Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hawaii researchers probe mercury in fish, Deedy jury was leaning to acquittal, health costs climb, special session for gay marriage would cost $25,800, solar may get more pricey, Honolulu has bad drivers, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii fishermen (c) 2013 All Hawaii News
Hawaii and Michigan researchers say they've discovered how large quantities of toxic mercury end up in the fish we eat — and their work suggests that levels will rise in the coming decades. Star-Advertiser.

Hawai'i took an especially hard hit during the recession, and families with children are among those who suffered the most, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. A new report using data from the American Community Survey and Current Population Survey released Tuesday indicates the number of unemployed parents trying to raise a family in Hawai'i skyrocketed by 95% from 2005 to 2011. Hawaii News Now.

Malama Solomon and other members of Hawaii's Senate Water and Land Committee say the state should sue the U.S. Navy for roughly $100 million because it didn’t clean up all the ordnance that it dropped on the small island of Kahoolawe. Civil Beat.

A State Senate Committee conducted a hearing today on the impact of federal cuts on departmental operations and state jurisdiction over Hawaiian waters. Hawaii Public Radio.

Health care costs in Hawaii have grown 6.2 percent annually for nearly the past two decades but are still rising at a slower rate than the national average. Statewide costs rose to an average of $6,856 per person from 1991 to 2009, according to a study due out today by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services. That compares to the national average of 6.5 percent and health spending per person of $6,815. Star-Advertiser.

A special session to consider same-sex marriage legislation would cost Hawaii taxpayers about $25,800 — or about 1.9 cents for each of the 1.39 million men, women and children in the state. That cost estimate, provided to Civil Beat from state House Chief Clerk Brian Takeshita, assumes that a session would last just five days. Civil Beat.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii Democratic Party and numerous special interest groups are pushing lawmakers to hold a special session to legalize gay marriage. The governor, a long time proponent of gay marriage, can call lawmakers into session, but first wants to ensure he has the votes. Hawaii Reporter.

A proposed rule change that would allow only licensed electricians to install solar photovoltaic panels may increase the cost of installations in Hawaii and limit the number of companies that install projects, according to several sources within the solar PV industry. Pacific Business News.

State roundup for August 28. Associated Press.

Oahu
Honolulu is among the worst when it comes to safe driving, ranked at 128 of 200 cities in Allstate America's Best Drivers Report. Island drivers aren't as bad as those in New York; Oakland, Calif.; New Orleans; Buffalo, N.Y.; Pittsburgh; San Jose, Calif.; Los Angeles; Miami; Dallas; San Francisco; and last-place Washington, D.C., the report shows. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu ranks among the worst cities for road conditions and traffic congestion, but a new study by Allstate Insurance gives Oahu drivers a bad rating as well. Honolulu comes in a No. 128 of 200 U.S. cities in the newly released 2013 “Allstate America’s Best Drivers Report” and is considered one of the least safe cities for drivers. Hawaii Reporter.

People who work in town and drive through Central Oahu to get home can easily easily spend an hour in pau hana traffic. But the State Department of Transportation is working to ease afternoon commute times by creating a PM zipperlane, and the project is about to ramp up. KHON2

About 40 workers within the Athletics Department at the University of Hawaii Manoa campus have been forced to forgo overtime compensation after a memorandum of agreement with the state’s largest public worker union expired June 30. KITV.

A Circuit Court jury reached an impasse at 8-4 in favor of acquitting State Department special agent Christopher Deedy of murdering Kollin Elderts in the 2011 shooting at a Waikiki McDonald’s restaurant, the foreman of the jury said Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Keith Kaneshiro was unapologetic Tuesday for how his office handled the Christopher Deedy murder trial that ended Monday in a hung jury. Civil Beat.

Next summer Christopher Deedy will be retried on second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Kollin Elderts. Hawaii News Now.

A protest on behalf of shooting victim Kollin Elderts was held in Waikiki Tuesday. Protesters are angry about the mistrial and believe Christopher Deedy is guilty of murder. KHON2.

Oahu fishermen will get an opportunity to air their concerns before the chairman of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. DLNR Chairman William Aila Jr. will listen to fishermen and answer questions at an informal "talk story" session on Sept. 4. Associated Press.

Hawaii

Hawaii County will pay another $400,000 for a water tank completed in 2004 that hasn’t yet been put into use. West Hawaii Today.

Jessica R. Walsh and Victoria C. Fiore testified in U.S. District Court on Tuesday in a hearing to determine whether the court will allow marijuana advocate Roger Christie and his wife, Sherry­anne, to use the religious defense in their upcoming trial for marijuana possession, distribution, manufacture and conspiracy charges. The trial is scheduled for early October. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island led the way in the state during the first half of 2013 in new car sales, according to the latest Auto Outlook scorecard from the Hawaii Auto Dealers Association. Big Isle new retail light vehicle registrations increased by 16 percent through the end of June this year, compared to the same period last year, when a total of 2,517 new registrations were filed. Tribune-Herald.

The state Board of Land and Natural Resources has approved a plan to construct 22 miles of fencing to protect a key watershed in Ka`u from the negative impact of pigs and other ungulates. Big Island Now.

Maui

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa said he believes most shark bites are accidental in nature, and does not personally like the idea of hunting sharks or setting up barrier fences off shore. Maui Now.

Jeff Bagshaw's first visit to Haleakala National Park was a "light bulb experience." On that 1988 hiking and camping trip with his college group from Washington state, he saw more endangered wildlife in three days than he had in months on the mainland. Star-Advertiser.

Kauai

After months of searching, Kauai County officials are still looking for a vendor to set up shop in a vacant Wailua Golf Course clubhouse concession area. “The county has not received any bids on the operation of the Wailua Golf Course restaurant to date,” County of Kauai spokeswoman Mary Daubert said in an e-mail. “Our hope is to find an operator and get the concession running as soon as possible.” Garden Island.

For the second time in a week, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard returned to the Garden Isle Tuesday, with a jam-packed schedule. Garden Island.

A juvenile Hawaiian green sea turtle found entangled in a fishing line or netting off Kauai's north shore was euthanized Monday after it suffered irreparable damage to its flippers. Star-Advertiser.

A coalition of 35 volunteers removed more than 1,500 pounds of marine debris from Hanamaulu Beach on Saturday. Garden Island.