Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Japanese WWII sub found off Oahu, year's 2nd shark-bite death on Maui, DOT employee lives high life off contractors' dime, foster parents want more money, Omidyar group plans Kauai dairy, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory
Unidentified scuttled vessel discovered by Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory
A World War II-era Imperial Japanese Navy mega-submarine, the I-400, lost since 1946 when it was intentionally scuttled by U.S. forces after its capture, has been discovered in more than 2,300 feet of water off the southwest coast of O‘ahu. The discovery resolves a decades-old Cold War mystery of just where the lost submarine lay, and recalls a different era as one war ended and a new, undeclared conflict emerged. Hawaii Reporter.

WWII
Japanese I-400
This is a photo of the Japanese crew and its submarine, the I-400. KITV.

A class-action lawsuit is expected to be filed today against the state, alleging it has failed to pay foster parents enough to adequately care for their foster children. The suit will be filed by a sole foster parent, Raynette Nalani Ah Chong of Kaha­luu, on behalf of more than 1,000 Hawaii foster parents, who haven't had their reimbursement payments increased since 1990. The federal Child Welfare Act requires that reimbursements cover the expenses of children in foster care, but the $529 monthly payment does not come close, said Victor Gemi­ni­ani, executive director of Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice. Star-Advertiser.

A handful of companies consistently cash in on lucrative contracts in Hawaii, a Civil Beat analysis of 10 years of federal contracting data indicates. The federal government spent $159 billion in contracts in Hawaii over the past 10 years. From that pool of money, the top 10 corporate contractors secured at least $200 million apiece since 2003, with two of them crossing the $1 billion threshold. That's according to eight years of data from the Census Bureau's Consolidated Federal Funds Report and two years of data from USASpending.gov, a government-run website that replaced the Census reporting system. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii State Department of Education will place its sex education program, Pono Choices, on hold after the completion of the 2013 Fall semester to conduct a review of the pilot curriculum. The DOE calls the program a “medically accurate” program that informs teens about pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Diseases and gives students greater knowledge of the risks associated with unsafe sexual behaviors and be more likely to report safe sex practices, including abstinence. Parents were concerned their children in sixth, seventh and eighth grade, were learning to put condoms on dildos and about performing oral sex, vaginal sex, and anal sex. Hawaii Reporter.

The state has awarded a $17.4 million contract to a mainland company to undertake energy efficiency improvements and install solar panels at 33 government buildings on five islands. The project is expected to cut energy costs by more than $1 million in the first year and $28 million over two decades, according to Ameresco Inc., the Massachusetts-based company that was awarded the contract by the Department of Accounting and General Services.Star-Advertiser

The Hawaii Ethics Commission has charged a state employee for improperly accepting gifts from businesses doing business with the state and failing to report them. The Department of Transportation engineer, identified only as John Doe, has agreed to pay $7,500 to resolve the charge. He apparently accepted a number of invitations to play in charity golf tournaments and recreationally at places like Mauna Lani Resort from 2007 to 2010. His entry fees, which ranged from $150 to $800, were paid for by DOT vendors directly subject to his official action as an engineer, according to the commission’s Nov. 20 resolution of the charge. Civil Beat.

After decades of sound and fury, the first same-sex marriages early Monday morning happened in almost complete silence and intimacy. Standing in huddles on a stage in a Waikiki lounge, the couples read their vows and their officiants performed an act which had only minutes-before become legal. Hawaii Independent.

Retired professors Rod Powell and Bob Eddinger have been partners in life since they met at the University of Hawaii in 1977. On Monday, they joined in marriage on the first day their home state allowed same-sex couples to form such unions. Associated Press.

Hawaiian Airlines is launching a codeshare program with Taiwan’s China Airlines this month that will extend its network in Asia and allow members of both airlines’ frequent flyer programs to earn and redeem miles on both airlines. Pacific Business News.

Another hurricane season came and went in the Central Pacific this year without unleashing destruction on the Hawaiian Islands. The season was, however, twice as active as scientists initially predicted in May. Star-Advertiser.

The Legislature wants the public to take part in the process of creating the laws and policies that govern Hawaii. With the next session set to start in January, the House communications office has put together a public service announcement that encourages people to get informed and get involved. Civil Beat.

State roundup for December 3. Associated Press.

Oahu

Trial will remain in Honolulu for a North Carolina man accused of scamming the University of Hawaii out of $200,000 in a failed concert that was supposed to feature Stevie Wonder, a federal judge ruled Monday. Associated Press.

Kakaako Rising: Is This Community Development? Civil Beat.

Hawaii

Is a waste-to-energy plant a done deal for Hawaii County? A resolution urging Mayor Billy Kenoi to consider other alternatives comes back before the County Council Waste Management Committee today after being panned by both the Environmental Management Commission and the director of the Department of Environmental Management. West Hawaii Today.

The Hawaii Electric Light Co. says awarding a contract for another 50 megawatts of geothermal power will take more time. But how long remains unclear. The utility was initially expecting to make a selection among the six companies that submitted proposals by September. It later pushed that timeline to the end of November. That deadline was missed, and HELCO Administration Manager Rhea Lee said Monday that a new date is in the process of being determined. Tribune-Herald.

The Big Island is expected to have at least seven warning sirens upgraded or installed over the next few months. State Civil Defense spokeswoman Shelly Kunishige said work orders are being released for the department’s $25.6 million statewide siren upgrade project. Priority locations are being addressed first, and work should occur over the next three months, she said. Tribune-Herald.

If the old adage “Practice makes perfect” holds true, then the union of the first same-sex couple to tie the knot Monday in Hilo is likely to be perfect indeed. Tribune-Herald.

Maui
Hawaii shark
A visiting kayaker from Washington state died Monday morning after part of his right leg was bitten off by a shark about a half-mile off Little Beach in Makena, state and county officials said. Maui News.

Maui police have since identified the victim who sustained fatal injuries in a shark attack offshore of Mākena, Maui on Monday as 57-year-old Patrick A. Briney. Police say Briney, who is from Stevenson, in Washington State, was kayaking with a friend when the incident occurred. Maui Now.

Maui County police identified a kayak fisherman killed in a shark attack Monday morning as Patrick A. Briney, 57, from Stevenson, Wash. This is the eighth shark attack off Maui and the second death statewide this year. Star-Advertiser.

A kayaker died on Monday morning after a shark attacked him in the waters off of Maui. Hawaii experienced strong rains over the weekend, and murky waters are known to both attract and confuse sharks who often can't tell the difference between prey and humans. HuffPost Hawaii.

Hawai’i made international news yesterday with another fatal shark attack on Maui. Makena State Recreation Area was closed after the attack that happened before 10:30 am. Hawaii Public Radio.

Typically Hawaii will see four shark attacks a year, but this year there have been 13 in the state and eight of them around Maui. The most recent killed Patrick Briney, 57, as he was kayak fishing half mile off Makena Beach on Maui. Hawaii News Now.

The phrases "now I pronounce you husband and husband" and "wife and wife" were heard at same-sex marriages around Maui on Monday, the first day that gay marriages in Hawaii were legal. Maui News.

The county's proposed integrated waste conversion project may have the potential to double the amount of trash currently diverted from the Central Maui Landfill, but a couple of longstanding local recycling companies are worried that they will be displaced. Maui News.

The US Army Corps of Engineers hosts a public meeting this Wednesday, Dec. 4, to gather public input on its proposal to perform an environmental cleanup of the former Maui Airport Landfill. Maui Now.

Kauai

A socially minded investment organization is moving ahead with plans to establish a new model of dairy farming in Hawaii: a $17.5 million venture on Kauai called Hawai‘i Dairy Farms projected to start milk production in 2015. The farm would be the biggest dairy in the state and roughly double the supply of local milk, according to Ulu­pono Initiative, the local investment firm that announced the project Monday. Star-Advertiser.

EBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s Ulupono Initiative is investing $17.5 million to build a grass-fed dairy farm on Kauai on 583 acres of pasture land leased from Grove Farm. Pacific Business News.

The ballot question is crafted. But before going out to vote, Kauai Island Utility Cooperative wants to know what its members think of how to word the yes-or-no decision point. Beginning next week, the public will have two opportunities to provide input on ballot language for KIUC’s special election related to smart meters. The upcoming election — expected to cost co-op members $63,000 — will take place in January, although exact dates have not been determined. Garden Island.