Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Hawaii tourism board targets gay marriage market, battle intensifies between aquarium collectors and environmentalists, property tax hikes mulled on Oahu, Kauai, general plan updates on Hawaii and Maui, Hawaii pension plan ekes out an increase, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawai’i’s $15 billion visitor industry is in the process of diversifying and re-tooling to meet an onslaught of competition from other tourist destinations. Hawaii Public Radio.

Tourist industry gets on board. More couples are choosing Hawaii for same-sex weddings and honeymoons. Star-Advertiser.

Fisheries Panel Destroys Tape of Secret Meeting. The meeting held in the conference room of the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council’s Honolulu office on the afternoon of Jan. 29 must have been a doozy. Civil Beat
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The underwater assault caught on camera on the Big Island is making waves nationwide and its sparking more debate between environmentalists and aquarium fish collectors. The conflict between the two sides is quite passionate and it isn't expected to end anytime soon. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii's largest public pension fund eked out a small increase in its fiscal third quarter as assets climbed to an all-time high of $13.7 billion. The state Employees' Retirement System posted a 1.5 percent investment gain in the January-March period to boost its nine-month fiscal-year return to 12.5 percent. Star-Advertiser.

The future of more than 125,000 people who registered for the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission, Kana'iolowalu, is not in jeopardy following a state department inquiry seeking clarification on the legal status of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. Hawaii News Now.

The bump in hotel tax revenue that state lawmakers offered Hawaii's counties this legislative session was a glass-half-empty raise. Associated Press.

Another legislative session is over and it’s time for assessing the outcomes. For the most part, it’s pretty straightforward. The rather robust legislative website makes it much easier than it used to be to find information about what passed and how. Civil Beat.

A new poll suggests that a Democrat facing a credible primary challenge may have gained some momentum in his bid to be reelected to the Senate. The left-leaning firm Public Policy Polling released a poll Tuesday showing Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) with a commanding 15-point lead over his primary rival, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii). The poll was conducted on behalf of the progressive group Democracy for America, which came out in support of Schatz in February. HuffPost Hawaii.

A senator is vocally contesting the inclusion of a project in his home state in the 2014 “Congressional Pig Book.” Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, issued a statement over the weekend touting his effort to preserve (and in fact increase) funding for the East-West Center, a cultural and education exchange center established by Congress in 1960 that’s based in Honolulu. Civil Beat.

Members of the University of Hawaii Board of Regents' budget committee Tuesday hinted at the possibility of providing some tuition relief to students as early as next spring. Star-Advertiser.

The Right Stuff? Retired General Vies for University of Hawaii Presidency. Civil Beat.

An online petition is questioning the qualifications of one of the finalists to become the next University of Hawaii president. Associated Press.

Oahu

The City Council moved a step closer to passing Honolulu's budget for the upcoming fiscal year after approving several measures Tuesday in Budget Committee. One of the more controversial measures involves raising the property tax rate on hotels and those who own vacation or investment homes worth $1 million or more. KITV4.

City contractor Waste Management and two of its top officials entered not-guilty pleas Tuesday in U.S. District Court to charges linked to the discharge of hundreds of millions of gallons of contaminated stormwater from the city's Waimanalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill into the ocean near Ko Olina Resort. Star-Advertiser.

An unnamed city employee has admitted to misusing sick leave and accepting inappropriate gifts from an employee of a private company that had business before his/her department, according a city Ethics Commission advisory opinion. Civil Beat.

Each year the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires Honolulu county to conduct a Point in Time (PIT) count of Oahu’s houseless. Literally a snapshot of the houseless population, the PIT happens on a random day during the year. This years’ took place on the night of January 22, 2014. Hawaii Independent.

The Queen's Medical Center is putting the final touches on its $100 million Ewa hospital, which will open May 20 and restore emergency services to West Oahu after a more than two-year absence. Star-Advertiser.

About 110 Schofield Barracks soldiers stood at attention Tuesday as they prepared for something increasingly rare: a deployment to Afghanistan. Star-Advertiser.

Mokulele Airlines confirmed Tuesday that it plans to begin the first commercial service out of Kalaeloa Airport on July 1 and will gradually ease into the operation by offering three daily nonstop round-trip flights between Kahului and the former Barbers Point Naval Air Station. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Poised to miss a deadline that was set 10 years ago, the county Planning Department on Tuesday got a three-year reprieve to update the county General Plan. West Hawaii Today.

The Hawaii Academy of Arts and Sciences Governing Board delayed action Tuesday at a meeting regarding abuse allegations against a teacher after the teacher left the meeting out of fear of the crowd. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii County could have the $20 million it needs to finish the Mamalahoa bypass within five weeks. Deputy Corporation Counsel Joseph Kamelamela said Tuesday a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge’s ruling should be finalized in one to two weeks, with the payment coming to the county two to three weeks later. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

The Maui County Council will hold a public hearing Wednesday to gather testimony about a bill that would adopt the implementation program of the Maui Island Plan. Maui News.

Commercial thrillcraft operators have agreed to relocate their businesses farther away from the popular Hanakao'o (Canoe) Beach Park in light of community concerns about safety, especially during regatta season. Maui News.

Kauai

The Kauai County Council on Tuesday approved a broad swath of spending measures, cuts and tax increases to level out the county’s budget over the next fiscal year. What that will likely mean for residents are increases in real property taxes across five categories. Those categories range from a 30-cent increase for homeowners in the county’s residential class to a $1.85 increase for hotel and resort class properties per $1,000 in assessed valuation. Garden Island.

Dylan Hooser filed nomination papers Monday to become a candidate for the State House of Representatives District 15 seat for the 2014 elections. Hooser is a small business owner who resides in Wailua Homesteads and is the current chair of the Kauai Young Democrats. Garden Island.