Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Tropical Storm Guillermo stays north of Hawaii, astronomers convention faces protests, turtles close USS Arizona Memorial, Hawaii county council takes up Roundup regs today, Native Hawaiians to vote on governance, Kauai group mulls marijuana dispensary, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy Central Pacific Hurricane Center
Tuesday 5 a.m. Tropical Storm Guillermo, courtesy Central Pacific Hurricane Center
Tuesday 5 a.m. update: Weakened Tropical Storm Guillermo expected to stay north of Hawaiian Islands. Hawaii and Maui counties remain under tropical storm watch. Central Pacific Hurricane Center.

An international gathering of astronomers began in Honolulu on Monday, a two-week event that University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy Director Gunther Hasinger described as “the Olympic Games of our discipline.” Star-Advertiser.

Election Details Going Out to Native Hawaiian Roll Voters. It’s in order to participate in the process of a future constitutional convention for kanaka maoli self-governance. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii Health Connector insurance exchange has issued a request for proposals for an IT vendor to archive its data and dismantle its system as it winds down operations. After spending approximately $130 million on the Connector system build-out, the state has opted to move to the federal healthcare.gov exchange, instead of the Hawaii Health Connector, which was established as a nonprofit entity in 2011. Pacific Business News.

Amid dismal voter turnout numbers, state leaders will speak in the courtyard of the state Capitol on Thursday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the federal Voting Rights Act and kick off a local effort to encourage more residents to vote. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Lawmakers Tour Marijuana Stores in Colorado. A dozen of our legislators were reported to be in Vail last week for the Council of State Governments West annual convention. Civil Beat.

Hawaii regulators are calling on a nationally known expert in "Demand Response," a program that gets consumers to shift their electricity use during peak periods, according to public documents. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii's average mortgage closing costs of $2,163 are the highest in the nation, according to a new comparison. Star-Advertiser.

Thirty boats left Hawaii this weekend on a unique mapping mission: To record the size and location of the plastic garbage over 1.4 million square miles of the Pacific Ocean. Associated Press.

Oahu
The state Public Utilities Commission said Monday it approved four of seven utility-scale solar projects on Oahu, placing conditions to make sure residents won’t have to pay if developers miss out on a federal tax credit. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaiian Electric Co.’s current controversial rooftop solar photovoltaic program, which has been major driver responsible for the record amounts of residential solar being integrated into the utility’s grid, has some serious issues, according to a new report from the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization. Pacific Business News.

Protected sea turtles with a newfound interest in the floating dock for the USS Arizona Memorial have resulted in about 7,000 people not being able to set foot on the memorial since Wednesday, the National Park Service said. Star-Advertiser.

Homelessness was one of the issues taken up at the National Association for Rural Mental Health conference in Waikiki over the weekend. Hawaii Public Radio.

While new places to relocate homeless people were being talked about at the Capitol on Monday, more of them were displaced a few miles away — this time, from an encampment under the H-1 freeway by the Hawaii Department of Transportation. Civil Beat.

The state Department of Transportation on Monday cleaned out a small but troublesome homeless encampment across from the Market City Shopping Center — and Gov. David Ige and Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell hours later said they’re still working on a plan to clear out the expanding homeless encampment in Kakaako. Star-Advertiser.

City officials are ending a long-time deal that was designed to help protect an East Oahu nature preserve while also providing access to fishing clubs. Hawaii News Now.

About 40 tons of contaminated soil from Radford High School wound up in the backyard of a home in the exclusive Haiku Plantations community in Kaneohe. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu's planned rail line drew significantly fewer state tax dollars than expected this past quarter. The project received $52.3 million in rail taxes during the quarter that ended June 30. That's more than $8 million short of the amount that had been projected. Associated Press.

Hawaii

Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille is making good on her vow to ease the island away from Roundup and similar herbicide applications at county parks and along county-maintained thoroughfares. Wille’s Bill 71, to be heard by the council Committee on Environmental Management on Tuesday, would ban a long list of herbicides, including Monsanto Co.’s glyphosate-based Roundup. West Hawaii Today.

Six scientists will spend a year together in isolation on the Big Island as they embark on the longest Mars habitat simulation ever attempted in the United States. Starting Aug. 28, the crew of three men and three women will lock themselves in a small dome on Mauna Loa’s north flank, to venture outside only in hazmat or space suits. Tribune-Herald.

Following discussions with the Hawaii County Department of Parks and Recreation and other county officials earlier this month, backers of the proposed Kona Motorsport Park say they’re placing the concept of a fairgrounds and dirt bike raceway front and center and putting a controversial plan for a drag strip on the far back burner. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Trade ministers from a dozen Pacific Rim nations meeting on Maui failed to reach a deal on a new trade agreement that would cover nearly 40 percent of the global economy, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said. Associated Press.

Unresolved legal challenges to construction of the Daniel K. Inouye Telescope atop Haleakala were cited Sunday by a protesters' group as fueling the outrage that led to 20 arrests late Thursday and early Friday at the Central Maui Baseyard. Maui News.

Maui County protests against Haleakala telescope, TPP are really heating up. MauiTime.

A proposed 60-megawatt wind farm can bring hundreds of thousands of dollars to Kahikinui homesteaders and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, but some residents say the windmills would desecrate the area. Maui News.

After Oahu spill, HC&S molasses now shipped from Maui to Mainland. Matson no longer ships molasses; alternative shipper found. Maui News.

Kauai

The U.S. military says it has successfully tested an interceptor that can shoot down ballistic missiles as well as airplanes. The Missile Defense Agency said Monday the destroyer USS John Paul Jones tested the technology during a series of flight tests off Kauai over the past week. Star-Advertiser.

The fight over how much money to set aside for the county’s Open Spaces Fund is not over. On Wednesday, Councilman Gary Hooser will introduce a resolution that, if approved, will ask voters in the 2016 election to decide whether to amend the county charter in order to permanently increase the amount of money specifically earmarked for the fund. Garden Island.

A group of Kauai stakeholders plans to apply for a medical marijuana dispensary on the island, and hopes to make it 100 percent locally funded and operated. Garden Island.