Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Hawaii could host America's Cup, Morita under investigation, Honolulu to get smart grid, sustainability bill spurs ethics complaint, lobbyist finally registers, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy America's Cup
America's Cup courtesy photo
Hosting the America's Cup could mean hundreds of millions in economic activity for Hawaii and priceless exposure for the islands' tourism industry. When word spread Monday that billionaire Larry Ellison, the owner of 98 percent of Lanai, has set his eyes on the islands to hold the 2017 America's Cup yacht race, the reaction in Hawaii was quick and mostly positive. Star-Advertiser.

Larry Ellison's vision for the 35th America's Cup in 2017 includes regattas raced around the globe leading up to the winners racing AC60 yachts in Hawaii for the Louis Vuitton Cup, with the winner of that race facing defending champion Oracle Team USA's AC60 in the waters off Honolulu for the America's Cup. Pacific Business News.

Plenty of measures that have been proposed in the Hawaii Legislature no longer have a shot this session, including bills to ease access to medical marijuana and outlaw shark and ray fishing. Associated Press.

Morita
A former state representative and current chair of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission is being investigated for illegally building and operating a Hanalei bed and breakfast for more than a decade.The state Department of Land and Natural Resources alleges that Hermina ‘Mina’ Morita and her husband, Lance Laney, ran the vacation rental Taro Patch Hale without permission, and built the secluded North Shore vacation getaway in a state conservation district without the proper permits. Garden Island.

Hawaii Senate President Donna Mercado Kim is one of two state senators running for the 1st Congressional District seat being vacated by Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and one of seven candidates in the race. Kim has been described as the CD1 frontrunner, has proved very effective at raising campaign money for the race and currently leads in the polls. Civil Beat.

State lawmakers are clashing with the Executive Office on Aging over whether Kupuna Care services should be provided to poor seniors — a disagreement that flared up in a committee hearing on aging program funding Monday. Star-Advertiser.

The March for Meals drew hundreds of Hawaii seniors to the State Capitol to lobby lawmakers for funding for Kupuna care. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii lawmakers are hashing out ways to get air conditioning into the state’s public schools. Sen. Suzanne Chun-Oakland said Monday that students and teachers in her school district have become sick and a pond of fish has died because of the heat. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii lawmakers are proposing charging a fee to insurers that are not participating in the state’s insurance exchange under President Barack Obama’s federal health care overhaul. Associated Press.

Hawaii’s prisons are crumbling under the weight of overcrowding and neglect. The newest facility — Halawa Correctional Center in Central Oahu — is more than 20 years old and bursting at the seams. Civil Beat.

Long-time lobbyist goes legit. The tale of how media inquiries brought a prominent land development lobbyist to register with the ethics commission. Hawaii Independent.

The Hawaii State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations expects statewide employment will jump 4 percent by 2015. In its latest forecast, the state anticipates that statewide employment will expand by 26,880 jobs from the first quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of 2015. Tribune-Herald.

Great news for jobseekers -- statewide employment is expected to grow by 4%, or 26,880 new jobs, in the next two years. Hawaii News Now.

Glenna Owens, the director of the Department of Education's Food Services Branch, says school-grown food cannot be served in any school cafeteria, primarily for food safety reasons. Civil Beat.

Details in the autopsy report of Hawaii's former health director who died after a plane's ocean landing reveal how traumatic the ordeal was for her. The autopsy report obtained by the Associated Press on Monday says Loretta Fuddy was "markedly afraid" while waiting for help to arrive after the small plane crashed off Molo­kai on Dec. 11. Star-Advertiser.

Military service-members in Hawai’i received a 14.7 percent housing allowance increase in January, which is a tax-free subsidy to help pay for housing in the civilian market. Hawaii Public Radio.

State roundup for March 11. Associated Press.

Oahu

Hawaiian Electric Co. will soon start testing a smart-grid program on Oahu that will wirelessly transmit real-time information on customers' electricity use to the utility, allowing HECO to integrate more renewable energy into its grid and respond faster to power failures. Star-Advertiser.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell's revamped Housing First plan will provide 180 to 200 permanent residences for homeless individuals and families, 110 of them by June 2016, city housing officials told the City Council Budget Committee on Monday. Star-Advertiser.

During a Monday briefing before the City Council's Budget Committee, Community Services Director Pamela Witty-Oakland said the city is considering a voucher program for its Housing First initiative, which seeks to find shelter for the chronically homeless before focusing on issues of drug abuse or mental health. KITV4.

Former Kaneohe Ranch CEO Mitch D'Olier has turned his attention from the Windward side of Oahu to Honolulu, with his take on the island's so called "Third City" of Kakaako. Pacific Business News.

City Ethics Commission Director Chuck Totto took his case for more money directly to the Honolulu City Council Budget Committee on Monday. He's been fighting with Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the administration for months over what he sees as an effort to undermine his office by cutting short its cash flow. Civil Beat.

Sharie Shima, Hawaii's first broadcast meteorologist, has died. Shima, the longtime KHNL and KITV weathercaster, died over the weekend at the age of 52. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii

A bill that would allow so-called “sustainable living research sites” skirt county building codes in Maui and Hawaii counties is moving through the state Legislature despite opposition from several state agencies and an ethics complaint against the bill’s sponsor. West Hawaii Today.

The state Board of Land and Natural Resources will consider a proposal Friday to use an old pipeline to transport biofuel from ships docked at Hilo Harbor. The 10-inch pipe was initially constructed in the 1960s to transport asphalt products to the former Shell Oil location near the harbor entrance. Tribune-Herald.

A South Kohala factory is up for auction, before it ever was used for production. Big Island Carbon’s Kawaihae plant was built through a combination of private financing and a $5 million federal stimulus loan. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii County officials have downsized proposed improvements to Alii Drive, while still attempting to create a wider space for pedestrians walking on the mauka side of the road fronting the Kona Islander Inn and the Kona Alii condo building. West Hawaii Today.

A defiant state Rep. Faye Hanohano insists her behavior has been mischaracterized and she has been unfairly "thrown under the bus" by the House leaders who reprimanded her. Star-Advertiser.

Maui

A bill to reallocate funding for repairs to the Kalakupua Playground at the Fourth Marine Division Memorial Park in Haʻikū will be considered at the Budget and Finance Committee meeting on Tuesday, March 11. Maui Now.

Maui County agencies are reconsidering how much government employees should travel by air for work after recent deadly plane crashes on Lanai and Molokai. Associated Press.

The Lanai plane crash that killed two Maui County Planning Department workers and injured three other county workers has some county and state departments rethinking air transportation to Molokai, Lanai and Hana, officials said last week. Maui News.

Kauai

Officials from The Kauai Bus say they are facing staffing challenges as they expand morning and afternoon routes to reduce overcrowding during peak times of the day. Garden Island.

United States Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard will be the guest of honor when the Kauai County Committee on the Status of Women hosts its gathering from 6 to 8 p.m. March 19 at the Kauai Museum courtyard. Garden Island.

Kauai Humane Society has launched an investigation after receiving disturbing photos of a chicken killed by what appears to be a blowgun dart. KHON2 has learned that other chickens have been targeted as well, and it’s happening in an area frequented by locals and tourists.