Friday, August 21, 2015

Hawaii economy perking, state, county offices closed for Statehood Day, feds troubled by Honolulu's homeless children, Kauai term limits repeal doomed, Mauna Kea Thirty Meter Telescope conflict in court, Oahu senator violated ethics code, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii’s economic expansion is shaping up to be better than the state expected. Accelerated growth, more tourists, higher spending, increased construction permits and low unemployment were among the encouraging indicators in separate reports issued Thursday that showed the state is headed in the right direction. Star-Advertiser.

The construction industry in Hawaii continues to boom, with the value of private building permits issued during the first half of 2015 increasing by about 37 percent as compared with the same period a year ago, according to a new report by state economists. Pacific Business News.

Occupancy at Hawaii hotels increased on all islands last week, while the statewide average daily rate rose 2 percent, according to the weekly report from Hospitality Advisors LLC and STR Inc. Pacific Business News.

County and state offices will be closed on Friday, Aug. 21, in observance of Statehood Day, which is a state holiday. KHON2.

How serious is discrimination against Micronesians living and working Hawaii? Very serious, and it is found in our schools, our hospitals and clinics. It is also having a direct impact on Micronesians trying to find affordable housing and steady work. So said a dozen officials, social workers and community activists who shared their views at a hearing at the Hawaii State Capitol on Thursday. Civil Beat.

In an apparent effort to rein in speculation about her ambitions, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard announced Thursday that running for vice president of the United States “is certainly nothing I’ve ever thought of doing.” Star-Advertiser.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard says she’s open to the idea of running for vice president next year. The two-term Hawaii congresswoman said during a visit to Kauai on Wednesday she would consider an offer from a presidential candidate to join his or her ticket, the Garden Island newspaper reported. Civil Beat.

Pay raises totaling $1 million for nearly 200 University of Hawaii executives will take effect retroactive to July 1 following a unanimous vote Thursday by the university’s Board of Regents. Star-Advertiser.

Connecting the electric grids on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island needs to be continued to be looked at, the head of the Hawaii Energy Office told Pacific Business News in a recent exclusive interview. The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission is in the midst of a review process to determine if an undersea cable would be in the public interest.

No new cesspools could be installed in Hawaii if state Department of Health rule changes are adopted by Gov. David Ige. Maui News.

Oahu

The head of the state Ethics Commission said Thursday State Sen. Suzanne Chun Oakland has ignored his advice for five years that her involvement as the organizer of a popular children's event breaks the ethics code. Hawaii News Now.

The head of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness drove through the Kakaako homeless encampment this week and called it “one of the larger ones I’ve seen.” Star-Advertiser.

Peter Boylan is best known in Hawaii as a political operative, the former deputy chief of staff to the late U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye and campaign spokesman for former U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa’s failed Senate bid last year. But as of Monday, Boylan is the Honolulu City Council’s housing coordinator, a newly created position aimed at helping the Council address the city’s lack of affordable housing. Civil Beat.

Honolulu’s Department of Planning and Permitting should speed up permitting for state public housing projects, members of the City Council Zoning and Planning Committee said Thursday. The panel passed a resolution introduced by Council Chair Ernie Martin that urges the agency to work closely with the Housing Authority to minimize unnecessary delays in permitting. Civil Beat.

Alongside the lush and steep windward coast of the Hawaii island of Oahu researchers are creating images of coral reefs that are in danger of dying because of warm ocean waters. They are taking high-definition 360-degree panoramic images of the reefs and using them to monitor and study the health of corals over time. Associated Press.

The developer of a luxury condominium on the corner of Kapi’olani Boulevard and Ward Avenue is awaiting a crucial and, potentially costly, regulatory decision next month by the State. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii

The struggle for access to Mauna Kea continued Thursday during a hearing in Judge Ronald Ibarra’s Environmental Court. The case is a challenge to the emergency rule preventing people being on the access road or within one mile of either side from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. and prevents camping supplies being held in the area. West Hawaii Today.

The University of Hawaii must move more quickly to adopt the administrative rules that will empower it to govern the island’s highest summit. That’s according to Oahu Rep. Andria Tupola, who made the case in Kailua-Kona on Thursday that the Office of Mauna Kea Management must take decisive action. West Hawaii Today.

The Intermediate Court of Appeals has ruled that a charter school employee in Hilo violated the state ethics code by ordering and approving purchases for the school from his family businesses and is liable for $10,000 in fines levied by the state Ethics Commission. Star-Advertiser.

A dedication ceremony for a unique keiki playground took place at the Mauna Kea Recreation Area on Monday. Big Island Video News.

Maui

Eight protesters were arrested early Thursday after police said they found trees, rocks and glass on the roadway ahead of a convoy of telescope parts and materials traveling to the 10,000-foot summit of Haleakala. Star-Advertiser.

A total of eight people were arrested overnight during a demonstration against the ongoing construction of the Daniel K Inouye Solar Telescope atop Haleakalā. Maui Now.

Thirty Meter Telescope opponents, who continue to maintain a small camp near the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station, joined protesters on Maui as they attempted to block construction of a solar telescope. Tribune-Herald.

Two Wailuku patrol officers involved in a fatal shootout on Lower Main Street in June are back at work on full duty, after being found fit to return to their jobs, police officials said Wednesday. Maui News.

Kauai

Council Vice-Chair Ross Kagawa expects to come up one vote short in his quest to repeal term limits. Garden Island.

Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. returned a bill to repeal Kauai’s barking dog ordinance to the County Council on Thursday, unsigned. Garden Island.

State regulators said Thursday that a Hanalei River restoration project site does not appear to have discharged large amounts of sediment into Hanalei Bay as a result of heavy rainfall earlier this week. Garden Island.

A blessing was held Thursday to mark the opening of Kolopua, a workforce-housing complex in Princeville. Garden Island.

The Haena State Park of the future could include controlled entry, a 900-person daily visitor cap and beach access by way of an elevated boardwalk. More than 200 people gathered at the Hanalei School cafeteria Wednesday to hear Kimi Yuen, senior associate with contractor PBR Hawaii, explain the vision mapped out in a plan geared at renewing the park’s emphasis on Haena’s cultural and historical significance while resolving issues pertaining to large crowds, lack of parking and too much traffic. Garden Island.