Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Flossie downgraded after flustering Hawaiian Islands, schools lose high-risk status, Maui News erecting paywall, Hanabusa aide allegedly broke campaign law, artists sought to honor Mink, Inouye, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Tropical Storm Flossie
Hawaii County emergency operations center, courtesy Mayor Billy Kenoi
The worst of what is now Tropical Depression Flossie has now passed through most of the state, bringing thunderstorms and dangerously high surf but sparing most islands from serious storm related damage. Hawaii News Now.

Strong wind and heavy rain from Tropical Depression Flossie resulted in more than 80 flight cancellations to and from the islands Monday, preventing some visitors from starting their Hawaii vacations and keeping others from going home. Star-Advertiser.

Airlines have canceled flights in and out of Hawaii due to Tropical Storm Flossie. Powerful winds and heavy rains have left many visitors stranded or unable to get here. Hawaii Public Radio.

Even as Flossie drifts away and dissipates to a remnant of a tropical storm, she leaves behind ample moisture to cause thunderstorms this afternoon and heavy rain Wednesday in Honolulu, forecasters said. Star-Advertiser.

Although the state received a drenching and strong winds, Hawaii benefited, as it has in the past, from high-altitude wind shear that took the top off the storm along with some of its dangerous punch, experts say. Star-Advertiser.

A week before most of Hawaii’s students return to school, the state education department was cleared from its “high-risk” status that had threatened a $75 million grant targeted for reforming struggling schools. Associated Press.

The U.S. Department of Education has lifted a restriction on a $75 million federal grant that had raised doubts about Hawaii’s ability to improve low-performing public schools. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii State Department of Education’s four-year, $75 million Race to the Top grant is no longer considered high risk after a recent evaluation from the U.S. Department of Education, according to a Monday announcement. Pacific Business News.

Hanabusa Aide May Have Mixed Campaign and Congressional Work. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and Arts is putting out an international call for artists to create art in honor of the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye and U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink. The foundation says the state Legislature passed a measure to commission sculptures honoring Inouye and Mink to go near the state Capitol. The Legislature instructed that $250,000 be spent for each work. Associated Press.

State Rep. Karen Awana still owes $800 in fines for failing to keep campaign spending records and filing false reports dating back to 2008. The four-term Democrat has $16,000 in her campaign account, which she could have used to complete the delinquent payments months ago. Civil Beat.

A Hawaiian Electric Co. report outlining its strategy for meeting the energy needs of its customers fell short in several areas and did not adequately address the impact of the rapid growth of rooftop solar photovoltaic systems on the utility's grid, according to consultant hired by state regulators to oversee the planning process. Star-Advertiser.

The independent expert hired by state regulators to oversee Hawaiian Electric Co.’s energy planning process is refusing to certify the utility's five-year energy plans, saying the company's work was shoddy despite what's expected to be an $11 million effort. Civil Beat.

State roundup for July 30. Associated Press.

Oahu

Paradise lost: Honolulu taxpayers drowning in crystal clear sea of debt. Hawaii Reporter.

The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Hawaii's Wastewater Treatment Plant at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam has reported that a clogged sand filtration polishing system touched off two partial bypasses — one last night and one today — at the effluent sand filtration system overflow weir. During the bypass incidents, the plant discharged a total of about 18,000 gallons of fully treated and disinfected secondary effluent through its deep multiport outfall without polishing effluent sand filtration. Star-Advertiser.

A defense attorney suggested Monday that a key prosecution witness knew that State Department Special Agent Christopher Deedy was a law enforcement officer when the witness said he initially thought the agent was carrying a Taser electronic stun gun. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Tropical Storm Flossie is expected to continue to fizzle as it moves westward after barely brushing the Big Island on Monday. Stephens Media.

The threat of Tropical Storm Flossie cost taxpayers more than $350,000 in lost worker productivity and it inconvenienced residents when garbage transfer stations were closed and public bus service suspended, but Mayor Billy Kenoi on Monday afternoon maintained a “better safe than sorry” stance. Stephens Media.

A federal judge indicated she will rule by Wednesday whether she or the jury should allow Hawaii island cannabis advocate Roger Christie to use a religious freedom defense at his marijuana trial. U.S. District Judge Leslie Koba­ya­shi heard arguments Monday by federal prosecutors who want her to rule that the defense under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act doesn't apply. Star-Advertiser.

Researchers at the University of Hawaii and the U.S. Department of Agriculture try to resolve vexing questions about how to deal with coffee berry borer beetles, an unwelcome new species that came to the state and quickly began to devastate Kona’s coffee crop. Civil Beat.

It was around 11 p.m. Sunday, and the dozens of families camping in tents at Keaukaha Beach Park had largely packed up and gone home in anticipation of Tropical Storm Flossie’s expected arrival. Stephens Media.

Maui

Maui Electric Company officials say 4,400 customers were brought back online overnight following multiple power outages reported across the island. Maui Now.

The Maui News set to launch all-digital access next month. Nonsubscribers will be able to view the beginning of each story.

Haleakala National Park is in the midst of repairing all seven visitor parking lots after "decades of wear," but the project is creating challenges for those who make the trek up the 10,000-foot mountain. Maui News.

Celebrating its fourth year of protecting fish along 2 miles of West Maui coastline, dozens of volunteers and officials with the Kahekili Herbivore Fishery Management Area gathered Sunday morning for food, entertainment and a seaweed-eating competition. Maui News.

Kauai

Kauai’s Westside could feel the most of what remains of the diminishing power of Flossie as it passes west of the island today. At about 5 p.m. Monday, the tropical storm was downgraded to a tropical depression, but a flash flood watch remained in effect for Kauai and Niihau. Garden Island.

On the eastern edge of Hanalei Bay, next to the St. Regis Princeville Resort, lies a hidden piece of ancient Hawaiian history — the remnants of a 600-year-old fishpond. Garden Island.