Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Earmarks hit Honolulu Hale, state twice flubs Quest mailings, douple-dippers pull in the paychecks, Molokai students learn ukulele making, TMT opponents file last-ditch appeal, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Honolulu Hale (c) 2013 All Hawaii News
Millions of dollars in taxpayer funds are being funneled to nonprofits and other special interest groups with little public vetting or oversight through a series of earmarks placed in Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s budget by Honolulu City Council members. Civil Beat.

In a mistake that could prove costly for taxpayers, the state will be forced to send a third mailing to 250,000 Quest health insurance members next month because of problems with two earlier correspondences. Star-Advertiser.

The state Department of Human Services has postponed open enrollment for 250,000 low-income people in the QUEST medical coverage program for a second time, a move that will cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. Hawaii News Now.

Hundreds of people across Hawaii work in state and city government, while collecting a public-sector pension at the same time. It’s called “double-dipping” and it’s legal, but at what cost? KHON2.

A bill sitting on Gov. Neil Abercrombie's desk could increase competition for Hawaii pharmacies and make it easier for some residents to receive their medications. Associated Press.

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who may benefit from her ties to the late Sen. Daniel Inouye as she runs for his old seat against Sen. Brian Schatz, invoked Inouye’s name earlier today at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Advocates for Hawaiian sovereignty and other Native Hawaiian causes, the homeless and the (de)Occupy Hono­lulu movement dominated a community forum on the future of Thomas Square at the Hawaii Museum of Art on Monday night. Star-Advertiser.

The downtown park has been the central battleground in debates over free speech and homelessness for nearly two years after protesters set up camp as part of a movement that became known as (de)Occupy Honolulu. Civil Beat.

Mark Wong, who founded Hawaii-based Commercial Data Systems and was CEO for 26 years until selling the company last year, was named director of information technology for the City and County of Honolulu. Pacific Business News.

A Leilehua High teacher accused of distributing methamphetamine was the person designated by her school to turn in confiscated drugs to police, a federal prosecutor said in court Monday. Star-Advertiser.

Lengthy gun registration lines at the Honolulu Police Department on Beretania Street have City Councilman Ron Menor looking for a solution. Civil Beat.

HPD memorial salutes officers who died on duty. For their families, friends and fellow officers, the service is an emotional recollection. Star-Advertiser.

A former newswoman's arduous solo journey around Oahu proves a test for both body and mind. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Despite a tight economic year that could require tax hikes to pay for basic services, the Hawaii County Council’s budget includes an extra $900,000 so each council member can have $100,000 to spread around his or her district. West Hawaii Today.

Opponents of the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope to be built atop Mauna Kea filed a last-minute notice of appeal Monday afternoon with Hawaii’s Third Circuit Court. Tribune-Herald.

The former chief of the county’s Highways Division is suing the county and Public Works Director Warren Lee, alleging defamation of character. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii County previously turned down an opportunity to take over a Kailua-Kona affordable housing complex that is now likely to be transferred from a state agency to a private religious school, a county official said Monday. West Hawaii Today.

Big Island members of the state Legislature say the island will benefit from more than $292 million in capital improvement projects secured during the past legislative session. Big Island Now.

Maui

While occupancies at Maui hotels remained flat in the first quarter of the year and in March, money generated at island accommodations continued its upward climb, according to Hospitality Advisors figures released over the weekend. Maui News.

The Maui Visitor Industry Charity Walk held in Wailuku over the weekend raised $701,716, according to preliminary figures released by event organizers. Maui Now.

Kauai
Kaua‘i has now joined the rest of the island counties in placing the county code online. Garden Island.

A hiker missing for nearly two days with little food and water was found Monday morning off the Kaluapuhi Trail in Koke‘e. Garden Island.

Molokai

Nearly 75 third and fourth graders at Kaunakakai Elementary School took a break from regular classes last week for three days. But far from slacking off, they were engaged in the learning experience of a lifetime — building their own ukulele. Molokai Dispatch.

Award winning writer, storyteller, educator, Makia Malo, was diagnosed with Hansen’s disease at age 12, and exiled to Kalaupapa in 1947.  HPR’s Noe Tanigawa spoke with Malo about experiences included in his new memoir. Hawaii Public Radio.