Thursday, September 5, 2013

Interior Secretary discusses Hawaiian recognition, homelands; overlooked gates add $27M to Honolulu rail project, Kauai Planning Commission chair allowed to work as private lobbyist; Hanabusa, Schatz split labor backing; GMO hot topic; HuffPost Hawaii draws fans, critics, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Native Hawaiian protest file photo (c) 2013 All Hawaii News
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Wednesday the Obama administration is exploring possible administrative options for pursuing federal recognition of Native Hawaiians. But she stopped short of saying the president supports going that route if it's doable. Star-Advertiser.

On federal recognition, which has never made it through the U.S. Senate despite the decade-long effort of Sens. Daniel K. Inouye and Daniel Akaka, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewel said the Obama administration was "looking at different options to move on a path forward." Though she did not elaborate, one of those options could be recognition of Hawaiians through the Interior Department, the path taken by many Native American tribes. Civil Beat.

It’s time to assess the Hawaiian homelands trust and think about where it should be when the centennial of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act arrives in eight years, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Wednesday. It’s been 30 years since a federal task force addressed the topic in 1983, Jewell said while delivering the keynote address at the 12th annual Native Hawaiian Convention. Associated Press.

Three Chinese navy warships will pull into Pearl Harbor Friday on the first such visit in seven years, the U.S. Navy said. The visiting ships include the Qingdao, a Luhu-class destroyer; Linyi, a Jiangkai-class frigate; and Hongzehu, a Fuqing-class fleet oiler. Star-Advertiser.

One of the state's largest public worker unions, the United Public Workers, is backing U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. The 13,000-member union announced its endorsement at a news conference Wednesday, along with those of six smaller labor unions. Star-Advertiser.

Hoping to dent early labor support for her Democratic primary opponent, Sen. Brian Schatz, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa received the endorsement of a half-dozen unions Wednesday (Sept. 4), including the United Public Workers AFSCME Local 646. Civil Beat.

From the weather and the beaches to the aloha culture of extended families looking out for one another, Hawaii is a pretty good place to be a kid. But when you consider the state’s record on educating its youngest, most vulnerable residents, it doesn’t look quite so much like paradise. HuffPost Hawaii.

HuffPost Hawaii only adds to the world’s distorted view of Paradise. Pacific Business News.

How Come So Many Teachers Bail on Hawaii's Public Schools? Civil Beat.

A federal program to speed up airport security screenings for certain travelers is expanding to airports on Maui, the Big Island and Kauai. The U.S. Transportation Security Administration said Wednesday it will expand faster screening lanes to 100 airports by year end, up from 40 now. Associated Press.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Marine Debris Program announced Wednesday that it provided $967,000 through NOAA's Restoration Center to support locally driven, community-based marine debris prevention and removal projects. KITV.

Oahu

Today board members overseeing Honolulu’s rail project will consider approving an additional $27.1 million to add safety gates at the 21 stations along the route. Called platform screen gates, they would help prevent passengers from falling onto the tracks. However, the safety feature was not budgeted for Oahu’s planned elevated rail system. Star-Advertiser.

Most residential real estate brokers who are experts in Honolulu’s Kahala market hope that the rumors are true regarding the possible sale of some or all of the more than two dozen properties owned by Japanese billionaire Genshiro Kawamoto, but no one could confirm reports that the rundown homes in the luxury oceanfront neighborhood are being sold. Pacific Business News.

Ho‘opili, some of the best land for farming in the State, has been arbitrarily exempted from Important Agricultural Land protection and seems doomed to be paved over and turned into a housing development. Hawaii Independent.

The planned expansion of an industrial park next to Kawainui Marsh is drawing the ire of the Kailua Neighborhood Board and environmental groups worried about the project's impact. Star-Advertiser.

The head of the Hawaii Kai association that's dumping tons of sludge in a Waianae neighborhood says there nothing unsafe in the materials and lashed out at residents who oppose the dumping. Hawaii News Now.

West Oahu seniors and those with disabilities will no longer have to spend two hours on the road for help with their Social Security needs. KHON2.

Hawaii

The battle over the future of crop biotechnology on the island of Hawaii escalated with the opening of hearings this week on two measures designed to end crop biotechnology. Forbes.

The debate over genetically modified crops and food is a serious one. But it can be easy to lose sight of that, especially amid the feisty — some might say volatile — Hawaii County Council Public Safety and Mass Transit committee's debate Wednesday about a pair of bills to ban GMOs on the island. Civil Beat.

The crowds were smaller but no less determined Wednesday as the Hawaii County Council started over with testimony on legislation to ban or restrict genetically altered crops. The meeting was the first in a month on the controversial issue, and one of many since the ongoing discussion of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, started again last May. Tribune-Herald.

The County Council’s Committee on Public Safety & Mass Transit today heard nearly five hours of testimony on proposed legislation that would limit the growing of genetically modified crops on the Big Island. Big Island Now.

The backers of the Thirty Meter Telescope are taking a small yet significant step as they began seeking contractors to start land clearing on the top of Mauna Kea. The approximately $6 million contract would allow for grading the 4.85-acre site, paving a 0.61-mile road and installation of drainage and utility conduits. Tribune-Herald.

Preapproved travelers will be able to skip some security measures at Kona International Airport by the end of this year. The Transportation Security Administration on Wednesday announced the Kona airport was one of 60 being added to the TSA’s PreCheck Program, which allows frequent fliers to submit some personal information, then be subjected to limited security inspections once at preapproved airports. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

The state's new Community Fisheries Enforcement Unit has issued 12 citations for fishing violations in waters off Maui since it launched operations in the spring. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources said Wednesday the violations including the use of prohibited lay nets, catching undersized opihi, kumu and hee and using a prohibited net in the Kahului Fisheries Management Area. Associated Press.

Thanks to a few operational changes, Maui Electric says it is now using 91 percent of the Valley Isle’s available wind energy. The nearly 20 percent improvement is expected to trim $22 annually off a typical Maui home’s electric bill, MECO said Wednesday. The company expects to push it up to 98 percent — another $7 to $10 in savings — with additional changes over the next several years. Civil Beat.

Kahului Airport will be added to a list of airports with TSA PreCheck service, enabling low-risk passengers to move more quickly through checkpoint screening, officials said. Maui Now.

While all Maui County Council members agreed that acquiring 186 acres at Launiupoko in West Maui would be a boon for the community, some members expressed concern with the proposed deal's $13 million price tag. Maui News.

The Maui County Council Budget and Finance Committee approved on Tuesday a measure that would allow the Department of Water Supply to secure a $9 million appropriation of state revolving loan funds to develop the West Maui Mahinahina water well, instead of using its own generated revenue and county-issued general obligation bonds. Maui News.

Sea-level rise has been identified as a principal cause of coastal erosion in Hawaiʻi, according to a study released this week by the University of Hawaiʻi. The study notes that Maui beaches are eroding at 13cm per year, with 78% of beaches on the island’s beaches showing erosion over the past century. Maui Now.

Kauai

The county Board of Ethics voted Tuesday to allow a member of the county’s Boards and Commissions to testify on behalf of a private company before a government body. Garden Island.

Supporters of a bill that proposes to regulate genetically modified crops and pesticide use by large agricultural operations on Kauai will march this weekend to show solidarity before a County Council committee takes action Monday. Thousands are expected to participate in the Mana March at noon Sunday, a day before the Council’s Economic Development, Agriculture, Sustainability and Intergovernmental Relations Committee reconvenes to discuss Bill 2491. Star-Advertiser.