Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Hawaii tourism hot, audit finds University of Hawaii funds lacking, Obama meets with school chums, task force recommends medical marijuana dispensaries, $100M for Oahu roads, shopkeepers want to return to Pahoa despite lava threat, gaming company sues Honolulu prosecutor, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Girls at Waikiki surfboard rental © 2014 All Hawaii News
Hawaii's tourism industry is on track to reach another record number of visitors and spending in 2014, for the third year in a row. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s tourism industry is on track to contribute nearly $300 million more to the state’s economy compared with last year, according to data from the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Civil Beat.

More than a quarter of the so-called special funds and revolving funds maintained by the University of Hawaii — including the Manoa athletics special fund — do not meet legislative criteria and should be repealed or reclassified, a state audit released Tuesday concluded. Star-Advertiser.

The state auditor’s office, led by Jan Yamane, has found that 17 of 65 funding sources for the University of Hawaii have at least one thing wrong with them and some should be repealed altogether because they no longer serve their original purpose. Civil Beat.

Since returning to his childhood home this month on vacation, President Barack Obama has spent a good part of most days cloistered with three people whose company puts him at ease. They're not his wife and daughters, who came with him, but a trio of pals whose friendship dates back to Obama's high school days in Hawaii. Star-Advertiser.

The Medical Marijuana Dispensary Task Force has finished its work and recommended that the state establish dispensaries to make it easier for patients with certain conditions like cancer, glaucoma and HIV, among others, to get the drug legally. KHON2.

Management of individually owned vacation units is handled differently statewide, but their spread has created similar controversy across the islands. The one exception is Hawaii island, where officials say creating extra places for visitors to stay is mostly welcomed. Star-Advertiser.

Blake Oshiro is rejoining the law firm of Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing to work on its government relations team. Oshiro spent the past three years as deputy chief of staff to Gov. Neil Abercrombie. Civil Beat.

2014 in review: Top news was Ige's election and No. 2, Pele's projection. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu

City officials are spending more than $100 million annually to dig out from years of road-repair neglect, and new data show that paving crews are sustaining their scheduled pace to fix the worst of the island's city-owned roads. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu City Council will inaugurate new members this week. Hawaii Supreme Court Associate Justice Sabrina McKenna is scheduled to administer the oath of office on Friday. Associated Press.

Honolulu's controversial $5.16 billion elevated rail project saw some highs and lows in 2014, the former when courts cleared the way for the project, the latter as the agency charged with overseeing the project reveals mounting costs beyond what was budgeted. Pacific Business News.

The lead defendant in a state case regarding gambling machines is suing the city, Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro, the two deputies Kaneshiro assigned to the case and a department investigator for allegedly knowingly presenting false information to the grand jury that returned an indictment against him. Star-Advertiser.

It was one of the largest white-collar crime cases in Hawaii history. But one month after a state judge tossed the case, the main defendant is suing. In a Circuit Court lawsuit filed today, Tracy Yoshimura accuses Honolulu Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro of malicious prosecution. Hawaii News Now.

Neighbors of the 7000 Hawaii Kai Drive project by Avalon are beginning to get a sense of what they have to look forward to by the summer of 2016. Civil Beat.

Hawaii

Lava continues to close in on Pahoa Marketplace, but some businesses that fled earlier this month already inquired with Hawaii County Civil Defense about returning. Tuesday morning’s overflight of the June 27 lava flow revealed the leading edge crept 40 yards further downslope within 24 hours, bringing it to within a half-mile of Highway 130 and 660 yards from the rear of the marketplace. Tribune-Herald.

The only Hawaii-owned and operated large-scale dairy left in the state is in the process of being sold to Ulupono Initiative, Hawaii News Now has learned. Ed Boteilho, whose family has owned and operated Cloverleaf Dairy in the Big Island's Kohala district since 1962, said he's in the process of selling his nearly 900-acre dairy to Ulupono Initiative, the investment company financed by eBay founder, billionaire Pierre Omidyar.

The Nature Conservancy has purchased a 222-acre property at the southern end of Hawaii Island. The conservation organization announced the purchase of the parcel, known as Kahuku Iki, in a Tuesday afternoon news release. West Hawaii Today.

The number of people visiting Hawaii Island rose 4.8 percent and spending climbed 6.8 percent in November compared to the same month in 2013, the Hawaii Tourism Authority reported Tuesday. West Hawaii Today.

The average statewide price of gas has declined 43 cents from New Year’s Eve a year ago. Still, paying an average $3.51 a gallon for regular while the national average stands at $2.27 may have Hawaii drivers wondering why prices here haven’t fallen more quickly than they have. And West Hawaii drivers may be wondering why they’re still having to pony up an average of $3.78 a gallon for regular. West Hawaii Today.

A strong ahi catch late in the year should help East Hawaii residents ring in 2015 with plenty of sashimi and poke on their plates and perhaps a few extra dollars in their pocket. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Based on the 30 or so private Lear, Gulfstream and Falcon jets parked earlier this week on the Haleakala side of Kahului Airport, there are quite a few of the rich and famous spending their holiday season on Maui. Maui News.

Kauai

A bill relating to additional dwelling units recently passed by the Kauai County Council, was signed into law by Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. The new law, Ordinance 981, extends the deadline for obtaining a building permit from Dec. 15, 2014, to Dec. 15, 2024, for property owners that obtained an ADU facilities clearance form before June 16, 2007. Garden Island.

Molokai

After a nearly yearlong closure, Kaunakakai's main hub will reopen Tuesday with new renovations completed. Maui News.