Monday, February 24, 2014

Abercrombie, Ige tied in poll for governor, Hawaii ranked high in shark attacks, Hanohano on the hot seat, Maui group wants GMO regs, no new taxes for Hawaii County, HECO execs get raises, Caldwell to deliver state of the city, more news from all the Hawaian Islands

Hawaii governor Democrats
Abercrombie vs. Ige
A new Civil Beat Poll suggests that state Sen. David Ige has a shot at unseating Hawaii's incumbent governor, Neil Abercrombie. Ige and Abercrombie are tied at 37 percent apiece among likely Democratic primary voters, the poll shows. And more than a quarter of those voters, or 26 percent, say they are unsure of who they'll vote for.

Hawaii tallied the second-highest count of shark attacks of any place on Earth last year, according to the University of Florida's annual International Shark Attack File report released last week. Only Florida had more shark attacks, with 23. Star-Advertiser.

Dozens of Hawaii legislators have written Gov. Neil Abercrombie urging him to reappoint their former House colleague to lead the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission. As Civil Beat reported Wednesday, the governor could be disappointed that PUC Commissioner Mina Morita has not helped advance aspects of his energy agenda and that the PUC has been slow in issuing opinions. Morita may have raised the governor's ire due to the PUC's rejection of a Big Island biofuel contract and the commission's ongoing delays in letting an inter-island cable plan go forward.

The top thing to watch for this week in the Hawaii state Legislature is what didn't notably happen last week: a promised meeting among House leadership to discuss possible censure of Rep. Faye Hanohano. Associated Press.

In drafting legislation to regulate the budding unmanned aerial vehicle industry, legislators nearly excluded all uses of the devices, except by law enforcement — the opposite of their intent. Star-Advertiser.

After an informational briefing highlighted the medicinal values and outlined the path and roadblocks to implementation of marijuana dispensaries, Rep. Della Au Belatti calls for "steady, measured and reasonable dialogue" on the subject. Hawaii Independent.

Measure regulating dietary supplements gets little attention. Star-Advertiser.

The League of Women Voters of Hawaii is urging taxpayers to support the state's election campaign fund. The league asked last week that taxpayers indicate on their income tax returns that $3 for individuals, or $6 for joint filers, should go to the fund. Associated Press.

University of Hawaii Board of Regents Vice Chairman James Lee has been passed up by Gov. Neil Abercrombie for another term on the board. Star-Advertiser.

The state Department of Education has convened a working group to review an experimental sex-education program in public schools that has been criticized by Republican lawmakers. The program entitled Pono Choices was developed by the University of Hawaii for seventh-graders. Big Island Now.

Hawaii’s online health insurance exchange hopes to boost enrollment by targeting younger adults. The Hawaii Health Connector is making an aggressive push this weekend aimed at so-called “invincibles,” those who see insurance as an unnecessary expense. Associated Press.

The president and the executive staff of Hawaiian Electric Co., the state’s largest electric utility, received higher base salaries in 2013, but their total compensation for the year was lower compared to the year before, according an annual report for parent Hawaiian Electric Industries. Pacific Business News.

In her keynote address at Sunday's opening of the 17th biennial Ocean Sciences Meeting, National Geographic explorer Elizabeth Kapuuwailanui Lindsey shared a memory about her late mentor, Pius "Mau" Piai­lug, the esteemed Micronesian navigator whose work to preserve traditional way-finding practices influenced generations of modern Polynesian voyagers. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

When Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell delivers his second State of the City address this week, it won't be at Honolulu Hale, or even Kapolei Hale in the  "Second City." For the first time, it will be delivered at McCoy Pavilion at Ala Moana Park. Hawaii News Now.

Thousands of ocean scientists are in Hawaii this week for a conference at the Hawaii Convention center. Their goal is to address major marine issues around the world. Organizers feel hawaii is the perfect place to begin the discussion. KHON2.

Beginning Monday, February 24, a tree care company hired by the city will begin the removal of two mature monkeypod trees growing along Kapiolani Boulevard. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii

Increases in property values coupled with an improving economy should provide enough revenue to balance the county budget without having to raise property taxes this year, despite across-the-board salary hikes for county employees covered by collective bargaining agreements. West Hawaii Today.

State Rep. Faye Hanohano's recent remarks and actions have roiled the state Capitol, but in her home district of Puna her constituents remain divided about the alleged misconduct. In Pahoa, a once-sleepy town that has mushroomed into a bustling gathering place for people living in the region's many sprawling subdivisions, there are those who still support Hanohano and those who shake their heads at the mention of her name. Star-Advertiser.

The University of Hawaii Center at West Hawaii has a new director. The University of Hawaii Board of Regents Thursday night hired Kenneth “Marty” Fletcher to helm the community college, which will become the University of Hawaii at Palamanui. West Hawaii Today.

A former president of Hilo Little League has pleaded guilty in federal court to embezzling tens of thousands of dollars in league funds, plus money from two youth soccer teams, a pageant organization and a car repair and alignment shop. Tribune-Herald.

Maui
Five Maui County residents are looking to gather at least 8,500 signatures for a ballot initiative that would force genetically engineered food growers, such as Monsanto, to "prove that their crops are safe," supporters said. Maui News.

As the state Public Utilities Commission continues to gather public testimony to determine whether a Maui-Oahu undersea power cable would be in the public interest, Upcountry residents were able to ask energy officials and experts questions about the proposal during the Kula Community Association meeting Wednesday night. Maui News.

A total of 1,331 humpback whale sightings were recorded during the Pacific Whale Foundation’s annual Great Whale Count held on Saturday. Maui Now.

A workshop that will include officials from Google, who will help small businesses take advantage of online opportunities, will be held March 19 at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. Maui News.

Kauai

Four Kauai charter schools will continue to operate thanks to a shot of emergency financial support. The Board of Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs approved $1.5 million in emergency funding to 17 Hawaiian-focused public charter schools for the 2013-2014 school year to address the budgetary shortfalls the schools have faced over the past five years. Garden Island.

Several teachers at Kilauea Elementary School are feeling such pressure to implement a new pilot program called the Educator Effectiveness System, they’ve sent a letter protesting the measure to the Hawaii Board of Education and the Hawaii Department of Education. Garden Island.