Friday, February 27, 2015

Ige returns from Washington, state economy stagnates, marijuana decriminalization advances, power companies & military top polluters, Hawaiian Electric CEO makes $5.6M, good reviews for Honolulu police chief, Kauai auditor settles, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

photo courtesy Hawaii Governor's Office
Ige at NGO conference, courtesy Governor's Office
Hawaii Gov. David Ige said Thursday that he met with several of members of President Barack Obama’s cabinet during his latest trip to Washington and talked about transportation funding, airports and Native Hawaiian sovereignty, among other topics. Associated Press.

Gov. David Ige took advantage of his recent trip to Washington, D.C., to make a direct pitch to President Barack Obama, encouraging him to choose Hawaii as the location for his presidential library. Ige briefed reporters Thursday about his trip to the National Governors Association Winter Meeting last week as well as a variety of meetings he held with Cabinet members, including Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. David Ige took time Thursday to debrief reporters on his recent visit to Washington, D.C., highlighting his meetings with President Obama, federal officials and other governors. Civil Beat.

Gov. David Ige on Thursday released the names of the people on his transition team who have been advising him on key decisions to appoint members of his Cabinet, including the highly controversial nominee Carleton Ching. The governor’s transition team includes Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui; former vice president of Hawaiian Electric Co. Robbie Alm; real estate attorney Gordon Arakaki; Ige’s campaign manager Keith Hiraoka; University of Hawaii vice president Dan Ishii, who served as an assistant to former Gov. George Ariyoshi; Ige’s longtime office manager Joyce Kami; the governor’s Chief of Staff Mike McCartney; and Lorrie Stone, a land use attorney who is married to developer Jeff Stone. Civil Beat.

Gov. David Ige sent state senators a letter Thursday urging them to support Castle & Cooke lobbyist Carleton Ching to lead the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority says the number of travelers visiting the islands declined 0.6 percent last month over the same month a year ago. Spending by travelers dropped 2.5 percent. Associated Press.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority has set a target of hosting nearly 8.6 million visitors this year, up from the 8.3 million who came last year, despite a dip in January arrivals. The board also set a goal to increase visitor spending to $15.58 billion in 2015. Star-Advertiser.

It's going to be 2014 all over again for the state economy. Hawaii is expected to continue its moderate expansion this year with nominal gains in visitor arrivals, steady labor market improvement and additional income growth, the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization said in a report set for release Friday. Star-Advertiser.

Possession of an ounce or less of marijuana would be punishable by a fine of not more than $100 under a decriminalization bill that is moving through the state Senate. The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday unanimously approved Senate Bill 879 to allow Hawaii to join 19 other states and the District of Columbia that have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. Star-Advertiser.

If Senate Bill 879 becomes law, getting busted with an ounce or less of marijuana would no longer be a petty misdemeanor. Hawaii News Now.

A bill that would relax the state's annual motor vehicle safety check requirement to allow vehicles on the neighbor islands to be inspected just once every two years has won the approval of the key House Consumer Protection Committee. Star-Advertiser.

A full suite of bills related to aquarium fishing continues to move ahead at the state Capitol, and several are set to be heard in the House Committee on Judiciary today. West Hawaii Today.

No Political Pedigree: Can Tulsi Gabbard’s Top Advisor Succeed in D.C.? Many questions surround the Hawaii congresswoman's pick of Kainoa Penaroza as her new chief of staff, mainly his lack of political experience that the job demands. Civil Beat.

It looks more and more like the Obama Presidential Library is headed for Chicago. But Honolulu could play the role of the second city. Hawaii News Now.

Thirty-five Hawaii facilities — mostly power companies, fuel industries and the military — combined to release 3 million pounds of toxic material into the islands' air, water and land in 2013, representing a 12 percent increase from the year before, according to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Star-Advertiser.

Award-winning journalist Naomi Klein blamed Hawaiian Electric Co. for limiting the progress of solar energy during a motivating speech Thursday evening at the University of Hawaii. Civil Beat.

Constance Lau, the president and CEO of Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc., received $5.6 million in total compensation in 2014, more than the $3.8 million in compensation she received the previous year, according to the Honolulu-based firm's 2014 annual report released Thursday. Pacific Business News.

KHON2 has learned the state is issuing an order to Hawaiian Electric following the utility’s decision not to approve solar applications.

The nominating committee for state water commission members is accepting applications for one open position. The state Department of Land and Natural Resources said Wednesday the four-year term for the position begins on July 1. Associated Press.

Oahu


Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha's handling of an incident involving an off-duty officer captured on video punching a woman at a Wai­pahu restaurant may have negatively affected his annual review, but the Hono­­lulu Police Commission still rated his 2014 performance as above average. For the third year in a row, the Police Commission determined Kealoha "exceeds expectation" in his annual review. Star-Advertiser.

According to  Dan Grabauskas, the executive director and CEO of the Honolulu Authority of Rapid Transportation, contract termination would set the city back $1.4 billion on top of the $1.3 billion that's already been spent. Then there are contract obligations at another $400 million and an estimated $100 million to tear down what's already been built. The grand total equals $3.2 billion, or about half what the rail project is now projected to cost. KITV4.

Despite City’s Sit-Lie Crackdown, Homeless Aren’t Moving Into Shelters. Instead, they're moving to other parts of the island as the city enforces bans on sitting and lying on sidewalks in Waikiki and business districts throughout Oahu. Civil Beat.

Bill 82 would create the Waikiki Beach Special Improvement District, where private sector funds would be collected for restoration and improvement projects. However, it's in the language--and the district boundaries---of the bill, where opposition is fervent. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu inflation remained far below its historical average and finished 2014 below the U.S. rate for the first time in 13 years, according to a report released Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Star-Advertiser.

A hotel could be part of a new mixed-use project being planned for the corner of Kapiolani Boulevard and Atkinson Drive in Honolulu across from the Hawaii Convention Center and near Ala Moana Center, the developer told Pacific Business News.

In his State of the City speech Tuesday, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said he wants to tackle that negative perception of the island's parks by pumping $2 million for park refurbishments into the 2016 budget he will submit to the Hono­lulu City Council on Monday. Star-Advertiser.

The University of Hawaii Athletics Department is dealing with a projected $3.5 million deficit. But the department received a big donation from an unknown angel. An anonymous donor has given the athletics department $1.2 million. KHON2.

Hawaii

Some landscape companies are crying foul over a new county policy requiring them to truck their green waste to the Puuanahulu or Hilo landfills and pay a tipping fee to dispose of it. The requirements and tipping fee have been on the books since 2005, but Mayor Billy Kenoi’s administration delayed implementing them during the recession. The law is slated to go into effect Monday. West Hawaii Today.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s chief scientist will step aside next month to focus on research. Associated Press.

Naalehu will lose its only grocery store today after Island Market shuts its doors. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

A monthlong debate among Maui County Council members over whether to confirm the appointment of Maui County Prosecuting Attorney John D. Kim may come to a head at a special council meeting scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Maui News.

Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. has grown sugar cane in Central Maui for more than a century, but a company official said Wednesday that the last sugar plantation in Hawaii is now looking to move into biofuel production. Maui News.

Hawaii’s last sugar cane plantation wants to transition to growing plants for energy. But it hasn’t found another crop that grows as well as sugar cane in a variety of soils or one that can stand up to Maui’s strong winds. Associated Press.

Hawaii's last remaining sugar plantation might not stay a sugar plantation for long. An official with Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company says it has been looking into diversifying its crop, possibly moving more toward biofuel. Hawaii Public Radio.

The infestation of little fire ants in Nahiku is unlike any other in the state - and that may mean that eradicating one of the world's worst invasive species is hopeless if it's not dealt with quickly, an international ant expert said. Maui News.

Kauai

Kauai County Auditor Ernesto Pasion has reached a settlement in his retaliation and whistleblowers complaint against the county. Garden Island.

Kukui Grove Center installed a combination recycle and trash solar-powered system Wednesday in the food court area fronting the Starbucks Coffee and Jamba Juice  — making the shopping center the first in Hawaii to make the transition to such high-tech waste reducing bins. Garden Island.

The Garden Isle saw the biggest increase in visitor arrivals in January while overall traffic to the state was down slightly compared to the year before, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Garden Island.