Thursday, April 10, 2014

Dirty tricks in Hawaii Legislature, Democrats fight open primary, 2k acres of Maui farmland could go to bioenergy, state mental hospital under fire, safe harbor for child prostitutes, Obamacare health exchange seeks more money, Pfleuger trial delayed again, developer stymied by graves, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii state Capitol (c) 2014 All Hawaii News
A series of bills lawmakers passed in the Hawaii Senate were drafted without giving the public the proper chance to weigh in, following a “gut-and-replace” maneuver scorned by government watchdog groups. Associated Press.

The Democratic Party of Hawaii argues in a new legal filing that there is no important difference between Hawaii's open primary and a California blanket primary that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled was unconstitutional in 2000. The Democratic Party of Hawaii has challenged the state's open primary as a violation of the First Amendment right to free association. The party wants to restrict primaries to party members and voters who publicly choose to affiliate with the party before the elections. Star-Advertiser.

The head of the Hawaii Health Connector told a panel of lawmakers Wednesday that the troubled health exchange will need $4.7 million to be financially sustainable next year. Associated Press.

The Hawaii Health Connector, which has struggled to enroll Hawaii residents in health insurance plans, is proposing to shift a key part of the application process to the state Department of Human Services. Star-Advertiser.

The state Senate has passed a measure that would allow some child prostitutes to go free, in the hopes of sending them to so-called "safe harbors," such as social service agencies. Hawaii News Now.

Sens. Josh Green and Clayton Hee are certain nepotism runs rampant at the Hawaii State Hospital, they’re just looking for more proof. During an investigative committee hearing Wednesday, the senators peppered the hospital’s acting administrator William Elliott with questions about hiring practices and employee relationships at the facility. Civil Beat.

The acting director of the troubled Hawaii State Hospital admitted Wednesday that he lacks the minimum educational qualifications to head the facility and was grilled about charges that managers manipulate the hiring process to unfairly hire some of their relatives. Hawaii News Now.

The state Senate Education Committee unanimously voted Wednesday to recommend retired bank executive Don Horner for a second term on the board overseeing Hawaii public schools, crediting his leadership as chairman for recent strides in student achievement and more accountability within the Department of Education. Star-Advertiser.

The Senate Education Committee got an earful Wednesday about why Don Horner should not be reappointed to a new three-year term as chairman of the Hawaii Board of Education. Civil Beat.

Civil Beat obtained Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s travel records for August, September and October in response to a Uniform Information Practices Act request.

Hawaii state government no longer is failing when it comes to spending transparency. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund’s new report “Following the Money 2014: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data” gives Hawaii a “C” this year. Hawaii Reporter.

On Tap at the Hawaii Legislature: April 10. A selective list of bills, resolutions, hearings, briefings and events for Thursday at the state Capitol. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Honolulu city and rail leaders are in Washington, D.C., this week to discuss the latest on the island's 20-mile transit project with lawmakers and transportation officials. Star-Advertiser.

Three bills designed to significantly increase penalties and stiffen other language against illegal dumping, stockpiling and grading have been introduced by West Oahu City Councilwoman Kymberly Pine to stem a growing environmental problem along the Leeward Coast. Star-Advertiser.

The Palolo Chinese Home has received a $750,000 capital improvement grant from the state of Hawaii on Wednesday to support the fourth phase of the nonprofit’s $25.5 million master plan to build a progressive care complex. Pacific Business News.

King's Village, a retail complex in Waikiki designed to resemble Honolulu around 1900, along with Prince Edward Apartments and Hale Waikiki would be razed to make way for a project's 256-unit condominium hotel, parking deck, retail and office center, and a small park. Star-Advertiser.

Veteran Honolulu editor A. Kam Napier has been named editor-in-chief of Pacific Business News, Publisher Bob Charlet announced Wednesday.

Hawaii

Maile David can keep her position as deputy county clerk while running for the County Council, the Board of Ethics voted Wednesday after hearing about certain “shields” that have been put into place to protect the integrity of the election. West Hawaii Today.

The head of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources visited Honokohau Harbor on Wednesday to make the case that the island is not getting the short end of the stick. West Hawaii Today.

Keauhou Bay isn’t too shallow to accommodate planned expanded use there, several proposed new moorings won’t prevent Keauhou Canoe Club from operating in the bay and the Department of Land and Natural Resources isn’t in violation of Chapter 343, the state statute that requires environmental assessments for state projects. Those were just some of the denials DLNR made in its response to Keauhou Canoe Club’s lawsuit, filed in December, about the department’s plan to add moorings to the bay. West Hawaii Today.

Developers of a proposed timeshare and single-family home development just above Alii Drive say they’re working with families concerned about graves on the site and preparing a revised cultural impact statement before proceeding with their plans. West Hawaii Today.

The state House of Representatives voted in favor of a bill that looks to further implement the University of Hawaii and Hawaii Community College’s aviation programs on Tuesday. Tribune-Herald.

Kona police officer delivers his own baby in squad car. Hawaii News Now.

Maui

A California-based renewable energy company hopes to revitalize about 2,000 acres of West Maui's fallow farm lands to grow a biocrop that could be used to generate electricity while using county wastewater for irrigation. Maui News.

The Maui County Council Budget and Finance Committee is considering deferring the mayor's proposed water service fee increases until it gets more input from the public. Maui News.

A grenade and 12-inch mortar shell, found by a man in his late father's belongings, were disposed of at the Ukumehame Firing Range on Tuesday night by a bomb disposal team in an incident that shutdown the Maui County Service Center, parking lots in the area and part of East Kamehameha Avenue for most of the afternoon and early evening. Maui News.

The public is invited to comment on the Maui Police Department's services and performance as a team of assessors from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies will be visiting Maui County Monday to April 17. Maui News.

Kauai

Big changes, Kauai County officials say, are in store for Hardy Street as contractors fine tune the last details needed to kick off a multi-million dollar project aimed at improving connectivity in the area. Garden Island.

Sentencing has once again been delayed for James Pflueger. The retired car dealer pleaded no contest in July to first-degree reckless endangerment for his role in the deadly 2006 Ka Loko dam disaster on Kauai’s North Shore. Garden Island.