Friday, May 19, 2017

Scientists to announce captive dolphin study results today, Maui passes 'Styrofoam' takeout ban, Saiki unveils House leadership, feds watch rail finance plan, Honolulu seeks police, tax hikes unpopular, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Captive dolphins at Hilton Waikoloa © 2017 All Hawaii News
Scientists tout value of studying dolphins in captivity as Dolphin Quest and other captive dolphin attractions are growing increasingly controversial. Star-Advertiser.

Newly elected House Speaker Scott Saiki unveiled his leadership team Thursday — a bigger, younger and more diverse group than his 84-year-old predecessor Joe Souki had in place during his tenure. Civil Beat.

House Speaker Scott Saiki, who took over House leadership earlier this month after members effectively ousted Rep. Joe Souki, has announced his leadership team, emphasizing its inclusion of women and a younger generation of leaders. Star-Advertiser.

House Rep. Cindy Evans, a Democrat who represents North Kona, North Kohala and South Kohala, has been promoted to House Majority Leader. West Hawaii Today.

Paying double? Public on the hook twice as state workers collect incentive some didn’t earn. KHON2.

Democratic attorneys general in more than a dozen states, including Hawaii, announced today they would attempt to intervene in a federal lawsuit that threatens to undercut funding for the Affordable Care Act. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii on Wednesday honored 13 businesses and eight events for pursuing energy efficiency and sustainable business practices with this year's Hawaii Green Business awards. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii’s unemployment rate didn’t change in April, but more people were working and fewer were without jobs, according to state data released Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 2.7 percent in April, a 0.4 percentage-point decline from 3.1 percent in April 2016. Pacific Business News.

Oahu

The Honolulu rail transit project’s top official said Thursday that the federal government is anxious for more details on how the city plans to pay for its partially built $8.2 billion rail line. Associated Press.

Honolulu rail board members spent much of their Thursday meeting — the first since state lawmakers adjourned without a funding deal — debating how to cover the project’s short-term construction costs. Star-Advertiser.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell has tapped former Hawaiian Airlines’ executive Hoyt Zia to replace Colbert Matsumoto on the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation board. Star-Advertiser.

New numbers show an alarming number of vacancies within the ranks of the Honolulu Police Department – and a decline in the size of average recruiting classes is doing little to fix the problem. Hawaii News Now.

Two former officers charged with similar crimes and sued for identical reasons got very different treatment from the Honolulu Police Commission. Civil Beat.

University of Hawaii President David Lassner has called for a “systematic paydown” of a $14.7 million net accumulated athletic department deficit with Manoa campus funds. Star-Advertiser.

Prime property in Honolulu is taking a step toward development. Back in 2012, in a settlement with the state, OHA acquired 30 acres of land in Kakaako Makai, valued at $200 million. KITV.

The weather wasn’t a deterrent to the nearly 200 parents and children who cozied up under blankets, and camped out on beach chairs and in tents on the sidewalks to land a coveted spot at the Manoa Valley District Park’s Summer Fun program. Civil Beat.

The U.S. Department of Defense has awarded Honolulu-based INK Arch LLC with a contract worth a potential $15 million over five years to conduct architectural and other related products at various Navy, Marine Corps and government facilities across the state. Pacific Business News.

Hawaiian Electric Co. said it is awaiting approval by the state Public Utilities Commission for its annual “decoupling” rate adjustment that would raise a typical customer’s bill by 60 cents. Star-Advertiser.

A new lawsuit claims dozens of people have been tricked into renting filthy apartments at an Oahu complex infested with rats. Hawaii News Now.

Canoes at Maunalua Bay were vandalized for the third time this week before sunrise Thursday, when culprits cut lashings to 16 canoes that had been lined up at the water’s edge at the Diamond Head side of the bay. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Everything was on the table but little was decided Thursday during a marathon County Council meeting on the budget, as local lawmakers took their first good look at a $491 million spending plan that includes expenses largely out of county control. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii County’s tax exemptions should help long-timers, not just old-timers, several County Council members said Thursday. Tribune-Herald.

Proposed tax increases for Hawaii County home owners are on the table, as the Hawaii County Council held a special session on Thursday to go over the proposed operating budget for fiscal year 2017-18. Big Island Video News.

Big Island tourism had another strong showing in the first quarter of 2017, with one market in particular seeing a boost. Tribune-Herald.

A local lawmaker and fire chief said they will continue to advocate for state funds to put lifeguards at Kua Bay. West Hawaii Today.

Residents who wanted their voices heard on the Saddle Road extension project, which is moving expeditiously toward final design and construction, got their platform Wednesday night. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

The Maui County Council on Thursday evening unanimously passed a bill to ban the sale and use of polystyrene foam containers — a staple of takeout food eateries — throughout Maui County. Maui News.

Kaiser Permanente is on target to take over operations of Maui Memorial Medical Center on July 1, promising increased coverage of orthopedic and neurological surgeries in the coming months, officials said Wednesday night at the Kula Community Center. Maui News.

During Hawaii’s mass coral bleaching event in 2014 and 2015, the reefs of leeward Maui were among the hardest hit. Now, they’ve been marked as a “priority site” in a recovery plan put together by environmental agencies. Maui News.

A University of Hawaii report shows Maui County’s recent economic peaks and valleys, forecasting favorable conditions but slower growth. Maui News.

Maui County’s 3% unemployment rate for April was up slightly from the 2.9% reported a month earlier, and down slightly from the 3.1% reported at the same time last year. Maui Now.

Kauai

Kanani Fu, county housing agency director, was among a large crowd that celebrated the blessing of the Hanamaulu housing project, which will eventually have more than 150 homes — single-family and duplexes — including 32 affordable housing units by D. R. Horton. Garden Island.

Kauai legislators secured more than $181 million in capital improvement project funds for the Garden Isle for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. Garden Island.