Thursday, November 19, 2015

Chinese Navy to visit Honolulu, Hawaii business is brisk, residents favor solar, Honolulu rail tax advances, dengue fever response slow, Maui Olowalu development opposed, Kauai finalizes legislative wish list, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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The state of Hawaii plans to select a contractor for a major project to cool 11 of its Downtown Honolulu buildings, including the State Capitol — a total of nearly 1.3 million square feet of space — with a seawater air conditioning system in an effort aimed at reducing future costs. Pacific Business News.

Three Chinese navy ships will stop in Hawaii on the final leg of an around-the-world deployment meant to show China’s expanding global military capability, but also highlighting ongoing relations between the United States and People’s Liberation Army despite disagreement in the South China Sea. Star-Advertiser.

“China is testing us,” states a new report from Hawaii Pacific University that warns of a shortage of U.S.-flagged merchant ships and China’s ability to potentially withhold its own booming shipping to limit U.S. deliveries of consumer goods or troop supplies in a crisis. Star-Advertiser

A new poll done by SMS Research on behalf of The Alliance for Solar Choice reports that 97 percent of the respondents support more rooftop solar in Hawaii, and oppose state regulators’ recent decision to do away with net energy metering, a big reason for the record growth of this type of renewable energy in the Islands. Pacific Business News.

In its final quarterly forecast of 2015, the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism said Wednesday that it is slightly revising upward its visitor arrival projection for 2016 and noted that labor market conditions improved through the first three quarters with civilian labor force, employment and payroll jobs hitting historically high levels during that period. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii state economists predict 1% inflation and 2.4% economic growth this year, after their revising their forecast with summer data. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii is in the midst of a construction boom with cranes dotting the skyline throughout the islands. KITV4.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has given Hawaii a $660,422 award for the exemplary performance of its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Civil Beat.

The U.S. Navy is expected to prepare a new environmental impact statement for sonar training and testing exercises in the Pacific Ocean in response to concerns for the safety of whales, dolphins, turtles and other marine life. Maui News.

Oahu

The Honolulu City Council Budget Committee gave preliminary approval Wednesday to a bill that would extend Oahu’s 0.5 percent surcharge on the general excise tax through 2027 to help pay for the $6.57 billion rail project. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu City Council Budget Committee passed a measure Wednesday to extend for five years a 0.5 percent surcharge on the general excise tax to pay for the escalating costs of the $6.6 billion rail project. Civil Beat.

The Honolulu City Council’s Budget Committee today focused on financing for Honolulu’s rail transit project. Hawaii Public Radio.

Honolulu officials have approved a bill that would extend a tax surcharge to pay for the $6.57 billion rail project. Hawaii News Now.

University of Hawaii-Manoa Chancellor Robert Bley-Vroman has initiated a search for a permanent director for the financially struggling UH Cancer Center, the university announced this afternoon. Star-Advertiser.

Almost exactly a year after Michele Carbone resigned as director of the struggling University of Hawaii Cancer Center, the UH is initiating a formal search process for his replacement. Civil Beat.

The Honolulu City Council’s Zoning and Planning Committee deferred action this week on two bills pertaining to the last undeveloped phase of Haseko’s Ewa Beach development after several community members raised concerns about building near the shoreline. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu’s Section 8 program got a “High Performer” rating from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which funds the rental subsidy program that’s officially known as the Housing Choice Voucher Program. Civil Beat.

The city's new facility to help the homeless officially opens Thursday in Sand Island. Hawaii News Now.

Businessman Duane Kurisu has been looking at a 13-acre parcel just off Nimitz Highway — and seeing a lot of promise. In Kurisu’s vision, the state-owned land could be the perfect place for a “plantation-style” village for homeless families and single mothers with children — up to 300 of them. Civil Beat.

A group of 20 protesters joined The Alliance for Solar Choice, a solar activist group, at the King Kamehameha statute on King Street on Wednesday to rally against the recent Public Utilities Commission decision to end a popular solar incentive program. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Two West Hawaii lawmakers are calling for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization to send medical experts to help quell the dengue fever disease before it becomes endemic. West Hawaii Today.

As the number of confirmed cases of dengue fever rises on Hawaii Island, two doctors-turned-lawmakers are challenging state officials – in writing and on video – to step up the response to the outbreak. Big Island Video News.

The state Department of Health says it addressed issues which, in some cases, slowed the delivery of results from dengue fever blood tests to Hawaii Island residents. Tribune-Herald.

The state Department of Health confirmed Wednesday that 72 people have contracted dengue fever on Hawaii island, up by seven from Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

Hilo garbage soon will be making its way across the island to the West Hawaii landfill at Puuanahulu, thanks to a unanimous vote Wednesday by the Hawaii County Council. West Hawaii Today.

A 13-acre Ka‘u property that once hosted Native Hawaiian sporting events came closer to being preserved Wednesday. In a 9-0 vote, the Hawaii County Council gave final approval to a resolution authorizing Finance Director Deanna Sako to negotiate acquisition of the land near Naalehu. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

A proposed development of a small town at Olowalu with 1,500 homes, hundreds of potential ohana units, stores, schools, parks and a mauka realignment of Honoapiilani Highway ran into a buzz-saw of opposition Wednesday before the state Land Use Commission. Maui News.

As of noon on Wednesday, Nov. 18, the state Land Use Committee heard from 31 of the 84 Maui residents who signed up to testify at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s McCoy Studio Theater regarding acceptance of the Olowalu Town LLC and Olowalu Ekolu LLC’s Final Environmental Impact Statement, a 3,000-page document made available to the public 18 days ago. Maui Now.

Maui County has fully recovered from the Great Recession and is breaking previous records in labor force, employment and job count, as well as generating three-quarters of a billion dollars' worth of construction work over the past year, a state administrator and county official said Wednesday. Maui News.

It’s been six months since Always Investigating first told you about a fancy kitchen in a Maui County building, paid for with tax dollars on a county credit card. Now, we’ve finally gotten a look inside and learned more about how long it’s been there. KHON2.

Widening work has started on Old Haleakala Highway in Pukalani. BCP Construction of Hawaii Inc. is the contractor for the more than $1 million county sidewalk improvement project. Maui News.

Commentary: Dust can be a big hassle. Even a health hazard. Ask the good people at Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar (HC&S), which runs Pu`unene sugar mill–the last one in the state. State health officials recently busted the mill for producing too much dust in one of its fields. But a warning to those members of the public who wish to complain about it: you’re in for a long and frustrating duel with bureaucrats if you do. MauiTime.

Kauai

The county has finalized a $7 million list of five projects that will be seeking state funding in January. Garden Island.

A master plan that will set a vision for Black Pot Beach Park over the next 20 years was the topic of a public discussion attended by Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr., members of a Honolulu-based planning agency hired by the county and more than 100 community members. Garden Island.

Mark Oyama was recognized and congratulated by the County Council for his induction into the 2015 Hawaii Restaurant Hall of Fame in ceremonies on Sept. 21. Garden Island.