Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Money sought to battle invasive species, Hawaii County mayor signs e-cig ban, FBI probes Honolulu police, UH seeks new AD, nene prompting Maui park closure dies, whale bumps watchers' boat, Hawaiian Host nuts over Mauna Loa macadamias, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Confiscated boa constrictor at Hilo zoo © 2015 All Hawaii News
Hawaii Invasive Species Council coordinator Josh Atwood said the council is seeking an allocation of about $6 million from the state Legislature for fiscal 2016 and 2017. It received $5.75 million for fiscal 2015. The council, which helps coordinate environmental activity in six state departments, is also asking for a larger allocation of conveyance tax revenues, which would help fund the fight against invasive species. Star-Advertiser.

Ex-Chief of Staff Negotiates Revolving Door as Lobbyist. Bruce Coppa leaps from Governor's Office into a top spot with the state's largest lobbying firm, but the government ethics law limits what he can do for now. Civil Beat.

The next chair of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission will have big shoes to fill when Hermina Morita steps down from the agency, which charged with making key decisions affecting the industry's future in the Islands. Pacific Business News.

Commercial fishing fleets operating around the world are now doing so under the watchful gaze of environmentalists who are concerned with overfishing and other violations that have long been going on unnoticed far out to sea. But a new real-time tracking system built by two organizations — Oceana and SkyTruth — in partnership with Google promises to quickly blow the whistle on vessels that move into areas where they’re not supposed to be. Civil Beat.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs made its pre-legislative session presentation to lawmakers last Tuesday, at which time Representative Gene Ward asked OHA CEO Kamana’opono Crabbe about the status of the Nation Building effort. Big Island Video News.

Honolulu-based Hawaiian Host announced Tuesday that it has agreed to buy Hilo-based Mauna Loa from candy-making giant The Hershey Co. for an undisclosed price. Hawaiian Host said it will maintain Mauna Loa as a subsidiary and separate brand. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

FBI investigators are expected to meet Wednesday with the federal public defender who has been insisting he has evidence of corruption in the Honolulu Police Department. It’s not the first time the FBI has investigated HPD. But it’s the first time its generally well-regarded chief, Louis Kealoha, has been at the center of any concerns. Whatever happens, the problems are as serious as any the chief has faced in his 32-year career. Civil Beat.

Video of HPD Chief's mailbox being stolen, is that Puana? Hawaii News Now.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell and the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation are seeking a memorandum of understanding to issue as much as $350 million in bonds to secure short-term financing for the project. Without the bond money, the project could be forced to stop construction at some point in the future, since state procurement law doesn't allow new contracts to be issued without the money to back it up. KITV4.

Micro-units, used shipping containers, prefabricated modular units and other nontraditional but low-cost concepts are being sought from developers wanting to create a mixed-income, mixed-use housing complex on the site of the Hawaii Public Housing Authority's administrative offices. Star-Advertiser.

Prostitution is a diverse, thriving industry in Honolulu, but misinformation about the highly varied nature of sex trafficking makes it harder to change laws that could provide protection to victims. Hawaii Independent.

Institute for Human Services officials say that since they kicked off their first full-time homeless outreach program in Wai­kiki on Nov. 3, the nonprofit has helped 63 of the district's homeless people into shelter or housing. Star-Advertiser.

The University of Hawaii at Manoa has formed a committee to find a new director for the university’s deficit-mired athletics department. Associated Press.

University of Hawaii-Manoa Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman has announced the formation of an eight-person search advisory committee to find a new athletic director, who will be tasked with turning around a department that’s expected to end this year $3.5 million in the hole. Civil Beat.

The troubled Kalihi charter school facing closure by the Public Charter School Commission says it will challenge the decision to revoke its charter contract amid financial and operational problems. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Mayor Billy Kenoi has signed a bill that makes Hawaii County the first in the state restricting the use of electronic cigarettes to the same places traditional tobacco cigarettes can be smoked. West Hawaii Today.

Hawai‘i County residents who smoke e-cigarettes will soon find fewer places where vaping is allowed. Hawai‘i Island Mayor Billy Kenoi signed the bill Tuesday, making it the only county in the state to ban electronic cigarettes from public places where smoking is already prohibited. Hawaii Public Radio.

The Hawaii County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is considering whether to file charges against former County Council District 5 candidate Tiffany Edwards Hunt after police completed their investigation into alleged voting irregularities. Tribune-Herald.

The Waimea community wants its bypass. The Kawaihae Road bypass was on state Department of Transportation project lists for the past eight years — a safety measure the North Hawaii community has agitated for over a period of decades. However, the estimated $265 million road was dropped from priority last summer in favor of a $100 million extension of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway from Mamalahoa Highway to Queen Kaahumanu Highway. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Maui Meadows residents hope that the county will reconsider cutting the South Maui curbside recycling project known as the "3 Can Plan." Maui News.

The nesting nēnē family that prompted closure of Hosmer Grove in Haleakalā National Park on Friday, Jan. 9, lost its young gosling, the park service reported. Maui Now.

Maui campground reopened after young nene found dead. Associated Press.

Passengers on a Maui whale-watching boat had an unexpected up-close-and-personal encounter with a mother and her calf. It happened around 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan.10, about four miles off Lahaina. KHON2.

One local teacher is taking a unique approach to highlight the issue of plastic waste in the ocean and to inspire Hawaii’s youth to be the catalyst for change. Lindy Shapiro, founder of the nonprofit Bodhi Education Project on Maui, plans to take a month-long 750 mile coastal expedition around the Hawaiian Islands by foot and bike. Garden Island.

Kauai

Better days may be ahead for the state’s public hospital system, Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, following a year of tough financial decisions, said Interim HHSC Kauai Region CEO Scott McFarland. Garden Island.

Padraic Gallagher has been hired as the new Kauai County Director of the American Red Cross. He takes over the position on Monday and replaces Keri Russell, who left in October for a job with another nonprofit. Garden Island.