Thursday, December 24, 2015

Legislature to reinstate civil service positions, alleged godfather of Hawaii underworld dies, unemployment tax drops, lawmaker wants police oversight panel, dengue scare closes another beach, another round of golf for Obama, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Shaka Santa in Honolulu © 2015 All Hawaii News
The state Legislature must reinstate hundreds of civil service positions that were abolished over the years. That process is only beginning. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii businesses got an early gift this year as the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations announced a 26 percent average drop in unemployment insurance rates Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

The state may be playing Santa. The state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations announced Wednesday that it is cutting the unemployment tax rate for businesses by 26 percent next year. Hawaii News Now.

Pension funding has been difficult for Hawaii and the state has one of the most underfunded pensions in the nation. Things got worse in the fiscal year that ended in June as the state is $200 million more in debt and that number will keep rising until 2023, Wes Machida, state finance director and former head of the Employee’s Retirement System told Pacific Business News.

Dozens of people have died over the years after encounters with Hawaii police officers, yet few details ever emerge about whether the officers’ actions were justified. Hawaii Sen. Will Espero wants to change all that in the 2016 legislative session with a bill that would create a civilian police oversight board to review in-custody deaths and police shootings. Civil Beat.

A total of 152 people were named Wednesday as delegates to a February constitutional convention that will discuss Native Hawaiian self-governance. But at least a couple of candidates were left off the final list issued by Na‘i Aupuni. And others are not happy with the terms of the event. Star-Advertiser.

There will be 152 Native Hawaiians participating in a gathering to discuss self-governance. Nai Aupuni, the organization formed to guide a now-canceled Native Hawaiian election, announced Wednesday that 44 people declined to participate. Associated Press.

Drivers with ignition interlock permits will be required to have their permits and a valid state identification card in their immediate possession while driving vehicles equipped with the devices, under a new law that takes effect Jan. 1. Maui News.

First Hawaiian Bank announced Wednesday that its parent company, French banking giant BNP Paribas, may offer stock in First Hawaiian to the public in what could amount to a more than $3 billion sale of the bank with 57 branches in Hawaii. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

President Barack Obama went across the island to golf at the Kapolei Golf Course this afternoon with a familiar foursome. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s Sierra Club opposes the state Department of Transportation’s to install “controversial new ultra-bright” LED streetlights in Honolulu. Civil Beat.

In the early hours of Tuesday, when the city’s maintenance crew arrived in Kakaako, it found a familiar scene: dozens of homeless people pushing their shopping carts and baby strollers full of their belongings, scurrying away from an impending sweep. Civil Beat.

The Tahiti Mahana Beach Resort and Spa has reached a new milestone on Saturday, with French Polynesia President Edouard Fritch signing a memorandum of understanding with an international group of investors assembled in effort led by Honolulu architecture firm, Group 70 International. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii

Larry Ehukai Mehau, a Big Island rancher and former Honolulu police vice sergeant who was friend to Hawaii governors as well as some of the state’s notorious crime figures, died Tuesday. He was 86. Star-Advertiser.

Larry Mehau, a Waimea rancher and businessman, died Tuesday. He was 86. Mehau was an influential and controversial political power-broker. A former Honolulu police officer, he was a close associate to Democrat governors John A. Burns and George Ariyoshi. Tribune-Herald.

A Hawaii Island businessman who denied being the godfather of organized crime in Hawaii has died. KHON2.

Hawaii County Civil Defense closed Milolii Beach Park in South Kona, the second West Hawaii park to shut down in the battle against dengue fever. West Hawaii Today.

Milolii Beach Park is closed until further notice “as a proactive and preventative measure” in response to the dengue fever outbreak, making it the second South Kona beach park to be closed since the disease began to spread around Hawaii Island. Big Island Video News.

State and federal officials have pulled together videos, maps and brochures about ohia wilt disease, hoping broad dissemination of information will make its way to members of hula groups and others who often collect ohia blossoms and leaves from forests for lei making. Star-Advertiser.

Researchers say the fungus currently threatening Hawaii’s ohia trees could have disastrous impacts on the state’s fragile ecosystem if the pathogen is allowed to spread unchecked. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Maui County political leaders had a wait-and-see reaction Tuesday to Gov. David Ige's proposed $13.7 billion state budget unveiled Monday. Maui News.

Popular tourist stop Iao Valley State Monument will be completely closed from Jan. 11 to 22 for improvements and the closing of two cesspools, forcing local tour companies to take their visitors elsewhere on the island. Maui News.

Opinion: As more luxury condos go up in Wailea, we look back on the original promises of ‘The City of Flowers’ MauiTime.

Kauai

Kauai residents and visitors are encouraged to take a brief online survey regarding potential transit improvements for the North and South shores and the Eastside of the island. Garden Island.

Forest grows, students learn. Winter internship program provides lessons on ecosystems. Garden Island.