Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Kilauea lava lake attracts crowd, counties could get general excise tax surcharge by adopting roads in limbo, Honolulu rail worries businesses, ordnance removal a dangerous job, Marine Corps commander relieved of duties, half of Kauai coral diseased, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy National Parks Service
Kilauea lava lake, courtesy Mark Wasser NPS
The lava lake atop Kilauea continues to put on a breathtaking show, swelling Monday morning to yet another record high just a few feet shy of Overlook Vent’s rim. If the lava continues to rise, it soon could spill out of the vent and onto the floor of the larger Halema‘uma‘u Crater. Tribune-Herald.

A group of senators, led by Ways and Means Chairwoman Sen. Jill Tokuda (D, Kai­lua-Kane­ohe), proposed that any county be allowed to adopt a general excise tax surcharge for a limited time — but to do so, that county would also have to put in writing that it owns the disputed "public highways" there. Star-Advertiser.

So-called “roads in limbo” are the latest bargaining chip in the negotiations to extend Honolulu’s rail tax to help shore up an estimated $910 million shortfall. On Monday, state Sen. Jill Tokuda revealed her chamber’s latest version of House Bill 134 that would extend Oahu’s 0.5 percent General Excise Tax surcharge for rail for five years from 2022 to 2027 and allow neighboring counties to implement their own tax hike. Civil Beat.

A bill to create a limited purpose driver license for undocumented immigrants and other people lacking the usually required identification is awaiting a floor vote in the Hawaii House of Representatives. Civil Beat.

Contract ratification meetings resumed Monday for two units of the Hawaii Government Employees Association that are considering a proposed new agreement with the state and counties, but at least some union members are still unhappy with the settlement. Star-Advertiser.

Despite concerns from the Hawaii Department of Human Services, state lawmakers are advancing a bill that would relax rules on community care foster family homes to allow married elderly couples to live together despite their level of insurance coverage. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii’s senior population is increasing, but the funding of the state’s Kupuna Care program, which provides basic services to older adults who can’t live at home without help, has stayed flat for years. Senate Bill 964 would provide additional funding to the Kupuna Care program. It’s now in conference committee with a hearing scheduled Tuesday, and the specific dollar figures in the first draft have been converted to blanks while negotiations continue. Civil Beat.

State health officials have asked legislators to put an expiration date on a proposed law that could displace an unknown number of Medicaid clients who want to live at community care foster family homes. Civil Beat.

Oahu

As Oahu rail construction pushes closer toward town, more local businesses along the route are feeling the strain — and more are starting to air concerns that they won't be able to survive all the work. Star-Advertiser.

Col. Eric Schaefer, the commanding officer in charge of Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe, has been relieved of his duties. The announcement came around 9:15 p.m. on Monday evening. Military officials say the decision was made due to "loss of trust and confidence in his ability to lead his command." Hawaii News Now.

Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa has completed a $100 million renovation of the beachfront resort's 1,230 rooms, including Japa­nese bidet-style toilets with cleansing jet streams in each room. Star-Advertiser.

Tracking truth, transparency promises at Honolulu Police Department. KHON2.

Hawaii

Ordnance removal workers say job is hazardous, pay is unfair. West Hawaii Today.

Construction at the troubled Hu Honua Bioenergy plant in Pepeekeo again has met with delays after the company announced Monday the need to lay off employees. It was not clear how many employees were laid off or whether any work at the site was continuing. Tribune-Herald.

Big Island Mayor, Billy Kenoi, is in trouble for misusing his County P- card, charging nearly 130-thousand dollars in personal expenses.   But the Mayor is term limited next year and cannot run for re-election. What are his political options? Hawaii Public Radio.

A 35-year-old Pahoa man was tasered and arrested after he illegally deployed an unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone, Saturday night at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, according to the National Park Service. HVNP spokeswoman Jessica Ferracane on Monday identified the man as Travis Ray Sanders. Tribune-Herald.

The campaign to prevent the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope from becoming a reality on Mauna Kea has gone absolutely viral. Maybe a little too viral, according to anti-TMT leader Kea­loha Pisciotta, who said the recent cyberattacks on the state and TMT websites don't really fit into the movement's style of nonviolent protest. Star-Advertiser.

Frank Pauline Jr., one of three men convicted of the 1991 Christmas Eve murder and rape of Dana Ireland on Hawaii island, died Monday in a New Mexico prison yard. Star-Advertiser.

Amateur cinematographers on the Big Island looking for exposure will have an opportunity to share their versions of the world around them during a new Hawaii television series that showcases local talent. The show, called “Everything Hawaii,” premiers at 7:30 p.m. May 5 on OC16. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

The Maui Region of the HawaiĘ»i Health Systems Corporation announced plans to initiate public discussion on what they are calling “imminent service and position cuts.” Maui Now.

Kauai

Half the coral reef sites surveyed by state scientists in nearshore Kauaian waters in the last year are plagued by disease, environmental officials announced Monday. Garden Island.

An islandwide power outage left many homes and businesses in the dark Monday night and Kauai Island Utility Cooperative asking customers to conserve energy to help weather the situation. KIUC spokesman Jim Kelly said their largest generator is down for maintenance through this week, and when the second generator went offline due to a mechanical problem about 5:45 p.m., different areas lost electricity. Garden Island.

Debris from a fishing boat has washed up in the Uhelekawawa Canal in Kapaa, about 100 yards inland from the Bull Shed Restaurant. Carl Berg, chairman of the Surfrider Foundation’s Kauai Chapter, said the two large boat pieces are similar to features found on Japanese fishing boats that have previously washed up on the island’s shores. Garden Island.