Thursday, March 24, 2016

Grand jury indicts Hawaii County mayor, millions in federal aid for displaced sugar workers, Legislature kill gas tax hike, charter amendment could strengthen Honolulu Police Commission, Kauai council nixes county employee raises, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi in happier times © 2016 All Hawaii News
An attorney for Mayor Billy Kenoi said the county’s embattled chief executive won’t resign. A Hilo grand jury on Wednesday indicted Kenoi with two counts of second-degree theft, two counts of third-degree theft, three counts of tampering with a government record, plus making a false statement under oath. Tribune-Herald.

Mayor Billy Kenoi gave a half hour speech to the local business community in Hilo, as a grand jury indicted him for his alleged misuse of a government issued purchase card between 2011 and 2015. Big Island Video News.

A Hawai‘i County grand jury has indicted Mayor Billy Kenoi on seven different counts stemming from the misuse of his county issued purchasing card. Hawaii Public Radio.

A grand jury indicted Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi on theft charges Wednesday in connection with misuse of his county-issued purchasing card. Star-Advertiser.

After months of investigation, a 16-member grand jury indicted Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi on theft charges Wednesday in connection with his alleged misuse of a government credit card. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island Mayor Billy Kenoi has been indicted by a grand jury. The charges come after a nearly-year-long criminal investigation by the attorney general’s office over Kenoi’s improper use of a county-issued credit card, or pCard. KHON2.

The state Attorney General’s office said Wednesday that a Big Island  grand jury has indicted Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi. Civil Beat.

A grand injury has indicted Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi on two counts of felony theft and other charges, the state attorney general's office said Wednesday. Associated Press.

Hawaii island’s homegrown mayor from Kalapana and Hilo seemed on an unlikely path to a bright future in island politics. Instead, two-term Mayor Billy Kenoi — a former Honolulu deputy public defender and disciple of the late U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye — must answer to felony, misdemeanor and petty misdemeanor charges from his time in office from 2011 to 2015. Star-Advertiser.

Many political insiders thought one day Billy Kenoi's career would take him to the governor's mansion. That future is still up in the air as some say his political career is over, but others say he could make a comeback. Hawaii News Now.

Following months of controversy hanging over Mayor Billy Kenoi, Hawaii island officials expressed shock and dismay that the hammer finally came down Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

The mood on the Big Island on Wednesday is one of shock and sadness. KHON2.

Those who worked with Mayor Billy Kenoi are trying to understand how it all came to this. KHON2.

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Despite a full-court press lobbying effort by Gov. David Ige’s administration, the proposed gas tax, weight tax and vehicle registration fee increases it proposed may be dead for the year. Star-Advertiser.

The House Transportation Committee on Wednesday indefinitely deferred a bill that would have increased taxes and fees on motor vehicles and fuel. Civil Beat.

Hawaii may soon implement what’s become standard practice elsewhere in the country — mandatory unannounced inspections of state-licensed care facilities for the elderly and disabled. Civil Beat.

A measure that would have required drivers working for transportation network companies such as Uber and Lyft to carry a certain level of insurance was killed by the House Consumer Protection and Commerce Committee on Wednesday. Civil Beat.

A bill that would ensure enforcement of crime victims’ rights as an amendment to the state Constitution remains alive at the Legislature. Star-Advertiser.

A Hawaii Senate panel deadlocked 3-to-3 Wednesday over a controversial bill that sought to trim retirement benefits for judges, effectively killing the measure. Civil Beat.

Despite the fact that Hawaii has two official languages, only one of them is offered on voters’ ballots. English and Hawaiian are the state’s official languages, and lawmakers are pushing a bill to offer both on ballots. Right now, English, Japanese, Cantonese and Ilocano must be offered on ballots in some counties. Associated Press.

Union membership has declined nearly 10 percent in Hawaii since 1989, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But despite this downward trend, the BLS reports that Hawaii still has the second-highest percentage of union membership in the nation behind New York. Civil Beat.

Ryan Kalei Tsuji Leaves Government. The aide to Gov. Ige will leave his post at the end of the month to focus on his new video production company. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Oahu voters will have the chance to toughen up the Honolulu Police Commission in light of numerous scandals gripping the Police Department, including a federal investigation of Chief Louis Kealoha. Civil Beat.

Supporters and staff of Wahiawa General Hospital turned out in force Wednesday to ask lawmakers to fund a $3 million bailout of the private, nonprofit facility, which has been struggling to stay afloat during the past nine years of increasing financial strains. Star-Advertiser.

Supporters turned out in force at the state Capitol Wednesday to ask lawmakers to approve of a resolution requesting the governor and the Legislature to provide emergency financial assistance to Wahiawa General Hospital. Civil Beat.

Dozens rallied at the State Capitol Wednesday in support of Wahiawa General Hospital as financial troubles threaten to shut it down. KHON2.

Hawaiian Electric Co. President and CEO Alan Oshima said the electric utility will meet with the company looking to buy three canceled solar farms on Oahu. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu Board of Water Supply has struck a $33 million deal with NORESCO, one of the largest energy services companies in the United States, that allows the water agency to implement energy efficiency, renewable energy and operational improvements while guaranteeing enough savings over the next 20 years to pay for the contract, the agency said Wednesday. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii

It will be business as usual at Sheraton Kona Resort Spa at Keauhou Bay amid a proposed merger between the hotel’s owner, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, and Marriott International. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Hundreds of Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. workers will receive millions of dollars in federal funding as the sugar plantation ends its operations, the U.S. Department of Labor announced Thursday. Hawaii News Now.

The latest vision to alleviate Wailuku Town's parking problem is a multipurpose layout akin to San Francisco's Union Square, members of the Maui Redevelopment Agency said Wednesday. Maui News.

Kaanapali resort managers spoke out against proposed water rate increases, calling them "excessive" and "out of line" during a public hearing held by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission on Wednesday night at Lahaina Intermediate School. Maui News.

Kauai

Citing bad timing and an uncertainty in the ability to make good on its promises, the Kauai County Council Wednesday voted 5-2 against proposed salary increases for county administers. Garden Island.

Kauai County Councilmember JoAnn Yukimura will host a public workshop titled “How to Have a Voice in County Government” 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 31 at Ha Coffee Bar in Lihue. Garden Island.

When an after-hours medical emergency arises on the rapidly growing North Shore of Kauai, critical minutes can be lost before treatment can be provided. That will soon change. Garden Island.