Monday, April 25, 2016

Hawaii residents told to be nice to tourists, Hawaiian Airlines applies for more Japan flights, Kouchi's ties to land buy probed, crime victims right bill dies in Legislature, Maui water rights tied to campaign contributions, Kondo named auditor, Airbnb tax will add $15M to state coffers, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Tourists mix with locals at Kona poolside festival © 2016 All Hawaii News
Agency to Hawaii residents: Don’t hate on tourists. The state agency that promotes tourism in Hawaii is starting an online campaign to remind residents about tourism’s benefits. Associated Press.

Hawaiian Airlines is looking to add a second nonstop route between Hawaii and Tokyo, a move expected to bring more than $100 million to the state each year. Associated Press.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige extended the state’s emergency homelessness proclamation for the fourth time Friday since he declared a state of emergency for homelessness last October. Civil Beat.

A proposal to amend the state Constitution to guarantee certain rights to crime victims and their families during criminal proceedings failed to clear a critical deadline Friday, and is dead for this session of the state Legislature. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii lawmakers are rushing to reach final agreements on hundreds of bills as the Legislature heads into the final two weeks of the 2016 session. Associated Press.

Airbnb estimates it will collect $15 million in taxes from its hosts for the state if a tax broker bill passes at the Hawaii Legislature, and is pushing for the bill to return to its original form after state lawmakers added a land use compliance mandate. Pacific Business News.

Up for conference committee hearing Tuesday afternoon are two measures that proponents say could improve voter turnout in Hawaii. Star-Advertiser.

Prison Officials Quietly Move To Extend An Out-Of-State Contract. Hawaii’s practice of outsourcing prison operations won’t be ending anytime soon. Without much publicity, the Hawaii Department of Public Safety is moving to award a new contract worth tens of millions of dollars to continue housing the state’s excess prisoners on the mainland. Civil Beat.

With the private sector failing to pony up more money, Hawaii lawmakers somewhat reluctantly agreed Friday to put in another $4 million to host one of the world’s biggest conservation events this September. Civil Beat.

During a joint session of the state House and Senate on Friday the legislature approved the appointment of the ombudsman, the director of legislative reference bureau and the legislative auditor. Pacific Business News.

Les Kondo Confirmed As State Auditor. As state ethics director, he had his run-ins with legislators. But that didn’t stop them from approving him for the new job. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii Legislature has appointed Les Kondo, head of the state’s Ethics Commission, to serve as state auditor. That means Kondo will be working for the Legislature to watch over the executive branch, instead of monitoring the ethics of the Legislature. Associated Press.

Getting a liquor license in Hawaii just became less cumbersome, under a bill signed into law Friday by Gov. David Ige. West Hawaii Today.

The Marine Corps said it grounded its CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters from training in Hawaii for 19 days and pulled them from an Australia deployment after the Jan. 14 crash of two of the big choppers off the North Shore of Oahu killed all 12 aboard. The Corps maintains, however, that the helicopters remain safe to fly. Star-Advertiser.

With a legal window scheduled to close Sunday, an estimated 25 lawsuits were expected to be filed at 1st Circuit Court in Honolulu by closing time Friday — the last business day to register the complaints. Most of the cases list the Roman Catholic Church in Hawaii or its affiliates, and concern allegations of sexual assault. Civil Beat.

Oahu

A nonprofit that provides services to mentally ill homeless people says it will be able to continue to operate its daytime activity center in downtown Honolulu despite missing out on a $175,000 federal grant administered by the city. Civil Beat.

An off-the-grid agriculture development in West Oahu that has been under fire for unregulated construction — including a church, a business and apparent homes — can add one more category to its list of questionable structures: inexpensive, rustic vacation cabins. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Senate President Ron Kouchi has had long-standing and substantial business ties with one of the owners of thousands of acres of South Kona conservation and agricultural land that lawmakers now want the state to purchase and preserve, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser has learned.

Is Mayor Billy Kenoi still donating his $22,848 raise to Hawaii Island United Way? Kenoi made the generous gesture in 2014 as the county Salary Commission approved the 20.9 percent increase that started July 1 of that year, bringing his annual salary to $132,000. Tribune-Herald.

A plan for expansion of the cancer treatment center at Kona Community Hospital is designed to bring more comfort and privacy to patients during a difficult time. West Hawaii Today.

In the face of uncertainty regarding the future of Waipio Valley, residents are committed to working with the valley’s primary landowners as new stewardship plans are created. Tribune-Herald.

A community effort to improve Waipi’o Valley river and stream flow could get funded by the state of Hawaii today. Big Island Video News.

There’s an entire chapter in Jim Dooley’s book about the late Waimea rancher and businessman Larry Mehau. But so many mysteries surround the Big Island’s role in government corruption and organized crime that Dooley, already working on his second book, says there’s likely to be at least one more Big Island chapter in that one, too. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Alexander & Baldwin has contributed more than $1 million to political candidates over the past decade, pouring money into the races of state lawmakers, governors, mayors, City Council members and congressional candidates. But as A&B lobbies the Legislature this year to pass a controversial bill that would allow the company to hold on to the rights to millions of gallons of water flowing through dozens of Maui streams, Native Hawaiian advocates and environmentalists worry that the money is unduly influencing lawmakers. Star-Advertiser.

Alexander & Baldwin and its employees, including those working at subsidiaries, have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to political candidates in Hawaii over the past several election cycles, a Civil Beat analysis of state campaign spending data shows.

It took several hours Friday afternoon for legislators to agree on a contentious water rights bill, mainly because lawyers needed to look over the language. But by 5 p.m., state House and Senate committee conferees in House Bill 2501 had reached an agreement that allows the measure to move forward. Civil Beat.

A fundraising effort developed by Maui residents with the Maui United Way aims to provide emergency relief assistance to Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. workers who will be losing their jobs with the end of sugar operations this year. Maui News.

Gov. David Ige announced Saturday that Hawaii Health Systems Corp. has entered into a lease agreement with Maui Health Systems in regard to Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lanai Community Hospital. Maui News.

The number of nontour vehicles visiting the summit of Haleakala for sunrise viewing exceeds the number of available parking spaces almost every day and the situation is only getting worse, National Park Service officials said. Maui News.

September can't come soon enough for Maui Waena Intermediate School Principal Jamie Yap, who has been waiting more than a decade for the completion of a new classroom building to ease overflowing enrollment. Maui News.

Kauai

As president of the Hawaii Senate, Ron Kouchi’s days are what you might call busy. Garden Island.

Kauai County inks new eWaste deal. Puhi Metals Recycling Center will start accepting old electronics on June 1. Garden Island.

New Police Commissioner Catherine Adams took her oath of office for a two-year term during the Friday meeting. Garden Island.

Kahoolawe

The Kahoolawe Rehabilitation Trust Fund has gone from $44 million two decades ago to $394,000 as of January, according to a critical State Auditor's Office report that says the Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission is "not financially self-sufficient." Maui News.