Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Re-election likely for Hawaii Gov. Abercrombie, Honolulu councilman signs off on $1.2M loan from campaign contributor, GMO bills die in state Legislature, $27M makeover for Ellison resort, Murdoch to take Dole private, Snowden fallout continues, Maui undecided on Gene Simmons' bar, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Abercrombie work =success
Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie file photo
Hawaii governors live and die by the health of our economy, and its robust condition ahead of the 2014 election is the main reason Gov. Neil Abercrombie is flying high despite low approval ratings throughout his first term. Star-Advertiser.

The trial of a federal agent charged with killing a man inside a Waikiki McDonald's should be moved to U.S. District Court because publicity about racial issues and animosity toward the federal government could hinder a fair trial in state court, his attorney argued Tuesday. Associated Press.

The whistleblower who brought the NSA and PRISM into Americans’ living rooms is without a job. Almost as a postscript to the dramatic story, Booz Allen Hamilton, the federal contractor that employed 29-year-old Edward Snowden in the Hawaii office of the National Security Agency, announced Tuesday that the company had fired the former CIA technical assistant. Hawaii Reporter.

The father of the girlfriend of Edward Snowden described the leaker of national secrets as a shy and reserved man with convictions, but said today he’s “still shocked” by the news about him. Associated Press.

A blog authored by Edward Snowden’s girlfriend provides potential answers to several questions about the NSA leaker’s time working for the agency in Hawaii. The blog, which has since been deleted, also indicates Snowden may have enjoyed a final visit with his family before seeking refuge in Hong Kong last month. Talking Points.

A defense contractor accused of giving military secrets to a Chinese girlfriend half his age has moved to a Hawaii halfway house while he awaits trial, according to court records and his attorney. Associated Press.

The former CIA employee who leaked top-secret information about U.S. surveillance programs said in a new interview in Hong Kong on Wednesday that he is not attempting to hide from justice here but hopes to use the city as a base to reveal wrongdoing. Associated Press.

It’s been 35 years since voters amended the state constitution to say our public officials should have “the highest standards of ethical conduct,” and requiring the state and counties to establish codes of ethics. This seems like plenty long enough to work out the kinks in the law and get used to how it works. Civil Beat.

The state is reviewing the criteria that is used to evaluate care homes after the Legislature passing a bill this past session requiring the Department of Health to post the inspection reports online as of 2015. The bill, if Gov. Neil Abercrombie signs it or allows it to become law, says the reports must be fair to the care homes and to the public that depends on them. Civil Beat.

During the last session of the state Legislature, critics of genetically engineered food made a push to set labeling requirements for grocery shelves. Over a half dozen bills to label transgenic food, mostly focusing on imported items, were introduced. None of the bills made it through, partly due to concerns that they may be found unconstitutional. Tribune-Herald.

The effort to get the Akaka Bill passed has started again. Today Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz delivered a speech on the Senate floor for Native Hawaiians. Hawaii News Now.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard joined with 35 other Democratic freshmen to express reservations about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement (TPP FTA) negotiations and the prospect of delegating Fast Track “trade promotion authority” to the President. Hawaii Independent.

Jeff Mikulina, CEO of Honolulu-based Blue Planet Foundation, and Mark Glick, the head of Hawaii’s state energy office, have been invited to attend President Bill Clinton’s third annual Clinton Global Initiative meeting. Civil Beat.

State roundup for June 12. Associated Press.

Oahu

Honolulu City Council Chairman Ernie Martin said he signed off on two documents tied to cancellation of $1.2 million in loans to the nonprofit Opportunities and Resources Inc., whose leader contributed $4,200 to his political campaign committee. Martin said he does not believe there was a conflict of interest because he was not involved in the decision to forgive those loans. Star-Advertiser.

Federal records released Tuesday show Honolulu City Council chair Ernie Martin received more than $4,000 in campaign contributions from the president of an organization that had been given millions of dollars in grant money by the city department he ran. Civil Beat.

Honolulu has been ranked as the most expensive city in the U.S. to visit, according to TripAdvisor's TripIndex Cities 2013. KITV4.

Faustino Somera is among about 15 former Ewa Plantation workers and their spouses who were promised by plantation bosses, and later the city, that they could stay in their Varona Village homes until they died. But in the nearly two decades since the promises were made, little else has been done to maintain what many call the place that time forgot, or to make sure the homes there are available to former sugar workers as planned. Star-Advertiser.

The Ewa Plantation Cemetery spreads out over eleven acres. There are about 500 grave sites on the property, but the grass is so tall in spots it swallows grave markers. Hawaii News Now.

Sgt. 1st Class Maurice Smith, an Army journalist stationed at Fort Shafter, was on a rescue mission Tuesday to save his fallen comrades — the many homeless veterans who call Hawaii streets their home. Star-Advertiser.

A 150-pound boulder that came crashing down a hillside in Kalihi Valley on Monday has residents feeling nervous. It’s the same street where massive boulders damaged three homes last year. KHON2.

Hawaii

Genetically modified food has been on store shelves for 17 years in the United States. But determining what products contain genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, remains a challenge for even the most conscientious consumers. Tribune-Herald.

The 73,524-square-foot Waikoloa Highlands Center on Hawaii’s Big Island is on the market — again — this time for a slightly higher price of $23.2 million. Pacific Business News.

Thousands of people lined Akoni Pule Highway Tuesday morning to honor King Kamehameha I on the day named after him. West Hawaii Today.

Two examples of Hawaii’s living history are currently moored in Hilo’s Radio Bay as their crews prepare to continue a voyage around the state that will expand to a worldwide trip next year. Tribune-Herald.

Maui
With veteran rock 'n' roller Gene Simmons as one of its partners, Paia merchants and residents have mixed feelings about the new Rock & Brews restaurant and bar concept rolling into town. Maui News.

A Maui County Council committee will consider on Monday a resolution authorizing it to conduct an internal investigation into the potential misuse of county funds to demolish the Old Wailuku Post Office and conduct master planning for the Kalana O Maui campus expansion. Maui News.

Sen. Roz Baker and South Maui Rep. Kaniela Ing will hold a "talk story" and "End of Session Wrap-up" meeting with constituents from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Saturday at the Kihei Charter School campus at the Lipoa Center. Maui News.

Kauai

Cockfighting has been around for more than 6,000 years, according to historians. On Kauai, it was introduced by Filipino immigrants during the island’s early plantation days. Garden Islabnd.
http://thegardenisland.com/news/local/rooster-days-kill-or-be-killed/article_c5b9e064-d32e-11e2-a93c-001a4bcf887a.html

The Kauai County Council will put on its hospitality hats to host the 2013 Hawaii State Association of Counties annual conference at Kauai Beach Resort over two days next week. The conference begins June 20, with the annual HSAC executive committee meeting and general membership meeting. Garden Island.

The release of more than $41.2 million for capital improvement projects statewide includes funding for a string of projects on Kauai. Garden Island.

Molokai

A new flight service is landing on Molokai, bringing in a small business attitude that has already proven successful in Kalaupapa. Makani Kai Air is offering five flights daily to Honolulu and back, which began June 8, while keeping its twice daily Kalaupapa flights. Molokai Dispatch.

Lanai

The Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay is scheduled to get a $27 million makeover, which includes renovations to its existing 236 rooms, upgrades at 140 Restaurant and the addition of a sushi bar and teppanyaki stations at Nobu Restaurant. Billionaire Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison’s Lanai Resorts LLC recently submitted a special management area assessment for renovations permit to the Lanai Planning Commission. Pacific Business News.

Less than a year after he sold the island of Lanai, David Murdock is taking Dole Food Co. private again. The 90-year-old billionaire surprised Wall Street by offering $645 million to buy the 60 percent of Dole that he didn't already own. Hawaii News Now.