Friday, October 3, 2014

Honolulu City Council members clueless about ethics code, 46,000 seniors to lose Medicare Advantage coverage, Royal Hawaiian wins award, micro-apartments for Kakaako, Ebola scare a wake-up call, Ellison may close both Lanai Four Seasons for renovations, Native Hawaiian government to be postponed again, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy photo
Royal Hawaiian Resort courtesy photo
The Royal Hawaiian, A Luxury Collection Resort in Waikiki, was named Best Historic Resort at the annual Historic Hotels of America 2014 Awards of Excellence gala Thursday in Washington, D.C.  Star-Advertiser.

Pollution in Hawaii is giving turtles deadly tumors, a new study found. Researchers at Duke University, the University of Hawaii and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have determined that nitrogen runoff is polluting the algae that turtles eat, causing them to develop tumors in their eyes, flippers and internal organs. Civil Beat.

A group of organizations leading the process of building a Native Hawaiian government is considering postponing the election of officers until June. The board of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs heard the news at a meeting Thursday. Associated Press.

With the voter registration deadline approaching, the number of registered voters has ticked upward on neighbor islands and dipped on Oahu compared with figures tallied two years ago. The deadline to register to vote in the general election is Monday. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Medical Service Association plans to discontinue its five Medicare Advantage plans for 46,000 seniors on Dec. 31. The state's largest health insurer, which covers the bulk of Hawaii's Medicare population, estimates it lost about $64.1 million last year on its plans -- called Akamai Advantage -- due to higher-than-expected medical claims as well as lower federal Medicare reimbursements. Star-Advertiser.

Thousands of HMSA members may be in for a surprise. HMSA is ending its Medicare plan for thousands of residents next year. Coverage through HMSA’s Akamai Advantage is ending December 31, 2014 and if customers don’t choose a new plan before then, they could lose their prescription drug coverage and more. KHON2.

Though the state has ruled out what was feared to be Hawaii's first Ebola case, health officials are on high alert for possible new cases reaching the islands. Star-Advertiser.

How Did We Handle Hawaii’s Ebola Scare? What can we learn from a week when the deadly virus from Africa was discovered in the U.S. and inspired fears it had reached Oahu? Civil Beat.

The State of Hawai‘i has approximately 90,000 cesspools, the majority of which pose potential health risks to residents via water contamination. The Department of Health is proposing changes to its administrative rules that would begin to reduce the number of cesspools in the state through infrastructure upgrades. Hawaii Independent.

A state plan for homeowners to get rid of their cesspools the next time a property sells is receiving pushback. KITV4.

Oahu

The two longest-serving members of the Honolulu City Council, who are now caught up in an ethics investigation, claim they had no idea they were not allowed to accept free meals from lobbyists and they're asking for clarification of the rules. The city Ethics Commission is investigating if it was illegal for four former council members as well as current members Ann Kobayashi and Ikaika Anderson to accept pricey meals from lobbyists with business before the council. Hawaii News Now.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell and state officials are working on a plan to allow the city to take over the law enforcement role at Waikiki's Fort DeRussy Beach, where homeless campers are taking advantage of a jurisdictional loophole to avoid being cited for violating city regulations. Star-Advertiser.

As the City and County of Honolulu has begun enforcing a new law banning homeless from sitting or lying on sidewalks in Waikiki, more homeless are spending their nights at the Honolulu International Airport. State transportation officials say there's nothing they can do about it because there are no law against sleeping at the airport. Hawaii News Now.

While Kakaako is better known for luxury condos than affordable housing, the growing urban district in Honolulu could soon see a new kind of residence: tiny studio apartments no bigger than 300 square feet, or about 15 by 20 feet. Civil Beat.

A credit-rating agency has added a negative tinge to its outlook on bonds sold by Hawaii Pacific University last year to finance the redevelopment of parts of the Aloha Tower Marketplace retail complex in downtown Honolulu for university use. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu police will not release the full surveillance video showing an off-duty sergeant assaulting his ex-girlfriend as initially planned. The full video was supposed to be shown to everyone at a briefing on Tuesday, but some lawmakers did not like that idea and decided to watch it at a later time in private. Now, they won’t get that chance. KHON2.

When it comes to key policy issues facing the city of Honolulu, not a lot separates the two attorneys running for the District 4 Honolulu City Council race. Civil Beat.

How Safe Has the Honolulu Rail Project Been? Worker injury rates have been well below state and national average. But concerns remain over excavation procedures. Civil Beat.

Hawaii

Hawai'i County Civil Defense officials say a breakout upslope of the Puna lava flow has advanced another 100 yards since overtaking the stalled leading edge on Wednesday. Hawaii News Now.

A breakout on the lava flow encroaching on Pahoa advanced ahead of the former flow front Thursday, according to Hawaii County Civil Defense. The breakout advanced about 100 yards between daily overflights, according to Civil Defense. Tribune-Herald.

One of the concerns of Hawaii County officials and residents is how the recent and current disasters —Tropical Storm Iselle and the lava flow —will affect Hawaii Island's economy. Hawaii Public Radio.

Big Island health care facilities remain on the lookout for Ebola symptoms following the announcement Thursday that state health officials determined a patient in isolation on Oahu was not carrying the deadly virus. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

A gubernatorial debate hosted by the Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce is slated for this morning. Associated Press.

Though Maui County is not currently in a state of drought, Upcountry reservoir levels dipped low last month, prompting water department officials to call for a 10 percent voluntary cutback on Upcountry water usage for the next two to three months. Maui News.

Kauai

A former member of the Kauai Police Commission is being sentenced for running a sports gambling business. Bradley Chiba is scheduled to be sentenced Friday in federal court in Honolulu. Associated Press.

Some Kauai residents are at odds over proposed changes to state Department of Health regulations that would prohibit new cesspools from being built and require existing ones to be upgraded when properties are sold. Garden Island.

An anticipated revival in construction could boost Kauai’s economy and compensate for a projected decline in tourism. That was the message from economist Dr. Jack Suyderhoud, who spoke at First Hawaiian Bank’s 40th Economic Outlook Forum Thursday at Kauai Beach Resort. Garden Island.

Lanai

Larry Ellison’s Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay and The Lodge at Koele, the two major resorts on the island, may be closed at the same time next year as renovations take place at one of the properties. Pacific Business News.