Friday, July 1, 2016

RIMPAC brings controversy, currency, to Hawaii; Honolulu City Council shuffle; Hawaiian Electric Co.'s stock falls after Public Utilities Commission change; plastic bag ban increases shoplifting; Supreme Court: Kauai mayor can't suspend police chief; Crabbe kept at OHA; zika battle renewed; more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Fire Controlman 2nd Class Michael Klimek mans the rails aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay on June 28, 2016 at Pearl Harbor, courtesy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan J. Batchelder, U.S. Navy
Twenty-six nations, 45 ships, five submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel will participate in the biennial  Rim of the Pacific  exercise, which got underway Thursday and wraps up Aug. 4, mostly in and around the Hawaiian Islands but also in Southern California. Ships from participating nations are flooding into Pearl Harbor this week. Expect noise, risk to marine life, garage door glitches and $52.5M from RIMPAC. Star-Advertiser.

This summer’s Rim of the Pacific military drills in Hawaii will bring an initial $52.5 million to the Aloha State with tens of millions of more coming to the state by the end, according to a study from the state Department of Business and Economic Development. Pacific Business News.

Dozens of ships from 26 nations are arriving in Pearl Harbor this week for the biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise. RIMPAC 2016 will be held in and around the Hawaiian islands and off the coast of Southern California through Aug. 4. It officially began Thursday. Associated Press.

Starting today, the largest international maritime exercise begins in Hawai‘i. The Rim of the Pacific, also known as RIMPAC, is in its 25th year since the military training exercise begin in 1971. Parts of it involve explosives and underwater sonar -- a point of concern for environmental groups. Hawaii Public Radio.

A tale of two navies is emerging from this year’s Rim of the Pacific exercises: Chinese and U.S. cooperation in Hawaii, and Chinese and U.S. suspicion in the South China Sea. Star-Advertiser.

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Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. saw its stock price tumble nearly 5 percent, or about $1.70 per share, on Thursday, the day after Hawaii's governor named a new member to the the state regulatory commission expected to issue on the $4.3 billion sale of HEI subsidiary Hawaiian Electric Co. to Florida's NextEra Energy Inc. Pacific Business News.

The Attorney General’s Office said Gov. David Ige had the right to make an interim appointment to the state Public Utilities Commission before Ige exercised that right Wednesday. The governor announced he had selected Tom Gorak, the commission’s chief legal counsel, to replace Commissioner Mike Champley, whose term expired Thursday. Civil Beat.

State lawmakers are firing back and threatening legal action against Gov. David Ige after he decided to replace a utility commissioner before the panel decides whether or not to allow the Hawaiian Electric-NextEra Energy merger. KHON2.

The state Thursday filed an appeal of a court decision requiring the state to sufficiently fund administrative and operating expenses for the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin said the state would appeal a ruling regarding funding of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. Three Native Hawaiian beneficiaries sued the state in 2007, alleging that it had inadequately funded DHHL. The department is tasked with placing qualified Hawaiians on their own land. Civil Beat.

Kamanaʻopono Crabbe, the CEO of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, received a new three-year contract Thursday. Civil Beat.

The state and counties are ramping up efforts to prevent the mosquito-borne Zika virus from taking hold in Hawaii in spite of a congressional impasse over $1.1 billion in emergency funding to combat the virus, which can cause devastating birth defects, including microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with abnormally small heads. Star-Advertiser.

In a move that Gov. David Ige described as unprecedented, the mayors of four islands and other key staff flanked the state’s top executive on Thursday at a news conference in Honolulu, pledging to take mosquito control to the community with a relaunch of education efforts as Hawaii Island’s dengue outbreak disappears in the rear view mirror but the state faces the possibility of new diseases and outbreaks. West Hawaii Today.

Despite rising homelessness in Hawaii, a bill that’s on track to become law may force emergency homeless shelters to cut more than 200 beds and turn away people who want to get off the streets. Civil Beat.

KHON2 found out the state lawmakers who had the most full-day absences during the session of 60 days: Rep. Sam Kong, D, Aiea, with 12 days; Rep. Cynthia Thielen, R, Kailua, Kaneohe Bay with 11; and Rep. Marcus Oshiro, D, Wahiawa, Whitmore Village with nine. We asked all of them about their absences.

The state Department of Education is expected to spend nearly $1 billion on electricity by 2035, but can save hundreds of millions through progress toward clean energy goals established by House Bill 2569, signed by Governor David Ige today. Maui Now.

Oahu

Ikaika Anderson will be leaving his post as vice chair of the Honolulu City Council. Council members are scheduled to vote next week on a resolution that would replace him with Councilman Joey Manahan from Kalihi. Civil Beat.

A senior couple filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Thursday seeking to invalidate state laws that prevent them from living together in the same licensed care home. State licensing laws and related administrative rules prohibit community care foster family homes from having more than one private-pay client, like the Kawamotos. Spouses on Medicaid, however, may live in the same home. Star-Advertiser.

A year after Oahu’s single-use plastic bag ban took effect July 1, 2015, prices have increased, and shoplifting is on the rise as thieves find more ways to walk out of stores without paying for their goods. Star-Advertiser.

A major real estate deal in Windward Oahu could have ramifications for Downtown Honolulu. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii

Jen Ruggles, a candidate for Hawaii County Council, says she paid a delinquent $379.44 property tax bill Thursday after a reporter inquired about missed payments during the past two years. Tribune-Herald.

Lava Spectacle Filmed From Above. Incredible views of lava rushing down the Pulama pali in bright orange channels were recorded during an overflight on Thursday morning. Big Island Video News.

Maui

The State Attorney General Doug Chin and the United Public Workers union today announced that the parties are discussing settlement of the union’s appeal regarding the transfer of Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and the Lānaʻi Community Hospital to a new Kaiser Permanente entity. Maui Now.

Water development and sewer fees and water rates will be going up Friday, the first day of the new Maui County fiscal year, two county departments said. Maui News.

A professor who was one of 20 people arrested during a protest over the construction of a solar telescope on Maui last year has been ordered to pay a $200 fine for disorderly conduct. Associated Press.

A University of Hawaii Maui College assistant professor would not apologize Wednesday to a Wailuku District Court judge for protesting last July against the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope being built at the Haleakala summit. Maui News.

County-manager idea shelved, for now. On a slim 5-4 vote, council members believed proposal not ready for voters. Maui News.

Kauai

Only the Kauai Police Commission and not the mayor can suspend that county’s police chief, according to a long-awaited ruling from the Hawaii Supreme Court. The case stems from a bitter 2012 dispute in which Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho suspended Police Chief Darryl Perry for his handling of a hostile workplace complaint. Civil Beat.

Human activities can impact reef health, making it less resilient, according to a recent study conducted by researchers with The Nature Conservancy, and Kauai-based marine biologist Katie Muzik thinks that’s the case on the island. Garden Island.