Monday, March 16, 2015

Tulsi Gabbard's plan to stay in U.S. House changes state political dynamic; budget, open-government bills in state Legislature, voter turnout up, invasive species feared from Japan tsunami, Hong Kong investment capital, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Tulsi Gabbard campaigns in 2012 file photo © 2015 All Hawaii News
Scratch all the talk that Tulsi Gabbard might challenge Brian Schatz for his U.S. Senate seat in 2016. Schatz, the senator from Hawaii, is co-hosting a fundraiser for the representative of Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District next month. Civil Beat.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii was eyed as a rising political star even before she was elected to Congress in 2012 — she spoke at the Democratic National Convention that year just weeks after winning a primary election. But her profile on the national stage has risen to a new level in recent months. Civil Beat.

Krishna Cult Rumors Still Dog Tulsi Gabbard. The Hawaii congresswoman’s national rise is inviting closer scrutiny of her family ties to a fringe sect. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii House of Representatives is poised to pass a state budget that includes slightly less spending than what was requested by the governor, who had warned that there was no extra money for increases to programs in the upcoming two years. The House Committee on Finance combed through the budget and recommended $12.7 billion in spending for fiscal year 2016, which begins July 1, and $13.1 billion in 2017. Associated Press.

Open-meetings advocates make gains at Capitol. A state Senate bill would have public boards report about private decisions. Associated Press.

Opinion: How good a friend do you have to be before you can tell your buddy "no"? When the full state Senate votes on the nomination of Carleton Ching as chairman of the Board of Land and Natural Resources, it will also be weighing its very real friendship with Gov. David Ige. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s voter turnout last year ranked it at No. 32 across the country. That’s up from the No. 36 position we held in 2010, according to a new analysis from Nonprofit VOTE. All told, Hawaii had a turnout of 36.5 percent among citizen eligible voters in 2014. Civil Beat.

Debris from the Japanese tsunami four years ago is still washing up on Hawaii shores and elsewhere around the Pacific. And there's still fears that invasive species hitching a ride on the debris could become established where they've washed up. Hawaii News Now.

Hong Kong’s Commissioner
to the United States says more investment capital from his home city could be headed for Hawai‘i. Hawaii Public Radio.

Oahu

More than half of the buyers in The Howard Hughes Corp.'s first two luxury condominium towers in Honolulu are from Hawaii, with the remaining buyers from Japan, Canada, China, Korea, Australia and the Mainland, the Texas-based developer said Friday in a letter to its shareholders. Pacific Business News.

A hairy green-leaf Cyanea with a brilliant purple flower — is being recognized as the state's newest species described to science. The researchers named the rare find Cyanea konahuanuiensis, which pays homage to the place it was found: near the summit of the 3,150-foot Kona­hua­nui, the tallest peak in the Koolau Range in East Oahu. Star-Advertiser.

Demolition of elementary classrooms at Punahou School is the latest project of Re-use Hawaii, a nonprofit organization that tears down buildings and sells the salvageable materials. Star-Advertiser.

Members of the Koolau Loa Neighborhood Board could not reach an agreement over who should fill a vacancy for Hauula District at last month’s meeting. Hawaii Independent.

Hawaii

Protesters plan to make their presence known at the Waikoloa resorts this weekend, where the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations are underway. Big Island Video News.

A U.S. Geological Survey geochemist has confirmed that the ongoing eruption at Kilauea Volcano gets its supply of lava from two small sources beneath the earth's crust, not one large one. Star-Advertiser.

A 1,000-acre swath of South Kona mauka forestland has been placed under protection from development. The land, located in the Kaawaloa Forest between 2,300 and 4,300 feet in elevation, is rare native wet forest with a diversity of indigenous plants, trees and birds, said Greg Hendrickson, real property administrator for Hokukano Ranch, the property owners. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

While Maui County officials mull what to do about erosion to an unprotected section of South Kihei Road, they are wrestling with forces of nature - rising sea levels and El Nino. Maui News.

A standing-room-only crowd of residents voiced concerns about a proposed leach field at Kapueokahi, or Hana Bay, during a community meeting Thursday. Maui News.

Maui’s real estate market is continuing to show signs of returning to normalcy, following the upheaval of the recession several years ago that left in its wake widespread foreclosures and short sales in Maui County. Maui News.

Kauai

Kauai County officials say they have done their fair share of listening over the past year. During that time, one key theme arose consistently when the county's finances were discussed. Garden Island.

Two incumbents and a former member won seats to the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative Board of Directors on Saturday. Dennis M. Esaki, Karen Baldwin and Patrick Gegen outpaced the eight-candidate field in the election that started Feb. 19. Garden Island.

Serious problems nearly shut down the Civil Air Patrol’s Hawaii Wing. Civil Air Patrol Regional Commander Col. Brian Bishop met with CAP members on Oahu, Maui, Hawaii Island and Kauai last week to listen to concerns regarding the squadrons that have experienced unease recently. Garden Island.

County looks to expand Black Pot Beach Park. Garden Island.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources is seeking applicants to serve on an advisory council for Kokee State Park. The nine-member council advises the department on issues related to the management of Kokee and Waimea Canyon state parks. Garden Island.

Kauai’s South Shore will become a miniature underwater video observatory, offering a fish-eye-view of coral, marine life — and a possible swimmer or two — in a grant-funded pilot project geared to help students learn more about the underwater world. Garden Island.