Friday, April 18, 2014

Hawaii, Turtle Bay reach conservation deal, salary hikes for Honolulu, Hawaii County officials, minimum wage hike could be delayed, GAO to probe Hawaii Obamacare exchange, police to be barred from sex with prostitutes, Maui County to settle blogger's First Amendment lawsuit, Ethics Commission to investigate nepotism at state hospital, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Oahu Hawaii North Shore
Turtle Bay Resort public domain image
The owner of Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu's North Shore has agreed to sell some of its development rights to the state, the city and a trust for $48.5 million in a deal that will reduce the resort's expansion plan and preserve much undeveloped land. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii state and city officials have reached a $48.5 million deal with Turtle Bay Resort to conserve more than 600 acres of the resort's land that was slated for development. Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced the agreement on Thursday at the Hawaii State Capitol along with Attorney General David Louie, Sen. Clayton Hee, Turtle Bay's CEO Drew Stotesbury, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Honolulu City Council Chairman Ernie Martin, the Trust for Public Land Hawaiian Islands Program Director Lea Hong, and North Shore Community Land Trust Executive Director Douglass Cole. Civil Beat.

North Shore Oahu Hawaii
Turtle Bay Resort public domain image
A $48.5 million deal has been reached to establish a conservation easement on about 666 acres of land at Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu’s North Shore, saving portions of this land from future development forever, Hawaii state officials said Thursday. Pacific Business News.

Turtle Bay Resort is agreeing to protect more than 660 acres of land on Oahu’s North Shore in a deal reached with the state, county and a nonprofit organization. The resort will continue to own and use the land. But it and future owners will be bound by conservation easement restrictions. Associated Press.
Oahu Hawaii North Shore
Turtle Bay Resort public domain image

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced an agreement has been reached between the State of Hawaii, City and County of Honolulu, The Trust for Public Land, and Turtle Bay Resort (TBR) to establish a conservation easement on 665.8 acres of land at Turtle Bay Resort in Kahuku. Hawaii News Now.

There’s been a new development in the battle over land belonging to the Turtle Bay Resort. Governor Neil Abercrombie has announced a deal that would conserve 665 acres of land on Oahu’s North Shore. The $48.5 million agreement establishes a conservation easement, protecting the coastal area from future resort development. Hawaii Public Radio.

State lawmakers in both chambers agree that legal permission for police to have sex with prostitutes should end. House and Senate members are still negotiating on the version of House Bill 1926 they will send to the governor. But they concur that the crime bill should revoke a peculiar exemption that permits police in Hawaii, in the course of their duties, to have sex with prostitutes. Associated Press.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office said Wednesday it will investigate Hawaii Health Connector’s spending of its $204 million federal grant. Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom filed a complaint March 27, asking for the investigation. Hawaii Reporter.

Republican state Sen. Sam Slom said the U.S. Government Accountability Office will investigate the Hawaii Health Connector's use of $204 million in federal grants. Slom complained in March to the GAO, an independent, nonpartisan agency that investigates federal government spending for Congress, that Hawaii had spent more than $80 million on information technology contracts for a faulty website. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii House members put forward a new minimum wage plan Thursday that would allow most employers in the state to take a longer time to increase wages. In the new proposal presented to a conference committee of Senate and House members, employers with fewer than 100 employees — most employers in the state — would not have to pay $10 an hour until 2019, phasing in the increase over five years. Associated Press.

House and Senate lawmakers found common ground Thursday on a few dozen differences between their chambers’ respective versions of the state budget, but it was mostly minor stuff on the second day of hearings in conference. But with an April 25 deadline to iron out a final draft, the pressure will be on the 29-member joint committee to tackle the bigger disagreements when it reconvenes Monday. Civil Beat.

Sen. Clayton Hee wants to see how Gov. Neil Abercrombie feels about requiring some of the most powerful state boards and commissions to start filing public financial disclosure statements.  If Senate Bill 2682 can avoid a veto, Hee said he’s inclined to go along with the House version of the legislation despite its broader reach. Civil Beat.

The state Ethics Commission has agreed to open an investigation into nepotism at the Hawaii State Hospital. A state Senate panel investigating mismanagement and assaults on staff at the Kaneohe psychiatric hospital has documented that at least eight staffers have relatives working at the facility. Star-Advertiser.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is making her first trip to Japan, South Korea and China as a member of Congress. Gabbard, a Democrat, announced Thursday she will be part of a mostly Republican delegation to meet with leaders in the three Asian powerhouse nations. Star-Advertiser.

State roundup for April 18. Associated Press.

Oahu

The Honolulu Salary Commission is proposing 8 percent raises be given to Mayor Kirk Caldwell, City Council members and most department heads starting July 1. Star-Advertiser.

With its court battles behind it, Oahu's elevated rail project is poised to become a concrete-and-steel reality and city officials have launched an effort to show the public the construction that's already happening. Star-Advertiser.

If you change channels between local television newscasts, you may have noticed that some of the broadcasts are identical. The Federal Communications Commission, which has the power to regulate such matters, recently concluded that it is a problem worthy of its attention. A recent FCC decision will prohibit a single company from controlling two or more television stations in the same market, which could signal changes in Hawaii’s TV news market. Civil Beat.

A high ranking Honolulu Police officer has been stripped of his police powers.  Maj. Ryan Borges has turned in his gun and badge while the department investigates harassment complaints from a 33-year-old man. Hawaii News Now.

A study on traffic lights passed second reading and would cost $5.6 million. KHON2 wanted to know why this study would be so expensive and how it would help.

Hawaii

The county Salary Commission has pay hikes in store for county officials who didn’t get raises last year, including the next mayor and County Council. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii Island’s tourism industry has steadily increased over the years, but an increase in hotel prices and air fares could have an adverse effect on the market this year. That was the message David Uchiyama, brand manager and vice president of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, gave at a luncheon with the Japenese Chamber of Commerce Thursday. Tribune-Herald.

EPA official tours Kona reuse site. West Hawaii Today.

An advocacy group for victims of sexual abuse is asking the state Department of Human Services and Catholic Charities to explain how children were continually placed in the care of Jay Ram, accused in a lawsuit of abusing boys he fostered and adopted. Tribune-Herald.

The Leeward Planning Commission is sending a bill requiring subdivision site visits back to the County Council with an unfavorable recommendation, but not before conceding the concept behind the proposal has some value. West Hawaii Today.

Maui
For the first Lanai Planning Commission meeting since the February plane crash that killed two Maui County planning staff members, all county officials from Maui attending Wednesday night's meeting elected to take the ferry to and from Lanai. Maui News.

A Maui County Council committee recommended Wednesday to authorize a settlement of a federal lawsuit in which county administration officials were alleged to have violated an employee's First Amendment right to free speech in a case involving the popular MAUIWatch Facebook page. Maui News.

Maui Fire Chief Jeffrey Murray received a positive evaluation from the Maui County Fire and Public Safety Commission during its annual mandated review, the commission announced today. Maui Now.

Despite having to relocate their businesses to Lahaina and Maalaea harbors after Mala Wharf closed for repairs March 16, boaters and commercial tour operators say business is still "on par." Maui News.

Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. is researching options that could possibly end the need to burn the leaves off its sugar cane crop before harvest. Maui News.

Kauai

Review: Police shooting justified. Following a Kauai Police Department investigation, the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney has concluded its review of the police-involved shooting of Mason Saio on Aug. 16. Garden Island.

Court documents released Wednesday by the state attorney general’s office show a company owned by retired auto dealer James Pflueger has paid $350,000 to the state of Hawaii. The money was part of a controversial plea deal that let’s Pflueger’s company, Pacific 808 Properties LP, and not Pflueger himself, take responsibility for 7 manslaughter charges. Hawaii Reporter. In November 2008, Pflueger was charged with 7 counts of manslaughter and one count of reckless endangerment in the first degree for recklessly causing the deaths of 7 people when his Ka Loko dam breached on March 14, 2006. Hawaii Reporter.