Thursday, February 4, 2016

Gov. Ige to bring back Superferry; economists upbeat, blood quantum could be reduced for Hawaiian homelands; Honolulu lawsuits over Catholic Church, HIV-tainted blood, jail inmates, schools; Maui silversword threatened; Kauai mulls general excise tax hike; Hawaii County Ethics Board filled; Kona coffee grower sues Monsanto over cancer; more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii Superferry docked near Oahu in 2008 © 2016 All Hawaii News
Gov. David Ige’s administration is moving ahead with a proposal to revive interisland ferry service in Hawaii, a potentially controversial effort that could even involve the same catamaran vessels that were deployed in the ill-fated “Superferry” initiative that shut down in 2009. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii lawmakers are considering a bill to reduce the blood-ancestry requirement for Native Hawaiians to receive Hawaiian homesteads from relatives. Right now, Hawaiian homestead beneficiaries can only transfer land to descendants who are at least 25 percent Hawaiian. The bill would lower the requirement to 1/32nd Hawaiian. Associated Press.

Two legislative committees Wednesday advanced identical bills that would strengthen consumer protections against Hawaii physicians who are sanctioned by other states for misconduct or other licensing violations. Star-Advertiser.

A legislative committee has advanced a bill that would again protect financial disclosures of members of the University of Hawaii Board of Regents from public release — a move that would reverse a 2014 law that prompted several regents to resign. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii economists on Wednesday predicted steady economic growth for the rest of the year, but they warned of challenges lying ahead. Associated Press.

Hawaii voters overwhelmingly believe that homelessness is a major problem in the islands — 90 percent of them, to be exact. Only a scant 8 percent say it’s a minor issue. But when it comes to their confidence that state and local leaders are doing what is needed to tackle the crisis, Gov. David Ige and Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell get low marks. Civil Beat.

HPV Vaccine Bill for 7th Graders Opposed. Hawaii Public Radio.

Gov. David Ige said Wednesday that he is still opposed to Next­Era Energy Inc.’s proposed $4.3 billion purchase of Hawaiian Electric Industries and the state’s use of liquefied natural gas for electrical power generation. Star-Advertiser.

Lawmakers plan to revisit the state’s 100 percent renewable goal Thursday morning, when the Energy and Environmental Protection Committee hears House Bill 2575.  Civil Beat.

The Hawaiian Electric Industries utilities will be more insulated from the financial risks of their parent company and its affiliates if regulators allow NextEra Energy to buy Hawaii’s privately owned utility — at least according to testimony and filings discussed in hearings before the Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday and Wednesday. Civil Beat.

Nearly a dozen legislators are asking Gov. David Ige not to sign off on a proposed rule change that before the state Department of Health that would ban new cesspools statewide. Civil Beat.

Last month’s weather may have been great for the beach, but the lack of rain made it the driest January on record in several locations in Hawaii. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

The state has agreed to a $7.2 million settlement in the case of a former inmate who had all his fingers and both feet amputated after he says jail medical staff failed to diagnose him. Associated Press.

A man’s lawsuit against Blood Bank of Hawaii, the American Red Cross and others says that he became HIV-positive from a blood transfusion during bypass surgery in 2011. Associated Press.

A Catholic church in Kailua and a school in Kalihi are the two locations that generated the most allegations about priests and teachers sexually abusing students decades ago, a Hawaii News Now investigation has revealed.

The mother of a former Koko Head Elementary School student has sued the Department of Education, alleging staffers improperly restrained her autistic son. Hawaii News Now.

When Honolulu police officers face termination for breaking the law or otherwise violating department policies, they often are presented with a choice. Stick out the disciplinary process — which can include criminal trials, administrative hearings and a lengthy union grievance proceeding — or quietly resign. Civil Beat.

Six park attendants are being hired to ensure everyone follows the rules at Ala Moana Regional Park, city officials said Tuesday during an update of improvements underway at Oahu’s busiest beach park. Star-Advertiser.

Developer Forest City Hawaii is offering to build Kakaako Elementary School, where a parking lot is currently located off Pohukaina Street, and right next to a highrise it’s hoping to turn into affordable housing. KHON2.

Commentary: The HART board formally accepted the audit of their June 30, 2015, financial statements at its meeting January 28. During that meeting, I mentioned that their note on “Liquidity Risk” included a statement that the federal government “may” require the return of federal funds if there is a breach of the grant agreement and that this is inconsistent with statements HART has been making. Hawaii Independent.

Hawaii

After months of canceled meetings, the Hawaii County Board of Ethics is at full strength again, following County Council confirmation Wednesday of two Kona nominees. West Hawaii Today.

The late state Sen. Gil Kahele signed three bills from his hospital bed just hours before his Jan. 26 death — each pertaining to issues near and dear to his heart. Tribune-Herald.

A husband and wife who operated a South Kona coffee farm are suing Monsanto Co., alleging the agricultural biotechnology corporation purposely downplayed carcinogenic properties of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide, and are responsible for the woman’s cancer. Tribune-Herald.

State and county officials reiterated Wednesday that they are close to declaring an emergency in response to Hawaii Island’s dengue fever outbreak and provided more details about what that declaration might mean for response efforts. Tribune-Herald.

Costs have climbed for repair work on the Kealakehe Wastewater Treatment Plant, with the County Council voting Wednesday to add another $5 million to the $18 million estimated cost of the project. West Hawaii Today.

Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Hotel would remain open — though under a different name — if the state Land Board agrees to transfer its land lease to a new operator next week. Tribune-Herald.

Thirsty pigs are tearing up water lines and coffee fields are layered in dust as portions of West Hawaii look back on the driest January on record. West Hawaii Today.

Hilo Lanes, which has sat vacant since May 2014, could soon have a new owner. Lorraine Shin, a Hilo businesswoman, said Wednesday that she has made an offer to buy the building at 777 Kinoole St., and the deal is going through escrow. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

One-day suspensions were ordered for two Maui Police Department officers as part of internal investigations concluded from October to December, police reported. Maui News.

The rare and threatened Haleakala silversword plant on Maui is experiencing its lowest numbers in 45 years, as dry weather trends have reduced rainfall at its mountain habitat. Star-Advertiser.

The number of silverswords in Haleakala Crater has declined 60 percent since the early 1990s - the apparent result of reduced rainfall from climate changes, a study by University of Hawaii-Manoa researchers found. Maui News.

The Department of Public Works will be closing down a portion of Piʻilani Highway in Kīpahulu for geotechnical testing later this month, county officials announced. Maui Now.

The state Department of Health confirmed a case of dengue fever on Maui on Tuesday, only the second on the island since the outbreak began in Hawaii last September. Maui News.

Refuse pickups in Haiku and Paia were not made Tuesday due to staff shortages, the county Department of Environmental Management Solid Waste Division said. Maui News.

Kauai

Raising the general excise tax isn’t the silver bullet that will clear traffic congestion, said councilman Gary Hooser. Garden Island.

Today is the day to get up to speed on the idea of switching to a county manager form of government. The County Council is going to be taking on the issue in a workshop starting at 8:30 this morning at the Historic County Building. According to Council Chairman Mel Rapozo, the workshop will last as long as needed, potentially until 4:30. Garden Island.

Kauai Island Utility Cooperative announced Wednesday that the island’s renewable resources met around 90 percent of customers’ electricity demand on four days in January. Star-Advertiser.

A large forest of Koa trees on Kauai once burned by a wildfire is finally getting restored. It's an enormous replanting endeavor that is all being done by hand. Hawaii News Now.

Almost 30 volunteers took to Hikimoe Ridge Wednesday, breathing new life to the once tree-filled forest. Garden Island.

Lanai

The Four Seasons Resort Lana'i, The Lodge at Koele will undergo renovations and reopen later this year, resort officials said Tuesday. Maui News.