Friday, January 23, 2015

Former Gov. Lingle takes job with Illinois governor, military in Hawaii: love it or lose it, marijuana decriminalization on legislative agenda, doc shortage worsens, broadband lagging, breathing life into Coco Palms, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Former Gov. Linda Lingle in 2012 campaign © 2015 All Hawaii News
n a move that could signal the end of her political career in Hawaii, former Gov. Linda Lingle on Thursday was tapped by the new Republican governor of Illinois to serve as a senior adviser working to help turn around that state's sinking finances. Star-Advertiser.

Former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle is headed for Illinois to serve as the chief operating officer for Gov. Bruce Rauner. Civil Beat.

Legislative leaders from the Hawaii House of Representatives say they plan to focus on fixing infrastructure, encouraging business and increasing participation in government in the new legislative session. Associated Press.

House Democrats held a news conference Thursday afternoon at the Capitol to announce the majority caucus legislative package but offered little in the way of details about any of the priorities they plan to focus on this session, which convened Wednesday. Civil Beat.

Lawmakers in Hawaii are beginning to introduce a series of bills that aim to make marijuana more freely available in the state. A bill to decriminalize marijuana is currently being drafted, said Sen. Will Espero, chairman of the Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs Committee. That bill would reduce punishment for using marijuana to a civil violation instead of a felony, he said. Associated Press.

Genetically Modified or Engineered crops will be a hot topic at the Legislature this session. And lawmakers could learn from a Hawai’i State Bar Association forum that looked at the issue from a purely legal standpoint. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii’s doctor shortage is getting worse, and it’s getting especially difficult to find a physician on neighboring islands. Associated Press.

Feverish and aching patients continue to inundate Hawaii's overstressed health care system during a flu season that has no end in sight. Star-Advertiser.

One boat sank, several beaches around the state were closed, and state facilities on Hawaii island sustained minor damage from high surf that is expected to stick around statewide until 6 p.m. Saturday. Star-Advertiser.

Opinion: The Army in Hawaii: Fight to Save It, Prepare to Lose It. Business leaders are right to pull out all the stops to preserve the Army's Hawaii presence at its current level, but we also need to start thinking about what comes next if major cuts are made. Civil Beat.

Opinion: A case for army downsizing in Hawaii. Why the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii and our Congressional delegates have it wrong. Hawaii Independent.

Broadband internet access is both a luxury for modern entertainment and a necessity for business. But Hawaii is falling behind when it comes to fast connections. Hawaii Public Radio.

The University of Hawaii is studying the possibility of selling off investments in companies that produce fossil fuels. The university's Board of Regents on Thursday appointed a task group to examine the feasibility and desirability of such a move. Associated Press.

On Thursday, Yelp released its second annual list of Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S., and eight Hawaii eateries have made the cut. KHON2.

Oahu

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s desire to protect $210 million in federal bus funding means the city’s $6 billion rail project needs even more money than officials had recently announced. Civil Beat.

Honolulu police and prosecutors have gotten tough on suspected pimps — more than 45 times tougher than three years ago. Civil Beat.

Two high-profile employees at the Hawaii Theatre Center will lose their jobs Jan. 31 as part of a plan to reduce costs that have left the Chinatown venue in the red for the past five years. Star-Advertiser.

Paying around $3 a gallon for gas thrills most Honolulu drivers, but it's less of a joy when you learn the average cost should be $2.49 if our prices had dropped as much as they did on the mainland in the last year. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

The Hawaii County Council has entered a new era of accessibility to the public — starting today, council and committee meetings will be streamed live on the county’s website. West Hawaii Today.

A settlement is in the works between Hawaii County and the state Department of Health, which last year fined the county more than $350,000 for violations at two landfills. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii Island’s doctor shortage grew by 17 percent in the last year. The need for physicians in 2014 was estimated at 554, but only 327 were practicing on the island, according to the latest figures from the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine’s Area Health Education Center. That puts the island’s shortage at 41 percent of its need, far ahead of the statewide shortage of 24 percent. Tribune-Herald.

More than a dozen West Hawaii beaches were closed Thursday because of warning-level surf aloha west-facing shores of the Big Island. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

The Maui Mayor's Office of Economic Development issued over $4.64 million in grant funds to local organizations over the last six months. Pacific Business News.

Homeless shelters have effectively become affordable housing on Maui, according to governmental and nonprofit agencies speaking at a panel discussion Wednesday night at the Maui Economic Opportunity Conference Room. Maui News.

After moving its monthly meeting Wednesday to the University of Hawaii Maui College, the Maui Police Commission had its biggest public turnout in more than a year. Maui News.

If Maui County residents think it's tough to get a doctor appointment now, then just wait - a statewide physician's shortage will worsen as nearly a third of Hawaii's practicing doctors have reached retirement age, according to a University of Hawaii study submitted to state lawmakers this week. Maui News.

Kauai

As a place that once served as the home of Kauai’s last reigning queen, Deborah Kapule Kekaiha‘akulou, and the backdrop for the 1961 film “Blue Hawaii” starring Elvis Presley, there is no dearth of historical features at Coco Palms Resort. Preserving that history while paving the way for a new Coco Palms Resort, however, is a question that several state and county agencies are still wrestling with. Garden Island.

A circuit court judge Tuesday ruled in favor of the County of Kauai and the Planning Commission in response to the county’s lawsuit against a Hanalei resident’s unpermitted boatyard operation. Garden Island.

A mariner’s union said a lawsuit filed against a tug operator for negligence is full of errors. Garden Island.