Thursday, May 12, 2016

Indictment likely for Honolulu police chief, Kauai kills general excise tax increase, China still set for RIMPAC, attorney general had investigated former state auditor, lawmakers quietly oppose marine protection expansion, state Supreme Court to hear 2014 election case, new rules for Hawaiian Home Lands, Maui lets lifeguards get raises, Honolulu's rising middle class, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Uptown shops in Waikiki © 2016 All Hawaii News
In cities across America, the middle class is hollowing out. However, Honolulu’s middle class appears to be increasing. Associated Press.

Amid the flurry of final votes on hundreds of bills last week, Hawaii lawmakers privately weighed whether to sign a letter to President Obama that Rep. James Tokioka was circulating during the last few days of the legislative session. The letter called on the president not to consider expanding the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument, stating that “there is no scientific justification or conservation benefit in doing so.” Civil Beat.

Hundreds of the world’s top ocean scientists will gather in Honolulu next month for the 13th International Coral Reef Symposium. It’s the first time the conference will be held in Hawai‘i. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii Senate President Ron Kouchi has a confidential report in his possession that involves possible wrongdoing in the state Auditor’s Office. The report is the result of a Hawaii Attorney General’s Office investigation. Civil Beat.

The federal government for the first time has developed an administrative rule to provide more clarity in implementing the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, the federal law that established a land trust to benefit Native Hawaiians. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. David Ige announced Wednesday that he has signed House Bill 1581 to help expedite the resolution of disputes on actions by state agencies. The new law, which takes effect Aug. 1, allows contested case hearings before the commissions on Water Resource Management, Land Use, Public Utilities, the Hawaii Community Development Authority and cases involving conservation districts to be directly appealed to the Hawaii Supreme Court, according to a release from the governor’s office. Civil Beat.

The U.S. invitation allowing China to participate in the upcoming Rim of the Pacific maritime exercises off Hawaii appears to be holding — even as American accusations fly that China is militarizing the South China Sea, while China maintains America has no business “provoking the new maritime order.” Star-Advertiser.

Struggling U.S. and international stock markets are dragging down Hawaii’s largest public pension portfolio. The state Employees’ Retirement System fund eked out a 0.6 percent gain in the first three months of 2016 but is in danger of finishing the fiscal year ending June 30 with its first loss since 2012, according to a report presented to ERS trustees Tuesday by Portland, Ore.-based Pension Consulting Alliance Inc. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s judicial system ranks among the top three in the country when it comes to access to justice, according to the National Center for Access to Justice’s latest state-by-state ranking. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, deputy city Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha, have hired a prominent criminal defense attorney to represent them in the potential federal criminal case against them. In an interview Wednesday with Hawaii News Now, attorney Myles Breiner said he and the Kealohas expect there will be a grand jury indictment in the case.

Extra-tall towers are out, but the density of buildings could double and include less parking in some parts of Kakaako under new proposed rules for development tied to the city’s rail project. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii regulators unveiled an update Wednesday for the Honolulu neighborhood of Kakaako’s transit-oriented development plan calling for diverse residential building types, ground-oriented family housing near transit stations, additional reserved housing, grocery stores, cultural and community amenities, food trucks and spaces for artists. Pacific Business News.

Ross Dress for Less on Ward Avenue in Honolulu is expected to be displaced by the Honolulu rail transit project that’s being built from West Oahu to Ala Moana Center. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii lawmakers sent a strong message last week to two brothers who claim to own portions of eight streets in Kakaako where they started charging for parking six years ago after decades of free public use. Star-Advertiser.

Repairs to a collapsed pier at Waianae Boat Harbor have finally been approved. KHON2.

Hawaii

The Hawaii Supreme Court has agreed to hear a complaint questioning the residency status of Ron Gonzales, who in 2014 unsuccessfully challenged Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille for the District 9 council seat. West Hawaii Today.

What started as a bill to increase County Council terms from two years to four has morphed through a series of compromises into a bill adding one more two-year term, so council members would be eligible to serve 10 consecutive years before being term-limited. West Hawaii Today.

Native Hawaiian activists drew closer to their goal of barring further geothermal development on Hualalai, following a hearing Wednesday in the Environmental Court. West Hawaii Today.

The design, engineering and potential capabilities of the Thirty Meter Telescope were front and center Wednesday at the West Hawaii Civic Center. Telescope system scientist Warren Skidmore walked about two dozen people through the technical aspects of the 180-foot tall, $1.4 billion project, which, if built, would be the second largest telescope on Earth, behind a 39- meter scope being constructed by European interests in Chile. West Hawaii Today.

For almost 16 miles of coastline stretching north from South Point, there is no public access to the shoreline. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

After hearing more than an hour of testimony from lifeguards and their supporters, the Budget and Finance Committee today recommended approval of funding for the ocean safety labor contract by a unanimous 6-0 vote. Maui Now.

Pay raises awarded to hundreds of lifeguards and law enforcement officers statewide cleared a major hurdle on Wednesday. Hawaii News Now.

The 70 unit Waiʻale Affordable Housing project proposed for development on 10.36 acres just north of the Waikapū Gardens subdivision on Maui, surfaces for consideration at the Maui County Council’s Land Use Committee meeting at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 18, in the Council Chamber. Maui Now.

The Maui Planning Commission advanced two proposed Kihei projects Monday, approving the 129-unit Kamaole Pointe workforce housing complex and recommending a zoning change for the 22,000-square-foot Kihei Wellness Center. Maui News.

Maui County has agreed to pay $24,000 in damages and to enter into a three-year consent decree to settle an age discrimination lawsuit that alleged the Maui Police Department failed to hire a qualified 45-year-old Hawaii resident as a police officer. Maui News.

Kauai

After two hours of discussion during committee Wednesday, Kauai council members voted 4-3 to recommend killing a proposed bill that would increase the General Excise Tax. Garden Island.

Mason Chock is seeking re-election to the Kauai County Council. Garden Island.

Paul Cienfuegos, a community activist from Portland, Oregon, is on Kauai for one reason: he says there’s another way to shut the door on unwanted corporate industry. Garden Island.