Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Navy war games violated federal law, flood insurance rates rising, Honolulu traffic jam underscores poor road planning, fired judge fires back, telescope protests continue, psychologists want to prescribe drugs, Kauai library celebrates 60th, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy U.S. navy
RIMPAC 2014 in Hawaii file photo, courtesy U.S. Navy
A federal judge in Honolulu says the National Marine Fisheries Service violated federal law in issuing a permit to the U.S. Navy to conduct sonar testing, underwater detonations and other activities over millions of square miles of ocean between Hawaii and the West Coast. U.S. District Court Judge Susan Oki Mollway sided with the Conservation Council for Hawaii, the Natural Resources Defense Council and a number of other environmental organizations in issuing her ruling Tuesday afternoon. Civil Beat.

A federal judge on Tuesday said the National Marine Fisheries Service violated environmental laws when it approved the Navy’s plans for training in waters off Hawaii and Southern California. The agency failed to support its finding that the training would have a “negligible impact” on marine life, U.S. District Court Judge Susan Oki Mollway wrote in her ruling. Associated Press.

Thousands of Hawaii property owners are about to be hit with a flood of higher premiums. About 20,000 people who carry flood insurance will see their annual policies increase an average 19.8 percent beginning today under changes to the National Flood Insurance Program. Star-Advertiser.

Civil Beat Database: Checking Up on Top State Officials Just Got a Lot Easier. Financial disclosures for top Hawaii officials are now available on a new searchable site to help the public identify potential conflicts of interest. Civil Beat.

About a dozen mental health advocates gathered Tuesday outside the fourth-floor office of Senate Health Chairman Josh Green at the state Capitol to demand that Green hold a hearing on a measure they believe would significantly improve mental health treatment in Hawaii, particularly in rural communities. Star-Advertiser.

Supporters of a bill to allow psychologists to prescribe medications in Hawaii gathered Tuesday at the state Capitol to plead with lawmakers to hear the measure. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaiian Electric Co. and Florida-based NextEra Energy Inc., which is buying the Honolulu-based utility for $4.3 billion, are urging the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission to not extend the deadline for the acquisition case, according to public documents. Pacific Business News.

A total of 420,409 firearms were registered in Hawaii from 2000 to 2014. And that’s on top of the 1 million firearms that were already in the state, according to an estimate by the Hawaii Attorney General’s office and the Honolulu Police Department in the late 1990s. That means there could be more guns in Hawaii than residents, according to data from the Attorney General’s office. Civil Beat.

From plastic bottles on the beach to trash along trailsides, illegal dumping can be seen around Hawaii. Hawaii Public Radio.

When plastic is washed or dumped into the ocean, it doesn’t completely break down…instead it adds to a dangerous plastic soup. Hawaii Public Radio.

Opinion: When it finally came down to it, the Chess Club, a faction of senators loyal to Gov. David Ige, decided not to support Carleton Ching, the governor’s choice to head the Department of Land and Natural Resources. Those senators don’t deserve sympathy for having to make an agonizing choice. That’s their job. What they deserve is criticism for doing that job so badly. Civil Beat.

Oahu
State Department of Transportation officials hope that Wednesday morning's commute will go smoothly — with the H-1 ZipperLane still open for town-bound traffic — but there's no guarantee that pau hana drivers won't see a repeat of Tuesday's carmageddon that caused widespread gridlock. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu ranks No. 3 in the country when it comes to traffic congestion. That’s according to the annual TomTom Traffic Index, which was released Tuesday. Civil Beat.

Honolulu was recently ranked the third worst city for traffic congestion in the nation but Tuesday evening’s traffic jam brought frustrations to new heights. As drivers heading westbound remained stuck for hours due to a broken ZipMobile, some took to Twitter to vent about #Zipnado aka #Carmageddon. Civil Beat.

Officials say both of the state's ZipMobiles are likely to remain broken until at least Wednesday afternoon as the transportation department await the arrival of replacement parts and a repair technician from the U.S. mainland. Hawaii News Now.

A state judge who was rejected by the Judicial Selection Commission has fired back, saying the commission's proceedings were unfair. In a March 21 letter obtained by Hawaii News Now, Circuit Judge Randal Lee alleged that commission members did not review his full record but relied heavily on a last-minute complaint by a city deputy prosecutor, whom he had removed from a case for misconduct.

Honouliuli Internment Camp closed 69 years ago, but shame, sorrow and regret still haunt the gulch called Jigoku-Dani, or Hell Valley, by the Japa­nese-Americans who were held there during World War II. The Kunia site, kept out of sight during the war and out of the American consciousness for decades after that, was dedicated in an emotional ceremony Tuesday as Hono­uli­uli National Monument. Star-Advertiser.

Two Honolulu City Council members want D.R. Horton to include cheaper housing in its planned 11,750-home development between Ewa and Kapolei. The Council’s Zoning and Planning Committee is planning to take up two amendments on Thursday when it considers Bill 3, a measure to rezone nearly 1,300 acres of prime farmland to make way for a new mixed-use community. Civil Beat.

A state judge has refused to order the forfeiture of 77 arcade sweepstakes machines Hono­lulu police seized in 2012 because the city prosecutor took too long to file the request. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Implementing a “pay as you throw” garbage plan, allowing more East Hawaii garbage to be sent to the West Hawaii landfill and banning recyclables and compostables from both landfills are among Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille’s plans to bring the county closer to the goal of zero waste. West Hawaii Today.

Preventing the spread of little fire ants and other invasive species could add as much as $600,000 a year to county mulching operations. The council Finance Committee on Tuesday unanimously advanced county administration’s request to solicit contracts for up to $2.4 million annually for operations turning green waste into mulch at the county landfills in East and West Hawaii. West Hawaii Today.

Construction crews made no attempt Tuesday to reach the Thirty Meter Telescope site on Mauna Kea following a human blockade the day before as officials try to find a resolution to the standoff. Tribune-Herald.

Protesters who this week interrupted work on what's expected to be the world's largest telescope were put on notice Tuesday that they face arrest if they continue to block crews from reaching the Mauna Kea summit construction site. Star-Advertiser.

A Hawaii County fire battalion chief and captain are under investigation for criticizing the leadership of Fire Chief Darren Rosario in a story on Hawaii News Now earlier this month.

Maui

The cabins at Waiʻānapanapa State Park will close for approximately a year beginning today as a $2.3 million cabin renovation and wastewater treatment project gets underway. Maui Now.

A project to double the size of the Department of Motor Vehicle and Licensing satellite office in Kihei - the county's fastest-growing satellite office - has gone out to bid. Maui News.

Kauai

The Kapaa Public Library is celebrating its 60th anniversary on Tuesday starting at 1 p.m. with cake, refreshments and entertainment by the Kapaa Senior Center Ukulele Band. Garden Island.