Monday, January 9, 2017

Hawaii agriculture at issue, lawmakers attend mainland biotech ag conference, Ethics Commission gets complaint against OHA member, Obama honored with Hanauma Bay bench, Kenoi opens holding company, Kauai council to mull golf course alcohol veto, Maui considers committees, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Monsanto Facebook advertisement
Planting in Hawaii, Monsanto Facebook advertisement
The state department in charge of managing Hawaii’s agricultural resources has been operating for years with one-third of its staff positions left vacant, prompting House Finance Committee Chairwoman Sylvia Luke to threaten to eliminate the positions altogether. Star-Advertiser.

While members of Hawaii’s House Finance Committee were debating the upcoming budget for the Department of Agriculture during a hearing at the state Capitol on Friday, key lawmakers with oversight over agricultural policy were 4,000 miles away in Baton Rouge, La., at an ag conference sponsored and paid for by major corporations, including biotech giants Dow AgroSciences, Monsanto and Syngenta, which grow seed corn and conduct crop trials in Hawaii. Star-Advertiser.

Your Guide To Tracking The 2017 Hawaii Legislature. The islands’ 25 senators and 51 representatives will back in action before you know it. Keeping up with them is everybody’s business. Civil Beat.

A state Ethics Commission investigation is looking into whether Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee and former state lawmaker Peter Apo conducted his private business out of his taxpayer-funded OHA office. Hawaii News Now.

The Sierra Club of Hawaii says its appeal to Hawaii residents to withdraw funds and close their accounts with First Hawaiian Bank in an act of solidarity with Dakota Access Pipeline protesters has resulted in nearly $1.37 million being divested from Hawaii’s largest bank, whose majority shareholder, BNP Paribas, is backing the pipeline project. Pacific Business News.

Graduates of the University of Phoenix-Hawaii have the highest average salary compared to graduates of other colleges and universities in the Islands, according to data from the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard. Pacific Business News.

Online publication Education Week ranked Hawaii 25th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in areas such as a student’s chance for success, K-12 achievement, early foundations, adult outcomes, status change and equity. Garden Island.

Oahu

Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha on Friday agreed to retire amid a federal investigation of civil rights abuses and corruption. Associated Press.

Is HPD Chief’s Departure Just The Beginning Of An ‘Ugly’ Mess? Chief Louis Kealoha’s retirement package is being worked out and approved in secret before it’s known whether he committed serious wrongdoing. Civil Beat.

Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha has agreed to retire. The announcement came on Friday after the Honolulu Police Commission emerged from an hour-long executive session, the second closed door meeting in a week. Hawaii Public Radio.

The state and Waikiki stakeholders have adopted new guidelines to manage conflict over the increase of commercial beach umbrellas occupying space on Waikiki’s public beaches. Star-Advertiser.

The state’s newest homeless shelter opened its doors Sept. 28 with the intent to transition its clients into permanent housing within 90 days. Civil Beat.

With less than three weeks to go, the organizers of this year’s annual head count of Oahu’s homeless population still need about 350 volunteers to avoid last year’s poor coordination. Star-Advertiser.

Obama honored with bench at Hanauma Bay. Star-Advertiser.

Francis Keala, a former Honolulu police chief and community volunteer who served on numerous boards, including the Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate board as an interim trustee when most of its members were removed, died Saturday. He was 86. Star-Advertiser.

A&B to bring property management of 30 Hawaii commercial buildings in-house. Pacific Business News.

Commentary: Mayor Kirk Caldwell was brought into Honolulu Hale by former Mayor Mufi Hannemann and although they are not a team today, they remain linked by a rail project steadily growing more expensive and controversial. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Native Hawaiian astronomer Paul Coleman says the Thirty Meter Telescope would not just help unlock the mysteries of the universe, but also provide him a link to his ancestors. Tribune-Herald.

While defending the Thirty Meter Telescope in Hawaii, project manager Gary Sanders says he also is pursuing permits needed to build in the Canary Islands. Tribune-Herald.

Former Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi has started his own company, Pacific Business News has learned.

The land under the Hawaii Tribune-Herald newspaper building in Hilo and an adjacent property has been acquired for $3.7 million by Giampaolo Boschetti of San Francisco, according to state records. Star-Advertiser.

Local political powerhouse George Yokoyama has been called many things — good and bad — in his 90 years. And now he’s being called a Living Treasure of Hawaii. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

With Maui County Council members questioning the responsibilities and membership of proposed standing committees, a public hearing has been called for 1:30 p.m. Jan. 16 in Council Chambers in Wailuku. Maui News.

Maui Electric Co. produced 35.4 percent of its power from renewable energy in 2015, up slightly from the previous year but the second highest percentage in the state behind the Big Island’s 48.7 percent, according to the state Energy Office in its annual Hawaii report. Maui News.

There is much discussion about affordable/workforce housing in Maui County. The Department of Housing and Human Concerns is also very concerned and is working on ways to encourage the production of housing and to help families make homeownership a reality. Maui News.

A former Maui police officer who said he felt “disgusted and ashamed” was sentenced Friday to a 60-day jail term for sexually exposing himself to women and a youth in Pukalani parking lots. Maui News.

Kauai

Mayor Bernard Carvalho’s veto of Bill 2635 to allow alcohol sales on Wailua Golf Course via roving concessions is on the agenda for Wednesday’s Kauai County Council meeting. Garden Island.

Kauai businesses that specialize in selling and renting mopeds are gearing up for a new law that went into effect at the start of this year. Garden Island.

Residents and business owners on Kauai have spent thousands of dollars in the past year dealing with rose-ringed parakeets, an invasive bird that’s gained a foothold on the island. Garden Island.