Monday, March 25, 2013

Hawaii, teachers union reach deal; University of Hawaii spends millions on PR; Kona courthouse funding slashed; Honolulu public housing residents asked to work 8 hours/month; Kauai coral in peril; more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

contract deal reached
HSTA and Abercrombie announce new contract, courtesy photo
The state and the Hawaii State Teachers Association have reached a tentative agreement on a new four-year pact that provides for pay increases, restoration of previous medical coverage premium percentages, and HSTA input on teaching evaluation policies. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii teachers will receive pay raises and better healthcare benefits under a new four-year contract that the state and union tentatively agreed to this weekend. Civil Beat.

After more than two years of negotiations, the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) has reached an agreement with the state Department of Education over a new employment contract. Hawaii News Now.

It's been more than two years since the Hawaii teachers union and the state started negotiating a new contract. And Sunday night HSTA and the governor announced they've come to a tentative agreement. KHON2.

State House leaders are interested in providing income tax relief — an idea that has not had currency at the Legislature since the state was flush with a record budget surplus. Star-Advertiser.

Despite the Hawaii Legislature’s failure to take up marriage equality legislation this session, gay rights groups say they hope that discussion scheduled today on two resolutions will yield progress on an issue whose time has come. Tribune-Herald.

The GMO debate comes as Gov. Neil Abercrombie and the Legislature are pushing the state toward greater food self-sustainability. Measures still alive in the 2013 session include ones that would create a "food resiliency" initiative under the state Department of Agriculture, increase feed subsidies to grow livestock production, improve irrigation systems and expand a DOA loan program for infrastructure improvements, new farming techniques and bio-security projects. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii Senate Ways and Means Committee plans to hear a slew of proposals this week, including a much-debated one to raise state revenue by developing school lands. Associated Press.

Amid surging tuition rates, a shrinking state budget and a failed concert fiasco that raised concerns over the institution’s internal structure, the University of Hawaii this past year spent roughly $4 million of its $1.4 billion operating budget on public relations, marketing and outreach, according to a Civil Beat review of records provided by the university. Civil Beat.

MRC Greenwood has traveled for nearly one year out of her four-year tenure as University of Hawaii President, according to records obtained from the University administration. Hawaii Reporter.

Video news reports produced by University of Hawaii communications staff are popping up in hundreds of Hawaii newscasts, raising questions about the integrity of local journalism and whether broadcast stations are delivering fair, independently reported coverage. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s preschool proposal will likely be getting a boost from the state Senate Ways and Means Committee. Associated Press.

Lawmakers have downgraded some of this year's unsuccessful education bills to resolutions encouraging public school officials to instead study or consider certain initiatives rather than make them with new laws. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Friday that he has released more than $26.2 million for construction projects to improve public schools around the state. Pacific Business News.

Hawaiian Airlines has signed a definitive agreement with Airbus to acquire 16 to 25 new A321neo jets, with the first deliveries in 2017. Hawaii News Now.

State roundup for March 25. Associated Press.

Oahu

On Oahu many of the degraded streets and highways giving drivers headaches today stem from budget decisions made years earlier, where public officials opted to kick routine street maintenance down the road in favor of other priorities. Star-Advertiser.

A June 2005 audit of the city's road maintenance practices that was released shortly after Mufi Hannemann became mayor, shows the crisis over Honolulu's roads is nothing new. Star-Advertiser.

Keep your eyes on the ground when you're walking through Chinatown. Potholes on the sidewalk are upsetting local store owners. KITV4.

Unemployed folks living in federal housing are being asked to do community service or move out. It's a federal requirement that's been in affect for more than a decade, but there's a new push to enforce it here in Hawaii. KHON2.

A nonprofit is encouraging the city to reopen access roads to the Haiku Stairs, also known as the Stairway to Heaven, and implement a management program similar to the one at Hanauma Bay. Star-Advertiser.

A federal judge plans to hear more evidence on whether a defense contractor accused of giving military secrets to his Chinese girlfriend should stay in custody while awaiting trial. Associated Press.

An estimated 800 people rallied outside the downtown post office Sunday afternoon to protest Postmaster General Patrick Dona­hoe's plans to end Saturday mail delivery. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

The $90 million in funding sought for the long-promised Kona Judiciary Complex — previously deemed a high priority — has been slashed in half. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii County is about ready to make the final step to energy-efficient street lights. Next month, the Department of Public Works’ Traffic Division will bring a proposal before the County Council’s Finance Committee to replace the fairly dim low-pressure sodium lights with brighter light-emitting diode, or LED, versions. Tribune-Herald.

State lawmakers are halfway through this year’s legislative session, more than 300 bills were sent from one chamber to the other for further consideration, and there’s still much more work to be done, Rep. Cindy Evans told West Hawaii residents Sunday. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Maui County Council Member Riki Hokama spoke with dozens of key U.S. House and Senate committee members as well as met other national leaders to address county issues during the National Association of Counties' 2013 Legislative Conference held the first week of March in Washington, D.C. Maui News.

The blessing of a new, donated state fisheries enforcement boat, Kai'aiki, on Saturday and the launch of a pilot nearshore waters enforcement unit are both steps toward protecting ocean resources, said longtime fisherman Darrell Tanaka. Maui News.

Marching for health of kids, land, ocean. Maui News.

Island Air will re-launch service to Kahului and Lanai starting April 15, just prior to ending its Kapalua service May 31. Maui Now.

Kauai

The temporary solution for unforeseen roadblocks for Kekaha Landfill’s lateral expansion will be much cheaper than the original option, but will also turn the landfill into a 120-foot beachfront structure on the Westside. Garden Island.

Jan TenBruggencate, Carol Bain and Allan Smith were re-elected to the Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative Board of Directors Saturday afternoon. Garden Island.

A rapidly spreading coral disease discovered more than a year ago on Kaua‘i’s North Shore has now been documented at more than 60 locations around the island, according to Hanalei biologist Terry Lilley. Garden Island.