Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sledgehammer lawmaker defends homeless hunt, Ag Chief Kokubun stepping down to join Hanabusa campaign, Hawaii mulls new prisons, Del Monte settlement first in human trafficking case, alleged embezzlement at Big Island Pop Warner league, Honolulu mayor ethics case heats up, deal reached with firefighter union, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Homeless along the Ala Wai  (c) 2013 All Hawaii News
Despite a firestorm of controversy on Monday, state Rep. Tom Brower once again picked up his sledgehammer and went out to rid his Waikiki-Ala Moana district of shopping carts that homeless people use. He said people have told him that they appreciate the work he has done in the past several weeks to clear the district of stolen and abandoned carts. Institute for Human Services Director Connie Mitchell said Brower's actions could traumatize homeless people and incite street violence. Star-Advertiser.

Tom Brower has found a unique solution to houselessness: he destroys shopping carts with a sledgehammer (and awakens people sleeping at bus stops). Hawaii Independent.

State Rep. Tom Brower has taken a sledgehammer and a novel approach to Hawaii's homeless problem. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii is considering building a new prison on Oahu and new jails statewide to alleviate the state’s overcrowding crisis, including replacing the state’s largest jail, the Oahu Community Correctional Center, with a new facility. Pacific Business News.

A larger replacement for the Oahu Community Correctional Center at a new location is one piece of a possible major overhaul of Hawaii's crowded and old prisons and jails, state officials say. The overhaul could include new or expanded correctional facilities at its seven institutions and adding an eighth facility for a total prison bed space for up to 4,425 inmates. Star-Advertiser.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reached a $1.2 million settlement with a former Kunia farm in a human trafficking lawsuit involving more than 150 Thai farmworkers. Associated Press.

Hawaii Agriculture Chairman, Hanabus campaign
Kokubon
Russell Kokubun is stepping down as director of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, in part to help Colleen Hanabusa with her U.S. Senate campaign, according to sources close to the campaign. Civil Beat.

State Rep. Rida Cabanilla has been fined $500 by the state Campaign Spending Commission for filing an inaccurate or false campaign-finance report.Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Fire Fighters Association union has received a tentative deal on a new collective bargaining agreement. According to HFFA President Bobby Lee, a draft arbitration award is now making the rounds throughout the islands. Civil Beat.

Taxpayers have spent $200 million to establish the network for the Affordable Care Act in Hawaii - $53 million on just the Hawaii Health Connector web site development and management alone. However, so far, just 257 individuals have secured healthcare through the exchange. Hawaii Reporter.

The numbers are in and they are low -- just a couple hundred people in Hawaii have signed up for insurance on the new Health Connector website. But it's not for a lack of trying. KHON2 found out the problems people are still having, and how they can be fixed.

The state Department of Health today is dropping off $250,000 worth of voluntarily forfeited OxyELITE Pro products at the HPOWER waste-to-energy plant in Campbell Industrial Park to be destroyed amid an investigation that has linked the dietary supplement to multiple cases of liver damage and acute hepatitis in the isles and around the country. Star-Advertiser.

Tiny Tern Island, a 25-acre strip of land in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that has been inundated with marine debris, could become a Superfund cleanup site if the Center for Biological Diversity gets its way. Civil Beat.

State roundup for November 19. Associated Press.

Oahu
The seven-member Honolulu Ethics Commission voted unanimously Monday to back a request by Executive Director Chuck Totto to fire off a letter to Mayor Kirk Caldwell's administration, essentially urging city officials to retain the agency's budget request despite the objections of the Department of Corporation Counsel. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s top lieutenant reiterated the administration’s commitment to transparency Monday, despite lingering questions about its interference in ongoing ethics investigations. Civil Beat.

Kakaako’s designated central park is Kakaako Waterfront Park and Kakaako Makai and Mauka Gateway parks. But the state agency in charge of Kakaako development is moving full speed ahead with ridiculous proposals to remove large sections of valuable parkland from general public. Civil Beat.

The federal government has agreed to pay $67,500 to settle a lawsuit filed by a woman who says she was raped by a prison employee at the federal detention center. Government lawyer Edric Ming-Kai Ching announced the settlement Monday in U.S. District Court. Star-Advertiser.

The first commercial airline service out of Kalaeloa Airport could become a reality early next year. Mokulele Airlines is seeking state and community support to operate daily service to Lanai, Molokai and Maui, as well as possibly Kona, from the former Barbers Point Naval Air Station. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Following an announcement Monday that Del Monte Fresh Produce Inc. will pay $1.2 million and change its migrant worker policies to settle a discrimination lawsuit, two Big Island farms have less than a month to file their consent decrees in federal court detailing their own settlement agreements. West Hawaii Today.

An alleged embezzlement of possibly more than $100,000 in league funds may prevent a Hilo midget football team from traveling to Florida next month to play in the Pop Warner Super Bowl. Tribune-Herald.

A Big Island football team's trip to the national tournament is in jeopardy because of missing travel funds. As authorities investigate, the players' families are scrambling to come up with about $100,000 to get to Florida in less than three weeks. Hawaii News Now.

The Kona Judiciary Complex has had its proposed home approved, in concept anyway. On Nov. 8, the state Board of Land and Natural Resources granted preliminary approval for building the $90 million facility near the Makalapua Center, mauka of Queen Kaahumanu Highway. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

While Del Monte Fresh Produce has agreed to pay $1.2 million to settle claims in a discrimination lawsuit involving Thai farmworkers, a trial is set for February on the claims against California-based labor contractor Global Horizons and Maui Pineapple Co. Maui News.

Maui Electric Company has formed a partnership with a mainland firm to manage new electric vehicle charging stations on Maui. Maui Now.

Scientists are posting on the Internet the movements of several tiger sharks that have been tagged with satellite and acoustical tracking devices in the ocean near Maui. The tagging is part of a two-year project to study the movement of the sharks and their behavior, including an attempt to determine their mating and pupping areas. Star-Advertiser.

Kauai

It has been nearly 18 years since a 400-square-foot Hurricane Iniki shelter next to Kapaa Beach Park was converted into a Kauai Police Department substation. Garden Island.


Molokai

Molokai residents have noticed a lot of temporary electricity outages lately… and energy researchers have proposed a multi-million dollar project they hope will solve the problem. Hawaii Public Radio.