Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Hawaii teachers vote today on contract, Democrats to sue to close primaries, DOE debates buses, Caldwell declines raise until union contracts inked, state ranks high on solar power, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

HSTA courtesy photo
Hawaii teachers' rally, HSTA courtesy photo
Hawaii's public school teachers will be voting today on a tentative agreement reached with the state. Associated Press.

Hawaii Democrats intend to file a lawsuit challenging the state's open primary system, arguing that the process undermines the party's ability to select nominees for political office. Star-Advertiser.

Legislators are aiming to expand the state's partial public financing law this session by providing a means for House of Representative candidates to run completely taxpayer-funded campaigns. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz raised more than $1 million in the past three months but nearly $300,000 of that won't do him any good in the primary, campaign finance records released Tuesday show. Civil Beat.

House Bill 642 — “successive owner” legislation — would force people purchasing a business to retain all employees. Hawaii Reporter.

After months of waiting, the Hawaii State Board of Education at its Tuesday meeting finally got an update from the education department on how it's moving forward with plans to clean up its student transportation system and rein in the costs of what had become a $75 million operation. Civil Beat.

It was a February to love for Hawaii hoteliers, who saw their properties break several records. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority is forecasting visitor arrivals will hit 8.5 million and visitor spending will total $15.8 billion in 2013. To reach that lofty goal or even surpass it, the state agency is focusing on improving the distribution to the neighbor islands, said David Uchiyama, HTA vice president of brand management. West Hawaii Today.

Two years after a state report raised a host of organizational and systemic issues with the delivery of special-education services at Hawaii public schools, the Department of Education says it has a blueprint to revamp the program that serves 19,700 students with disabilities. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Food Map comprises information on 100 fruits, vegetables and spices grown by farms statewide. It also offers a listing of Hawaii farms. Star-Advertiser.

Braz Transfers Inc., a Massachusetts-based money-transfer company licensed in Hawaii since 2009, has surrendered its state money transmitter license and has stopped doing business in Hawaii, the Hawaii Division of Financial Institutions said Tuesday. Pacific Business News.

State roundup for April 17. Associated Press.

Oahu

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said he'll personally forgo a raise proposed by the city Salary Commission and will hold off on pay raises for his department heads until contracts are reached with union employees. Star-Advertiser.

A Queen's Health Systems administrator Tuesday made it clear to Ewa Beach lawmakers that the state's largest private hospital system will not be able to open emergency room operations before the scheduled opening of the new Queen's Medical Center West Oahu in spring 2014. Star-Advertiser.

The closure of a west Oahu hospital has led to longer ambulance transport times as remaining emergency rooms become overcrowded and ambulances have to take patients farther away. Associated Press.

The Honolulu City Administration is in the process of developing what it hopes will be a comprehensive plan to ease homelessness on O’ahu. Hawaii Public Radio.

Kahala landowner Genshiro Kawamoto has been released from a Tokyo jail after posting a bail of about $5 million. Hawaii News Now.

Former Honolulu Symphony pops conductor Matt Catingub is forming the state’s first independent pops orchestra. Associated Press.

Hawaii
A debate over whether the County Council or the administration should have final say on planned unit developments will be taken up again in July, after the council Planning Committee on Tuesday postponed a bill by former Kohala Councilman Pete Hoffmann and an alternative posed by the current planning director. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii Electric Light Co. ranked 12th highest in the country for the number of watts of electrical power provided by solar electricity, a solar industry group said Tuesday. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii Electric Light Co. has begun installing new meters that transmit readings via radio transmission. The new meters aren’t exactly “smart,” but they’re more intelligent than the electromechanical meters that now measure electricity used in most Hawaii Island homes. Tribune-Herald.

While Friday’s approval by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources marked an enormous milestone in the effort to build the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea, many additional hurdles must be cleared before the $1.3 billion facility can become a reality. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

The mayor won't be the only one getting a raise. On Friday, the Maui County Salary Commission voted to increase the salaries of County Council members, Fire and Liquor Control department heads and the new county auditor. Maui News.

The budget for the staff and operation of the Mayor's Office is proposed to rise 15 percent next fiscal year - including two new administrative assistant positions - according to presentations made before the County Council's Budget and Finance Committee on Monday. Maui News.

Kauai

Kauai Police Chief Darryl Perry wants a clean department. But like the other police chiefs in the state he’s bound by a political and legal system that often allows officer misconduct to go unchecked and remain hidden from public view. Civil Beat.

The County Auditor’s Office is proposing an operational budget for fiscal year 2014, which starts July 1, lower than their budget for the current fiscal year. But County Auditor Ernesto Pasion would like to restore a position left vacant by internal auditor Ron Rawls’ departure. Garden Island.

To the surprise of Kaua‘i County Council members, the Kaua‘i Humane Society did not present a detailed budget for Fiscal Year 2014, which starts July 1, during its scheduled budget hearing Thursday. Garden Island.

A series of blog posts alleging several illegal transient vacation rentals have been granted permits by the county Planning Department caught the attention of Kaua‘i County Council members, who slammed Planning Director Michael Dahilig Tuesday for not keeping up with enforcement of zoning laws. Garden Island.

The Washington D.C.-based nonprofit Solar Electric Power Association on Tuesday ranked the Garden Isle’s Kauai Island Utility Cooperative as second in the nation for integrating and delivering solar energy to its customers. Pacific Business News.

According to a report issued today by Kaua'i Film Commissioner Art Umezu, the first three months of 2013 brought a flurry of film activities to the Garden Isle. Hawaii Reporter.