Friday, May 31, 2013

Hawaii tourism falters, military focus on Pacific, GMO seeds the new plantation, Hawaii council passes $394.3M budget, OSHA fines Kauai beach resort, Tsutsui launches election bid, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii tourists (c) 2013 All Hawaii News
Hawaii's top industry is grappling with market softening less than a month after the Hawaii Tourism Authority projected a huge influx of visitors would come to the state this year. Star-Advertiser.

Tourism officials say Hawaii visitors spent $1.1 billion in the state in April, up 1.8 percent from the same month last year. KITV4.

The U.S. Army is back in the Pacific region after more than a decade of deploying soldiers to Afghanistan and Iraq, the outgoing top Army commander in the region says. Associated Press.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met Thursday with troops at Hickam Field in Hawaii on the way to his first visit to Asia as defense chief. Associated Press.

During a brief stopover en route to international security talks, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel fielded questions Thursday from troops in Hawaii worried about how budget cuts might affect their retirement and future benefits. Star-Advertiser.

The State Ethics Commission is recommending that the University of Hawaii revamp its complimentary ticket policies because UH has been breaking ethics laws by giving away too many freebies to staff and family members. Hawaii News Now.

Colleen Hanabusa scored a nice little PR splash this week by introducing legislation to make May 30 the day to observe Memorial Day. Civil Beat.

Congress is being asked to help save the state about $20 million a year. The savings would come in the form of an Immigration Reform Bill that hits the senate floor in June. KHON2

Genetically engineered (GE) crops are Hawaii’s new plantation agriculture, and Hawaii is the world’s leading producer of GE seed corn. According to a 2013 study commissioned by the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation, with funding from the biotech-supported Hawaii Crop Improvement Association, the Hawaii GE seed crop is not only the state’s fastest-growing agricultural commodity, but the largest. Honolulu Weekly.

Four of the state's 17 public charter schools with Hawaiian-focused programs have gained full accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Star-Advertiser.

Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui is asking voters to keep him on the job — one that he has yet to be elected to. Star-Advertiser.

Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui went online to announce his bid to run for lieutenant governor next year. The announcement came via ElectShan.com and a Facebook page. Civil Beat.

The eldest child of state Sen. Mike Gabbard was arrested this week in Las Vegas on suspicion of battery, according to law enforcement officials, the latest in a string of arrests over the past few months. Star-Advertiser.

Longtime Starwood executive Karen Hughes has joined the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau as vice president of Meet Hawaii and travel industry partnerships, the HVCB said Thursday. Pacific Business News.

State 5/30. Associated Press.

State roundup for May 31. Associated Press.

Oahu

Honolulu City Councilman Joey Manahan wants to bring a little clarity to who’s in charge of TheBus, and has introduced legislation to shine a brighter light on those who oversee its operations. Civil Beat.

Dozens of Kakaako residents turned out for a meeting with lawmakers to express concerns over development plans, and ended up hearing from Gov. Neil Abercrombie. Hawaii News Now.

A company that specializes in booting cars is hit with a civil lawsuit. The state is seeking a temporary restraining order to stop what it calls an illegal practice. Hawaii News Now.

More than 16 months after its closing, St. Francis Healthcare System of Hawaii has settled on a plan for its former hospital in Liliha. Star-Advertiser.

There's still a "coming soon" sign in front the empty Peet's Coffee shop but work on that project was halted months ago when the school ran out of money. It's one of the more glaring reminders of the cost-overrun at the University of Hawaii West Oahu. Hawaii News Now.

Homeless cleanups taking cash from state road repairs. KHON2.

Effective June 1, the cover price of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser will be increased by 25 cents daily and Sunday. Civil Beat.

A helicopter that crash-landed downtown May 8 lost all power minutes before the incident, the preliminary findings of a National Transportation Safety Board investigation said Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

A beefed up $394.3 million county budget passed by the Hawaii County Council on Thursday will pay for 28 additional staff, a new videoconference site for North Kohala, the continuation of the Ka‘u videoconference site in Ocean View and millions of dollars worth of new computers and equipment. West Hawaii Today

The County Council approved a double-digit raise in property taxes Thursday — the first increase in three years — citing a need to provide better services in areas that have taken a hit following the last recession. Tribune-Herald.

Planning Director Bobby Jean Leithead Todd is returning to her old job as head of the county Department of Environmental Management in a reshuffling of Mayor Billy Kenoi’s Cabinet announced late Thursday. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Maui County has completed a final environmental impact statement for an estimated $6 million rock revetment extension to protect the Wailuku-Kahului Wastewater Reclamation Facility and its eight underground injection wells from tsunamis. Maui News.

South Maui’s Water Disconnect. Experts offer solutions to problems resulting from inequity in area’s water use vs. precipitation. Maui Weekly.

More Wailuku residents will be without water tonight because of an overnight waterline improvement project, according to an updated announcement today from the county Department of Water Supply. Maui News.

The Nature Conservancy of Hawaiʻi hosts a public talk this weekend featuring Thomas “Tommy” Remengesau, the President of the Republic of Palau. Maui Now.

Kauai

Hawaii has rebounded from a financial crisis, with tax revenues going up and unemployment rates dropping, according to Gov. Neil Abercrombie. Garden Island.

A popular Kauai hotel received 14 workplace safety and health standards violations on Thursday, and nine of them were serious enough for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration to take action. Garden Island.

The Kauai Beach Resort in Lihue could be fined as much as $48,000 for 14 safety and health violations cited by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Star-Advertiser.

Molokai
Three years ago, a fire truck was earmarked for Kalaupapa’s airport. But it still has not arrived on the settlement’s annual barge.  Instead, it sits unused, waiting for a proper garage that will protect the $300,000 truck from the elements and salt spray. Molokai Dispatch.