Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Humpback whales could come off endangered species list, 53k sign petition against Thirty Meter Telescope, Most want GMO labeled, Hooser heads to Switerzerland to meet Syngenta, federal agent Deedy may not be tried in murder case, homeless increase, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy NOAA
Humpback whale, courtesy NOAA
Calling now-thriving humpback whales a national success story, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials want to remove most of the species’ populations from the endangered species list, including the 10,000 believed to be breeding and birthing around the Hawaiian Islands. Star-Advertiser.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Monday proposed removing more than two-thirds of the world’s humpback whales from the endangered species list after 45 years of conservation. Civil Beat.

The federal government on Monday proposed removing most of the world’s humpback whales from the endangered species list, saying the massive mammals have rebounded after 45 years of protections. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries officials want to reclassify humpbacks into 14 distinct populations, and remove 10 of those from the list. Associated Press.

The humpback whales that enter Hawaiian waters each winter to mate and give birth have grown in number at a rate so steady, federal regulators want to shed their status as an endangered species. Garden Island.

Most Hawaii voters support labeling food that contains genetically modified ingredients, according to a new Civil Beat poll. The survey revealed 65 percent of voters think there should be a requirement for GMO labeling, compared with 24 percent of respondents who disagree. Civil Beat.

A group of Hawaii lawmakers wants the state auditor to investigate alleged abuse of sick leave by state corrections officers. Dozens of prison officers have frequently call in sick on holidays and during major sports events. That leaves others officers working overtime to carry the load. Associated Press.

Whether or not e-cigarettes should be considered in the same category as smoking tobacco has become a debate across the country, and Hawaii is no exception. A bill that would ban people from smoking e-cigarettes wherever smoking is prohibited passed the Legislature last week, and now awaits the governor’s approval. It’s one of several anti-smoking bills under consideration, with the rest headed for conference committee to iron out differences between Senate and House versions. Civil Beat.

The cost of airfare to and from Hawaii destinations during the summer months has been falling, while fares to other U.S. cities have remained relatively flat, according to a study by Airlines Reporting Corp., which provides business services to travel agencies. Pacific Business News.

Oahu

The Honolulu City Council starts discussion Wednesday on a variety of bills aimed at making the property tax system more equitable. The bills are based on recommendations made by the city’s 2014 Real Property Tax Advisory Commission. Star-Advertiser.

There are new fishing rules for Oahu aimed at protecting aquarium fish. According to the Department of Land and Natural Resources, there are new daily commercial bag and size limits that apply to aquarium fish such as yellow tang and Moorish idol. There’s also a ban on taking certain butterfly fish. KHON2.

Oahu’s homeless population not only grew in 2015, but a higher percentage are living on the streets rather than in shelters, according to a draft of the latest annual “Point-in-Time Count” for Hono­lulu. The report — based on a count of sheltered homeless on the night of Jan. 25, followed by a five-day count of Oahu’s unsheltered — showed the highest number of homeless people on the island since 2009. Star-Advertiser.

The bankruptcy of a major parking lot concessionaire is costing the state and city of Honolulu more than $6,000 a day in lost revenue. Moana Parking Management LLC filed for Chapter 7 liquidation in Delaware bankruptcy court on Friday, shutting down its parking lot pay stations at the Honolulu Zoo, the Pali Lookout, Diamond Head Crater and Akaka Falls on the Big Island. Hawaii News Now.

The state judge who presided over Christopher Deedy’s two murder trials, which both ended with hung juries, says she will decide this week whether the U.S. State Department special agent will stand trial a third time for fatally shooting Kollin Elderts. Star-Advertiser.

Judge Karen Ahn is expected to make a decision sometime this week on whether all charges will be dropped against Federal Agent Christopher Deedy. Prosecutors want to try him for a third time on the lesser charges of manslaughter and assault. Hawaii News Now.

Is there too much commercial activity at Maunalua Bay in East Oahu? The state wants to hear from the bay’s many stakeholders, so it’s helping to create an advisory committee to get input and answers. KHON2.

More sand is heading to Kailua Beach Park, part of a weeklong sand replenishment project. But, before you can enjoy more sand, you have to deal with fewer parking spots. KITV4.

Hawaii

Vowing to continue a protest that has delayed construction of the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope for weeks, Hawaii island foes of the Mauna Kea project traveled to Oahu on Monday to deliver to Gov. David Ige a petition with more than 53,000 signatures. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. David Ige’s chief of staff used a traditional greeting Monday when he met members from a group of opponents against building a giant telescope near the summit of Mauna Kea. Members of Mauna Kea Hui and Mauna Kea Ohana crammed into an elevator to ride to the top floor of the state Capitol to hand-deliver to the governor’s office a thumb drive wrapped in red ribbon they said contains 53,000 signatures against building the Thirty Meter Telescope on a mountain considered sacred by Native Hawaiians. Associated Press.

The Mauna Kea Hui took a trip to Oahu on Monday to deliver a petition signed by 53,000 people to Hawaii’s governor calling for an end to the Thirty Meter Telescope project. While there, the group planned to hold a press conference with Honolulu media. The Hui also shared their prepared statement electronically. Big Island Video News.

Lower Puna students who were displaced in October because of the approaching June 27 lava flow will return to their home schools in the fall. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

House lawmakers are apparently poised to approve a bill to allow privatization of Maui Memorial Medical Center and two other state-owned medical facilities, a move that faces determined resistance from the state’s largest public worker union. Star-Advertiser.

Surface clearing of old munitions and explosives along with construction of educational signs are some of the actions being recommended in a plan to protect the public from hazards in a portion of the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve in Makena. Maui News.

Maui police issued a total of 764 citations to motorists during its recent participation in the National “U Drive. U Text. U Pay” campaign that ran from April 6 to April 18, 2015. Maui Now.

Kauai

Kauai County Councilman Gary Hooser will be among three Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action members who will travel to Switzerland to discuss how the activities of Syngenta, a global Swiss agribusiness, have impacted Kauai. Garden Island.

It’s not every day that the state’s highest court makes its way to Kauai. In fact, legal experts say, it has never happened before. That will change on Thursday when the five sitting state Supreme Court justices will hear oral arguments in a nearly four-year-old case that has pit the County of Kauai and Kauai Police Department against the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers (SHOPO), which represents unionized county police employees. Garden Island.

Molokai

The state Supreme Court denied a request by two Molokai men to have their criminal cases dismissed for charges alleging they boarded a fishing boat from Oahu and threatened those aboard last year. Maui News.