Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Making medical marijuana mainstream, Hawaii tradewinds less frequent, electric rates increase, special funds scrutinized, Honolulu on the hook for mismanaged nonprofit money, Hawaii Island courts lack sheriffs, Closed for 20 years, Coco Palms still a tourist draw, Godzilla, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii medical marijuana roadside sign (c) 2013 All Hawaii News
Gov. Neil Abercrombie is likely to sign two bills on his desk aimed at making marijuana a more mainstream medicine, according to Sen. Josh Green, D-Kona, a physician who, as chairman of the Senate Health Committee, has been working on reforming the state’s 13-year-old medical marijuana law. West Hawaii Today.

The Hawaii Supreme Court has overturned the conviction of a Hookena medical marijuana patient who was arrested at Kona International Airport when he tried to take his pakalolo on a flight to Honolulu. In a 30-page ruling issued Friday, the Supreme Court majority ordered a lower court to acquit Geoffrey Woodhall, stating that state law, while unclear and contradictory, nonetheless allows for the transport of marijuana by individuals carrying a state “blue card” certifying they are medical marijuana patients. West Hawaii Today.

Experts say the island breezes, called tradewinds, are declining, a drop that's slowly changing life across the islands. Associated Press.

Hawaii regulators have issued three orders affecting rates and the ratemaking process for Hawaiian Electric Co. and its subsidiaries, Maui Electric Co. and Hawaii Electric Light Co., in response to increased frustration by ratepayers for high electric rates and poor customer service. Pacific Business News.

The typical monthly electric bill on Oahu went up $3.13 and $3.17 on Hawaii Island as Hawaiian Electric Co. increased a supplemental fee it gets to pay for a shift to more renewable energy and greater energy efficiency. Star-Advertiser.

The state House Finance Committee is re-evaluating the use of special funds in the months leading up to the next legislative session. Associated Press.

State health officials say they're looking into hepatitis A infections that have struck at least three adults, including one person on Oahu who was hospitalized. All three consumed frozen berry products from Costco and became ill sometime between early and late May, officials said. Star-Advertiser.

Since retiring from the Senate, Daniel Akaka has largely stayed out of the public eye. However, he issued a statement today mourning the passing of former colleague, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, with whom he served for over three decades. Civil Beat.

More than a dozen Hawaii public schools are receiving state of the art lab equipment, thanks to a program out of UH Manoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine. Hawaii Public Radio.

State roundup for June 4. Associated Press.

Oahu

Potential kickbacks, conflicts of interest and mismanagement of federal grant funds mean the city of Honolulu will have to pay back nearly $8 million it gave to an embattled nonprofit in Central Oahu that serves the elderly and developmentally disabled adults. Civil Beat.

How much in city operational dollars should go to Oahu nonprofit groups and how such funds should be divvied up are at the core of a clash between Mayor Kirk Caldwell and City Council leaders before Wednesday's final vote on the city's $2 billion operating budget. Star-Advertiser.

Two bills Honolulu City Councilman Joey Manahan is pushing would require helmet wearing when skateboarding on city streets and sidewalks, malls, parks and public places.  One of the measures carries a $25 fine per citation. Hawaii News Now.

A Shinto shrine in Kalihi is being threatened with legal action for posting a YouTube video of what it calls the brazen theft of $1,000 worth of amulets representing good fortune. Star-Advertiser.

Tesoro Hawaii's plan to lay off most of its Kapolei refinery workers, which was delayed last month as the company negotiated with a potential buyer, was set in motion Monday with a first group of employees getting notices that they would lose their jobs within three weeks. Star-Advertiser.

Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures confirmed Monday what local actors, hopeful extras and industry insiders have been whispering about for months: The latest remake of the "Godzilla" franchise will be filming in July at several Oahu locations. Star-Advertiser.

This summer, if you want to know whether the Ala Wai Canal meets the state’s standards for safe recreational use, you'll probably have to test it yourself. That is because the city plans to stop testing one of the most heavily used inland bodies of water in the state for dangerous bacteria levels even though the canal is among the most polluted. Civil Beat.

Hawaii

A combination of vacations and sick workers left West Hawaii’s four courts with just one sheriff Monday morning. The severity of the shortage Monday was just indicative of a broader problem, West Hawaii attorneys and court officials said. Department of Public Safety officials said they were bringing sheriffs from Hilo to Kona to fill in the gaps, but acknowledged that they have had trouble for years filling all of the West Hawaii vacancies. West Hawaii Today.

Waikoloa has been put on the map, literally. The West Hawaii community was added to the Federal Aviation Administration’s flight maps last month, after previously being designated as a settlement. Tribune-Herald.

Utility customers will see a 1.6 percent increase to their Hawaii Electric Light Co. (HELCO) bills as the result of annual adjustments approved last week by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

An Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal team safely removed a grenade on Monday from the shoulder of Hansen Road, which was reopened after being closed for about a day, police said. Maui News.

Firefighters remained at the Central Maui Landfill Monday morning, battling a compost fire reported Sunday afternoon that has delayed residential trash collections and closed the landfill and recycling operations. Maui News.

Maui County fire fighters are still on the scene at the Central Maui Landfill Refuse & Recycling Center, where a blaze at the EKO Compost site has closed down operations today and possibly tomorrow. Maui Now.

At first glance, it isn't readily apparent how Maui County's reviving economy is affecting the islands' real estate market, which struggled through the recession with low prices and a glut of foreclosed properties. Maui News.

Kauai

In an effort to increase awareness about its recycling programs, Kauai County launched its “What Goes Where” campaign Monday. Garden Island.

Armed with a machete and a heck of a sense of humor, Bob Jasper gives visitors and locals a snapshot of the property that helped put Kauai on the forefront of Hawaii’s visitor industry decades ago. “Coco Palms has got to be the most famous hotel in the South Pacific,” he said. “It has been shut down for over 20 years and folks still want to see it.” Garden Island.

Molokai

Big Wind was the nickname for the state’s energy plan that included 200-megawatt wind farms on both Molokai and Lanai to supply energy to Oahu via an undersea cable. In the latest plan, Molokai Properties Limited , also known as Molokai Ranch, had planned to lease 11,000 acres of land to wind company Pattern Energy to build 70 400-foot tall wind turbines. But that plan fell through when the Ranch called off the deal in February, announcing their decision not to renew the lease agreement. Molokai Dispatch.

Young Brothers, Limited, the intrastate cargo company serving Hawaii, released its numbers for their first quarter of this year, and the findings could reflect how Molokai is doing economically. Molokai saw a slight increase in its general and agricultural outbound cargo and a minimal decrease in inbound freight.  Meanwhile, larger islands showed more notable decreases. Molokai Dispatch.