Friday, February 21, 2014

Thirty Meter Telescope advances, Independent Party forms in Hawaii, Schatz-Hanabusa in tight race, Future Caucus launched, 2,500 construction jobs coming, VA approves water catchment, Ellison buys $41M of Lanai properties, Maui racial ranter investigated, Honolulu water department cleared of ethics charge, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

artists conception
Artist conception of Thirty Meter Telescope, courtesy image
The University of Hawaii on Thursday approved a plan to lease land at the summit of Mauna Kea for construction of the world’s largest optical telescope. The Board of Regents voted 15 to 1 to approve subleasing the land atop the Big Island volcano for the Thirty Meter Telescope. Associated Press.

Plans to erect the world's largest telescope atop Mauna Kea advanced Thursday with approval of a long-term lease agreement with the University of Hawaii that clears the way for construction to begin as planned in April. The UH Board of Regents voted 13-1 to approve sublease terms for the controversial $1.3 billion Thirty Meter Telescope project, which is expected to create 300 construction jobs and up to 140 permanent jobs. Star-Advertiser.

The battle to put one of the world’s largest telescopes on a sacred Hawaiian mountain continued with a hearing in 3rd Circuit Court in Hilo on Thursday morning. Backers of the Thirty Meter Telescope project sat side by side with supporters of the six petitioners arguing the state erred when granting a Conservation District Use Permit for construction of the telescope. Tribune-Herald.

Amid an ongoing lawsuit and student-led demonstrations, the UH Board of Regents met today and voted for a planned sublease that would allow the Thirty Meter Telescope project to proceed. Hawaii Independent.

After U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin won a second term in 2002, he asked U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye to escort him to the swearing-in ceremony because of his great respect for the Hawaii icon. But Durbin and other top Senate Democrats are supporting U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate over U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, Inouye's preferred successor. Star-Advertiser.

Brian Schatz may have a 2-to-1 advantage over Colleen Hanabusa in campaign fundraising, but both candidates have received significant contributions from well-connected local folks. Schatz, the appointed U.S. senator, and Hanabusa, the U.S. representative who wants his job, also attract plenty of money from mainland donors and political action committees. Civil Beat.

Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann may soon have a new political party. The Hawaii Independent Party filed enough signatures of registered voters with the state Office of Elections by Thursday's deadline to satisfy the requirement for a new party. Hannemann has said that he would seriously consider running for governor as an independent if the new party is certified. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Independent Party registered this afternoon and by Thursday evening, the Office of Elections confirmed they gathered enough signatures to be a certified political party. Now a familiar face, former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, could soon join the race for Governor. KITV4.

The door at the State Office of Elections closed at 4:30 Thursday afternoon. That was the deadline to have a petition handed in in order to have a political party placed on the ballot for this year’s election. For the newly-formed Hawaii Independent Party it was a close call. KHON2.

Hawaii lawmakers officially launched the state's Future Caucus on Thursday — the first program of its kind at the state level, modeled after a national caucus co-founded last year by U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. Star-Advertiser.

Hawai’i’s young politicians are reaching across party lines and governmental jurisdictions to work for a common goal, to get things done.   The group hosted a special guest who inspired its formation. Hawaii Public Radio.

Race relations in Hawaii came to the fore this week as a result of two extremely vocal Hawaii residents. One is a young homeless man from Maui. The other is an elected state official from the island of Hawaii. The reaction to them has been fierce and both could face serious repercussions. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Lawmakers Mull Clearer Rules for Schools With Uncontrollable Kids. Civil Beat.

Crimes such as pumping pool water into the ocean and dumping trash on roadsides would be prosecuted better if Hawaii establishes an environmental court, advocates and regulators told state lawmakers Wednesday. Associated Press.

Hawaii will add 2,500 construction jobs this year on top of the 2,500 added last year, according to a report issued Thursday by the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii wants doctors to start measuring kids’ body fat, which will be recorded and sent to the local Obamacare exchange. Health insurance companies would be required to cover the expense. Hawaii Reporter.

During the first four months of enrollment, 3,614 individuals statewide signed up online for insurance plans offered through the Hawaii Health Connector marketplace. Tribune-Herald.

Bills that would provide for mental health care, affordable housing and invasive species research are advancing in the Hawaii Legislature. Associated Press.

On Tap at the Hawaii Legislature: Feb. 21. A selective list of bills, resolutions, hearings, briefings and events for Friday at the state Capitol. Civil Beat.

State roundup for February 21. Associated Press.

Oahu
A city Ethics Commission report concludes that an investigation found no ethics laws were violated in the awarding of three Honolulu Board of Water Supply contracts, but calls on the city auditor to look into serious problems uncovered at the agency. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu Police Department says a 5.5 percent increase for the police chief and his deputies is needed to keep up with salaries of officers, whose salaries have climbed after successful union negotiations. The request for an increase was taken to the city Salary Commission this month by Assistant Police Chief Mark Nakagawa. Star-Advertiser.

Inflation in Honolulu remained muted during the second half of last year, helping underpin a steady recovery in the local economy, government officials said Thursday. Prices for a range of consumer goods and services rose 1.7 percent from July through December when compared with the same period a year earlier, according to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics. Star-Advertiser.

Navy Seabees have been called in to combat a growing number of invasive coconut rhinoceros beetles discovered on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, the Navy said Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

There’s good news trickling down from Washington, D.C., for Hawaii Island’s 17,000 veterans. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will once again guarantee loans for homes on water catchment systems. West Hawaii Today.

Within perhaps six months, County Prosecutor Mitch Roth plans on having a courthouse canine in his Hilo office, courtesy of two organizations — Courthouse Dogs Foundation and Assistance Dogs of Hawaii. Tribune-Herald.

A 0.6-mile stretch of Queen Kaahumanu Highway in Kailua-Kona has bicyclists wondering how long it will be until a life is lost. Though the highway has a designated bicycle lane between Makala Boulevard and Palani Road, bicyclists say they would rather go out of their way to loop through the Kailua-Kona town area than continue straight on the highway. West Hawaii Today.

A new Cost of Government Commission was seated Thursday, optimistic about finding ways to save taxpayers money. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

The 21-year-old man who went on a racist rant that was caught on cell phone video could be banned from all Maui county parks for a year. Maui Police are also moving forward with Terroristic Threatening and Harassment charges, both misdemeanors.  The case is currently at the prosecutors office being reviewed. Hawaii News Now.

The Maui Police Department needs to fill more than two dozen civilian positions, mostly for radio dispatchers. It's the largest vacancy the department has seen in about six years, police officials said. Associated Press.

University of Hawaii Maui College Chancellor Clyde Sakamoto, the longtime name and face of Maui's primary post-secondary institution, will retire by the end of October, University of Hawaii officials confirmed Wednesday. Maui News.

Young Brothers shipping between Honolulu Harbor and Kahului Harbor, the largest Neighbor Island port in terms of cargo volume, rose 1 percent in 2013, and the smallest, Kaumalapau Harbor on Lanai, saw shipments grow 21 percent. Maui News.

Kauai

The Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife is inviting Kauai residents to submit applications for positions on a community council to advise the DOFAW Na Ala Hele Trails and Access Program. Garden Island.

For almost 13 years, YWCA of Kauai employees have worked to expand their reach and create a place where they could serve more families in the community. Garden Island.

Lanai

Larry Ellison, the billionaire CEO of Oracle Corp. and the majority owner of the Hawaiian island of Lanai, has been busy with real estate shopping since he purchased the Pineapple Island in mid-2012. Ellison has purchased 21 resort residential properties near the Four Seasons Resorts Lanai at Manele Bay for a little more than $41 million. Pacific Business News.