Wednesday, September 16, 2015

ACLU to sue over Honolulu homeless sweeps, rail shortfall tops $1B, year delay; most students not proficient in reading, math; Mauna Kea stone alter removal protested; GMO discussed on Big Island; more sewage than first thought; electric power dispute on Maui, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation
Honolulu rail project, courtesy HART
n a letter sent Tuesday to the mayor and the City Council chairman, two of rail’s top leaders said the project could cost an additional $200 million to build on top of the $910 million budget shortfall that it already faces. That would push rail’s shortfall above $1 billion and its  total price tag well above $6 billion. Also, the 20-mile, 21-station system could take about a year longer to complete, opening at full capacity sometime in 2021 instead of 2020, they said. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu will likely have to push back the opening of its full 20-mile commuter rail line by at least a year due construction delays and changes in how the project will be built. The elevated rail line could also cost up to $200 million more than currently projected, which would push its growing shortfall to more than $1 billion. Civil Beat.

Four miles of rail guideway are competed, with 16 more to go. KITV4.

In a letter, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation told the mayor and city councilmembers that the project is facing a $900 million shortfall. HART now believes that number could grow another $200 million, which would mean a shortfall of more than $1 billion. KHON2.

Fewer than half of Hawaii public school students tested proficient in language arts while roughly 2 in 5 students met or exceeded benchmarks in mathematics on the new, more rigorous Smarter Balanced Assessment, according to scores released Tuesday by the state Department of Education. Star-Advertiser.

Less than half of the state’s keiki are currently making the grade in English and mathematics, according to new public school assessment scores. The Hawaii Department of Education reported Tuesday afternoon that 48 percent of third- through 11th-graders met or exceeded standardized test benchmarks in English language arts, and 41 percent did the same in math. Tribune-Herald.

A total of $8,610,632 in federal grants were awarded to 11 projects in Hawaiʻi to support Native Hawaiian education. Maui Now.

Hawaii Department of Education officials say the effort to cool overheated classrooms is being treated as a crisis, likening the matter to its response to the lava flow threat on the Big Island last year. Associated Press.

Randy Iwase, chairman of the state Public Utilities Commission, said Tuesday recent statements from politicians — including Gov. David Ige and U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz — will not affect his decision on whether to approve NextEra Energy Inc.’s purchase of Hawaiian Electric Industries. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

The City and County of Honolulu’s recent sweeps targeting homeless populations will face a legal challenge after the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii said Tuesday it will file a federal lawsuit against the city. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii’s largest emergency homeless shelter recently settled a civil rights complaint after it allegedly turned a disabled woman away. Other disabled people experience similar discrimination when seeking housing. Civil Beat.

A state-owned industrial property next to the Pier 38 Honolulu Fishing Village on Nimitz Highway is being eyed as the site for a state transitional homeless shelter, state homeless services coordinator Scott Morishige told the Honolulu City Council on Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

A Honolulu City Council Committee was briefed today on affordable housing options for people who are one step away from being homeless. Hawaii Public Radio.

Crews will start installing sections of a fence along the Kapalama Canal on Wednesday in an effort to prevent homeless from camping out in the area that was once lined with tents on both sides. Hawaii News Now.

A mathematical error caused city engineers to underestimate by about 200,000 gallons the size of a massive sewage spill that closed Waikiki Beach and Ala Moana Beach Park last month. The spill, now estimated at 587,150 gallons, with 462,050 gallons reaching the ocean, occurred Aug. 24 during heavy rainfall. Star-Advertiser.

Less than a year since the protected bike lane on South King Street opened to the public, City Councilman Joey Manahan wants to build another one on North King Street. KITV4.

The battle between the city and a company claiming to own portions of streets in Kakaako is nearing a deadline. KHON2.

The State Executive Committee of the Hawaii Republican Party has voted to remove Tito Montes “for cause” from the office of chair of House District 40 (Ewa Beach, Ewa Gentry, Iroquois Point). Civil Beat.

Hawaii retailer Hilo Hattie will close its flagship Honolulu store on Nimitz Highway after more than 30 years in the same location and plans to relocate the company's office and warehouse within the next two months as a part of its attempt to re-emerge from bankruptcy for a second time. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii
It may be a small island, but folks on the two sides of the GMO debate seem to be worlds apart. When Margery Bronster took the podium at an annual meeting of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture in Keauhou to sketch out the reasons she’s fought with the counties over the cultivation of genetically modified organisms, she did so as GMO opponents pointed to the one-sidedness of hearing only from Bronster and not the other side of the GMO debate. West Hawaii Today.

The destruction of an ahu on the side of Mauna Kea Access Road has angered Thirty Meter Telescope opponents who dedicated it to the god Kane more than two months ago. Tribune-Herald.

Opponents of building a giant telescope on Mauna Kea are decrying the destruction of a stone altar they built near the construction site. Star-Advertiser.

People protesting the construction of a giant telescope on a Hawaiian mountain they hold sacred are decrying the destruction of a stone altar they built near the construction site. Associated Press.

A couple’s plans to subdivide their Holualoa property so their daughter can build a house there has met with so much opposition that they’ve asked that it be pulled from today’s County Council agenda. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Two renewable energy projects proposed by California-based Anaergia Services are on hold until Maui Electric Co. agrees to buy the energy that would come from the projects. Maui News.

Several County Council committee meetings have not been aired live recently because of a fire in a county building broadcast room and a video switch "inadvertently" being turned off, county and television officials said. Maui News.

When you’ve already lost the same election twice in a row, I guess you need to try some unusual campaign tactics. In his third attempt now at winning the Wailuku-Waihee-Waikapu Maui County Council seat, land broker Joe Blackburn has already told the press that he and his people would pluck weeds from Eha Street in Wailuku and give out free pancakes. Now he’s trying donuts. MauiTime.

Coral bleaching has been reported along the coastline from the Ahihi Kinau Natural Area Reserve in South Maui to Kapalua Bay in West Maui and off Molokini and is expected to be "the worst we have ever seen," a state Department of Land and Natural Resources official said. Maui News.

Kauai
The Kauai County Council will meet at 8:30 a.m. today in the council chambers at the Historic County Building. The council will consider a bill for an ordinance to amend the county’s fiscal year 2015-2016 budget to revise the amounts in the general fund, highway fund, liquor fund, solid waste fund, sewer fund and golf fund. Garden Island.

One of the biggest elections for Native Hawaiian self-governance is set to take place in November, and certified Kauai County voters will have a chance to elect two representatives in a 40-member delegation. Garden Island.

The Department of Agriculture could not determine the exact cause of death for more than 10 chickens that died last week in front of the Historic County Building, but have ruled out avian flu. Garden Island.