Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Preschool plan controversial, medical marijuana panel meets, rail contract redo, ACLU sues over Hawaii Island panhandling law, lava may isolate Puna, ethnic tensions between Samoans, Micronesians, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

bill signing for preschool funding
Hawaii preschoolers sing at bill signing, courtesy Governor's Office
The debate over universal preschool is heating up with the launch of competing campaigns to rally support for and against a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow public funds to be spent on private early childhood education programs. Star-Advertiser.

There is “no one model” to follow in establishing medical marijuana dispensaries, a state task force was told Tuesday. The task force, which is examining Hawaii’s medical marijuana program, discussed a new report comparing programs in other states. Civil Beat.

Any system of medical marijuana distribution centers in Hawaii would likely incorporate policies and programs that have proved successful in other states, but also accommodate the unique needs of the state's roughly 13,000 medicinal cannabis patients, officials say. Star-Advertiser.

A class-action lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court seeks to require the state to cover the cost of applied behavior analysis, or ABA, treatment for children with autism who are on Medicaid. Star-Advertiser.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission have relaunched the drive to add names to the list of Native Hawaiians participating in the nation-building process. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

City officials are starting over in their search for a company to build the first rail stations, hoping to curb construction costs that are $110 million over projections, but risking a one-year delay in the system's initial opening. Star-Advertiser.

Aggressive cost containment is necessary if Honolulu plans to stay within budget on its $5.2 billion rail project, according to a recent report from a federal contractor hired to oversee design and construction progress. Civil Beat.

The Honolulu Board of Water Supply's plan to put in a new customer care and billing system was "fraught with problems" that not only caused the agency to "back-bill" a number of its customers, but contributed to the eventual cost skyrocketing to more than three times its original price tag, according to a city auditor's report released Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

A dusty plot of land in the heavily industrial area of Sand Island that the city is proposing as a homeless encampment could have hazardous levels of contaminants such as arsenic and lead left over from solid waste and ash dumps that were operated nearby for decades, according to Hawaii Department of Health records. Civil Beat.

Honolulu residents will get an opportunity to sound off on a new plan to temporarily move homeless people to Sand Island. The city will hold a community meeting tonight to discuss the proposal…one of several aimed at dealing with Hawai‘i’s growing homeless problem. Hawaii Public Radio.

Photovoltaic system permits on Oahu declined to their lowest level in three years in August despite the island leading the nation at midyear for the highest percentage of customers with rooftop solar. Star-Advertiser.

Crews have just begun sifting through 230 truckloads of dirt at Radford contaminated with mercury, lead and arsenic. KITV4.

A dispute involving wild ducks has divided a downtown condo. A management decision about their future has definitely ruffled some feathers. Hawaii News Now.

Construction is expected to start Oct. 1 to convert a former military barracks at the old Barbers Point Naval Air Station in Kalaeloa into affordable rental apartments following state approval of the plan Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

Ethnic tension between Samoans and Micronesians leads to huge street fight in Honolulu, 4 injured. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii

A homeless Hawaii Island man has joined the American Civil Liberties Union to file suit against Hawaii County officials, claiming the county code provisions regarding panhandling are unconstitutional. West Hawaii Today.

County Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira said Tuesday night officials are “looking at multiple other ways to create connectivity” in the event lava from the June 27 flow crosses Highway 130 and isolates lower Puna. Tribune-Herald.

County officials spent another evening reassuring the public that their government is working on all contingency plans in the face of advancing lava, even as new flow projections disturbed residents. Big Island Video News.

Hawaii County expects to begin improving Government Beach Road early next week or possibly sooner as a lava flow threatens to cut off access to lower Puna, said Public Works Director Warren Lee. Tribune-Herald.

Fresh from restoring power to thousands of lower Puna residents after Tropical Storm Iselle, Hawaii Electric Light Co. is prepping for the possibility of outages wrought by lava from Kilauea volcano. Tribune-Herald.

Residents: Hawaii lava part of living in paradise. Associated Press.

Maui

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie has released $5 million to fund the construction of the Central Maui Regional Sports Complex just a week after Maui homeowners filed a lawsuit to stop the project. Civil Beat.

Governor Neil Abercrombie today announced the release of $5 million that will be used toward the construction of the Central Maui Regional Sports Complex, currently under construction in Waikapū. Maui Now.

West Maui residents will be able to recycle glass, cardboard, newspapers and other materials currently not easily recyclable on the west side, during a series of events organized by two Maui County council members from September to December at the Lahaina Cannery Mall parking lot. Maui News.

The Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, will undergo a $30 million renovation to the Maui resort's guestroom interiors, meeting areas and pools, with a completion date set for early 2015. The rooms were last renovated in 2009. Pacific Business News.

Kauai

The Kauai County Council will consider five measures today that seek to provide relief for residents who, in some cases, saw their real property tax bills increase over the last two months by hundreds of dollars, if not thousands. Garden Island.

Despite recent headlines, encounters between dogs and Hawaiian monk seals are actually quite rare. Garden Island.