Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Lassner to retire as UH president, new COVID vaccine not yet available to many, Maui mayor creates Lahaina Advisory Team, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

UH President David Lassner Will Retire Next Year. He has run the University of Hawaii since 2013, an institution he first began working at in 1977. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii Public Radio. Big Island Now. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.  KITV4.

Maui Activists Urge Return Of DLNR Water Official To Former Job. A meeting of Hawaii’s Commission on Water Resource Management was dominated Tuesday by calls to reinstate a senior water official who was reassigned amid criticism over decisions made during the Aug. 8 Lahaina fire. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser.  KHON2.

Insurance lag results in wait for COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccines became available following a steady upward trend in U.S. COVID-19 hospitalizations since summer. Star-Advertiser.

Dems To NOAA: Hold Wespac Accountable For Misspending Nearly $1 Million. Members of Congress sent a letter seeking accountability for the fishery council's "transgressions." Civil Beat.


Navy ‘recklessly destroyed’ Red Hill evidence, lawyers allege. Attorneys representing families sickened by the 2021 Red Hill water crisis introduced a motion in Honolulu’s U.S. District Court on Tuesday that alleges that Navy officials “recklessly destroyed” text and phone rec­ords between two key officials. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

Affordable rental project and 2 preschools break ground. Oo sticks, wielded by Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke, Mayor Rick Blangiardi and an assortment of bankers, developers and other local officials, broke ground Tuesday on a $199 million affordable rental project offering two on-site preschools in Kapolei. Star-Advertiser.

With school in session, Skyline sees a positive bump in ridership. Officials are seeing about a 14% increase in demand that they say is fueled partly by students. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

County looks to the future: General Plan 2045 envisions next 25 years, seeks to balance growth with sustainability.  Public comments on the plan, a 25-year blueprint for the long-term growth and sustainable development of Hawaii Island, are being accepted until Nov. 20 through Konveio, an interactive online platform. Tribune-Herald.

Two Big Island nonprofits will receive a share of more than $42 million in grants awarded by the US Department of Agriculture through the Inflation Reduction Act to nine organizations for planting and maintaining trees, combat extreme heat, and improve access to green space in communities throughout the state. West Hawaii Today.

Small amounts of chemical TCP found in Mt. View water source. Trace amounts of a potentially carcinogenic chemical have been detected in a Mountain View water source, according to the state Department of Health. Tribune-Herald.


Maui mayor announces: Lahaina Advisory Team, community meetings, creation of Office of Recovery.  Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen has formed a 5-member Lahaina Advisory Team comprised of Lahaina residents that will meet with him weekly to ensure the County makes decisions based on the needs and desires of the community.  Maui Now. Hawaii News Now.

Council begins talks on recovery plan after fires. Committee seeks public input, will hold another meeting in West Maui Sept. 27.  It was the first time the committee took up the resolution that aims to develop a comprehensive recovery and resiliency plan in response to Maui’s wildfires in Lahaina and Kula on Aug. 8. Maui News.

Amid calls for accountability, Maui’s mayor steers clear of spotlight and avoids news conferences. A month and a half after a wall of flames tore through Lahaina town, killing at least 97 people and erasing the town, scores of key questions linger. Despite that, Maui Mayor Richard Bissen hasn’t publicly answered questions at a news briefing since Aug. 29. Hawaii News Now.

Criticism building against Lahaina's Oct. 8 reopening to tourists. Thousands of Maui residents are expressing their opposition to Gov. Josh Green's decision to reopen Lahaina to tourists on Oct. 8.  KITV4.

‘The Wildfire Litigation Industry’ Takes On Hawaiian Electric.
The outcome of numerous lawsuits will affect victims, shareholders and, potentially, 470,000 customers statewide. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

 Harrowing Eyewitness Accounts Cast Doubt On Official Lahaina Fire Narrative. Those who fled the fire by car tell of being blocked or funneled into narrow gridlocked streets. The county has not said when it will release a detailed report on what happened. Civil Beat.

Firefighters contained early fire, left for short break and returned to find flames anew.  Five firefighters who fought the Aug. 8 Lahaina fire left the scene that day after nearly eight hours containing the blaze so Maui Electric Co. workers could repair downed utility poles and power lines, one of the firefighters and a Maui County attorney said.  Civil Beat.

They face ‘unimaginable challenges’ but a new reason for hope:
A full ride at UH for a year. UH will offer full scholarships to every Lahainaluna High senior for one academic year. UH President David Lassner made the announcement in a class assembly at the school’s temporary location at Kulanihakoi High School in Kihei. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.


Kaua‘i household hazardous waste collection set for Sept. 23 and 24.
Among the items that will be accepted are automotive products, lead-acid batteries, lawn and garden products, oil-based paints, thinners and stains, fluorescent lights, batteries and more. Kauai Now.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Saiki seeks criminal penalties for unscrupulous fundraising, some Lahaina fire victims asked to leave hotels for tourists, college students improve Skyline ridership numbers, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Unscrupulous fundraising for Maui relief under heavy scrutiny. Citing the immediacy of fundraising for Maui relief efforts, House Speaker Scott Saiki asked Gov. Josh Green on Monday to issue an emergency proclamation “to prohibit and criminalize fundraising under false pretenses” and for an attorney general audit of funds.  Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.  Hawaii News Now.

HTA pursues tourism recovery plan for Maui, state. The Hawaii Tourism Authority board is seeking a contractor to develop a Tourism Recovery Plan that supports Maui and the state in rebuilding the economy following the devastating Aug. 8 wildfire that destroyed Lahaina town. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now.

Here are some of the changes in Gov. Green's latest emergency housing proclamation. The changes now exclude the area affected by the Lāhainā wildfire, restore cultural and environmental protections, and reinstate the open meetings through the Sunshine Law. The new proclamation also prioritizes state and county affordable housing projects, which aim to create thousands of new low-income and workforce housing units statewide. Hawaii Public Radio.

UH fundraising dips, but still tops $100M mark. Money raised by the University of Hawaii Foundation to benefit UH students, programs and research amounted to $103.6 million for the 2022-2023 fiscal year — a decrease of more than one-third compared with the previous year. Star-Advertiser.

University of Hawai‘i’s four-year universities earn high marks for grad rates, more. The University of Hawaiʻi’s three 4-year universities were highly ranked in the U.S. News and World Report 2024 Best Colleges rankings released Monday. Big Island Now. Kauai Now.


Skyline ridership up since fall classes started at LCC, UH West Oahu. There has been an increase in ridership on the Skyline rail system since Aug. 21, according to the Department of Transportation Services (DTS). That was the day the University of Hawaii and all of its campuses started classes. KITV4.

Amendments made to parking limits bill. 
A City Council committee has approved amendments to a proposed measure to make permanent a years-long program to restrict parking in Kalihi Valley — including a proposed fee structure with fixed, annual permit fees. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Bill seeks to ease rules for home solar systems. Installing a home solar system could become cheaper under a new bill that will be discussed by the Hawaii County Council. Tribune-Herald.

State ups security around derelict hotel
. Gov. Josh Green has signed a second emergency proclamation regarding the former Uncle Billy’s Hilo Bay Hotel, and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources has established 24-hour security following recent break-ins at the dilapidated resort. Star-Advertiser. Tribune-HeraldBig Island Video News. Big Island Now.  Hawaii News Now.


Ahead of tourism reboot in West Maui, some Lahaina fire victims are told they’ll have to move. Some Lahaina residents who lost their homes are being forced to move from temporary housing as hotels prepare to welcome visitors back to West Maui. Hawaii News Now.

Five additional Lahaina wildfire victims were identified; a total of 74 people have been named. The Maui Police Department released the names of five more victims from the Aug. 8 Lahaina fire on Sunday. Maui Now.

Maui Residents ‘Want Hope’ As Council Develops Wildfire Recovery Plan. Members held the first in a series of meetings to gather public input on what actions the county should take. Civil Beat.

Their homes and businesses were destroyed in Lahaina, but mortgage payments are still due. Almost six weeks after the devastating wildfire, mortgage payments are coming due — even for some whose homes or businesses no longer exist. Advocates are urging banks to give their customers a bigger break. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Falck pledges to maintain current services in county. Advance life support services will be maintained for Maui County’s ambulances and Falck, a global healthcare and emergency services company, says if anything they will try “to improve it.”  Maui News.

Lahaina Residents Can Return To Their Burned Properties Soon. But Is The Air Safe? Some health experts say the state and county should be more cautious in their approach. Civil Beat.

State Water Code suspension lifted as debate continues over rights in West Maui.  The Commission on Water Resource Management will receive an update from staff on the status of water resources in West Maui at its monthly meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023. The meeting begins at 9 a.m.  Hawaii Public Radio.

Lahaina banyan tree sprouting new leaves. New growth sprouting from the 150- year-old banyan tree in Lahaina offers signs of hope for its revival more than a month after fire singed its leaves. Star-Advertiser. Maui News.  Hawaii News Now.


4,200 pounds of marine debris airlifted from Kaua‘i’s shores by helicopter. Surfrider Kaua‘i announced its 12-week annual Operation Airlift program has concluded, as volunteers partnered with Jack Harter Helicopters and Timbers Kaua‘i Ocean Club to fly 2 tons of marine debris out of some of the island’s hardest-to-reach shores. Garden Island.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Green links Lahaina fires to climate change at UN summit, super PAC uses Maui fires as fundraising tool, HART claims $580M surplus at rail's end, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Gov. Green links Lāhainā fires to climate change during UN Sustainable Development Goals Summit. Hawai’i Gov. Josh Green spoke Sunday at the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals Summit in New York, delivering a message about the destructive impact that climate change is having in the state.  Big Island Now. Hawaii News Now.

This Hawaii Super PAC Says It’s Raising Money For Wildfire Victims — And Political Candidates Too. A progressive political organization is taking advantage of the Maui wildfires to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars that may go to support political candidates instead of direct help for victims of the Aug. 8 fires. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Has Been Facing A Housing Crisis For Generations. Politicians have been pledging to address a shortage of housing in the islands for decades, but the root causes of the crisis run deep. Civil Beat.

Hispanics Are The Fastest Growing Demographic In Hawaii. They Need More Services To Keep Pace. More translators, interpreters and other services are critical for residents and visitors who have been moving here in increasing numbers. Civil Beat.

Electric Seagliders Could Come To Hawaii As Soon As 2026. But Mokulele Airlines' new parent company says interisland travelers will start to see improvements in service much sooner than that. Civil Beat.

Health officials tout new COVID shot. The new COVID-19 vaccines being rolled out are a move away from the booster-shot models in use up to this point. Tribune-Herald. KITV4.


HART says $580M surplus awaits at rail’s end. A cash surplus of over a half-billion dollars will likely be available once the city’s Skyline rail system ends at the Civic Center in Kakaako early next dec­ade, according to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation. Star-Advertiser.

HART Board Defers Proposed New Rules. AG Anne Lopez warned the new rules as written would impose 'impermissible' restrictions on the free speech rights of some board members. Civil Beat.

Public votes on Red Hill oversight committee
, includes two well-known Native Hawaiian activists. 10 people were selected on Saturday to be part of an oversight group for the de-fueling of the Navy’s Red Hill Facility scheduled for mid-October.  Hawaii News Now.

Payment for parking resumes after city installs new smart parking meters. All 2,200 of the city’s new smart parking meters are now in place, and Honolulu Police Department plans to start enforcement Monday. Hawaii News Now.

Oahu sugar mill housing camp slated for redevelopment. The remnants of a worker housing camp for the last sugar plantation to close on Oahu could become a new subdivision for primarily low-income households reflecting the character of the rural community in Waialua where some century-old homes still stand. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

USGS: Kilauea eruption ends as volcano alert lowered to advisory.  After a week of spewing lava, the eruption at the Kilauea summit within the Halemaumau crater has ended, according to the U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. Star-Advertiser. Big Island Video News.  Big Island Now.  Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

County creates new wildfire working group.
Hawaii County has established a multiagency working group to develop strategies and responses to wildfires and other threats around the island. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News.

EPA grant to fund program to reduce disposable foodware. Hawaii County will receive $1.5 million in a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to develop a reusable foodware and refillable water bottle system in Hilo. Tribune-Herald.

New Kona affordable housing to be discussed.
The public is invited to an informational meeting Monday where the proposed Kuakini Heights Affordable Housing Project details will be presented. West Hawaii Today.

County pool woes continue: Lack of lifeguards leads to unpredictable hours at many of the facilities. Residents continue to raise concerns about the lack of transparency pertaining to Hawaii County’s swimming pools. Tribune-Herald.

Old Hilo hospital renovations slated for next year. The old hospital building, currently leased to HOPE Services Hawaii and the Big Island Substance Abuse Council, is in need of substantial restoration work after decades of degradation. Tribune-Herald.


Maui County Council considers bill on post-fire cleanup options.
The Maui County Council is considering a bill that would give residents and businesses the option to have the government remove fire debris from their properties for free.  Maui News.

Maui police identify two more victims of Lahaina fire; bringing total to 69. The Maui Police Department released the names of two more victims from the Aug. 8 Lahaina fire on Sunday: Janet St. Clair, 75, and Douglas Matsuda-Boucher, 65, both of Lahaina. Maui Now. KHON2.

Scientists scramble to better understand scope of toxic sludge in Lahaina Harbor. Experts are worried about a slew of contaminants in the water, including fuel, dioxins, PCBs and forever chemicals — and all that sludge will eventually need to be dredged out. Hawaii News Now.

After Lahaina fire, seniors behind in receiving tech updates, study finds. Most of the victims of the Lahaina wildfire were ages 65 and older — a demographic that struggles with technology — while Maui County sent cellphone text alerts as the fire all but obliterated Lahaina, killing at least 97 people. Star-Advertiser.

Maui nonprofit expected to meet $6.5M goal in 2 weeks.
The funds will go toward the first phase of a two-part campaign to help residents of Hawaiian ancestry impacted by the wildfires.  Star-Advertiser.

Hundreds of millions in private funding headed to Maui fire survivors. Upward of $200 million has been raised by five of the top sources of private donations and their affiliates for Maui wildfire victims, with charitable funds coming from hundreds of thousands of donors in Hawaii and across the globe. Star-Advertiser.


Kaua‘i’s streams, rivers remain polluted despite drought conditions. Not even low rainfall can stop Kaua‘i’s rivers and streams from contamination. But Kaua‘i’s continued drought conditions have kept surf sites incredibly clean, limiting the potential for pollutants to creep into the offshore waters. Garden Island.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Green to change emergency housing proclamation to address concerns, U.S. House seeks answers on Maui fire from HECO, PUC, state energy office, drought worsens, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Gov. Josh Green to amend Hawaii emergency housing panel powers.  Green plans to issue a second emergency housing proclamation today that he hopes will mollify concerns and satisfy lawsuit complaints in order to fast-track construction of 50,000 new homes to give island residents a major reason to stay home. Seeking compromise, a new document to be signed Friday restores environmental review, historic preservation and open meetings laws. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

Congressional committee to probe Maui fires amid demand for answers.  The U.S. House committee investigating the deadly Aug. 8 Maui firestorm said it expects the heads of Hawaiian Electric Co., the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission and the State Energy Office to testify at its first hearing on the disaster. Star-Advertiser. Civil BeatMaui Now.  Hawaii News Now.  KHON2.

$1000 Hotel Rooms? House GOP Wants Answers From FEMA On Maui Wildfires. The House Oversight and Accountability Committee sent a letter to FEMA's top administrator asking questions about its response to the Maui wildfires. Civil Beat.

Drought worsened, expected to intensify across Hawaii.  More than 81%, of the Hawaiian islands are now in moderate to severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor map released today. The rest are abnormally dry. Star-Advertiser.


Hawaii AG Raises Concerns About Proposed New HART Rules. The rules would infringe on the rights of some rail authority board members to speak publicly about the massive rail project, according to the attorney general. Civil Beat.

U.S. government files motion to block prominent physician’s testimony in Red Hill suit. Tthe U.S. government is trying to block the testimony of a prominent Hawaii physician in a Red Hill lawsuit that includes allegations of medical negligence. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu City Council proposal seeks to help state collect unpaid traffic fines. Two Honolulu City Council members want the city administration to work with the state to collect a reported $81 million in uncollected assessed traffic fines owed to the State of Hawaii. Star-Advertiser.

Why Everybody Had To Move Out Of This Affordable Housing Project. A $7.5 million apartment building purchased by the City and County of Honolulu in 2018 to provide housing for low-income and homeless people is now sitting vacant due to problems with the building.  Civil Beat.

City extends feral chicken service. The city is extending a cage and disposal service to help tackle the issue of feral chickens.  KHON2.

Hawaii Island

Stoplight slated for Kaiminani. Two more traffic lights are in the initial design phase for installation on Highway 190, or Mamalahoa Highway in North Kona. West Hawaii Today.

Keaukaha Park Closure Set For Road, Parking Lot Restriping. James Kealoha Beach Park, known locally as “4-mile”, will be closed 7:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. daily from September 18 to September 22. Big Island Video News.


Maui councilmembers suggest improvements to state's recent housing proclamation. The Maui County Council’s Housing and Land Use committee reconvened Wednesday, picking up discussion on the governor’s emergency proclamation on housing and how that may come into play following the Maui wildfires. Hawaii Public Radio.

A Maui County Council committee is considering a possible investigation into how firefighters, police, emergency management and public works officials performed while responding to the wildfires in August. Star-Advertiser. KITV4.

Lahaina property owners allowed to return Sept. 25. Owners and renters who lost their homes and businesses in the deadly Aug. 8 Lahaina wildfire will be allowed escorted visits to their properties on a zone-by-zone basis starting Sept. 25. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.  Maui Now.  Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

‘First day’ for Maui public school students displaced by wildfire.  For nearly 600 Maui public school students displaced by the closure of their schools by the Lahaina wildfire, Thursday was a “first day of school” like none other. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now. KHON2.

American Lung Association questions state’s messaging on Lahaina air quality. The head of the American Lung Association Hawaii says the state Health Department is not doing enough to protect Lahaina fire victims from contaminants in the air. The group is especially concerned about the state’s release of some confusing data on air quality. Hawaii News Now.

The battle over water rights in West Maui is generational for this Kauaʻula taro farmer.  Taro patches once dominated the landscape in Lāhainā, with more than 1,700 recorded in the region in the mid-1800s. But once water started being diverted for sugar cane cultivation, taro farmers from Kauaʻula Valley fought back in one of the earliest recorded legal battles over water rights in West Maui. Hawaii Public Radio.


Lihu‘e Airport bustling in August. A total of 78,648 passengers deplaned domestic flights in August, compared with 83,331 in August 2022, according to data compiled by the state of Hawai‘i’s Department of Business, Economic Development &Tourism. Garden Island.

Fire season getting longer on Kaua‘i. Fire Chief Michael Gibson told The Garden Island he previously considered fire season to run from June through September, but that has started to expand to March through November. Garden Island.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Regulators, shareholders kick up the heat on Hawaiian Electric's role in Lahaina fire, looming government shutdown shouldn't hamper recovery efforts, Maui Invitational may move to Oahu, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Regulators Push Hawaiian Electric On Liability Insurance Coverage. Hawaiian Electric is facing numerous lawsuits over the Maui fires and questions are being asked about the companies ability to pay any successful claims. Civil Beat. KITV4.

HEI board accused of skimping on safety. A lawsuit filed Monday by a Hawaii Electric Industries shareholder accuses the board of directors of not spending enough on wildfire prevention measures on Maui in the three years before the Aug. 8 fires killed at least 115 people and leveled Lahaina. Star-Advertiser. KHON2.

Energy secretary talks electric grid improvements, federal fund. Jennifer Granholm visits Lahaina after destructive wildfires. The U.S. Secretary of Energy said she would like to see “undergrounding” of electric lines, weeks after Hawaiian Electric received a $95 million federal grant to improve its grid and equipment in the wake of devastating wildfires on Maui. Maui News.

Schatz: Government Shutdown Shouldn’t Stop Maui Recovery Efforts. President Biden has already approved a disaster declaration that allows Hawaii to access federal relief aid. Civil Beat.

Hawaii leaders, tech experts battle ‘war online’ of misinformation over Maui wildfires. After online rumors from the Maui wildfire linked to China and Russia spread fear and division, big tech took center stage at Capitol Hill. Hawaii News Now.

No timetable for finding cause of Lahaina fire. Evidence gathered by a team of fire investigators with the U.S. Department of Justice after the Aug. 8 Lahaina firestorm could take weeks or months to turn over to the Maui Fire Department. Star-Advertiser.

Former Maui senator who lost Lāhainā home focuses on hope for the future. An act of kindness may have saved the life of veteran Maui lawmaker Rosalyn "Roz" Baker. The former state senator offered an airport ride to a visiting couple only to later see the glow of Lāhainā town in the distance. Hawaii Public Radio.

Businesses push organizers to keep Maui Invitational on the Valley Isle. As organizers of the Maui Invitational college basketball tournament consider whether to move the tournament from Lahaina this year, Maui County businesses are pushing for the event to remain on the Valley Isle. No final decision has been made, but Gov. Josh Green said this week that this year’s invitational will likely be moved to Oahu. Hawaii News Now.

COVID cases continue to climb as new vaccine heads to pharmacies. COVID cases are still on an upward trend, including in Hawaii, where the Department of Health reported there were 1,200 new cases statewide last week. Nearly 900 of them were on Oahu. Hawaii News Now.

Updated COVID vaccines to be rolled out in Hawaii. The new COVID-19 vaccines targeting the latest omicron variants should be available in Hawaii by next week. Star-Advertiser.


BWS proposes rate increases starting next year. Expect to pay more in your water bill, the Honolulu Board of Water Supply is planning to increase rates beginning next year.  KHON2.

A Trailhead Shuttle May Be The Answer To Lanikai’s Parking Problems. The idea is being considered as part of efforts to better manage access for popular tourist destinations on Oahu. Civil Beat.

City to install 4G-enabled parking meters by December.
The city is nearing its goal of installing about 4,200 4G-enabled parking meters across urban Honolulu, from Chinatown to Waikiki, by the end of this year. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

HPD chief touts major drop in violent crime, but department refuses to share data on it. Honolulu Police Chief Joe Logan recently announced a major drop in violent crime island wide. Hawaii News Now.

Latest Lawsuit In Makaha Police Pursuit Case Invokes Racketeering Charge. The four Honolulu police officers face felony criminal trial in December. Civil Beat.

2 Prisoners Die At Halawa Correctional Facility. One inmate died after a fight. The other had been hospitalized with a medical condition. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Island

Kīlauea daily update: Lava fountains at heights of 32 feet. The roughly east-west trending erupting vents within the Kīlauea caldera now span approximately a half mile — down from about 1 mile — as of this morning and have lava fountain heights of up to about 32 feet. Big Island Now. Big Island Video News.

EPA grants $1.5 million to Hawaiʻi County to expand recycling in Hilo. The US Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday it has awarded $2.2 million in grants to Hawaiʻi for a recycling project in Hilo and a study of waste management across several islands. Big Island Now.


Committee to discuss comprehensive recovery and resiliency plan on Sept. 18 in Central Maui and Sept. 27 in West Maui. Council member Nohelani Uʻu-Hodgins announced today that the Government Relations, Ethics and Transparency Committee will meet in the Council Chamber on Monday, Sept. 18 at 9 a.m. and on Sept. 27 at The Westin Maui Resort and Spa in Kāʻanapali, to discuss a resolution to develop a comprehensive recovery and resiliency plan in response to the August wildfires. Maui Now.

Two more wildfire disaster victims identified, including teen and 79-year-old Lahaina man. The Maui Police Department released the names of two more victims from the Aug. 8 Lahaina fire. Police today confirmed the identity of: Keyiro Fuentes, 14, and Maurice Buen, 79, both of Lahaina. Maui Now.

2 key Lahaina stores reopen while residents wait their turn.  Maui County on Wednesday reopened two more business zones in the Lahaina wildfire disaster area, including the parcel encompassing Lahaina Cannery Mall and its two anchor tenants, Longs Drugs and Safeway. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now.  KHON2.

Out of the 99 moorings at Lahaina Harbor, a row of 13 boats appears largely unscathed. After receiving permission from Maui County and the US Coast Guard, officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement escorted the owners, in two groups, to the harbor.  Maui Now.

Over a month after the Lahaina wildfire, Maui first responders face breathing issues. There are reports that first responders on Maui are now dealing with breathing issues like coughing up soot after battling the Lahaina wildfire. Hawaii News Now.

Deadlines for Maui wildfire assistance approaching. Deadlines for victims of the Maui wildfires to register for assistance are coming up fast, starting with one Friday for those still needing emergency lodging. Star-Advertiser.

New online report gives DOE updates on Lahaina schools. A new online status report on Maui public schools and students affected by the Aug. 8 wildfires — including campus safety testing of soil, water and air at three closed campuses in Lahaina, and reopening plans — was made live by the state Department of Education on Wednesday and will be kept updated, officials said. Star-Advertiser.


Homes sales fall to lowest total of year on Kaua‘i. A total of 15 single-family homes were sold in July, compared with 24 in July 2022, according to monthly data pooled from multiple sources by Hawai‘i Realtors in Honolulu. That marked a decrease of 37.50 percent in the period and the lowest number of single-family residences sold in any month this year. Garden Island.

SBA Recovery Center opens in Kapa‘a. The U.S. Small Business Administration partnered with the Hawai‘i Small Business Development Center to open an SBA Disaster Assistance and Business Recovery Center on Monday in the former Otsuka’s Furniture building on Kuhio Highway in Kapa‘a. Garden Island.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Tokuda, Case keep congressional focus on Maui, Hawaii GOP caucus set for March 12, DOH contracts for new COVID call center, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

U.S. Rep. Tokuda requests moment of silence for Maui on House floor. U.S. Rep. Jill Tokuda on Tuesday, along with fellow U.S. Rep. Ed Case, stood on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives and asked for a moment of silence. Hawaii's congressional delegation wants to keep focus on the Aug. 8 wildfires to ensure that federal resources continue to flow to the state. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

Hawaii GOP Sets Presidential Caucus For March 12. That's a week after Super Tuesday, one of the biggest voting days in next year's election cycle. Civil Beat.

Former Land Board Chair To Lead New UH Conservation Office. Suzanne Case served two terms as director of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. Civil Beat.

Planned reopening of West Maui tourism stirs concern. Gov. Josh Green said nearly 7,300 people are staying in 32 hotels across West Maui, and those hotels are set to reopen to tourism in less than four weeks. Some say it’s too soon, but state leaders say it’s the right time. Hawaii News Now.

Lawmakers take closer look at existing rules for management of dry brush.
Dry brush and unmanaged vegetation can be the worst enemy for firefighting. KHON2.

HECO indicates it could turn to ratepayers to help cover extensive fire rebuilding costs. Hawaiian Electric may be asking customers to pay for damage and recovery from the Maui wildfires — even though many say HECO is to blame. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaiian Electric Posted “working closely” with EOC, then crews blocked lanes
. KITV4 is learning more about the communication failures of August 8th, during the afternoon self-evacuation of Lahaina.  KITV4.

DOH awards $415K contract for new COVID surveillance call center.
The $415,000 contract has been awarded to market researcher Omnitrak Group, which will be tasked with calling individuals who test positive for coronavirus. KHON2.

Hawaiʻi health care workers can now receive up to $50K a year to pay student loans. The Hawaiʻi Education Loan Repayment Program, or HELP, aims to tackle the state's physician shortage as it's grown from several hundred to above 1,000 over the last decade. Hawaii Public Radio.


Resignations continue at liquor commission as Honolulu mayor hopes for ‘new beginning’. The newest chair of the Liquor Commission is just eight months into his role as chair but has already announced he will be leaving in the coming months. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu EMTs, Paramedics Sue The City For Overtime. A lawsuit filed a decade ago got the Emergency Services Department to update its payroll system, but that hasn't fixed the problem. Civil Beat.

HPD pursuit policy ‘defective,’ lawsuit alleges. The family of a teen permanently injured in a September 2021 Makaha car chase by Honolulu Police Department officers has filed a federal lawsuit alleging the HPD’s pursuit policy is defective. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

Defueling Red Hill won’t hurt readiness, Pentagon says. The Pentagon has officially told Congress that military operations in the Pacific will not be adversely affected by the closure of the Navy’s underground Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu Has A Hiring Problem. Here’s What That Means For Fire Mitigation Efforts. While city-owned land makes up a relatively small portion of Oahu, groundskeepers need to be strategically redeployed to stave off wildfires. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Island

Vog returns to Kona with Kilauea’s current eruption.  Volcanic smog, or “vog,” filled West Hawaii’s skies Tuesday, obliterating views of Hualalai and blurring the horizon, as Kilauea volcano continued to erupt for a third day, pumping out thousands of tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2), which reacts with the atmosphere and creates the visible haze. West Hawaii Today. Associated Press.

An arid August. Hilo International Airport received 5.35 inches of rain in August, almost half of its norm of 11.3 inches for the month. Despite that, most windward Big Island areas remain verdant. Tribune-Herald.

Governor releases $500,000 in capital improvement project funds for Waimea schools.  A master plan will be the first step in outlining a strategy to make full use of the campus, which encompasses Waimea Elementary and Middles Schools. Big Island Now.

New Superintendent Selected For Kona National Historical Parks.  Paul Scolari has been chosen to serve as the superintendent of Kaloko-Honokōhau and Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Parks. Big Island Video News. Big Island Now.


As temporary housing deadlines approach, officials look at long-term solutions on Maui. About 2,000 homes in Lāhainā were lost in the Maui wildfires, displacing thousands of individuals. Survivors of the Maui wildfires have until this Friday to sign up for temporary housing through the American Red Cross. Hawaii Public Radio.

Lahaina Businesses Hoping To Reopen Face Daunting Challenges. From unsafe water to uncertainty over future earnings, obstacles line the path of recovery for businesses in and around the burn zone. Civil Beat.

Recovery in Maui’s Upcountry slow as fires still burn.  More than a month after a series of destructive wildfires that decimated much of the historic town of Lahaina and a number of homes in the Upcountry community of Kula, many residents are still being advised not to drink or bathe with water from systems that officials say were damaged and contaminated during the fires. Star-Advertiser.

County amends Unsafe Water Advisory for part of Upper Kula.  Water serving homes and buildings in Zone 1 has been determined to be safe for unrestricted use. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now.

Another name is added to the list of Maui fatalities.  The Maui Police Department on Tuesday named Buddy Joe Carter as the 61st fatality of the Aug. 8 Lahaina wildfire.  MPD said seven others have been identified but their families had yet to be notified. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now.

Council to consider resolution supporting AMR. Council to consider resolution supporting AMR. The Maui County Council will consider a resolution on Friday that urges the state Department of Health to continue contracting American Medical Response for Maui County’s emergency medical response services.  Maui News.


Kauaʻi rain gauges show below average precipitation for month of August. According to the monthly precipitation summary from the National Weather Service forecast office in Honolulu, the Anahola gauge had its lowest August total since 2000, and Mount Waiʻaleʻale and Wainiha had their lowest August totals since 2005. Kauai Now.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

State turns to wildfire prevention, Chinese disinformation campaign fueling Maui fire rumors, Kilauea volcano draws crowds, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii Needs To Build Hundreds More Miles Of Firebreaks To Protect Against Wildfire. Fire officials and landowners have known for years about gaps in Hawaii's firebreaks and fuelbreaks. The problem boils down to money and cooperation. Civil Beat.

How invasive grasses could have contributed to the magnitude of Maui's fires. As Lāhainā’s sugar cane industry ended in the late 20th century, thousands of acres of unmanaged land made it home for invasive species, according to Lissa Strohecker, the outreach and education specialist at the Maui Invasive Species Committee. Hawaii Public Radio.

Mistrust on cause of Maui fire fueled by Chinese disinformation. Social media disinformation that is playing a major role in mistrust among some Lahaina fire survivors was stoked by China — including a claim that the fire started from secret government testing of a “weather weapon.” Star-Advertiser. New York Times.

Experts review complaints of unauthorized attorneys soliciting employment after Maui wildfires. Ads have appeared on TV, radio and social media. But officials are cautioning survivors to be wary of legal fraud, and those who would take advantage of them when they are most vulnerable. Hawaii Public Radio.

Emergency action plans are critical to disaster response, experts say. Where was Maui’s? While both state and county officials have refused to confirm whether or not Maui had an emergency action plan in place to help steer its response during the disaster, HNN Investigates was able to sit down with the head of Oahu’s Emergency Management Agency to get a better understanding of what the document might contain — and why it’s so vital. Hawaii News Now.

Millions of dollars have poured in to help Maui fire victims. Where has the money gone so far? The biggest pot of donations is over $110 million in the Hawaii Community Foundation’s Maui Strong Fund. Over four weeks later, they’ve given out nearly $19 million to non-profits. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Utility Regulators Could Be The Next To Investigate Maui Fires. But the Public Utilities Commission so far is staying out of it, saying it doesn't want to duplicate other efforts. Civil Beat.

Amemiya to lead Green’s sports task force.  Keith Amemiya, former Honolulu mayoral candidate and prior head of the Hawai‘i High School Athletic Association, has been appointed by Gov. Josh Green as chair of Green’s Sports Task Force. Star-Advertiser.

Arizona Prosecutors Will Try Again To Get Death Penalty For Hawaii Inmate. A Hawaii prison gang member who murdered another inmate in an Arizona prison cell in 2010 will once again face the possibility of the death penalty. Civil Beat.

Hawai'i DOH Says New Covid-19 Vaccine coming to Hawaii mid-September. Ronald Balajadia, the Immunization Branch Chief at the Hawai’i Department of Health said it's important to get the vaccine because COVID is not going away. KITV4.


Popular UH law instructor banned from campus amid racial bias case against school. A popular instructor at the University of Hawaii’s William S. Richardson School of Law is asking a federal judge to intervene in a civil battle so he can return to in-person teaching. Ken Lawson is accusing university officials of violating his right to free speech. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

Kilauea continues to erupt, vog returns to west side of Hawaii Island. The state Department of Health reported that air quality levels were elevated at its Ocean View and Pahala air quality monitoring stations. Star-Advertiser. Associated Press.  Tribune-Herald.  Big Island Video News. Big Island Now. Maui Now.  Hawaii News Now. KHON2

Trace Amount Of TCP Detected In Mountain View Water System. Trace amounts of a contaminant associated with pineapple cultivation have been detected in the ‘Ōla‘a – Mountain View water system, although health officials say the water system is in compliance with the state drinking water standards. Big Island Video News. Maui News.

Scott Pauli named Executive Director for the Island of Hawai‘i Visitors Bureau. In his role, Pauli will oversee the Island of Hawai‘i Visitors Bureau’s destination marketing in the United States – and support international marketing partners in Canada, Japan, South Korea, China and Oceania – as contracted by the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority and through collaborative efforts with island partners, government entities, and various sectors within the hospitality, group market and related industries. Big Island Now.


DOH releases preliminary, unvalidated data from Maui air sampling following wildfires. The Hawaiʻi Department of Health received access Monday to preliminary, unvalidated data of baseline air sampling conducted by the US Environmental Protection Agency in Lahaina and Upcountry Maui.  Maui Now.

Trace amount of solvent found in Kula water system. The Hawaii Department of Health says a trace amount of toluene has for the first time been detected in water samples collected at the Upper Kula Treatment Plant on Maui. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now.  Hawaii News Now.

Maui Prep becomes a shelter and distribution hub for fire survivors. The night the wildfires descended upon Lahaina, Maui Prep­aratory Academy was unexpectedly forced to become a makeshift shelter for nearly 700 frightened people, many of them blackened with soot or shivering from hours in the ocean to escape the flames. Star-Advertiser.

3 more Lahaina residents identified among 115 confirmed fatalities.  As of today, 60 of the 115 victims have been identified and their families have been notified. Eight more victims have been identified but their families have not been located or notified. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now.


Planning Department to hold workshops, survey on carbon reduction strategies. The County of Kaua‘i Planning Department will hold a series of virtual and in-person workshops in September on the Kaua‘i Climate Adaption and Action Plan, particularly to discuss carbon emissions reduction strategies with the community. Kauai Now.

Kauaʻi rain gauges show below average precipitation for month of August. According to the monthly precipitation summary from the National Weather Service forecast office in Honolulu, the Anahola gauge had its lowest August total since 2000, and Mount Waiʻaleʻale and Wainiha had their lowest August totals since 2005. Kauai Now.