Friday, September 25, 2015

Bullish on the economy, Tropical Storm Niala forms, attorneys want to help marijuana dispensaries, Maui settles clean water lawsuit, Big Island pot sweep, Kauai gets solar project, Caldwell wants answers on rail costs, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii economists are getting more bullish on the state’s expansion. The University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization is the latest group to revise upward some of its growth projections as the state closes in on a fourth straight year of record tourism and the construction sector continues rebounding. Star-Advertiser.

A tropical storm, located about 460 miles southeast of Hilo or 665 miles southeast of Honolulu, will bring heavy rain and high surf to the Hawaiian islands starting this weekend. Hawaii News Now.

The tropical depression expected to become Tropical Storm Niala is the 11th cyclone this hurricane season in the Central North Pacific, tying the record for the most such storms. Star-Advertiser.

Former Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle and former state Attorney General David Louie are urging the Hawaii Supreme Court to reverse an opinion barring lawyers from helping to establish medical marijuana dispensaries. Star-Advertiser.

Former Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle and former Attorney General David Louie have sent letters to the state Supreme Court urging the justices to change a recent opinion by their Disciplinary Board that warns attorneys against helping applicants seeking medical marijuana dispensary licenses. Civil Beat.

A group of 25 lawyers has submitted a letter to the Hawaii Supreme Court to reexamine a recent disciplinary board decision prohibiting lawyers to provide legal services to medical marijuana business hopefuls. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige didn’t reveal his stance on NextEra Energy Inc.’s $4.3 billion acquisition of Hawaiian Electric Co. to local business leaders at an industry event this week, nor did his director of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, which is taking part in the regulatory review of the deal. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii Board of Education members will meet a few hours later than usual Oct. 20 in hopes of attracting a larger audience and encouraging greater public participation. Civil Beat.

Hawaii has the highest percentage of middle market businesses owned by non-whites in the country, according to a recent report from American Express and Dun & Bradstreet. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Responding to rail leaders’ update that the project might cost even more and won’t stay on schedule, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is asking what did they know and when did they know it. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell would like some answers, please. After receiving a letter 10 days ago from the board chair and executive director of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation detailing more than $200 million in potential additional rail cost overruns and a likely one-year delay in the project’s completion, he replied to both leaders with a letter pointedly asking for details in six areas. Civil Beat.

State and city officials are calling for a major overhaul of taxicab regulations, including more robust background checks and drug testing for drivers, creating a database to track arrests and revisiting the Honolulu Airport contract. Star-Advertiser.

Some Kailua residents may be sleeping a little better after the capture of a coqui frog. KHON2.

Hawaii

State police confiscated more than 6,700 marijuana plants on the Big Island during two recent eradication missions. West Hawaii Today.

After removing a large tent from Mauna Kea earlier this week, state conservation officers were back on the mountain Thursday taking down canopy-style tents that appeared to have been erected by Thirty Meter Telescope opponents. Tribune-Herald.

Two Mauna Kea protesters addressed the 14th annual Native Hawaiian Conference today.  They presented their own perspectives on why they oppose the telescope project. Hawaii Public Radio.

A Hilo-based aerospace agency plans to build a prototype for a launching and landing pad this fall that could help bring the concept of sustainability into space. Tribune-Herald.

Waimea residents are raising concerns about a former service station they say has become an eyesore in their community. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Maui County could end up paying $2.5 million for projects to divert and reuse wastewater from Lahiana injection wells, under a settlement reached in a federal lawsuit over Clean Water Act violations. Maui Now.

Maui County has reached a settlement with environmental groups over penalties for releasing partially treated wastewater into injection wells close to Lahaina's coast. The settlement filed in federal court in Honolulu on Thursday requires Maui County to come up with safer ways to dispose of wastewater at its Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility, said Earthjustice attorney David Henkin. Associated Press.

In the first two months of the fiscal year, the Maui Police Department spent more than 30 percent of its overtime budget, in large part due to protests over transports for the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope at Haleakala, officials said. Maui News.

Maui County Council Member Elle Cochran has filed a complaint with the state Campaign Spending Commission alleging illegal campaign coordination between a super political action committee and her former opponent for the West Maui residency council seat, Ka'ala Buenconsejo, the current county Department of Parks and Recreation director. Maui News.

The Maui regional board of the Hawaii Health Systems Corp. has selected Kaiser Permanente to take over operations of Maui Memorial Medical Center and Kula and Lanai Community hospitals. Maui News.

Fitch Ratings has assigned an AA+ rating to the following Maui County general obligation bonds. Maui Now.

Kauai

Kauai Island Utility Cooperative turned on the island’s largest solar facility Sept. 10, the cooperative said Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

The Planning Department is updating the general plan, a comprehensive, long-range document that serves as a guide for future land use and planning decisions on Kauai. Garden Island.

Suzanne Case is in charge of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, which has jurisdiction of nearly 1.3 million acres of state lands, beaches and coastal waters, as well as 750 miles of coastline. But of the DLNR’s wide reach in Hawaii, it is Kauai with which Case feels a strong connection. Garden Island.