Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Don't do this to Hawaii's coral reefs, health exchange lagging, auditor sues Kauai County, state Rep. Coffman resigns, Honolulu mayor, council bicker over homeless plan, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii tourists trampling snorkel reef (c) 2013 All Hawaii News
The Department of Land and Natural Resources will hold statewide public hearings to amend Hawaii Administrative Rules relating to stony coral and live rock. The proposed amendments would clarify what activities constitute “damage” to stony coral and live rock, and establish a formula for calculating administrative penalties for such violations.

Just 574 people have signed up for the Hawaii Health Connector, about one half of one percent of the state’s 1.4 million people. So far, the federal government allocation for each successful sign-up comes to about $348,000 — each. Hawaii Reporter.

As of the close of business on Friday, Hawaii’s online health care exchange had registered a total of 574 enrollments for new health care insurance plans, according to Hawaii Health Connector spokesman Bobby Lambrix. Much like the national online marketplace, the state site has experienced delays and technical glitches that have served to impede individuals looking to purchase health plans before the Dec. 23 federally mandated deadline under the Affordable Care Act. Tribune-Herald.

Tom Matsuda has resigned from his post as Hawaii’s Affordable Care Act implementation manager to take the post as interim executive director of the Hawaii Health Connector, replacing Coral Andrews, who announced her resignation in November. Pacific Business News.

Former Sen. Daniel Akaka will be delivering the keynote address at an annual meeting on the state of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. About 500 people are expected to attend the meeting at Central Union Church in Honolulu on Tuesday. Hawaii News Now.

Installations of solar photovoltaic systems in Hawaii dropped for the third consecutive quarter, according to a report from the Solar Energy Industry Associated that attributed the decline to new utility guidelines for connecting to the grid and stricter rules for claiming renewable energy tax credits. Homes and businesses installed a total of 24.7 megawatts of PV generating capacity in the third quarter, down 17 percent from 29.7 megawatts installed during the previous three-month period, the SEIA said in a report to be released today. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie is expected to attend a meeting Tuesday in Washington focusing on climate change and preparation and recovery from natural disasters. Hawaii News Now.

State roundup for December 10. Associated Press.

Oahu

Mayor Kirk Caldwell says his entire homelessness initiative could be at risk if the Honolulu City Council decides to kill a $142 million affordable housing deal that’s been in the works for more than a year. Civil Beat.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the Honolulu City Council are locked in a dispute that could end up costing the city as much as $121 million if a proposed sale of 12 city-owned housing projects to a private contractor doesn't go through. At a news conference Monday, Caldwell accused the Council of putting the $143 million project in jeopardy last week when it introduced a proposal to rescind the sale. He said the project could be lost altogether if the Council follows through with spiking the sale at a meeting Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

Given the Internet's tabloid soul, Mayor Kirk Caldwell's first Twitter town hall at the Department of Information Technology's computer lab on Monday had a promising start. Civil Beat.

You can usually count on certain things at Waikiki Beach -- there will be tourists, surfers, and the public restrooms will be open. But one of the main restrooms has been closed for several weeks with little explanation as to why. KHON2.

Hawaii

State Rep. Denny Coffman announced Monday he’s resigning from representing the West Hawaii district he’s served for three terms, an action that sets off a chain of events to ensure District 5 has representation in the state House when the annual legislative session convenes Jan. 15. West Hawaii Today.
Coffman

State Rep. Denny Coffman will be taking a lot of love, support and respect with him after he resigns Dec. 20, according to his colleagues at the Legislature. The Big Island lawmaker announced Monday that he will be stepping down next week for personal reasons. Civil Beat.

Oral arguments begin Friday in the case of six petitioners challenging the state’s decision to grant a permit for the construction of the world’s largest telescopes on Mauna Kea. Tribune-Herald.

In many ways, the future of Mauna Kea on Hawai’i island could be shaped this week .  This Friday, a court in Hilo will hear an appeal of the conservation use permit awarded to the planned Thirty Meter Telescope project.  On the same day in Honolulu, the Board of Land and Natural Resources is scheduled to vote on whether to extend the University’s leases on Mauna Kea for another 65 years.  Hawaii Public Radio.

The Naniloa Volcanoes Resort is not out of rough waters yet. On Monday, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources filed an appeal against the sale of the troubled Hilo hotel while the approved buyer is struggling to come up with funds to complete the purchase. Tribune-Herald.

A proposed plan to clean up contaminated soil at a former Kohala Sugar Co. pesticide mixing site in Hawi calls for on-island landfill disposal. West Hawaii Today.

The state is moving forward with road and waterline system improvements at the Kawaihae Small Boat Harbor in South Kohala. West Hawaii Today.

A Hungarian lunar rover is walking about on the powdery flanks of Mauna Kea with its stereoscopic cameras focused on terrain ahead, a 2015 mission to the moon and the $40 million Google Lunar XPRIZE. More than 20 teams from around the world are competing for the XPRIZE, a global competition to land a robotic spacecraft on the moon. Star-Advertiser.

Maui

The Maui County Council has announced the passage of a resolution in a 6-1 vote, authorizing the appointment of Danny Mateo as County Clerk. Maui Now.

A member of the Maui County Council has introduced a bill that would mandate commercial agricultural entities disclose pesticides and use of genetically modified organisms. Member Elle Cochran introduced the bill on Friday that also would establish pesticide buffer zones and require the county to complete an environmental and public health impact study about pesticides and GMOs. Associated Press.

The deadline for Maui County property owners to file claims for property tax exemptions, condominium-use classification declarations and requests for agricultural-use valuations for the 2014-15 fiscal year is Dec. 31. Maui News.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources is seeking ownership of Haleakala Trail this week, after filing a motion in conjunction with Public Access Trails Hawaii. Maui News.

Kauai

The Kauai County Auditor filed a civil suit against the county alleging retaliation. The complaint, filed by Ernesto Pasion against the County of Kauai, County Council Chair Jay Furfaro and others as defendants, was filed in 5th Circuit Court, a clerk confirmed on Monday. Garden Island.

The plan was to limit testimony to the proposed ballot language for Kauai Island Utility Cooperative’s upcoming special election related to smart meters. In other words, Monday’s public meeting — which packed KIUC’s board room — was not about discussing whether smart meters are good or bad, safe or dangerous. Garden Island.

Community organizations plan to wage a battle against a project with proposed large residential units that they contend will spoil the view of a ridgeline north of Kauai's Hanalei River. Star-Advertiser.

Advisories warning Kauai residents about brown water that may contain hazardous substances should be issued faster and in more detail, according to an environmental group. Associated Press.