Monday, July 8, 2013

Smoking ban coming to Oahu beaches and parks, federal report blasts JPAC, Hawaii Army National Guard on furlough, federal agent's murder trial starts today, Kauai addresses beach bathrooms, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Waikiki beach scene (c) 2013 All Hawaii News
Lawmakers could get one step closer to making it harder to light up in Oahu. This week two smoking bills face final readings. Smoking at all city and county public parks could become illegal. KITV4.

A new state law allowing proof of ancestry to be taken from several sources is expected to make it easier to expand the roll of Native Hawaiians - a move that could help them form their own government. Associated Press.

Monday will not be a work day for some 1,100 full-time members of the Hawaii Army National Guard. It will be a furlough day, thanks to federal sequestration budget cuts. Hawaii News Now.

The Pentagon's Hawaii-based effort to account for tens of thousands of Americans missing in action from foreign wars is so inept, mismanaged and wasteful that it risks descending from "dysfunction to total failure," according to an internal study suppressed by military officials. The report paints a picture of a Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, a military-run group known as JPAC and headed by a two-star general in Hawaii, as woefully inept and even corrupt. Associated Press.

Mere hours before the world was introduced to Edward Snowden, more than 400 people, many of them from Hawaii’s intelligence community, gathered for a gala inside the hangar of the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor at Ford Island. Civil Beat.

A Civil Beat review found at least eight high-level Public Utilities Commission employees who have left in the past several years for jobs at HECO, other utilities the commission regulates or law firms representing those companies.  The turnover is troubling in and of itself, but it’s of particular concern when PUC employees head down the street to Hawaiian Electric Co.

An arbitration panel has awarded a six-year contract with increases staggered in the fourth through sixth years of its term for members of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers. Maui News.

The state’s first performance contract with public charter schools will give the schools’ governing commission the authority to do more than threaten to revoke a school’s charter, the commission’s executive director said this week. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii teachers often struggle to incorporate art into their classes because of severely limited public funding and the demands of federal and state education requirements that place an emphasis on testing in core subjects such as math and reading. Civil Beat.

The number of initial unemployment claims filed in Hawaii dropped by 15.4 percent last week compared to the same week of 2012, according to the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. Pacific Business News.

State roundup for July 8. Associated Press.

Oahu

The trial for a federal agent charged with murder in the shooting death of a man at the Waikiki McDonald's begins Monday morning. Hawaii News Now will be live streaming the proceedings starting Monday at 10 a.m.

A mega church is changing the landscape of West Oahu. They are moving forward with purchasing more than 200 acres of Kunia farmland and building an entire church community. KHON2 sat down with the pastor of New Hope Leeward in an exclusive interview to find out what this $30 million expansion plan entails.

Hawaii

Hawaii Island is poised to become a major player in the U.S. oyster industry, as growers on the mainland wrestle with the effects of climate change. Tribune-Herald.

Now that each County Council member gets a $98,877 contingency fund, Hilo Councilman Dennis Onishi wants to be sure the money goes for district necessities rather than donated to nonprofits. West Hawaii Today.

The Hawaii County Council Planning Committee will hear two bills proposing reforms to the Planned Unit Development process at a 9:15 a.m. Tuesday hearing in Hilo. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

The Maui County Council voted Friday to move forward with a formal investigation into the potential misuse of county funds appropriated for rehabilitation of the Old Wailuku Post Office.Maui News.

Agreeing that Maui County residents are "increasingly frustrated" with Maui Electric Co., Mayor Alan Arakawa has written to Public Utility Commission Chairwoman Hermina Morita to thank the commission for its recent decision to lower power rates. Maui News.

The Maui County Council gave initial approval on Friday to a bill that seeks to rename the Waiheʻe Ball Park on Halewaiu Road to the Richard “Pablo” Caldito Sr. Park. Maui Now.

Kauai

In response to the growing concern over the bathrooms at county parks, Mayor Bernard Carvalho has assembled a multi-agency team to address repairs and upgrades to county parks. Garden Island.

State officials are proposing nighttime construction to mitigate traffic impacts and fast track a project to improve flow for more than 27,000 vehicles that cross the old Lihue Mill Bridge daily. Garden Island.