Thursday, July 18, 2013

Tulsi in the spotlight, Honolulu arrest death ruled homicide, electricity bills double, Hawaii state counties conference gets rowdy, Honolulu council sets sights on tax hikes, Maui aims to save the trees, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Democratic National convention 2012
Tulsi Gabbard at 2012 Democratic National Convention
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard will have a leading role in a bipartisan coalition to reduce government waste and inefficiency as the freshman Hawaii Democrat positions herself as a problem solver in Congress. No Labels is expected to announce a package of reform legislation this morning backed by more than 70 House and Senate Demo­crats and Republicans. Star-Advertiser.

Freshman Rep. Tulsi Gabbard on Wednesday expressed deep disappointment with Congress even as she urged more women, young people and diverse candidates to run. Politico.

Electric bills have doubled over the past decade in Hawaii as state regulators search for sustainable ways to provide power to thousands of homes and businesses. Meantime, utility executives are banking millions of dollars in annual salaries and benefits while they bemoan declining sales due to more people going off the grid. Civil Beat.

Robbie Alm is leaving his post as executive vice president of Hawaiian Electric Co. as of Aug. 30 after more than a decade at Hawaii’s largest utility, HECO said Wednesday. Pacific Business News.

Robbie Alm, who has been the public face of Hawaiian Electric Co. for the past decade, will be leaving the company August 30, according to a company press release. Civil Beat.

More than 27,000 U.S. and Australian forces are taking part in military training exercises for the next two and a half weeks. Most of the drills are off the coast of Australia—but the Navy says some activities will take place in Hawaii. Hawaii Public Radio.

The University of Hawaii has signed a new five-year contract with the U.S. Navy for a controversial research lab even though anticipated revenue is significantly less than expected and officials will reveal little about the lab's operations. Civil Beat.

Ever since KHON2 did a story about a state hummer, the questions keep on coming about the state using everything from fancy SUVs to brand new Harley Davidsons. People are asking KHON2 to dig deeper about what the state sheriffs are driving, and at what cost.

State roundup for July 18. Associated Press.

Oahu

Nine bills designed to curb property tax exemptions and create new tax categories that would make it easier for the City Council to raise rates on some targeted groups of owners were passed by the Council Budget Committee on Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu Medical Examiner's Office has ruled as a homicide the death in June of Stephen Dinnan, who was restrained by a police officer investigating a stolen vehicle report in Waimanalo. Star-Advertiser.

A rapidly growing network of police cameras is capturing, storing and sharing data on license plates, making possible a stitching together of people's movements whether they are stuck in a commute, making tracks to the beach or up to no good. And Honolulu police plan to get on the nationwide bandwagon. Star-Advertiser.

The head of the police officers union in Hawaii told City Council members on Wednesday that officers are given a standard of conduct differential pay allowance because officers are expected to carry their firearms and confront danger 24 hours a day, unlike other government workers. Star-Advertiser.

Kakaako is envisioned to become Oahu's "third city" as it is redeveloped with thousands of homes, more retail, parks and upgraded roads and sewers. But no one, including the state agency regulating development in the area, plans to add any schools. Star-Advertiser.

Ewa Beach homeowners sue over scrapped marina. Homeowners in Ewa Beach's Hoakalei Resort and Ocean Pointe communities say they bought their properties because developer Haseko Inc.'s government-approved master plan project included as the main physical attraction a small boat marina that connects to the ocean. Star-Advertiser.

It Wasn't Magic — a Real Estate Developer Made an Entire Marina Disappear. Civil Beat.

Some Kahala homeowners say the city hasn't done enough to enforce a new property blight law in their neighborhood, but city leaders say they've gone so far as to begin the process of putting up a lien on one particular repeat offender. Hawaii News Now.

A prosecution witness testified Wednesday that U.S. State Department special agent Christopher Deedy smelled of alcohol the morning of the 2011 fatal shooting of Kollin Elderts at a McDonald’s restaurant in Waikiki. Star-Advertiser.

Day 7: Jury shown police photographs of Deedy after arrest. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Pacific University and the Oceanic Institute plans to merge in a move that would make the Waimanalo-based nonprofit research and development organization the research arm of the state’s largest private university, HPU has confirmed to PBN. Pacific Business News.

The Howard Hughes Corporation envisions a 38-story tower at the old Dixie Grill location on the corner of Ward and Halekauwila streets. KITV4.

About 300 people were seen running down Lewers Street in a panic Wednesday night. But those people were extras in the latest motion picture production of "Godzilla," which wraps up its filming early Thursday morning. Hawaii News Now.

Monster on Lewers street! Moviemakers producing “Godzilla” place film extras in Waikiki for a scene in which they flee in panic from the terrible lizard. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Hotel security shut down a loud hospitality suite hosted by a lobbyist whose client list includes a GMO company, but most Hawaii County Council members attending the Hawaii State Association of Counties conference on Kauai last month said there was more county business than partying going on. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii Island public school buses will begin using high-tech routing software and global positioning system (GPS) tracking in the 2015-16 academic year, as the state Department of Education expands a plan to overhaul its transportation system. Tribune-Herald.

Speed limit signs will soon become more than an advisory in Hawaiian Paradise Park. Tribune-Herald.

Ka’u radio station closes. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

It likely will be more difficult to remove trees on public and private property under bills proposed by Maui County Council Vice Chairman Robert Carroll. Maui News.

Year after year, Maui veterans have fought to update and relocate several offices to create a one-stop medical complex in Central Maui. Over the next few years, their dream may finally come true. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs approved earlier this year a 15,000-square-foot facility with a budget of just under $10 million. Maui News.

In response to complaints about its paratransit service, Maui Economic Opportunity Inc. announced that it is hiring more qualified drivers to meet the demands of its hundreds of new disabled clients. Maui News.

Maui County will work with three Hawaii affordable housing experts to make recommendations on how to handle the more than $10 million owed to the county by the nonprofit agency that runs the low income housing project Hale Makana O Waiale in Wailuku. Maui News.

A man who was awarded a state contract to start a recycling business on Maui has been charged with forgery and theft for allegedly submitting false invoices and obtaining more than $200,000. Maui News.

Kauai

Over the last two months, the Open Space Commission has held meetings around the island to gather input regarding places on Kauai that community members feel should be preserved and protected . The last in this round of meetings will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. July 24 at The Hanalei Community Center. Garden Island.

The Department of Education is continuing to investigate a complaint filed against Kapaa Middle School Principal Nathan Aiwohi. Garden Island.

Four years after the demise of the Hawaii Superferry, the ghosts of the interisland ocean route that sank millions of dollars of public money still linger. Garden Island.