Friday, November 7, 2014

Hawaii House leadership unchanged, public employee overtime out of control, state technology lacking, Augie T hired by Hawaii County mayor, Maui measles van mobilizes, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy photo
Hawaii Legislature 2014 courtesy photo
State House Speaker Joseph Souki will keep power in the House with expanded support from fellow Democrats. House Democrats, meeting privately in caucus Thursday, backed the veteran Maui lawmaker by acclamation. Star-Advertiser.

Joe Souki, speaker of the Hawaii House of Representatives, will remain in his post for another two years. All 43 Democrats — including the handful of new ones elected Tuesday — met today at the Capitol and gave unanimous support to Souki. John Mizuno will also continue as vice speaker. Civil Beat.

Longtime Central Maui Rep. Joe Souki was re-elected House speaker "by acclamation" Thursday, winning the support of his fellow Democrats, avoiding a repeat of a leadership battle and leaving minority Republicans out in the cold. Maui News.

Temporary emergency rules that went into effect Wednesday will continue state-funded medical assistance benefits for noncitizens, including some 13,700 Micronesian migrants, Hawaii officials said. But advocates for noncitizens say the rules will mean more out-of-pocket costs for migrants. Star-Advertiser.

The state Department of Human Services says Gov. Neil Abercrombie has approved temporary emergency rules that will allow non-citizens to receive state-funded medical benefits in Hawaii. The department said Thursday the rules will be in effect for 120 days. Associated Press.

The time a veteran waits in Hawaii and other parts of the Pacific to see a primary care doctor for the first time has dropped to 35 days — a reduction from 110 days since May 15, the head of the system said. Star-Advertiser.

Now that Hawaii knows who the next governor will be, we can take a look at where Gov.-elect David Ige stands on energy. Pacific Business News.

The average daily room rate at Hawaii hotels rose 6.2 percent to $217.60 last week, while the statewide average occupancy rate rose 2.5 percentage points to 71 percent, according to the weekly hotel report from Hospitality Advisors LLC and STR, Inc. Pacific Business News.

Opinion: While fears grow about the feds tracking us too keenly, we should be equally wary of the state's near-inability to track us at all. Civil Beat.

Opinion: Ballot Issue Grew Out of Abercrombie’s Retreat Into Secrecy. The Hawaii governor continued to fight over judicial transparency long after he should have given up.  Civil Beat.

Oahu

Next time the state or city bring up budget cuts, remember this: More than $100 million a year gets shelled out in overtime alone. What’s being done to crack down on this costly problem? KHON2.

Oahu's housing market is looking like it will reach new annual highs this year by producing moderate gains in median prices for a third consecutive year. Star-Advertiser.

The U.S. Navy should be forced to shut down its massive Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Facility unless it double lines its 18 active underground tanks within 10 years to prevent leaks, according to a draft report from a state task force formed to study the facility and make recommendations to the Hawaii Legislature. Civil Beat.

A lawyer who was entrusted with sensitive criminal trial documents that were found unattended in a downtown Hono­lulu restaurant is facing penalties that could include paying for the prosecutors' time and expenses in connection with recovering the missing documents. Star-Advertiser.

The Paiko Lagoon Wildlife Sanctuary is a beautiful part of Oahu, but there is an ugly dispute brewing with some folks who live nearby. The Paiko Lagoon Wildlife Sanctuary is a restricted area, but right across the driveway is the ocean which is not. Hawaii News Now.

After getting a busy signal for two days from the Handi-Van's reservation line, Mary Wilkinson called the telephone company out of frustration Wednesday and had the phone company test Handi-Van's number to be sure it was actually working. Star-Advertiser.

The bench on Kalakaua Avenue across the street from the Waikiki Circle Hotel is in the heart of the city's tourist hub.  The popular place to take a break is also the center of a loophole in the city's sit-and-lie and park closure laws. KITV4.

Halau Lokahi Public Charter School is facing another financial shortfall after Kame­ha­meha Schools declined to provide $1,500 per pupil this academic year, or $238,500. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

The tide has turned on early County Council opposition to an e-cigarette ban at beaches and parks. Riding a wave of apparent public support, the council Public Safety and Mass Transit Committee on Thursday voted 6-2 to forward Bill 302 — outlawing the use of e-cigarettes anywhere tobacco smoking is prohibited — to the County Council with a positive recommendation. West Hawaii Today.

A lull in lava activity is giving officials more time to test methods for re-establishing access over Highway 130 should it be covered by the June 27 flow. Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira told reporters today that the state Department of Transportation on Friday will begin applying aggregate over the portion of Apa‘a Street covered by lava. Tribune-Herald.

The agony of watching and waiting for what many consider inevitable -- even though there's still uncertainty -- is weighing on the residents of Pahoa. Perhaps there's no one who understands better what they're going through than Harry Kim, who served as Hawai'i County's Civil Defense Director for 16 years and another 8 years as Mayor. Hawaii News Now.

No joke. Augie T is the latest addition to Mayor Billy Kenoi’s staff. The award-winning comic is now an executive assistant to the mayor, one of five top aides charged with handling various projects and public relations for the chief county executive. West Hawaii Today.

The National Park Service on Thursday pressed its case that the agency does indeed have the science to back its petition to designate the Keauhou aquifer a state water management area. West Hawaii Today.

The CEO of an electrical power plant under construction in Pepeekeo said the project is “moving forward” despite mounting legal problems, including a foreclosure suit filed by the project’s former general contractor. Tribune-Herald.

Work to reduce wildfire threat on Hawaii Island continued this week as a community meeting was held to generate concerns and solutions. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

A mobile measles treatment area has been set up outside of the Kaiser Maui Lani Clinic in Wailuku as a precautionary measure to prevent additional exposure, officials tell Maui Now.

With the hotly contested and historic genetically modified organism moratorium on Tuesday's ballot, Maui County posted the highest voter turnout rate in the state at 52.7 percent - a reversal from the August primary's lowest turnout of only 33.1 percent.  Maui News.

Kauai

For the past several months, some county officials admit that they have heard their share of complaints from residents who called upon them to cut costs and not raise taxes. Garden Island.