Friday, March 27, 2015

$11M preparing for tech bids lost, state seeks broadband help, construction to grow 9.4%, Hawaiian Electric catching up on PV applications, Kauai space launch delayed, Chinese tourists drive visitor stats, more government and politics news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy Damon Tucker
Computer e-waste recycling, courtesy Damon Tucker
After the state spent more than $11 million developing a request for proposals for new computer technology to make government more efficient, the Ige administration is now scrapping the solicitation but promises the money has not been wasted. Star-Advertiser.

A panel of experts at the Hawaii Venture Capital Association luncheon on Thursday discussed the state’s need for broadband, which actions are needed to make it a reality and ways that higher bandwidth can be used. Pacific Business News.

Construction spending is forecast to rise 9.4 percent this year to $7.6 billion, the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization said. Star-Advertiser.

The construction industry isn’t growing as quickly as economists had expected. That’s according to a new report by the University of Hawai‘i Economic Research Organization. Despite a surge of activity on Oahu, the annual forecast says residential building permits actually fell last year. Hawaii Public Radio.

Visitor arrivals to Hawai‘i rose slightly last month, up a little more than 2% compared to a year earlier. Visitor spending fell by a little more than 4%. One group with higher numbers: the Chinese. Hawaii Public Radio.

A plan to allow tourists who are ripped off during their Hawaii vacations to testify against the suspects by way of videoconferencing was rejected by state lawmakers this week, and it appears the idea is dead for the year. Star-Advertiser.

The push to allow for medical marijuana dispensaries in Hawaii — some 15 years after state leaders permitted medical use of the drug — continues to advance through the Legislature, with key lawmakers in support saying they hope to give the state's nearly 13,000 medical pot patients access to such outlets by early 2016. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaiian Electric Industries CEO Connie Lau made it clear during her closing speech Thursday at the Maui Energy Conference that the company will continue to pursue liquefied natural gas as a “bridge fuel.” Civil Beat.

Hawaiian Electric Co. said Thursday it has approved all rooftop solar applications on Maui and Hawaii island waiting since at least October for the go-ahead. Star-Advertiser.

The Nominating Committee to the State Commission on Water Resource Management will meet Tuesday to review personnel applications and select nominees to fill one position on the State Commission on Water Resource Management. Hawaii Independent.

State taxpayers will pay $418,500 to settle three cases of wrongful terminations of public school employees. Hawaii News Now.

Oahu

Seeking public input, city aims to lock away prime Oahu farmland. More than 56,000 acres is eyed for inclusion on a map that puts limits on urban development. Star-Advertiser.

The state fears the little fire ant infestation in Waimanalo could get worse. That’s because a group of people have been going in and out of the area that’s infested with the ants. On Friday, the state attorney general’s office will file a temporary restraining order against the group, hoping a judge orders them off the property. KHON2.

City considers fencing Kapalama Canal to move out homeless. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii

While the June 27 lava flow is not dead, the downgrading of the threat from Kilauea volcano Wednesday could provide the Federal Emergency Management Agency with a closing date for the disaster. If that occurs, FEMA spokeswoman Kelly Hudson said the agency would continue to process requests for disaster relief funds but could limit reimbursement to expenses that occurred before March 25. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii County Fire Department operations in West Hawaii are not being jeopardized by recent turmoil in the office that resulted in two battalion chiefs being put on paid leave, a top-ranking Fire Department official said this week. West Hawaii Today.

As the site preparation for the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope gets underway, the opposition to the $1.3 billion observatory has taken to Mauna Kea. Big Island Video News.

Several dozen demonstrators assembled Thursday along Mauna Kea Access Road, where organizers say protesters plan to camp out indefinitely in hopes of halting work atop Mauna Kea on what is expected to be the world's largest telescope. Star-Advertiser.

As cars tear up and down residential streets and along roadways in Kona, those who live closest to the lead-footed driving are increasingly calling on the county to erect speed humps to rein drivers in. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

The state is threatening to seize several private boats in Lahaina over a lease dispute. Hawaii News Now.

Having Maui County glean 100 percent of its energy needs from renewable energy sources has long been a vision for Mayor Alan Arakawa, but achieving that goal will take time and technological advances, utility officials said Wednesday. Maui News.

Maui County plans to replace its streetlights with more efficient LED lighting, following other counties in Hawaii, including Honolulu and Kauai. Pacific Business News.

Maui County is Hawaii's healthiest county with its active residents and many opportunities for exercise, according to a study released Wednesday by a national health foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. Maui News.

Kauai

The University of Hawaii's first space launch has been delayed three times since 2013, with liftoff of the low-cost, small-satellite delivery system pushed back from January to the fall due to technology and timing issues, officials said. Star-Advertiser.

Traffic congestion. U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz wants to hit it head on, not only for Hawaii’s sake, but all other states that are faced with similar challenges. Garden Island.

Kauai District Engineer Ray McCormick of the Hawaii Department of Transportation will be the featured speaker at the Wailua-Kapaa Neighborhood Association’s meeting at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Kapaa Library. The talk is free and open to the public. Garden Island.