Friday, June 21, 2013

Hawaii deep-sea reefs explored, Mazie finding her mojo, Ellison buys another airline, ACLU sues Maui for sign ordinance, Kauai joins GMO battle, park fees increase, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

NOAA courtesy photo
Northwestern Hawaiian Islands coral reef NOAA photo
Exploration of deep-sea coral reefs in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands is just beginning but already has revealed a slew of species previously not known to inhabit the island chain. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researchers returned last week from a 26-day trip to four of the northwestern islands and the Johnston Atoll National Wildlife Refuge with specimens of new species of deep-water algae and the first recorded specimens of black coral from Johnston Atoll. Star-Advertiser.

Shark tours are more valuable than shark soup, study finds. Hawaii News Now.

Deep-sea adventure captures humpback whales’ song off Kona. KHON2.

A bureaucratic scuffle between the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the state Department of Health is leaving veterans unable to qualify for VA loans or refinance existing VA loans at lower interest rates. The VA has declined to approve home loans on properties with rainwater catchment systems in Hawaii because the state does not recognize the water as safe for drinking or food preparation. Star-Advertiser.

As Congress works to frame a sweeping immigration reform deal, U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono and 12 other female senators Thursday introduced an amendment they say would treat women more fairly as they seek to come to the U.S. Star-Advertiser.

In a church auditorium here this week, Senator Mazie Hirono enjoyed something of a rock-star welcome. At a female-rich rally on immigration, Hirono was introduced to more than a hundred women from across the country, including the president of the National Organization for Women, as a “champion” of women’s issues. The crowd cheered wildly and began chanting: “Ma-zie! Ma-zie!” Civil Beat.

Local Enough To Be UH Prez? Take Our Quiz! Civil Beat.

The executive director of a Kauai foundation trying to prevent drownings says rescue tube kiosks that have worked on the island are coming to other parts of Hawaii. Associated Press.

Friday Factoid: How Many Pesticides Are Licensed for Sale in Hawaii? Civil Beat.

State 6/21. Associated Press.

State roundup for June 21. Associated Press.

Oahu

A former Honolulu police officer faces possible state and federal drug charges after police and the Drug Enforcement Administration conducted separate raids at his Pearl City house through the past two months. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii News Now has learned that the FBI is looking into the case of a 35-year-old Kaneohe man who died after he was arrested by police.

What’s the cost of restarting an oil refinery just two months after it was shut down? About $27 million, according to the new owner of Tesoro Corp.’s Kapolei oil refinery. Star-Advertiser.

Honey Bee USA Inc. has revealed more of its $20 million plan to redevelop a part of the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor called Waikiki Landing with wedding chapels, restaurants, retail and office space, as well as a boat repair facility and fuel dock. Pacific Business News.

Repairs are under way for a historic downtown Honolulu building that houses the Hawaii Supreme Court. Associated Press.

HI Spy: Out of the Honolulu Weekly’s Ashes. Hawaii Public Radio.

Picking up art is not foremost in most customers’ minds as they rummage through the boxes and stacks of literary and musical goodies at the annual Friends of the Library of Hawai‘i Book Sale. But this year’s sale, which begins Saturday, will include catalogs of paintings, prints and art books, according to Friends Executive Director Byrde Cestare. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Those graduation and birthday picnics at a park pavilion will soon cost you more — more than twice as much, in fact. The increases, along with hikes in property taxes, vehicle registration and weight fees and bus fares, all go toward balancing the county’s $394.3 million 2013-14 budget. West Hawaii Today.

The federal Department of Transportation is considering making a new agreement for regular scheduled service to the Waimea airport. Flights are guaranteed to the North Hawaii community through the federal Essential Air Service program, which subsidizes service to rural areas. Tribune-Herald.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Honolulu District, in coordination with the Hawaii Department of Health and various Hawaii County safety and law enforcement agencies, on Wednesday successfully completed investigations for ordnance at the Sandalwood subdivision area and along Kawaihae Road in South Kohala. West Hawaii Today.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s office announced Thursday afternoon releasing more than $134.7 million for capital improvement projects at Hawaii public schools, including $850,000 for work at two Big Island schools. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaiʻi has filed a lawsuit against the County of Maui seeking changes to laws relating to the display of signs on sidewalks and along roadways. Maui Now.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii filed a federal lawsuit against Maui County on Thursday, saying an ordinance placing restrictions on roadway sign-waving is unconstitutional. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Maui residents Chuck Carletta and Mele Stokesberry, who said police threatened to fine them for carrying signs in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Wai­luku in January. Star-Advertiser.

Two Maui residents are suing to change a county law prohibiting sign waving on sidewalks and roadways. The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit Thursday in federal court in Honolulu on behalf of Chuck Carletta and Mele Stokesberry. Associated Press.

A divided Maui County Council voted down a request by Mayor Alan Arakawa's administration Wednesday to expedite a bill that would amend the current county budget to explicitly call for the demolition of the Old Wailuku Post Office after the fact in an attempt to resolve a simmering dispute between the mayor and the council. Maui News.

The Maui County Council accepted a donation Wednesday of a personal watercraft and sled and approved some funding for the Department of Fire and Public Safety's budget shortfall this year. Maui News.

Maui Economic Opportunity Inc. has begun construction on its new transportation facility located on 10 acres of former sugar cane land in Puunene, according to an announcement Wednesday. Maui News.

Kauai
Kauai County Councilman Gary Hooser introduced an ordinance Thursday that would give authority to the county to govern the commercial use of pesticides and genetically modified organisms. Garden Island.

The latest buzz from the Kauai Beekeepers Association is a plea to local government for more transparency and regulations on pesticide use. Garden Island.

State regulators have cleared the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative to build a $42.2 million solar energy facility that would be the state’s largest. Star-Advertiser.

Kauai residents will experience an 11.2 percent water rate increase July 1. It's the third of four increases to pay for upgrades to the island's aging water system. Hawaii News Now.

Officials held a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday at Kauai Raceway Park, also known as Mana Drag Strip, to mark the start of construction of a $1 million project to repair the facilities and resurface the pavement, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources said. Star-Advertiser.

The deadline to provide input on phase two of the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance update is June 28, according to county officials. The CZO, which regulates land use and development on Kauai, is being updated in two phases by the Planning Department with assistance from the consulting firm Helber, Hastert and Fee. Garden Island.

Lanai

Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison, who bought the island of Lanai a year ago and recently purchased Island Air, is now buying the Hawaii interisland airline go!, Pacific Business News has learned.