Friday, June 12, 2015

Monsanto works to improve image, Kondo keeps job as state ethics director, pCard audit delayed, contractor wins Honolulu train station work, electric utility sale awaits PUC, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Anti-GMO, Monsanto rally in Hilo © 2015 All Hawaii News
Monsanto Co., the world’s largest seed company and the target of protests against genetically modified organisms, will start running a series of television advertisements in Hawaii next week to improve its image. Star-Advertiser.

Les Kondo will remain in his post as executive director of the state Ethics Commission after a job performance evaluation resulted in no action taken against him stemming from recent criticism that his office has overstepped its bounds in enforcing ethics rules. Star-Advertiser.

The sale of Hawaiian Electric to the Florida-based company NextEra Energy passed a key vote Wednesday. Shareholders approved the deal with 76% of outstanding shares voting ‘yes.’ Hawaii Public Radio.

Now that Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. shareholders have approved Florida-based NextEra Energy Inc.’s proposed $4.3 billion acquisition of Hawaiian Electric Co., the deal still requires regulatory approvals, including by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission. Pacific Business News.

Oahu

Rail officials have issued the contract to build the Honolulu transit project’s first three stations to Hawaiian Dredging Construction Co., more than three months after the firm submitted the lowest bid for that work. Star-Advertiser.

Rail Operating Costs: A Looming Financial Crisis That Will Cost Taxpayers Billions HART’s best guess is that running the trains will cost at least $1.7 billion for just the first 12 years. City financial documents suggest officials likely will raise property taxes to pay for operations and maintenance. Civil Beat.

The Navy announced this week that recent tests show that the drinking water supply in the Red Hill area around its aviation fuel tank facility is safe, just as the Honolulu Board of Water Supply sent out letters to its 170,000 customers expressing leeriness in the aftermath of a leak that released roughly 27,000 gallons of fuel into the ground. Star-Advertiser.

Sheldon Haleck’s family still doesn’t know what caused his death after a nighttime run-in with Honolulu police officers near Iolani Palace on March 16. Months have passed, yet officials at the Honolulu Police Department have refused to release any details to the Halecks or the public to help explain what happened. Civil Beat.

The O’ahu Island Burial Council was briefed and updated on two Kaka’ako condominium projects today. Human remains are being uncovered and one developer is being warned to notify community stakeholders. Hawaii Public Radio.

The U.S. Department of Labor is proposing to fine two federal contractors $46,000 for safety violations after a 7-ton buoy struck and killed two workers at Pearl Harbor last year. Associated Press.

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly tweeted out a photo of Honolulu and Diamond Head taken during the International Space Station’s last pass over Hawaii in May. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Next month marks four years since there has been an audit report from the county’s legislative auditor. A transition to a new auditor about a year ago contributed to the long wait. But the County Council and the public will have to wait a little longer for Auditor Bonnie Nims’ much-anticipated first report, covering county officials’ use of the purchasing cards known as pCards. West Hawaii Today.

A leader in the fight to stop the Thirty Meter Telescope from being built atop Mauna Kea was served with a trespass notice Monday by security guards stationed at the construction site. Tribune-Herald.

A rare group of false killer whales has been located and tagged off the Kohala coast. Scientists with the Cascadia Research Collective spotted the elusive group of about 20 animals on Saturday, the first sighting since 2011. The whales were spread over miles of deep water at the north leeward end of the island, said researcher Robin Baird. West Hawaii Today.

The Hawaii County Council will take up a nonbinding resolution Tuesday asking the state Legislature to declare July 31 “La Hoihi Ea,” or Restoration Day, in recognition of the day in 1843 that independence was restored to the Kingdom of Hawaii. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Acknowledging that more work lies ahead, Gov. David Ige signed a historic bill Wednesday that will allow Maui County's public hospitals to enter into a partnership with a private nonprofit health care provider. Maui News.

A group that seeks to stop cane burning on Maui announced an upcoming forum and meeting scheduled to take place on Thursday, June 25 at 6:30 p.m. at the Kīhei Community Center. Maui Now.

A $7,000 settlement payment to the state is being proposed for Maalaea reef damage that happened when the Ocean Odyssey went aground a quarter-mile northeast of McGregor Point in 2013. Maui News.

Kauai

A pair of scientists who over the last two decades have self-funded numerous studies of Hanalei Bay’s coral reef say the North Shore destination appears to have what it takes to withstand new and persistent threats to the coastal ecosystem. Garden Island.

Grove Farm plans to donate land to Kauai County for a proposed treatment and healing center for adolescents battling alcohol and drug addiction. Star-Advertiser.

Demolition work at the shuttered legendary Coco Palms Resort on Kauai will start later this month, according to Coco Palms Hui LLC. Star-Advertiser.

Hotels on Kauai saw both occupancy and room rates rise significantly last week compared to the same time a year before as statewide hotel numbers also improved, according to Hospitality Advisors LLC and STR, Inc. Pacific Business News.

Molokai

For the past 28 years, the Molokai ferry has taken passengers from Lahaina to Kaunakakai. But the ferry's very existence is being threatened if the Public Utilities Commission doesn't allow Sea Link to cut service in half. KITV4.