Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Group sues for Obama Hawaii vacation records, Oprah's Maui garden spotlighted, GMO ban heard in Hawaii County, $5M for rapid transit art, senator gives lobbyist his parking space, teachers withdraw complaint, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii troops
Obama with Hawaii troops, courtesy photo
Aloha, U.S. Secret Service - you've been served. About those vacations to Hawaii, we want to know how much they're costing taxpayers. Watchdog Group files lawsuit to obtain records detailing taxpayers’ cost for Obama Family’s Hawaiian vacation. Hawaii Reporter.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association has officially withdrawn its complaint with the Hawaii Labor Relations Board, but it didn’t go as smoothly as Gov. Neil Abercrombie would have liked. Civil Beat.

The Abercrombie administration’s push to modernize the state’s online services is showing results in two agencies that are keys to assuring accountability in government. Civil Beat.

The hottest item on the University of Hawaii Board of Regents’ agenda Thursday will be discussed behind closed doors. Planned talks about the university’s presidency are scheduled for executive session — the part of the meeting when members of the public are asked to leave the room. Civil Beat.

John Radcliffe, one of Hawaii's biggest lobbyists with 30 clients — including the American Chemistry Council, the Hawaii School Bus Association and Corrections Corporation of America — has an "in" that most members of the public don't: Sen. Josh Green lets Radcliffe park in his Senate-assigned stall. Civil Beat.

Two erroneous mailings to 250,000 Quest health insurance members will cost state taxpayers $176,254. Star-Advertiser.

The baggage fees paid to Hawaiian Airlines last year turned out to be the difference between a profit and loss for the state's largest carrier. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

Honolulu City officials, with $5 million to spend, formally launched a search Tuesday for artists to create original, Hawaiian-themed works for display along Honolulu's future rail transit line. Star-Advertiser.

Labor costs are rising for the city of Honolulu, putting Mayor Kirk Caldwell at odds with the City Council over whether to cut costs or raise revenues. Civil Beat.

City Council members are saying “thanks, but no thanks” to a Salary Commission recommendation to raise their pay. Star-Advertiser.

State Department of Education  blames consultant for school building slowdown. Hawaii News Now.

City Council members want the Honolulu Police Department to look at the idea of allowing gun owners to obtain firearm registrations and permits at the Kapolei and Kaneohe police substations to reduce long lines. Star-Advertiser.

The Pentagon said Tuesday that shipyard employees, including several thousand workers at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, are excepted from 11 furlough days that other civilian defense employees must take between July 8 and the end of September. Pacific Business News.

Well-known local musician, Weldon Kekauoha, a Grammy-nominated and Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winning musician, says he and his family were discriminated against at a luxury Waikiki hotel. KHON2.

The Hawaiian Humane Society rescued  Tuesday more than 40 purebred Pomeranian puppies and adults from "extremely filthy" living conditions at a longtime breeder's Halawa house. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Hawaii Island residents are likely to see their property taxes rise more than 10 percent this year, but only seven came out Tuesday evening to voice their opinion at the only public hearing on the issue. West Hawaii Today.

Genetic engineering opponents turned out in force Tuesday before the Hawaii County Council to support a bill that could determine the future of agriculture on the Big Island. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park announced Tuesday that it has adopted a finalized plan to protect the park’s ecosystem from damage by non-native ungulates, or hoofed species. Tribune-Herald.

A second former Department of Environmental Management employee pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning to felony and petty misdemeanor charges for allegedly stealing diesel fuel from pumps at the Waimea baseyard. West Hawaii Today.

Work on Queen Kaahumanu Highway isn’t likely to start until September now, Rep. Denny Coffman said Tuesday. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Some Maui residents have gotten a taste of fresh organic produce from a farm started by Oprah Winfrey. Now a broader audience has gotten a taste (visually) of the operation that Winfrey representatives would say little about six months ago. Star-Advertiser.

Oprah Winfrey enlisted Bio-logical Capital's Hawaii operation to create a sustainable farm on some 16 acres of land she owns in Upcountry Maui last summer, and now she's showing off her harvest in next month's issue of O, the Oprah Magazine. Pacific Business News.

While some public high schools in Maui County have seen significant improvements over the past few years in the number of graduates enrolling in a two- or four-year college, most high schools in the county still fall below the state average, according to a recent study. Maui News.

Kauai

Church building sports center for youth, adults. Garden Island.

Kauai Chamber Directory 2013. Garden Island.