Monday, October 7, 2013

Volunteers sought for space-travel isolation study, Golden Week for Chinese tourists, first whale sighting of the season off Maui, anti-gay marriage rally draws 500, Kauai Mayor Carvalho to seek re-election, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2013 All Hawaii News
University of Hawaii isolation dome on Mauna Loa (c) 2013 All Hawaii News
University of Hawaii researchers are looking for volunteers to act as crew members for a new series of space exploration studies scheduled to take place in an isolated research dome on Mauna Loa. Star-Advertiser.

The special session on same-sex marriages is a little more than three week away but the lobbying efforts are already in high gear. More than 500 people attended a rally the state Capitol today to oppose the legalization of same sex marriages. The rally was organized by the United Fellowship of Churches, which wants the issue decided at the ballot box and not by the state Legislature. Hawaii News Now.

News organizations throughout the state are asking the Hawaii Supreme Court to make it clear that a judge can't close a criminal trial or hear arguments in secret unless the press and public are first given a chance to object. Hawaii is the only state that has not expressly asserted the First Amendment right to attend criminal judicial proceedings, according to a "friend of the court" brief expected to be filed Monday in a case that seeks the release of transcripts from closed sessions of the recent murder trial of U.S. State Department special agent Christopher Deedy. Civil Beat.

Hawaiian Telcom officials told the Federal Communications Commission last month that the company needs a larger subsidy than what the agency is proposing to underwrite the cost of providing broadband service to rural areas in Hawaii. The FCC is providing ratepayer funds to Hawaiian Telcom and other telecommunications companies as part of its new "Connect America" program designed to extend the reach of high-speed Internet into underserved areas of the country. Star-Advertiser.

No need to cry over spilled milk. In Hawaii, just pouring the stuff can make us wince. Milk is expensive here. Civil Beat.

If you see more Chinese tourists than usual in the islands this week, it might be because this is China’s “Golden Week.” It’s one of the country’s semi-annual set of holidays—the other one comes in the spring. Hawaii Public Radio.

Facing thousands of dollars in additional penalties for breaking state campaign finance laws, Hawaii Rep. Karen Awana stepped down from her House leadership position Friday. House Speaker Joe Souki accepted her resignation as majority floor leader, effective immediately. But he also assured her that he would give her a new leadership position if she took care of her fines. Civil Beat.

The University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine has been awarded $18.4 million over five years to foster biomedical careers among students at the UH-Hilo College of Pharmacy, Chaminade University, Hawaii Pacific University and UH community colleges. Star-Advertiser.

A high-level University of Hawaii executive remains in her job — at the same pay — following the conclusion of a university investigation into whether she misrepresented herself as a certified public accountant. University officials refuse to say why she’s still on the job or whether or not they concluded that she illegally misrepresented herself on her resume. Civil Beat.

The Hawaiian Electric Cos. unveiled a new logo Friday, developed by noted Hilo designer Sig Zane, that aims to represent the state’s largest public company’s roots in the Islands as well as its role in helping Hawaii reach its renewable energy goal. Pacific Business News.

Do you feel rich? The Wall Street Journal claims you are, as a fiscal watchdog group says the opposite, citing crushing amounts of government debt. Hawaii’s median household income is $66,000 a year, up $3,000 over last year. The state has a relatively low unemployment rate of 5.8 percent, and the percentage of population below the poverty line is 11.6 percent, the eighth lowest in the country. Hawaii Reporter.

Nearly 1,000 federal technicians around Hawaii have been recalled after being furloughed due to the government shutdown. A spokesperson for the Hawaii National Guard says the technicians, who are based at various military installations throughout Hawaii, will start reporting to work on Monday and Tuesday. KHON2.

State roundup for October 7. Associated Press.

Oahu

The University of Hawaii was scammed out of $200,000 for a Stevie Wonder concert last year, but Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison pulled the right strings for the artist to perform in a private concert for his company employees that will take place in Waikiki on Saturday night. The outdoor concert will only be open to Oracle Club Excellence 2013 members, but anyone in the area should be able to enjoy the sounds of Stevie Wonder, although they might not be able to catch a glimpse of him on stage. Pacific Business News.

BOUNCE houses dotted the state Capitol lawn, dancers gyrated in the Capitol courtyard and makeshift tennis courts occupied Punchbowl Street. Since 1993 families have flocked to the Capitol and environs on the first Sunday of October to celebrate Children and Youth Day, and Sunday's festivities were no different. Star-Advertiser.

A site where heroes are laid to rest in Hawaii is running out of space. The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific is moving ahead with expansion plans while trying to balance the concerns of Native Hawaiians. The cemetery opened to the public in 1949, but it's expected to run out of room in three years. Hawaii News Now.

The state is releasing $3.85 million to build a long-awaited ambulance facility in Waipio and more than $4.2 million for other priority projects at hospitals around the state, acting Gov. Shan Tsu­tsui's office announced today. The funds will cover planning, design, construction and equipment costs for the Central Oahu facility, which will also be the emergency operations center for Oahu's Emergency Medical Services. Star-Advertiser.

It's back to work Monday for nearly 3,000 of Hawaii's federal workers, despite the government shutdown. KITV.

At least four warships in the Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility at Pearl Harbor — a sort of mothball fleet — are taking on some patchy sandy-pink hues. The culprit is "low solar absorbance" paint developed in the mid-1990s — and tested in Hawaii — to reflect the hot Middle Eastern sun, according to Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, D.C. Star-Advertiser.

Today is Hina‘i Eugenio’s birthday. And while he’s celebrating his 11th year with his friends at Kahuku elementary, his family is waiting for state sheriffs to evict them from their home in Kahuku. Hawaii Independent.

The year isn't over yet, but an annual record for the median price of previously owned homes sold on Oahu is more poised to fall following strong results in September for the local residential real estate market. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Hawaii County is considering legal action against the Naniloa Volcanoes Resort, including closure of the troubled Banyan Drive hotel, after it failed a series of building inspections, Mayor Billy Kenoi said. Tribune-Herald.

Oral arguments are scheduled to begin Dec. 13 for a legal case challenging Hawaii's decision to grant a permit for the construction of the world's largest optical telescope at the summit of Mauna Kea. Associated Press.

More than 2,000 triathletes from around the world will embark on the grueling 140.6-mile Ironman World Championship Saturday, when they’ll be presented the ultimate test of body, mind and spirit.  West Hawaii Today.

Maui

The first whale sighting off Maui for the 2013 season was reported on Saturday morning, about two miles from Molokini, officials said. Maui Now.

Kauai

Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho, Jr. said he will seek re-election in 2014. The incumbent announced his decision Saturday evening during a fundraiser at Kilohana. It would be Carvalho’s second full term to the four-year seat. Garden Island.

Kauai officials are set to consider a proposal to regulate pesticide use and farming of genetically modified crops. The Garden Isle's county council is slated to vote Tuesday on a bill that has provoked emotionally charged public hearings and a march against GMO's that attracted large crowds. Associated Press.

In three months, state legislators will return to the state Capitol to mow through thousands of proposed bills in a four-month period. Many of those bills are introduced by request of the Hawaii State Association of Counties, which sends a package approved by all four county councils. The Kauai County Council’s Intergovernmental Relations Committee reviewed Wednesday 14 proposals to be included in the 2014 HSAC Legislative Package, approving support for 11 bills — two were voted down and one got stuck on a tie. Garden Island.