Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Obama expands Pacific conservation zone, pay hikes for Hawaii school chief, substitute teachers, garbage incinerator mulled for Big Island, Kauai to eradicate feral cats, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service;
Pacific Marine Sanctuary, courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Vowing to protect fragile marine life, President Barack Obama acted Tuesday to create the world’s largest ocean preserve by expanding a national monument his predecessor established in waters thousands of miles from the American mainland. Associated  Press.

Hawaii conservationists Tuesday welcomed a proposal by President Barack Obama to create the world's largest marine sanctuary in the Central Pacific, calling it a significant step toward protecting diverse habitats and preventing large-scale overfishing. But fishermen said such an ocean preserve would threaten livelihoods. Star-Advertiser.

State Sen. Malama Solomon criticized the ongoing federal protection of humpback whales and said they should be removed from the endangered species list during a public meeting on the Big Island last month. Civil Beat.

The base salary for public schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi is going up 33 percent to $200,000 next month, marking her first pay increase since taking office in 2010, and the first time in 14 years the salary for the Education Department's top position has been increased. Star-Advertiser.

The superintendent of Hawaii’s statewide public school system will receive a raise for the first time in 14 years, a 30 percent increase to $200,000 per year under a new salary provision approved by the Hawaii State Board of Education on Tuesday. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii substitute teachers will get two sets of pay increases starting July 1 to keep pace with the collectively bargained raises awarded to public school teachers. Star-Advertiser.

A Republican’s GMO Bill Would Set National Standard. Despite biotech industry support, the proposal is unlikely to pass. But it raises the question of whether a national law would quell the debate raging in Hawaii. Civil Beat.

Mufi Hannemann, the Hawaii Independent Party candidate for governor, has a unique media platform that his opponents don’t enjoy. The former Honolulu mayor pens a regular column for MidWeek and hosts a Saturday program on KKOL Kool Gold 107.9 FM. Civil Beat.

The Seafarers International Union of North America has endorsed Gov. Neil Abercrombie in his re-election bid. Associated Press.

Oahu

Front-line staff at the state's juvenile detention facility in Kapolei are routinely required to work 16-hour and occasionally even 24-hour shifts because of staff shortages, something that some staff said creates an unsafe environment for the troubled kids they are supposed to protect. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu's mayor is expected to unveil new initiatives on Wednesday to help move homeless people off the streets of Waikiki. Hotels and businesses hope the bills will reduce the complaints coming from tourists. Hawaii News Now.

Contaminated Dirt Triggers Military Housing Lawsuit. A federal judge in Honolulu will decide next week whether a potential class-action lawsuit against Forest City, the private developer of residential  housing at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe, can go forward. Civil Beat.

Hawaii

A waste-to-energy incinerator will be the solution to Hawaii County’s garbage problems, judging by a list of finalists released Tuesday for the project. All three companies making the short list specialize in mass-burn incineration, with garbage combusted to produce power to sell to electric companies. West Hawaii Today.

Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille isn’t the only one fuming about a likely waste-to-energy incinerator for Hawaii County. Thirty-one testifiers, from rubbish and recycling companies to environmentalists to schoolteachers, gave their input Tuesday on Wille’s resolution seeking to put the brakes to the project. West Hawaii Today.

Bobby Jean Leithead Todd has “good legal title” to be the Environmental Management director, her attorney said in a court filing Friday. West Hawaii Today.

The Hawaii Youth ChalleNGe Academy, a program of the National Guard with a focus on at-risk teenagers, will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new location Thursday. Tribune-Herald.

Accelerator program to boost filmmaking, media projects. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Make-A-Wish family survives hard landing on Maui. Hawaii News Now.

Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa on Monday issued eight line-item vetoes to the county budget passed by the County Council earlier this month, saying that without this action money would be put "into projects that don't even exist yet and could potentially affect public service provided by our departments." Maui News.

Kauai

Organizers of a petition calling for a charter amendment regulating the use of pesticides and genetically modified crops on Kauai have until July 2 to have the required signatures validated. The Kauai Rising Charter Amendment Petitioners' Committee has been notified by Kauai County Clerk Ricky Wata­nabe that a petition submitted in late May was invalid. Star-Advertiser.

Commentary: The contamination of natural Kaua‘i. The rare plants and wildlife of Kaua‘i are put at risk by the toxic chemicals used on the island’s GMO test fields. Hawaii Independent.

A Kauai lawmaker says his investigation of the county’s agricultural dedication law resulted in discovering “numerous serious violations of county law” by island landowners and agrochemical companies. Garden Island.

The Hawaii Crop Improvement Association has stirred up its leadership, installing Kirby Kester, formerly the applied genetics manager of BASF on Kauai, as its new president. Garden Island.

The goal is to eradicate them. A County of Kauai task force says officials must step up education efforts, strengthen local laws and use various methods to combat Kauai’s growing feral cat problem. Garden Island.

The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii is hoping the public will help it scour online photos of Kauai rainforest for signs of invasive trees. Associated Press.