Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Groups seek aquarium harvesting ban because of coral bleaching, judge to rule Friday on Native Hawaiian election, attorneys cleared to help medical marijuana dispensaries, students lag on tests, third telescope to be removed from Mauna Kea, Big Island advances ethics bills, fireworks and Christmas trees concern Honolulu council, Maui audit criticizes roadwork, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Yellow tang amid bleached coral in Hawaii © 2015 All Hawaii News
Sixteen environmental groups and two state agencies are asking Gov. David Ige and Department of Land and Natural Resources Chair Suzanne Case to issue an emergency moratorium on the collection of reef wildlife for aquarium purposes due to the effects of climate change. Civil Beat.

A federal judge says he'll rule on Friday whether an election for Natives Hawaiians can proceed. U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright heard arguments Tuesday in a lawsuit that says the state is improperly involved in a race-based election. Star-Advertiser.

After four hours of legal arguments on Tuesday by supporters and opponents of the current election for delegates to a Native Hawaiian political convention that both sides agree could be an important step toward some form of Hawaiian self-governance, federal Judge J. Michael Seabright said he will decide by the end of the week whether he will block the election from proceeding. Civil Beat.

Hawaii lawyers assisting the state's first medical marijuana dispensary applicants were provided relief Tuesday, thanks to a figurative pardon from the Hawaii Supreme Court. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii lawyers are allowed to assist people who are applying for licenses to grow and sell medical marijuana, according to a rule change approved by the Hawaii Supreme Court. Civil Beat.

Only 76 Hawaii public schools achieved proficiency of at least 51 percent of students on the math portion of the Smarter Balanced Assessment last school year, according to an analysis of data released Tuesday by the state Department of Education. Star-Advertiser.

The 2013-14 school year marked the second year Hawaii's public schools were evaluated under Strive HI, a new accountability system that replaces outdated requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law. Star-Advertiser.

The state has begun to scrutinize proposed contracts with private companies to determine whether they comply with an 18-year-old court decision that limits privatization of government services in Hawaii, and officials so far have identified 99 contracts that may need to be phased out because they conflict with that ruling. Star-Advertiser.

A Federal Communications Commission member sharply criticized his own agency this week, saying that for years “it turned a blind eye” to Honolulu telecommunications executive Albert Hee’s apparent use of ratepayer money to fund a lavish lifestyle of personal massages and family trips to Tahiti, France, Switzerland and Disney World, as well as college tuition for his kids and “salaries” to family members. Star-Advertiser.

Diabetes and cancer are rampant throughout Micronesia, largely thanks to the legacy of nuclear tests and Western culture. But most islands lack adequate medical facilities, making migration a necessity. Civil Beat.

Hawaii is on track to see more than 8 million visitors to the Islands once again this year, and tourism is expected to continue to drive the state's economic growth into 2016, according to a First Hawaiian Bank economist. Pacific Business News.

Despite not living up to expectations during the past several years, Hawaii's construction sector is finally showing signs of stronger growth, reaching double-digit percentage growth in completed activity in 2015, according to Jack Suyderhoud, economic advisor for First Hawaiian Bank. Pacific Business News.

An electrical workers union is now saying it supports NextEra Energy Inc.'s proposed purchase of Hawaiian Electric Industries after being in opposition of the sale since it was announced in December. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1260 had previously opposed HEI's sale to NextEra because the Florida-based company hadn't committed to training union workers for new jobs. Associated Press.

Oahu

Oahu residents could have the option to light up a limited number of fountain-type fireworks this New Year’s Eve under a bill that a Honolulu City Council committee approved Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu Rail’s Big Cash Problem. The City Council’s budget committee will weigh extending a half-cent tax Wednesday — and whether to cap rail funding in favor of other priorities. Civil Beat.

The family of Sheldon Haleck, who died on March 16 after an encounter with Honolulu police, is suing the department in federal court for the negligent use of force, alleging that officials have been trying to cover up the circumstances surrounding his death. Civil Beat.

A group of Honolulu City Council members want the state Legislature to appropriate enough money for public housing to renovate hundreds of empty units, according to a resolution approved Tuesday. Civil Beat.

Christmas is still more than two months away, but Oahu hotels could be getting an early Christmas present soon. Earlier this year, KHON2 told you how the city planned to enforce a rule that prevented some places from having a real Christmas tree because of the concern over potential fires, but that could soon change.

Two weeks ago, the University of Hawaii shuttered Building 1 at the College of Education following a Hawaii News Now investigation that found students were learning in unsafe and unhealthy conditions. Now, COE professors are raising concerns about the space they’ve been moved to, which lacks crucial laboratory space and other equipment needed to teach Hawaii’s soon-to-be teachers.

Hawaii

The Hawaii County Council on Tuesday mulled a trio of ethics bills covering everything from official travel and pCard use to county contracts to the composition of the Board of Ethics itself. West Hawaii Today.

The Hawaii County Council on Tuesday delayed authorizing the purchase of former Makahiki grounds after a testifier accused the owners of having “inside information” regarding the Naalehu property. Tribune-Herald.

The United Kingdom Infrared Telescope will become the third observatory removed from Mauna Kea by the time the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope is complete. Guenther Hasinger, director of University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy, said there is no timeline yet for its decommissioning but noted the 36-year-old observatory could be studying the universe for another “six or seven years.” Tribune-Herald.

An Oahu fish farming technology company says it needs more time to launch what it describes as the world’s first free-floating “egg to fish” ahi farm off the Kohala Coast. This week, Hawaii Ocean Technology Inc. will be asking the state Board of Land and Natural Resources for its third time extension to begin building the 180-foot wide oceansphere — the first in up to 12 such pens the state approved for a 247-acre farm located three miles west of Malae Point. West Hawaii Today.

A Hilo Circuit Court judge Tuesday disqualified himself from hearing a felony theft case and indicated there might be no judges in East Hawaii who will preside over the case. The reason is the victims are Hilo District Judge Barbara Takase and her husband, Gerald Takase, the county’s director of liquor control. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

The county Department of Public Works' pavement preservation program is expected to prolong the life of county streets, but more can be done to ensure ailing roadways get the attention they need, according to an audit released Monday. Maui News.

The Maui Redevelopment Agency is looking to launch a safety ambassador program by December in Wailuku town, where retired police officers, firefighters and others will work to decrease crime and to find aid for homeless people in the town. Maui News.

A group of young Native Hawaiians have organized to form Nā Makalehua, a collective consisting of 19 individuals who are seeking delegate seats to participate in the Na‘i Aupuni Native Hawaiian constitutional convention. Maui Now.

A fire in March knocked out Maui Electric Co.'s 819-kilowatt, ultra-low sulfur diesel generator at the Four Seasons Resort Lana'i at Manele Bay, and the utility is planning to replace the unit with insurance money. Maui News.

Kauai
Don’t let your guard down. That’s Jay Breidenbach’s advice as Hurricane Olaf approaches the Hawaiian islands. Garden Island.