Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Furloughed federal workers back on the job, Hawaii-Alaska space partnership announced, judge mulls open primary law, contract dispute stalls beach cleaners, second hospital coming to Maui, Kauai tackles GMO bill, Honolulu roads repaved, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii bird-feeding ban copyright 2013 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Waikiki pigeons (c) 2013 All Hawaii News
There are some ruffled feathers over a new ban on the excessive feeding of feral birds. Some families believe the state isn't doing enough to enforce the law, but health officials said their hands are tied. Hawaii News Now.

A federal judge indicated Monday that the Democratic Party of Hawaii’s lawsuit challenging the state’s open primary election will rise and fall on whether allowing all voters to choose the party’s candidates places a “severe burden” on the party’s right to free association. Judge J. Michael Seabright said he will likely rule in favor of the party if he finds that the open primary is a “severe burden” on the First Amendment right to free association. Star-Advertiser.

Thousands of furloughed civilian defense workers in Hawaii filed back to work Monday after the Pentagon recalled them during the weekend. That included almost all of the roughly 970 federal technicians working for the Hawaii National Guard who were sent home Oct. 1. Star-Advertiser.

The state Department of Agriculture has only one employee assigned to review pesticide inspection reports and follow up on possible violations. And she says she hasn't gotten around to reviewing most reports in several years so there's been little if any action against pesticide misuse. Civil Beat.

Representatives from NASA, the defense and technology industries, and state government are gathering in Honolulu today in hopes of lighting a booster rocket under Hawaii’s small but growing aerospace industry. There was futuristic talk of helping to colonize Mars and launching private spaceships during a news conference kicking off the Hawaii Aerospace Summit on Monday, but officials insisted it wasn’t just pie-in-the-sky dreaming or the unrealistic fantasy of sci-fi geeks and space nerds. Star-Advertiser.

Alaska and Hawaii on Monday agreed to work together to develop satellites, rockets and other aspects of space launches. The two Pacific states will also share designs for rockets and satellites, cross-train personnel and share business and market development opportunities. Associated Press.

Hawaii hotels brought in a record $1.4 billion in total revenue during the three months of summer, up 8.5 percent from last year’s previous record of $1.3 billion. Occupancy averaged 80.2 percent statewide in August, down from 81.2 percent a year ago but enough for hotels to charge more per room and post a room revenue record. Star-Advertiser.

The University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization on Monday released the Hawaii Jobs Explorer, an interactive snapshot of occupations and salaries in the state that shows the 588,210 jobs in the state have a median salary of $36,350. Pacific Business News.

Cabanilla
Hawaii state Rep. Rida Cabanilla is replacing Rep. Karen Awana as Majority Floor Leader in the House. Associated Press.

State Rep. Karen Awana is out as Democrat House majority leader. But her political career isn’t over and her pocketbook may be significantly lighter. Awana stepped down Friday, just five days before the Hawaii State Campaign Spending Commission will decide whether to levy as much as $8,590 in fines for dozens of violations of the state’s campaign spending law, including “filing false or inaccurate reports.” Hawaii Reporter.

Fee hikes for annual vehicle safety checks are a balancing act between covering the administrative and inspection costs while not overburdening a public that often resists increases in state fees and taxes, a state Department of Transportation spokeswoman said Monday. Statewide public hearings are set for 11 a.m. Thursday to take public comment on the proposed fee increases. West Hawaii Today.

A study of drug abuse nationwide says overdose deaths in Hawaii increased 68 percent between 1999 and 2010, to 10.9 deaths per 100,000 residents. Associated Press.

Next year will be a year of consolidation for Hawaii’s solar photovoltaic industry, one of the fastest growing sectors in the state, with a number of major players disappearing or at least becoming substantially diminished, according to Marco Mangelsdorf, president of Hilo-based ProVision Solar. Pacific Business News.

Living Hawaii: Big Island Beer Can Cost More Here Than in Manhattan. Civil Beat.

The balmy tropical isles here seem worlds apart from the expansive cornfields of the Midwest, but Hawaii has become the latest battleground in the fight over genetically modified crops. New York Times.

Hawaii Island and the rest of the state was built mainly by extrusion — lava traveling up and spilling out onto the island’s surface, each level stacking itself atop the last like layers on a cake — according to new research performed by scientists with the University of Hawaii and University of Rhode Island. Tribune-Herald.

One out of four Hawai’i residents claims a multi-ethnic heritage, the highest proportion in the nation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In his first installment in HPR’s “Neighbors: An Island Story” series, HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka visited with one local family for a baby luau, a celebration of diversity and the melting pot Hawai’i has become. Hawaii Public Radio.

State roundup for October 8. Associated Press.

Oahu

Road crews have repaved 317 lane miles of crumbling city roads on Oahu so far in 2013, already more work done than in any previous year on the books, city officials say. Star-Advertiser.

People under 16 years old would need to wear helmets if they want to ride skateboards, roller skates, in-line skates or similar devices on Oahu under a bill introduced at the City Council. Bill 62 will get its first airing before the Council at its monthly meeting at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

In 2009, two veteran Honolulu police officers were arrested in Las Vegas on drug charges. Officers Shayne Souza and Kevin Fujioka were eventually convicted on charges stemming from the incident but only Souza lost his job. Fujioka was initially fired by the Honolulu Police Department. But he was recently reinstated after Hawaii’s police union pushed back against his termination. Souza wasn’t so lucky. Civil Beat.

Oahu's beaches are considered among the best in the world. But, what many do not know is they haven't been cleaned in several months after a dispute between the city and company contracted to clean the beaches began in July. KHON2.

Tomorrow at 6pm the Honolulu City Council Zoning and Planning Committee will hear testimony on Bill 47, the Ko‘olau Loa Sustainable Communities Plan (KLSCP) at the Kahuku High School cafeteria. We take a look at some of the key elements of the plan. Hawaii Independent.

A developer whose plan for a condominium tower called 803 Waimanu in Kakaako received an unfavorable response from a state agency in July has returned with a new plan for a smaller residential building on the site. Star-Advertiser.

Neighbors call it the haunted house. The Department of Hawaiian Homelands boarded up this Nanakuli home two decades ago and it's remained vacant ever since. It's one of about 40 DHHL homes around the state that sits empty just as tens of thousands of Hawaiians wait years for a homestead lease. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii

A federal bankruptcy judge in Honolulu has approved a preliminary plan to bring the 1,500-acre Hokulia resort development on the Big Island of Hawaii out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy under the control of a group that includes Rob Walton, chairman of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Pacific Business News.

The state will release $100,000 today for studying the establishment of an aeronautics program at the University of Hawaii at Hilo and Hawaii Community College. The money will be spent on hiring a program coordinator and technical support staff to complete studies and plans for the proposed international flight training center. Tribune-Herald.

Security will be a little tighter at this year’s Ironman World Championship. West Hawaii Today.

Legalizing camping at Keawaiki Bay may not be a good idea, a handful of community members told planners working on the Kiholo State Park master plan and environmental assessment. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

A California developer is moving forward with plans to build a second hospital on Maui after securing financing from an undisclosed lender. Star-Advertiser.

Financing has been secured for the long-awaited West Maui Hospital and Medical Center, clearing the way for California-based developer Brian Hoyle to seek land entitlements and government permits for the project. Maui News.

A workday Saturday at the Kalakupua Playground at the 4th Marine Division Park in Haiku will literally help lay the groundwork for the rebirth of the community-built play structure that had deteriorated to the point where it was no longer safe for children. Maui News.

A cruise ship headed for an anchorage off Lahaina today received a U.S. Coast Guard airdrop of blood and medical supplies Sunday to treat an ailing passenger. Maui News.

Kauai

Bill 2491, dealing with genetically modified organisms and pesticide disclosure, enters its final phase today, likely attracting both sides of the issue — red shirts for the bill and blue shirts against it — to the Kauai County Council chambers. The full council will pick up last month’s recommendation (4-1) of the council’s Economic Development (Agriculture) Committee to pass a watered-down version of the bill. Garden Island.

Members of the Kauai County Council know that when it comes to genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, passions on both sides of the issue tend to run high. KITV4.

A developer behind a 357-acre beachfront property in Waipake on Kauai’s North Shore wants to give the county public beach access as part of a trade off for a proposed residential project. Garden Island.