Thursday, March 21, 2013

Schatz bill would expand national parks, priest admits molesting boys, Steven Tyler bill stalls in House, Hanabusa mulls governership, Senate, Honolulu council kills mayor's gas tax hike, Pro Bowl returns, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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The Ka‘u coast and areas on other Hawaii islands would be candidates for an expanded National Park System under a bill announced Wednesday by U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii. West Hawaii Today.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz introduced a bill Wednesday that seeks to expand Hawaii's national parks while preserving the state's special places and bringing in more tourism dollars. Associated Press.

In the scheme of things, a bill proposing to direct a study of creating more national parks in Hawaii, may not seem like the most monumental of issues. But in addition to it being an “exciting moment” for Hawaii’s economy and environment, as Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz described the measure on Tuesday, it was the latest sign that Schatz, a mere year and a half from a special election to keep his seat, is placing an emphasis on environmental issues. Civil Beat.

Legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Brian Schatz on Wednesday could lead to the creation of new national parks on three islands in Hawaii. Pacific Business News.

Passed over in December for an appointment to the state’s vacant Senate seat by Gov. Neil Abercrombie in favor of now-Sen. Brian Schatz, Democratic Rep. Colleen Hanabusa is deciding whether to challenge one of them in a primary next year. Civil Beat.

The future is looking bleak for a celebrity privacy bill in Hawaii known as the Steven Tyler Act. Associated Press.

Hawaii senators took action this week to advance bills that boost campaign spending transparency and improve voter turnout. But the biggest surprise came when they cut themselves out of plan to create a public funding program for legislative candidates starting in 2016. Civil Beat.

Proponents of solar energy rallied at the state Capitol Wednesday to show their support for a renewable energy tax credit program that lawmakers are proposing to scale back. Star-Advertiser.

A Hawaii Senate bill to establish a Private-Public Partnership Authority is making leaps through the state House. Associated Press.

Two Senate committees have approved a bill to prohibit employers from requiring employees or job applicants to provide access to personal social media accounts. Associated Press.

Hawaii is the only state without a single entity to oversee police officer training and performance standards, raising questions about the qualifications of Hawaii’s law enforcement officers. Civil Beat.

Cash-based businesses could be facing more pressure from Hawaii tax collectors. Tribune-Herald.

Popular travel sites are appealing a Hawaii court decision to fine them $70 million for unpaid taxes. Associated Press.

An Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee has filed a formal ethics complaint against a fellow trustee over what she says are shady dealings in a $21 million property purchase. Civil Beat.

The National Weather Service says a storm in the North Pacific has generated a large west-northwest swell that is on Thursday afternoon and will continue to through the evening. Hawaii News Now.


Oahu

A priest who taught at Damien Memorial School in the early 1980s admitted in a sworn statement last year that he engaged in sexual conduct with teenagers and adolescents in Hawaii and other U.S. locations where he worked, but that he didn't consider his attraction to youth perverted or abnormal, according to portions of his videotaped deposition played Wednesday at a news conference here. Star-Advertiser.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell's plan to increase the city's share of the per-gallon fuel tax by a nickel was shot down by a 6-3 vote by the Ho­no­lulu City Council on Wednesday despite a direct, last-minute plea by the mayor to keep the measure alive. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu City Council today voted down a proposal by the Mayor to fund road repairs and public transportation by increasing the tax on gasoline. Hawaii Public Radio.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell's ambitious road repaving plan hit a big bump today.  The plan that would've increased the gas tax by five cents a gallon failed to even make it past the first vote in the City Council. Hawaii News Now.

Smoking at Kapiolani Park, Kuhio Beach Park, Duke Kahanamoku Beach Park, Sandy Beach Park and the beach side of Ala Moana Regional Park will likely soon be a thing of the past, under a bill approved 8-1 by the City Council on Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu City Council voted Wednesday to ban smoking at some beaches on Oahu, including Waikiki and Sandy Beach in Hawaii Kai. Pacific Business News.

An overnight camp-out on the Honolulu Hale lawn by (de)Occupy Honolulu supporters failed to dissuade the Honolulu City Council from advancing a bill on Wednesday making it tougher for people to stay on city sidewalks for long periods of time. Star-Advertiser.

A civilian defense contractor accused of giving his Chinese girlfriend military secrets worked on developing military plans to deter potential U.S. enemies when the two began their romance, according to his online professional profile and court documents. Associated Press.

Our aging Honolulu airport is set to get a major multi-million dollar makeover. KHON2.

Federal employees rallied in downtown Honolulu Wednesday to protest across-the-board budget cuts, known as sequestration. KITV4.

The National Football League said Wednesday the Pro Bowl will returning to Hawaii in 2014. Pacific Business News.

A gas spill brought hazardous material crews to Kewalo Basin, and a billionaire has to foot the bill for the cleanup. It is not often a pair of yachts belonging to billionaires are docked in the islands, but at Kewalo Basin, Larry Ellison's Rising Sun is just across the water from Google co-founder Larry Page's mega-ship Senses. KITV4.

Hawaii


The Department of Environmental Management’s wastewater division is facing more than $11 million in repairs to its aging infrastructure and may need to consider a rate hike, Acting Director Dora Beck told Environmental Management Commission members Wednesday. West Hawaii Today.

The Public Utilities Commission has accepted a settlement between Hawaiian Electric Company and the State Division of Consumer Advocacy, resulting in HELCO canceling its request for a rate increase on the Big Island. Big Island Now.

A large fish kill reported Tuesday at the Waiopae tide pools in Kapoho may have had a human cause, according to senior health officials. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has nominated Eugene Bal III, the executive director of the Maui High Performance Computing Center, to serve in one of two Maui County seats on the University of Hawaii Board of Regents. Maui News.

A self-described "turtle team" captured a turtle at sea - with the guidance of state officials - and removed a large fishing hook from the animal's fin off Poolenalena Beach in Makena on Thursday. Maui News.

Kauai

The State Supreme Court of Hawai‘i will hear arguments today on a two-year-old case involving the destruction of historic sites along the Hapa Trail access in Koloa. Garden Island.

The County of Kaua‘i and the state Department of Agriculture released a report Wednesday on environmental health issues in Waimea. Garden Island.

A federal judge acquitted retired car dealer James Pflueger Wednesday of tax fraud and related conspiracy charges related to a failure to report certain income on his tax returns. Star-Advertiser.

“Happiness.” That is what retired auto dealer Jimmy Pflueger told reporters he felt as he left the U.S.District Court House today, just after U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi found him “not guilty” on four federal tax fraud charges. Hawaii Reporter.