Thursday, July 14, 2016

Lawsuit filed over false killer whale protection, Biden to observe RIMPAC, Honolulu council may get more terms, stringent environmental studies coming for state water leases, Kauai mulls car smoking ban, Attorney General sues Dog the Bounty Hunter, police and military warn abut Pokemon trespassing, Maui zip-line operates without permits, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

False killer whale and pup, courtesy Robin Baird, Cascadia Research Collective
An international environmental group filed a lawsuit Wednesday in federal court in Washington, D.C., that aims to force federal agencies to put in place overdue endangered species protections for Hawaii’s false killer whales. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s longline fleet is about to hit its 3,554-ton limit for bigeye tuna in the Western and Central Pacific, prompting a closure date for the fishery of July 22, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Civil Beat.

The vice president will spend the day in Honolulu on Thursday to attend trilateral meetings with Korea and Japan, and meet U.S. and international military personnel in Hawaii for the Rim of the Pacific exercises. Hawaii News Now.

Australian soldiers are expected to lead a battalion of troops in the storming of a Hawaii beach during the world’s largest maritime exercises this month, displaying the amphibious military skills they’ve been building up in recent years. Associated Press.

Companies that for years, and in some cases decades, have been allowed to bypass stringent environmental requirements for using public water will be required to conduct environmental reviews and consult with Native Hawaiians to see whether the use disrupts taro farming or other customary practices if they want to continue using the water. Star-Advertiser.

By Wednesday morning, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, and the Travel Technology Association had made their views known about the growing transient accommodation industry. Pacific Business News.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and two other senators have asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether online short-term rental companies such as Airbnb and HomeAway are compounding housing shortages and driving up rents in some communities. Star-Advertiser.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz implored the Federal Trade Commission Wednesday to investigate commercial use of the burgeoning short-term rental market on websites like Airbnb and VRBO, citing specific concerns of housing shortages, subsequent rent hikes, illegally zoned or maintained properties and discriminatory practices. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii’s AG is on the hunt for Dog the Bounty Hunter. Attorney General Doug Chin said in a press release Wednesday that his office has filed petitions to enforce judgments against Da Kine Bail Bonds and Safety National Casualty Corporation “for forfeited bail bonds those companies failed to pay” to the state. Civil Beat.

Hawaii's attorney general has filed a lawsuit against Duane “Dog” Chapman’s Honolulu-based company, Da Kine Bail Bonds Inc., and its insurance company, claiming the state is owed $35,500 for forfeited bail bonds. Pacific Business News.

Oahu

The number of terms that elected officials could serve continuously would be raised to three from the current two under one of 27 proposals the Honolulu City Charter Commission voted to advance Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

In years past, Honolulu rail Executive Director Dan Grabauskas has regularly received glowing annual reviews and $35,000 salary bonuses from the rail board for his handling of the largest public works project in state history. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu police have issued at least two times more pedestrian-related tickets than normal since stepping up enforcement of pedestrian safety laws on July 1. Star-Advertiser.

A recently released statewide homelessness survey found that there were 413 homeless veterans on Oahu, a 12 percent decrease from the previous year but 84 more homeless vets than the city calculated at about the same time. Civil Beat.

According to the latest Point in Time Count, homelessness in Hawai‘i is up 4 percent from last year, the 5th consecutive year it’s increased. That’s nearly 8,000 individual stories. HPR’s Molly Solomon has one of them. Hawaii Public Radio.

In his print, radio, television and online campaign advertisements, Mayor Kirk Caldwell has frequently emphasized what he believes are his many contributions to making Honolulu a better place to live and work. Challenger Charles Djou has taken a very different approach in his first TV ad, and he comes out swinging. Civil Beat.

A major addition to urban Honolulu’s affordable-housing supply is about to get started, after a South Korean development company blessed the site Wednesday for a predominantly affordable condominium tower near Ala Moana Center. Star-Advertiser.

The latest case confirmed Tuesday brings the total number of recent hepatitis A cases on Oahu to 52. Associated Press.

The Navy is warning Pokémon Go fans to watch where you play, because you may be posing a security risk. KHON2.

With Pokemon fever sweeping the nation after the release of the smartphone app Pokemon GO, the Honolulu Police Department is issuing tips aimed at keeping gamers safe while strolling in parks, shopping malls and other areas in search of cartoon monsters. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Members of the ad hoc Committee on Puna Connectivity on Wednesday approved a final planning document that recommends next steps for county actions to improve road access in upper Puna. Tribune-Herald.

Mayor Billy Kenoi’s use of his government issued purchase card was again on the table for discussion by the Hawaii County Board of Ethics. Big Island Video News.

Maui

The location changes, but Derek Hoyte's story remains the same: He finds a picturesque piece of land, strings up a few zip lines and operates nonpermitted tours until the county comes knocking. Maui News.

Maui County officials have rejected an application for a special-use permit by a zip line business they say has been operating illegally for six years at the site of a former World War II-era military camp in Haiku. Hawaii News Now.

Former Maui County Film Commissioner Harry Donenfeld was fired in September 2013 to appease Hollywood movie mogul Ryan Kavanaugh, and not - as claimed by Mayor Alan Arakawa - because he failed to show up at work, according to a lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court. Maui News.

A bill passed by the Legislature providing additional severance and early retirement options to some Maui County public hospital workers is now in limbo following a veto Monday by Gov. David Ige, who said the measure could cost the state $60 million and jeopardize the state Employees' Retirement System's tax-exempt status. Maui News.

Kauai
It soon may be illegal for adults to smoke in their vehicle with minors. The county’s public works and parks and recreation committee unanimously voted Wednesday to recommend passing a bill that would prohibit smoking in vehicles with children under the age of 18. Garden Island.

For Thomas Lovelet, the Happy Dog Playground is a treasure. Lovelet was one of 12 people who testified during Wednesday’s Kauai County Council committee meeting about their love for the dog park and its role in the community. Garden Island.

Trap-neuter-release programs on Kauai have reduced the size of 10 colonies monitored by the organization by half over the past eight years. Garden Island.