Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Hawaii legislators may loosen campaign spending law, grand jury to mull Hawaii mayor's pCard use, Honolulu Ethics Commission director put on leave in investigation, secret Kauai committee meeting focuses on feral cats, Maui water rights spurs Capitol rally, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

cash going into ballot box
Money in politics
Hawaii law prohibits political candidates from using their own campaign funds to support the campaigns of other candidates. But some state legislators and other officeholders have long gotten around the ban through a loophole that lets them buy up to two tickets to another politician’s fundraiser for an amount often equal to the maximum allowable individual campaign contribution. Now the Legislature is considering a bill that would remove the need to hold a fundraiser and simply allow direct campaign donations between candidates — something critics contend amounts to buying influence. Civil Beat.

Gov. David Ige promised in January his administration would install air conditioning and other equipment to cool 1,000 classrooms before the end of 2016, but state lawmakers apparently aren’t moving quickly enough on that initiative to suit the governor. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority repeated Monday its stance against legislative measures that could reduce its $82 million annual budget. Star-Advertiser.

Recycling snafu: 1.2 million Kirkland water bottles mislabeled. Hawaii News Now.

Oahu

Honolulu Ethics Commission executive director Chuck Totto is on leave following an internal personnel investigation and won’t be back until April 4. Chairwoman Victoria Marks said the commission received an internal complaint regarding Totto’s management of staff and hired an outside investigator to evaluate the situation. Civil Beat.

The latest report from traffic-data firm INRIX will likely leave many Oahu drivers scratching their heads: In the past couple of years, the company found, Honolulu has gone from having the second-worst traffic in the United States to having the 10th worst, just behind Atlanta. Star-Advertiser.

The application from a company seeking to bring a 400-megawatt floating wind farm with up to 50 turbines to a site 15 miles off Oahu’s South Shore is available for public review. Star-Advertiser.

Political analysts say the mayor should ask the police chief to put himself on administrative leave during an ongoing FBI probe, or risk appearing weak during an election year. Hawaii News Now.

Nestor Garcia Returns To KHON2. The former Honolulu City Council member who was fined thousands of dollars for ethical violations will be the TV news station’s assignment editor. Civil Beat.

Residents of the Waikiki condominium Canterbury Place have been declared the winner in a fight against the tower’s developer over disputed utility and maintenance fees. Star-Advertiser.

Pete Cooper, the former top executive for SolarCity in Hawaii, plans to develop a six-home project that will be located in a private gated community in Windward Oahu, he confirmed to Pacific Business News.

The last piece of a more than 30-year-old vision to build affordable housing on state land in Pearl City has been completed in tribute to Hansen’s disease patients forcibly removed from their state-run care home on the same site in 1983. Star-Advertiser.

The owner of a Hawaii jewelry and gift retail business pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal conspiracy charge, admitting he smuggled Alaska ivory to the Philippines, where they were carved into fish hooks then shipped back and passed off as made in Hawaii by local artisans. Associated Press.

Hawaii

A Hilo grand jury will meet March 23 to investigate potential theft charges against Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi. Hawaii News Now.

A statewide ban on new cesspool construction approved Friday by Gov. David Ige came despite protests from seven Hawaii Island legislators, who claimed the ban would place undue financial burdens on local homeowners who might not be able to afford more expensive sewage systems. Tribune-Herald.

The University of Hawaii sublease to the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea is being sent back to the state for reconsideration. Judge Greg Nakamura of the Environmental Court of the Third Circuit Court remanded the sublease back to the Board of Land and Natural Resources on Friday. Big Island Video News.

A modified version of a massive condominium plan has resurfaced for 43 acres of culturally significant land above Kahaluu Beach Park. Should it come to fruition, the timeshares project by Ocean Villas at Kahaluu Bay, LLC would have 306 units in multiple three-story buildings mauka of Alii Drive and Kahaluu Beach Lots. West Hawaii Today.

It’s been two dozen years of false starts and lawsuits for Aina Lea, where a series of massive development plans have come and gone for 3,000 acres in South Kohala. Now, the latest rendition of the struggling project is set to lose the permits that would have theoretically allowed the development of six 18-hole championship golf courses on the land. West Hawaii Today.

Police are asking that residents tell them how well the department is doing. There is an anonymous Community Satisfaction Survey for the department running through the end of this month. West Hawaii Today.

Maui
More than 50 farmers, lawyers, Native Hawaiians and conservationists rallied Monday morning to call on state lawmakers to reject a bill related to water rights. Civil Beat.

About 60 people, including farmers, Native Hawaiian advocates, attorneys and environmentalists, gathered at the state Capitol on Monday to voice their opposition to a bill advancing at the Legislature that would allow Alexander &Baldwin to hold on to the rights to millions of gallons of water that it diverts daily from East Maui streams even as it plans to shut down its water-intensive sugar cane plantation and lay off more than 600 workers. Star-Advertiser.

A statewide coalition came to the State Capitol today to demand lawmakers restore East Maui streams. Hawaii Public Radio.

The Hawai‘i House of Representatives voted Tuesday to pass a highly contested measure that would allow former sugar giant Alexander and Baldwin to continue diverting up to 400 million gallons of water per day from East Maui streams, notwithstanding a court order that found it in violation of state laws relating to revocable permits and water licenses. Hawaii Independent.

Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Co. employees who lose their jobs will be able to get money through a federal program to help replace lost wages, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz announced today. Associated Press.

Mayor Alan Arakawa laid out his vision for Maui County in his State of the County address Monday night. KHON2.

Mayor Arakawa: State of the County is “One of Perpetual Change” Maui Now.

Increasing environmental management efforts and a growing staff have prompted the Department of Land and Natural Resources to propose the development of a new baseyard for its Division of Forestry and Wildlife operations on Maui. Maui News.

The Maui County Council Budget and Finance Committee voted Thursday, March 10 to defeat a controversial proposed measure that would have drastically restructured the way agricultural properties on Maui are assessed and raised taxes on agricultural home sites. The legislation also   added multiple layers of paperwork, dedication requirements and a substantial increase in government authority to regulate and control the business of farming here. Maui Watch.

At least two of Maui's Democratic state House members will face primary challenges Aug. 13, while potential challengers in a third House race pulled nomination papers but had not filed them officially as of Friday. Maui News.

Kauai
A Kauai committee tasked with coming up with solutions for the island's feral cat problem has been holding its meetings behind closed doors, which Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura says allows members to express their ideas more freely. Hawaii News Now.

$700,000 repair work on the state Department of Health Kauai District Health Office involved reflooring the entire building, new disabilities development facilities, a secured entryway to the building as well as the DD area, new bicycle racks, handicapped parking and draining of the exterior landscaping. Garden Island.

Kauai County officials share residents' hopes about recycling and would like to hear from residents during a public meeting Wednesday on construction of an estimated $10.9 million Materials Recycling Facility near the county’s resource center by the Lihue Airport. Garden Island.

On the heels of winning a guilty verdict for a sexual assault case, Prosecuting Attorney Justin Kollar on Monday announced his plans to file for a second term in officer with more than a dozen suporters on hand. Garden Island.

Lanai

Maui County Council members failed to reach agreement Saturday on the final wording of the Lanai Community Plan update. Maui News.