Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Hawaii Legislature's opening day, Zuckerberg sues over Kauai locals, audit calls for midwife licensing, Native Hawaiian health, FBI raid update in Kealoha case, lawmakers question loss of school superintendent, Hard Rock Cafe leaves Maui, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii state Capitol © 2017 All Hawaii News
Today marks the opening day of the state Legislature, with the House and Senate scheduled to convene at the state Capitol at 10 a.m. Star-Advertiser.

State lawmakers are pushing for energy independence, easing the high cost of living and improving working conditions in the state’s commercial fishing fleet as they begin the 2017 legislative session. Associated Press.

Lawmakers interrogated several members of the Board of Education on Tuesday over the decision not to retain schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi, and demanded to know what prompted the call for a leadership change. Star-Advertiser.

Two groups of lawmakers wanted answers Tuesday as to why current Department of Education Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi is being replaced when the Board of Education has said she’s done a good job. Civil Beat.

The accounting practices of the State Public Charter School Commission came under scrutiny during a legislative budget hearing at the Capitol.  Civil Beat.

A plan to ease overcrowding in Hawaii jails by releasing nonviolent accused or convicted petty criminals hasn’t gotten off the ground yet, and might not have much impact when it finally takes effect because too few inmates will qualify. Star-Advertiser.

A state audit calls for all midwives to be licensed in Hawaii. KITV.

A group of health leaders is proposing public policy changes such as a minimum wage hike and public dental benefits for low-income residents in an attempt to reduce health disparities among Native Hawaiians with a higher proportion of chronic diseases. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii typically ranks among the top states when it comes to the health of its residents, but its indigenous population suffers disproportionately from diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and high incarceration rates. Civil Beat.

Senate president’s goals include rail, health care services. Garden Island.

Counties Again Seek Greater Share Of Hotel Tax, Lifeguard Immunity. Protection from civil litigation expires July 1 unless lawmakers act. Counties want lifeguards treated the same as some state workers. Civil Beat.

Counselor Involved In School Sex Case Now Works For State. Scott O’Neal didn’t admit liability but paid $750,000 to settle. The Department of Health said it could find no reason not to hire him. Civil Beat.

Women legislators across the country are launching a bi-partisan effort to address the opioid abuse epidemic.    Local lawmakers conducted a news conference today on their proposed legislation. Hawaii Public Radio.

The state Department of Health levied an administrative penalty of $2,800 against Safeway Inc. “for failure to submit payments and reports required of beverage distributors.” Tribune-Herald.

Oahu

The FBI raided another county building late last week as part of its public corruption case against Honolulu's police chief and his deputy prosecutor wife, Hawaii News Now has learned.

Hawaii Sen. Will Espero has added his name to the chorus of people urging the Honolulu Police Commission to hold off on inking a cash settlement with Police Chief Louis Kealoha, who is under federal investigation for corruption. Civil Beat.

What will police chief Louis Kealoha walk away with when his retirement becomes official? It’s a question the Honolulu Police Commission will answer at its meeting Wednesday. KHON2.

How Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell's pay stacks up against other big city mayors. Pacific Business News.

State officials say they’ll have to relocate the 450-foot-tall radio tower near the Kapalama Canal in the next several years to help make way for more harbor capacity — but where the tower will go hasn’t been decided. Star-Advertiser.

The City and County of Honolulu expects to select a company in the coming months that will replace about 52,000 of its streetlights with more efficient LED lighting, a city spokesman confirmed to Pacific Business News Tuesday.

State officials recovered an illegal 4-1/2-foot ball python over the weekend, the Department of Agriculture said. Star-Advertiser.

The first residents of a new apartment complex in Kapolei that feels like a hotel for seniors received a grand welcome along with a kahu’s blessing and a Champagne toast Tuesday as part of the project’s opening ceremony. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii
Mayor Harry Kim headed to Honolulu Tuesday, ready to meet, greet, request and repeat. West Hawaii Today.

Amidst concerns expressed by residents neighboring the planned East Hawaii Organics Facility in Panaewa, the mayor is taking another look at the enhanced mulching project. Big Island Video News.

Puna Councilwoman Eileen O’Hara interrupted a burglary at her Pahoa council office Monday when she found a man making himself a little too comfortable. Tribune-Herald.

Demolition of two Pahoa landmarks — the Akebono Theatre and Luquin’s Mexican Restaurant — started Tuesday afternoon following a late-night blaze that heavily damaged both buildings Sunday. Tribune-Herald.

The Hawaii Police Department and residents of Puueo have taken steps toward the creation of a neighborhood watch to help address ongoing concerns about crime and drug use in the area. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

The titles, membership and duties of each committee were finally decided at 9:30 p.m. Monday after the Maui County Council unanimously approved a proposal to create four committees with seven voting members and four with nine voting members. Maui News.

Closed for months following massive flooding in September, Iao Valley State Monument and Kepaniwai Park are both expected to re-open this year, county and state officials said. Maui News.

A peek through the windows of Lahaina’s Hard Rock Cafe on Thursday afternoon shows that the Front Street landmark has been closed and cleaned out after a 26-year run. Maui News.

Kauai

Lawsuit: When Facebook’s co-founder Mark Zuckerberg paid around $100 million for 700 acres of rural beachfront land on Kauai two years ago to create what Forbes magazine described as a secluded family sanctuary, he actually acquired a not-so-secluded property. Close to a dozen small parcels within Zuckerberg’s Kauai estate are owned by kamaaina families who have rights to traverse the billionaire’s otherwise private domain. Star-Advertiser.

When the Legislature opens today, a slew of key issues await Kauai legislators. Garden Island.

With today’s opening of the 2017 Hawaii State Legislative session, some on Kauai are redirecting the spotlight to restricted use pesticides. But the agribusiness industry is waiting for the opening of the session to take up the issue. Garden Island.

The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing regarding the departmental draft of the General Plan update. Garden Island.