Friday, February 6, 2015

Hawaiian monk seal protection sought, agriculture home-rule battle in Legislature, Maui County bails on anti-GMO group, police reports show officers disciplined, House won't tax REITs, shipping costs to drop while strike looms, more government and political news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaiian monk seal snoozes in the sun © 2015 All Hawaii News
An environmental group Thursday recommended that the federal government spend more to help prevent critically endangered Hawaiian monk seals from becoming extinct. Associated Press.

The Marine Conservation Institute is calling for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to “redouble its efforts” to conserve and recover the endangered Hawaiian monk seal. Garden Island.

A tug of war over control of the agriculture industry's use of pesticides and genetically modified crops is playing out in the Legislature as lawmakers consider bills that would limit counties' regulatory abilities and create pesticide buffer zones around schools. Associated Press.

Kona coffee growers and state lawmakers are renewing their push for more accurate labeling and greater quantities of the real thing in blends of java being sold under the Kona label. West Hawaii Today.

As lava continues to flow into Pahoa, a measure that aims to give journalists better access to emergency sites continues to wend its way through the state Senate but has stalled in the House. Star-Advertiser.

Lawmakers consider triple-time pay for holiday retail workers. KHON2.

Gov. David Ige announced Thursday afternoon that he wants Leonard Hoshijo to be the deputy director in the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, while the top job remains unfilled. Civil Beat.

Veteran labor union official Leonard Hoshijo was nominated by Gov. David Ige Thursday to be the deputy director in the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. Star-Advertiser.

House Scraps Bill to Remove Tax Break for Prime Real Estate. It’s up to Hawaii senators to decide whether to advance a bill imposing a corporate income tax on investment trusts that own lucrative properties. Civil Beat.

The House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection conducted a hearing yesterday on pesticide applications around schools and hospitals. Hawaii Public Radio.

Honolulu, Maui and Hawaii island police officers were disciplined in a total of 110 misconduct incidents and eight officers were discharged in 2014, according to annual reports submitted to the Legislature by the four county police departments. Star-Advertiser.

Matson Inc., the state's largest ocean cargo transportation firm, is following the recent plunge in oil prices with a plunge of its own by reducing its fuel surcharge by a record amount. Honolulu-based Matson announced Thursday that it will reduce the charge by 7 percentage points — to 24.5 percent from 31.5 percent — effective Sunday in response to falling bunker fuel prices. Star-Advertiser.

West Coast shipping docks could shut down in the next four to 10 days, but Hawaii's air cargo companies told Pacific Business News they are prepared to add services to make up for a potential lockout.Hawaii relies on ships for more than 90 percent of incoming delivery of goods.

Opinion: The U.S. Army is largely leaving Hawaii, but Maui Rep. Kaniela Ing is the only state official happy about it. Mauitime.

Opinion: We Need to Right the Wrongs for Struggling Native Hawaiians. Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians need to come together to improve the plight of our people. Civil Beat.

Oahu

A federal oversight committee is blasting Honolulu’s rail project, calling it “alarming” and “not sufficient.” A new review looked at the rising cost of building the rail system, putting the project at $500 million to $600 million over-budget. KHON2.

Over the next four weeks, as a six-month improvement project gets underway on the popular Makapuu Trail, its mile-long path to the lighthouse will be closed on weekdays. Beginning Monday, contractors of Haron Construction Inc. will begin repair and construction work along the trail. The project is estimated to cost $2.7 million. Star-Advertiser.

Two former Honolulu Zoo directors said the nonprofit Honolulu Zoo Society is failing to help the zoo that's in dire need of financial assistance, just a year before it faces a crucial re-accreditation inspection. The society gives the zoo only about 10 percent of its annual budget in direct assistance, but the head of the group said it provides valuable support to the zoo in other ways. Hawaii News Now.

The massive fuel leak at Sand Island may have started a month before it was first reported. A report by the EPA says that Hawaii Fueling Facilities Corp. noticed a large loss of volume in its No. 2 tank back on Dec. 22, or nearly a month before it reported the leak. Hawaii News Now.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell and officials from the city’s Department of Planning and Permitting will host a public workshop on Tuesday, February 10 from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. to discuss the renovation of the Neal S. Blaisdell Center. Civil Beat.

Nearly two dozen University of Hawaii-Manoa degree programs that faced possible closure for producing few graduates have been spared from the chopping block — for now. The state House Higher Education Committee on Thursday tabled House Bill 555, which proposed shutting down small undergraduate programs that persistently award fewer than 10 degrees a year. Star-Advertiser.

A Honolulu police officer accused of assaulting his ex-girlfriend used his position of authority to intimidate her into keeping silent about his ongoing abuse, the victim told the Hono­lulu Star-Advertiser on Thursday.

Hawaii

A divided County Council voted Wednesday evening not to endorse a non-binding resolution asking the county’s attorneys to file a lawsuit against Puna Geothermal Venture to prevent it from drilling a new well at night. Tribune-Herald.

Three Hawaii Police Department officers were fired last year and 14 suspended for misconduct ranging from improperly filing reports to not arresting a suspect, according to an annual report submitted recently to the state Legislature. West Hawaii Today.

Dozens of security officers at Kona International Airport will hold a vote today on whether to join a union. West Hawaii Today.

A leak in the June 27 lava flow’s tube system near Pu‘u ‘O‘o is helping to reduce activity at its farthest edge. Tribune-Herald.

The number of single-family homes on Hawaii's Big Island jumped 30 percent in January, when compared with the same month the year before, while the median price rose 9 percent, according to Hawaii Information Service on behalf of Hawaii Island Realtors. Pacific Business News.

Maui
Members of the SHAKA Movement (Sustainable Hawaiian Agriculture for the Keiki and the ‘Āina) are expressing outrage at a recent Maui County decision to take “no position” on defending the moratorium on GMO cultivation in Maui County. Maui Now.

John D. Kim was recommended for reappointment as Maui County's prosecuting attorney on Wednesday, following a five-hour meeting of the Maui County Council Policy and Intergovernmental Affairs committee conducted mostly behind closed doors. Maui News.

South Maui residents will get to keep their recycling bins while the county deliberates whether or not it should cease, continue or expand its pilot "3 Can Plan." Maui News.

A California engineer and developer, who has sought to build hydropower facilities on Maui in the past, is trying again with a unique seawater project on the south side of the island. Maui News.

Kauai

Developers seeking to rebuild the historic Coco Palms Resort will have to do a little extra legwork before any ground is broken. Kauai County Historic Preservation Review Commissioners on Thursday gave their unanimous stamp of approval to current plans by Coco Palms Hui LLC to redevelop, restore and repair the Wailua hotel, which has been shuttered since Hurricane Iniki buffeted the island in 1992. Garden Island.

Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. recently returned from a trip to Washington D.C., where he attended the 83rd winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. While there, the mayor met with Hawaii’s congressional delegation and other key contacts, and attended the State of the Union event. Garden Island.

The median price of a condominium on Kauai rose 39 percent in January on fewer sales, while sales of single-family homes increased by 65 percent, according to the Hawaii Information Service on behalf of the Kauai Board of Realtors. Pacific Business News.