Thursday, May 5, 2016

Hawaii's national parks bring in tourist dollars, Ige gives Legislature a 'B,' National Transportation Safety Board reports on Molokai crash that killed state health director Fuddy, rail lawsuit ends in apology, Kondo begins job as state auditor, senior housing coming to Chinatown, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park © 2016 All Hawaii News
Visitors who travel to the Aloha State to experience its national parks are spending more, according to a new analysis by the National Park Service. Last year, park visitors spent approximately $364.5 million during trips to NPS lands in Hawaii, supporting 4,500 jobs, $170.5 million in labor income, $289.4 million in value added, and $448.3 million in economic output for the Islands’ economy. Pacific Business News.

Gov. David Ige praised the Legislature on Wednesday for moving to solve problems that have long plagued the state but become mired in governmental inertia, including cooling sweltering classrooms, renovating the state psychiatric hospital and pouring millions into homeless and affordable housing programs. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. David Ige on Wednesday said he gives state lawmakers a “resounding B” as a grade for their work this legislative session, which started in January and ends Thursday. Civil Beat.

Ige gives lawmakers a 'B' grade for session. KITV4.

The Hawaii State Ethics Commission is seeking applicants to fill Les Kondo’s shoes as executive director. He started his new job as state auditor this week. Civil Beat.

Transgender advocates are calling on the Hawai‘i State Department of Education to move more quickly on creating specific guidelines for transgender students. An online petition supporting those plans has already received more than 5,600 signatures over the past two weeks. Hawaii Public Radio.

Two decades after Hawaii passed its first charter school law, many charter school leaders say finding, maintaining — and paying for — basic school facilities remains a frequent, pressing problem. Civil Beat.

The parent of Hawaiian Electric Co., which is being acquired by NextEra Energy Inc. in a $4.3 billion deal awaiting state approval, spent $1.6 million in the first quarter on costs associated with the pending sale, about a third of what the Honolulu-based company spent in the same quarter of last year, according to Hawaiian Electric Industries' first-quarter earnings report. Pacific Business News.

Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. (HE) on Wednesday reported first-quarter profit of $32.8 million. Associated Press.

The Army will stay at about 80,000 active-duty soldiers in the Pacific, and 106,000 total personnel with reserve soldiers and civilian employees, as part of the rebalance to the region, the new four-star head of U.S. Army Pacific said Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Democrats tout closed primaries in Oregon election. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

Standing in front of dozens of supporters outside Honolulu Hale, many of them City and County employees, Kirk Caldwell made it official Wednesday: He’s running for another four years as mayor. Civil Beat.

The developer of a senior affordable rental tower in Chinatown won a major victory today when the Honolulu City Council voted unanimously to support a development agreement for its River Street project. Star-Advertiser.

Rail Contractor Gets ‘Public Apology’ After Bitter Lawsuit Ends. Contractor who accused Nan of defrauding federal government now says it was a mistake and a misunderstanding. Civil Beat.

The spending scandal surrounding the Bishop Museum's ousted CEO is widening. Hawaii News Now.

Kapiolani Community College Chancellor Leon Richards will step down after commencement exercises May 15, a decision that followed calls by faculty, staff and student groups to remove him from the post. Star-Advertiser.

Radio’s power pair will part ways, as Larry Price will step away from co-hosting the long-running, top-rated “Perry and Price” morning radio show on KSSK-FM 92.3/AM 590 at the middle of this month. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Hawaii County is poised to become the first county in the state to have a full-scale composting facility capable of taking green waste, food-contaminated paper and restaurant waste and turning it into salable compost for the public. The County Council paved the way Wednesday for the new organics processing facility by unanimously approving a $10.6 million bond to pay for it. West Hawaii Today.

Much to the delight of some Hawaii Island drivers — and to the chagrin of law enforcement — the speed limit on Saddle Road might be raised from 55 mph to 60 mph starting next year. Tribune-Herald.

The University of Hawaii has canceled permits for geothermal exploration on Hualalai, and a lead researcher on Wednesday said the university has no plans for future scoping of the dormant volcano’s potential for producing geothermal energy. But that doesn’t mean plaintiffs plan to back down on a lawsuit originally launched to block the exploration. West Hawaii Today.

A financially troubled Puna charter school is under investigation by the state Ethics Commission, according to a letter obtained by the Tribune-Herald.

The state Department of Transportation is wrapping up final restriping of the bike lanes on Queen Kaahumanu Highway between Makala Boulevard and Henry Street, a project which has moved segments of the bike lane back to the right side of traffic over the past few months. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Demolition of the Old Kahului Store, some 100 years old, has begun near Kahului Harbor to make room for future cargo and shipping containers, county officials said. Maui News.

A much debated bill allowing Alexander & Baldwin to continue to divert water from East Maui for at least three years under current lease terms passed the full Senate on Tuesday and is currently undergoing legal and policy reviews before heading to Gov. David Ige's desk. Maui News.

Kauai

A Honolulu attorney suing DuPont Pioneer wants to stop representing three plaintiffs who refused to sign a waiver that would prevent them from suing the seed company for medical issues associated with dust from the company’s fields on Kauai. Civil Beat.

Opinions were mixed Wednesday as Kauai residents spoke during a public hearing that concerned a proposed bill that will allow property owners to build additional rental units, or ARU’s. Garden Island.

Affordable housing, health and the environment, food and energy self-sufficiency, traffic congestion, and “keeping a lid on local taxes”: these are Gary Hooser’s top priorities. Garden Island.

An Eleele man accused of beating a monk seal at Salt Pond Beach, an incident that sparked massive public outcry statewide, will have his preliminary hearing next week. Garden Island.

The trial for a former Department of Land and Natural Resources officer charged with 30 counts of sexual assault has been continued to late October. Garden Island.

Molokai

A National Transportation Safety Board report says the pilot of the small plane that crashed off Molokai in December of 2013 did not give a federally mandated safety briefing to his eight passengers on board, including former state Health Director Loretta Fuddy, who later died from a heart condition after exiting the Cessna 208B that crashed in the water. Hawaii News Now.

The National Transportation Safety Board has released its findings for a deadly crash off Molokai that killed then-state health director Loretta Fuddy. KHON2.