Thursday, May 30, 2013

Hawaii seniors healthy; Defense secretary rallies troops, Caldwell, council spar over $2B Honolulu budget; improvements coming to Kona International Airport; new cop cars for Kauai; more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Elderly people in Hawaii are among the nation's healthiest, with low rates of obesity, hip fractures and preventable hospitalization, according to a ranking of states released Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is in the midst of his first visit to Hawaii since taking office in February, defense officials say, as part of a round-the-globe trip that includes stops in Singapore and Brussels. Star-Advertiser.

United States Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will address 200 service members from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Thursday, according to the Department of Defense. Hawaii News Now.

A public university on Chicago's South Side is vying to become the home of President Barack Obama's presidential library after he leaves office, a prize also sought by the University of Hawaii. Associated Press.

About $570,000 in federal funding is heading to Hawaii to help veterans who are struggling with homelessness. Associated Press.

More than half of Hawaii schools don't have reliable Internet access, and the Hawaii Department of Education can't afford to give every student a digital device. Civil Beat.

August 5 is normally a payday for educational assistants in Hawaii's public schools. However, some 200 of them in Leeward Oahu schools won't be getting a paycheck this coming August 5. And according to the state, it's because they got that paycheck nearly a year ago. Hawaii News Now.

Lawmakers say a new Hawaii law could help the state develop commercial harbors faster and more efficiently. Associated Press.

The American Center for Law and Justice filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday in Washington, D.C., on behalf of The Honolulu Tea Party, Hawaii Tea Party and nearly two-dozen conservative groups across the country. Hawaii Reporter.

Federal regulators are pressing ahead with their decision to slash government subsidies used by Sandwich Isles Communications to provide telephone and high-speed Internet service to customers living on Hawaiian Home Lands, saying the Honolulu-based company was not able to justify “significant and wasteful expenses totaling many millions of dollars.” Star-Advertiser.

When Hawaii residents purchase groceries and other goods in the islands, they typically encounter prices 30 percent above what U.S. mainland shoppers will pay in their stores. Hawaii Reporter.

The Huffington Post and subscription-based news website Honolulu Civil Beat announced Wednesday that they plan to partner in a new site dedicated to Hawaii news. Associated Press.

Huffington Post Partnership Takes Hawaii Global. Civil Beat.

Hawaii’s political leaders are praising the latest state revenue forecast which shows growing revenue over the next two years and say Hawaii residents and businesses should be optimistic about the improving economy. Associated Press.

Hawaiian Airlines Inc. said Wednesday that it has closed on $444.5 million in Enhanced Equipment Trust Certificates to finance the acquisition of six new Airbus A330-200 aircraft over the next 18 months. Pacific Business News.

The electric utilities on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island are seeking public comment on five-year energy plans. Civil Beat.

State roundup for May 29. Associated Press.

State 5/29. Associated Press.

Oahu

The Honolulu City Council's proposed $2 billion city operating budget, which includes $14 million for nonprofit groups, is "fiscally irresponsible" and is balanced through a combination of debt and money grabs that could risk the city's high bond rating, Mayor Kirk Caldwell charged Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell has put some of Oahu’s nonprofits on notice. Don’t expect a handout from the city. Civil Beat.

It’s a fight to the finish as Honolulu’s mayor and City Council battle over the budget. KHON2.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. paid $25.9 million to purchase the 80,000-square-foot former Macy’s department store and parking garage in Downtown Honolulu, according to City and County of Honolulu property tax records. Pacific Business News.

The Coast Guard is proposing voluntary tsunami evacuation zones on either side of Honolulu Harbor. KITV4.

With well wishes from Gov. Neil Abercrombie and others, the double-hulled sailing canoe Hokule‘a on Wednesday began a nearly yearlong shakedown cruise through the Hawaiian Islands before embarking next May on a deep-sea global journey, "Malama Honua Worldwide Voyage." Star-Advertiser.

This time of year brings a rainbow of events to Honolulu highlighting Hawai’i’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.  The Gay Pride parade runs through Waikiki this Saturday, and the Rainbow Film Festival begins at the Doris Duke tomorrow. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii

Property tax scofflaws got a reprieve Wednesday, when a County Council committee declined to shorten the time the county has to wait before foreclosing on property. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii County Council members will have another month to digest a bill that would restrict the use of genetically modified crops on the Big Island. Tribune-Herald.

DOT breaks ground for new fire station, dedicates air tower at Kona International Airport. West Hawaii Today.

Hilo Medical Center alone will account for nearly $2 million of the state hospital system’s $7.2 million shortfall forecast for the coming fiscal year. Tribune-Herald.

Kealakekua Bay is now open to the public — as long as the public applies for a special use permit and promises not to land at Kaawaloa. West Hawaii Today.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz has two new field representatives, George “Robby” Robertson and Michael Zola. They will join Marlena Castro Dixon as regional liaisons for Hawaii Island. West Hawaii Today.

The USDA announced last week that nearly a dozen small watersheds on Hawaii Island will benefit from an influx of a little more than $433,000 to make assistance available this year to farmers, ranchers and forest owners to keep water sources on their property free of foreign matter, like sediment or bacteria. The funding comes through the agency’s National Water Quality Initiative. Tribune-Herald.

Maui
The Maui County Council gave initial approval of a $559 million county budget Tuesday, with the spending plan including water and property tax rate increases along with more funding for most nonprofit organizations and a new reduced monthly bus pass rate for people with disabilities. Maui News.

A controversial lottery for admission into the Hawaiian Immersion kindergarten at Pāʻia Elementary School was officially canceled during a stakeholders meeting at the campus on Tuesday morning.Maui Now.

The state Department of Agriculture's Animal Industry Division has ordered all beef and dairy bulls to be tested for bovine trichomoniasis prior to entry into and before movement between herds within the state, the department said. Maui News.

Kauai
The Kauai Police Department expects to spend nearly $2 million to replace an aging fleet over two years. Garden Island.

Changing out windows at the Lihue Public Library is one of the milestones of the renovation project. Garden Island.

Chinese fast food giant Panda Express, Inc. has agreed to pay $150,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed last year by three former employees who worked at the restaurant chain’s Kapaa franchise. Garden Island.