Friday, May 29, 2015

Japanese visitors spark tourism rise, animal quarantine harms pets, Honolulu councilman wants men's room diaper tables, shipping declines, Office of Hawaiian Affairs forms sovereignty committee, Kauai animal shelter kill rate disputed, USS Arizona Memorial to reopen in a week, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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visitor learns Hawaiian hula © 2015 All Hawaii News
April was the second month of 2015 that experienced a year-over-year climb in visitor spending and arrivals, largely due to a gain in domestic travelers and visitors from Japan. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii hosted more visitors last month than in April 2014, and they spent more, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. For the year, visitors are up but their spending is about the same as last year. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority says the number of travelers visiting the islands climbed 2.3 percent in April over the same month last year as more tourists arrived from the western part of the United States. Data released by the state agency Thursday showed nearly 680,000 people visited the islands in April. Visitor spending rose 5.4 percent to $1.2 billion. Associated Press.

In a move to maintain its neutrality, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs is handing off responsibility for the final stage of its nation-building campaign to a new group that will independently administer an election of delegates, convention and final ratification vote. Na'i Aupuni, a group of five volunteer and unpaid directors with ties to Hawaiian royalty, has been given nearly $2.6 million originally earmarked for the effort aimed at moving Native Hawaiians a step closer to self-determination as authorized by the state under Act 195. Star-Advertiser.

Despite vocal opposition and community concerns raised at OHA board meetings in late April, 2015, the board has decided to go forward with a nation building process spearheaded by a new organization: Na‘i Aupuni. Hawaii Independent.

Complaints of overheated and underfed animals getting sick at the state-run Animal Quarantine Station in Halawa have prompted the Legislature to take a closer look at how pets are housed and treated at the facility. Civil Beat.

In a private sector economic indicator, Young Brothers Ltd. reports a 1.9% decline in cargo shipments between islands during the first quarter, compared to the same time last year. Hawaii News Now.

The East-West Center, which has faced big funding threats in recent years as federal support for its programming dwindled, is about to start head-hunting for its first new president in nearly two decades. Longtime center President Charles E. Morrison is planning to leave his post in August 2016, at the end of his current contract. Civil Beat.

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

Oahu

The city's top civil attorney said it's not up to the Honolulu Ethics Commission staff to determine the potential ramifications of a settlement agreement reached by the commission and former City Councilman Nestor Garcia. Star-Advertiser.

Time for a change? Lawmaker wants diaper changing tables in men’s restrooms. KHON2.

Punahou School has begun construction on a campus-wide overhaul project that is expected to be completed during the next decade, which includes building four two-story studios for elementary school students and a 20,000-square-foot learning commons for kindergarten through eighth grade. Civil Beat.

The National Park Service and the Navy aim to resume taking visitors to the USS Arizona Memorial in a week, after a dock damaged by a wayward vessel is repaired. Associated Press.

The Navy said Thursday that it is uncertain if a hospital ship hit the dock of the USS Arizona Memorial as was initially reported. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawai’i Health Systems Corporation continues to develop plans to meet a budget shortfall of 50 million dollars. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii

Hawaii Electric Light Co.’s selection of Ormat Nevada Inc. to build the next geothermal power plant in Puna received a positive recommendation this month from an independent observer. Tribune-Herald.

Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille wants to slice into Hilo Municipal Golf Course funds to hire three new transfer station attendants to help promote recycling programs. In a budget amendment to be considered Monday, Wille is asking that golfers and the community do more to augment the greens fees at the county’s only publicly funded golf course instead of relying on taxpayer bailouts. West Hawaii Today.

A new class-action lawsuit claims Hawaii Community College fraudulently collected “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in student fees throughout the past decade. Tribune-Herald.

A dangerous and crowded North Kona beach will have to wait at least another year for lifeguards. A push for funding to install ocean safety officers at Kua Bay fell short this past session. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Ever since Samuel Thomas Alexander and Henry Perrine Baldwin planted their first sugarcane crop in 1870, there have been cane fires on Maui. But on Wednesday morning, a fire that was set near Kamali’i Elementary School by Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Co. inundated the campus and left some residents wondering whether a state permit system is working. KITV4.

Iao Stream will likely have its name restored to "Wailuku River," which dates back more than a century, following the state Board on Geographic Names' unanimous vote Wednesday night in favor of the move. Maui News.

Kauai

No more than 10 B&B permit applications will be reviewed per year under an ordinance change approved during a Kauai County Council committee hearing Wednesday. Garden Island.

The Kauai Humane Society has underreported the percentage of cats and dogs it euthanized for the last five fiscal years, a fact that has become the crux of a campaign launched by employees to oust the organization’s executive director. Garden Island.

Kauai was the leader of the four larger Hawaiian Islands when it came to visitor growth and spending through April. According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority, per person per day spending on the Garden Isle rose to $179, up 2.7 percent, and total expenditures reached $533 million, up 6.2 percent. Garden Island.