Monday, April 11, 2016

Big Island sites threatened by sea level rise, Hawaii has nation's second-highest tax burden, most lead-free water, Honolulu has trust issues with Police Commission, Ethics Commission, Maui SHAKA leader files for county council, single-member council districts dies again on Kauai, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park © 2016 All Hawaii News
Reports by the National Park Service and others have found that rising sea level rises threaten archaeological sites at various historic places in Hawaii. Those include ancient fish ponds at Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site and a “Great Wall” at a sacred site in Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park. It is considered the best-preserved such wall in Hawaii. Associated Press.

Hawaii has second highest tax burden in the United States. Wallet Hub.

Hawaii is the only U.S. state that didn't exceed federal testing limits for lead in drinking water during the last three years, and the Hawaii Department of Health says it's because the state's lucky to have lots of volcanic soil and few lead pipes. KITV4.

Hawaii lawmakers are up against a major deadline as they head into the final month of the legislative session. Bills dealing with homelessness, sugar workers and a slew of other topics need to pass out of the second chamber by Thursday. Otherwise, those policy ideas will die. Associated Press.

Breastfeeding mothers in Hawaii could be excused from jury duty for up to two years if Hawaii lawmakers approve a bill that’s being considered this session. Hawaii lawmakers in the House passed the bill Friday. It now faces approval from the Senate. Associated Press.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz is co-sponsoring a bill to require the Federal Aviation Administration to set minimum seat sizes on airplanes. The Senate bill calls for standards that ensure safety and a minimum level of comfort for passengers. It addresses seat width, legroom, padding and aisle width on all commercial passenger planes. The bill follows a Hawaii state Senate resolution on the same topic that passed in March. Associated Press.

Lawmakers are advancing a bill to allow the University of Hawaii system to hire members of the state Legislature, a change that would reverse a university ban on employing lawmakers that has been in place at UH since at least 1966. Star-Advertiser.

Employees, visitors and patients at Hawaii Health Systems Corporation hospitals would be prohibited from smoking anywhere on the premises under a bill that is headed for Gov. David Ige’s desk after it was approved 21-0 on the Senate floor on Friday. Civil Beat.

The percentage of students who learned about HIV and AIDS in school dropped to a two-decade low in Hawaii in 2015, according to a statewide health survey slated for release later this spring. Civil Beat.

Hawaii workers’ use of drugs in the workplace, including cocaine and synthetic urine, has leveled off compared to rises seen over the past couple of years, Diagnostic Laboratory Services Inc. reported Friday. Pacific Business News.

The Hawaii Department of Health says it’s planning to release the names of Hawaii’s first medical marijuana dispensary owners next week. The state Health Department says the five-member selection panel is scheduled to release the names April 15. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s medical marijuana dispensary applicants were hit with a last-minute request on Thursday which could push back the date to announce selections — originally slated for Friday. Tribune-Herald.

Gov. David Ige on Thursday announced his nominations for the state Board of Education and the Land Use Commission. The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Senate. Civil Beat.

Insurance plans for thousands of Hawaiian workers will run out next month following a liquidation order issued Thursday for Family Health Hawaii, a health insurance provider for employers and organizations. Civil Beat.

Insurmountable challenges posed by the Affordable Care Act were the root cause of Family Health Hawaii’s liquidation, the company’s CEO, J.P. Schmidt, told Pacific Business News.

Oahu

After suspending Executive Director Chuck Totto for, among other things, allegedly fostering a stressful work environment, the Honolulu Ethics Commission now wants its attorneys and investigators to complete daily work time sheets detailing their tasks in six-minute increments. Star-Advertiser.

‘A Bum Job:’ Trust In Honolulu’s Police Commission Crumbles. Amid ongoing Police Department scandals, Mayor Kirk Caldwell must decide whether to reappoint three police commissioners whose terms are up. Civil Beat.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell has banned city officials from taking “non-essential publicly-funded” trips to North Carolina and Mississippi in protest of the states’ recent laws that condone discrimination against people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer. Civil Beat.

Amid rail’s rising costs, Honolulu’s City Council chairman wants the transit project’s two top executives to resign, and he’s asking his political rival — the mayor — to follow his lead in supporting that move. Star-Advertiser.

Ernie Martin Tests Honolulu’s Mayoral Waters. The City Council chair still says he’s not running against Kirk Caldwell. But he sure sounds like he’s running. Civil Beat.

A trio of state senators wants the state to buy about 8,000 acres of Dole Food Co. land between Central Oahu and the North Shore to preserve the property for agriculture — angling to earmark more than $107 million in next year’s budget to complete the purchase. Star-Advertiser.

Kunia Loa Ridge Farmlands, an off-the-grid 854-acre development that’s supposed to be restricted to agriculture, has become a hub for unregulated construction. Star-Advertiser.

A petition to take out an apparently dormant volleyball court in front of the Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium for badly sought public parking for beachgoers does not appear to be swaying the Caldwell administration. Star-Advertiser.

Some 61 of the World War II veterans were in attendance at the Pacific Beach Hotel for the 73rd-anniversary banquet Sunday commemorating the establishment of the unit, said event co-chairman Irvin Yoshino. Star-Advertiser.

The state plans to pay $35,000 to settle a lawsuit against the Department of Public Safety for an attack at Halawa Correctional Facility during which the assailants gained access to an inmate’s living area. Star-Advertiser.

How Did A Man Lose His Fingers And Feet To A Jailhouse Infection? The state is on the hook for more than $7 million for neglecting a former inmate’s severe blood infection at the Oahu Community Correctional Center. Civil Beat.

Aloha Akbar? Lawmaker Promos Event With ISIS Flag Over Waikiki. Hawaii state Rep. Gene Ward splashes a fear-mongering graphic to advertise his public safety and counterterrorism forum next week. Civil Beat.

A Navy flight officer who spoke in Honolulu in 2008 about his journey to become an American citizen has been charged with espionage for allegedly passing secrets to China and patronizing a prostitute, according to a U.S. Naval Institute news story. Star-Advertiser.

Catherine Shen, the first female Asian-American newspaper publisher in the U.S., died March 31 of pancreatic cancer. She was 68. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

The race for a Hawaii state Senate seat representing a Big Island district was the topic of a debate Saturday at the University of Hawaii Hilo — even though there’s still two months to go before the candidate filing deadline. Civil Beat.

A Hamakua neighborhood group is suing the county Department of Parks and Recreation, its director and the mayor over proposed improvements to Kukuihaele Park. Tribune-Herald.

Ten years after an employment complaint alleged former Hilo Councilman and mayoral candidate Stacy Higa sexually harassed an aide, the case has taken on new life in the Intermediate Court of Appeals. West Hawaii Today.

$6 Million For Lead Contamination Clean-Up In Kona. Big Island Video News.

A lawsuit to recover what three former Hawaii Community College students say is hundreds of thousands of dollars of wrongfully collected student fees is slated to be heard in May. Tribune-Herald.

Parks officials say they are about ready to reopen the Panaewa play court after giving a new synthetic surface there a final inspection. Tribune-Herald.

The state’s first mobile slaughterhouse unit is in its final phases of certification. Tribune-Herald.

Come fall, a steering committee made up of birding enthusiasts, an outdoor group and eco-tour operators will officially open a 90-mile cross-island trail for bird viewing. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Alika Atay, one of the leaders of the SHAKA Movement, has pulled nomination papers to seek the Maui County Council's Wailuku-Waihee-Waikapu residency seat, one that will be without an incumbent this election year with Wailuku Council Member Mike Victorino bowing out because of term limits. Maui News.

Boeing has supported Maui Space Surveillance Complex operations for the Air Force for the last 25 years and will continue do so under a new $275 million contract, the Department of Defense announced Tuesday. Maui News.

Education officials have proposed an $8 million elementary school expansion to accommodate west Maui’s growing student population. Associated Press.

An $8 million two-level classroom building and outdoor learning area is being proposed for Princess Nahienaena Elementary School to accommodate enrollment growth in West Maui, according to the state Department of Education. Maui News.

Representative Lynn Decoite praised the governor’s recent announcement indicating that he is supporting a funding increase for the Department of Hawaiian Homelands, to the highest level on record. Maui Now.

Early and full landfill closures countywide that are expected to reach 275 by June 30 are slated to decrease by more than 75 percent in the coming fiscal year beginning July 1, officials from the county Department of Environmental Management said Wednesday. Maui News.

An affordable housing project has been proposed in Hana on eastern Maui. GTH Land Co. wants to build two dozen homes estimated to cost between $250,000 and $445,000 apiece. Star-Advertiser.

Kauai

Separate proposals on whether to divide Kauai County Council seats into individual voting districts and stagger terms lengths have died — again — but the matters will be revisited in May. Both issues could face voters for the fourth time in 2018. Garden Island.

The Kauai Police Department plans to reorganize its bureaus by converting nine of its 15 school crossing guard positions to training officers, safety monitors and background investigators. Garden Island.

A public meeting will be held to inform people about a proposed management plan for the Haena Community-Based Subsistence Fishing Area on Kauai. Star-Advertiser.

On Thursday, a hearings officer appointed by the Kauai Planning Commission issued a recommended ruling in favor of the Planning Department’s decision to revoke a Transient Vacation Rental (TVR) permit for a Seacliff Plantation condominium in Kilauea. Garden Island.

In its efforts toward efficiency, the Transportation Agency will be implementing changes to several Kaua'i Bus routes, beginning Sunday. Hawaii News Now.