Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Undersea cable could improve Internet, Hawaiian Electric fails to get stockholder votes for NextEra deal, rail funding approved, UH could lower tuition, Honolulu settles with EPA on landfill, Maui mayor and council at odds over budget, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

undersea cable
Next year, the University of Hawaii will begin upgrading its high-speed Internet pipeline thanks to a $4.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The five-year grant will cover the costs associated with operating and upgrading the international research and education network, which includes a series of undersea cables. Tribune-Herald.

The University of Hawaii is getting a $4.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation so it can invest in an international submarine network. Associated Press.

It was not the result Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. hoped for Tuesday. The state's largest electric utility failed to get the necessary votes at its shareholders' meeting to approve its planned $4.3 billion sale to Florida-based NextEra Energy Inc. So HEI extended the voting deadline to June 10 and commenced a monthlong campaign to get another 5.4 million shares to line up in favor of the proposed sale. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaiian Electric Industries recessed a special meeting of shareholders Tuesday morning after the votes in favor of the proposed merger with Florida-based NextEra Energy fell short of the number required  for approval. Company chairman Jeff Watanabe took the podium a half-hour after the meeting’s scheduled start and quickly got to the point. Civil Beat.

The University of Hawaii Board of Regents is considering lowering tuition by 2 to 3 percentage points across the 10-campus system and forgoing as much as $16 million in additional revenue next year in an effort to keep tuition affordable. Star-Advertiser.

Compared with other U.S. states, Hawaii isn't very bicycle-friendly — and its ranking has only gotten worse in recent years, according to a new national report. The Aloha State came in 43rd out of 50 for the best states in which to get around by bicycle, the Washington, D.C.-based League of American Bicyclists found in its 2015 "Bicycle Friendly State Ranking," which was released this week. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority's board of directors on Tuesday announced that Hawaii Lodging & Tourism Association head George Szigeti will be the state tourism marketing agency's next president and CEO. Pacific Business News.

Tourism officials say a growing timeshare industry will help Hawaii break the state’s visitor record this year. Hawaii Tourism Authority data shows timeshares were up 4.9 percent for the first three months of the year. Associated Press.
Oahu

Mayor Kirk Caldwell praised a settlement with the federal Environmental Protection Agency that requires the city to pay an $875,000 fine and build a $16.1 million solar-energy project at the HPOWER plant in Campbell Industrial Park to settle air violations at the now-shuttered Kapaa Landfill in Kailua. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu has agreed to install a $16.1 million solar power system and pay an $875,000 penalty to resolve air violations at its closed Kapaa Landfill in Kailua, according to the terms of a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday. Civil Beat.

Civil Beat obtained a copy of the city’s checkbook for rail expenditures through a public records request. It shows that from July 5, 2007, to March 13, 2015, more than 4,800 checks totaling $1.389 billion had been cut by the city to pay rail bills. But knowing how many checks were cut and to whom they were issued doesn’t tell the whole story. The checkbook doesn’t provide the necessary detail to thoroughly scrutinize how taxpayer dollars have been spent on the largest public works project in the state’s history.

In a dispute with the agency in charge of the city's $6 billion rail project, the Blood Bank of Hawaii is telling city officials that it should be paid $3 million to relocate its Kalihi primary donor center. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu City Council Budget Committee approved next year’s funding for the rail transit project today.  It includes a 3-million dollar pay-out. Hawaii Public Radio.

The chair of the University of Hawaii Manoa Faculty Senate has resigned his leadership position after he came under fire by fellow Senate members for a Hawaii News Now interview in which he defended a top UH administrator accused of bullying faculty and staff. Hawaii News Now.

Approximately 500 people are now living along the sidewalks in Kaka'ako and officials say the vast majority are migrants from Micronesia and the Marshall Islands. Hawaii News Now.

Now that Chicago has been named the future site for Barack Obama’s presidential library, what will happen to nearly eight acres of land in Kakaako? KHON2.

Three Oahu elementary schools are in the hunt for a national Blue Ribbon award. The state Department of Education announced Tuesday that Hahaione, Kaelepulu and Palisades elementary schools are Hawaii’s 2015 Blue Ribbon Schools nominees. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

When Margaret Masunaga was sworn in last year as a district court judge in Kona, she received a number of gifts from well-wishers, ranging from lei to a designer handbag. Like the other nine Big Island judges, Masunaga claimed no gifts on her annual financial disclosure filed last month. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

The $300 million Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope on the summit of Haleakala is halfway completed. It could become Hawaii's third largest telescope, unless the state's high court decides to halt construction. Hawaii News Now.

Opinion: Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa calls Councilmembers White, Hokama ‘snollygosters’ MauiTime.

Kauai

The red dust blew onto Susan Arquette’s property Monday like it had so many times before, ever since DuPont Pioneer began operating test fields 17 years ago on the bluff overlooking her neighborhood. But this time the dust came down with a fresh twinge of irony. Garden Island.

As part of an ongoing community outreach effort, Kauai Police Chief Darryl D. Perry and the Kauai Police Department will host a series of community outreach meetings. Garden Island.