Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lunar eclipse delights Hawaii, court lets groups join Kauai GMO lawsuit, Abercrombie apologizes for Inouye comments, Hawaiian Airlines fined, good government bills die, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii lunar eclipse (c) 2014 All Hawaii News
Crowds gather at lunar eclipse viewing parties. KHON2.

Clouds blocked some of Monday's lunar eclipse in Honolulu, but every so often a reddish moon appeared through the clouds as the earth's shadow covered the moon. The eclipse actually began at 6:53 p.m. but wasn't visible until 7:58 p.m. when the earth's shadow began to take a bite out of the moon. Star-Advertiser.

Almost all of the bills to boost government transparency and hold public officials more accountable are dead this legislative session, but a handful have managed to make it to the final days of decision-making. Still, the fate of the measures to reform Hawaii’s lax lobbying laws and shine a broad ray of sunlight on the financial interests of state board and commission members is far from certain.  Civil Beat.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie apologized on Monday for casting doubt on a letter from U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye that urged the governor to name U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa as his successor. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. Abercrombie issues apology for remarks on Sen. Inouye "death bed" letter. KITV4.

A recent Los Angeles Times article quotes Gov. Neil Abercrombie questioning a "dying wish" letter he received from the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, recommending his successor be U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. Hawaii News Now.

Governor Abercrombie said in an interview with Mark Z. Barabak of the L.A. Times that late US Senator Daniel Inouye didn’t have a “dying wish” for his seat to go to Colleen Hanabusa. It would be far stronger for Governor Abercrombie to articulate his reasons for picking Brian Schatz, and say no more about the Inouye letter. Hawaii Independent.

When Should We Take Candidates Seriously? How does Hawaii media decide who are serious candidates, and who are not? Civil Beat.

Reaching Out to Women Voters. In Hawaii's top political races, leading candidates are fighting for the hearts of important primary voters — women. Civil Beat.

Hawaiian Airlines is facing a $547,500 civil fine for operating one of its planes for eight years without properly inspecting certain components that could cause a rapid decompression of the aircraft. Star-Advertiser.

Today is Tax Freedom Day in Hawaii, the day the average taxpayer has earned enough money to pay off all his or her federal, state and local taxes for the year. West Hawaii Today.

On Tap at the Hawaii Legislature: April 15. A selective list of bills, resolutions, hearings, briefings and events for Tuesday at the state Capitol. Civil Beat.

State roundup for April 15. Associated Press.

Oahu

The discovery of asbestos in the flooring of the City Council chambers at Honolulu Hale may have upped the price tag and stalled completion of the historic room's first major face-lift in roughly four decades, but work has begun anew. Star-Advertiser.

A bill that aims to improve management, legislative oversight and public participation of the Hawaii Community Development Authority, which oversees the redevelopment of Kakaako, was sent to Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Monday. Pacific Business News.

Within a month, state agricultural crews will begin eradicating colonies of little fire ants within about a 4-acre area of Waimanalo. During a briefing about little fire ants, state Agriculture Department officials said Monday the colonies, pinpointed by a survey, will be controlled and eradicated in about a year. Star-Advertiser.

The University of Hawaii-Manoa's new recreation center, which opened after 16 months of delays on Friday, is off limits to alumni for now, in spite of initial UH announcements to the contrary. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii
The successful appeal of a Planning Department decision spurred Kona/Ka‘u Councilwoman Brenda Ford to craft a bill requiring a department representative to visit the site of proposed subdivisions. West Hawaii Today.

Supporters of Hilo-based Connections New Century Public Charter School were dealt last week another blow in their long-delayed effort to build a new campus in Kaumana. In a report issued April 7, a hearing officer recommended that Hawaii County’s Windward Planning Commission deny a special permit for Connections to build its school on agricultural land given to it by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Fifty years ago, Seabury Hall opened its doors as an all-girls, Episcopal boarding school tucked away on the rural slopes of Haleakala. Maui News.

Seabury Hall Headmaster Joseph J. Schmidt will retire at the end of the 2014-15 school year after spending two decades at the Olinda campus. Maui News.

Kauai
Four nonprofit organizations were allowed to join Kauai County in defending a new ordinance that regulates pesticide use and genetically modified crops against a federal lawsuit by seed companies challenging its legality. U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren on Monday granted the motion to allow Ka Makani Ho‘opono, the Center for Food Safety, the Pesticide Action Network North America and the Surfrider Foundation to intervene in the suit. Syngenta Seeds, DuPont Pioneer, Agrigenetics Inc., doing business as Dow Agrosciences, and BASF Plant Sciences LP are seeking a permanent injunction against Ordinance 960. Star-Advertiser.

A federal judge is allowing the Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice to intervene as defendants in the legal challenge of Ordinance 960 by Kauai’s four biotech seed corporations. Garden Island.

A federal judge has agreed to allow the Center for Food Safety, Earthjustice and several other organizations to join a lawsuit to defend Kauai County’s restrictions on genetically modified farming. Syngenta and other seed corporations are suing Kauai County over Ordinance 960, formerly Bill 2491, which requires the companies to disclose certain details about their use of pesticides and genetically modified organisms, as well as adhere to pesticide buffer zones around homes, roads, parks and other areas. Civil Beat.

Kauai Fire Department employees, according to budget documents, racked up more than $1.1 million in overtime expenses during the 2013 fiscal year. For next year, fire department officials are seeking a 22 percent bump in those funds, totaling $1.4 million, to cover future overtime costs. Garden Island.

The Kauai County Council Planning Committee will rework a bill that calls for an update and tightening of the setback law for construction on shoreline properties. On June 4, the committee is expected to present proposed revisions to the county's existing law, which establishes the proximity a building can be to the shore. Star-Advertiser.

Lanai

Richard’s Market, one of only a few supermarkets in Lanai City, ceased selling cigarette and tobacco products on Monday in a move mirroring Longs Drugs parent CVS Caremark, citing the right thing to do for its customers as they strive for better health. Pacific Business News.