Friday, December 16, 2016

Unemployment hits low 3%, judge rules against Thirty Meter Telescope lease, more Honolulu rail delays, EPA seeks $5M fines against Syngenta, Maui to revisit big salary hikes, lawmakers question rape test kit backlog, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii’s unemployment rate fell for the fourth straight month and hit 3 percent in November, the lowest level since October 2007, according to data released Thursday by the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. Star-Advertiser.

The state's labor department says Hawaii's unemployment rate fell to a nine-year-low of 3 percent last month. Associated Press.

Three months ago Gov. David Ige told attendees at an international conference on conservation that he would like to see Hawaii double its food production by the year 2020. Civil Beat.

State lawmakers were briefed today on the status of sexual assault kits that have not been tested and county plans to resolve the backlogs. Hawaii Public Radio.

With President Barack Obama set to arrive Friday for vacation on Oahu, the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council is making another push for his administration to ease the anticipated impacts of the newly expanded Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument on Hawaii’s $100 million commercial fishing industry. Civil Beat.

Mounting legal costs and allegations of wasteful spending are being lobbed by both sides of a bitterly divided Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and some say the Hawaiian community is paying the price. KHON2.

Hawaii is launching several new projects and implementing new rules aimed at addressing concerns about pesticide exposure. Associated Press.

Oahu

Honolulu’s rail system could face further delays if Hitachi Rail Italy can’t fix a newly discovered glitch in its train cars before tests scheduled to start next year, project officials say. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell made a surprise visit to the board of directors of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation on Thursday and cautioned that “there will be more problems” in the city’s troubled 20-mile, 21-station rail project. Civil Beat.

A former Honolulu police officer plans to plead guilty Friday to felony conspiracy. Niall Silva is one of the officers recently named in a civil lawsuit filed by Gerard Puana against Honolulu police chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, Katherine, a city deputy prosecutor and Puana’s niece. KHON2.

In newly-released court records, a federal prosecutor indicates the police chief's wife, Katherine Kealoha, was deeply involved in an effort to frame her uncle by faking the theft of her mailbox. Hawaii News Now.

Last month’s sewage spill near Ko Olina may have gone undetected for a full day before city officials responded. KHON2.

Kerzner International's first Atlantis resort in the United States is coming to the 642-acre Ko Olina Resort in West Oahu and will include a total of 1,324 hotel rooms and luxury residences, an aquarium, a wedding chapel and a water park. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii

A Hilo Circuit Court judge on Thursday overturned the state’s approval of the Thirty Meter Telescope’s sublease for Mauna Kea. Tribune-Herald.

A Circuit Court judge ruled Thursday that the state Board of Land and Natural Resources should have held a contested case hearing before it consented to a sublease between the University of Hawaii at Hilo and the Thirty Meter Telescope. Star-Advertiser.

The state’s approval of a sublease between the University of Hawai’i and the Thirty Meter Telescope has been thrown out in court. Big Island Video News.

The land board is waiting on the Banyan Drive Hawaii Redevelopment Agency before it decides what to do with the Pagoda property. Here is what new mayor Harry Kim says about the agency and the Banyan Drive situation. Big Island Video News.

Six County Council members have dipped into contingency funds to help pay for an overhaul of the Fire Department’s primary West Hawaii rescue boat. West Hawaii Today.

A conservation story nearly two decades in the making entered its latest chapter Wednesday with the release of five young ‘alala into the wild. Tribune-Herald.

When Kona Brewing Co. opens its new facility in 2018, the brewery won’t only dramatically increase its capacity to brew more beer, it’ll also include new features designed to reduce waste and improve efficiency. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

The Maui County Salary Commission will meet Dec. 23 for a special meeting to once again take up pay raises for Mayor Alan Arakawa and top appointees in his administration. Maui News.

A Maui County Council committee is calling for ending a parking lot concession on county property in Lahaina by the Friends of Moku’ula, questioning the group’s financial management and its responsiveness to community and council inquiries. Maui News.

The permitting process for the next phase of the Lahaina bypass, from the Olowalu landfill to Hokiokio Place, continues to move forward as the project’s construction date approaches next month. Maui News.

A tentative agreement has been reached for Maui County to pay $9.5 million for Wailuku Water Co.’s ditch system and 8,764 acres of its West Maui Mountains watershed lands. Maui News.

Eight hours of face-to-face deliberations between officials and supporters of the Maui Veterans Cemetery and the Makawao Cemetery Association on Tuesday appear to have resolved a dispute that at times has led to a contentious relationship between neighbors over the past few years. Maui News.

Kauai

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is suing a Kauai seed company over the protection of agricultural workers at its crop research farm in connection with a medical emergency in January when 10 people were treated at a hospital. Star-Advertiser.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday filed a complaint alleging that Syngenta Kauai violated “numerous federal pesticide regulations” meant to protect agricultural workers at its crop research farm in Kekaha. Civil Beat.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is seeking nearly $5 million in fines against a unit of the Swiss chemical giant Syngenta for the company’s alleged violations of pesticide regulations in Hawaii. Associated Press.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is suing Syngenta Seeds over an incident early this year on Kauai. Garden Island.

The Wailua Golf Course will soon be able to sell alcohol to players on the links. The Kauai County Council on Wednesday voted 6-1 to pass Bill No. 2635 allows the sale of alcohol via roving concessions. Garden Island.