Thursday, May 16, 2013

Audit slams Honolulu International Airport contracts, Abercrombie mulls bills to sign/veto, Hawaii County elections face audit, Oahu Democrats craft platform, Molokai loses electricty, Sears to leave Kauai, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii Department of Transportation
Honolulu International Airport courtesy Hawaii DOT
Hawaii’s state auditor says Transportation Department officials improperly shifted buying power to a contractor managing a $1.7 billion renovation of the Honolulu airport as part of a pattern of repeat violations. Associated Press.

The state auditor released a scathing report Wednesday slamming the Department of Transportation's Airports Division for a "pattern of recurring violations and questionable practices" as it moved forward on a 12-year, $1.7 billion overhaul of Honolulu Airport. Star-Advertiser.

More than half a million dollars in office renovations. That’s just one example of questionable spending for the state’s billion dollar airport improvement project. KHON2.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie wants the public’s input on what bills he should sign into law or veto. The Legislature passed 293 bills this past session, which ended May 2. Those measures are now on the governor’s desk and he has until June 24 to let lawmakers know which one he plans to veto. His deadline to veto bills is July 9, according to the Hawaii Public Access Room. Civil Beat.

Nonprofit executives are applauding action by the state Legislature that could generate tens of millions of dollars for local charities. Pacific Business News.

Six weeks before Hawaii’s media shield law expires, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York says he plans to revive federal legislation that would protect journalists from being forced to disclose confidential sources and information. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii Medical Service Association said Wednesday that premiums have not kept up with rising health care costs, leaving the state's largest health insurer with a $3.6 million loss in the first quarter. Star-Advertiser.

A former civilian defense worker accused of passing national defense secrets to his Chinese girlfriend will have to wait a little longer for his release from custody pending trial. Star-Advertiser.

This Friday is Bike to Work Day in Hawaii. The annual event promotes bike safety and encourages more people to think about the possibility of commuting by bike. Hawaii Public Radio.

Oahu
Two years after the state began charging tourists $3 to park at the Pali Lookout, Hawaii News Now found many visitors aren't paying the fee because they don't know they're supposed to pay or they can't understand English when attendants ask them to pay.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell says the burden to pass a balanced budget has shifted to the City Council after his proposal to increase the county fuel tax by a nickel per gallon suffered a speedy defeat back in March. KITV4.

Admissions that the Internal Revenue Service improperly targeted tea party groups in Hawaii and 17 other states for scrutiny when they filed for tax-exempt status should be troubling to anyone, regardless of party affiliation, says one member of an isle tea party group that was among those singled out. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu Democrats, at the party's annual state convention last weekend, approved resolutions calling for the decriminalization of pot, the legalization of same-sex marriage, the raising of the minimum wage and the public financing of elections. Civil Beat.

Both city officials and (de)Occupy Honolulu members are hoping a U.S. district judge will make a ruling Friday on the protest group's encampment on the sidewalks near Thomas Square and the city's efforts to remove them. Star-Advertiser.

The number of recruiters attending the largest job fair in the state Wednesday was up sharply from a similar event just four months ago, illustrating the continued strengthening of the labor market in Hawaii. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

What started as an attempt by Hilo Councilman Dennis Onishi to find out how much overtime was paid during the 2012 election has blossomed into an audit by an outside firm comparing election expenditures for the last three election cycles. West Hawaii Today.

Queen Liliuokalani Trust officials want to protect and preserve threatened plant and animal species on their property, Vice President LeeAnn Crabbe said Wednesday. But the trust needs to find the balance between land preservation and serving Hawaiian children, Crabbe said after a public meeting on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal to designate nearly 19,000 acres as critical habitat for three endangered plant species endemic to Hawaii Island. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii County Council members urged the county’s lawyers not to file an appeal in a South Kona planning case, but Corporation Counsel has already lodged one request with the 3rd Circuit Court seeking clarification on its ruling. West Hawaii Today.


Maui
Maui County will demonstrate Thursday a "first of its kind in Hawaii" wireless remote controlled streetlighting system that can be dimmed late at night to save energy, the county announced last week. Maui News.

The county Department of Water Supply has completed a final environmental assessment and has issued a finding of no significant environmental impact for the reopening of two Hamakuapoko water wells. Maui News.

Tea Party Maui was among hundreds of groups targeted by the Internal Revenue Service for extra scrutiny when it applied for tax-exempt status in May 2010, said Bill Doyle, the group's president in 2012. Maui News.

A tea party group on Maui says it was among those targeted by the IRS for special scrutiny when it petitioned for tax-exempt status. Civil Beat.

Kauai

Kaua‘i legislators ended this year’s session with $51.9 million approved for capital improvement projects across the island. Garden Island.

Sears is bidding aloha to the Garden Isle, and putting more than 40 employees out of work. Garden Island.

Molokai

Power has been restored on Molokai after an islandwide outage Wednesday morning, Maui Electric Co. officials said. Maui News.

An island-wide power outage on Molokaʻi affected some 3,200 customers, according to officials at Maui Electric Company. Maui Now.

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) proposed increased protection for the Papohaku dune system. While the changes will not likely bring enforcement of stricter development rules, officials said they hope the protection would raise awareness of the dunes’ value. Molokai Dispatch.