Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Hawaii Army survives troop cuts, Abercrombie signs medical marijuana bills, Tulsi loses top staff, Hawaii, Kauai councils mull GMO, Honolulu advances smoking ban, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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The Army in Hawaii escaped big troop cuts — and in fact is gaining about 165 soldiers — under one of the largest organizational changes announced for the land force since World War II. Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army's chief of staff, said Tuesday that the service will shrink by 14 percent by 2017, to 490,000 soldiers from a wartime high of 570,000 soldiers in 2010. The Army will have 33 brigade combat teams, down from 45 today. Star-Advertiser.

U.S. Army Pacific says units in Hawaii and Alaska will gain 700 positions under restructuring announced by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno.Associated Press.

Medical marijuana bills Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed into law Tuesday have long been needed to update the state's program and shift the focus from law enforcement to medical and health concerns, advocates said. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Tuesday signed five bills in a series of afternoon ceremonies at the Capitol, including one to establish a state homeland security office and another to transfer control of the state's medical marijuana program from the Public Safety Department to the Department of Health. Associated Press.

Governor Neil Abercrombie today signed two bills into law relating to the administration of medical marijuana. Maui Now.

Making a Splash: Is Tulsi Gabbard the Next Democratic Party Star? Vogue.

As she looks out from the pages of the just-released July issue of Vogue magazine, the present looks golden for Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii's freshest member of Congress. But there are signs of a surprising shake-up in her cabinet. Civil Beat.

Sen. Brian Schatz called this morning’s Supreme Court ruling declaring the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional, “a victory for all Americans.” Civil Beat.

Skeptics of man-made global warming need to be “ridiculed” said U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii who spoke at last week’s Netroots Nation gathering in San Jose, Calif. Hawaii Reporter.

Your outrageous electric bills in Hawaii are primarily the result of an ineffective regulatory agency, soaring oil prices and a profit-driven utility company. Civil Beat.

Hawaiian Airlines is planning to slow its rapid expansion after launching or announcing flights to 10 new international destinations in less than three years. Star-Advertiser.

The insurance company Geico won’t, for some seemingly inexplicable reason, cover electric vehicles for new customers. Civil Beat.

Catholic Bishop Larry Silva is now a Knight Companion in the Royal Order of Kamehameha I.  63-year-old Bishop Silva, who was born here in Hawaii, became an honorary member of the Order's  first chapter. There are four royal societies; The Royal Order of Kamehameha is one of them. Hawaii News Now.

Oahu

Less than a year into a new system, the city of Honolulu intends to terminate its contract with an exclusive vendor for police-initiated motor vehicle tows on Oahu, acknowledging that changes have to be made before a new one is awarded. Star-Advertiser.

The County of Honolulu has already banned smoking at certain beaches and Tuesday the City Council Public Safety Committee unanimously approved a plan to outlaw smoking at all city facilities and bus stops. Hawaii News Now.

The roadwork and lane closures to replace aging waterlines beneath Ward Avenue will go on at least three months longer than utility officials anticipated — and the repaving along Kapiolani Boulevard will continue at least several weeks longer than the city planned, officials say.Star-Advertiser.

Billing problem forces review of thousands of Oahu water bills. Board of Water Supply to send out letters to affected customers this week. KITV4.

The $2 billion Sea-Based X-Band Radar recently left Pearl Harbor to take part in an upcoming test of the nation's ground-based ballistic missile defense system — a key element in the protection of Hawaii and the mainland from North Korean threats, officials said. Star-Advertiser.

The city is building on a grassroots recycling initiative, with a goal of 1,000 bins by the end of this year. Hawaii Independent.

The indictment Tuesday of a 28-year-old Ewa Beach man on three charges of first-degree promotion of prostitution marks the first time that the city prosecutor's office has used legislative reforms to charge a suspected pimp with a Class A felony, a serious charge that carries the possibility of substantial prison time and fines. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii
Hawaii County Councilwoman Margaret Wille is preparing new amendments for her bill to limit the use of genetically modified crops. Tribune-Herald.

The Queen’s Health Systems is exploring an affiliation with the North Hawaii Community Hospital that could include an acquisition of the rural Big Island hospital founded in 1996 by Medtronic founder Earl Bakken. Pacific Business News.

North Hawaii Community Hospital and Queen’s Health Systems — corporate parent of Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu — are exploring an affiliation that officials with both entities say will improve health care on Hawaii Island. West Hawaii Today.

The state Department of Transportation is asking the Hawaii County Water Board to come up with as much as $395,865 over the $3.7 million it’s already committed for the Queen Kaahumanu Highway widening project. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

A final environmental assessment with a "finding of no significant impact" has been filed with the state Office of Environmental Quality Control for the 65-acre Central Maui Regional Park that will be built in an area bordered by the Maui Lani subdivision and Kuihelani Highway in Kahului. Maui News.

On the eve of the enactment of a statewide distracted driving law carrying stiffer penalties, Maui police officers stepped up enforcement to give out 265 citations to drivers using cellphones last week. Maui News.

New data on the health of Maui County residents will be highlighted during a presentation this Friday, June 28, at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College. Maui Now.

High winds shut down the Central Maui Landfill as of 1 p.m. Tuesday, and it will be closed at the same time Wednesday to give workers time to collect windblown debris, according to a Maui County announcement. Maui News.

Kauai
Five days after the official announcement, Kauai County Councilman Gary Hooser will introduce House Bill 2491 related to pesticides and genetically modified organisms to his colleagues. Garden Island.

Kauai Fire Department officials are reminding residents that they need to get a permit from the fire department by Wednesday, July 3 if they plan to purchase and/or light firecrackers on the Fourth of July. Garden Island.