Thursday, February 13, 2014

Legislature may name ukulele official state instrument, Schatz most liberal senator, garbage fees coming to Oahu, school superintendent could get huge raise, time-share plan draws ire of Hilton neighbors, minimum wage, unemployment at issue, Io may be delisted as endangered species, Maui's parks boss may be in trouble, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii's ubiquitous ukulele could become the state's official state musical instrument under a bill lawmakers are considering. Associated Press.

Its frisky four strings are the sound of Elvis’ “Blue Hawaii,” of Tiny Tim tiptoeing through the tulips and lately, beyond all reason, of a popular “Bohemian Rhapsody” cover. Above all, the humble ukulele — dubbed “the underdog of all instruments” by virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro who busted out his rendition of the aforementioned Queen classic in a recent performance — sounds like Hawaii. Associated Press.

State Sen. Clayton Hee challenged the Senate on Wednesday to hear a new minimum wage bill while labor and social-service advocates warned lawmakers not to let a pay raise for low-income workers drift into the morass of election-year political maneuvering. Star-Advertiser.

To the casual observer, Hawaii's comparatively low unemployment numbers have long been a point of pride. But the official unemployment rate offers an incomplete portrait of what's going on in Hawaii's job market.  Civil Beat.

A proposal to raise the cap on the Hawaii Department of Education superintendent’s salary by $100,000 has garnered support from key players ranging from school board members to local education advocacy groups. Now the proposal is making its way through the Legislature. House Bill 2257 got the green light from the education and labor committees, while its companion, Senate Bill 2806, moved out of the Education Committee earlier this month. Civil Beat.

Brian Schatz came in first as the most liberal Senator in the nation, tying for that top stop with two other Democrats, Chris Murphy of Connecticut, and Chuck Schumer of New York. Hawaii Reporter.

Get Ready — Political Campaigns Are Rumbling to Life in Hawaii. Civil Beat.

Homeless program coming to Hawaii. Hawaii News Now.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is asking for the public's input on a proposal to remove the Hawaiian hawk or io from the endangered species list. The agency said Wednesday comments previously submitted on the proposal don't need to be sent again. The hawk was originally listed as endangered in 1967. At the time, the hawk population was believed to number in the low hundreds. Associated Press.

State briefs for February 13. Associated Press.

Oahu

Oahu households would be charged $10 a month for curbside garbage pickup under a bill proposed by Mayor Kirk Caldwell's administration on Wednesday. Those in condominiums, apartments and townhouses who now get city refuse service would have to pay market rates under the measure. Star-Advertiser.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell today proposed levying a uniform $10 per month fee for trash pickup across the island. Is it fair to charge everyone the same for trash pickup? Hawaii Independent.

New Hope Church is paying $775,000 to settle a lawsuit by local activist Mitch Kahle, Hawaii News Now has learned. Most of the money will go to the state's school system but a big chunk -- about $200,000 -- will go to Kahle for pursuing the lawsuit, which accuses New Hope and several other churches of underpaying the state to rent school facilities.

The state Office of Hawaiian Affairs won support from two Senate committees Wednesday for developing condominium towers on land in Kakaako makai of Ala Moana Boulevard despite deeply divided testimony on a bill that would reverse a 2006 law prohibiting residential use in the area. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu City Councilman Ikaika Anderson is one of two council members running for the 1st Congressional District seat being vacated by Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and one of six candidates in the race. Most are established politicians. Civil Beat.

First Wind has restored the output of its Kahuku wind energy project to full capacity after a fire shut down the facility nearly 1 1/2 years ago. Star-Advertiser.

The owners of Cheeseburger Waikiki plan to open a brewery at the restaurant, pending approval from the Honolulu Liquor Commission. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii
The Thirty Meter Telescope project gained momentum Wednesday following a Mauna Kea Management Board vote in favor of the project’s proposed sublease Wednesday morning. Tribune-Herald.

Hilton Waikoloa Village’s neighbors are protesting a plan that would convert 601 Ocean Tower hotel rooms to 450 timeshare units. West Hawaii Today.

“Don’t keep a dog and bark yourself,” seemed the adage of the day Wednesday as the county Board of Ethics considered a complaint that Finance Department officials punished an employee for violating the ethics code without first getting an opinion from the board charged with making those determinations. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii County would have greater authority over the approval of new geothermal projects under legislation two state House committees will consider today. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

County mum on status of its absent parks chief. Source: Department investigated over free rounds of golf at Waiehu. Maui News.

Although businessman Michael Baskin and his associates had short-term rental permits revoked last year for two short-term rental properties in Paia, he continues to operate them, despite an order to stop operations as of Jan. 26, according to a complaint filed Friday in 2nd Circuit Court. Maui News.

Kauai

The Kauai County Council unanimously approved a $75,000 allocation request from the county attorney’s office Wednesday to start searching for special counsel services to defend Ordinance 960 in federal court. Garden Island.

The Kauai County Council on Wednesday approved a request to hire special counsel to represent the county in a lawsuit by three seed companies that want to block the implementation of a new ordinance regulating pesticide use and genetically modified crops. Star-Advertiser.

The installation of bike racks is the latest step in the transformation of the Lihue Civic Center area to a pedestrian — and bicycle-friendly campus linking state and county functions with vibrant commercial areas. Garden Island.

Niihau

Waves of proposals aimed at Niihau have been introduced during this year’s legislative session. The most recent one would require the state to grant “the village elder” of Niihau exclusive konohiki rights to control fishing in the island’s nearshore waters. Garden Island.