Friday, July 12, 2013

Hawaii reapportionment upheld, federal judges oppose Honolulu rail route, race becomes issue in Deedy trial, Schatz and Hanabusa raise campaign cash, roving state reps get free trips, police raise to cost millions, Kauai missile range greets new commander, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

The Hawaii Reapportionment Commission’s justification in redrawing legislative districts so Hawaii Island received a fourth Senate seat embodied “rational, legitimate and substantial state policies,” a federal court panel said Thursday in dismissing a lawsuit challenging the new maps’ constitutionality. West Hawaii Today.

A federal three-judge panel has ruled in favor of the reapportionment plan Hawaii used during the most recent general election. Associated Press.

The 2012 reapportionment and redistricting plan does not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court said in upholding its previous decision to deny an injunction sought by a group of voters that challenged the plan. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii does not have to count some 108,000 “nonpermanent residents" — mostly students and military — when drawing the boundaries of state districts, according to a federal court order issued today. Civil Beat.

A typhoon is barreling toward Taiwan where a group of Hawaii residents are visiting this week. Governor Neil Abercrombie was on that tour, but cut his trip short and raced home a day earlier to miss the storm. KHON2.

U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa opened her Democratic primary campaign against U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz with $500,000 in fundraising, her campaign announced Thursday, well below the mark set by Schatz. Star-Advertiser.

Gift disclosure statements filed last month by two state lawmakers revealed an unexpected and intriguing donor from half a world away: The Republic of Azerbaijan. The thriving oil-fueled nation just north of Iran flew Reps. Rida Cabanilla and Mark Takai halfway across the world for the U.S.-Azerbaijan Convention in May. Civil Beat.

State employees and legislators receiving free golf perks from companies that do business with the state have caught the attention of the Hawaii Ethics Commission. Associated Press.

CNBC has released its report America's Top States for Doing Business 2013. No surprise to business owners in Hawaii that the 50th state came in dead last in the annual ranking and is considered the worst place to do business in the country. Hawaii Reporter.

Occupancy dipped a little at Hawaii hotels in May, which hoteliers say will probably be their worst-performing month of the year. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii hotels experienced double-digit increases in occupancy during the week of July 4 when compared to the same week last year, while occupancy changes were mixed across the four major islands, according to the latest report from Hospitality Advisors LLC and Smith Travel Research. Pacific Business News.

Hiroshima Still Echoes in Hawaii Nearly 70 Years After Atomic Bomb Blast. Civil Beat.

State roundup for July 12. Associated Press.

Oahu

The federal District Court in Hawaii took renewed aim this week at the planned route for the city's rail line, saying it fails to meet the $5.26 billion project's stated purpose by ending at Ala Moana Center — a shopping mall — instead of the University of Hawaii's Manoa campus. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Chief U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway has blasted the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s decision to run the proposed rail transit route to Ala Moana Center and urged the agency to reconsider an alternate route that would include a tunnel under Beretania Street. Pacific Business News.

All 11 of Hawaii’s federal judges have submitted a letter to The Federal Transit Administration and the city’s Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation that opponents of the city’s elevated steel rail project are calling a “bombshell” and “unprecedented.” Hawaii Reporter.

In a time of tight budgets, a new Hawaii police union contract will cost the City and County of Honolulu an additional $200 million over the next four years, according to a memo Mayor Kirk Caldwell sent to the city council earlier this week. Civil Beat.

An unanticipated expense in the arbitrated four-year contract awarded the police officers union will cost Oahu taxpayers about 36 percent more than city officials had originally anticipated. Star-Advertiser.

Prosecution raises race as issue in Deedy trial. Hawaii News Now.

Racial overtones surfaced during State Department special agent Christopher Deedy's murder trial Thursday with testimony from a McDonald's restaurant customer who supposedly was racially harassed and a fellow agent who testified that he told Deedy some "locals" don't like mainlanders. Star-Advertiser.

Audit of UH Culinary Arts programs uncovers lax accounting, oversight of food inventory. KITV4.

Hawaii

The USDA will spend $1 million to combat coffee berry borer on Hawaii Island, officials said Thursday morning. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii island coffee farmers are getting a $1 million boost from the federal government to help in their fight against the coffee berry borer, an invasive species that is "devastating" their operations. Star-Advertiser.

A spokesman for Mayor Billy Kenoi said the county will “have to find the money within the current year’s budget” to fund raises for police officers. Tribune-Herald.

The state Department of Human Services has suspended the operating license of a Kailua-Kona day care center for the second time this year, the state announced Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

There's been lots of discussion throughout the state about the need to have more farmers and to have more of our food grown right here at home. On Hawaii Island, there's a program to develop new farmers--and they're looking for candidates. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hilo nurse honored for efforts to curb infections. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Many of Maui's nonprofit social and human service agencies are facing uncertainty as they move into the fifth month of the federal budget cutbacks--known as "sequestration"--that went into affect on March 1. Maui Weekly.

Both Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company on Maui, and Monsanto Company on Molokaʻi were cited by the Hawaiʻi Department of Health Clean Air Branch after the agency received dust complaints, officials said. Maui Now.

Mayor Alan Arakawa recently visited Hangzhou, China, capital of eastern China's Zhejiang Province, where he attended the Second Annual World Cultural Forum from May 17 to 19. Maui Weekly.

After a morning of presiding over court cases, 2nd Circuit Judge Richard Bissen walked across the street from the courthouse to his doctor's office for his regular checkup. Just hours later, after undergoing an electrocardiogram at the doctor's office and being sent to Maui Memorial Medical Center for more testing to examine his heart activity, Bissen was taken to the operating room for emergency heart surgery. Maui News.

Kauai

In grand style, the Pacific Missile Range Facility welcomed its new commander — and bid farewell to his predecessor — Thursday inside the facility’s base operations hangar. Garden Island.

The three defendants named in the civil rights lawsuit filed by Kauai County Councilman Tim Bynum have filed motions to dismiss the case this week, according to county officials. Garden Island.

Attorneys Kyle Smith and Gerard Jervis, who represent the Kauai’s Westside community in an ongoing lawsuit against Pioneer Hi-Bred International, have compiled a list of chemicals used by the company. They will disclose the information during a public meeting beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday at Waimea Canyon Middle School. Garden Island.

A few hours after being posted online Wednesday afternoon, the “Save Coco Palms” petition was pulled without explanation. Garden Island.

Molokai

A year after a fire destroyed Hotel Molokai’s kitchen , Hula Shores restaurant and bar is one step closer to repairing and reopening its dining facilities. Hotel Molokai was approved for repairs at the June 26 Molokai Planning Commission meeting, securing their ability to begin construction soon. Molokai Dispatch.

Kahoolawe

Funds for the cleanup and restoration of Kahoolawe are expected to run out in 2016, yet only 13 percent of the job has been done, according to a report issued Thursday by the state legislative auditor. Star-Advertiser.