Thursday, October 1, 2015

Gov. Ige goes paperless, auditor targets growing IT problems, Hawaii tourism dollars fly homeless back to mainland, online travel companies to pay $53M in back taxes, 209 vie for 40 Native Hawaiian delegate slots, Maui homeless next project, Big Island opposes NextEra utility purchase, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy Hawaii Governor's Office
Gov. David Ige goes paperless, courtesy Governor's Office
In an effort to get a grip on the growing cost of complex state computer projects, the state auditor has hired a private auditing firm to finally inventory how much state agencies are actually spending on information technology, and what the projects are designed to accomplish. Star-Advertiser.

In an effort to make government more efficient, Hawaii Gov. David Ige plans to start processing all documents electronically starting Thursday, according to a press release from his office. Civil Beat.

A unit set up in the state Attorney General’s Office to combat Medicaid fraud has failed to communicate with federal authorities about its investigations and worked on cases that were not allowed under a federal grant, according to the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Star-Advertiser.

The state Attorney General’s office said Wednesday that online travel companies will have to pay $53.1 million in general excise taxes, penalties and interest stemming from litigation that began in 2011. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaiian vacation tab has arrived for nine online travel companies, and it’s a big one. The companies, including Travelocity, Expedia, Orbitz and Priceline, owe the state of Hawaii $53.1 million in general excise taxes, penalties and interest, the state Tax Appeal Court ruled. Civil Beat.

Hawaii’s attorney general on Wednesday said the state has recovered more than $53.1 million in general excise tax, penalties and interest from nine online travel companies, following a final judgement by the state Tax Appeal Court. West Hawaii Today.

A federal research vessel returned to Honolulu on Wednesday after discovering perhaps a dozen species never seen before in an expedition exploring the coral reefs of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands at greater depths than ever before. Among the discoveries was a possible new species of sea horse and a sea star previously not seen in Hawaii. Star-Advertiser.

The list of delegates running in a election this fall to establish a way forward for Native Hawaiian self-determination includes a lot of names that will be familiar to many people. Civil Beat.

Some 209 candidates will vie for 40 delegate positions across the islands for the Native Hawaiian ‘aha constitutional convention that will work to form a Native Hawaiian government. Star-Advertiser.

209 candidates are running for 40 spots to help form a Native Hawaiian government.  The long-awaited list of people wanting to participate in the landmark Na'i Aupuni election was released just one day after the Department of Interior announced a pathway toward federal recognition for Native Hawaiians -- which has some asking what impact, if any, it will have on the November vote. Hawaii News Now.

Throughout November of 2015, Native Hawaiians who have been registered by the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission will be able to vote for 40 delegates to attend an ʻaha, or convention, in which those delegates will convene for the purpose of working out the details of a new Hawaiian government and determining what relationship the governing entity would have with the Hawaiian community, as well as with the State of Hawai‘i and the United States of America.  Hawaii Independent.

What does it mean to be local in Hawaii? That’s a discussion we’re diving into in a new thread in our popular Connections section. It launches today with a podcast featuring former Gov. Ben Cayetano and a story by a young man who left his dream life in Hawaii because he didn’t feel local enough. Civil Beat.

Oahu
The Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association pledged Wednesday to expand the Waikiki homeless outreach program that in the past 11 months served 355 people, including 115 who were assisted with buying airline tickets to leave the state. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s tourism industry and the state’s biggest homeless shelter operator are partnering to expand a program that flies homeless people back to the mainland. Civil Beat.

Fence built to deter homeless camp causes parking shortage near Honolulu Community College. Hawaii News Now.

Imagine a flood that raised the level of the Ala Wai Canal just seven feet. It's possible, and engineers are working on a way to keep those waters from overflowing into Waikiki. Hawaii News Now.

Traffic, street parking, drainage and loss of the community’s character were among the issues raised by neighbors at a public meeting Wednesday about the proposed Skyline Honolulu condominium on the slopes of Punchbowl crater. Star-Advertiser.

Eight schools with large numbers of military dependents in West Oahu will benefit from a $1.5 million federal grant aimed at expanding learning opportunities in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. Star-Advertiser.

Alan Oshima, president and CEO of Hawaiian Electric Co., which is involved in a proposed $4.3 billion sale to NextEra Energy Inc., has met with the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission eight times this year, more than he did in the three previous years combined, according to public documents. Pacific Business News.

For more than a half century, the fountain at Kailua’s Pohakupu Mini Park has proudly welcomed visitors and residents into the Windward Oahu community. But for more than two years, it has sat in a state of disrepair. Its waters have gone from streaming to stagnant. KHON2.

Kamehameha Schools isn’t selling its leased fee interest in the 677 Ala Moana Building nor is it looking to buy the landmark Honolulu high-rise, a spokesman for the trust confirmed to Pacific Business News.

Hawaii

Area residents who spoke during a public meeting were almost universally opposed to the pending acquisition of Hawaii Island’s electric utility. More than 300 people attended the meeting, with dozens waiting in line to speak to the PUC members. Tribune-Herald.

Hundreds packed the Hilo High School cafeteria Tuesday night for the Hawaii Public Utility Commission’s public listening session for the Hawaiian Electric Companies and NextEra Energy docket, a multi-billion dollar deal said to be one of the biggest economic transactions in state history. Big Island Video News.

A handful of Big Island residents spent Tuesday evening under a pop-up tent in the parking lot of Hilo High School giving out buttons, bumper stickers, yard signs and gray T-shirts emblazoned with “Own The Power.” Civil Beat.

Thirty-two candidates are running for seven positions as Hawaii Island delegates to a Native Hawaiian constitutional convention, or aha, set for early next year. In all, more than 200 candidates qualified for a total of 40 delegate positions, the organization in charge of the election and convention announced Wednesday. West Hawaii Today.

A meeting opposed to the introduction of a marijuana grow site in Kohala included a strong current of local rule. West Hawaii Today.

A disagreement between the board that controls the roads in Hawaiian Ocean View Estates and two quarry companies over expansion of mining activities in the neighborhood played out before a Windward Planning Commission panel on Wednesday. West Hawaii Today.

With construction on Kamehameha Avenue reaching an end after a year and a half of work, a host of smaller roadway projects continue in the Hilo area. Work on Manono Street and Kapiolani Street began earlier this year. A reconstruction project on Komohana Street is set to begin this week. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

A Kahului resident has filed a petition to have the Maui Planning Commission consider sugar cane smoke when evaluating special management area use permits for projects near and around shorelines. Maui News.

The Grand Wailea reached a more than $3 million settlement Monday with nonmanagerial food and beverage workers owed back wages dating back to 2006, said a member of the class-action lawsuit. Maui News.

It’s been nearly a year since tourism officials funded a plan to tackle Waikīkī’s homeless problem. Now they’re looking to expand the model to neighbor islands, starting first on Maui. Hawaii Public Radio.

Since the announcement Sept. 23 that Kaiser Permanente has been chosen to take over Maui's three public hospitals, some - including Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui - have questioned what that would mean for residents who aren't insured by Kaiser. Maui News.

The Maui County Farm Bureau announced honorees of its annual award celebration, who were recognized for demonstrating tremendous support for Maui agriculture. Maui Now.

Kauai

Five candidates from Kauai County have been cleared to campaign in an upcoming private election for Native Hawaiian self-governance. Garden Island.