Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Drones coming to Hawaii, noted taxpayer advocate Kalapa dies, Bloomberg fundraiser for Schatz irks Hanabusa, SHOPO aims to keep police discipline confidential, sinkhole swallows pickup, Obama hikes, golfs, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii drone tests UAV
NASA Global Hawk drone, courtesy photo
Hawaii has been selected to be a test bed for increased drone flights as the Federal Aviation Administration seeks to create rules of the air and incorporate an ever-expanding number of the flying robots into the nation's airspace. Hawaii, Alaska and Oregon are part of a partnership that was picked to become one of six groups nationwide for the effort, with backers hoping the Aloha State will become a mecca for unmanned vehicle research, testing and certification, creating science jobs and adding millions to the economy along the way. Star-Advertiser.

The Federal Aviation Administration included Hawaii as part of a partnership with the University of Alaska and the State of Oregon as one of six test sites that will allow drones to share airspace with commercial aircraft. Pacific Business News.

Hawaiʻi has been identified by the Federal Aviation Administration as a test site range location for unmanned aircraft systems research. Maui Now.

Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird. It's a plane. It's a drone? It could be. The Federal Aviation Administration announced Monday six institutions where researchers will develop and test drones to fly. KHON2.

President Barack Obama had a full day of activity on his tenth day of vacation, starting with his morning workout before dawn and ending the evening at dinner with friends at Alan Wong's in McCully. The president and first lady were joined by other couples for dinner at one of Obama's favorite restaurants at about 8 p.m. Associated Press

President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, dined with friends at Alan Wong's restaurant Monday night after the family went on a two-hour hike on Makiki Valley Loop Trail. Earlier, the president went for a morning round of golf with friends at the Royal Hawaiian Golf Club in Maunawili. Star-Advertiser.

It doesn't matter that they belong to President Barack Obama -- first family dogs Bo and Sunny had to go through Hawaii's strict quarantine procedures to travel to the islands for their holiday vacation. Associated Press.

Denby Fawcett: A Presidential Obama Center at Point Panic Is a Bad Idea. Civil Beat.

On Thursday evening, a mere 48 hours after he steps down as New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg will arrive in Hawaii to headline a fundraiser for Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) -- an appearance that Schatz's primary challenger, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, is using as political fodder in an already heated race. Huffington Post.

The mayor of New York City will headline a Sen. Brian Schatz fundraiser in Kahala Thursday, something Rep. Colleen Hanabusa is using as political fodder. Hanabusa’s Senate campaign sent out fundraising appeals to supporters today and last week that condemn Schatz for spending time with Mike Bloomberg, a billionaire that “long championed deep cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Civil Beat.

The state has approved rate hikes for reinstated health plans that were set to be canceled today because they did not meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. The state Insurance Division said Monday that Kaiser Permanente Hawaii would be allowed to boost premiums by an average 9.2 percent for individual plans with 11,000 enrollees and by 5 percent for 26,300 small-business policyholders at their contract renewal dates. Star-Advertiser.

Relaxing marijuana restrictions around the country have some hoping there will also be changes to Hawaii's pot policies. KITV4.

The emotionally charged special session of the Legislature that led to Gov. Neil Abercrombie's signing of the Hawaii Marriage Equality Act was the top local news story of the year, but also dominating the headlines were shark attacks, including two fatalities, a massive molasses spill, the Christopher Deedy murder trial and GMO restrictions. Star-Advertiser.

The past year has been a strong one for Hawaii’s economy with tourist arrivals expected to set another record, although the pace of growth slowed. Construction picked up speed helped by a boom in Kakaako condo projects. The most notable property transaction of the year was Alexander & Baldwin’s purchase of most of downtown Kailua. The troubled launch of the Hawaii Health Connector and a slowdown in the growth of residential solar energy systems round out our major business stories of 2013. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii taxpayer advocate
Kalapa
Lowell Kalapa, president of the nonprofit Tax Foundation of Hawaii since the 1970s, died Monday of unknown causes. He was 64. A respected economic voice in the halls of both the state Capitol and Honolulu Hale, he preached fiscal restraint by lobbying for fairness and equity in taxes, reduced government spending, and ensuring lawmakers and citizens alike understood the impacts that the measures introduced by state and county lawmakers had on regular people. Star-Advertiser.

Lowell Kalapa, president of the nonprofit Tax Foundation of Hawaii since 1979, died Monday. He was 64. The cause of his death was not revealed. Pacific Business News.

Lowell Kalapa, well-known government watchdog who headed the Tax Foundation of Hawaii, died over the weekend, his office confirmed today. Hawaii Reporter.

He never held an elected office but Lowell Kalapa was one of the most influential voices in the state Legislature. Kalapa, executive director of the nonprofit Tax Foundation of Hawaii since 1979, died at his home. He was 64. Hawaii News Now.

Remembering My Friend Lowell Kalapa, a personal remembrance of Kalapa from a Civil Beat columnist and close friend. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Castle & Cooke Hawaii said Monday the company has had inquiries from people who want to live in Koa Ridge, the 3,500-home development it will build in central Oahu. In a statement, Castle & Cooke said it will proceed with the development despite a Dec. 23 state Supreme Court decision invalidating a 2010 Land Use Commission approval of the project. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s politically powerful police union wants to intervene in a public records lawsuit in order to protect the identities of 12 Honolulu officers who were suspended for 20 days or more after committing serious acts of misconduct. Civil Beat.

Honolulu Zoo Director Jeffrey Mahon announced last week that he is resigning, less than six months after starting the job. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

A short list of three candidates to finish state Rep. Denny Coffman’s unexpired term is on its way to Gov. Neil Abercrombie, culled from nine Democrats who submitted applications for House District 5 representing West Hawaii. West Hawaii Today.

Since the newest segment of Saddle Road — also known as the Daniel K. Inouye Highway — opened, letter writers and callers to the Tribune-Herald have complained police are operating a speed trap on the east-west traffic artery. Hawaii Police Department statistics indicate there will be fewer speeding tickets written on the Saddle this year than in 2012, but that doesn’t tell the entire story. Tribune-Herald.

sinkhole
Heavy rains drenched Hawaii island's Windward coast Monday morning, scattering runoff and debris across the area -- and even causing a Paauilo Mauka road to collapse beneath a truck, according to officials. Star-Advertiser.

Sometimes even Mother Nature likes to end the year with a bang. The Big Island’s strongest storm of the season pounded windward areas Sunday and Monday with heavy rain, rolling thunder and countless flashes of lightning that put on a show that could rival even some of tonight’s celebrations. Tribune-Herald.

A Hawaii woman whose last name is 36 characters long has finally gotten the whole thing to fit on her driver's license and state identification card. Janice "Lokelani" Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele has a surname that consists of 35 letters plus an okina, a mark used in the Hawaiian alphabet. Associated Press.

Maui

Expeditions, which operates the only ferry service between the islands of Maui and Lanai, is seeking to build a new $2.7 million vessel that would replace one of its existing ferries. Maui News.

Despite having an information kiosk burn down in March and then having the former refuge manager leave her post in July, the small four-person refuge staff at Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge has dealt with challenges this year and "learned more about the refuge" in the process. Maui News.

Kauai

Storywise, it’s been quite a year. Everyone probably remembers Bill 2491, the back and forth, the Mana March, the veto, the override, the threats. And who can forget Jeff Horton, who punched a shark in the nose and lived to tell about it? Lots of people wanted to hear Horton’s story, too, No. 9 on our list. Media agencies from New York to San Francisco, including Diane Sawyer’s office, called The Garden Island looking to cover the surfer after TGI ran its story. Garden Island.

Molokai
A Woman Attempts to Rebuild Ohana Broken by Fear of 'Lepers'. Civil Beat.