Thursday, November 6, 2014

Monsanto, Dow, to sue over Maui GMO, Kauai Council won't repeal GMO law, state Senate reorganizes, Inouye library restarts, Sunshine violations charged in Big Island water fight, Ige rode big swell of support, iconic Fisherman's Warf coming down, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

University of Hawaii scientist
GMO seed corn research, courtesy University of Hawaii
A day after Tuesday's stunning election victory of a Maui County moratorium on genetically engineered crops, the new law appeared destined to share the fate of similar measures in Kauai and Hawaii counties -- being decided in the courts. Monsanto, the agricultural giant that operates two farms in Maui County, said Wednesday that the company and "allied parties" will ask the court to declare the initiative legally flawed and unenforceable. Star-Advertiser.

Biotech giants Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences are poised to legally challenge Maui County’s temporary moratorium on cultivating genetically engineered crops. Both companies issued statements to that effect Wednesday morning after Maui County voters on Tuesday narrowly approved a ballot initiative imposing the ban even though its advocates were outspent by a ratio of 87 to 1. Civil Beat.

Monsanto Hawaiʻi responded to the passage of a moratorium on genetically modified organisms in Maui County by releasing a statement this morning, and also confirming that a lawsuit will be filed challenging the legality of the initiative. Maui Now.

Maui County spokesman Rod Antone says the county is finalizing how much manpower and equipment will be needed to implement a new law temporarily banning the cultivation of genetically engineered crops. Antone says Mayor Alan Arakawa's administration will need to get approval for a budget amendment once it finalizes the resources needed. Associated Press.

Gov.-elect David Ige is making news in Japan as the first person of Okinawan descent to be elected a U.S. governor. Star-Advertiser.

Gov.-elect David Ige claimed 44 of the state's 51 House districts, a Honolulu Star-Advertiser analysis shows, taking the neighbor islands and all but portions of the west side, North Shore and Windward Oahu. Star-Advertiser.

Increasingly indifferent voters and a state where public life is overwhelmingly dominated by one political party contributed to a record-breaking low voter turnout rate of 52.3 percent in Tuesday's general election, according to several experts who spoke to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser Wednesday. The experts also said Republicans James "Duke" Aiona, a candidate for governor, and Charles Djou, the 1st Congressional District nominee, could have benefited immensely from higher voter turnout Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

Voter turnout for the 2014 General Election was the lowest since Statehood in 1959, when nearly 94 percent of Hawai’i voters cast ballots. Hawaii Public Radio.

The Hawaii state Senate has reorganized its leadership following Tuesday’s elections. Donna Mercado Kim will remain president and Les Ihara will remain policy leader. But other top jobs have new faces. Civil Beat.

State Senate President Donna Mercado Kim will preside over a new leadership coalition in the Senate that includes a new vice president and majority leader and changes to the influential Senate Ways and Means and Judiciary and Labor committees. Senate Democrats met privately Wednesday to reorganize after Tuesday's election results. Star-Advertiser.

Governor-elect David Ige might find himself surrounded by fellow Democrats when he begins his new job next month, but the same can't be said of Hawaii's congressional delegates. KITV4.

Hawaii’s two Democratic U.S. senators will be in the minority when they return to Washington, D.C. in January 2015. So what will that mean for the billions of dollars in federal funding for the islands, especially just two years after the death of Sen. Daniel Inouye? KHON2.

One year after the University of Hawaii agreed to slow down hurried plans to build a center to honor the late U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, university officials want to spend $5 million to complete the design phase of the project, which could break ground in a year to 18 months. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii voters turned down two of five constitutional amendments, including one that would have allowed the use of taxpayer funds for private preschool education. Another amendment that would have allowed judges to remain on the bench until 80 years old instead of retiring by their 70th birthday as the constitution now requires, was soundly defeated with 73 percent of the voters opposed. Hawaii Reporter.

Opinion: Now that the political campaign circus has finally left town, all of us should clear our heads and focus on the form of citizen participation that is far more important than voting. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration is hiring a consultant to help assess whether it’s safe to relocate some 100 homeless people to a vacant lot on Sand Island after reports surfaced in September that the soil could contain high levels of contaminants left over from ash and solid waste dumps. Civil Beat.

A $390 million condominium tower and flagship Whole Foods Market proposed for Kakaako on the site of an Office Depot store and former home of Nordstrom Rack got a largely favorable public response Wednesday at a state hearing. Star-Advertiser.

The iconic 67-year-old Fisherman's Wharf building at Kewalo Basin in Honolulu is getting closer to being demolished. The state Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which owns the shuttered restaurant building at 1011 Ala Moana Blvd., was recently issued a permit to demolish the 7,441-square-foot, two-story building, which has become an eyesore over the years. Pacific Business News.

Deputy prosecutor involved in state's largest rave. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii

The state Commission on Water Resource Management is being accused of violating the Sunshine Law during site visits to the Big Island in September and October. West Hawaii Today.

The front of the June 27 lava flow, stalled for a week near Pahoa Village Road, might not move another inch after cooling significantly, according to a Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist. Tribune-Herald.

The lava from Kilauea Volcano continues to flow, but the cooling at its front matched with sluggish upslope breakouts may indicate some relief for Pahoa Village residents. Star-Advertiser.

An environmental review for constructing an emergency access route along a lava-covered section of a Hawaii road identifies concerns including the spread of invasive species and possible harm to endangered birds. Associated Press.

Significant progress has been made on the Chain of Craters Kalapana Road, according to a spokesperson from Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Big Island Now.

The public is reminded that classifications of certain crimes are elevated during an emergency declaration that's in effect for lava flowing in the Puna district. Mayor Billy Kenoi proclaimed a state of emergency for the Puna district on Sept. 4. Associated Press.

Maui

If it had been up to voters on Molokai and Lanai, the Maui County ballot initiative to prohibit GMO farming would have been rejected — although just barely on Lanai. The measure to ban the cultivation of genetically engineered crops until the county studies its health impacts squeaked by on Election Day despite majority opposition in two of the county’s three islands. Civil Beat.

Leaders from the two sides of the GMO debate share their thoughts after Maui County voters passed a moratorium on further GMO production yesterday. Hawaii Independent.

Kauai

The Kauai County Council on Wednesday rejected a proposal that would have repealed Ordinance 960, the county’s law regulating the disclosure and use of pesticides and genetically modified organisms by large-scale commercial agriculture companies. Garden Island.

The Kauai County Council killed a bill that proposed to repeal a controversial pesticides and genetically modified crops' regulation law. Star-Advertiser.

After tallying the highest voter turnout in a primary election in 12 years back in August, Kauai led the state in Tuesday’s general election with the highest percentage of registered voters making their way to the polls. Garden Island.

Jay Furfaro says he has had a good run as a public servant. For the past two decades, the 66-year-old Princeville resident has served three years on the Planning Commission, spent two years working on the county’s general plan, and held his spot on the Kauai County Council for seven terms. Garden Island.