Thursday, January 9, 2014

Abercrombie pushes pre-K plan, state seeks taxes on online travel companies, Kauai beach among nation's most secret nude beaches, Honolulu school accused of breaking into Department of Education computers, Michelle Obama's visit disrupts Maui neighbors, county tax assessors evaluating own properties, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii preschoolers (c) 2014 All Hawaii News
Gov. Neil Abercrombie says he's confident lawmakers will back his administration's plan to fund public pre-kindergarten classes in the coming school year -- an important first step toward launching a comprehensive early childhood learning system that could eventually include partnering with private preschool providers to serve all of the state's 4-year-olds. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie says revised projections showing slower tax growth than originally anticipated are OK for his budget plans for the next fiscal year. Abercrombie said Wednesday that a supplemental budget submitted to the Legislature can accommodate revenue fluctuations and even slight declines. Associated Press.

Hawaii is facing serious threats from new alien species, state Health Department officials warned lawmakers Wednesday, saying more financial support and coordinated focus is necessary to stem an invasion of harmful insects capable of causing billions in economic losses. Star-Advertiser.

More than half of Hawaii’s uninsured are eligible for Medicaid, thanks to the state’s decision to expand the program under the Affordable Care Act. That’s according to a new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Hawaii Public Radio.

After slapping the nation's largest online tour companies with a $750 million bill for back taxes, the state says the companies owe another $40 million. State Tax Court filings indicate that Priceline.com, Expedia and eight other Internet travel providers booked tens of millions of dollars in rental car business but paid no taxes on them. Hawaii News Now.

The US Navy has prepared a Draft Environmental Assessment seeking approval to relocate a drone squadron from California to Hawaiʻi. The Marine Unmanned Aerial Squadron Three is currently stationed at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, California. Maui Now.

Oahu

Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Wednesday that his administration is committed to reaching a land preservation agreement with Turtle Bay Resort this year. The governor has asked state lawmakers for $40 million in general obligation bond money for a conservation easement that would be used to protect 610 acres near Kawela Bay and Kahuku Point from development. Star-Advertiser.

As the University of Hawaii begins tackling its $487 million repair and maintenance backlog, officials are bracing themselves for the surge in construction work at UH Manoa and what that means for students and faculty who will have to contend with significantly less classroom and office space on a campus that’s already bursting at the seams. Civil Beat.

The state attorney general said in court documents that the principal, elementary school vice principal and school secretary at Myron B. Thompson Academy likely accessed the state Department of Education's computer system to change employee attendance records to match false changes they made to the school's paper records. Star-Advertiser.

Attorneys for the city will continue to offer advice on ethics policies to city officials and employees despite concerns that doing so encroaches on the role of the Ethics Commission. Star-Advertiser.

Finding the City's Flow: Why Honolulu's Traffic Goes Against the Grain. Civil Beat.

2 tenants fret 2 different outcomes of potential sale of city rental units. One resident might have to move if the deal is completed, and the other fears her unit will not be improved if the deal collapses. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii agency in charge of overseeing the redevelopment of Kakaako on Wednesday approved another condominium project — 803 Waimanu St. — for Oahu’s so called Third City. Pacific Business News.

It took two redesigns and reducing the building's height by 20 stories, but developer Franco Mola finally got the OK from a state agency to put up a condominium at 803 Waimanu St. in Kakaako. Star-Advertiser.

Monday’s agreement by city officials and representatives of Honolulu Affordable Housing Partners LLC to continue negotiations on a $142 million sale of the lease interest in 12 city affordable complexes was contingent on the city’s willingness to discuss the possibility of “seller financing” to help the buyers. City officials on Wednesday said they are considering the possibility of allowing the group to hold off paying on a portion of the sale price to the city, and emphasized they are not looking at lending the buyer any money, or allowing the partners to leverage the city’s credit to gain financing. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

The county Finance Department violated the ethics code when it allowed staff appraisers to set the tax value of their own property, the Board of Ethics said Wednesday. West Hawaii Today.

The Big Isle’s construction industry is back in business. “Things are picking up for sure,” Brian Ninomoto, president of the Hawaii Island Contractors Association, said. Tribune-Herald.

copyright 2014 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
(c) 2014 All Hawaii News
East Hawaii’s tourism industry could feel a slight pinch with the Port of Hilo reporting a decrease in the number of visits scheduled by passenger cruise ships in the coming year. Tribune-Herald.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources is looking to impose the maximum civil fine of $2,500 against a Captain Cook man for allegedly conducting illegal commercial activity at Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park. Officers with the DLNR’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement went undercover in November to investigate unpermitted rentals of kayaks and other equipment at the popular bay known for its calm waters and teeming marine life. Big Island Now.

A Kona Bay Estates resident is looking to construct a new swimming pool on his property, just makai of a wall determined to be the shoreline. West Hawaii Today.

Maui
Much like President Barack Obama's annual two-week stay on the shores of Kailua Bay, first lady Michelle Obama's detour to Maui is causing disruption and a bit of annoyance in the neighborhood surrounding pal Oprah Winfrey's Kula estate. Star-Advertiser.

If rumors are true that the first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, is on Maui, the security around Oprah Winfrey’s Upcountry Maui estate is compelling evidence, as is the national attention via various media outlets. Maui Now.

With ownership of Haleakala Trail still disputed, the state and Haleakala Ranch are hoping to resolve the matter with an out-of-court settlement that would allow the ranch to keep the trail private in exchange for open public access to the Na Kula area on the south slope of the dormant volcano, which for years has been accessible only by helicopter. Maui News.

Department of Land and Natural Resources officers said 43-year old Matt Kinoshita, of Haiku, owner of Kazuma Surfboards, was paddle surfing about 75 yards off Ukumehame in 5 feet of water about 2 p.m. "when he saw the shark approaching him from the side with its mouth open." Star-Advertiser.

Matt Kinoshita, a surfer and firefighter on the Valley Isle, says he faced an eight-foot tiger shark at about 2 o'clock Wednesday afternoon while standup paddling off Ukumehame in West Maui. Hawaii News Now.

A Maui playwright and author says he has found 116 instances of "striking similarity" between a screenplay he created more than two decades ago and the "Matrix" science fiction action films, as his $300 million federal copyright infringement lawsuit continues against Warner Bros. film studio and the team that produced the films. Maui News.

Kauai

A Kauai County Council committee approved a bill Wednesday designed to bolster transparency by requiring lobbyists to register with the county and disclose financial and employment information publicly. The unanimous vote by all seven council members, who make up the Committee of the Whole, sends the bill to the County Council Jan. 16, as a procedural measure, for final consideration and public input. Garden Island.

Drone testing at the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai is not a certainty even though the base is exploring the possibility with the University of Alaska Fairbanks, U.S. Navy officials in Hawaii said. Associated Press.

The public is invited to attend a meeting and provide input on a feasibility study regarding the potential access routes to the proposed landfill and resource recovery park on Maalo Road. Garden Island.

Kauapea Beach in Kilauea, Kauai, has made the list of The 5 Most Secret Nude Beaches In America. Excerpt: When else are you going to swim naked in a lava pool? “Secret Beach,” as the locals call it, is a long, golden strip of sand with views of both Kilauea Lighthouse and many a nude Hawaiian. There’s even a waterfall near the end if you’re feeling especially unclothed and adventurous. Civil Beat.

The CEO and president of Hawaiian Holdings, the parent of Hawaiian Airlines, says it operates on a thin profit margin — try a single family of four on a trans-Pacific flight. “Our margins are very, very tight,” he said Wednesday before about 100 people at the Kauai Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Courtyard Marriott Kauai. Garden Island.