Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Hawaii studies uptick in shark attacks, Abercrombie's ego factor in reelection bid, gay marriage bill unveiled, BOE chief's alleged conflict draws sheriffs to meeting, GMO hot topic on Kauai, PUC questions ex-member's possible conflict, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

sharks in Hawaii
Tiger shark
Hawaii officials plan to spend the next two years studying tiger shark movements around Maui amid what they call an unprecedented spike in overall shark attacks since the start of 2012. Associated Press.

A state-funded study to look at tiger shark movements around Maui is scheduled to begin next month in the wake of an alarming jump in shark attacks and the life-threatening injury of a visitor from Germany last week. Star-Advertiser.

PHOTOS: Hawaii Shark Attacks in 2013. Hawaii News Now.

News of the recent shark attacks is helping to boost business for at least one local company. Its product is called the Electronic Shark Defense System, or ESDS, and it acts like a shark deterrent. KHON2.

The draft of a gay marriage bill contains a more muscular religious exemption than the state's civil unions law, recognizing that the clergy and others have a constitutional right to refuse to perform gay marriages. Star-Advertiser.

A majority of Maui's state senators and representatives said Monday that they are in favor of a special legislative session to take up gay marriage. Maui News.

State sheriff's deputies were called to Tuesday's Board of Education meeting following a feisty exchange between advocate Mitch Kahle and board Chairman Don Horner, who is a pastor at one of the churches allegedly underpaying the state $5.6 million for use of school property. Star-Advertiser.

It's not every day that sheriffs are called to a Board of Education meeting. That happened after Mitch Kahle accused the BOE's chairman Donald Horner of a conflict of interest and threatened to subpoena Department of Education officials. Hawaii News Now.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie's surprising 50,000-vote victory in 2010 over the better-funded and heavily endorsed Mufi Hannemann boiled down to a simple political dynamic. Hannemann's ego-driven style as Hono­lulu mayor left droves of antagonized voters itching to take him down a peg, and Abercrombie sold himself as an acceptable alternative. Ironically, the same dynamic is at play in next year's Democratic primary between Abercrombie and state Sen. David Ige, except this time it's Abercrombie who must beware of antagonized voters. Star-Advertiser.

The state Ethics Commission has been shorthanded for more than a year, but that could change soon. The commission is set to welcome Ruth Tschumy as its newest member Wednesday. That’ll keep the five-member commission at four members, since it was already down two and the most recent meeting was Chair Maria Sullivan's last. Civil Beat.

State roundup for August 21. Associated Press.

Oahu

As the newest addition to Mayor Kirk Caldwell's administration, newly appointed Chief of Staff Ray Soon said his years of experience in public- and private-sector work should help him hit the ground running in his new role. Star-Advertiser.

In recent months an announcement of a new high-rise condominium tower usually meant it was going up in Kakaako, but today a developer will outline plans to build four condo towers in Kapolei. Star-Advertiser.

California developer Franco Mola recently submitted a scaled-down proposal for the 803 Waimanu St. project in Kakaako to the Hawaii Community Development Authority, his third attempt at developing a Honolulu condominium project. Pacific Business News.

A Circuit Court jury deliberated a second full day without reaching a verdict in State Department special agent Christopher Deedy's murder trial. The panel returns to court this morning for more deliberations. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Three Big Island public schools are among the top-ranked institutions in the state, according to the Hawaii Department of Education’s newest Strive HI performance standards. Tribune-Herald.

Kona Community Hospital CEO Jay Kreuzer on Tuesday laid out a laundry list of physical needs hospital officials hope the state Legislature will address. West Hawaii Today.

Someone else’s trees would have to create a “clear and present danger” to a neighbor before the county could step in, under amendments to a bill considered Tuesday by the County Council Environmental Management Committee. The bill makes it easier for the county to remove unsafe trees from private property, and to place a lien on the offending property if the owner doesn’t pay for removal. West Hawaii Today.

Renovation work has begun in earnest to attract new tenants to the Waiakea Villas commercial complex in Hilo, Peter Savio said Tuesday. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

After about a month and a half of providing paratransit services, Maui Economic Opportunity looks to have everyone on "the same page" wanting to "make things better," said one rider who uses the service. Maui News.

A measure to remove parking restrictions at the Old Wailuku Post Office parking lot and other lots near the Kalana O Maui building passed the Maui County Council on Tuesday. Maui News.

Molokai

Molokai’s Maunaloa Elementary school earned high marks in the state’s new report card. The school was the only one in Maui County to earn high performance classification with 343 points out of a total of 400, under the state’s new Strive HI Performance System. Maui Now.

Kauai

More than 20 people wearing blue shirts attended a Kauai County Council meeting Tuesday afternoon to show opposition to Bill 2491, which would affect companies that grow genetically modified organisms. Garden Island.

In a pair of letters sent to The Garden Island Monday, Hawaii Crop Improvement Association Executive Director Alicia Maluafiti described the conduct and videotaping of public hearings on Bill 2491 as “discriminatory” and “manipulative.” Garden Island.

Several committees at the Kauai County Council are scheduled to work today on more than a handful of proposals, some of which have attracted passionate testimony during previous public hearings or meetings. Garden Island.

Lanai

A former state utility commissioner who is now representing a company that wants to build a wind farm on Lanai is in ethical hot water with his former colleagues. Civil Beat.