Monday, September 9, 2013

Thousands march against GMO, Big Island to mull fracking, malls block voter registration, Hawaii taxpayers subsidize religious schools, Honolulu bill bans lying down on sidewalks, lobbyist law flouted, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Kauai anti-GMO march courtesy photo
Thousands of Kauaians — doctors, environmentalists, farmers, parents and concerned citizens from all walks of life — poured into the streets of Lihue in a sea of red Sunday to participate in what organizers are calling the largest march in the island’s history. Garden Island.

On the normally placid main street on Sunday afternoon, thousands of people marched in protest. As they snaked down Rice Street, toward the Kauai County Building, they chanted, "No More GMO! No More GMO!” Civil Beat.

Thousands on Kauai marched the streets to show their support of the “Right to Know” Bill, a bill that would require agricultural companies working with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to disclose the chemicals they’re using and take extra steps to keep the chemicals contained. KHON2.

Much attention has been turned in recent months to the fact that the agro-chemical/GMO industry -- corporate giants Dow, Pioneer DuPont, Syngenta, Monsanto, BASF -- have been using Hawaii since the 1990s as one of their main testing grounds for experiments engineering new pesticide-crop combos. On the "Garden Island" of Kauai, the industry controls over 15,000 acres of prime agricultural land, which they drench with over 17 tons of restricted-use pesticides each year, and likely at least five times that amount in non-restricted pesticides that may be equally as harmful (such as glyphosate). HuffPost Hawaii.

The Hawaii Legislature is contributing $1.5 million to a private Roman Catholic school to help fund construction of a new athletic complex, library and student services building, among other renovations. The allocation to Kalihi’s Damien Memorial School is one of roughly three dozen private capitol improvement projects that the 2013 Legislature agreed to subsidize through what are known as grants-in-aid. Civil Beat.

The rapid growth in residential solar power systems could mean Hawaiian Electric Co. will have to pass on to customers the cost of upgrades that allow the energy into the grid. The utility is contacting contractors and customers who plan to install solar panels to make sure they know about equipment upgrades they might have to pay for. The utility is asking to be contacted before customers make arrangements to install the panels. Associated Press.

Hawaii Electric Light Co. customers looking to install solar panels on their homes may no longer have to pay for an interconnection study. Hawaiian Electric Industries, HELCO’s parent company, announced the change Friday as one step toward making it easier and less expensive for customers on the Big Island, Oahu and Maui to install rooftop photovoltaic systems generating 10 kilowatts or less. West Hawaii Today.

With three members of Hawaii's all-Democrat congressional delegation having already spoken out against a military intervention in Syria, the fourth, Sen. Mazie Hirono, told Hawaii News Now on Monday that she was still undecided about how she will vote when asked to authorize an attack on the Assad regime. Hawaii News Now.

State roundup for September 9. Associated Press.

Oahu

Lying down on Oahu's public sidewalks would be banned except in certain circumstances under a bill introduced by a Honolulu City Council member last week. Bill 59, introduced by Councilman Stanley Chang, will get its first airing before the Council at its meeting Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

Sleeping on a public sidewalk in Honolulu could soon result in a $50 fine. Honolulu City Councilman Stanley Chang has introduced a bill that will make sleeping, lounging or otherwise lying on the city’s walkways illegal. Civil Beat.

Malls refuse to allow voter registration on site. Pearlridge and Ala Moana seem to be confused on the difference between politics and civic duty. Hawaii Independent.

An international conference on clean energy in Honolulu is expected to draw 1,200 attendees from more than 30 countries. The 5th annual Asia Pacific Clean Energy and Expo begins Monday at the Hawaii Convention Center. Associated Press.

Hawaiian Electric Co.’s property that is the site of its soon-to-be-deactivated Downtown Honolulu power plant isn’t for sale and won’t be for a “large amount of time,” despite sitting on some prime piece of waterfront real estate, a HECO spokesman tells PBN. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii Kai residents have tolerated a messy stinky dredging operation in the Hawaii Kai Marina for months. Hawaii Reporter.

Construction is set to resume soon on the controversial Honolulu rail project and rail officials have been making the rounds of editorial boards and reporters to talk about the biggest public works project in Hawaii history. Civil Beat.

A price peak for Oahu's housing market has stood tall for six years, but increasingly the record appears poised to fall. The latest home sales data set to be released today by the Hono­­lulu Board of Realtors shows that August was a hot month for the market, adding further momentum to topple the annual median price peak for single-family houses and condominiums set in 2007. Star-Advertiser.

The Makakilo-Kapolei Neighborhood Board vote rescinding support for the Ho‘opili development project and ‘Ewa Development Plan highlights the fact that the six new members of the board all ran on anti-development platforms and do not intend to break their promises. Hawaii Independent.

A smoking ban has been enforced at Kapiolani Beach, Kuhio Beach, Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Beach, Sandy Beach, sandy areas of Ala Moana Beach Park, and Kapiolani Park. KITV.

Hawaii

A West Hawaii Today analysis of records kept at the County Clerk’s Office found that only two of the county’s 34 registered lobbyists filed the required expenditure disclosure by the most recent deadline. And an untold number of the lobbyists meeting with county officials on controversial issues such as zoning, land use and genetically modified organisms haven’t registered as lobbyists at all.

The Hawaii County Council took its first bite out of legislation on genetically altered crops Friday, voting down an overall ban but deferring a more limited bill to another day during a lengthy and at times contentious discussion. Tribune-Herald.

First, there were GMOs. And now there’s fracking. The Hawaii County Council will take on another controversial issue this month when it discusses a proposed ban on hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking. Tribune-Herald.

Looking to create a hedge against rising electricity prices, Parker Ranch has hired a team of consultants to determine whether the 130,000-acre ranch could meet its energy needs with renewable sources and have enough power left over to supply the neighboring town of Wai­mea and possibly other parts of Hawaii island. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaiian Electric Companies has again increased the amount of home photovoltaic systems that can be used by its net-metering customers before triggering interconnection studies. Big Island Now.

Saddle Road realignment -- renamed the Daniel K. Inouye Highway -- opens to the public. West Hawaii Today.

A Hawaii Island middle school teacher will take the ride of a lifetime this week aboard the world's only flying astronomical observatory — which also houses the world's largest flying telescope. Star-Advertiser.

Maui
Maui mayor launches effort to curb feral cats, chickens. A public forum will be held Wednesday in a Wailuku auditorium. Star-Advertiser.

A new study says that Maui could see some of its beaches completely disappear over the next few decades due to sea-level rise, following a trend of erosion at more than three-quarters of Valley Isle beaches in the last century. Maui News.

The County of Maui website was recognized with a second place award in the County Portal category of the 2013 Best of the Web awards. Maui Now.

Tattered smokestacks spewing thick ribbons of steam hint at life inside Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co.'s nondescript factory, where sugar has been made for more than a century. At the HC&S plantation, generations of Maui residents helped shape the island's economy. And it's still one of the largest employers today, with an annual payroll exceeding $35 million for 800 full-time employees ranging from field and irrigation workers to lab technicians and mechanics. Star-Advertiser.

A $15 million settlement has been reached in a products liability and medical malpractice lawsuit brought by the family of a Kahului man who died after he received about two and a half times the appropriate dose of radiation to treat his cancer. Maui News.

Citing the declaration of a drought watch Upcountry, the U.S. Geological Survey in its "National Drought Summary" released last week said that very dry trade winds the previous three weeks had lowered stream flow diversions from the northeast-facing slopes of Haleakala that feed water supply reservoirs. Maui News.

The business outlook for Maui is positive in the next year, according to economists who spoke at the 39th Annual Maui County Business Outlook Form, held Thursday, Sept. 5, at the Maui Beach Hotel in Kahului. Maui Now.

Kauai
More than 200 people from four seed companies who turned out for a beach cleanup, which spanned the area from MacArthur Park through the Second Ditch. Garden Island.

The State Department of Health says the 100-gallon tank that washed ashore last week on Kauai’s Eastside contained trace amounts of kerosene, a fuel commonly used for heating and cooking. Garden Island.

Homegrown teachers Program provides support for locals seeking career in education. Garden Island.