Thursday, April 25, 2013

Temporary Hawaii hotel tax becomes permanent, minimum wage coming along, prison oversight lacking, Honolulu traffic second-worst, Maui judge charged with evidence tampering, Honolulu councilman wants congressional seat, sovereignty activists challenge DLNR, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Royal Hawaiian hotel (c) 2013 All Hawaii News
Lawmakers agreed Wednesday to make permanent a temporary increase in the hotel room tax rate that was set to expire in 2015. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii lawmakers are negotiating a minimum wage increase aimed at helping residents grapple with the high cost of living in the islands. Associated Press.

State lawmakers have agreed on a bill that would enable the state to conduct historic preservation reviews of construction projects in phases, rather than all at once, but the final vote on the legislation could be difficult. Star-Advertiser.

State officials still don’t do a good job providing oversight of for-profit, mainland prisons that hold about one-third of Hawaii’s inmate population, according to a recent report from the Auditor’s Office. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s plan for state-funded preschool is still in limbo despite a rapidly approaching deadline. Associated Press.

Waikiki community leaders and activists are speaking out against a legislative effort to allow the state to make money off school lands through public-private partnerships. Star-Advertiser.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee plans to back Hawaii U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz in his bid for re-election next year amid a primary challenge from U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, a spokesman said Tuesday. Associated Press.

A Hawaii congressional seat has opened for the third time in just three years, and any ambitious politician has to be thinking about running for it. Civil Beat.

Pledging to run a campaign that will touch all corners of urban Honolulu, City Councilman Stanley Chang on Wednesday became the first to declare his candidacy for the congressional seat expected to be vacated by U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. Star-Advertiser.

It's not even official – but that hasn't stopped at least one candidate from announcing a bid for U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa's Congressional Seat if she decides to challenge appointed Senator Brian Schatz. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Lawmakers’ $3 Billion List of Projects Available Online. Civil Beat.

Lawmakers vote to ban the parking boot. Hawaii News Now.

Common Cause Hawaii, the League of Women Voters, Hawaii's Thousand Friends and Americans for Democratic Action have dubbed these bills "Frankenstein" constructions and scores of supporters submitted a petition to the state House and Senate demanding that the Legislature reject seven gut-and-replace bills and 11 Frankenstein bills, and to ban any future use of either legislative practice. Civil Beat.

Honolulu-based ocean shipper Matson Inc. announced Wednesday it is reducing its fuel surcharge for its Hawaii service by 3.5 percentage points because of a change in bunker fuel prices.Pacific Business News.

Oahu
The good news: Honolulu no longer ranks as America's worst city for traffic congestion. The bad news: It's now the second-worst. Star-Advertiser.

The city stepped up pressure on members of (de)Occupy Honolulu on Wednesday, removing about six tents and other property from in front of the Blaisdell Center Concert Hall with just 15 minutes' warning. Star-Advertiser.

A plan to replace the city's existing fuel tax with a highway user fee got an initial approval from the City Council Budget Committee on Wednesday but could be facing a bumpy road ahead. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu City Council’s Budget Committee advanced a bill today to establish a fee for the use of County roads and highways. Hawaii Public Radio.

Chinatown leaders say the shortage of public bathrooms is a problem, and maybe even a deterrent for visitors. KITV4.

In 2003, Campbell High School — which sits in the heart of Ewa Beach — was the state’s 11th largest public school, enrolling roughly 1,850 students. In less than 10 years, however, enrollment has skyrocketed by more than 50 percent, accounting for some of the most pronounced student population growth in Hawaii. Civil Beat.

A Dean & DeLuca luxury food market where items include $1,000 tins of caviar and $35 cuts of filet mignon is to open its first store in Hawaii as part of the planned Ritz-Carlton Residences Waikiki Beach condominium-hotel where penthouses are priced at about $15 million. Star-Advertiser.

Volunteers and workers gathered in Waianae Wednesday to plant up to 20 very rare native Hawaiian nanu (Gardenia brighamii) plants that they cultivated from the last remaining nanu growing wild on Oahu. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

The state Judiciary is getting 90 percent less funding for the Kona Judiciary Complex than it asked for this Legislative session. West Hawaii Today.

One of the items that did not get funded – despite an intensive lobbying effort on its behalf – was a building for the University of Hawaii at Hilo pharmacy school, which currently operates out of temporary facilities. Big Island Now.

The presence of endangered Hawaiian stilts and coots is delaying a $12 million upgrade to the Kealakehe Wastewater Treatment Plant. West Hawaii Today.

The Big Island received a failing grade for particulate pollution in the air, according to an American Lung Association report card released Wednesday. Associated Press.

Sovereignty activists plan to return Saturday to the site of their “Kanaka Garden” in front of the King Kamehameha the Great statue in Hilo to continue their protest of the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom and what they view as an illegal occupation by the United States. Tribune-Herald.

Paauilo Elementary and Intermediate School Principal Brian Paul Simon has been placed on leave mere weeks before the end of the school year. The change in leadership at the school came six days after Simon was ordered to serve out a sentence on a DUI charge dating back to 2009. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

A Maui District Family Court judge has reportedly stepped down after being charged Tuesday with tampering with a government record. Star-Advertiser.

Second Circuit Family Court Judge Mimi DesJardins resigned Tuesday, the same day a complaint was filed in Wailuku District Court charging her with tampering with a government record, according to the state Judiciary. Maui News.

They take an oath of office, swearing to uphold the law. But one Maui judge is accused of breaking the law. KHON2.

Hawaii legislators charged with negotiating the state budget have agreed to a $23.8 billion biennium budget proposal - including $130 million for the Kihei high school. Maui News.

Full funding for a new Kīhei High School, in the amount of $130 million, is included in a draft version of the legislative budget that is now headed to the full House and Senate for final votes. Maui Now.

Kauai
The Kaua‘i Humane Society is asking for nearly $1 million in its new budget proposal. Garden Island.

Green mokihana berries intertwined with maile vines are the main components of Kaua‘i’s trademark lei. While neither of these endemic plants are endangered, thoughtless harvesting at accessible locations could affect available supplies for future generations, according to cultural practitioners. Garden Island.

The bench warrant for an off-island celebrity witness who missed a court hearing last week was lifted Wednesday in 5th Circuit Court. Randolph Trey Parker, co-creator of the animated television series “South Park,” missed an April 17 appearance as a prosecution witness in a 2009 case involving the burglary of his residence along with terroristic threats using firearms and weapons. Garden Island.

Kaua‘i’s people gave 1,100 pounds of food Saturday during the Hawai‘i Foodbank, Kaua‘i Branch 24th annual food drive. Garden Island.