Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Ban against swimming with dolphins proposed, state has record $1B surplus, lawsuits filed as more hepatitis cases discovered, judge orders TRO in Maui hospital benefits case, Honolulu mulls outside audit of Ethics Commission, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Creative Commons
Spinner dolphin in Hawaii, Creative Commons
Federal regulators are proposing to ban swimming with dolphins in Hawaii, a move that could imperil one of the Aloha State’s most popular tourist activities and the industry that has sprung up around it. The National Marine Fisheries Service says spinner dolphins — the playful nocturnal species that humans in Hawaii routinely frolic with — are being deprived of rest during the day and becoming stressed out. Associated Press.

Federal officials proposed a new rule Tuesday that would prohibit approaching Hawaiian spinner dolphins within 50 yards in designated waters between Maui, Lanai and Kahoolawe where they are found throughout the day, a release says. Civil Beat.

The state was holding a record-setting $1 billion general treasury cash surplus when it closed the books on last fiscal year, an extraordinary sum that likely will alter the course of contract negotiations as the state and counties begin a new round of bargaining with Hawaii’s public worker unions. Star-Advertiser.

Commentary: Behind The Democrats’ Failed Push To Close The Primary. The party sued to keep non-Democrats from voting in its primary races, but federal judges are having none of it. Civil Beat.

A Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant, who served inflight food and beverages to passengers, was confirmed to have hepatitis A, the state Health Department said in a news release this afternoon. Star-Advertiser.

A second lawsuit in as many weeks has been filed against the restaurant chain Genki Sushi and two distributors of tainted scallops that have caused Hawaii’s hepatitis A outbreak. Civil Beat.

A Honolulu law firm has filed a class action as a result of the hepatitis A outbreak in Hawaii. Pacific Business News.

At least two of the 200-plus hepatitis A victims in Hawaii are so gravely ill that they are on the waiting list for a liver transplant, according to their attorney. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaiian Airlines is still in negotiations with pilots who are threatening to strike. Garden Island.

Oahu

The city may spend as much as $100,000 auditing the processes of the Honolulu Ethics Commission. KHON2.

The state Department of Health confirmed another case of Hepatitis A in a cafeteria worker at Kipapa Elementary school on Tuesday. Hawaii News Now.

Oahu Publications has pulled its buyout offer for union employees of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, a move that likely means the newsroom’s planned downsizing will be achieved solely through involuntary job cuts. Civil Beat.

A new cannabis testing laboratory is opening in downtown Honolulu. Steep Hill Hawaii will be a full-service quality-assurance laboratory for medical marijuana with testing equipment that can handle up to 500 test samples per month. Pacific Business News.

The once kitschy marketplace lined with carts full of costume jewelry, faux lei and made-in-China trinkets is a stark contrast to the glitzy, $500 million shopping center opening Thursday in the heart of Waikiki. Star-Advertiser.

A Honolulu-based seafood processor is being put on notice by the FDA for "unsanitary conditions." According to a warning letter to Tropic Fish Hawaii, LLC, an FDA inspector found cuts of raw ahi tuna, mahi mahi and skipjack tuna on the company's warehouse concrete floor. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii

The public became the planners Tuesday evening, as more than 75 people pushed buttons to define what they want to see in Hawaii Island’s future. West Hawaii Today.

BioEnergy Hawaii LLC, a Kailua-Kona-based developer of waste-treatment and alternative-energy systems, plans to start construction on its $50 million resource-recovery and energy-conversion facility on the Big Island by the fourth quarter of next year. Pacific Business News.

A handful of residents living in emergency housing on the HOPE Services campus in the Kona Old Industrial Area are trying to clean up their group’s larger image one area at a time. West Hawaii Today.

A Hilo obstetrician/gynecologist is fighting a state Department of Human Services finding that he was overpaid more than $200,000 for services to Medicaid patients. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

An Oahu Circuit Court judge issued a temporary restraining order Monday to bar state officials from implementing a new law that would provide severance pay and retirement bonuses to state workers whose jobs are being privatized. The Hawaii Employees’ Retirement System filed a lawsuit Aug. 9 to block the new law, which would affect about 1,500 Maui County hospital workers. Star-Advertiser.

A judge has granted the state pension system’s request for a temporary restraining order to stall the implementation of a new law that offers special retirement benefits to certain state hospital workers. Civil Beat.

Pukalani resident Kathleen Phillips was brought to tears when the state Legislature in the last session passed the CARE Act, designed to help unpaid caregivers receive medical instruction and other help before patients are discharged from a medical facility. Maui News.

Almost 35 years after he started working as a baggage handler for Hawaiian Airlines, Maui's Marvin Moniz was named the state Department of Transportation's Manager of the Year Friday for his leadership in a district that includes the state's second busiest airport. Maui News.

Kauai

Those who live and work in Kapaa say the traffic on the eastside has gotten out of hand. Garden Island.

Swimming with spinner dolphins already constitutes animal harassment under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, but the National Marine Fisheries Service is pushing for further regulation. Tour companies on Kauai, however, aren’t concerned with the potential rules because they say they’re already following the practices recommended. Garden Island.

A third Kauai resident has been infected with hepatitis A, but the source of the infection is unclear, according to Hawaii Department of Health. Garden Island.

Molokai

An army of volunteers, nonprofit groups and state and federal agencies mobilized this summer to remove 16 tons of marine debris from a 22-mile stretch of Molokai’s north shore. Star-Advertiser.