Thursday, June 30, 2016

Hawaii homelessness creeps up, new Public Utilities Commission pick as NextEra deal looms, audit to probe Hawaii County hiring practices, no 'strong mayor' government for Maui, Zuckerberg to build home as well as wall, Ige signs ivory sales ban bill, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Homeless man reading © 2016 All Hawaii News
Hawaii, which already has the highest per capita rate of homelessness in America, saw its homeless population jump another 4 percent between January 2015 and January 2016, but officials revealing the data see signs of progress. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii is seeing a stubborn rise in homelessness, despite the concerted efforts of state and county officials to address the issue. According to the “point in time” count released Wednesday, the state’s homeless population stood at 7,921 when the annual survey was conducted during the week of Jan. 25. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii Point-In-Time Count, an annual survey of the state’s homeless population, was released Wednesday, and the results were a mixed bag of both encouraging and disconcerting numbers. West Hawaii Today.

copyright 2016 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
© 2016 All Hawaii News

The results of this year’s statewide Homeless Point in Time Count were released today. Hawaii Public Radio.

A report on the number of homeless who live in Hawai‘i, called the “Statewide Point In Time Count,” revealed an overall increase in the number of homeless in the state compared to last year. Maui Now.

According to the annual Point in Time count released Wednesday, the number of Kauai’s homeless population increased by about 30 percent in 2016 compared to last year. Garden Island.

The latest "Point In Time" homeless count showed that on January 24, 2016, there were nearly eight thousand homeless statewide, with more than half on Oahu. Hawaii News Now.

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Hawaii, one of the top visitor destinations in the world, is bucking a trend now that Gov. David Ige said he intends to veto a bill that would allow online lodging services like Airbnb to collect state and local taxes. Associated Press.

Ige Signs Act Prohibiting Most Ivory Sales in Hawaii. Retailers of products made out of endangered species have one year to purge their inventory before the sales are banned. Civil Beat.

photo courtesy office of Hawaii governor
Gorak
Gov. David Ige is booting Mike Champley from the state Public Utilities Commission just days before the three-member body was expected to release its final decision on the $4.3 billion deal to sell Hawaiian Electric Industries to Florida-based NextEra Energy. Ige has made an interim appointment of Tom Gorak, the commission’s chief legal counsel, who will take over starting Friday. Civil Beat.

Gov. David Ige shuffled the deck Wednesday with a new Public Utilities Commission member just days before the three-person panel is expected to vote on whether NextEra Energy Inc. may purchase the state’s largest electric utility for $4.3 billion. Star-Advertiser.

The biggest business deal in state history is in a new state of limbo as the governor makes a new appointment to the Public Utilities Commission that some are calling illegal and unethical. KHON2.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige on Wednesday named Thomas Gorak, chief counsel of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, as the replacement for Michael Champley, whose term on the three-member commission charged with making key energy and other utility decisions, ends on Thursday. Pacific Business News.

Gov. David Ige is appointing a new member to the commission that’s expected to rule on Florida energy company NextEra’s proposed purchase of Hawaiian Electric Industries. Ige is naming Thomas Gorak to the state Public Utilities Commission. Gorak is now the commission’s top legal adviser, a job he’s had since 2013. Associated Press.

Since June 23, Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and more than a dozen of her Democratic colleagues have not been able to use their official websites. Civil Beat.

Rising sea levels bring a wave of worry for many residents of our island state. Wednesday evening, experts showed how bad the increase in the ocean could be, while also detailing what some cities are already doing to prepare. KITV.

Oahu

There may be suspense in a hotly contested mayor’s race, but don’t expect changes in the Honolulu City Council after this year’s election. Civil Beat.

Hawaii

It’s not what you know; it’s whom you know. That lament has a long history on Hawaii Island, where a county government job ranks right up there with a college degree for many parents’ aspirations for their children. West Hawaii Today.

Somewhere between 38 and 92 percent of West Hawaii’s reefs will be declared bleached and dead, once scientists are comfortable enough with their figures to release final results this summer. West Hawaii Today.

Hilo residents got their first chance to weigh in on proposed redevelopment plans for the Banyan Drive area on Tuesday afternoon. More than 60 people attended the standing-room only informational meeting at the Aupuni Conference Center, where county planners gave an overview of possible new land uses and revitalization efforts for the peninsula, which was declared “blighted” earlier this year. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii County Planning Director Duane Kanuha presented a future vision for Banyan Drive to a crowd of business representatives and enthusiasts on Tuesday night. Big Island Video News.

Hawaii County officially is opening a lava viewing area near Kalapana today after the Pu‘u ‘O‘o lava flow reached the base of Pulama pali. Tribune-Herald.

Big Island residents armed with a cellphone camera and a $1 magnifying glass are becoming science sleuths, contributing to research that would have been handled by a drove of scientists a decade ago. Thanks to a crowdsourcing initiative launched in May 2015 to map the distribution of “yellow fever” mosquitoes on the island, scientists and health officials will have more information to go on when they are deciding how to combat mosquito-borne diseases like dengue and Zika — scourges which will appear sooner or later. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

One of the most controversial charter amendments of the Maui County Council’s 2016 calendar, which would have allowed a fundamental change in county governance from a “strong mayor” to council-manager, died in committee Wednesday. Maui Watch.

Despite taking no action Tuesday on several of Mayor Alan Arakawa's bills seeking funding for homeless programs and temporary shelters, council Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Riki Hokama said he and the mayor are working to "find more common ground on the homeless issue" and are moving forward. Maui News.

State Pulls Plug On Mbloom, But Still Wants To Help Tech Startups. The venture capital fund sputtered from the start, with questions about conflict of interest in its investments. Civil Beat.

The contract for construction of the next phase of the Lahaina bypass, a 2.7-mile stretch that runs from Hokiokio Road toward Launiupoko, has been awarded to Hawaiian Dredging Co., the state Department of Transportation announced Tuesday. Maui News.

Kauai

Kauai County Council unanimously voted to defer a bill on Wednesday that would allow vending on county-owned streets. Garden Island.

The Center for Biological Diversity is threatening to take legal action to protect rare seabirds that it says are being harmed by bright lights at an Air Force radar facility in Kokee, Kauai. Star-Advertiser.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg apparently has plans to build a home on his Hawaii estate on the North Shore of Kauai, in addition to that six-foot-high wall that has irked some of his neighbors and caught the attention of websites around the world, Pacific Business News has learned.

For the past two weeks, Tabitha Smith has been camping in a spot dubbed “The Cage” at the Lihue Civic Center. Garden Island.