Thursday, April 11, 2013

Honolulu rail gets federal boost, tax collections up 10.6%, ethics chief keeps job, bird poop bill advances, tax hikes in store for Hawaii County, more flights to Hawaii, Honolulu may ban smoking at all city parks, defamation lawsuit seeks to add online commenter, Ellison top-paid public CEO, Schatz builds Senate war chest, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

groundbreaking ceremony 2011
2011 Honolulu rapid transit groundbreaking, HART photo

Under President Barack Obama's budget proposal released Wednesday, Honolulu's future elevated rail system would get its full federal funding for 2014 — a move that local proponents say shows the project is in good health. Star-Advertiser.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard says she's concerned about cuts to missile defense as Hawaii and the rest of the country face direct and heightened threats from North Korea. Star-Advertiser.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz raised more than $1.1 million in the past three months for his election campaign next year, a warning flare to other Democrats who are thinking about challenging him in the primary. Star-Advertiser.

State tax collections are up 10.6 percent through the first nine months of the fiscal year, the state Department of Taxation announced Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii lawmakers met at the state capitol yesterday for several hours for the second “crossover” of the 60-day working session. They debated and voted on bills before the legislation passed third reading in their respective Houses. Hawaii Reporter.

The state Ethics Commission on Wednesday gave Leslie Kondo, its executive director, a vote of confidence after the commission’s former executive director asked that he be fired. Star-Advertiser.

Lawmakers this session are close to passing a bill that would make feral bird feeding a public health misdemeanor. Star-Advertiser.

House Finance Chair Sylvia Luke and Senate Ways and Means Chair David Ige have announced that the first conference committee meeting on the state budget will be held on Thursday, April 11, 9:30 a.m. in room 309 at the State Capitol. Hawaii Reporter.

An online tool that predicts where and when vog may move into your neighborhood is in jeopardy because of a lack of funding. KITV4.

Homeowners with cesspools and septic tanks may breathe freely now that lawmakers have killed a bill that would have required them to pay an annual fee for monitoring water quality. Maui News.

Wednesday was a busy day for Hawaii airline news, with announcements of a new international route to China, another route to the Philippines would end, and that Mainland carrier Virgin America would introduce service to Hawaii. Pacific Business News.

State 4/11. Associated Press.

Oahu

A state agency decided Wednesday to make $6 million in repairs to the historic but vacant Royal Brewery building in Kakaako and use it as a headquarters, after a lengthy and vigorous debate over whether the move makes good financial sense. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu Police Department refuses to release investigative details about an officer who was fired after sexually assaulting a Waikiki prostitute even though state law requires the information to be made public once a discharge is finalized. Civil Beat.

A new bill authored by City Councilman Ikaika Anderson would make smoking illegal at all city parks and beaches. Star-Advertiser.

The Slipper House, one of the few remaining original tenants at Ala Moana Center, will close at the end of May and the store's owner is going to great lengths to find jobs for his 19 employees. Hawaii News Now.

KITV takes a tour of new FBI building in Kapolei.

The population of Kalaeloa is envisioned to surge over the next two decades under a private developer's plan to add roughly 4,000 homes and 7,000 jobs to the West Oahu area that was once Barbers Point Naval Air Station. Star-Advertiser.

VIDEO: Shark surprises fishing kayaker in waters off Oahu. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii
Hawaii Island property owners could see a tax hike this year as the county struggles to meet rising costs with a budget diminished by a decrease in property values. West Hawaii Today.

The attorney for two Hawaii County employees suing former County Council Chairman Dominic Yagong and former Clerk Jamae Kawauchi is trying, again, to get information from an anonymous online commenter. West Hawaii Today.

A recent Hawaiian sovereignty protest at the Kamehameha the Great statue on Hilo’s Bayfront isn’t sitting well with some of the folks who worked to install the statue in 1997. Tribune-Herald.

The University of Hawaii’s Palamanui campus passed another hurdle late last week. West Hawaii Today.

A group that includes Big Island business and community leaders is asking the state House of Representatives to fund a permanent home for the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s pharmacy school. Big Island Now.

Hawaii Senate judiciary committee Chairman Clayton Hee has shot down two resolutions asking federal authorities to release Roger Christie from federal prison on bail. Associated Press.

Maui

Valley Island Welcomes Gov's Cabinet With Aloha. Civil Beat.

Ongoing milo tree thefts on Maui will prompt the temporary closure of parking at the area commonly referred to as “Baby Beach” in Spreckelsville, officials said. Maui Now.

Target Corp. has reached an agreement to build its fifth Hawaii store — and first on Maui — in a shopping center being built by a subsidiary of Safeway Inc. Pacific Business News.

Maui County is inviting bids from contractors to demolish and dispose of the Montana Beach house. May 1 is the deadline to submit bids. Maui News.

Kauai

The county Parks and Recreation Department presented Tuesday to the Kaua‘i County Council its plans for the upcoming fiscal year and operational budget, which is slightly smaller than its current budget. Garden Island.

Four monitors broadcasting an ocean safety video were dedicated Wednesday at the Lihu‘e Airport. Kaua‘i has seen 11 drownings this year, and community members hope the video will help spread water safety awareness. Garden Island.

Lanai

Larry Ellison, the billionaire majority owner of Lanai, was the top paid CEO of a public company in the United States in 2012 with total earnings of $96.2 million, a 24 percent increase from 2011, according to CNN Money. Pacific Business News.

More housing, a skateboard park, keeping the shorelines development-free and restoring an old bowling alley were some of the ideas that came out of a two-day Lanai community planning workshop on the Pine Isle last week, county officials said Tuesday. Maui News.