Monday, April 14, 2014

Al Gore in Hawaii for Tuesday climate conference, Honolulu seeks to curb gambling machines, Kauai GMO law in federal court today, Hawaii County bill targets homeless, Monsanto could pay $3k for polluting Molokai, emergency powers coming to governor, mayors, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Ka'u freshwater stream meets the sea (c) 2014 All Hawaii News
House, Senate Disagree on Budget to Protect Hawaii's Clean Water Sources. Environmental groups, large landowners, ranchers and developers are calling on the Legislature to spend more money to protect a steady supply of fresh water. Specifically, they want funding for “The Rain Follows the Forest”, a Department of Land and Natural Resources initiative. Civil Beat.

Former Vice President Al Gore and U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer will be in town Tuesday to headline a conference about Hawaii's sustainability, clean energy and smart growth initiatives. Star-Advertiser.

Former Vice President Al Gore and other national environmental leaders will be scuttling around Honolulu this week. But don't expect the glitz and glamour that surrounds most other visiting dignitaries. The relative austerity underscores the theme of the conference: to help build a secure water and energy future for Hawaii in the midst of global warming and threatened natural resources. Civil Beat.

For political and emotional drama, it's hard to top this: U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, the most beloved and respected figure in Hawaii state history, makes a deathbed request to name his successor in Washington. But now Gov. Neil Abercrombie has challenged that much-told narrative, implying that it had been manufactured to pressure him into choosing Colleen Hanabusa. He questioned whether Inouye even wrote the letter, marked "personal" and dispatched just before he died, seeking Hanabusa's appointment. Associated Press.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz sure has good timing. He released a new campaign ad last week saying he finds the pay disparity between men and women to be “outrageous.” Civil Beat.

Hawaii lawmakers will be doing some heavy lifting this week as they meet to tackle the trickiest bills. Both chambers have passed hundreds of measures, but the finer details of many proposals will be hashed out in conference committees, which will begin popping up this week. Associated Press.

Hawaii’s governor and four county mayors may be granted unprecedented emergency powers during a crisis, such as a natural disaster like the 1992 Hurricane Iniki that hit Kauai and Oahu or a terrorist attack. The bill, HB 849, is designed to bring Hawaii’s emergency management plan to federal standards. It renames the state civil defense agency the "Hawaii Emergency Management Agency" and houses it under the state Department of Defense. Hawaii Reporter.

The Hawaiʻi State Senate advanced a list of more than 170 bills ahead of the legislative second crossover deadline, including a measure that would remove the cap on the transient accommodations tax revenues to be distributed to the counties. Maui Now.

A new, multifaceted evaluation system has sparked plenty of controversy since it went into development two years ago. Under the Educator Effectiveness System, teachers are evaluated on a range of rigorous metrics designed to assess the quality of their instruction and its impact on student achievement. To comply with each of five metrics, educators have to devote significant time over the course of the year collecting data, designing and implementing goals and meeting with administrators outside of class, among myriad other requirements. Teachers' performance on all of these requirements will ultimately affect their pay. Civil Beat.

A measure aimed at reducing the threat of identity theft and credit card fraud goes before three state senate committees Monday. Hawaii News Now.

A federal judge is not inclined to dismiss a lawsuit alleging Hawaii discriminates against those with limited English skills by making it difficult for them to obtain a driver’s license. Associated Press.

The value of Hawaii’s seed industry is estimated at $217 million for the 2012-13 season. This preliminary estimate represents an 10 percent decline from the 2011-12 revised estimate of $242 million, which was a record high. This decline is attributed to operating and organizational changes, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service — Pacific Region. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii residents will be treated to two total lunar eclipses this year, the first one Monday night. Roy Gal, assistant astronomer and outreach coordinator at the University of Hawaii at Manoa's Institute for Astronomy, said it is uncommon for Hawaii to get two total lunar eclipses in one year. Star-Advertiser.

On Tap at the Hawaii Legislature: April 14. A selective list of bills, resolutions, hearings, briefings and events for Monday at the state Capitol. Civil Beat.

Oahu

A bill before the Honolulu City Council would make it illegal to own, operate or use a simulated gambling machine on Oahu. Star-Advertiser.

How many years does it take to repair a public restroom? At least one case – at Maunalua Bay in Hawaii Kai - it took the City & County of Honolulu about four years to repair the public restroom facilities. Hawaii Reporter.

It started with a Boys & Girls Club several years ago. Recently, affordable rental housing was added. Next year the first piece of a retail center could be built, followed by a community services and education complex. These projects — planned for nearly two decades in Nanakuli — are helping crystallize a community vision to create a piko, or central gathering place, for residents in a region of Oahu often neglected by public improvement work. Star-Advertiser.

A handful of inmates indicted on charges of being part of a prison gang have waged a hunger strike to protest conditions at Honolulu’s Federal Detention Center. Associated Press.

Crumbling concrete along a walkway of famed Kuhio Beach has some local residents concerned. The walkway is the one behind the statue of Prince Kuhio, and divides the two enclosed swimming areas at Kuhio Beach, which draws thousands of visitors every day. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii

The Hawaii County Council is preparing to tackle an issue that’s generated a great deal of controversy in Honolulu — clearing public areas of possessions owned by homeless people. West Hawaii Today.

The Hawaii County Council’s Finance Committee will discuss purchasing 1,264 acres in Ka‘u for public use Tuesday. The lands mainly run from Mamalahoa Highway to the coastline near Naalehu. Tribune-Herald.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is making one last push to increase participation in its nation-building efforts. With the passing of Act 195 in 2011, OHA and the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission have sought to register Native Hawaiians to allow them to participate in the selection of delegates for a constitutional convention. But participation has been below expectations and the deadline to register has been pushed back several times. Tribune-Herald.

VIDEO: OHA Nation Building Meetings Begin. Keaukaha Hawaiians speaks out. Big Island Video News.

Some Hawaii Island residents are concerned that a dry summer could increase the risk that fires set by lava could eat through the thick forest behind their houses. But Kilauea's sluggish Kahaualea 2 flow, less than two miles from some Puna homes, poses no imminent danger to residents, Hawaii County Civil Defense and community leaders are emphasizing. Star-Advertiser.

If you’re looking for an ultra-ritzy neighborhood in Hawaii, don’t bother with the Big Island. Big Island Now.

Maui

An audit filed with Maui Land & Pineapple's annual report says there is "substantial doubt" the company can continue as a going concern, as the company prepares for its April 23 annual shareholder meeting and a May 1 maturity date approaches on two loans totaling $50 million. Pacific Business News.

While iconic island company Maui Land & Pineapple made strides in reducing its financial liabilities in 2013, a May 1 maturity date on two loans totaling about $50 million looms over the company as an auditor said there is "substantial doubt" about ML&P's ability to continue as a going concern. Maui News.

Maui Electric Co. is asking the Public Utilities Commission to approve a proposed change in what consumers are charged for the utility's "Revenue Balancing Account." Civil Beat.

Kauai
A hearing is scheduled on Monday in Hawaii’s U.S. District Court in the lawsuit filed by Syngenta and other biotech companies challenging Kauai County Ordinance 960. The court will hear oral arguments regarding the pending motion to intervene filed by Center for Food Safety, Surfrider Foundation, Pesticide Action Network North America and Ka Makani Ho‘opono seeking status as intervenor-defendants. The nonprofits, jointly represented by counsel from CFS and Earthjustice, seek an order granting them participation in the lawsuit in order to defend the County of Kauai’s pesticide and GMO disclosure law. Garden Island.

A plan to build the state's first grass-fed dairy, Hawai‘i Dairy Farms, on former Kauai sugar lands has heated up into a big-money battle pitting powerful — and somewhat unlikely — opponents over environmental and economic concerns. Star-Advertiser.

The County of Kauai sees no reason to intervene with Hawaii Dairy Farms’ proposed $17.5 million, 582-acre dairy in Mahaulepu. On Friday, County Engineer Larry Dill responded in writing to concerns voiced by a group of local biologists and residents. The group recently requested that the county step in and reconsider any decisions it has made or permit exemptions it has granted to HDF. Garden Island.

A civil rights lawsuit filed nearly two years ago against the County of Kauai by current Councilman Tim Bynum may be coming to a close soon. The County Council agreed Friday by a 4-2 vote to accept a $290,000 settlement for Bynum that was reached by Everest National Insurance Company, the county’s insurance carrier. Garden Island.

Molokai

Monsanto Co. would pay the state $3,000 to settle a case involving air pollution violations in 2012 at its Molokai operations, according to a proposed settlement. Maui News.

Tagging Kioea: Learning about Molokai’s Rare Shorebirds. Molokai Dispatch.