Thursday, February 6, 2014

Kilauea lava lake puts on a show, bill prohibits eating cats and dogs, tasered man dies in police custody, carpenters union to endorse Schatz, Senate committees mull solar credits, lawsuit alleges sex abuse by Kauai prison warden, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy Hawaii Volcanoes Observatory
Kilauea lava lake
Like a moving jigsaw puzzle, the lava lake at the summit of Kilauea Volcano continues to glow and gurgle, while the Puu Oo vent is feeding a flow largely hidden from public view. Star-Advertiser.

House Bill 2368 would prohibit the slaughtering or trafficking of dogs or cats for human consumption. Civil Beat.

About 20 people testified their support, some while fighting back tears, for a bill that could lead Hawaii’s electric utilities to better accommodate homeowners who make their own renewable energy. Impassioned power customers and an out-of-work solar panel installer, among others, urged members of the Senate committees overseeing energy and commerce to push Hawaii’s utilities to set out clearer guidelines for incorporating solar into the state’s power grid. Associated Press.

People in Hawaii could see more micro apartments, housing for elderly people and rental properties if bills that lawmakers approved in committee Wednesday become law. Associated Press.

Hawaii’s small producers of beer, liquor and wine would see relief from some of the nation’s highest alcohol taxes under legislation state lawmakers are considering. Associated Press.

The Hawaii Regional Council of Carpenters is expected to announce today that the union will endorse U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz over U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. The 6,300-member union is among the most politically influential private-sector labor organizations in the state. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

A federal grand jury has indicted a 31-year-old Halawa prison guard on charges of conspiracy to smuggle methamphetamine into the prison, bribery and  drug-related counts. James "Kimo" Sanders III, a Kailua resident, was indicted on one count of conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine from October 2013 and Jan. 12. Star-Advertiser.

University of Hawaii athletic department is staring at the possibility of a $2 million deficit this fiscal year and may have to lay off some part-time and temporary workers, a Board of Regents committee was told Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

The state Department of Health is notifying the public that "very low" levels of lead and other chemicals have been detected in the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam water system. The lead levels are within federal and state compliance levels for drinking water in a water distribution system (below the lead "action level") and do not represent a health threat, the Health Department said in a news release issued today. Star-Advertiser.

The planned seven ultra-luxury condominium towers to be built on what is now a parking area of Ala Moana Center fronting Ala Moana Boulevard will include 215 units with 109 two-bedroom units, 65 three-bedroom units, 36 one-bedroom units and five five-bedroom penthouses, according to a permit filed recently with the City and County of Honolulu. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii

The Hawaii County Council appeared to settle a conflict regarding powers of the council chair Wednesday. Council Chair J Yoshimoto proposed a resolution clarifying his authority after an apparent disagreement with Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille. Tribune-Herald.

The issue was over whether Yoshimoto could decide whether presentations and other non-legislative matters are put on the agenda for council meetings. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii County police used an electronic weapon, commonly known as a Taser, in an attempt to subdue a 39-year-old Kailua-Kona man who died Tuesday while in police custody. Star-Advertiser.

Right-to-farm legislation that could have threatened Hawaii County’s law restricting the use of transgenic crops appear to have been defeated in the state Legislature. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa delivered his 2014 State of the County Address from the McCoy Studio Theater at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center on Wednesday night, Feb. 5, 2014. During his address, the mayor highlighted the county’s achievements in 2013, outlined plans for the coming year, and discussed issues presently facing the County of Maui. Maui Now.

University of Hawaii researchers have attached satellite transmitters to six more sharks in the second phase of a project to observe the movements of tiger sharks after a surge in the number of shark attacks recorded off Maui. Star-Advertiser.

A total of 14 tiger sharks are now being tracked via satellite transmitters as researchers round out phase two of a project to observe their movement in Maui waters. Maui Now.

Kauai

The Kauai County Council approved a measure Wednesday redefining the tasks and requirements for a group charged with framing a study on pesticides and genetically modified organisms on Kauai. When the 12-member committee, called the Pesticide and Genetic Engineering Joint Fact Finding Group, does meet, they will determine a number of research topics ranging from scientific studies to project cost estimates and timelines. Garden Island.

Two federal court lawsuits alleged that a Kauai prison warden forced female prisoners to watch violent pornography and confess their darkest sexual secrets in front of male prisoners. Hawaii News Now.

A male prison warden filmed his “public sexual shamings” in which female inmates had to disclose their “rape, childhood sexual abuse … sexual preferences [and] sexual deviations,” while he called them “whores” in front of male inmates, a woman claims in a federal class action. Alexandria Gregg sued Hawaii’s Department of Public Safety, its director Ted Sakai, and the allegedly abusive warden of the Kauai Community Correctional Center, Neal Wagatsuma. Civil Beat.