Thursday, May 15, 2014

Hawaii tourism, jobs, economy perking, powerless principals peeved, lawmakers fret over hemp seed supply, state rep charged with campaign spending violations, Hawaii County deputy clerk in hot seat over her campaign, state mental hospital in the cross-hairs, Kauai council hikes fees in budget, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism projects stable economic growth in 2014 and beyond. Civil Beat.

Despite a sharp drop-off in room rate growth in March, Hawaii's hotel market hit a first-quarter hotel revenue record of $1.44 billion and ended its first three months with the nation's highest room rates and revenue per available room, and the second best occupancy after Miami/Hialeah, Fla. Star-Advertiser.

The tightening of Hawaii's job market was clearly evident Wednesday at the state's largest job fair. Employer turnout for the WorkForce job fair at the Neal Blaisdell Center was the strongest in more than five years, and several companies' representatives said they were recruiting at the event for the first time because they are having a difficult time finding qualified workers. Star-Advertiser.

Some 3,300 job seekers met up with 187 Hawaii employers Wednesday during the WorkForce 2014 job fair at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center in Honolulu. Pacific Business News.

A Hawaii lawmaker hopes U.S. Customs won't stop the shipment of hemp seeds from China that will launch a research project in Hawaii after a hold was put on seeds headed to Kentucky this week. Star-Advertiser.

Officials with the state Campaign Spending Commission charge that state Rep. Romy Cachola misused his campaign funds for an SUV, as well as questionable public relations efforts and meals, and want him to pay reimbursements and fines totaling nearly $70,000. Star-Advertiser.

The state launched a $95 million online eligibility system late last year to streamline the Medicaid process. But state Department of Human Services eligibility workers, who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation, said the system is not working properly and cannot verify income to determine whether people actually qualify for the program. Star-Advertiser.

An overwhelming majority of Hawaii public school principals who responded to an independent survey about their working conditions say they lack the needed support and autonomy to act in the best interests of their schools, but hesitate to speak out for fear of retaliation. Star-Advertiser.

Thousands of rock climbers, para gliders, bikers and other aficionados of extreme sports are feeling a little let down after the latest legislative session. A group of outdoor enthusiasts urged Hawaii lawmakers to strengthen a law that limits the state’s liability for accidents on public land. Civil Beat.

The vetting of allegations of misconduct at the Hawaii State Hospital by the state Senate Special Investigative Committee continued on Wednesday with the questioning of a nursing office clerk whose job is to fill vacancies when staff call in sick and two psychiatric technicians who have been assaulted by patients. Star-Advertiser.

The Senate Committee conducting a special investigation of the Hawai’i State Hospital questioned employees about over-time practices today. Hawaii Public Radio.

Elwin Ahu, senior pastor at New Hope Metro church, today announced his candidacy for Hawaii lieutenant governor. Ahu will run in the Republican primary. If he wins, he will likely be on a ticket headed by former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona. Civil Beat.

Leading up to the November election, hundreds of Hawaii Republicans from around the state will gather on Saturday, May 17 to vote on the Party’s platform, listen to Legislative updates from incumbents, and rally with candidates. The “Back to Basics” themed convention, held at the Ko’olau Ballrooms and Conference Center in Kaneohe, is the Hawaii Republican Party’s first major event since former Congresswoman Pat Saiki assumed the Chairmanship in March. Hawaii Reporter.

VIDEO: Controversy Follows UH President Candidate Wiercinski. Big Island Video News.

Dan Inouye and Patsy Mink are two of modern Hawaii's greatest political leaders. To honor their memory, last year the Hawaii Legislature passed a bill calling for the commissioning of works of art of the late U.S. senator and late U.S. representative "to use their examples to inspire current and future generations." Civil Beat.

Scientists say there's a 65 percent chance that El Nino conditions will develop in the central and eastern Pacific this year, increasing the chance for tropical cyclones in the central and eastern Pacific. Hawaii News Now.

Oahu

A new softball stadium and locker room at McKinley High School have been sitting idle even though construction was completed last December. While there’s nothing wrong with either facility, it will be a several more months before they’ll be used, school officials said. KHON2.

Former Kaiser High School Principal John Sosa, who was abruptly placed on leave last fall as the Department of Education conducted an internal investigation, says he still hasn't been told of the accusations against him. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Deputy County Clerk Maile David found herself the topic of discussion on both sides of the hallway Wednesday, as the Ethics Board finalized an advisory opinion allowing her to keep her job while running for election, and the County Council mulled cutting her salary in half because her duties are curtailed. West Hawaii Today.

County road striping crews will continue doing their work the old-fashioned way, following a 2-7 County Council vote Wednesday denying the lease of a road-striping truck. The amendment was one of a handful of amendments council members mulled while moving Mayor Billy Kenoi’s $416.9 million budget forward on a 9-0 vote. West Hawaii Today.

Third Circuit Court Judge Greg Nakamura issued the final judgment in the Thirty Meter Telescope case May 5. The release of the final judgment, where Nakamura ruled in favor of the Thirty Meter Telescope project, means the six petitioners arguing the state erred when issuing a conservation district land use permit for construction of what is poised to be one of the world’s largest telescopes atop Mauna Kea will have 30 days to file a notice or intent to appeal to the Hawaii Supreme Court. West Hawaii Today.

East Hawaii bowlers are expecting the worst after Hilo Lanes abruptly closed about two weeks ago. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Two meetings are planned on Maui following public concerns raised over a letter sent from the top executive at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to the US Department of State, seeking an opinion on the legal status of Hawai‘i under international law. Maui Now.

Diana Crow, a horticulturist at Ulupalakua Ranch, has helped release more than 10,000 Madagascan fireweed moths and larvae over the past year on Maui to combat a toxic plant overwhelming island pastures. Maui News.

A group gathering signatures for an initiative to ban genetically modified organisms on Maui is being criticized for posting private voter information on its website. Associated Press.

Complaints have surfaced about a SHAKA Movement effort to gather thousands of voters' names on a petition seeking a citizens' initiative on the Nov. 4 ballot for a moratorium on genetically modified organisms in Maui County. Maui News.

After a less-than-60-day closure, West Maui's Mala Ramp is slated to reopen to boaters this morning, state officials said. Maui News.

Kauai

On the third day, increases continued. The Kauai County Council on Wednesday approved a set of tax and fee hikes intended to balance the county’s budget and avoid projected dips in funding for public access and open space projects over the next fiscal year. Garden Island.

Bees have buzzed their way into the budget. The Kauai County Council voted unanimously Wednesday to fund a measure to protect the island’s black and yellow pollinators. Garden Island.

Atrazine expert and University of California Berkeley professor Tyrone Hayes returns to Kauai to speak on the polarizing issue of pesticides. Known for his research related to Syngenta’s chemical herbicide atrazine, Hayes will take the stage for the free event at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Kauai Community College Performing Arts Center in Puhi. Garden Island.

An open house and public information meeting will be held next week to discuss a proposed road that would run from Hanamaulu to Puhi. If pursued, it would be built in phases on former cane haul roads. The meeting is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in the King Kaumualii Elementary School cafeteria, 4380 Hanamaulu Road. Garden Island.

Molokai

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard visited the Friendly Isle of Molokaʻi on Tuesday where she recognized students, visited with veterans, and talked story with business owners. Maui Now.