Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Former House Speaker Souki ousted in sexual harassment settlement, Ige's homeless budget decimated as model camp closed, big tobacco tax hikes advance, plus much more top political and government news from all the Hawaiian Islands

official portrait
Former House Speaker Joe Souki, official portrait
Former House Speaker Joseph Souki will be required by the Hawaii State Ethics Commission to resign from office next week to resolve a complaint involving accusations from multiple women who allege they were the targets of his unwanted advances that included sexual comments, touching and kissing, according to people familiar with the agreement. Star-Advertiser.

Former Hawaii House Speaker Forced Out Over Sexual Harassment. Several women had filed ethics complaints against Joe Souki, a longtime lawmaker from Maui. Civil Beat.

Veteran Maui lawmaker and former Speaker Joe Souki will resign from the state Legislature later this month, following a state Ethics Commission settlement of a sexual harassment complaint against him. Maui News.

Long-time lawmaker and former house speaker Joe Souki of Maui will resign from his legislative post amid a state Ethics Commission settlement over allegations of sexual harassment. Maui Now.

House Harassment Policy Puts Speaker In Charge Of All Complaints. The internal process for resolving sexual harassment complaints in the House doesn’t anticipate what happens if the speaker is the one being accused. Civil Beat.

Souki accuser is moved by other women’s stories of harassment at state Capitol. Star-Advertiser.

Read full text of Souki settlement here.

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House members have decimated Gov. David Ige’s budget request for programs benefiting the homeless and that prioritize finding permanent housing, and instead want to spend $30 million to create an unknown number of zones sanctioned for homeless encampments across the islands. Star-Advertiser.

Bill Allows Fines For Those Who Falsely Claim To Have Service Animals. People increasingly bring untrained animals into public accommodations claiming they are service animals, say measure supporters. Civil Beat.

Teachers push to reduce standardized testing for Hawaii public schools. Rally planned today. KHON2.

Smokers may soon be paying more for cigarettes — a lot more. The House Health and Human Services Committee passed Senate Bill 2843 with amendments on Tuesday to significantly increase the state tobacco licensing fee. Hawaii News Now.

The House Health &Human Services committee on Tuesday passed Senate Bill 2843 SD1 with amendments to increase the annual license fee for tobacco wholesalers and dealers from $2.50 per year to $500 per year. The measure also raises the tax on cigarettes and little cigars from 16 cents per cigarette or little cigar to 22.5 cents each, or $3.20 per pack to $4.50 per pack. Garden Island.

Proposed Bill Would Prohibit Smoking on All UH Campuses. Maui Now.

Hawaii workers would have access to several weeks of paid time off for the birth or adoption of a child or to care for a family member under proposed legislation advancing in both the House and Senate. Star-Advertiser.

The NRA Is Giving Hawaii Schools A Lot Of Money. Most of the National Rifle Association dollars flowing to schools throughout the country pay for competitive shooting programs. Civil Beat.

Oahu

The former police chief and his deputy prosecutor wife are refusing to cooperate with a lawsuit they initiated against the Honolulu Ethics Commission. Hawaii News Now.

A contentious plan for a widened Ala Moana Regional Park pedestrian promenade — which would result in the elimination of parking stalls along the makai side of Ala Moana Park Drive — may be on the way out. Star-Advertiser.

It's Your Money: City shells out tens of millions of dollars in overtime pay.  According to a new audit, the city paid $66.41 million to cover extra hours on the clock last fiscal year. KHON2.

Dole Food Co. Inc. has agreed to pay a fine for failing to close two large-capacity cesspools at a private beach park in Waialua on Oahu’s North Shore. Under the terms of a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Dole will pay a $145,000 fine for violating the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. Star-Advertiser.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday said reached a settlement with Dole Food Co. Inc. for failing to close two large-capacity cesspools at its Puuiki Beach Park property on Oahu. Pacific Business News.

Dole Foods has reached a settlement with the Environmental Protection agency after it failed to close two large cesspools at Puuiki Beach Park. Hawaii News Now.

State: Burial backlog at veterans cemetery better, but long-term fixes needed. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

Hawaii County on Tuesday closed Camp Kikaha in the Old Kona Industrial Area, a temporary homeless encampment located adjacent to HOPE Services Hawaii, after operating the site for more than seven months. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii County Closes Its ‘Safe Zone’ Homeless Experiment. For seven months Kailua-Kona’s 1-acre government sanctioned homeless encampment sheltered about 25 people. Civil Beat.

Camp Kikaha For Kona Homeless Closes Down. An emergency proclamation enabling the camp has since expired, and the County is no longer allowed to continue operations at the site. Big Island Video News.

A temporary homeless shelter on the big island is closed and the homeless have been moved out. KHON2.

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The Hawaii County Prosecutor’s Office will not handle a case involving a Hawaii police officer as a person of interest in a missing drug evidence investigation within the department. West Hawaii Today.

Mac nut company to buy back shares in going private. Royal Hawaiian Orchards LP announced Monday that it will remove its partnership shares from trading on an over-the-counter stock exchange following a move to buy out many small shareholders. Star-Advertiser.

Tons of debris removed from Ka'u shores. Ten volunteers from the Hawaii Wildlife Fund gathered 11.6 tons of seaborne waste from Ka'u shores before shipping it March 4 to Oahu for recycling. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

A state panel voted Tuesday to set new flow levels for four West Maui streams — this time without the decadeslong legal battles that have characterized the fight over East Maui streams. Maui News.

Kauai

Nishimura files for County Council. Leadership from the heart for Kauai residents is why Kapaa resident Wally Nishimura has filed to run for Kauai County Council. Garden Island.

The Kauai Department of Public Works, Wastewater Management Division is advising residential and commercial sewer customers located in Eleele, Hanapepe and Waimea of an incorrect address printed on the remittance envelope included in their sewer bills dated March 15, 2018. KHON2.

Kauai rally part of nationwide call for gun reform. Garden Island.

Lanai

Billionaire Oracle Corp. cofounder Larry Ellison this week launched his latest startup, which will focus on automated, hydroponic indoor food production. Los Angeles-based Sensei plans to build 10 greenhouses, totaling 200,000 square feet, on the Hawaiian island of Lanai. Ellison owns 98 percent of the island. Pacific Business News.