Monday, October 6, 2014

Kilauea lava creeps onward, Maui United Way battles anti-GMO group over name, Gabbard slammed for surf shoot, Ige blamed for hospital mess, bill seeks to name Oahu beach for Obama, would Warren Buffett want HECO, candidate residency cleared, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

pahoehoe lava
Pahoehoe lava from Kilauea courtesy USGS Oct. 3, 2014
The resurgent June 27 Kilauea lava flow has advanced another 100 yards since Saturday, according to Hawaii County Civil Defense. The flow has moved downhill approximately 440 yards since it resumed its advance Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

Democratic state Sen. David Ige is defending his record as Senate Ways and Means chairman from his gubernatorial opponents' charges that he deserves blame for the state's failure to fully fund public hospitals that face a $30 million deficit in 2015, even after layoffs. Maui News.

The politics of the governor's race could be an unexpected catalyst for policy changes at the state's troubled public hospital system. State Sen. David Ige, the Demo­cratic candidate, former Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, the Republican, and former Hono­lulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, the Hawaii Independent Party candidate, all maintain that the next governor should drive the discussion on stabilizing the Hawaii Health Systems Corp., the $650 million network of 12 public hospitals that functions as the health care safety net for many neighbor island and elderly patients. Star-Advertiser.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard skipped an August hearing on veterans care in Hawaii so she could go surfing for a Yahoo News profile. Despite telling Civil Beat at the time she missed the hearing because she was delayed in another meeting, Gabbard’s staff acknowledged last week that she was instead tied up with a Yahoo News reporter in Waikiki where she was surfing for a video the news outlet was shooting. Civil Beat.

Hawaii needs to step up if it wants to keep thousands of soldiers and their families and $1.3 billion in annual soldier-related sales, the former head of U.S. Army Pacific said. Star-Advertiser.

The former CEO of Hawaii Gas was selected to take over as the new director of Hawaii’s federally mandated insurance marketplace. The Hawaii Health Connector board voted Friday to hire Jeffrey Kissel. Associated Press.

Jeffrey Kissell will take over as head of the state’s beleaguered health insurance marketplace, known as the Hawaii Health Connector, according to an announcement from the board Friday. Kissell, who spent his career working for energy companies, most recently as CEO of Hawaii GAS, replaces interim Executive Director Tom Matsuda. Civil Beat.

Could Warren Buffett, the third richest man on the planet, be interested in buying Hawaiian Electric Co., the state’s largest utility? There are signs that show certain connections to the Islands by the billionaire businessman. Pacific Business News.

Oahu

Resolution to rename Sandy Beach after Obama, reaction mixed. Chang and fellow council member Ernie Martin are hoping to change that by renaming Sandy Beach Park to President Barack Obama Sandy Beach Park. It comes after a video was taken of the President bodysurfing back in August 2008. KHON2.

While state laws and the Honolulu Police Department's policies regarding domestic violence cases need some improvement, experts say it is HPD's poor enforcement of these laws and policies that is the real factor in continuing cycles of domestic violence in Hawaiʻi. Hawaii Independent.

Honolulu City Councilwoman Kymberly Pine and leaders in the Makaha community don't want to just expand the city's traditional Adopt-a-Park program; they want to turn the concept on its head. Star-Advertiser.

Efforts are underway to restore the remnants of a Hawaiian community that dates to around the year 1450. The Hawaii Community Development Authority is working with the Kalaeloa Heritage and Legacy Foundation on the proposed 77-acre Kalaeloa Heritage Park on the plains of Ewa. Associated Press.

Hawaii

The Hawaii County clerk has cleared District 9 County Council candidate Ron Gonzales to continue his challenge against incumbent Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille. Clerk Stewart Maeda, in a four-page decision letter dated Wednesday, said he is satisfied that Gonzales’ legal residence is in Waikoloa, and therefore he is properly registered to vote in District 9. West Hawaii Today.

Candidates for state House and Senate seats discussed cesspools, high taxes, broken hospitals, flowing lava and other pressing issues at a forum Thursday in Kailua-Kona. Hopefuls in three races floated the concept of using state lands to relocate businesses and homes affected by the current lava flow in Puna. West Hawaii Today.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz plans to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Friday to discuss the creation of a two-lane alternate route into the park for lower Puna residents impacted by the June 27 lava flow. So far, the park has authorized only a one-lane, gravel emergency evacuation route along a portion of Chain of Craters Road buried by recent lava flows. Tribune-Herald.

The state Department of Agriculture will scale back its plan to pipe a portion of the Lower Hamakua Ditch after several landowners offered to help maintain the open irrigation system through their properties. Tribune-Herald.

Home sales in Puna plummeted nearly 23 percent in September after Tropical Storm Iselle blew through Hawaii island — and they continue to remain sluggish as a river of 2,100-degree lava cuts its way toward Pahoa. Star-Advertiser.

Maui

Maui United Way has written a "cease and desist" alleging trademark infringement to "Maui United," an anti-GMO group that has launched an advertising campaign in favor of the Nov. 4 initiative for a moratorium on genetically modified organisms in Maui County. Maui News.

A moratorium on genetically modified crops is impractical, incumbent Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa said. A proposed moratorium would make it illegal to cultivate, grow or test genetically modified crops in the county until companies complete environmental and public health studies to show their practices are safe. Associated Press.

The Maui County Council unanimously approved at its Friday meeting a proposal to build a 61-unit affordable senior housing project in Pukalani. Maui News.

Kauai

In February, the state Supreme Court — in what has been called a landmark decision for Hawaii’s Public Trust Doctrine — sided with the County of Kauai by striking down a 2008 circuit court ruling that the Kauai Planning Commission “exceeded its jurisdiction” in denying Kauai Springs, Inc. permits for its operation. Seven months later, and contrary to that ruling, the Koloa-based water bottling and distribution company’s doors remain open. Garden Island.

A divided Kauai County Council committee on Wednesday approved a scaled down version of a proposal that would charge county residents variable trash collection rates based on how much they throw away. By a 4-1 vote, the seven-member board’s Environmental Services Committee approved an amendment to Bill 2551 that would charge residential customers a monthly, flat $6 fee for access to the county’s five refuse transfer stations and an additional $4 fee, if residents opt to have a 64-gallon trash cart, or two 32-gallon carts, for weekly pick up. Garden Island.

Tense moments, punctuated by sometimes combative exchanges, stood out in the debate between current mayoral incumbent Bernard Carvalho, Jr. and his challenger, Dustin Barca, during Thursday night’s political forum at the Kauai Memorial Convention Hall. Garden Island.

The two Democratic and Republican candidates vying for a single state House District 15 seat agreed that the state’s current tax structure should be revamped but were divided on other issues, including marijuana legislation during a political forum Thursday night in Lihue. Garden Island.