Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Obama in town, Galera withdraws schools superintendent bid, House reorganizes committees, forecasters drop economic prediction, Ala Moana mall to spend $4M on railings after fatality, Kauai cellphone tower disguised as clock tower, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

pool photo
Obama at World Conservation Congress Honolulu September 2016, media pool photo
Former President Barack Obama is back in the islands. KHON2.

Coming off a string of high-profile meetings, former President Barack Obama made an unannounced return to Hawaii today. Star-Advertiser.

Former President Barack Obama made a surprise visit to Oahu this week. Hawaii News Now.

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Darrel Galera — the retired public school principal who has been the center of controversy in the state’s search for a new schools superintendent — has withdrawn his application amid complaints that he had an unfair advantage as a former Board of Education member and friend of Gov. David Ige. Star-Advertiser.

Former Board of Education member Darrel Galera is withdrawing his application for schools superintendent. KHON2.

The Hawaii Board of Education is starting up its search for a superintendent again now that former board member Darrel Galera has decided not to apply. Civil Beat.

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In the coming weeks Hawaii lawmakers will be wrestling with ways to cut roughly $250 million from the state’s overall budget for the next two years thanks to lower than expected general fund revenues. Civil Beat.

Hawaii's economic growth is slowing down according to an economic forecast from the Council on Revenues. KITV.

The state House of Representatives voted Monday to remove Rep. Angus McKelvey as chairman of the Consumer Protection and Commerce Committee, a powerful post that holds sway over issues relating to business in the state. Star-Advertiser.

Rep. Angus McKelvey was removed from his chairmanship of the House Consumer Protection and Commerce Committee on Monday after hours of behind-the-scenes networking. Civil Beat.

State Rep. Angus McKelvey was removed from his position as chairman of the Consumer Protection and Commerce Committee on Monday amid controversy over how the Maui lawmaker handled certain bills. Maui News.

The U.S. government Monday responded to Hawaii’s legal challenge to President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban affecting six predominantly Muslim countries, saying assertions that the order will hurt the state’s tourism industry and universities are mere speculation. Star-Advertiser.

The Trump administration on Monday asked the U.S. District Court in Honolulu to deny Hawaii’s request for an immediate injunction against the newly revised travel ban, arguing that the state “lacks any actual or imminent concrete injury” on which to base its challenge. Civil Beat.

Until this year, Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin had never sued the federal government. Civil Beat.

Florence Nakakuni, U.S. attorney for Hawaii, has retired after the Justice Department asked her and other prosecutors held over from the President Barack Obama’s administration to step down. Associated Press.

Hawaiian Telcom, which has invested aggressively in its infrastructure over the past six years, cut its fourth-quarter loss in half after achieving strong growth from its TV and broadband internet services and reducing overtime and contractor costs. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii ranks No. 10 among states with the highest individual income tax collections per capita, according to a new study by the Tax Foundation. Pacific Business News.

6,500 state taxpayers may be owed a refund for ’13; deadline to file nears. Maui News.

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture has started posting data on what kinds of restricted-use pesticides large agricultural companies apply each month and in what amounts. Civil Beat.

Oahu

Hawaii regulators have issued Ala Moana Center a $4 million building permit to replace existing railings throughout the state’s largest shopping mall after a railing gave way near the Hookipa Terrace on the mall’s fourth floor last year, killing one man and critically injuring another, Pacific Business News has learned.

Work began Monday at Ala Moana Center to replace rusty railings five months after a man fell to his death and another was seriously injured. KHON2.

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The Honolulu Police Department is investigating after an officer was charged with committing multiple counts of theft and identity theft at the Navy Exchange at Pearl Harbor. Star-Advertiser.

A Honolulu police officer has been charged after allegedly using a stolen credit card and military ID at the Navy Exchange. Hawaii News Now.

A veteran Honolulu police officer has been charged with multiple felony counts, including theft and credit card fraud. KHON2.

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A state judge Monday dismissed a misdemeanor tampering charge against Myron B. Thompson Academy Principal Diana Oshiro, three months early. Star-Advertiser.

A meeting in Nanakuli on Monday gave elected officials an opportunity to meet with community members to explain and clarify plans intended to alleviate traffic woes on Oahu’s leeward coast. Hawaii News Now.

A fundraising effort is kicking into high gear to bring a park to Waikiki, which has limited green space outside of Kuhio Beach and Fort DeRussy. Star-Advertiser.

An Oahu after-school and summer program for youths with disabilities is shutting down at the end of the month due to a lack of funds, leaving families scrambling to find alternatives. Associated Press.

Hawaii

Some $1.86 million is sitting in a special account to maintain property purchased with open space funds, yet only two organizations have so far been awarded grants to spend the money. West Hawaii Today.

The prosecutors have moved to dismiss a citation against Sean “Peaman” Pagett after he was cited for running an unpermitted race at the Kailua Pier in December. West Hawaii Today.

University of Hawaii at Hilo students could receive more financial aid next year than ever before. The campus predicts awarding close to $50 million in aid for the 2017-18 school year, up from $43.1 million in 2016, $42.4 million the year prior and about $46 million in 2014. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii developer Brian Anderson plans to develop a 410-home project along the Big Island’s “Gold Coast” that would become the first off-grid community of this magnitude, he said Monday. Pacific Business News.

Maui

Maui County is looking to sell 51 lots in Maui Lani obtained as part of a legal settlement with a developer a decade ago in a dispute over land filling to increase the heights of homes that ended up towering over neighboring Palama Drive homes. Maui News.

A 285-acre business park is being proposed by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources on former sugar lands in Pulehunui. Maui News.

A humpback whale entangled in hundreds of feet of heavy-gauge cable in waters off Maui has a new lease on life thanks to the efforts of an interagency team of rescuers. Star-Advertiser.

Maui fisherman spends an hour at sea with great white circling kayak. Hawaii News Now.

Sales prices for homes and condos in Maui County continued to rise in February, compared to 2016, with the median price of a home at $672,575 and condos at $465,000, the Realtors Association of Maui reported last week. Maui News.

The median price of a single-family home in Maui County rose 13 percent last month, while condominium prices increased by 8 percent, according to statistics from the Realtors Association of Maui. Pacific Business News.

Kauai

A cellphone tower designed as a clock tower is approaching completion. Garden Island.

Opposition to closing of Rice Street post office continues with 100 message-bearing coconuts. Garden Island.

More than half of Kauai’s students who eat school lunch receive free or reduced-priced meals. Garden Island.