Thursday, September 12, 2013

Honolulu rail project resumes Monday, avocado exports allowed, molasses kill worse than thought, Kailua doesn't want tourists, pot minister religious defense denied, nurses sue Maui Memorial, dog fees hiked on Kauai, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy HART
Honolulu rail work, file photo courtesy HART
Construction workers will be back in the fields of East Kapolei erecting concrete columns for the city’s $5.26 billion rail project come Monday after the City Council’s approval Wednesday of two permits that allow for work to restart after more than a year of delays. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu City Council expedited approval of two critical measures Wednesday that allows construction of the $5.3 billion rail project to resume Monday morning. KITV.

The head of the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism says that in order for the state to reach its renewable energy goal, it needs an undersea cable connecting Oahu, Maui and eventually the Big Island’s electric grid and that, as a transitional fuel, liquefied natural gas, or LNG, needs to be shipped in to the state. Pacific Business News.

The state Public Utilities Commission will allow seven community, environmental and industry groups as well as energy developers and government officials to have a greater say in whether building an undersea cable to connect the electrical grids of Oahu and Maui is in the public interest. Allowing the "intervenors" to participate in the commission's investigation will give authorities better information about the potential costs and benefits of such a project, according to a PUC ruling issued Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

Now that Gov. Neil Abercrombie has set a date of Oct. 28 for lawmakers to take up the issue of gay marriage, the timing gives advocates and opponents ample time to lobby the Legislature over the issue. While critics say the five-day special session will stifle debate that would ordinarily take place over the course of a four-month-long regular session, others argue that a special session gives the issue the singular attention it deserves. Star-Advertiser.

Chad Blair: Is Sen. Hirono Our Stateswoman on Syria? Civil Beat.

Hawaii will again be sharing locally grown avocados with mainland consumers, after an overhaul of federal rules that had restricted the fruits from export to other states for more than two decades. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

The massive molasses spill in Honolulu Harbor earlier this week, which has already killed thousands of coastal-dwelling fish, appears to be worse than state health officials originally thought. Star-Advertiser.

State officials are rushing to head off an environmental and health disaster in Honolulu Harbor, where nearly a quarter million gallons of molasses from a ruptured pipeline have caused a massive marine die-off. On Wednesday, colorful surgeonfish, pufferfish and eels were swaying limp or lifeless in the currents. Civil Beat.

Thousands of fish are expected to die in Honolulu waters after a leaky pipe caused 1,400 tons of molasses to ooze into the harbor and kill marine life, state officials said. Hundreds of fish have been collected so far, the state Department of Health said in a statement Wednesday. Many more fish are expected to die and thousands will likely be collected, it said. Associated Press.

The molasses fish kill is even worse than expected, according to the state Health Department and marine biologists. Hawaii News Now.

Matson could face millions in federal fines after molasses spill. KHON2.

No surprises here. Honolulu City Councilman Stanley Chang’s bill that makes lying on the sidewalks illegal is being criticized for targeting the homeless.Civil Beat.

The posh properties along Kahala Avenue in East Honolulu that Alexander & Baldwin Inc. is buying from Japanese billionaire Genshiro Kawamoto could fetch at least $200 million, which is more than double what the Honolulu-based real estate company is paying, according to estimates from one Hawaii real estate expert. Pacific Business News.

The Kailua Neighborhood Board is protesting the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s decision to advertise the small town community as a tourist destination. Hawaii Reporter.

The first big swell of the season rolled in on the North Shore. Surfers are stoked, but residents are stunned. The surf is taking a toll on beach front homes pulling away chunks of trees, dirt and grass like putty. KHON2.

Seniors in the rigorous dietetics program at the University of Hawaii at Manoa may not be able to graduate at the end of this year because there is no one to teach a mandatory class. University administrators can't find a suitable accredited teacher to oversee a one-year course that two dozen or so seniors need to complete to earn their undergraduate degree. Civil Beat.

Hawaii

A federal judge Wednesday rejected the religious freedom defense raised by Hawaii island cannabis advocate Roger Christie to his marijuana-trafficking charges. U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi ruled that the prosecution had establish-ed that the practices of The Hawaii Cannabis Ministry, led by Christie, posed a substantial risk that marijuana would be distributed to people who were not members of the ministry and those people would use marijuana for nonreligious purposes. Star-Advertiser.

A state board this week will take up several financial matters involving the beleaguered Naniloa Volcanoes Resort. Among the issues that may come up at Friday’s meeting of the Board of Land and Natural Resources is whether the resort will be given additional time to add $500,000 to its performance bond. Big Island Now.

Maui

Four registered nurses of Asian descent are suing Maui Memorial Medical Center, alleging hospital managers didn't correct problems when the nurses were discriminated against and harassed by their supervisor based on their race. Maui News.

A 64-foot Pacific Whale Foundation catamaran was grounded on the shoreline near McGregor Point early Tuesday morning after striking rocks about a quarter-mile east of the point, fire officials said. Maui News.

Officials with the Pacific Whale Foundation say its grounded Ocean Odyssey vessel was removed from the rocky area near Papawai Point, Maui at approximately 8:30 this morning. Maui Now.

Kauai

A divided Kauai County Council approved Wednesday substantial increases to dog license fees and a new schedule of penalties for loose dogs. The action aims to reduce a $300,000 gap between county funding and the cost of services the nonprofit provides to the county. Garden Island.