Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hanabusa concedes election, albizia trees targeted for eradication, DOE wants to cut special ed budget, VA listens to vets' healthcare woes, teachers doing well under new evaluations, medical marijuana task force to hit the road, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Albizia tree felled by Tropical Storm Iselle © 2014 All Hawaii News
One alien tree species — the albizia — has been fingered in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Iselle as the primary culprit for leaving Puna a quagmire of damaged houses, blocked roads, downed power lines and blackouts. But scientists warn the "albizia monster" is not confined to Puna. Rather, stands of this towering, graceful Indonesian native — described as the fastest growing tree in the world — have taken off across the state. Star-Advertiser.

Albizias may be most menacing on Oahu where they loom over major highways. Arborists say the city would look much like Puna if a hurricane were to hit. Hawaii News Now.

Today, Senator Schatz met with Mayor Kenoi’s cabinet, HELCO, State Senator Ruderman, Director of Civil Defense Darryl Oliveira, representatives from the Big Island Invasive Species Council and the U.S. Forest Service, to begin the process of developing a hazard mitigation plan for albizia on the Big Island. Civil Beat.

U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa will not challenge her narrow loss to U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz in court. She conceded the election to Schatz late Tuesday. Civil Beat.

U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa said Tuesday that she will not legally challenge her Democratic primary loss to U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, but the congresswoman urged the state Legislature to look into the election process to ensure every vote counts. Star-Advertiser.

U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa said Tuesday she will not file a legal challenge of her Democratic primary loss to U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz for the seat once held by the late Sen. Daniel Inouye. Tribune-Herald.

Opinion: With less than nine weeks before early voting begins in the general election, it’s looking like former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann’s role in the governor’s race could be reduced to that of the “spoiler,” with the only lingering suspense around the question of whether his losing cause will suck more votes away from David Ige or Duke Aiona. Civil Beat.

The election may be over, but many questions still remain regarding how the office of elections handled the state’s primary. Later this week, the state Elections Commission will take up the issue during a public meeting on Friday. Hawaii Public Radio.

Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago will likely be in the hot seat Friday as the state Elections Commission takes a look back at this month’s primary. The review is hosted following each election, but the commission is expecting to hear an earful of complaints surrounding the response to Tropical Storm Iselle and for the discovery of about 800 misplaced ballots on Maui following voting Aug. 9. Tribune-Herald.

High-ranking U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs officials from Washington, D.C., and Hawaii on Monday heard directly from island veterans about their long list of frustrations that include delays and the high cost of getting VA medical treatment on Oahu. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii veterans complained to U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono on Tuesday about the reams of bureaucracy that often prevent them from getting timely access to health care and other services. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii Health Connector, which was expecting its funding to end on Dec. 31, now says it can continue using federal grant money throughout 2015. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Department of Education officials told school board members Tuesday that they want to cut $9.15 million from the roughly $326 million in general-fund special education spending because of a likely reduction in state tax revenues. The proposed cut represents a 2.8 percent reduction. Civil Beat.

Roughly 1 in 6 Hawaii public school teachers were deemed highly effective for the 2013-14 academic year under the state's newly implemented teacher evaluation system, while most educators were rated as effective. Star-Advertiser.

Despite concerns from some Kauai and statewide teachers about the burden of a teacher effectiveness program implemented during the past school year, results show that the teachers were doing their jobs well under the new program. Garden Island.

On Wednesday, August 20, KHON2 will host a telethon to raise money for the American Red Cross, Hawaii State Chapter.

Oahu

The HPD isn't calling it a ticket quota, but critics say it sure sounds like one. Hawaii News Now has learned that an email was sent to about 20 Honolulu police officers listing how many citations need to be issued.

Some University of Hawaii at Manoa faculty members called for no confidence votes against the Board of Regents and UH President David Lassner Tuesday for their decision to fire UH Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple last month. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu is famous for golden sand beaches and big waves. But the city's warehouse district, called Kakaako, is famous for a different sort of attraction. You won't find kitschy Hawaiian souvenir shops or hordes of tourists here, but you will find a thriving urban arts scene, with colorful street murals so big they stretch across walls and sometimes entire sides of buildings. Associated Press.

A free housing summit will be held Saturday to provide valuable information to military veterans and active duty members on government homeownership programs. Star-Advertiser.

The operators of Hawaii chef and restaurateur Peter Merriman’s Monkeypod Kitchen will take over the Jimmy Buffet’s at the Beachcomber restaurant, which closes at the end of this month, Outrigger Enterprises Group said Tuesday. Pacific Business News.

A dramatic decrease in apparel prices kept Honolulu inflation tame and helped drop the consumer price index below the U.S. rate for the first time in 11 years. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Almost half the state’s 13,115 medical marijuana patients live on Hawaii Island, but it took a request by state Sen. Will Espero for a medical marijuana task force to schedule a public hearing here. Espero, D-Ewa, prevailed upon the Medical Marijuana Dispensary Task Force at its Aug. 12 meeting to include a Hilo meeting in addition to the six scheduled for Oahu. West Hawaii Today.

A state senator is questioning the results of a Hawaii County Council race after the primary election held in storm-damaged areas of the Big Island. State Sen. Russell Ruderman says he plans to file a complaint with the Hawaii Elections Commission at a meeting Friday. Associated Press.

Workers performing a preliminary damage assessment for the Federal Emergency Management Agency completed Tuesday surveying homes in Puna hit hard by Tropical Storm Iselle. However, approval of federal relief could be a week or more away, as FEMA must also perform an assessment of damage to public infrastructure such as roads and bridges. Tribune-Herald.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard says federal officials have wrapped up their assessment of damage on the Big Island from Tropical Storm Iselle and are close to submitting their report to Gov. Neil Abercrombie. Associated Press.

Members of the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd RCT and the Military Intelligence Service ushered guests through an expansive exhibit of photographs and documents at the Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union’s Kaloko branch. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

The 60-unit Hale Kai O Kihei condominium complex would be assessed a fine and administrative costs of $760 and pay for an independent appraisal to use nearly 3,150 square feet on public land. Maui News.

A proposed 31-acre baseyard and light industrial subdivision project in Waikapu received initial approval Tuesday from the Maui County Council. Maui News.

Despite the attention and controversy generated by anti-GMO (genetically modified organisms) activists in the months leading up to the August primary, their candidates gained little traction in the recent primary election. Both locally and statewide, most who opposed GMOs went down to defeat in partisan races or trailed by a wide margin in non-partisan races.Maui Weekly.

Two paragliders were apprehended at Haleakalā National Park today — one for illegally launching and landing in critical endangered species habitat, and the other for attempting to launch, park officials said. Maui Now.

Kauai

Transforming an old sugar cane road in Lawai Valley — one in use for more than 100 years — into a Biodiversity Trail was what Chipper Wichman called an “audacious dream.” For the National Tropical Botanical Garden, however, it was an important one. Garden Island.

County to review Hanapepe Road. Garden Island.