Friday, August 14, 2015

Group sues over Native Hawaiian election, Tax Department revamp coming, ahi fishermen reach limit, state works on marijuana dispensary rules, charter school applicants denied, parking lot woes on Maui, Kauai transfer station investigated, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Native Hawaiian children at play © 2015 All Hawaii News
A lawsuit filed Thursday is challenging an election solely for Native Hawaiians, saying it's unconstitutional to restrict voting to those who have Native Hawaiian ancestry. Associated Press.

Four Native Hawaiians and two non-Hawaiians filed a lawsuit Thursday in U.S. District Court in Honolulu seeking to block a “race-based” and “viewpoint- based” election planned this fall as a step toward establishing a sovereign Hawaiian government. Star-Advertiser.

A hui of four Native Hawaiians and two non-Hawaiians on Thursday filed a lawsuit against the state of Hawaii to halt what plaintiffs argue is “a racially exclusive election and constitutional convention designed to establish a sovereign Hawaiian nation.” Civil Beat.

The U.S. Department of the Interior has taken a major step toward federal recognition of Native Hawaiians. The agency has released the draft of a proposed rule regarding procedures to re-establish a government-to-government relationship with a native governing entity. Civil Beat.

Hawaii’s newly approved medical marijuana dispensary program is expected to fuel a multi-million-dollar industry starting next year. But a lot remains to be decided about program rules and how the state Department of Health will choose companies to receive eight coveted licenses to grow and sell cannabis. Civil Beat.

The state Tax Department is getting ready to enter the 21st century. The five-phase Tax System Modernization project kicked off with an announcement Thursday promising a wide range of improvements, including faster refunds on tax returns, better customer service and fraud protection. Civil Beat.

With the current El Nino event on pace to be among the most powerful on record, Hawaii will see no letup in the busy hurricane season, followed by a drier-than-normal winter that will worsen the state’s drought. In addition, weather experts predict the islands will experience more episodes of big surf during the winter. Star-Advertiser.

The state Public Charter School Commission voted Thursday to reject applications for three campuses proposed for Oahu and Kauai, citing serious concerns over incomplete academic and financial plans. Star-Advertiser.

The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism released the 2014 edition of the State of Hawaii Data Book on Thursday. Star-Advertiser

Stem Inc., a Hawaii Energy Excelerator energy storage and data analytics startup, has secured $45 million in funding, the California-based firm said Thursday. Pacific Business News.

Hawai‘i longline fishermen have hit their annual limit for bigeye tuna in Pacific waters, in the Western and Central Pacific region on August 5 and more recently in the Eastern Pacific for larger vessels. That doesn’t mean there won’t be tuna at local stores and restaurants. But it does mean some changes. Hawaii Public Radio.

Oahu

The Hawaii water commission is moving to exert greater pressure on state and federal authorities to negotiate a tougher agreement with the Navy to upgrade its aging Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Facility where 27,000 gallons of fuel leaked last year. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu Police Department needs new police cars, motorcycles, and video surveillance machines.  They've asked the Honolulu city council for $2.6 million from taxpayers but Hawaii News Now has found an HPD account that has six times that amount, just waiting to be used.

It's been nearly two months since a gas fire halted construction on Kapahulu Avenue. Repaving of the road has yet to restart, and that has some residents wondering what's up. KITV4.

A badly needed new parking lot at an Oahu elementary school has remained unused for nearly five months because of safety concerns, frustrating families tired of a parking crunch there. Hawaii News Now.

Administrators at Ewa Beach's Campbell High School will be using portable classrooms to alleviate overcrowding. Associated Press.

Macy’s is closing its department store in Downtown Kailua in Windward Oahu, one of the largest ground lease tenants acquired by Alexander & Baldwin Inc. nearly two years ago, both the retailer and the head of A&B's Kailua properties confirmed to Pacific Business News Thursday.

Hawaii

The state Attorney General’s Office remained mum Thursday on the status of a criminal investigation — or even if there’s an ongoing investigation at all — into Mayor Billy Kenoi’s use of his county-issued purchasing card, as the County Council prepares next week to clarify rules governing the taxpayer-backed pCards. West Hawaii Today.

According to defendants seeking Ho’oponopono following their April 2 arrests on Mauna Kea, the opposing sides have yet to meet to initiate the Hawaiian cultural process of making right. Big Island Video News.

Former state Rep. David Tarnas announced Thursday he’ll seek the District 7 state House seat currently held by Rep. Cindy Evans, a fellow Democrat. West Hawaii Today.

A quarantine to prohibit the movement of ohia trees, the soil surrounding them and ohia products from the Big Island is is likely to be approved this month in an attempt to stop the spread of a fungus that has the potential to kill the native trees throughout the islands. Civil Beat.

The mysterious and graceful manta ray is a Hawaii celebrity, attracting thousands annually to experience its nightly underwater feeding dance. Honoring the manta ray, Sheraton Kona Resort &Spa at Keauhou Bay will present Malama Hahalua, Manta Ray Week, Sunday through Aug. 22. West Hawaii Today

Maui

County of Maui says fire access is a big problem with new Shops at Wailea paid parking gates. MauiTime.

Maui County is seeking $160,000 from condo, vacation rental and time-share owners to help fund a study into ways to keep their beachfront property from washing away. Associated Press.

Hospital and state administrators expect to select either Kaiser Permanente Hawaii or Hawaii Pacific Health as a partner for Maui County’s three public hospitals by the end of September. Associated Press.

Kauai

An investigation is being launched by the Department of Health to determine if the Kauai County Hanalei Transfer Station is properly managing its stormwater containment areas, officials from the DOH confirmed with The Garden Island Wednesday.