Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Hot weather harming coral reefs, unions tighten grip on Hawaii, groundbreaking today for one of world's largest telescopes, teachers union creates new PAC to fight ballot initiative, lava viewing curtailed, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Teardrop butterflyfish amid damaged coral © 2014 All Hawaii News
The hot, muggy weather that's stifled Hawaii in recent weeks appears to have spurred widespread coral bleaching across the state, and researchers say it's the most severe degradation of coral that they've ever observed in Hawaii waters. Star-Advertiser.

While people in Hawaii have been sweating out a lack of trade winds, corals underwater also are suffering. Scientists standing in the muggy heat at Heeia Small Boat Harbor in Kaneohe said Monday they’re seeing more evidence higher-than-normal ocean temperatures are causing near-shore bleaching across the islands. Associated Press.

A new law championed by Hawaii’s most powerful unions has tilted the balance in favor of organized labor in a critical arena, although the effects on employers — and possibly taxpayers — won’t be fully realized for a few years. With little public fanfare, the Legislature last session passed a bill that changes how the governor appoints people to the Hawaii Labor Relations Board, a quasi-judicial agency that resolves labor disputes involving private and public sector employees and the organizations that represent them. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association terminated its campaign to discourage voters from approving a constitutional amendment dealing with preschools last week after realizing it risked breaking the law by spending money on a ballot measure through its political action committee. Civil Beat.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has named four nominees to serve on the University of Hawaii Board of Regents and fill vacancies triggered by the state's new financial disclosure law. Star-Advertiser.

Mufi Hannemann, the Hawaii Independent Party candidate for governor, has said if he wins election in November one of his top priorities will be to bring back an inter-island ferry system. He made a similar pledge during his failed bid for governor in 2010. Hannemann’s most recent financial disclosure report shows he owns stock in two companies that are working on the design and development of advanced ship hull forms and researching lifting hull technologies. Civil Beat.

VoteVets Action Fund, a national veterans advocacy group, will spend $800,000 on an advertising campaign to boost candidates in three races across the country, including that of Hawaii state Rep. Mark Takai. Takai, a progressive Democrat running for the District 1 Congressional seat, will take on former Congressman Charles Djou, a Republican who served in 2010, in the November general election. Hawaii Reporter.

Rebuffed by the courts, six Palolo voters asked the state House on Monday to determine whether state Rep. and former House Speaker Calvin Say lives in the Palolo House district he has represented since 1976. Star-Advertiser.

The six Palolo voters challenging Calvin Say’s qualifications to hold office are not giving up, despite a court’s rejection of their lawsuit last week. Civil Beat.

Inmates who say they’re being denied their right to practice their Native Hawaiian religion at a private prison in Arizona have won class-action status for a lawsuit. U.S. District Court Judge Leslie Kobayashi granted class-action certification to inmates suing the state of Hawaii and the Corrections Corporation of America. Associated Press.

The new head of the Hawaii Health Connector, Jeffrey Kissel, said Monday that his first priority will be helping consumers smoothly get through the enrollment period starting Nov. 15. Star-Advertiser.

Commentary: It is not always huge campaign donations that buy political candidates media exposure. Take the Hawaii governor’s race. Hawaii Independent Party candidate Mufi Hannemann and Libertarian Party contender Jeff Davis have found a way to get additional exposure on Hawaii media outlets at the same time they are running for office. Civil Beat.

Oahu

A University of Hawaii at Manoa student organization has passed resolutions voting no confidence in UH President David Lassner and the Board of Regents. Star-Advertiser.

The Navy plans a fourth controlled detonation at Kalaeloa this week to destroy various munitions and ordnances that have been found. Star-Advertiser.

Median home prices on Oahu remained flat in September, while the number of sales of single-family homes rose 5 percent, according to data released Tuesday by the Honolulu Board of Realtors. Pacific Business News.

Sales statistics set for release Tuesday by the Honolulu Board of Realtors show that the median sale price for previously owned single-family houses on the island edged up by 0.5 percent to $678,500 in September from $675,000 in the same month a year earlier. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

A groundbreaking and Hawaiian blessing ceremony launches construction on the summit of Mauna Kea to build one of the world's largest telescopes. The events for the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope project Tuesday will be shown via a live-stream webcast because of limited access to the construction site, which is in an area with harsh physical conditions. Associated Press.

After years of challenges, groundbreaking begins Tuesday on one of the world's largest optical telescopes, which will rise out of sacred Hawaiian ground at an elevation of 13,150 feet near the summit of Mauna Kea. Star-Advertiser.

USGS geologists with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory estimate the Puna lava flow could reach Apa'a Street in Pahoa in about 16 days, if it continues moving at its current rate of 390 ft/day. Hawaii News Now.

The June 27 lava flow sparked a brush fire as it continued its progress toward Pahoa on Monday. Meanwhile, Civil Defense officials, in conjunction with the Federal Aviation Administration, have restricted the airspace above the leading edge of the flow in response to increased traffic of sightseers and media personnel. Tribune-Herald.

The Puna lava flow is becoming big business for Big Island tour companies, but Hawaii County Civil Defense officials say tour groups were getting too close to the flow and to each other. Working with the FAA, civil defense has implemented new air space restrictions above the flow. Hawaii News Now.

An aerial survey Monday morning showed the June 27 flow front continues to be active and has advanced approximately 150 yards since Sunday, according to Hawaii County Civil Defense. West Hawaii Today.

A former Hawaii County Council member will complete a vacated term on the University of Hawaii Board of Regents. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

More than a month after the launch of an expensive TV campaign to persuade voters to reject a Maui County ballot initiative to temporarily ban genetically engineered crops, the Hawaii Center for Food Safety has formed a new group called the Coalition for Safer, Healthier Maui to campaign in favor of the measure. Civil Beat.

For the first time in more than a century, there will be a continuous flow of water from mauka to makai into the Wailuku (ʻĪao) Stream on Maui. Maui Now.

The Maui Tropical Plantation has embodied Hawaii's past and present for the past three decades as an agricultural and tourism destination. Maui News.

Kauai

Two Kauai County Council members will introduce a resolution Wednesday that would establish a committee to investigate the implementation of county laws dealing with the dedication of land for agricultural use. Maui News.