Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Kids Count ranks Hawaii middling, more sign on to Obamacare, Honolulu police and fire helicopters grounded by bankruptcy, Morita sued for bed and breakfast, Caldwell endorses Abercrombie, vets to help Takai, wave energy planned, feds to ban bee-killing pesticide in Hawaii wildlife refuges, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hula girls in Hawaii ©2014 All Hawaii News
Overall, the Aloha State placed in the middle of the pack, like last year, at 25th out of 50 states in rankings released Tuesday by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The KIDS COUNT Data Book gauges the welfare of kids using 16 measures in the categories of economic well-being, education, health and family/community. Star-Advertiser.

The rate of people without health insurance in Hawaii has dropped below 6 percent since the implementation of the federal health care law, state officials said Monday. Officials said at a joint House committee briefing that roughly 75,000 people in Hawaii don’t have health insurance, down from well over 100,000 last year. Associated Press.

The state Office of Information Management and Technology told lawmakers at a Monday briefing it plans to create a single portal at Hawaii.gov that will help direct consumers to either Medicaid, the government insurance program for low-income residents, or the Hawaii Health Connector, the troubled online exchange created by President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Star-Advertiser.

With the Aug. 9 primary fast approaching and the Nov. 4 general election not far behind, Civil Beat asked the top gubernatorial candidates what they thought about the issue of accessing public records in Hawaii. We interviewed the incumbent, Gov. Neil Abercrombie, and his Democratic primary opponent, state Sen. David Ige. We also talked to the expected Republican challenger this fall, former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona. A spokesman for Hawaii Independent Party candidate Mufi Hannemann said the candidate couldn’t fit in an interview, and questions submitted to the campaign were not answered.  Civil Beat.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell on Monday endorsed Gov. Neil Abercrombie for re-election, stressing an improved relationship between Hono­lulu Hale and Washington Place. Star-Advertiser.

In a symbolic and theatric display, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and Governor Neil Abercrombie met in the middle of the Punchbowl Street crosswalk Monday as a sign of unity between Honolulu Hale and the State Capitol. Hawaii News Now.

Opinion: Matters of church and the state are traditionally separated in the United States, but not always. There is a current push by some conservative Christians in Hawaii to urge pastors to speak out from the pulpit in support of gubernatorial hopeful James “Duke” Aiona and other so-called “family values” Republican candidates. Civil Beat.

Most of the candidates running for Hawaii’s First Congressional District – minus Senate President Donna Mercado-Kim -- appeared before a group of nearly 300 realtors today. Hawaii Public Radio.

19 days before the primary election, Congressional District 1 candidates participated in a forum, with one notable exception. Donna Mercado Kim had to pass due to a conflict with a scheduled commercial shoot. Hawaii News Now.

VoteVets.org and its Vote Vets Action Fund will blitz the television airwaves in the next week or so with $100,000 in advertisements in support of 1st Congressional District candidate Mark Takai, the national political action committee is expected to announce Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

Federal wildlife refuges in the Northwest and Hawaii will phase out a class of pesticides that are chemically similar to nicotine because they pose a threat to bees and other pollinators key to crop growth. The region covering Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Hawaii is the first in the agency to ban neonicotinoids. Associated Press.

Oahu

Honolulu Fire Department and Honolulu Police Department helicopters remained on the ground on Monday with both departments suspending routine flight operations. The city made the drastic move after learning the company that’s been maintaining the police and fire helicopters is filing for bankruptcy, and is no longer insured. KHON2.

Those who want to restore the deteriorating Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium dominated a meeting Monday night designed to gather public input on what impacts the city must consider before it can proceed with an environmental study on the proposed demolition of the historic structure. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Department of Health on Monday began posting brand new color-coded placards in restaurants across the state that will let diners know whether they have passed safety inspections. Pacific Business News.

Starting on Monday, the state Department of Health is posting new color-coded placards at Oahu restaurants to display health inspection status. Star-Advertiser.

The bill in July for a typical household using 600 kilowatt-hours a month went up from June by more than a dollar to $217.24, according to data released Monday by Hawaiian Electric Cos., the state's largest utility provider with service to Oahu, Maui and Hawaii island. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii first state to plug into wave energy. Power buoy to connect to Marine Corp Base Kaneohe. KITV4.

The University of Hawaii says the U.S. Navy is investing $9 million more in a Kaneohe wave energy development project. The university said Monday the funds will help the Manoa campus' Hawaii Natural Energy Institute conduct additional underwater surveys with its partner Sea Engineering Inc. Star-Advertiser.

A former guard at the Halawa Correctional Facility accused of smuggling methamphetamine into the prison is expected to plead guilty. Associated Press.

The war over aerial banners in Oahu's skies escalated Monday afternoon with Hono­lulu police arresting the pilot of an Aerial Banners North airplane at Dillingham Air Field. Star-Advertiser.

Gunky, rodent-filled brown water caused by last weekend's storm has kept untold thousands of people out of the ocean and cost Hale­iwa's Surf N Sea revenue in the form of lost kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

The county Department of Finance is taking a dim view of a proposal by Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille to give some homeowners a bigger tax break on their primary residence. West Hawaii Today.

Golfers will get a look at proposed changes for the Hilo Municipal Golf Course at a meeting today. Hawaii County Department of Parks and Recreation staff will provide a presentation as well as seek input on the improvements now in the design phase. Tribune-Herald.

The first group of 21 inmates arrived this morning at the newly reopened Kulani Correctional Facility. Big Island Now.

Maui

The environment is the economy" is a refrain frequently heard in this year's campaigns. In the 2014 Primary Election, environmental issues are in the spotlight more than ever before. Maui Weekly.

A public meeting to discuss a plan to address an anticipated $13 million budget shortfall for state hospitals, including Maui Memorial Medical Center, will be held at 5 p.m. Wednesday in the hospital's auditorium. Maui News.

Kauai

Hanalei resident Michael Sheehan is suing Hawaii Public Utilities Commission Chair Hermina Morita and her husband for damaging his property and polluting the Hanalei River, as well as the County of Kauai for conspiring to cover up the couple’s illegal activity. Garden Island.

A second water safety officer has filed a suit against the county and Kauai Fire Department for retaliation. The plaintiff, Carl Ragasa Jr., is with the Ocean Safety Bureau. He filed his complaint in U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii on July 7. He is represented by the Honolulu firm of Agsalda and Fukui. Garden Island.