Thursday, May 28, 2015

Hawaii Supreme Court tosses gay marriage lawsuit, state ethics director on hot seat, USS Arizona Memorial damaged, Honolulu ethics case could jeopardize rail, court clears environmental management director for Hawaii County post, Maui council nixes rec fee hikes, teacher union election heads to court, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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The state Supreme Court is dismissing a lawsuit challenging Hawaii’s gay marriage law. The court says in an opinion Wednesday that the plaintiffs lack standing to make the challenge. Associated Press.

State Rep. Bob McDermott said he is weighing legal options after the Hawaii Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit filed by himself and three individuals challenging the state's Marriage Equality Act. Ruling that plaintiffs were not harmed or injured by the 2013 law, Supreme Court justices ruled they had no standing to challenge the statute. Star-Advertiser.

Chalk up another loss for state Rep. Bob McDermott in the marriage wars. The Ewa Beach Republican was summarily brushed aside Wednesday by the state Supreme Court, which dismissed his challenge to Hawaii’s Marriage Equality Act for lack of standing. Civil Beat.

Les Kondo, the executive director of the state Ethics Commission, defended his job performance Wednesday, backed by leaders of other agencies who called him a dedicated professional who excels in a tough job. The five-member commission had rated him "average" overall, down from "outstanding" in 2012, and was considering whether to remove him from the job he has held since January 2011. But after hours of discussion behind closed doors, commissioners recessed until June 9 without a decision. Star-Advertiser.

The executive director of the Hawaii Ethics Commission said no decision was reached by the panel Wednesday during a discussion of his performance. Executive Director Les Kondo told The Associated Press after the commission meeting ended in the late afternoon that the panel will continue its discussion, but he says no date for that session has been set. Associated Press.

After meeting for more than three hours Wednesday, the State Ethics Commission retreated into a closed executive session to consider the fate of its executive director, Honolulu attorney Les Kondo. But the meeting ended about 5 p.m. with no decision on whether Kondo would stay on as executive director. Kondo declined comment except to say the discussion would continue at a later date. Civil Beat.

An ongoing dispute over the results of a recent Hawaii State Teachers Association election for president and other officers to lead the powerful teachers union has made its way to the courts. Star-Advertiser.

High school teacher Corey Rosenlee, who says he rightfully won last month’s election for leadership of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, filed court documents Wednesday in an effort to block union plans to hold a new election. Civil Beat.

Care Home Bill Would Have Forced Out a Patient. The failed legislation touted as a compassionate way to reunite an aging married couple is seen in a new light with concerns about displacing Medicaid clients in favor of private-paying residents. Civil Beat.

A new commander has taken over as the top U.S. military officer in the Asia-Pacific region. Adm. Harry Harris assumed command of the U.S. Pacific Command during a ceremony at Pearl Harbor on Wednesday. He replaces Adm. Samuel Locklear, who has retired. KITV4.

New Jersey-based biopharmaceutical company Soligenix Inc. is partnering with the University of Hawaii and Hawaii Biotech, Inc., on the development of a heat-stable subunit of a developing Ebola vaccine. Pacific Business News.

Oahu

The agreement between former City Councilman Nestor Garcia and the Honolulu Ethics Commission to settle claims that he accepted illegal gifts and failed to report them may throw a monkey wrench into the future of the city's $5.8 billion rail transit project. Garcia agreed to pay the city a civil fine of $8,100 to settle allegations that he accepted illegal gifts and failed to report them, the Ethics Commission announced Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

With scores of Central Oahu businesses already feeling the brunt of rail construction, city leaders want to create a fund that offers them relief -- but those leaders haven't yet determined where the money would come from or at what total amount. Star-Advertiser.

The thousands of visitors who pour into Hawaii's most popular tourist attraction -- the USS Arizona Memorial -- will not be able to board for up to a week after the USNS Mercy hospital ship struck the memorial's floating dock Wednesday as the Mercy was towed out of Pearl Harbor. Star-Advertiser.

Visitors to the state's most visited attraction went away disappointed Wednesday when boat tours to the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial were suspended due to damage to its floating dock. Hawaii News Now.

Kamilo Nui Valley in Hawaii Kai is once again a topic of discussion as a major property owner in the valley, Hawaii Kai Memorial Park, LLC, has resumed dumping asphalt at the site of a proposed cemetery at 7488 Hawaii Kai Drive. Hawaii Independent.

It's been 8 months since a Honolulu Police Sergeant was caught on video fighting with his girlfriend. The sergeant is still on desk duty because the internal investigation is still not done. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii

Environmental Management Director Bobby Jean Leithead Todd can keep her job, following a judge’s ruling that the mayor and County Council had discretion to put her in the position without the engineering degree seemingly required by the county charter. West Hawaii Today.

The expedited decommissioning of telescopes on the Big Island could have a detrimental impact on Hilo and its economy, Dr. Günther Hasinger, director of the UH Institute for Astronomy, told Pacific Business News Wednesday.

South-Korea based Mirae Asset has purchased the Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii hotel in South Kohala, but with the management of the business slated to remain the same, the public may not know the difference. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

The Maui County Council nixed a 600 percent proposed permit hike Tuesday for surf, dive, kayaking and other commercial ocean recreation activities that use county beaches. Maui News.

The $72 million Downtown Kihei project with restaurants, shops, businesses, medical offices, a movie theater and a hotel received an initial green light from the Maui County Council Tuesday afternoon. Maui News.

Waikapū Properties, LLC is proposing the development of nearly 500 acres for a mixed-use residential community within and around the Maui Tropical Plantation. Maui Now.

The Hawaiʻi Board on Geographic Names unanimously voted last night to restore the name Wailuku River to the waterway that runs through ʻĪao Valley. Maui Now.

Kauai

Penny Cistaro said Wednesday the people trying to oust her from Kauai Humane Society’s top job don’t represent the majority of her staff. Garden Island.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wants to increase protection for humpback whales. The plan includes an expansion of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. And that drew some sharp reactions at a recent public hearing on Kaua‘i. Hawaii Public Radio.

Kahoolawe

The state agency in charge of restoring the island of Kahoolawe, a former bombing range off the coast of Maui, is scrambling for money in the wake of unsuccessful lobbying this past legislative session. Civil Beat.