Thursday, June 16, 2016

Federal court hears GMO arguments, Honolulu ethics chief steps down, cesspool tax credit unpopular, Kauai council kills county manager plan, Ige asks courts to allow Maui hospitals room to breathe, one ballot initiative survives Hawaii County Council, residency complaint in Maui council race, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy federal court system
Screenshot of GMO hearings in U.S. District Court in Honolulu
A federal appeals court is weighing whether Hawaii counties have the right to regulate genetically modified crops and impose restrictions on how farmers apply pesticides. Three California-based judges flew to Honolulu to hear oral arguments Wednesday in a string of cases involving regulations on genetically engineered agriculture in Kauai County, Hawaii County and Maui County. Civil Beat.


Observers packed a federal courtroom in downtown Honolulu on Wednesday to watch attorneys for several of the world’s agricultural giants and opponents of genetically engineered farming battle over three county laws that target GMO crops and pesticide use. Star-Advertiser.

The fight over regulating genetically engineered crops in three Hawaii counties was back in a federal courtroom Wednesday as some agricultural giants look to protect their farms from bans against modified food. Associated Press.


Fern Rosenstiel said Wednesday’s 9th Circuit Court of Appeals hearing has been a long time coming. That’s because the federal appellate court heard three cases dealing with pesticide labeling and GMO laws created by Hawaii, Maui and Kauai counties. Garden Island.

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State efforts to phase out use of cesspools and encourage use of other wastewater systems are off to a slow start. A statewide ban on new cesspool construction began in March, two months after a law providing tax credits to help homeowners upgrade cesspools to a septic system or an aerobic tank system went into effect. Tribune-Herald.

The U. S. House of Representatives has approved an amendment to the Department of Defense 2017 appropriations bill that would provide $5 million to “initiate planning and design for a new ballistic missile defense radar in Hawaii,” Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said in a press release Wednesday. Civil Beat.

The embattled head of electrical workers union faces new allegations that he oversaw an improper union vote that doubled dues for hundreds of Hawaii union members. Hawaii News Now.

Scientists believe they found two new species of colorful reef fish and for the first time collected a male Hawaiian pigfish during a 25-day expedition to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Star-Advertiser.

Researchers in Hawaii have discovered three probable new species of fish while on an expedition in the protected waters of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. Associated Press.


Oahu

Chuck Totto’s decision Wednesday to step down under duress as the city’s longtime ethics director ends a years-long saga of his butting heads with Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s administration, Caldwell’s recently appointed city Ethics Commission members, and even members of Totto’s own staff. Star-Advertiser.

The longtime executive director of the city agency responsible for ethics enforcement resigned Wednesday. Civil Beat.

The embattled executive director of the Honolulu Ethics Commission, Chuck Totto, has resigned, effective immediately. Totto had led the commission since April 2000. Hawaii News Now.

After more than 16 years, the head of the Honolulu Ethics Commission has resigned. KHON2.

Honolulu Mayor Candidate Profiles: Kirk Caldwell. Hawaii Public Radio.

A desire to kick Kirk Caldwell out of office brought three top Hawaii Democrats together Wednesday at a press conference to voice their support for Charles Djou for mayor. Civil Beat.

Since November, the city has purchased and gutted a former private school in Makiki and plans to open it early next year as the first project of its kind in which the city will serve as landlord to as many as 75 low-income and homeless people. Star-Advertiser.

Howard Higa, president of The Cab taxi company, said Wednesday he has had enough of Hawaii politicians dillydallying when it comes to the regulation of app-based ride-hailing companies Lyft and Uber. Civil Beat.

Biotech startup Cardax Inc., seeking additional capital as losses mount, has increased the pay of two of its top officers who previously had seen their compensation reduced to minimum wage of $8.50 an hour. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii businessman Duane Kurisu to partner with city, state on homeless housing project. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii

A charter amendment giving the County Council more control over department heads is unlikely to make it to the Nov. 8 ballot, following its postponement Wednesday in the face of scattered opposition and several proposed changes. West Hawaii Today.

Petitioners say the Thirty Meter Telescope, as well as the newly incorporated PUEO group, should not be allowed to intervene in the upcoming contested case hearing. Big Island Video News.

Persistent questioning Wednesday by County Council members eventually arrived at the cost of perks a developer is seeking to build affordable housing and a senior care facility on Hualalai Road: $1.8 million. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

For now, Maui Memorial Medical Center and its staff continue to cover shortages and to deal with uncertainties created by a federal appeals court injunction halting the operational transition of the public hospital to the private Kaiser Permanente, but the hospital's CEO warned that those efforts cannot be sustained for long and "will fall apart." Maui News.

The Maui Planning Commission approved plans Tuesday for a hybrid seawall and rock revetment fronting the Hololani Resort, where residents, like many of their neighbors, fear for the safety of their homes perched precariously on the West Maui shore. Maui News.

The Maui County clerk's office is investigating a complaint about the residency qualification for Maui County Council candidate Alan Kaufman, an Upcountry veterinarian. Maui News.

South Maui Rep. Kaniela Ing's announcement of his endorsement by the Sierra Club of Hawaii has led to a political tit-for-tat with his Democratic primary opponent, Deidre Tegarden. Maui News.

The Maui Police Department advises motorists that the speed limit between has been temporarily reduced on the Mokulele Highway between the Maui Humane Society animal shelter and North KÄ«hei Road. Maui Now.

Kauai

Arguing that a council-manager form of government would not solve the county’s problems, the Kauai County Council unanimously voted Wednesday to kill a resolution that would have let the people decide. Garden Island.

Four council members voted to approve a bill that allows additional dwelling units to be built on ag land. Bill No. 2601 amends the county code relating to ADU’s by removing the deadline for those units to be built. Per the code, ADUs had to be built by 2024. Garden Island.