Friday, August 29, 2014

Big bucks pouring into GMO battle, homeless tent city planned for Sand Island, Supreme Court dismisses election challenge, Abercrombie to appeal FEMA rejection, group appeals Thirty Meter Telescope ruling, hospital layoffs loom, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

photo courtesy University of Hawaii
University of Hawaii GMO researcher James Brewbaker, courtesy photo
The Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation is planning a $400,000 public relations campaign to generate support for farmers and persuade voters to support genetic engineering in agriculture. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a primary election challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii, which had alleged that six voters on Hawaii island had been deprived of their constitutional right to vote by the state's actions in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Iselle. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Supreme Court sided with the state today and dismissed an election challenge launched by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Big Island voters who were unable to cast ballots on Aug. 9 due to Tropical Storm Iselle. Civil Beat.

The state Supreme Court has rejected an ACLU lawsuit on behalf of voters in Puna. The American Civil Liberties Union and six Puna voters say they were denied their right to vote because the election was held when conditions after Tropical Storm Iselle made it impossible for them to leave their homes. Hawaii News Now.

The Hawaii Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit seeking to allow voters on the storm-damaged Big Island to vote. The court said in an opinion released Thursday that it didn’t have jurisdiction to grant the relief sought by the American Civil Liberties Union with the lawsuit. Associated Press.

The financially strapped Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, which runs 13 state hospital facilities across Hawaii, announced Thursday it will lay off less than one percent of its workforce, but warned more layoffs may be looming. Hawaii News Now.

Dozens of people who work for Hawaii’s public hospital system are expected to receive official notices within the next week that they are going to be laid off. The Hawaii Health Systems Corporation said Thursday that it is implementing a system-wide reduction in force, eliminating positions as early as mid-December, to help address a $48 million shortfall for fiscal 2015. Civil Beat.

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s recent hearings in Hawai‘i revealed a number of those testifying believe the U.S. government does not have jurisdiction over these islands. The Interior Department hearings are a starting point for a broader discussion this coming Tuesday at the William S. Richardson School of Law. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii tourism officials are courting about a dozen airlines not currently serving Hawaii, which they hope will some day set up shop here. Star-Advertiser.

A federal judge in Hawaii says she won't consider approving $2.4 million in settlements for hundreds of Thai farm workers until the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission holds a news conference clarifying that the agreements are still subject to court approval. The EEOC is planning a news conference in Honolulu on Friday to comply with the order. Associated Press.

Oahu

The city is negotiating with the state to use vacant property at Sand Island as a temporary site for Oahu's homeless individuals and families to set up tents and receive help from service providers, Caldwell administration officials told members of the City Council Zoning and Planning Committee Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu’s homeless may have a new housing option — tents on Sand Island. Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration has been working to procure a parcel of land on the small island off of Honolulu Harbor as a temporary housing solution for the street homeless population. Civil Beat.

State Rep. Calvin Say's residency in the district he represents and his ability to continue to represent that district in Hawaii’s state House is being threatened in state Circuit Court. Hawaii Reporter.

Hawaiian Electric Co. President and CEO Dick Rosenblum defended the utility's proposed rate changes Thursday, including the $55 minimum rate for all customers and higher monthly charge for new solar owners. Star-Advertiser.

The USS Missouri Memorial Association, Inc., is looking at new markets to generate revenue to pay for improvements and maintenance for the Battleship Missouri Memorial in Pearl Harbor, and has hired a sales manager within the past year to focus on the China and Japan visitor markets for one of Hawaii's most popular visitor attractions. Pacific Business News.

Members of the City Council on Thursday continued to explore Honolulu's nascent paid ride-sharing industry and openly asked whether it should be up to the city or state to impose regulations similar to the rules required of the city's 1,500 taxicab drivers. Star-Advertiser.

There could be fewer moderate-priced homes in the Ward Village master-planned community in Kakaako if the state approves a request from project developer Howard Hughes Corp. Star-Advertiser.

The books and computers are ready, but more than three years after construction began, students at Waialua Elementary School still can’t use their new library and media center. Construction began in Jan. 2011. Now, there’s a $3.3 million building on campus that looks ready to use, but sits empty. KHON2.

Hawaii

The state plans to appeal a decision by the Federal Emergency Management Agency denying a request for a major disaster declaration that would provide federal aid to assist in the recovery from damage inflicted by Tropical Storm Iselle. Star-Advertiser.

Mayor Billy Kenoi said he is “very disappointed” by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s decision to deny the state’s request for a major disaster declaration in the wake of Tropical Storm Iselle. Tribune-Herald.

Six Kona Community Hospital employees are among 34 Hawaii Health Systems Corp. workers set to lose their jobs by December. HHSC Acting President and Chief Executive Officer Alice Hall said the number of affected employees is lower than some workers expected, based on HHSC officials’ warnings after seeing how much funding the state Legislature provided for this year. West Hawaii Today.

Civil Defense officials will call for an evacuation should a worrisome lava flow approaching neighborhoods near Pahoa appear to be within five days of encroaching on populated areas. Such a possibility is still a long way off, however, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Scientist-in-Charge Jim Kauahikaua told a packed house Thursday night at the Pahoa Community Center. Tribune-Herald.

Scientists with U.S. Geological Survey say steam was spotted rising above a crack extending east beyond the end of the lava pad, suggesting that lava was once again advancing within a crack below ground. Hawaii News Now.

Four Big Island residents denied a contested case hearing for the Thirty Meter Telescope’s sublease are taking the issue to court. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

There was no clear consensus this week on how a federal judge's ruling against a Kauai County pesticides and bioengineered crops bill would affect a Nov. 4 vote on an initiative measure calling for a moratorium on genetically modified crops and activities in Maui County. Maui News.

The public is being asked weigh in on a proposed Maui affordable housing project for seniors. The Maui County Land Use Committee has scheduled a site inspection and meeting next week to consider the proposed Hale Mahaolu Ewalu Senior Residential Housing Project. Associated Press.

Maui Memorial Medical Center administrators said this week that they do not anticipate cutting staff positions other than those associated with the closure of the hospital's adolescent behavioral health unit, Molokini II, at least for now. Maui News.

A fever chart for Maui Electric Co.'s customer bills from 2014 to 2030 shows monthly residential prices dropping from the current average, nearly $230 per month, to a bit more than $160 per month in 2030. Maui News.

A former officer with the Maui Police Department filed a lawsuit alleging disability discrimination against the County of Maui and former Police Chief Gary Yabuta following the officer’s termination in December 2013, after 13 years of service. Maui Now.

Kauai

Garden Isle greenbacks. A look at the money being spent in KauaŹ»i County’s legal battle to preserve Ordinance 960, regulating pesticides and GMOs. Hawaii Independent.

Arguing tax reform. Residents sound off, officials explain why changes were necessary. Garden Island.