Thursday, October 9, 2014

Tulsi Gabbard named 2nd hottest in Congress, jobs focus of Djou, Takai, gubernatorial candidates debate education, Honolulu super PAC spending probed, Kauai approves pay as you throw garbage plan, Hawaii prison gangs exposed, at-risk advised to evacuate in advance of lava flow, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Capitol File magazine
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard surfing, Capitol File magazine
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii has been named the second “hottest” female in the U.S. Congress, according to Washingtonian magazine. First-place honors went to Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) Besides Gabbard, no other Hawaii congressional delegate makes “The Best & Worst of Congress.” Civil Beat.

Opinion: The point of our recent Tulsi Gabbard piece on surfing with Yahoo News instead of attending a U.S. Senate hearing on problems at the VA is one that Gabbard’s supporters are conveniently sidestepping: She was scheduled to go to the hearing. She didn’t show up. Sen. Mazie Hirono’s staff told reporters they had expected her, wanted her to be there, and had no idea where she was. Civil Beat.

While both candidates for Hawaii's 1st Congressional District agreed on the need to lower the cost of living for local residents, they differed on the approaches to take. The differences were highlighted in a candidate forum Wednesday night before several dozen people at the Filipino Community Center in Waipahu. Star-Advertiser.

Charles Djou is so close to possibly winning a seat in Congress that he can almost smell the cherry blossoms that will be blooming next spring in Washington, D.C. With less than a month until Election Day, he and his supporters have the campaign running at full tilt — from candidate forums and coffee hours to phone banking and sign waving. Civil Beat.

Education is a key campaign plank for Hawai'i's gubernatorial candidates. After four years of disappointment, teachers, parents and local communities rejected Gov. Neil Abercrombie, once the great hope of the state's education system. It is now the hope of the state's voters that a judge and educator, such as James "Duke" Aiona; an engineer and legislator, such as David Ige; or a businessman and former mayor, such as Mufi Hannemann, can improve the state's schools and increase student achievement. Maui Weekly.

In a potential partnership with local developers, former Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona said Wednesday that he supports a new initiative that would enable renters to build equity toward down payments on home purchases. Star-Advertiser.

A Honolulu political action committee that ran negative ads slamming incumbent Kohala County Councilwoman Margaret Wille is being looked into by the state Campaign Spending Commission, following complaints from a political activist. West Hawaii Today.

Closing statements are expected in a federal trial that has provided an inside look at the operations of a Hawaii prison gang. Former Halawa Correctional Facility guard Feso Malufau is accused of taking bribes from the “USO Family” gang to smuggle drugs to prisoners. Associated Press.

Hawaii’s troubled Obamacare exchange has a new executive director, and he’ll have a mess to sort out to earn his $150,000 annual salary. Jeffrey Kissel, president and chief executive officer of HawaiiGAS, replaces Hawaii Health Connector Interim Executive Director Tom Matsuda. He will be the third leader of the state insurance exchange in less than a year. Hawaii Reporter.

Opinion: The Nov. 4 election will answer two questions. One is obvious: Which candidates won? The other question has become just as obvious: How did Hawaii’s State Office of Elections screw up this time? Civil Beat.

State roundup for Oct. 9. Associated Press.

Oahu

Three bills designed to combat illegal dumping, grading and related issues on Oahu's agricultural lands won final approval from the Honolulu City Council Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

In response to people and businesses that illegally dump trash, sludge, construction waste and old vehicles in rural land around Waianae, the Honolulu City Council voted on Wednesday to increase fines for illegal dumping island-wide. Civil Beat.

Honolulu Area Rapid Transportation officials showed off new renderings for the final four stations at the Honolulu end of the city's rail line. Hawaii News Now.

In an unprecedented move, the City Council voted 8-1 Wednesday to make public two confidential opinions from city attorneys. The opinions relate to plans to ban or make it more difficult for property owners and developers to convert hotel rooms into condominium units. Star-Advertiser.

Two lawsuits could have the city dishing out more money to pay for a law firm representing them. The City Council approved two resolutions on Wednesday. Each a request to continue services with the law firm representing them. Those services could cost the city up to $150,000 in additional funds. KHON2.

A grand jury declined to indict a Honolulu Police Sergeant caught on surveillance video punching his girlfriend. The video, taken on September 8 at a Waipahu Restaurant, shows Sgt. Darren Cachola hitting the woman. She testified on his behalf Wednesday morning saying they were just playing around. Hawaii News Now.

A grand jury has declined to indict a Honolulu police sergeant who was captured on video apparently punching his girlfriend. Star-Advertiser.

A decorated police officer caught on video taking a swipe at a bystander who was recording an arrest on his iPhone will cost Honolulu taxpayers $37,500. On Wednesday, the Honolulu City Council approved the payout to Randy Salazar Jr., who in a federal lawsuit alleges Officer Robert Steiner broke a bone in his hand after hitting him with a Taser on New Year’s Day 2013. Civil Beat.

There's a heated battle brewing in Hawaii's state senate. District 12 incumbent Brickwood Galuteria is facing a challenge from newcomer Chris Lethem. KITV4.

A state judge expressed concern Wednesday about the handling of a large gambling case by the prosecutor's office that resulted in charges against nine people in connection with sweepstakes gaming machines. Star-Advertiser.

Wahiawa General Hospital, which last week was accused of owing University of Hawaii-affiliated doctors $800,000 in back pay, said this week it withheld the payments because UH owes the hospital more than $1 million from an insurance fraud settlement. Star-Advertiser.

The number of palm-damaging coconut rhinoceros beetles discovered on Oahu continues to rise, with the count close to 2,000 for adults and immature insects uncovered along the isle's south coast, a state official said Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

Outrigger Enterprises Group has submitted a notice of preparation for a supplemental environmental impact statement for its $100 million redevelopment of the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort as part of its Waikiki Beach Walk project. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii

As the June 27 lava flow continues on its trajectory for Pahoa, state health officials are asking lower Puna residents who depend on regular medical treatment to consider evacuating. Patients who receive oxygen, dialysis and other regular care that may require travel to or from Puna via Highway 130 will likely be impacted by lava crossing Highway 130, Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira said Wednesday. Tribune-Herald.

Opponents of the Thirty Meter Telescope say they will continue to pursue court actions to stop the $1.4 billion project and protest its construction following the disruption of its groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday on Mauna Kea. The protest appeared to be the first of its kind on the mountain. Tribune-Herald.

Special video presentation detailing the long road to the TMT groundbreaking using file footage gathered by Big Island Video News from 2008 to today.

A Google-sponsored startup hopes to be testing a new way to generate electricity with wind on the Big Island by this time next year. Makani, formerly Makani Wind, joined with the tech giant last year, the first of what has become the Google X division projects, said Alden Woodrow, business team lead. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Maui Economic Opportunity Transportation will begin moving to its new Puunene facility near the Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum on Monday, but the public will not notice any changes in service, the nonprofit agency said. Maui News.

With the planned historic release of mauka to makai stream flow at ʻĪao planned on Monday, the state Commission on Water Resource Management is seeking assurances that compliance is clear and that the agreement is carried out by parties involved in the contested case. Maui News.

Kauai

The Kauai County Council approved on Wednesday the state’s first variable rate structure aimed at encouraging waste diversion by charging property owners waste collection fees based on how much they throw away. Garden Island.

The Kauai County Council, by a 4-2 vote Wednesday, opted to revisit in two weeks a request for an investigation into what one council member says are numerous violations of county law by the island’s agrochemical industry and large landowners. Garden Island.

Kauai Island Utility Cooperative has started testing energy-efficient LED street lights at four locations as part of its plan to retrofit 3,500 fixtures owned by the County of Kauai and the state of Hawaii. Garden Island.

Molokai

State Department of Health Director Dr. Linda Rosen has a soft spot for Kaluapapa, but her term is nearing its end, and she visited the settlement last week to speak with residents there personally. Molokai Dispatch.