Monday, February 15, 2016

Just half of Hawaii visitors stay at hotels, state gives cheap land leases to well-connected, Hawaii County mulls 'Styrofoam' ban, Maui philanthropist Mary Cameron Sanford dies, plenty of blame in May 17 Osprey crash, Go-Go's rock star seeks animal protection, dengue emergency, state to release medpot names, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Waikiki street scene © 2016 All Hawaii News
There were approximately 212,953 visitors in Hawaii on any given day in 2015, and approximately 53 percent of them, or 113,203 visitors, stayed in a Hawaii hotel last year, according to a new report by Hospitality Advisors and STR, Inc. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii lawmakers are heading into their fifth week of the 2016 legislative session, and they are scheduled to take on bills relating to marijuana, police oversight and pesticide buffer zones. They are up against a deadline Friday, when all bills must be in their final committee. Associated Press.

Tenants ranging from a global agricultural conglomerate to the state’s most exclusive private school have been leasing land from the Department of Land and Natural Resources for decades, paying as little as pennies per acre monthly under a program that operates with no formal rules and is limited by law to temporary, month-to-month uses. Star-Advertiser.

DLNR program controversy echoes flaws found at DHHL. After the Honolulu Star-Advertiser exposed a deeply flawed revocable permit program at the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands in 2013, then-Gov. Neil Abercrombie appointed a task force to recommend ways to improve the program.

Recent political action committee filings with the state Campaign Spending Commission provide a peek into the election year ahead when it comes to how money influences campaigns. Civil Beat.

A bill that would establish “continuous background checks” to alert police when Hawaii gun owners have been arrested in another county or state is advancing at the state Legislature. Star-Advertiser.

A proposed constitutional amendment to allow the public to elect Hawaii’s attorney general advanced a step forward in the state Senate on Wednesday over the objections of current Attorney General Douglas Chin. Star-Advertiser.

Judges and lawyers came out in strong opposition this week to legislation that would let Hawaii voters elect their state attorney general and judges instead of the current appointment process. Civil Beat.

Responding to pressure from the news media and the public, the Hawaii Department of Health has agreed to release the names of the people who are on a review panel for applications to grow and sell medical marijuana. Civil Beat.

Some Hawaii lawmakers and advocates say medical marijuana dispensary applicants could be at a disadvantage because health department rules don’t allow greenhouses. Associated Press.

A 1980s female rock musician is teaming up with state Sen. Russell Ruderman to tackle to what they believe is a widespread problem in Hawaii — animal cruelty. Ruderman, a Democrat who represents Puna, introduced Senate Bills 2263, 2273 and 2270 upon request from his friend, Jane Wiedlin, a musician and member of the band, The Go-Go’s. Tribune-Herald.

State lawmakers want to move some long-term tenants out of Hawaii’s public housing complexes to make room for new occupants to help solve the state’s homeless crisis, but they are finding that strategy won’t be easy to implement. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Governor David Ige on Friday signed an emergency proclamation to mobilize efforts against mosquito-borne illnesses such as dengue fever and the Zika virus. Pacific Business News.

The state's growing illegal fireworks problem is prompting legislation targeting smugglers. A measure now making its way through the state Senate calls for random inspections of cargo containers and the use of explosive sniffing dogs on the state's waterfronts. Hawaii News Now.

Oahu

A long-running dispute over reserved parking along privately owned roads in Kakaako has literally spilled from the streets — as well as from a state courthouse and a city advisory panel — into the state Legislature. Star-Advertiser.

A Marine Corps investigation into the May 17 fatal crash of an MV-22 Osprey at Bellows, after consecutive landing attempts in the same severe brownout conditions, apportioned blame all the way around but said pilots could have picked an alternative flight profile or alternative landing site when it became clear the engulfing sand and dust were far worse than expected. Star-Advertiser.

To last for more than a century, an organization has to reinvent itself. That’s what Bishop Museum president & CEO, Blair Collis, has been doing. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii

Hawaii County Democrats have selected three nominees to succeed the late Gil Kahele in his state Senate seat. The senator’s son, Kai Kahele, former Lyman Museum executive director Dolly Strazar and county Office of Housing and Development division chief Kaloa Robinson were chosen via precinct balloting Saturday during an open process conducted at Keaukaha Elementary School. Tribune-Herald.

The Hawaii County Democratic party has chosen three names to fill the 1st district senate seat of the late Gilbert Kahele. Kahele’s son, Kaiali’i Kahele, joins Dolly Strazar and Kaloa Robinson as the candidates who will go before Governor David Ige. One of them will be chosen as the governor’s nomination to represent Hilo in the state senate. Big Island Video News.

Almost three weeks after state Sen. Gil Kahele’s death, friends, family and colleagues have been busy — carrying out what they say was the Hilo Democrat’s political vision. Tribune-Herald.

Those old foam to-go containers might soon need to be gone. A bill banning polystyrene foam food containers in Hawaii County is scheduled to be heard Tuesday by the County Council Environmental Management Committee. West Hawaii Today.

Two women who run a small Native Hawaiian group dedicated to the protection of whales and other marine animals face a $5,000 fine for violating the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act during their response to a stranded whale in 2014. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii developer Peter Savio has closed on his purchase of Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Hotel and has renamed the 145-room Big Island hotel the Pagoda Hilo Bay Hotel. Pacific Business News.

Kumu call for kapu on ohia harvest. West Hawaii Today.

Bids to build the University of Hawaii’s new pharmacy school in Hilo are at least $2.5 million more than expected. Associated Press.

A sewage treatment plant is the best option for keeping human waste off a fragile and environmentally significant reef at Puako Bay. That’s according to an engineering report that recommends the treatment plant over the more expensive option of building a sewer line so the community of around 160 homes can connect to a treatment plant at Mauna Lani. West Hawaii Today.

A company that lost a bid to build the next geothermal power plant on Hawaii Island filed a complaint with the state Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday — the day before Hawaii Electric Light Co. announced talks with Ormat Nevada Inc. had ceased. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

"The Last Harvest" series chronicles the various aspects of Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co.'s final harvest as it shuts down at the end of the year after a 145-year run. The shutdown of HC&S represents the end of sugar in Hawaii. The installments will run periodically throughout the year. Today's story is the first in the series. Maui News.

Seventeen candidates had checked out nomination papers as of Friday for Maui County Council or state House seats serving county districts, according to a Hawaii Office of Elections report. Maui News.

Mary Cameron Sanford, a beloved philanthropist whose family roots go back five generations on Maui, died Sunday afternoon at The Queen's Medical Center on Oahu at age 85. Family members said that she died of heart failure. Maui News.

Around 70 Ka'anapali Beach Club workers rallied Thursday afternoon to protest expired labor contracts. Maui News.

Kauai

More than 50 citizens, including employees of Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital, took to the streets for picketing along Hofgaard Park to bring awareness to the Legislature about funding cuts resulting in the hospital’s downsizing. Garden Island.

Kani Blackwell hopes the third time is the charm for the approval of a new charter school on Kauai. Garden Island.