Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Hawaii attorney general gets serious about campaign spending laws, new executive director for struggling Hawaii GOP, Native Hawaiian election opponents seek injunction, Tax Office gets collection agency to nab scofflaws, NextEra Energy defends Hawaiian Electric purchase plan, Takai seeks federal road funds to backstop rail project, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Rep. James "Jimmy" Tokioka
In the first campaign spending violation ever prosecuted by the state attorney general's office, five-term state Rep. James Tokioka pleaded no contest Monday in Honolulu District Court and agreed to pay a fine of $1,000 for filing an incomplete and inaccurate campaign committee report. Star-Advertiser.

State Rep. James “Jimmy” Tokioka will pay $1,000 for violating campaign finance laws during the 2014 primary election, under a plea agreement entered Monday. Garden Island.

The plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging a Native Hawaiian voter roll and constitutional convention have asked a federal judge to halt an election of delegates while the case is being considered in court. West Hawaii Today.

State tax officials plan to hire a private collection agency to chase down tax delinquents, with a special focus on mainland accounts involving relatively long-term tax debtors who owe larger amounts. Star-Advertiser.

Na‘i Aupuni, the newly formed organization the Office of Hawaiian Affairs has entrusted with the management of the current Native Hawaiian self-determination process, set the registration deadline to file as a delegate candidate to the Native Hawaiian constitutional convention, or ‘Aha, for September 15. Hawaii Independent.

NextEra Energy Inc., the company looking to buy Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc., countered its critics in a state filing Monday, promising to bring down fixed costs on customer bills while helping Hawaii meet its 100 percent renewable electric power goal. Star-Advertiser.

NextEra Energy and Hawaiian Electric are piling on the promises to help their proposed $4.3 billion merger deal win the approval of the state Public Utilities Commission over the coming year. Civil Beat.

NextEra Energy Inc., the Florida company proposing to buy Hawaiian Electric Co. for $4.3 billion, outlined 50 new commitments Monday, including nearly $1 billion in customer savings and economic benefits in the first five years after the deal closes that are aimed at addressing concerns from Gov. David Ige, the Consumer Advocate and the 28 intervenors in the case before state regulators. Pacific Business News.

NextEra Energy hopes its latest filing before the Public Utilities Commission will show how its proposed $4.3 billion purchase of the Hawaiian Electric companies will benefit consumers. Tribune-Herald.

Florida-based company NextEra Energy is defending its plans to acquire Hawaiian Electric, saying that it is committed to Hawaii's renewable energy goals. Executives from the company filed written responses to the Public Utilities Commission addressing concerns raised by Gov. David Ige, the Consumer Advocate and others on Monday, outlining 50 new promises on issues including retaining local management. Associated Press.

NextEra Energy Inc. plans to expand Hawaiian Electric Co.'s smart meter pilot project to nearly all of its 450,000 customers in Hawaii. That's a key highlight of the Florida company's latest filing, in which NextEra promises 50 new conditions or benefits for consumers as part of its $4.3 billion buyout of HECO. Hawaii News Now.

NextEra and Hawaiian Electric filed hundreds of pages of documents in its case before the Public Utilities Commission Monday, the same day a local solar industry group began running ads against the merger on social media. KITV4.

NextEra Seeks to Control Hawai`i Message. Yesterday morning NextEra sent out copies of some of their rebuttal testimony to selected members of the press. NextEra granted interviews to some media people. Ililani Media.

Marcia Tagavilla appointed new Hawaii Republican Party executive director. MauiTime.

The Hawaii Republican Assembly, far right faction of the state’s GOP (the self-declared “Republican wing of the Republican party”) has sent out an open letter written by its outspoken president, Tito Montes, in which he accuses Fritz Rohlfing JR., current state chair of the Hawaii Republican Party, of “unethical and potentially illegal activities and repeated malfeasance…”  Hawaii Independent.

Always Investigating found a homeless-student problem far bigger than any high-profile encampment. Thousands across our state and in the classrooms face hurdles just to get to school, and some may be falling through the cracks. KHON2.

Only eight states are worse for drivers than Hawaii, according to a new study. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

U.S. Rep. Mark Takai is touting a new proposal that he says could help the state reduce its more than $600 million backlog in federal highway projects and, at the same time, help ease the Honolulu rail project's budget problems. Star-Advertiser.

U.S. Rep. Mark Takai said on Monday the state needs to spend money faster or risk missing out on new appropriations from Congress. Hawaii News Now.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is proposing a $173 million project to minimize damage to Waikiki and surrounding neighborhoods if a “100-year flood” causes the Ala Wai Canal to overflow. Such a flood —  which has a 1 percent chance of occurring in any given year — would destroy 3,000 properties and cause $318 million in structural damages, according to the Corps’ newly released analysis. Civil Beat.

Want some free public land on Diamond Head with a million-dollar view? Multi-millionaire Angus Mitchell has apparently used  state land beside his house on Diamond Head’s southeastern slopes rent-free for nearly a decade, according to state Department of Land and Natural Resources documents. Civil Beat.

The City and County of Honolulu plans to notify the homeless living on the outer edges of the Kaka’ako encampment that they must vacate the area by September 8th. Hawaii Public Radio.

The University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program was recognized this week as one of the best in the nation by the U.S. Army Cadet Command and the Gen. Douglas MacArthur Foundation. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii

The first-ever Big Island Cacao Conference at the Komohana Research Station was a blend of brainstorming and assessment with, of course, a bit of delicious chocolate mixed in. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

A total of 100 fans were donated today to middle and intermediate public schools as part of the “Keep Our Keiki Cool” program initiated by Goodfellow Brothers and Lieutenant Governor Shan Tsutsui. Maui Now.

Kauai
County officials announced that repair work on the seawall fronting Pono Kauai Resort in Kapaa will begin on Sept. 8. Garden Island.

Molokai

A Molokai High School junior and her sister predict that if no management plan is done on the invasive red mangrove on Molokai it will overtake nearly 40 percent of Molokai's fringing reef in the next century. Maui News.