Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Hawaii 'Mars' researchers come down to Earth, reapportionment foes appeal to U.S. Supreme Court, state spends $24M more on software bid, WWII vet fights for benefits, Honolulu asks feds for garage space, murder only choice for Deedy jurors, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2013 All Hawaii News
Researchers emerge from HI-SEAS isolation dome (c) 2013 All Hawaii News
The Aloha State's unique and historic role in training for space exploration took another giant leap Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

Six space researchers who spent four months in isolation in a bright white dome perched on the northern flank of Mauna Loa emerged Tuesday squinting into the sunshine and marveling at the clear air in their nostrils, the cool breeze caressing their flesh and the lava rock crunching underfoot. West Hawaii Today.

See photos of the crew and the habitat here

Hawaii's drawn-out process to settle on its political district boundaries isn't quite finished. On Friday, the plaintiffs who are suing the state Office of Elections over its 2011 reapportionment plan appealed their case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Civil Beat.

Advocates for immigration reform will bring half a birthday cake Thursday to the local offices of U.S. Reps. Colleen Hana­busa and Tulsi Gabbard, marking the anniversary of a federal policy offering undocumented youth a reprieve from deportation. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Department of Human Services awarded a $90 million contract for software to comply with the Affordable Care Act to a multi-billion dollar consulting firm, KPMG, rather than a smaller company, EngagePoint, that has previously secured similar jobs in other states. But EngagePoint's bid would have cost taxpayers $24 million less. Civil Beat.

A World War II veteran is fighting to save his Social Security benefits after allegedly being called a traitor for protesting an over payment claim. Hawaii News Now.

The Hawaii Supreme Court last week articulated an expansive view of the public’s “right to know” and the open meeting requirements of the state’s Sunshine Law that should make openness advocates giddy. Civil Beat.

A Hawaii scientist has found a fly species whose bulging middle legs bear a resemblance to the spinach-fueled forearms of the cartoon sailor Popeye. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

A multi-billion-dollar rail system faces another legal hurdle Thursday before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. Hawaii Reporter.

Honolulu's City Transportation Director Mike Formby has appealed to a top Federal Transit Administration official to allow hundreds of city employees to park in a $19 million new parking garage that is nearly empty. Hawaii News Now.

The Department of Veterans Affairs plans to break ground around November on a project to put in 7,000 more columbarium "niches" for cremated remains at Punchbowl cemetery. Star-Advertiser.

The solar photovoltaic industry, one of the fastest growing sectors in Hawaii, may be showing signs of slowing down — July was the third straight month showing a year-over-year decline in permits issued on Oahu, according to new statistics collected by Marco Mangelsdorf, president of Hilo-based ProVision Solar. Pacific Business News.

After being battered by government officials and the media, a nonprofit at the center of a scandal involving millions of dollars in federal grant funds is fighting back. Civil Beat.

The jury in State Department special agent Christopher Deedy's murder trial will not have the option of convicting him on the lesser charge of manslaughter. Star-Advertiser.

Tucked behind Barber's Point, newcomer Road and Highway Builders has taken the unprecedented move of shipping in their business: 55,000 tons of crushed rock every three months. KITV4.

Some Kailua residents are upset about a state landscaping project they were never told about. The state chopped down a bunch of trees on a heavily used road. KHON2.

A Waikiki hotel is receiving more than $119,000 as a reward for installing energy efficient air conditioning systems and lights. Associated Press.

Hawaii

In written responses to an online survey, Hawaii Police Chief Harry Kubojiri said he is aware of his department’s “need to improve our visibility and response time.” Tribune-Herald.

The state Narcotics Enforcement Administration is flying marijuana eradication missions on the Big Island through today, a Hawaii Police Department spokeswoman said Tuesday. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii Public Radio’s decision to take over KAHU-FM means Ka‘u residents will end radio silence in the district. The Federal Communications Commission last week approved a transfer of ownership of the station from Ka‘u Community Radio Inc. to Hawaii Public Radio for the station, which airs at 91.7 FM. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Following in the footsteps of his predecessor, the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz pledged Monday to continue pursuing the goal of federal government recognition of Native Hawaiians as an indigenous group, similar to Native Americans and Alaskans. Maui News.

Home of Maui's alii, capital of the Hawaiian kingdom, rest stop for whaling ships, missionary headquarters, plantation town, popular visitor destination — "there are so many layers to Lahaina's story, from ancient times to the present," said Theo Morrison, executive director of the nonprofit Lahaina Restoration Foundation. "It's one of very few places that have been significant in all of Hawaii's major historical eras." Star-Advertiser.

Despite its boisterous name and affiliation with rock 'n' roll's Gene Simmons, owners of the proposed Rock & Brews restaurant Monday assured Paia residents that they are "one of the most family-friendly restaurants." Maui News.

Maui hotel occupancy for June rose 2.3 percentage points over last June to 69.7 percent, the only island in the state to register a gain for the month, according to Hospitality Advisors and Smith Travel Research. Maui News.

A new solar array at the Maui Coast Hotel in KÄ«hei is expected to generate enough energy annually to reduce electric costs by 30%, according to a company announcement. Maui Now.

Kauai

After two motions to withdrawal and amid threats of lawsuits Tuesday, the Kauai Planning Commission unanimously voted to contract a hearings officer for a contested case on the county’s request. The officer will hear a case regarding permits to accommodate tour boat activities at Black Pot Beach Park in Hanalei. Garden Island.

A retired car dealer who pleaded no contest to reckless endangerment in a deadly Kauai dam breach has billed the state $240,000. James Pflueger demanded the state pay for water it has been selling from his dam to local farmers for the past 20 years. Associated Press.

Last week’s incident involving a 74-year-old Kapaa resident operating a school bus under the influence was a first for Complex Area Superintendent Bill Arakaki. KPD reported Koth was not under the influence of alcohol. Garden Island.