Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Matson fined $1M for molasses spill, campaign shenanigans abound, Department of Education wants more money, Gabbard seeks military impact on marine life, same-sex marriage ban moot, road to be connected over old lava flows, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy KHON2 TV
KHON2 file footage of 2013 molasses spill
Matson has agreed to pay $1 million to resolve all federal criminal charges tied to last year's 233,000-gallon molasses spill in Hono­lulu Harbor. The U.S. attorney here filed papers in federal court Tuesday charging Matson Terminals Inc. with two misdemeanor violations of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 — one charge for each day the molasses leaked into the harbor. Star-Advertiser.

Matson Inc. reached a plea agreement Tuesday with the U.S. Attorney in Hawaii on charges that the company illegally discharged more than 230,000 gallons of molasses into Honolulu Harbor in 2013, agreeing to pay a total penalty of $1 million. Pacific Business News.

Four complaints alleging campaign violations against the political action group Pacific Resource Partnership or its successor, Forward Progress, will be heard by the five-member Campaign Spending Commission at its meeting Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

Commentary: It appears the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission could devote some of Wednesday to chewing on the Pacific Resource Partnership, which, because of the money it flings around, is one of our most influential political players. Star-Advertiser.

Commentary:  The most recent public reports filed with the Campaign Spending Commission only covered the period through the Aug. 9 primary. All of the subsequent spending remains hidden. Civil Beat.

Early voting has started across the Hawaiian islands for state's general election. The Office of Elections opened the polls Tuesday for early absentee voters to cast their ballots. Polling stations on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island will be open until Nov. 1. Hawaii News Now.

Sen. Brian Schatz is publicly supporting the campaign to pass a constitutional amendment that would allow the state to use public funds to pay for private preschool programs. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is requesting information from the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor about the Navy’s efforts to monitor the effects of the Rim of the Pacific military exercise and Kauai’s Pacific Missile Range Facility on the ocean and marine ecosystems. Garden Island.

The Hawaii Department of Education anticipates requesting an additional $159 million from the state during the next legislative session to cover expenditures in fiscal years 2016 and 2017. West Hawaii Today.

The Department of Education says it needs $19 million in emergency funding from the Legislature to cover shortfalls in its school lunch and bus transportation programs, or officials warned that meal prices might go up and some bus routes could be eliminated. Star-Advertiser.

The state Board of Education is giving Hawaii's public schools superintendent an "exceeds expectations" rating for the current year. The board said Tuesday public schools have made exceptional progress under Kathryn Matayoshi's leadership. Associated Press.

A 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling quietly ended a last-ditch court fight against a Hawaii law allowing same-sex marriage. The court issued an opinion earlier this month declaring moot a lawsuit filed by a Hawaii couple seeking to marry before the state legalized gay marriage last year. Associated Press.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Hawaii's marriage equality law makes a pending federal lawsuit moot, and instructed the lower court to dismiss the case. Star-Advertiser.

One of three judicial appointments pending this week in the state Senate has been labeled “unqualified” by the Hawaii State Bar Association despite significant testimony supporting her. Civil Beat.

Proponents of a state constitutional amendment to allow farmers, ranchers and owners of other agricultural endeavors to request special purpose revenue bonds say the measure won’t cost taxpayers any money. West Hawaii Today.

Anna Azevedo became the owner of a new $176,650 home on Department of Hawaiian Home Lands property earlier this year after spending 26 years waiting for a homestead. But her house — affordable by Hawaii standards — was built with a tool that could reduce the number of affordable-housing units for non-Hawaiians. The tool is a relatively new and controversial credit program that has largely simmered out of public view. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

Last week, residents of east Honolulu found flyers in their mailboxes attacking Honolulu City Council District 4 candidate Tommy Waters as being a “carpetbagger.” Curiously, no one has acknowledged being responsible for the ad’s message — not even representatives of the super PAC that paid for it. Civil Beat.

Not in our neighborhood. That's the message in Nanakuli as families shot down a proposal to set off thousands of illegally shipped fireworks in a residential lot next to a large chicken farm. Hawaii News Now.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell said a perfect storm of events led to damage to the plant and yes, the city could have done better in trying to prevent Sunday’s massive wastewater spill at Sand Island. KHON2.

A palm-damaging coconut rhinoceros beetle has been found in Central Oahu — significantly expanding the known range of the palm pest on the island. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Three of five bills aimed at reducing loopholes and making property tax collections more fair have survived their first reading at the County Council and will be considered a final time when the council meets early next month. West Hawaii Today.

Construction of the Chain of Craters alternate route will speed up Friday as bulldozers begin making a path over a wall of lava rock covering the road in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The $12 million to $15.5 million route, to be re-established between the park and Kalapana as a gravel road, could eventually be the only road in and out of lower Puna if the June 27 lava flow makes its way to the sea. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

You may have seen the ads all over local TV taking a stand against the genetically modified organism initiative. It’s a measure that'll be up for vote by the people of Maui County on next month’s ballot. KITV4.

Super PACs could impact West Maui race. 2014 Election: Outside funds help newcomer take on council incumbent. Maui News.

For council candidates, a civil race to Nov. 4. This story is part of a series of stories covering contested state legislative and Maui County contests leading up to the Nov. 4 general election. Maui News.

Several Maui projects will benefit from a funding release announced today by the governor for capital improvement projects administered by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. Maui Now.

The Waikamoi Flume should be fully operational by next month as the rotting and aging redwood of the flume is being replaced with shiny new aluminum that will improve the reliability of the system and may increase water intake for Upcountry, county officials said. Maui News.

Kauai

Better visibility of bus schedules in tourism guides, more frequent service, and increased bus routes to areas like Lydgate Beach Park and Anini are among the suggestions that one resident had for Kauai Transportation Agency officials, who oversee The Kauai Bus operations. Garden Island.




Lanai

Applications for the 2015 Lānaʻi Axis deer hunting season are now available through the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. Maui Now.

Kahoolawe

Promised Land: The Navy and the Damage Done. THIRD OF THREE PARTS: Kahoolawe still bears the scars of decades of bombing, and erosion unearths even more unexploded ordnance. State lawmakers wonder if it's time to try to compel the Navy to finish its cleanup. Civil Beat.