Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Honolulu Zoo loses another director, panhandler civil rights lawsuit settlement nears, Ige names more top staff, Maui harbor drains $7M from state budget, lava follows new path, state arts foundation audited, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Honolulu Zoo © 2015 All Hawaii News
Jeffrey Wilkinson, director of the Honolulu Zoo since April, announced his resignation to zoo staff Sunday. Wilkinson is the fourth zoo director to resign in the past five years, and the third since March 2013. Star-Advertiser.

Elizabeth Kim, part of a senior leadership team that advises the U.S. secretary of labor, has been named state labor director, Gov. David Ige's office announced Monday. The governor also announced the hiring of Hono­lulu public relations professional Cindy McMillan as his administration's director of communications. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige has chosen Elizabeth Kim to head the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations and Cindy McMillan to be his communications director. Civil Beat.

The state agency responsible for helping the public access government-controlled information and ensure public meetings remain as open as possible has been mired in a backlog so big its rulings are often irrelevant by the time they’re issued. Yet relief appears nowhere in sight for the Hawaii Office of Information Practices as Gov. David Ige’s term begins and the Legislature gets set to work on his proposed biennium budget, which despite a modest increase only gives the agency half the resources it had 20 years ago. Civil Beat.

The Hawai‘i Health Connector — beset by delays, computer malfunctions and low enrollment since its inception in late 2013 — expects to be self-sufficient by 2022. Star-Advertiser.

On the eve of the 2015 legislative session, Hawaii Public Radio’s Noe Tanigawa takes a look at a recent auditor’s report on the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts.

Oahu

State regulators have approved a wind farm planned for Kahuku despite objections from members of the North Shore community and concerns from Hawaii’s consumer advocate that the developer should have completed its environmental review of the project first. Civil Beat.

A Honolulu city councilman is looking for ways to boost regulation on vacation rentals on Hawaii’s most populous island. Associated Press.

For years, Kapaa Quarry Road has been used as an illegal dump site by people getting rid of trash, equipment, even furniture. Residents and lawmakers say it’s long been a problem with no clear solution and it sits right next to the Kawainui Marsh. KHON2.

The lei sellers at the Honolulu International Airport say their daily struggle to stay in business would be eased if they had 15-year leases like they did in the past, and more respect. Civil Beat.

Hawaii

A settlement is in the works in a civil rights lawsuit filed against the county by a Kailua-Kona man cited for panhandling last year. West Hawaii Today.

The June 27 lava flow could begin following a new path as breakouts upslope of the stalled front advance to the north. Darryl Oliveira, Hawaii County Civil Defense administrator, said the most active breakout was located about 1.5 miles from Pahoa Marketplace as of Monday morning. It had advanced about 200 yards to the north in 24 hours. Tribune-Herald.

Daily nonstop flights between Kona and Haneda, Japan, could begin as early as June 1, if Hawaiian Airlines Inc. is successful in its application with the U.S. Department of Transportation. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii Island health care providers are seeing a recent spike in cases of the flu. Hilo Medical Center reports that in the last month its influenza rate has risen about four times higher than normal, and Kona Community Hospital said Monday it has already confirmed 24 cases of the flu since New Year’s Day. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

It was supposed to be a part of the state's plan to revitalize the Maalaea Harbor on Maui. But for the past 20 years, the 1.1-acre dirt lot has remained undeveloped with Hawaii taxpayers footing the bill. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources has paid more than $7 million -- or about $1,000 a day -- to lease the property that's used only to store old boats, buoys and other ocean equipment. Hawaii News Now.

The new year brought entirely new Maui County Council leadership–exactly what was predicted shortly after the November 2014 election. Mike White is the new Council Chairman and Don Guzman is the new Vice Chairman. Maui Time.

Kauai

Ulupono Initiative, the same investment company backing Hawaii Dairy Farms’ proposed dairy in Mahaulepu Valley on Kauai’s south side, has its sights on purchasing the last locally owned and operated large-scale dairy in the state. Garden Island.