Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Hawaii gears up for legislative session, Pflueger sentencing delayed, Fuddy died from stress, new spokesman for Abercrombie, Kauai GMO battle intensifies, new sub for Pearl Harbor, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Palmyra Atoll courtesy photo
The science being done on Palmyra atoll, conservationists say, holds valuable lessons for Hawaii, especially when it comes to understanding sharks, preserving coral reefs and combating invasive species. Star-Advertiser.

Legislative Preview 2014: Will Lawmakers Play It Safe in an Election Year? Civil Beat.

Lawmakers are looking further into the future this year when it comes to Hawaii’s renewable energy goals. Leaders of Hawaii’s energy and environmental committees hope to pass a law requiring the state to derive 100 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2050. The current goal is 40 percent renewable energy by 2030. Civil Beat.

The University of Hawaii has been plagued by bad decisions, lack of accountability, construction backlogs and growing public criticism. Lawmakers aim to take action when the legislative session kicks off Wednesday, particularly at the trouble-plagued flagship campus UH Manoa, UH West Oahu and UH Hilo. Civil Beat.

Pearl Harbor will be getting a fourth new Virginia-class attack submarine this summer, bringing a crew of more than 130 and a $10 million payroll to Hawaii, U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa said Monday. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Monday that former KITV weatherman and reporter Justin Fujioka will become his press secretary effective Jan. 27, replacing another former news reporter, Louise Kim McCoy, who left the post late last year to move to the Pacific Northwest. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii’s health director died of an irregular heartbeat that was triggered when a small plane she was riding in lost power and crash-landed off Molokai, police said Monday. Loretta Fuddy’s irregular heartbeat was the result of stress from the Dec. 11 crash, Maui police announced, revealing the findings of an autopsy conducted two days after the crash. Associated Press.

The brother of state Health Director Loretta Fuddy said his sister had no heart problems or pre-existing conditions that would have contributed to her death following a December plane crash off Molokai. A Maui County police spokes­man said Loretta Fuddy, 65, died of cardiac arrhythmia because of stress following the Dec. 11 crash into the ocean after takeoff about a half-mile from Kalaupapa. Star-Advertiser.

The remains of a Native Hawaiian man and woman will be returned to their home state after spending more than 50 years in Texas, officials said. The skulls were taken by a U.S. Air Force airman after being found at an undetermined Oahu hotel site near or on a beach between 1940 and 1960. Associated Press.

Honolulu

City Councilwoman Carol Fukunaga is pressing the administration to install public restrooms downtown and in Chinatown, saying businesses, residents and visitors are growing frustrated at more homeless people using the area as their toilet. Star-Advertiser.

The back and forth between the homeless and the city continues but a new proposal hopes to take enforcement to a new level. The city did a sidewalk enforcement on Iwilei Road and Kuwili Street Friday removing the illegal camps, but they're back. Now a councilman wants to get police involved. Hawaii News Now.

The City Council is introducing a new item on the food truck menu. Council Chair Ernie Martin has introduced Bill 1 that calls for designating certain parking spaces in the city and outlying areas specifically for lunch wagons. Vendors would bid on the spaces. Hawaii News Now.

An affiliate of German carmaker Daimler AG is interested in establishing a car-sharing service in Hono­lulu, where 150 or so of Daimler's small Smart cars would be deployed on city streets available for public use. Star-Advertiser.

Amid the asphalt and concrete trappings of the urban neighborhood, a nonprofit group called Urban Farm Hawaii is growing a plot of taro along Ala Moana Boulevard. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Thirty Meter Telescope representatives are looking to offer input on the case involving six petitioners challenging the state’s decision to grant a permit for the construction of one of the world’s largest telescopes on the top of Mauna Kea. Representatives from the California-based project are expected to file an “amicus brief” or a “friend of the court” brief Thursday that would allow them to speak on the case involving the Board of Land and Natural Resources’ decision to grant a permit to the University of Hawaii at Hilo for the construction of the $1.3 billion initiative. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii County’s commission charged with buying land for preservation and a public-private partnership trying to protect mountain watersheds agree that public access is an essential component of protecting the environment. West Hawaii Today.

Maui
The Maui Axis Deer Working Group is trying to quantify the invasive animal’s population, while exploring whether developing a venison meat industry is a feasible solution for controlling its growth. A September aerial survey counted about 8,000 deer in East Maui, the most heavily affected area. Associated Press.

While some West Maui residents know that the planned hospital in Kaanapali won't be a cure-all for every medical situation, they say the facility is greatly needed and are pleased its construction is on schedule to be completed in 2016. Maui News.

Kauai

The biotech firms suing Kauai County aren’t just contesting the law – they’re trying to rewind the dramatic vote on Bill 2491: As part of their complaint filed against Kauai County last Friday, the biotech seed companies are seeking to void the County Council’s selection of Mason Chock to fill a vacancy on that panel. Hawaii Independent.

Kauai County will be taking law firms up on their offers for free legal help defending an ordinance regulating the use of pesticides and genetically modified crops by large agricultural businesses. While the bill was going through the process of being passed, several firms offered attorneys to fight legal challenges, county spokeswoman Beth Tokioka said. Associated Press.

Hawaii automobile mogul Jimmy Pflueger, the sole defendant in one of Hawaii’s most notorious criminal cases, will have his sentencing delayed. Pflueger, who pled no contest in July 2013 to reckless endangerment for causing the deaths of seven people on March 14, 2006, when his Ka Loko dam breached, was scheduled to appear in Kauai’s Fifth Circuit Court on January 23, 2014. Hawaii Reporter.

A medical condition will keep retired car dealer James Pflueger from traveling to Kauai next week for sentencing. Pflueger was scheduled to appear in Kauai’s 5th Circuit Court Jan. 23 after pleading no contest in July to first-degree reckless endangerment, a felony, for his role in the 2006 Ka Loko dam failure. Garden Island.

Families of Ka Loko Dam break victims react to delay in Pflueger sentencing. Hawaii News Now.
Brad Kelley, the Tennessee billionaire and fourth largest private landowner in the United States, who recently purchased more than 3,000 acres of agricultural land on the island of Kauai, seems to have good intentions for the land, a senior vice president of Grove Farm Co., which formerly owned the land. Pacific Business News.

Molokai

The MolokaŹ»i Landfill will be closed until further notice following the discovery of potentially unexploded ordnance at the facility on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014. County Communications Director Rod Antone said the MolokaŹ»i Police Department has been notified and is “monitoring and securing the facility.” Maui Now.