area of East Maui. Star-Advertiser.

Kauai

County officials are asking residents to submit their ideas about the future of Kaua‘i’s public parks. Garden Island.

The Kaua‘i County Council on a 5-2 vote Wednesday approved a request from the county’s Office of the Prosecuting Attorney to spend county funds to hire a law office assistant position, but not without delays caused by an ongoing legal feud. Garden Island.

Molokai

Two Molokai natives have achieved one of the highest ranks in the Fire Department. Molokai Dispatch.

Federal funding is available for organic farmers, and now is your chance to benefit from this program. Molokai Dispatch.




Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Kinder, gentler TSA? Van Jones rallies state Capitol, Abercrombie names ag appointees, civil unions law tweaked, rare dengue-carrying mosquito prompts Health Department warning, bacteria high in Kauai waters, skink vanishes from Hawaii, Maui Charter Commission gives nod to Native Hawaiians, Hawaii council mulls paying for recyclables, more news from all the islands

TSA screening photo, courtesy conspiracyplanet.com


After a series of abuses by TSA officials across the country, Hawaii senators on the Transportation and Public Safety/Military Affairs committees unanimously passed a "Travelers Bill of Rights" on Monday. Star-Advertiser.

Van Jones, President Barack Obama’s former green jobs adviser who heads the “Rebuild the Dream” organization, keynoted a rally and a “mass action event” at the Hawaii State Capitol Tuesday night to promote “economic fairness” and “economic justice.” Hawaii Reporter.

The Biker for Christ was among the last to testify, but what he had to tell two Senate committees Tuesday was among the most memorable testimony submitted on House Bill 2569 — a civil unions bill. Civil Beat.

State senators are supporting a bill that would allow Hawaii high school graduates without legal immigration status to get resident tuition at the University of Hawaii and be eligible for state-funded financial aid. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii is considering the creation of a "clean economy bank." And it’s attracted the attention of Obama’s former green energy czar. Civil Beat.

The state House Judiciary Committee approved a bill today that sets aside money to settle claims against the state with the addition of more than $5.6 million in recent settlements. Star-Advertiser.

honeybee
Two bills are advancing in the Legislature this session to protect honey bees in Hawai’i.   These winged insects are a major economic driver in the state. Hawaii Public Radio.

Big Island state Rep. Bob Herkes, D-Puna, Ka‘u, Kona, is working to temper legislation that was enacted last spring to curtail the high rate of home foreclosures in Hawaii. Tribune-Herald.

The years-long controversy over whether or not to shut down a major research center at the University of Hawaii at Manoa has led faculty members to draw up a damning resolution condemning the center's interim director, who they've repeatedly asked to resign. Civil Beat.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has announced five appointments to fill seats on the Board of Agriculture and the Agribusiness Development Corporation. Associated Press.

Hawaii Websites Promote Extreme Hiking. KITV4.

For many of the 3,500 Schofield Barracks soldiers now returning from Af­ghani­stan, a decade of war in two countries finally may be over. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii hoteliers had the home-court advantage this week as they competed with other destinations for millions of dollars' worth of high-stakes deals at a gathering of meeting planners in Honolulu. Star-Advertiser.

blue-tailed skin
The native-to-Hawaii copper striped blue- tailed skink, Emoia impar, is the latest vertebrate species to be declared extinct in the Hawaiian Islands, Robert Fisher, a biologist and research scientist for the U.S. Geological Survey’s Western Ecological Research Center in California, said Tuesday. West Hawaii Today.

Scientists are baffled about why the copper-striped blue-tailed skink has become extinct from the Hawaiian Islands — and might have been gone for decades without much ado. Star-Advertiser.

The U.S. Department of Commerce has imposed rather modest import tariffs on Chinese-made solar modules as part of its preliminary determination into unfair pricing from the Chinese. Pacific Business News.

Oahu
After more than 30 years, the city of Honolulu is finally moving to fulfill a constitutional mandate to protect Oahu’s important agricultural lands. Civil Beat.

About 500 traffic-related citations were issued to motorists during a five-hour period along the Leeward Coast by Honolulu Police Department solo bike officers today. Star-Advertiser.

Cayetano's Transit Plan Mirrors Harris' in 2000. Civil Beat.

A rare mosquito has been found on Oahu for the first time in more than 60 years. Now the state is reminding people to get rid of standing water on their property. Hawaii News Now.

Tsunami debris contingency plan to be voted on by Honolulu City Council. Hawaii News Now.

The Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of State and Church is demanding the Hawaii Public Housing Authority evict a church from a state owned building at a low income housing complex in Kalihi. Hawaii News Now.

Nuuanu Hillside Development Draws Fire From Neighbors. KITV4.

It's a dangerous stretch of road in Kapolei. That's how some West Oahu residents, including Honolulu City Councilman Tom Berg, are describing a part of Kapolei Parkway. KHON2.

Hawaii

A measure to encourage island residents to recycle more cardboard, glass, plastic and metal was postponed Tuesday afternoon after gaining some favorable testimony. West Hawaii Today.

When it comes to the future of Medicare and Social Security, Kona resident Nancy Callahan fears more benefits will be slashed, and more funding will be needed to keep what few benefits remain. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

The Charter Commission supported a last-minute proposal Monday that would verbally acknowledge the importance of Native Hawaiians to the community. Maui News.

Maui Mayor Arakawa will unveil his proposed budget for the 2013 Fiscal Year this Friday, March 23, during a presentation in the Council Chambers. Maui Now.

County officials hope to know by midweek the extent of the damage and the scope of repair work required for the Hanawana Bridge in Kailua that collapsed during heavy rains earlier this month, cutting off vehicular transportation for about 40 residents. Maui News.

Kauai

While waters from open ocean surf breaks are flushing out clean in the wake of storms and flooding earlier this month on Kaua‘i, Surfrider Foundation volunteers found high bacteria counts in some streams and nearby coastal areas. Garden Island.

It’s a dirty business, but in the aftermath of heavy rains earlier this month, trucks full of untreated sewage were kept busy in some Kaua‘i neighborhoods. Garden Island.

Kauai Island Utility Cooperative will "indefinitely defer" the installation of smart meters for any ratepayers who object to the devices, company officials announced after a federal lawsuit was filed by a KIUC member attempting to block the project. Star-Advertiser.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Lingle's U.S. Senate campaign boosted by U.S. Chamber, Hawaii pays $117M in secret movie, TV incentives, teachers inch toward contract, $15M settlement in Kauai hiker death, Hawaii Marines going down under, pregnant Kona protest over midwife program, Kauai farmer sues over smart meters, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

GOP Senate candidate Linda Lingle, courtesy photo
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent $249,800 for production and media placement for television advertisements in Hawaii in February highlighting former Gov. Linda Lingle's stance on tourism. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii taxpayers have paid out nearly $117 million worth of tax credits over the past five years to movie and television studios as an incentive for filming in the islands. But, exactly who cashed in on these lucrative credits — and how much they got — is secret. Civil Beat.

The state has agreed to a settlement payout of $15 million in the death of a California hiker at Kauai's Opae­kaa Falls in 2006, the largest payment for a death in a court case in Hawaii, according to the lawyer for the victim's family. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Monday blasted the latest contract proposal by the union representing Hawaii public school teachers as “fiscally irresponsible” and urged educators to accept a settlement offer submitted by the administration. The Hawaii State Teachers Association responded that it wants to return to negotiations. Associated Press.

In the latest development in a months-long labor dispute, the teachers union has responded to a settlement offer from the governor with a request for contract talks to resume. Star-Advertiser.

Yielding to criticism from consumer groups and retirees, two state House panels voted Monday to ban health insurance companies from directly shaping Hawaii’s version of the federally-mandated program meant to provide health coverage to all residents of the Islands. Hawaii Reporter.

The Hawaii Health Insurance Exchange Board should not include members who represent health insurance providers, consumer advocates said Monday. Associated Press.

The 2010 primary election ended 16 months ago, but state House Rep. Karen Awana has still not filed three candidate reports for that election cycle with the state Campaign Spending Commission. Civil Beat.

Up to 200 Marines from Hawaii will be the first to deploy to Australia in a landmark move that signals a shift in America's focus on the Asia-Pacific region. Hawaii News Now.

Applicants are invited to apply for the trustee position at Kamehameha Schools to replace Chairman J. Douglas Ing, who ends his term in June 2012. KITV4.

Honolulu

Recruitment continues to be a challenge for the Hono­lulu Police Department. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro says he hasn't seen any evidence that Hawaii has a widespread sex trafficking problem. Civil Beat.

After decades of delays, Honolulu's new water chief intends to lease out the city's prime Beretania Street property to developers to generate revenue and keep rates down. Civil Beat.

The launch of the 122-kilowatt, direct-current system at Aiea High School will be followed by installations of solar power systems at three more public schools on Oahu and all 15 public schools on Kauai. Star-Advertiser.

Ai’ea High School became Hawai’i’s first public school to have solar electric panels installed on one of its buildings. Hawaii Public Radio.

The state Department of Health is urging tests for about 215 Kapiolani Community College and Hawaii Pacific University students and faculty who might have been exposed to a student who contracted in early February an active infectious tuberculosis, a potentially fatal but curable airborne disease. Star-Advertiser.

As Oahu's emergency rooms fill to the brink, more civilian patients are being taken to Tripler Army Medical Center. Hawaii News Now.

There's a proposal before the Honolulu City Council to limit the commercial activities at Kailua and Kalama Beach Parks by issuing two permits per park. KHON2.

With gas prices topping $4.30 a gallon, electric-vehicle makers and car-charging station operators are trying to entice people into checking out automobiles such as the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt and other cars that require zero or little gas. Pacific Business News.
 

Hawaii

North Hawaii Community Hospital’s efforts to trim maternal health costs brought midwifery supporters to the hospital Monday afternoon. West Hawaii Today.

Can a buyer of your property sue you because the buyers say they were unaware the area is home to drug dealers, prostitutes and coqui frogs? No, says the state appeals court, in upholding a verdict against a Hilo real estate company. Tribune-Herald.

Lava from Kilauea’s Puu Oo vent is inching toward the ocean from the coastal plain, where flows are within a mile of entering the water. Star-Advertiser.

Governor Neil Abercrombie will be the featured speaker at the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce annual focus luncheon on Thursday, March 29 at Keauhou Beach Resort. KPUA.

Maui

Heavy rains in East Maui earlier this month undermined the Hanawana Bridge, cutting off transit for an estimated 40 residents since March 9. Maui Now.

Maui homeowners and photovoltaic system installers are expressing frustration at requirements that they pay for expensive "interconnection studies" before installing solar panels, with no guarantee that their project will be approved after the study is complete. Maui News.

Hawaii construction is the subject of  the Economic Research Organization at the University of Hawaii (UHERO) report released today. UHERO sees the industry edging toward recovery, but makes a clear distinction between Oahu, where the outlook is more favorable, and the neighbor islands, especially Maui, where conditions have yet to turn around. Maui Now.

Kauai

A complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Honolulu by a Kaua‘i taro farmer seeks to stop the Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative’s smart meter rollout. Garden Island.

A soft tissue infection more commonly known as flesh-eating bacteria has now been diagnosed in three unrelated cases on Kaua‘i. Garden Island.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Hirono opens Honolulu campaign headquarters, Van Jones visiting Hawaii, Big Island senate races fill up, DHHL director Nahalea, Hokoluia CEO De Fries stepping down, geothermal coming to Maui, Molokai opposition nixes film plans, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

U.S. Senate candidate Mazie Hirono, courtesy photo
Congresswoman and U.S. Democratic Senate candidate Mazie Hirono opened her new campaign headquarters Saturday. Hawaii News Now.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will take nine Hawaii delegates and rival Rick Santorum five, according to the official results of Hawaii's GOP caucus, released Saturday evening. Star-Advertiser.

For years Hawaii state lawmakers have enjoyed lavish spreads at receptions hosted by groups with business before the legislature. No harm, no foul, right? Wrong. Civil Beat.

Hawaii may have good laws when it comes to government transparency and accountability. But there's a huge gap between what's written on paper and the daily reality here. Civil Beat.

A new survey indicates a sizable portion of public school teachers who voted against a proposed six-year contract that would have tied wages to performance did so because they did not feel they had enough information on the deal, not because they disagreed with its terms. Star-Advertiser.

Albert “Alapaki” Nahalea will step down from his post as director of the Hawaii Department of Hawaiian Home Lands on May 15. Pacific Business News.

Scientists at the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in Hawaii last year identified 69 service members missing from past wars, but they continue to try to unravel a Civil War mystery that's nearly 150 years old. Star-Advertiser.

Van Jones, the internationally acclaimed political organizer and thinker, is in Hawaii this week to kick-off the “Rebuild the Dream” campaign. Hawaii Independent.

Seniors are invited to the state Capitol April 21 to celebrate Kupuna Power. Associated Press.

State Roundup for March 18. Associated Press.

Oahu

At least eight shots were fired at Ben Cayetano mayoral campaign signs posted at Cycle City, just across the street from his campaign headquarters off Nimitz Highway. Hawaii Reporter.

Honolulu police are investigating a shooting at a business near the airport where a mayoral candidate's signs were posted. KITV4.

Eight members of the city's Landfill Site Selection Committee agreed Friday to add federal lands to a list of possible locations for Oahu's next municipal landfill. KITV4.

Hawaii

Donald Ikeda. Lorraine Inouye. Kelly Greenwell. Bob Herkes. Gary Safarik. Josh Green. There are a lot of familiar names interested in taking that step up, or resuming that seat, in the state Senate this year. West Hawaii Today.

The following people have pulled nomination papers as of last Thursday for their respective Hawaii County Council seat. Tribune-Herald.

After 11 years as the public face of one of West Hawaii’s most litigated developments, John De Fries is headed back to private practice. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

A company planning to develop a geothermal energy project on the southwestern slope of Haleakala said it hopes to begin drilling exploratory wells as early as next year to determine whether there are sufficient geothermal resources at the site. Star-Advertiser.

Renewable energy will be a big part of Maui Electric Co.'s future, with plenty of room for serious investors and partners, said outgoing President Ed Reinhardt. Maui News.

Maui homeowners and photovoltaic system installers are expressing frustration at requirements that they pay for expensive "interconnection studies" before installing solar panels, with no guarantee that their project will be approved after the study is complete. Maui News.

Former legislator Joe Bertram III will return to politics as a contender for the 11th House District seat he held for two terms. Maui News.

Construction Recovery “Fails to Materialize” Maui Now.

The state Department of Agriculture is sponsoring a public meeting on bees this week on Maui. Associated Press.

Kauai

The high cost of electricity is draining energy from the local economy. The problem is especially acute for Kaua‘i business owners, some of whom pay upward of $20,000 per month for electricity. Garden Island.

Continued conversion to renewable energy to offset oil costs was the focus of the KIUC quarterly update. Garden Island.

Molokai

This week, filmmakers planned to shoot a pilot episode for TNT called “Drop Zone” in Molokai’s remote north shore valley of Wailau. But those plans were nixed after a meeting with local residents last week, who expressed concerns about lack of protocol in holding a community discussion of the project, and “commercialization” of the valley many consider sacred. Molokai Dispatch.

Lanai

Lana`i island has the lowest unemployment rate in Hawai’i at 3.9%. That’s a result of having only one major employer, Castle and Cooke, which owns 98% of the island. Hawaii Public Radio.