Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Hawaii legislators attendance spotty, Honolulu owes $8M in mismanaged federal funds, Honolulu Weekly suspends publication, former Hawaii County officials cleared in defamation suit, rail company losing contracts, Maui residents get electricity rebate, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii Legislature
Hawaii Legislature sine die 2013 courtesy photo
Hawaii voters elect their legislators to represent them at the state capitol, but are they showing up to work? The House and Senate have just released their attendance records for the 2013 legislative session. Hawaii Reporter.

Millions spent on out-of-state travel by Dept. of Education. KHON2.

Many ranking administrators at the University of Hawaii will no longer be able to routinely request and receive free tickets to football games and other athletic events under policy guidelines adopted by the Hawaii State Ethics Commission last week. Civil Beat.

Local authorities are split on whether the Supreme Court ruling on DNA sampling requires Hawaii lawmakers to amend the law that covers the genetic sampling of arrestees. In its opinion, the high court said police can obtain DNA samples for a "serious offense." KITV4.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has invited the defense ministers from the 10 countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to Hawaii for their annual meeting next year. Star-Advertiser.

Former Hawaii Republican Party Executive Director Dylan Nonaka has a notable, but certainly not relished, distinction. Nokaka, a 31-year-old former U.S. Marine and current U.S. Army reservist, believes he is one of the few individuals in the country to be named by the Internal Revenue Service in its probe of local tea parties. Hawaii Reporter.

The Hawaii Department of Transportation plans to resume providing translations of drivers license tests in eight languages by the end of the year. Civil Beat.

State roundup for June 5. Associated Press.

State 6/5. Associated Press.

Oahu

A scathing 15-page report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development calls on the city to return nearly $8 million in Community Development Block Grant funds it issued to a Wahiawa-area nonprofit organization. Star-Advertiser.

Mismanagement of federal grant funds and how the city will come up with $8 million to repay the feds is expected to be part of Honolulu City Council budget talks on Wednesday. Civil Beat.

How Civil Beat Covered a Scandal City Officials Wanted to Avoid.

The Honolulu City Council will consider today whether the top nonprofit employees overseeing the city's TheBus and TheHandi-Van services should be subject to the same ethics training, ethics policies and civil penalties as city employees. Star-Advertiser.

People can tell the city how they feel about the appeals process for the city's new sidewalk nuisance ordinance at a hearing today in Kapolei. A hearing officer will receive spoken testimony from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the first-floor conference room of Kapolei Hale, 1000 Ulu Ohia St. Star-Advertiser.

After months of dealing with technical troubles, Belgian and Dutch railway operators have canceled their contract for high-speed trains from the company hired to provide the trains for the city of Honolulu's planned rail transit system. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu Weekly plans to stop publishing today and resume in the fall. The break in publication is due to "financial reasons," according to a posting on the Weekly's Facebook page. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu Weekly announced Tuesday that it will go on a “hiatus” for financial reasons, likely until the fall. Wednesday’s issue will be the newspaper’s last issue for the foreseeable future. Pacific Business News.

Lifeguards made more than two dozen ocean rescues Tuesday in Waikiki as waves rose to 6 feet in seasonal South Shore high surf. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

A 3rd Circuit Court has dismissed another portion of the defamation lawsuit against two former county officials. Judge Elizabeth Strance, in a ruling issued Tuesday morning, said the attorney representing Elections Division Chief Patricia Nakamoto and former elections employee Shyla Ayau failed to prove former County Council Chairman Dominic Yagong and former County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi acted in a “willful and wanton” way in investigating and firing four county elections workers last year. West Hawaii Today.

The Hawaii County Council will consider tightening its rules on public drinking today in response to an apparent loophole in the county code. Tribune-Herald.

The Hawaii County charter to the contrary, Mayor Billy Kenoi said Tuesday that his appointee to head the Department of Environmental Management doesn’t need an engineering or related degree to qualify for the position. West Hawaii Today.

County finance committee advances vehicle fee hikes. West Hawaii Today.

Big Island nurseries could soon receive a seal of approval from groups trying to control the spread of invasive species. As part of a pilot program, the Big Island Invasive Species Committee will provide “plant pono” certifications to nurseries that follow certain procedures to prevent the importation of unwanted plants and pests. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Maui Electric Co. residential customers will be receiving a refund of about $39 to $49 in the form of a credit on upcoming electric bills, according to a statement from the utility on Monday. Maui News.

Maui Electric Company has been ordered to refund customers due to “inefficient performance” and customer dissatisfaction, following a decision by the Public Utilities Commission. Maui Now.

About 400 United States military personnel have flown to Maui to provide free medical services through the "Tropic Care" program, beginning today and continuing through June 12 at locations throughout Maui County. Maui News.

Lanai Resorts' concept of developing a new resort and building large-lot and company housing at the old Club Lanai location recently was approved by the Lanai Community Plan Advisory Committee, despite some concerns by committee members. Maui News.

Maui firefighters were working through a "slow process" Monday afternoon to extinguish a compost fire that started Sunday afternoon, closed the Central Maui Landfill and recycling operations there and delayed collections of residential trash on most of the Valley Isle. Maui News.

Kauai

EBT concerns cloud skies over farmers markets. Program ends, worries some shoppers. Garden Island.

An exhibit opened its doors Monday afternoon in the Kauai Society of Artists gallery at Kukui Grove Center. Garden Island.