Thursday, February 27, 2014

Voters say raise minimum wage, don't legalize marijuana; plane crash kills Maui County planners, Health Connector ailing, Hawaii County asks for waste-to-energy bids, oysters making a comeback, Hawaii tops in nursing home care, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hotel workers rally in Waikiki file photo (c) 2014 All Hawaii News
A large majority of people in the state are in favor of a substantial increase in the minimum wage, a new Civil Beat Poll shows. But the state should not legalize marijuana for recreational use. Increasing the wage from $7.25 an hour to at least $9.25 is something that 68 percent of statewide registered voters agree on. But 59 percent of respondents said they do not want the Aloha State to follow Washington and Colorado in allowing residents to smoke marijuana.

Hawaii has the highest percentage of nursing homes that earned a five-star rating in a new U.S. News & Word Report report, which ranked Hawaii as the No. 1 state in long-term care for best nursing home facilities. Pacific Business News.

The head of the Hawaii Health Connector acknowledged for the first time Wednesday that the state-based insurance exchange won't be sustainable beyond this year. The Connector, the online health insurance marketplace created by the federal Affordable Care Act, needs $15 million a year to operate but expects to earn only $1 million this year from fees. Star-Advertiser.

The head of Hawaii's online health insurance marketplace told state lawmakers Tuesday that it isn't earning enough to pay its bills beyond 2014. Tom Matsuda, the interim executive director of the Hawaii Health Connector, told the House Finance Committee that because so few people have used it, the Health Connector won't break even after this year. About 4,500 people have enrolled in individual insurance plans since the Health Connector launched in October. Associated Press.

Hawaii’s political and military leaders are worried proposed cuts to the military will affect the state’s economy and national security. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel this week announced the Obama administration’s plans to cut the U.S. Army to its smallest size since before World War II. Hawaii Reporter.

Hawaii lawmakers want to carve out an exception in the state Ethics Code so public schools can continue raising money for nonprofit organizations — if it’s educational. Teachers were advised in December to stop encouraging students from participating in the Macy’s “A Million Reasons to Believe” promotion because state employees aren’t allowed to use public resources for private business activities, which generally includes supporting or promoting charities. Civil Beat.

A bill that would mandate the use of “Made in Hawaii” labeling for local agricultural products was approved today during a joint meeting of three state Senate committees. Big Island Now.

Seven of the truly worst things about Hawaii. No, really. Hawaii Independent.

Hawaiian Airlines is suspending daily service to Fukuoka, Japan, due to low demand, the second Asian city it has dropped within the past year after an aggressive international expansion. Star-Advertiser.

On Tap at the Hawaii Legislature: Feb. 27. Civil Beat.

Oahu

City Council leaders said they are generally supportive of Mayor Kirk Caldwell's plan to eliminate roughly 600 vacant job positions and cut the funding for additional slots, a plan projected to save $37 million annually for the money-strapped city budget. Caldwell made the announcement Wednesday, one of several new initiatives unveiled during his second State of the City address. Star-Advertiser.

A plan by Mayor Kirk Caldwell to start charging Oahu property owners $10 a month for trash pickup was shot down by the Honolulu City Council Budget Committee Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

The Mayor of Honolulu delivered his annual State of the City address today…his second since taking office last year. Hawaii Public Radio.

More than one out of every five public schools on Oahu failed to comply with federal school food safety regulations in one or more of the three past academic years, according to data from the state Department of Health. Specifically, the schools were not inspected by state health officials twice annually in at least one of those years — the minimum number of checks required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the national school lunch and breakfast programs. Civil Beat.

Trevor Ozawa, a Hawaii Kai resident and attorney, will run to replace Honolulu City Councilman Stanley Chang who is leaving his position to run for U.S. Congress, according to a media release. Civil Beat.

Kamehameha Schools added details to another piece of its Kakaako development master plan Wednesday, announcing a project called 400 Keawe expected to add 183 homes in two midrise buildings in early 2016. The roughly $60 million project is made up of a six-story condominium with 95 units developed by Castle & Cooke Homes Hawai‘i Inc., and a seven-story apartment building with 88 rentals developed by Kamehameha Schools. Star-Advertiser.

Oysters grown in a nutrient-rich ancient Hawaiian fishpond for about seven months, hit the local market Monday afternoon as the first state-certified commercial harvest in decades. Star-Advertiser.

Developing Agriculture: HCDA Helps Restore Kalo Fields in Windward Oahu. Civil Beat.

Hawaii

Mayor Billy Kenoi on Wednesday laid out an aggressive time line to locate a waste-to-energy facility — by far the county’s largest public works project — at the site of the Hilo landfill before he leaves office in 2016. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii County could receive $306,237 to evict the little fire ant from its parks. The Senate Committee on Ways and Means will consider a bill today to provide the funds to the county Parks and Recreation Department as part of a pilot project. Tribune-Herald.

An amendment going before the county’s planning commissions will bring the county’s zoning code into line with the state Land Use Commission rules. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

A chartered plane carrying five Maui County employees crashed moments after attempting to take off from the Lanai airport Wednesday night, killing three, critically injuring two and seriously injuring a sixth person, county officials say. Hawaii News Now.

Three people killed and three injured in a fiery plane crash on Lanai Wednesday night were Maui County employees returning on a chartered plane after attending a Lanai Planning Commission Meeting. A Maui County news release said the three people killed were the pilot of the plane and two Department of Planning employees. Two other planning employees were in critical condition and a deputy attorney for the Corporation Counsel was in serious condition. Star-Advertiser.

Three people are dead, and three others are injured after a plane chartered by the County of Maui crashed about a mile outside of the Lānaʻi on Wednesday night. County officials have since confirmed that the pilot and two Department of Planning employees suffered fatal injuries in the crash. Maui Now.

A plane crashed about a half-mile from Lanai Airport on Wednesday night, according to police and a witness near the crash site. Maui News.

Lifeguard Tamara Paltin has launched a campaign for Maui County mayor that's short on money and election paraphernalia, but, she says, long on her concern for addressing community issues. Maui News.

Kauai

At least one county councilman wants the public to know the whole story. Kauai County Councilman Mel Rapozo said Wednesday he will make a motion, at a later time, to release executive session minutes to the public dealing with the civil suit filed by Councilman Tim Bynum against the county. Garden Island.

Kauai County is paying more than $250,000 to settle a wrongful prosecution lawsuit by County Councilman Tim Bynum, Hawaii News Now has learned. Bynum's suit accused former Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho of retaliating against him by filing criminal charges after he questioned the financial activities of the prosecutor's office.

‘Every time it rains, we flood’ Kamalu Road resident has been battling culvert issue for 7 years. Garden Island.