Monday, July 20, 2015

Scientists study Hawaiian birds, monk seals, Trans Pacific Partnership talks coming to Maui, pCard audit shows misuse not widespread, cannabis convention draws hundreds, state flirts with hydrogen, Honolulu council mulls second homes on properties, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Koloa maoli native duck © 2015 All Hawaii News
 Global climate change could further imperil indigenous Hawaiian bird populations over the next century as rising temperatures and increased rainfall draw malaria-bearing mosquitoes into protected avian habitats, according to researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Star-Advertiser.

Marine officials are readying for the possibility of a disease outbreak in Hawaiian waters, hoping to protect the dwindling Hawaiian monk seal population from morbillivirus. The disease has killed thousands of dolphins and seals around the world. Associated Press.

Hydrogen-powered vehicles are beginning to roll onto Hawaii’s transportation scene. Two 25-seat hydrogen-powered buses will soon be shuttling tourists between the visitors center and the Thurston Lava Tube at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and hydrogen might someday fuel the Wiki-Wiki shuttles at Honolulu Airport. Star-Advertiser.

In a move likely to irk China, the new U.S. commander of the Pacific Fleet joined a seven-hour surveillance flight over the disputed South China Sea aboard one of America’s newest spy planes. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Cannabis Business Expo attracts many. KITV4.

Applying for a license to run a Hawaii medical marijuana dispensary under the state’s new system will take serious investment, but it could be well worth the reward. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii’s Public Access Room Gets Swiss Broadcasting Attention. The legislative service, now in its 25th year, is recognized for practicing the concept of “direct democracy.” Civil Beat.

When the Hawaii Department of Education released the details of its new teacher evaluation system three years ago, veteran teacher Mireille Ellsworth made a radical decision: She would simply refuse to do part of it. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii State Ethics Commission plans to welcome its newest member Wednesday. Reynaldo Graulty will be replacing Ed Broglio, whose term ended June 30. Civil Beat.

Oahu

A proposal to make it easier for Oahu's residential property owners to set up a second dwelling on their lots might become reality soon. Bill 20, if it moves out of the City Council Zoning and Permitting Committee on Thursday, would be positioned for a final vote of the full Council in August. Star-Advertiser.

State legislative leaders say Mayor Kirk Caldwell was not as forthright as he should have been in helping them best decide what to do about Honolulu's cash-strapped rail project, with one key lawmaker calling for the mayor to apologize to help rebuild trust between the city and state. Star-Advertiser.

Applicants are being sought for a vacant post on the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation's board of directors. Those interested have until 4:30 p.m. Aug. 7 to submit to HART a completed application form, cover letter and resume. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Misuse of county credit cards is not widespread in Hawaii County government, but is confined to Mayor Billy Kenoi’s office and one other department, according to an audit report released Friday by Legislative Auditor Bonnie Nims. West Hawaii Today.

Over the past two years, Mayor Billy Kenoi has spent more than $1.5 million on contracted employees, using an exemption to sidestep state civil service laws that require employees be hired based on merit. West Hawaii Today.

Former Mayor Harry Kim used his Hawaii County purchasing card less often than Mayor Billy Kenoi, who is embroiled in a pCard scandal, at least during Kim’s last 18 months in office. Tribune-Herald.

A private attorney for the Thirty Meter Telescope was allowed in on state and county officials’ conversations about jurisdictional issues on Mauna Kea, according to documents obtained by the Tribune-Herald.

Rumors of the Hawaii National Guard being thrust into the middle of the Thirty Meter Telescope conflict bring back disturbing memories for Noa Emmett Aluli. Star-Advertiser.

A miniature version of an ages-old plan to improve traffic flow between Waimea and Kawaihae has raised its head. West Hawaii Today.

A June report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that since 2008, nationwide SNAP redemptions at farmers markets and farm stands have increased sixfold, totaling $18.8 million in the last fiscal year. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Out here on Maui, it’s relatively easy for big international news stories like the ongoing negotiations over the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade zone to get lost. Between locals just trying to find out why the Pali is backed up and visitors more concerned about scheduling their luau, few people out here want to find out the latest in free trade zone talks. MauiTime.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a massive international treaty being negotiated, in secret, by 12 Pacific Rim countries, side-by-side with 500 corporate advisers. After five years, they are aiming to wrap-up the deal on Maui at the end of this month. Hawaii Independent.

Kauai

Sides are starting to form in the debate over whether to repeal term limits. But before the Kauai County Council decides whether to put the issue before voters in the 2016 election, members of the public will have an opportunity to offer their opinions on an issue voters decided in 2006. Garden Island.

As of June, Kauai police have issued 539 tickets to violators operating hand-held mobile electronic devices while driving, according to KPD reports. Garden Island.

It’ll be another two to three months until Green Energy Team’s $90 million biomass-to-energy facility in Koloa starts producing steam. Garden Island.