Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Delays cost Honolulu rail $75.4M, candidates and PACs face fines, Hannemann struggles to raise money, senior high-rise may come to Waikiki, lava continues northward trek, Kauai struggles with GMO ruling, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

photo courtesy Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation
Rail column construction, courtesy Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation
In a Friday communication with the Honolulu City Council, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit says it lost $75.4 million in change orders for the West Oahu Guideway, the Kamehameha Guideway and the Maintenance and Storage Facility. KITV4.

Dozens of Hawaii candidates for elected office and political action committees are facing fines Wednesday before the state Campaign Spending Commission for various violations. In all, the commission’s agenda — its longest in years — includes 20 proposed conciliation agreements, mostly over failing to file campaign finance reports on time, and 19 dockets for complaints including the use of campaign money for personal expenses. Civil Beat.

Independent candidate for governor Mufi Hannemann, who has raised six percent of the money this year compared to his last gubernatorial race four years ago, is getting some big financial help from his multi-millionaire sister and brother-in-law. Hawaii News Now.

Despite being among the first states to approve the use of medical marijuana, certified patients in Hawaii still face challenges tied to access and transporting the drug in the isles, according to a new report to the state Legislature. Star-Advertiser.

A federal appeals court in San Francisco waded again into the debate over the constitutionality of gay marriage, with attorneys for both sides arguing over whether legalizing it would harm children. The three judges on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals — two of whom have ruled in previous cases in favor of gay rights — reserved many of their most pointed questions for the defenders of state bans in Idaho, Nevada and Hawaii. Associated Press.

Mark Takai Says He Wants to ‘Knock Some Sense’ into Congress. Democratic candidate for 1st Congressional District discusses a variety of topics, including the military and Hawaii's high cost of living. Civil Beat.

Opinion: What’s interesting about HECO’s recently released Power Supply Improvement Plans is what is not in them. After 2,731 pages and $17 million in taxpayer-funded studies, there is not a single mention of Big Wind on Lanai or Molokai, and the vaunted undersea cable is barely mentioned. Civil Beat.

Oahu

A plan by the Honolulu City Council to provide tax breaks for homeowners in the so-called Residential A category who live in the properties they own but do not receive a homeowner exemption could cost city coffers more than $700,000, finance officials said in a release issued late Monday. Star-Advertiser.

The per capita rate of homelessness in Hawaii already tops all other states, and service providers and advocates here say it will get worse without immediate steps to create more affordable housing so that homeless people can rapidly be placed in permanent residences. Star-Advertiser.

Seniors seeking assisted-living options might get another option near Waikiki if a developer can pull off plans to acquire land and build a high-rise complex on Kala­kaua Avenue. Star-Advertiser.

Kamehameha Schools said it's nearly completed with the first stage of its clean up of an alleged illegal landfill site at its Kapalama Heights campus. Hawaii News Now.

The Navy's Red Hill fuel storage farm has "inadequate" fire protection infrastructure, and operations in the underground complex create a "high potential for a fire," the Pentagon's logistics agency said in a $50 million request for fire protection upgrades. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

The June 27 lava flow could reach Pahoa Village Road in 16 to 18 days, according to Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. That’s based on one of several potential directions the flow could take. One path could take the lava to the area where the road and Highway 130 meet on the Hilo side, Babb said, which is why HVO’s latest update posted Monday evening references the village’s main road. Tribune-Herald.

The June 27 lava flow continues to move north in the Wao Kele o Puna Forest Reserve, and could reach the government road in Pāhoa within 16-18 days. A new Volcanic Activity Notice was issued by the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory on Monday evening. Big Island Video News.

Kaohe Homestead residents are learning some valuable lessons as lava from the June 27 flow sizzles and glows less than a mile away. Star-Advertiser.

A task force focused on updating county property tax policies is taking a dim view of special tax breaks for organic farms. The county Real Property Tax Stakeholders Task Force said Monday that organic produce falls into one of four current categories qualifying for lower land evaluation and there’s no need to create another just for organic farms. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

More than a hundred thousand American troops were stationed on Maui at the height of World War II. In their leisure time they would watch movies, drink with locals and take their girls to Giggle Hill in Haiku, where the giggles of young women could be heard into the night. Maui News.

Kauai

Whether the county should — or can legally — move forward with the Environmental and Public Health Impact Study portion of Ordinance 960, in light of a court ruling that struck down the county law, is up for debate. Proponents said that nothing in Kurren’s decision invalidates the fact-finding and research initiated by the County Council and authorized and funded by two council actions independent of Ordinance 960 that appropriated $100,000 for the process. County administration, however, sees things differently. Garden Island.