Friday, May 16, 2014

Abercrombie files for reelection, Hawaii's clean streams, health insurers lament Obamacare, Civil Beat wins attorney fees in public records lawsuit, missile to be tested off Kauai, UH allows pamphleteers, Honolulu rail bleeds $76M in change orders, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Abercrombie visits campaign table © 2014 All Hawaii News
He began his re-election push last year with a soft and hard launch. This year he reopened his campaign headquarters, which never really closed. And he's run political advertising and raised money hand over fist. But just to make sure everyone knows how serious he is about wanting a second and final term as governor, Neil Abercrombie really made it official Thursday by formally filing candidate paperwork at the Hawaii Office of Elections. Civil Beat.

Despite growing public concern about pesticide use in Hawaii, a new study by the state Department of Health found very small amounts of pesticides in streams on Oahu, Kauai, Maui and the Big Island. The study, which analyzed water from 24 streams, found that the areas with the greatest number of pesticides were not near large farms but rather in urban Oahu. Civil Beat.

The state Department of Labor & Industrial Relations and Gov. Neil Abercrombie recently announced the launch of a multilingual public education campaign for domestic workers. Signed by the governor last year, Act 248 provides for minimum wage, overtime, discrimination and harassment protections for domestic workers. Previously, domestic workers were excluded from these basic protections of state wage and hour and fair employment laws afforded to others. West Hawaii Today.

A filmed underwater confrontation between an environmentalist who wants to shut down the aquarium fish industry in Hawaii and a collector who gathers the fish and sells them for a living has put a spotlight on a long-running conflict over the business. Associated Press.

The state's two largest health insurers are blaming substantial losses in the first quarter on a combined $54.1 million in fees related to Obama­care. Star-Advertiser.

The University of Hawaii Board of Regents on Thursday defended its presidential search proc­ess, saying it still plans to make a selection sometime next month between finalists David Lassner and Frank Wier­cin­ski despite calls to reopen the search. Star-Advertiser.

The race for Hawaii's 1st Congressional District seat got hotter this month, with two more candidates buying ad time. Civil Beat.

State House Majority Whip Romy Cachola, D-Kalihi, has hired Honolulu criminal defense attorney Michael Green to represent him, as the state and county step up their investigation into Cachola’s financial records and reporting. Hawaii Reporter.

Hawaiian Electric Co.’s top executive sees the state’s largest electric utility’s role in running its grid as being like the Amazon.com of energy as it continues on its energy transformation to a more clean energy future. Pacific Business News.

State roundup for May 16. Associated Press.

Oahu

A Hawaii Circuit Court judge awarded more than $43,000 in attorneys' fees Thursday to The Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest in a lawsuit involving disclosure of police misconduct records. Civil Beat.

Rail construction delays dating back to when Honolulu city officials awarded contracts to start building the proj­ect before they had the federal say-so to proceed have so far cost taxpayers $76 million — and that amount will likely grow. Star-Advertiser.

Environmental groups are worried a proposal to include parks in the city's Clean Water and Natural Lands Fund would hamper efforts to buy areas in dire need of protection. Star-Advertiser.

Pacific Business News’ print edition won first place in nondaily newspaper excellence and PBN’s website won first place in general website excellence Thursday in the Hawaii Publisher’s Association's annual Pai Awards competition, which recognizes the best in Hawaii publications.

Hawaii

Students at the University of Hawaii at Hilo no longer have to get permission from the school prior to free speech activities and can engage in them anywhere on campus, according to a new interim policy that was implemented today. The new rules were developed in response to a lawsuit that was filed by two UH Hilo students in federal court late last month alleging that the school violated their First Amendment rights because an official told them they couldn’t distribute copies of the Constitution at an outdoor event on campus. Civil Beat.

A lawsuit filed last month accusing the University of Hawaii at Hilo of infringing on students’ constitutional rights has prompted the university to adopt an interim policy on speech and assembly. Big Island Now.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating an incident in which a passenger jetliner had to take evasive action to avoid a mid-air collision with another jet near the Big Island. The FAA said the incident happened April 25 about 200 miles northeast of Kona and about 33,000 feet in altitude. Hawaii News Now.

Thousands of Hawaii County property owners claiming the homeowner’s exemption and agricultural land owners claiming they’re farmers will be hearing from the Real Property Tax Division over the coming months, as the county purges unqualified tax breaks from the rolls. West Hawaii Today.

A bed and breakfast warned in 2011 that it was operating without the correct permits has continued to do so while pursuing a special permit, Leeward Planning Commissioners learned Thursday. West Hawaii Today.

Rising cost of state’s health care tackled. Tribune-Herald.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald won eight awards for outstanding journalism during the 29th annual Pa‘i Awards held Thursday in Honolulu.

West Hawaii Today won five awards at the Hawaii Publishers Association’s 29th annual Pai Awards held Thursday on Oahu. The awards were among 13 given to Stephens Media Hawaii, the parent company of West Hawaii Today and Hawaii Tribune-Herald.

Maui

A majority of Maui County residents who attended two Office of Hawaiian Affairs meetings on Maui this week appeared to support the organization's chief executive officer who recently sent a letter on his own to the U.S. State Department asking if it believes that the Hawaiian Kingdom still exists. Maui News.

A standing room-only crowd gathered at the J Walter Cameron Center in Wailuku on Thursday morning, as Trustees from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs heard often heated testimony relating to native Hawaiian rights to self-governance, the Kana’iolowalu registry, and all encompassing question relating to the legal status of Hawai‘i under international law. Maui Now.

The state Department of Education announced that its newest school, Puʻu Kukui Elementary School in Wailuku, will celebrate the completion of its milestone first year with a school-wide celebration and dedication ceremony on Friday, May 16, 2014. Maui Now.

Two photos by Maui News photographer Matthew Thayer impressed the judges at the 29th Pa'i Awards, bringing home two first-place trophies for the newspaper.

Kauai

A planned ballistic missile defense shield for Europe will take the next step with a missile flight test on Kauai next week. Star-Advertiser.

Some county departments may have to do more with less funding over the next year following a second round of budget cuts. These cuts, passed by the Kauai County Council on the final day of preliminary budget deliberations, include a 17 percent reduction in future travel budgets across nine county departments, a 5 percent reduction in specific overtime costs for all county departments and a 2 percent reduction in county electricity costs — all of which amounts to a $333,558 cut in costs from Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.’s latest budget proposal submitted last week. Garden Island.

A lot has changed, but the importance of Rice Street as a focal point in Lihue has not, said county planning officials, who are working with transportation and planning staff from Smart Growth America to determine how the nearly 2-mile long roadway should adapt to changes around it over time, especially when it comes down to parking. Garden Island.

After serving four terms as a County Council member, Tim Bynum has fought his share of battles and gleaned some experience along the way. Garden Island.