Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Kauai coral study complete, gas tax, park fee hikes loom, Hawaii computers unaffected by hacker blitz, Maui council overrides tax-credit veto, officials react to Greenwood retirement, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Coral scientist (c) 2013 All Hawaii News
A team of scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wrapped up its week-long study of Kaua‘i’s diseased coral reefs Tuesday. Garden Island.

Sanjeev "Sonny" Bhagowalia, the state's chief information officer, said there did not appear to be a noticeable increase in the number of hacking attempts or scans of state agency sites Tuesday, which #OpUSA organizers had declared as the day for hackers to disrupt the websites of U.S. government agencies and banks. Star-Advertiser.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz met with a high-level federal official this week to discuss mismanagement and oversight problems at the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands that were exposed in a just-published Star-Advertiser series.

U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa was endorsed on Tuesday by EMILY's List, the national political action committee that helps elect Democratic women who favor abortion rights. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii leaders say one of the highlights of the 2013 legislative session was greater transparency in the lawmaking process. But advocacy groups like Common Cause and the League of Women Voters, along with more critical legislators, say a lot more needs to be done to make Hawaii’s legislative process clearer and more accessible to the public. Associated Press.

Observers were beginning to weigh in Tuesday on what they would like to see in the University of Hawaii's next president, with several saying the Board of Regents should focus on a candidate who will be a stabilizing force in the wake of a rocky year. Star-Advertiser.

A day after embattled University of Hawaii President MRC Greenwood announced her plans to retire, UH observers said she had realized she was having a difficult time being effective. Hawaii News Now.

When UH President MRC Greenwood made the announcement Monday she was resigning as UH President, no one was really shocked. KHON2.

Less than 18 hours after University of Hawaii President MRC Greenwood announced she plans to retire several months before her lucrative $475,000-a-year contract expires in 2015, the controversial academic has gone silent – at least for now. Hawaii Reporter.

The number of tropical storms and hurricanes threatening Hawaii is expected to increase significantly after 2075 due to climate change, a group of researchers said. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

The Honolulu City Council budget committee has some changes in store for Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s inaugural spending plan. Civil Beat.

Managing Director Ember Shinn asked members of the City Council to reconsider Mayor Kirk Caldwell's 5-cent per gallon fuel tax increase, as recent collective bargaining agreements reached with United Public Workers and the Hawaii Government Employees Association appear to be budget busters for the city, and that's even before arbitration awards for police officers and firefighters become part of the equation. KITV4.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell has released the names of the employees in his executive office, which he had been withholding for more than a week in violation of the state’s public records law. Civil Beat.

A jury has been selected for the trial of State Department agent Christopher Deedy, who was in Hono­lulu to provide security for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference, on a murder charge in the 2011 shooting of a Kailua man in Waikiki. Star-Advertiser.

The Oahu housing market continued to shine in April with double digit percentage increases in both the number of sales of condominiums and single-family homes, according to statistics from the Honolulu Board of Realtors. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii

Fees to use park pavilions would more than double and fees for other county facilities would also jump under rule changes proposed by the Department of Parks and Recreation. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii County Councilwoman Margaret Wille has introduced a bill that would ban most genetically modified crops from the Big Island. Tribune-Herald.

The retirement of University of Hawaii President M.R.C. Greenwood shouldn’t affect the Palamanui campus project, West Hawaii legislators and a Hawaii Community College official said Tuesday. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii Island and the rest of the state have been hit with heavy vog as a result of an unseasonable lack of trade winds. Tribune-Herald.

The long-awaited Kona Judiciary Complex remains on schedule for a 2019 opening despite the state Legislature this session approving just 10 percent of the $90 million the state judiciary requested for the West Hawaii project. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

The Maui County Council on Tuesday unanimously voted to override Mayor Alan Arakawa's veto of a County Council bill making changes to the county's "circuit breaker" property tax program that aims to help those with limited incomes from being taxed out of their homes. Maui News.

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa issued a media statement today in response to the council’s override of his veto on Bill 16. The bill seeks to amend the Circuit Breaker tax credit. Maui Now.

Despite some concerns from committee members, the Maui County Council Budget and Finance Committee officially referred its proposed $559 million county budget - $15 million less than proposed by Mayor Alan Arakawa - to the full council for approval Monday afternoon. Maui News.

Dozens of parents and keiki rallied in the rain at Paia Elementary on Monday against a lottery process - suspended the day before - that they said would deny some of their children the right to a Hawaiian language immersion education. Maui News.

Kauai

Once the offices of the Prosecuting Attorney, a portable building will breathe life as the clubhouse for the Boys & Girls Club of Hawai‘i, Lihu‘e Outreach. Garden Island.

Kaua‘i is the island that has suffered the most from hurricanes, with Hurricane Iwa in 1982 causing more than $250 million in damages, a record for Hawai‘i at that time, and Hurricane ‘Iniki in 1992, pushing the record to $2 billion. Garden Island.