Friday, July 10, 2015

Elections chief gets big raise, Stryker to leave islands, Kauai mulls ending term limits, emergency Mauna Kea rules to be decided today, $16.7M for East-West Center, Maui windpower unused, Ige signs domestic violence bills, scientists seek sea mining balance, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii Elections Chief Scott Nago © 2015 All Hawaii News
The state Elections Commission voted Thursday to give a $10,000 pay raise to Chief Election Officer Scott Nago, who has come under fire from the public following the last two elections. Nago will now be paid $90,000 annually, up from $80,000. Star-Advertiser.

The $1.5 billion 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, one of the biggest Army projects in Hawaii since World War II and one that required land purchases and roads and new ranges to be built, is now going away. Star-Advertiser.

The Army plans to pull Stryker combat vehicles out of Hawaii and convert the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team at Schofield into an infantry brigade combat team, U.S. Army Pacific said in a statement. Civil Beat.

Gov. David Ige has given final approval to a package of bills designed to help victims and the authorities cope with problems related to domestic abuse and sexual assault. Star-Advertiser.

University of Hawaii oceanography professor Craig Smith and a team of scientists from around the world have proposed a strategy to balance the battle between deep-sea mining interests and ecosystem sustainability. Civil Beat.

A stretch of sea floor beginning 500 miles southeast of Hawaii is ground zero for an emerging deep sea mining industry — and the debate over how such extractions should be managed. West Hawaii Today.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority’s board of directors on Thursday elected L. Richard Fried, a founding member of the Honolulu law firm Cronin, Fried, Sekiya, Kekina & Fairbanks, to serve the state tourism agency's new chairman. Pacific Business News.

Oahu

A U.S. Senate committee has approved a $16.7 million appropriation for the East-West Center in Hawaii, which would continue the Honolulu-based center's level of support for the third year in a row. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii still has a long way to go in curbing homelessness among veterans. While places like New Orleans have practically eliminated veteran homelessness as part of a five-year national goal set by President Barack Obama in 2010, Hawaii has yet to gain a firm foothold in finding homes for hundreds of veterans. Civil Beat.

The city Emergency Services Department credits a switch to 12-hour shifts for its paramedics and emergency service technicians for a $700,000 drop in overtime costs last fiscal year, Emergency Services Director Mark Rigg said. But staff shortages continue to be a problem. Star-Advertiser.

The rail project is getting into more congested residential and business areas, but to get the train going, some property owners will have to sell. That’s getting more and more expensive and complicated. KHON2.

The Hawaii agency charged with overseeing the redevelopment of the Honolulu neighborhood of Kakaako has shelved a proposal that would have created an economic accelerator in the former World Gym building on Queen Street. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii

Emails obtained by the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reveal details about the state’s strategy — and its struggles — to deal with months-long protest atop Mauna Kea by those opposed to construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope.

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin plans to hold a press conference at 11 a.m. Friday to provide more information about the need for the administration’s proposed emergency rule for Mauna Kea. The Board of Land and Natural Resources is set to consider the rule, drafted by DLNR Chair Suzanne Case and Chin, sometime after 1 p.m. Friday. Civil Beat.

A Federal District Court judge declined to issue a Temporary Restraining Order against the State of Hawai’i Thursday after holding a hearing on a suit alleging that cultural and religious access to Mauna Kea was being restricted through rules enforced by the Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Office of Mauna Kea Management. Big Island Now.

State officials released Thursday a long list of issues and problems linked to Thirty Meter Telescope protesters ahead of Friday’s state Board of Land and Natural Resources meeting to consider restricting nonvehicular nighttime access to the Mauna Kea summit region. Star-Advertiser.

The University of Hawaii has released logs kept by Mauna Kea rangers and employees at the visitors center. The documents come ahead of today's Board of Land and Natural Resources meeting. On the agenda is an emergency rule that would prohibit camping and restrict nighttime access on the mountain. Hawaii Public Radio.

Both the rangers from the office of Mauna Kea Management and the visitor information station staff have been documenting their daily activities on the mountain. Many of those describe what's been called a "hostile" environment. KITV4.

Big Island hunters are bristling at a proposed rule being considered by the state land board Friday that they say needlessly restricts their own activities while mixing Mauna Kea protests with unrelated hunting activity. West Hawaii Today.

Another chapter closed this week on former South Kona/Ka‘u Councilwoman Brenda Ford’s challenge of Environmental Management Director Bobby Jean Leithead Todd’s qualifications to hold that office. West Hawaii Today.

A pristine stretch of the North Kona coast has become home to what is likely the largest residential micro-grid project of its kind in the world. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Maui Electric Co. dumped 7 percent of wind power produced in 2014, a significant improvement from 2013 when 17 percent of electricity generated from the three Maui wind farms went unused. Maui News.

Maui Electric Co. is working to reduce the amount of wind power that goes unused each year. Associated Press.

The county Department of Water Supply's capital improvement projects manager has been nominated to become the chief executive officer of the state Commission on Water Resource Management and deputy director to the chairwoman of the panel. Maui News.

Little fire ants are living up to their reputation as a tough-to-beat invasive species, but those working to eradicate them haven't given up hope, even as crews hack their way into Nahiku's dense rain forest to cut paths to get to infested areas. Maui News.

Kauai

Voters could soon be asked to decide whether to keep or eliminate term limits for County Council members. On Wednesday, Kauai County Council Vice-Chair Ross Kagawa will introduce a resolution that, if approved, would put the option to repeal term limits on the 2016 ballot. Garden Island.

The military’s plan to shrink the size of the Army — which will reduce spending by several billion dollars — will not affect the island of Kauai, Army officials said Thursday. Garden Island.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority is trying to bring the PGA Grand Slam of Golf back to the Islands after the PGA announced it would not hold the October event at Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles following owner Donald Trump’s controversial comments on immigration and the subsequent business fallout. Pacific Business News.

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz spoke to The Garden Island Thursday on a number of Hawaii topics around Washington, D.C. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Schatz is heavily involved in spending decisions, and he is in position to help steer some of those funds back to the state and to the island of Kauai. Garden Island.