Thursday, April 16, 2015

Hawaii auditor busy, Senate panel clears some Ige appointments but stalls on another, DOT clearing handicapped license backlog, Kenoi mixed official charges with campaigning, Maui to bail out troubled trash program, Thirty Meter Telescope controversy continues, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii Legislature, file photo
2014 was a busy year for the Hawaii State Auditor’s office and with that comes its largest annual report ever. Acting State Auditor Jan Yamane says the 72-page report, published online Wednesday, recaps the 18 audits, analyses and studies the office did on everything from alternate uses of recycled glass to the regulation of medical marijuana dispensaries. Civil Beat.

Jurisdiction over the Hawaii Health Connector’s operations may change dramatically this year, depending on state executive and legislative actions. Ultimately, the future of the health insurance exchange will be dictated by the results of negotiations between the governor and the federal government. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii Senate lawmakers grilled William Bafour on Wednesday about water rights and what he’s learned from his decisions that were overturned by the Supreme Court. The 83-year-old former sugar company executive has been nominated by Gov. David Ige to serve a four-year term on the state Water Commission, which handles disputes over water use. Civil Beat.

The Senate Water and Land Committee has recommended that Arnold Wong, Kent Hiranaga and Linda Estes be confirmed to serve on the state Land Use Commission. Civil Beat.

The state Department of Transportation has assembled a group to begin clearing the backlog of more than 100 applications from disabled and elderly drivers around the state who had been stuck at the state DOT's Medical Advisory Board. Star-Advertiser.

President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration, when fully implemented, will inject an estimated $3 million into Hawaii’s coffers in the form of tax contributions from undocumented immigrants, according to a new report by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii Department of Education wants feedback from the public that will help develop a school calendar. The department is asking the public to take an online survey on school calendar models. Associated Press.

New electronic monitoring devices are being tested by the Department of Public Safety as they search for ways to better track work-furlough inmates. Hawaii News Now.

Oahu

The Queen's Health Systems is in talks with Kuakini Health System on a possible acquisition of the Liliha hospital. Star-Advertiser.

An Oahu correctinal center shut its doors Saturday to family and friends, but the prisoners didn't mind. About 58 volunteers with JustServe Helping Hands worked Saturday morning with inmates and the warden at the Women's Community Correctional Center in Kailua to build a new family waiting lanai. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Mayor Billy Kenoi has mixed political activity with his county business at least twice since taking office, according to a comparison of campaign spending reports with his county credit card statements. West Hawaii Today.

A Hawaii News Now analysis of more than 140 pages of Kenoi's travel and credit card records shows that the mayor collected more than $4,000 in per diems on trips that he also used his pCard to pay his restaurant tabs. The practice of getting money from two sources to pay for the same thing is often called double dipping. Hawaii News Now.

One’s a frequent flyer, another has repaid $1,189 in personal charges on his county-issued credit card, but in general county department heads and other top officials adhere pretty closely to the rules governing the county cards known as pCards. West Hawaii Today.

Digging deeper into Hawaii County pCard use. KHON2.

A county resolution for a new four-year green waste diversion contract with a ceiling of $2.4 million annually has fermented into a 10-year plan for a composter that would handle 60,000 tons of waste and cost around $5 million a year to operate. West Hawaii Today.

A Hawaii County Council committee Tuesday approved $1.5 million in grants for Big Island nonprofit organizations for fiscal year 2015-16. Tribune-Herald.

Not every Native Hawaiian views the Thirty Meter Telescope through the same lens as those who are clamoring for the project's demise. Star-Advertiser.

As protests against the Thirty Meter Telescope continue, a Hawaii Preparatory Academy senior recently started her own online petition to offer support for the $1.4 billion project. Tribune-Herald.

Hashtag Heard ‘Round the World: Social Media Fuels TMT Protests. Supporters of the Thirty Meter Telescope on the Big Island were caught unawares by a frenzy of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter posts. Civil Beat.

A large national laboratory has joined forces with the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority for the installation of an energy storage demonstration system in Kona. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

There would be no landfill closures, no halt of trash pickups and no need to lay off workers in late May and June if a resolution is adopted by the Maui County Council to shift funds to make up a budget shortfall in the county's Solid Waste Division. Maui News.

Maui County's auditor and some Maui County Council members Tuesday called for an end to bickering over a recent audit showing the county did not earn $21 million in interest earnings and for moving on to learn from the experience. Maui News.

A group of East Maui taro farmers, fishermen and gatherers recently filed suit against the state, Alexander & Baldwin and others after learning the state granted revocable permits to allow the company to continue to lease land in East Maui for its stream diversions. Maui News.

The Maui Humane Society is embarking on a massive cat sterilization effort to stem the island's overpopulation of feral cats. Associated Press.

An officer and former police chief in New Mexico have filed a lawsuit against the County of Maui and several police officers alleging they were wrongfully arrested while on Maui in July of 2013. Maui Now.

Kauai

Pono Kai Resort general manager Peter Sit says he has watched the sea behind his Kapaa resort gradually erode a stone wall protecting the shoreline from erosion while county officials worked out plans to have it repaired. Garden Island.

Surfrider Kauai continues to remove the primary cause of injury to humpback whales and other marine life in the Pacific Ocean: derelict fishing nets. Garden Island.

Kapaa residents are trying to repair a historic Japanese stone lantern damaged by strong wind. Associated Press.