Monday, May 23, 2016

National Park fees increase, Hawaii GOP convention exposes schism over Trump, Honolulu charter amendment could erase neighborhood boards, state and federal lawmakers fight homelessness, Kauai's Rapozo seeks 7th term, unemployment rate drops, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2016 All Hawaii News
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park lava glow © 2016 All Hawaii News
Beginning June 1, daily entrance fees at all national parks in Hawaii, including Haleakala National Park and Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, will increase. Star-Advertiser.

Flush with an extra $3 million it never requested to address island homelessness, Gov. David Ige’s administration is being pressured to better coordinate the state’s homeless efforts as impatient legislators await progress. Star-Advertiser.

The U.S. Senate has approved an appropriations bill that includes “additional money for homelessness and affordable housing programs which will help Hawaii, Sen. Brian Schatz said in a statement Friday. Civil Beat.

Officials say a staff shortage in the state’s Child Welfare Services agency has resulted in social workers juggling twice as many as cases of child abuse and neglect as they should. Associated Press.

A large banner reading “Defeat Hillary, Vote Trump!” expressed the sentiments of many of the several hundred people who attended Hawaii’s Republican state convention Saturday at the Filipino Community Center’s Casamina Flores Ballroom in Waipahu. But not every local Republican backs the New York businessman-turned-politician, and that led to turmoil when state Rep. Beth Fukumoto Chang took the stage. Civil Beat.

Hawaii lawmakers were reluctant again this year to strengthen the state ethics code or to tighten the rules lobbyists must follow. The Hawaii State Ethics Commission tracked more than 16 bills related to ethics and lobbying this past legislative session, which ended May 5. Each and every one died, many without so much as a public hearing. Civil Beat.

Hawaii’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.2 percent, seasonally adjusted, in April, from 3.8 percent during the same month last year, as the state’s labor force grew to nearly 690,000, according to the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. Pacific Business News.

The most ethnically diverse state in the country, Hawaii also has the highest proportion of non-English speakers. Tribune-Herald.

President Barack Obama on Friday joined the chorus of public officials honoring Hawaii Congressman Mark Takai, who announced Thursday he will not seek re-election but instead focus on his battle with cancer. Civil Beat.

The national retail chain Sports Authority has thanked all its loyalty members and said that “it is with great sadness” that it’s closing the program on Wednesday, May 25. KHON2.

Oahu

The Honolulu Charter Commission might ask Oahu voters to consider eliminating neighborhood boards, using the money saved to fund other means of increasing civic participation. Star-Advertiser.

About a month after the Attorney General's office's charities division opened a civil investigation into questionable spending by the Bishop Museum's former CEO, Hawaii  News Now has learned that the AG's office has launched a separate criminal probe. Multiple sources tell us that the museum is cooperating with the criminal investigation and has handed over a number of documents relating to its former president Blair Collis' use of his museum credit card.

Even though the city and state have been teaming up to clear out the persistent Kakaako homeless encampment, one member of the board that oversees the waterfront parks says the population is growing to dangerous levels. Star-Advertiser.

Two lesbians who were arrested by a Honolulu police officer after he saw them hugging and kissing in a North Shore grocery store were recently awarded $80,000 to resolve a lawsuit they filed last October. Civil Beat.

Plans to redevelop a key section of Haleiwa town won approval from the City Council Zoning and Planning Committee on Thursday, despite opposition from the North Shore Outdoor Circle and others worried it might harm an adjacent Hawaiian fishpond. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

The telescopes atop Mauna Kea help support a local science and technology industry. But could they also attract more manufacturing jobs? A feasibility study by Hawaii’s High Technology Development Corporation will try to find out. Tribune-Herald.

Not all Native Hawaiians oppose construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea, a group of community leaders said Friday. The group has formed the nonprofit Perpetuating Unique Educational Opportunities Inc. — known by its acronym PUEO, for the endemic owl of Hawaiian myth and legend — and has filed a motion to intervene in the contested case currently underway. West Hawaii Today.

Kalani Flores, an appellant in the Thirty Meter Telescope court case, made his case in opposition to new rules that will regulate cultural practices on Mauna Kea. Big Island Video News.

For several years, a small office in the state’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism has been pursuing a spaceport certification for Kona International Airport, which would make it one of the few hubs for proposed commercial flights into suborbit. Tribune-Herald.

Two firefighters who claim they were stripped of their badges by Fire Chief Darren Rosario for publicly criticizing him are suing the chief and the county. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii Island farmers in line for permits to begin experimental industrial hemp production say the crop could be a major boon for agriculture. West Hawaii Today.

Sayonara, Japanese? Despite dramatic decrease of speakers in Hawaii, some vow to keep it alive. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Hawaii’s attorney general has asked a federal appeals court to lift or modify an injunction halting the transfer of three state-owned hospitals in Maui County to private control under Kaiser Permanente, saying the time frame does not allow the state to reverse course and run the facilities as public hospitals. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii's attorney general is asking the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to lift or change an order issued Tuesday that suspended work to transfer Maui County's three public hospitals from the state to Maui Health Systems, a subsidiary of Kaiser Foundation Hospitals. Maui News.

The Maui County Council passed the fiscal year 2017 budget on first reading Friday, with changes that included eliminating biodiesel fuel taxes and reappropriating housing funds originally targeted for photovoltaic systems. Maui News.

Hawaiian Homes broke ground to celebrate the beginning of construction for the first phase of the Keokea-Waiohuli subdivision in Kula on Thursday. The subdivision will be the future home for 46 Hawaiian Home Lands beneficiaries and their families. Hawaii News Now.

"The Last Harvest" is a series chronicling the various aspects of Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co.'s final harvest as it shuts down at the end of the year after a 145-year run. The shutdown of HC&S represents the end of sugar in Hawaii. The installments will run periodically throughout the year. Maui News.

Kauai

Keeping the administration in check, maintaining the budget and fighting for the safety of hard-working families is what Mel Rapozo wants do to if elected to a new term on the Kauai County Council. Garden Island.

Over the decades, Mother Nature has been pretty tenacious about breaking down the three bridges that cross Wainiha Stream on Kuhio Highway. Once again, there’s talk about replacing them. Garden Island.

Construction of a beachfront timeshare slated to be built on the Eastside is expected to begin in the fall.Coconut Beach Resort, owned by Symmetry Property Development and SPD II Makaiwa Development Resort Development LLC, will begin construction of its 330-unit resort in the Coconut Plantation Resort Area in Kapaa in September. Garden Island.

Dozens of people waved signs along Kuhio Highway in Kapaa Saturday, supporting organic farming and condemning genetically engineered food. The rally was part of the global March Against Monsanto event. Garden Island.