Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Lucky we live Hawaii, the healthiest state. Molasses spill killed coral, Hawaii Obamacare premiums disclosed, Molokai may buy electric utility, rail evictions loom, Honolulu faces $2.5M fine in affordable housing deal, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii is the healthiest state in the nation, while Mississippi brings up the rear, according to the 2013 America's Health Rankings released today. The 50th state has consistently ranked near the top in the long-running index issued by United Health Foundation, which provides a comprehensive look at the well-being of each state. Hawaii placed second last year and third the year before. Star-Advertiser.

Ranked in the top five healthiest states for the past decade, Hawai`i this year rose to the top spot in a survey conducted by the United Health Foundation. The rankings in the “America’s Health Rankings: A Call to Action for Individuals & Their Communities” released today analyzes states based on data relating to behaviors, community and environment, health policies and clinical care. Big Island Now.

The state Insurance Division released a health insurance rate comparison sheet Tuesday to make it easier for consumers to compare plans under President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. The Obamacare plans range from a monthly premium of $72.40 for a Bronze-level option (60 percent of medical expenses covered by the insurer, 40 percent out of pocket) for an individual under 21 years old to an $871.26 Platinum policy (90 percent covered, 10 percent out of pocket) for a 64-year-old. Star-Advertiser.

Unity, empowerment and self-governance were again themes of this year's State of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs address, with special attention paid to the importance of preparing a new generation of Native Hawaiian leaders. Star-Advertiser.

Holiday giving seems to be off this year, according to charities that rely on seasonal donations. It might not have to do with people being any less charitable, but rather with the fact that there are fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. In addition, donations may have been spread thin because of the Typhoon Haiyan relief effort. Star-Advertiser.

State roundup for December 11. Associated Press.

Oahu

The Matson molasses disaster killed more than a thousand colonies of coral, Hawaii News Now has learned. The September spill's damage to the Honolulu Harbor's coral system extended beyond the waterway, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

The company that agreed to buy 12 city-owned housing projects warned Tuesday that Honolulu likely will have to forfeit at least $2.5 million in damages for jeopardizing the deal's financing. The "notice of default" from Honolulu Affordable Housing Partners LLC claims the City Council's proposal to rescind the sale contract has already undermined the company's financing for the $143 million deal. Star-Advertiser.

Waimanu Street businesses preparing to be evicted for rail. Transit authority gives eviction notice: Summer 2014. KITV.

The incoming operator of the Hawai‘i Convention Center has hired a former Outrigger executive to be its new general manager. Teri Orton, former vice president of condominium resort marketing for Outrigger Enterprises Group, will be the first woman to serve as general manager since the center opened in 1998. Orton will begin Dec. 18. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii State Departments of Education and Health are conducting an investigation to determine what caused several Waipahu Elementary students to become ill today shortly after lunch. About 40 students were identified as being sick with symptoms that may indicate food poisoning starting at about 1:15 p.m. Hawaii News Now.

New school bus contracts are about to be signed, worth more than $100 million on Oahu over the next five years. But we wanted to know if the safety measures we were told about a few weeks ago are included and we were surprised to find out most are not. In a recent investigation, KHON2 confronted the Department of Education about school bus safety and discipline policies when things go wrong onboard.

The Honolulu Marathon is big business in Hawaii, but it owes much of its financial clout to another Pacific island chain. Japanese visitors often make up the largest share of participants in the race, and have ever since the late 1980s when the number of entrants from Japan first surpassed 50 percent. Civil Beat.

A former traffic signs supervisor with the city was indicted Tuesday on a felony theft charge. Honolulu Police say Patrick Costa stole more than $45,000 by getting paid for hours he didn't work. Hawaii News Now.

Ko‘olau Loa neighborhood board votes in favor of Envision Lā‘ie. Amid continued opposition from residents outside the Lā‘ie and Mormon communities, the board voted 6-4 to support the major development plan. Hawaii Independent.

Hawaii

Biofuel Industry on Big Island Fails to Follow Through on Big Plans. Five years ago, state land on the Big Island experienced the biofuel equivalent of a gold rush. Today, not one biofuel company has obtained a lease of state land under the 2002 law. Civil Beat.

Volunteers wage war against invasive albizia. Tribune-Herald.

Apartment owners at the Country Club condominium are suing the Banyan Drive property’s leaseholders and management, alleging a decades-long scheme to improperly use apartment owners’ common area maintenance fees to finance the building’s hotel operation and pay its state transient accommodations taxes. Tribune-Herald.

The state wants to block the sale of the Naniloa Volcanoes Hotel to a new operator as part of a bankruptcy reorganization involving the hotel on state land in Hilo.the state Department of Land and Natural Resources objected to the sale and said it intends to appeal to U.S. District Court, claiming that assigning the land lease to the new buyer requires state consent under state law. Star-Advertiser.

The buyer of the Naniloa Volcanoes Resort said he has finished transferring money for the $5.2 million purchase to escrow. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Developers are reviving a plan for a Central Maui housing development that would include 450 multifamily units, retail and office space, and a 15-acre park. The Puunani subdivision would be built west of the Kehalani master-planned community south of Wailuku. Star-Advertiser.

Developers have revived and revised a plan for 208 acres just below Wailuku Heights that proposes about 450 multifamily units, 25,000 square feet of commercial retail and office space, and a 15-acre park. Maui News.

Some Maui County Council members were still optimistic Monday about the full council taking a vote on a deal to purchase 186 acres in Launiupoko for $13 million for a coastline parkway in West Maui. Maui News.

Kauai

It has been nearly 25 years since the county approved a Princeville Development Corporation plan to expand the Princeville Center and required that the project also include nearby employee housing. Garden Island.

Lanai

The island of Lāna’i was named to Lonely Planet’s Top US Destinations list, rounding out the top ten. Maui Now.

Molokai

Residents on Molokai may follow in the footsteps of Kauai and buy their island’s electric utility, including its power grid, which could be entirely powered by alternative energy sources. The push for energy autonomy is an outgrowth of frustration with Hawaiian Electric Co. that was repeatedly on display during protests against the Big Wind project over the last four years. It also highlights a deep independent streak on Molokai. Civil Beat.

Amid recent concerns over proposed renewable energy project Ikehu Molokai, I Aloha Molokai has cancelled its third annual Renewable Energy Festival that was scheduled for January. The nonprofit feared the event would act as a showcase for Ikehu, falsely implying IAM’s endorsement of the project. While IAM leaders say they feel the project has potential for Molokai, they are not ready to support it based on what they consider to be a lack of public input. Molokai Dispatch.