Friday, March 5, 2021

Legislature mulls lifting tax on unemployment checks, Oahu edges toward Tier 4 reopening, Mauna Kea management group advances, Hirono memoir to be published next month, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hirono Memoir Heart of Fire

Mazie Hirono Memoir To Be Published In April. It will chronicle her immigrant journey from Japan to Hawaii and all the way to the U.S. Senate. Civil Beat.


Hawaii unemployment compensation tax exemption bill advances. A proposal to exempt unemployment compensation from state income taxes won a key approval on Thursday with the Senate Ways and Means Committee unanimously approving the measure. Star-Advertiser.

Here’s How Tax Increases Are Shaking Out In The Hawaii Legislature.
Senators moved to raise income taxes on high earners, and the House passed capital gains and inheritance tax increases. Civil Beat.

State offers more food stamp flexibility amid record participation. As Hawaii continues to grapple with high unemployment and a slow economic recovery, tens of thousands of people are turning to food stamps for assistance. Nearly 198,000 people in Hawaii are now on the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. Hawaii News Now.

Gas prices on the rise again, could continue rising throughout the year. In this last 30 days we’ve seen it go up about 15 to 16 cents a gallon, so that’s pretty significant for Hawaii. KHON2.

Could Tech Companies Help Diversify Hawaii's Economy? Lieutenant Governor Josh Green told KITV4 he thinks returning pre-pandemic level tourism would be detrimental to the environment and suggested incentivizing technology companies to relocate to Hawaii as a way to boost the local economy. KITV4.

Kahele, Case Divided On Whether Inmates Should Vote From Prison. A failed amendment to a House bill that seeks to expand voting rights and reduce the influence of money in politics highlights some differences between Hawaii’s Democratic congressmen. Civil Beat.


No BOE decision on in-person learning. At its Thursday meeting to discuss safely opening schools by the fourth quarter, it was determined that a decision could be made at the next meeting, in two weeks. Garden Island.

Board of Ed Defers Debate On Superintendent Contract Renewal. Christina Kishimoto has called criticism of her leadership style “a distraction,” saying she needs to focus on more important issues. Civil Beat. KHON2.

Unions, teachers urge Board of Education to reject new contract for superintendent. In extensive testimony Thursday, union leaders and educators called on the Board of Education to reject a new contract for Superintendent Christina Kishimoto. Hawaii News Now. Star-Advertiser.


March 4, 2021 COVID-19 Update: There were 60 new COVID-19 cases reported in Hawai‘i on Thursday, including 36 on O‘ahu, 15 on Maui, four on Hawai‘i Island, one on Kaua‘i and four in Hawai‘i residents diagnosed outside of the state. Maui Now.


Oahu could move to Tier 4 reopening if COVID-19 cases continue to drop. Honolulu’s seven-day rolling average of new cases was 23 on Thursday with an average positivity rate of 0.9%, meeting one benchmark to move to Tier 4, which allows gatherings of up to 25 people, up from 10. Star-Advertiser.

DUI first time offenders accept lesser conviction in efforts to speed up court backlogs. Prosecutors and defense lawyers are turning to compromise to get cases moving through the courts. They have agreed on a lesser conviction for first-time DUI offenders in an effort to reduce the backlog of cases caused by the pandemic. KHON2.

Median price of a single-family home on Oahu hits a new high: $920,000. The record comes as Hawaii’s housing market continues to experience strong demand amid low supply. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Lawmaker Wants Report On Military Seawall at Ewa Beach. State officials have warned that a proposed seawall to protect the Marines’ Puuloa Range Training Facility would cause massive coastal erosion. Civil Beat.

Surf equity bill for contests at North Shore parks advances. A measure requiring gender equity for certain sports activities needing a park use permit from the city Department of Parks and Recreation was recommended for passage with amendments by the Parks and Community Services Committee of the Honolulu City Council in its Thursday meeting. Star-Advertiser.

Monkeypod restaurant to anchor Outrigger Reef. Renowned Hawaii chef Peter Merriman will be the driving force of the new signature beachfront restaurant at the transformed Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

State House approves resolution to develop new Mauna Kea management structure. The state House of Representatives Thursday approved a resolution to form a working group that will develop a new management structure for Mauna Kea. Star-Advertiser. Tribune-Herald. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

The Caltech Submillimeter Observatory could be removed from the summit of Maunakea
as early as the end of next year. Caltech representatives presented their decommissioning plans for the observatory at a Tuesday meeting of the University of Hawaii’s Maunakea Management Board. Tribune-Herald.

$884K change order pushes up cost of Kilauea roadwork. Part of a statewide transportation improvement program, the rehabilitation work includes repaving, installing pavement markers, striping and traffic detectors along a 1.5-mile stretch of the Hilo thoroughfare, from the Waiola Bridge to Puainako Street. Tribune-Herald.

100-foot cinder cone left by Kilauea’s fissure 8 gets a name. The 100-foot cinder cone that marks the spot of the prolific and most prominent vent in the 2018 Kilauea eruption has been christened with a name: Ahu‘aila‘au. Star-Advertiser. West Hawaii Today. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Sustainability Summit explores ecological issues on Big Island.
The two-day Sustainability Summit hosted by the Office of the Mayor covers a range of topics from climate change to waste management to food security and more. Tribune-Herald.


90-unit affordable rental project gets nod from committee. Developers of a 90-unit affordable housing project in Kihei are seeking nearly $6 million from the county’s Affordable Housing Fund to help acquire land for the project. Maui News.

Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority Published Visitor Management Plan for Maui Nui. The Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority has published the 2021-2023 Maui Nui Destination Management Action Plan, which is part of the authority’s strategic vision and continuing efforts to manage tourism in a responsible and regenerative manner. Maui Now.

Central Maui Traffic Signal Upgrades Planned, March 10. Five traffic signals in Central Maui are scheduled for upgrades starting at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, March 10, 2021. Maui Now.

Lanai and Molokai on track to make COVID vaccine available to all residents 16 and up.  More than half of Lanai and Molokai residents have received at least one vaccine dose and the shot will soon be available to eligible residents 16 and older, according to the Hawaii Department of Health. Hawaii News Now.


EPA Directs 7 Illegal Cesspools on Kauaʻi To Close & Fines Hawaiʻi DLNR. The US Environmental Protection Agency has taken enforcement action on Kauaʻi, directing the closure of seven large-capacity cesspools that have been banned since 2005 and collecting $221,670 in fines from the cesspools owner, the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now.

Climate-action forum is Wednesday. Zero Waste Kaua‘i is hosting a Kaua‘i Climate Action Forum on Wednesday, March 10, at 6 p.m. Garden Island.

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Coronavirus vaccinations expanded to age 70-plus, all teachers to be immunized by April, Maui closes in on Oahu for tourism numbers, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

from DOH video
Hawaii Department of Health Director Dr. Libby Char

Hawaii residents 70 and older eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday; state receives Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The state has decided to open eligibility for COVID-19 vaccinations early to residents 70 and older on Monday because of a substantial increase in the number of shots arriving in the islands. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Big Island Now. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now. KHON2. KITV4.

The first shipment of Johnson &Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine arrived Wednesday in Hawaii. According to the state Department of Health, 5,900 doses were delivered to Oahu, while Hawaii, Maui and Kauai counties each will receive 2,000 doses of the vaccine, which was approved for emergency use Saturday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Tribune-Herald. Garden Island. Maui Now. KITV4.

Senate Health Committee Recommends Libby Char as DOH Director. The Senate Health Committee today, March 3, voted to recommend that the Senate consent to the appointment of Dr. Elizabeth “Libby” Char as Director of the Department of Health. She took over leadership at the DOH on Sept. 16, 2020, after being appointed by Gov. David Ige. Big Island Now.  KHON2.

AARP Hawaiʻi Seeking Kupuna Feedback About COVID-19 Vaccination Experiences. AARP Hawaiʻi is asking kupuna 50 and older to fill out an online questionnaire and share their experiences and thoughts about the COVID-19 vaccine process in Hawaiʻi in an effort to improve the process. Maui Now.

Hawaii to have all teachers vaccinated before April, here’s why it’s important. Hawaii is on track to get all teachers vaccinated by the end of March, 2021, according to Lt. Gov. Dr. Josh Green. KHON2.

Hawaii’s hotel industry wants workers vaccinated now. The state Department of Health has ruled that travel is not essential to the “functioning of society” and has said most hotel workers must wait a little longer to get vaccinated. Star-Advertiser.

Lt. Gov. Green urges governor to drop interisland quarantine.
Interisland travelers may no longer need to get tested starting in April, 2021, if the lieutenant governor gets his way. KHON2.

Governor reflects on a year of successes and blunders in responding to COVID. A year after he issued his first COVID-related emergency proclamation, Gov. David Ige on Wednesday reflected on the lessons he’s learned and what’s still ahead. In an interview with Hawaii News Now, Ige apologized for ongoing delays in issuing unemployment benefits during the pandemic but commended the state’s efforts in containing the spread of the virus. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.


Military Spouses Hope For Easier Ways To Get Licensed To Work In Hawaii. A House bill would expedite the licensing process for many military spouses, especially medical professionals, who have to move frequently. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Lawmakers Consider Requiring Gender Diversity On Corporate Boards. The Senate bill cites several studies that say gender diversity on boards is correlated with higher or equal profits compared with all-male boards. Civil Beat.

Hawaiian Airlines Is Holding Off On More Layoffs — For Now. The state’s largest private employer has said it will delay plans for a large lay off, even as changes to Hawaii’s travel policy remain in limbo. Civil Beat.

More elementary kids headed back to school in 4th quarter. More elementary students will be back on campus after spring break and secondary schools are also being asked to ramp up in-person learning, Superintendent Christina Kishimoto said Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

Despite criticism, DOE Superintendent says she’s focused on the challenges ahead. Hawaii Department of Education Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto says there are more pressing issues to focus on in light of the teachers’ union voting against renewing her contract. Hawaii News Now.

Nonprofit moves forward with lawsuit to protect Hawaiian honeycreeper.
The Center for Biological Diversity today filed suit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to designate critical habitat and develop a recovery plan for the iiwi, a cherished forest bird in Hawaii. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

COVID-19 Update: There were 20 new COVID-19 cases reported in Hawai‘i on Wednesday, including eight on O‘ahu, 11 on Maui, and one on Kaua‘i. Hawai‘i’s COVID-19 deaths increased to 441 with two new deaths reported Wednesday, both on O‘ahu. Maui Now.


Honolulu Police Department still probing body cam misuse, overtime abuse. The Honolulu Police Department is still investigating a couple of dozen cases of possible misuse of body-worn cameras and abuse of overtime. Star-Advertiser.

Police Commissioners: Redirect HPD Funds To Social Services And Cut Overtime. Other cities are considering moving police department funds to social services. Some Honolulu police commissioners say the city should follow suit. Civil Beat.

Youth Correctional Facility Managers Receive Ethics Fines. Mark Patterson, administrator of the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility in Kailua, and institutional facility superintendent Darrell Bueno were fined last week by the Hawaii State Ethics Commission. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser.

HART interim CEO: Rail construction in Dillingham corridor halted, route may shift. Construction of the problem-plagued Honolulu rail project in the Dillingham corridor has been halted, interim HART CEO Lori Kahikina said Wednesday. Hawaii News Now.

Kalaeloa slated for first new housing subdivision in decades. Longtime Hawaii housing developer Gentry Homes is planning to build the first homes at the former Barbers Point Naval Air Station in Kalaeloa since the base closed in 1999. Star-Advertiser.

State board considers 2 more towers at Ward Village. A state board Wednesday began its review of two very different condominium towers planned for Ward Village, and the distribution of moderate-priced homes was a major point of discussion. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Vaccinations ramp up: 4,000 doses could be given at Hilo POD. Hilo Medical Center will offer 4,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine during an upcoming mass-vaccination POD, doubling the capacity of its last large clinic. Tribune-Herald.

Energov moving forward: Planning and permit system set to go live July 26. A multi-agency software system designed to streamline the planning and building permit process is now scheduled to go live at the end of July, five years after the project first began. West Hawaii Today.

County accepts $83M for Kilauea eruption recovery projects. The Hawaii County Council accepted Wednesday $83 million in federal funds for Kilauea eruption recovery projects in lower Puna. Tribune-Herald. Hawaii News Now.

Daniel K. Inouye Highway extension project progressing despite lack of funding. A record of decision marking the completion of the environmental review process for the long-delayed extension of Daniel K. Inouye Highway is expected this fall. West Hawaii Today.


Mayor to Host Virtual State of the County Address on March 9. Maui Mayor Michael Victorino’s third State of the County Address will be a virtual event, scheduled to take place at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 9. Maui Now.

Maui closes in on Oahu for visitor arrivals in January. There were 66,925 visitors on Maui and 78,967 visitors on Oahu in January, according to the most recent Hawaii Tourism Authority data. Maui News.

County working on lawsuit against bank. Contracted private attorneys for Maui County are currently working on a draft complaint of a lawsuit that may be brought against Bank of America and other mortgage lenders, a county attorney said on Tuesday. Maui News.


Blessing to mark completion of Kauai affordable rental project. A blessing will be held on Friday, March 5, to mark the official completion of an affordable rental housing project on Kauai. KHON2.

Red Cross officials recognize Hero, Volunteer of the Year.
March is American Red Cross Month and acknowledged by Mayor Derek Kawakami with gratitude and appreciation to the American Red Cross, Kaua‘i Branch headed by Padric Gallagher. Garden Island.

On Kauai, virtual counseling offers struggling residents an important lifeline.  Residents on Kauai are now eligible for three hours of free counseling with a new program. Hawaii News Now.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Teachers union seeks ouster of schools superintendent, Catholics concerned about vaccine-abortion link, Honolulu mayor releases $2.9B budget, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

from Zoom
Gov. Ige signs business unemployment tax relief bill

Gov. David Ige signs law lowering business payments into fund. Gov. David Ige signed a bill into law Tuesday that’s expected to provide significant relief to businesses faced with steep hikes in how much they have to pay into the state fund that covers unemployment insurance claims. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii Public Radio. Associated Press. Big Island Now. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

Unemployment office puts ‘bot blocker’ in place to reduce volume into call center.
Labor Director Anne Perreira-Eustaquio said repeat callers will be blocked so that more people can get through. She said some had apparently been using apps to repeatedly call the unemployment office. Hawaii News Now.


Abortion-derived cells in Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine causes moral dilemma for Hawaii’s Catholic community. Catholic Churches are urging parishioners not to take the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine if they have an option. The Vatican and numerous U.S. bishops say the Johnson and Johnson vaccine have abortion-derived cells in their product and are asking Catholics to choose Pfizer or Moderna since those vaccines only used abortion-derived cell lines in their research. Hawaii News Now.


Hawaii State Teachers Association opposes superintendent’s renewal. The Hawaii State Teachers Association on Tuesday said it opposes the renewal of schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s contract and intends to testify against doing so to the Board of Education this week. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

Hawaii Aims To Reopen Elementary Schools After Spring Break. The guidance comes after several behind-the-scenes meetings involving the Department of Education and other state leaders. Civil Beat. Tribune-Herald. Garden Island.

State Rep. Sharon Har faces drunken driving penalties she helped write. Har helped shepherd through changes that she herself now faces, including a mandatory revocation of her driver’s license for two years for refusing to take a breath or blood test following her arrest on South Beretania Street. Star-Advertiser.

Body camera video of Rep. Sharon Har’s arrest shows her refusing to take sobriety test.
The body camera video of Rep. Sharon Har’s arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence from Monday, Feb. 22 has been released by the Honolulu Police Department. KHON2. Hawaii News Now.

Death Behind Bars: In Hawaii, The Death Of A Prisoner Is Often A Closely Held Secret. The only prison and jail deaths that corrections officials have announced recently have been due to COVID-19. Civil Beat.

Most Police Reform Measures Fail To Gain Traction At Legislature. But proposals to ban no-knock warrants and collect data on use of force appear to be moving this session. Civil Beat.

Indo-Pacific Command seeks $27.3B to counter China. The greatest danger the United States faces in the Pacific “is the erosion of conventional deterrence” with China, said the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Adm. Phil Davidson, Monday in prepared remarks at the AFCEA TechNet Indo-Pacific Conference in Honolulu. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii hits highs for needle exchange and overdose reversals. Hawaii efforts to keep drug use from turning deadly, results in a record number of overdose reversals. KITV4.

Gov. Ige hopes to ease restrictions for vaccinated travelers by the end of summer. Gov. David Ige is pleased with Hawaii’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts, but he wants more doses from the federal government. KHON2.

March 2, 2021 COVID-19 Update:
There were 35 new COVID-19 cases reported in Hawai‘i on Tuesday, including 18 on O‘ahu, 13 on Maui, three on Hawai‘i Island, and two in Hawai‘i residents diagnosed out-of-state. Maui Now.


Mayor Rick Blangiardi proposes $2.9B budget with no furloughs or tax increases. Blangiardi’s plan, outlined Tuesday at a press conference, would keep the city’s operating budget steady at $2.91 billion, with cuts making up for lost revenues, although he stressed the city’s 8,000-plus employees would not face layoffs or furloughs. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

Half-billion dollar container terminal makeover to benefit Hawaii’s cargo industry. A $174 million modernization of the Kapalama Container Terminal has been completed, and now more upgrades are in the works. Hawaii News Now.

Study: O‘ahu marine areas aren’t protective enough.
Marine protected areas around O‘ahu do not adequately protect populations of herbivorous reef fishes that eat algae on coral reefs. Garden Island.

Kaneohe Sea Urchin Hatchery Turns 10. A state effort using a native sea urchin to combat invasive seaweed has reached a big milestone. More than a decade ago, the state established a sea urchin hatchery to control an algae that could kill coral reefs in Kaneohe Bay. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii Island

County to return 50K COVID-19 tests to state. Confusion surrounding a state donation of rapid COVID-19 test kits to the Big Island will not affect the county’s post-arrival testing program, officials say. Tribune-Herald.

Mayor honors Norman Sakata as living treasure marks 95 years. Sakata was recognized by Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth for his volunteer service, leadership capabilities and dedication to a life of community service on the Big Island as a spokesperson for the Kona coffee industry, Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, Lions Eye Bank of Hawaii, Lions Club of Kona, Red Cross and as a Scouts Explorer Advisor for the late astronaut Col. Ellison Onizuka. West Hawaii Today.


Maui County won’t tighten COVID-19 restrictions for now. Maui County does not plan to tighten restrictions amid a spike in cases connected to a new strain of COVID-19, though state and county officials are asking the community to remain diligent. Maui Now.

Enforcement Nets 68 Mask Citations on Maui. The Maui Police Department issued 68 citations for face mask violations between Feb. 27 and March 1. Maui Now.

$26M project would reduce Lahaina injection well use. Saying it will minimize the use of controversial injection wells at the Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility, the County of Maui is proposing $26 million in upgrades to the recycled water system. Maui News.

Maui Land narrows loss while it awaits land sale. Maui Land said disruptions to tourism on Maui because of COVID-19 hurt company revenue from real estate leases as well as a club membership program that contributed to revenue falling 25% to $7.5 million last year from $10 million the year before. Star-Advertiser.


Kauai to open doors to more tourists. Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami said Tuesday that he is seeking to rejoin the Safe Travels Hawaii program, which would make it unnecessary for Kauai’s out-of-state visitors to stay in a resort bubble or spend time on another Hawaiian Island to qualify for a quarantine exemption. Star-Advertiser. Big Island Now. Garden Island. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Single-dose vaccine raises Hawaii's hopes, COVID-19 cluster at UH-Manoa, Love's Bakery closing, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands


copyright 2021 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Diamond Head lookout in pre-COVID days ©2021 All Hawaii News

Diamond Head State Monument to increase access next week. The Diamond Head State Monument will be open six days a week instead of four, starting next week, according to parks officials. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

New Single-Dose COVID-19 Vaccine Raises Hopes For Overall Effort. Lt. Gov. Josh Green said the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine could put Hawaii on the path to vaccinating most residents by early summer if delivery is ramped up. Civil Beat. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Now. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Next up for vaccinations in Hawaii is 70-and-older group. Hawaii health officials are preparing to open up COVID-19 vaccinations to those 70 and older around March 15 and start immunizing the 65-plus age group a couple of weeks later. Star-Advertiser.

School's back. After a year of pandemic distancing and nearly 180 lost in-person school days, tens of thousands of public school students could return to daily in-person classes soon. The state Department of Education’s target date is March 22 — just after spring break. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii’s economic damage assessment improves. Hawaii’s battered economy last year may not have been as bad as previously estimated, and recovery this year should be a bit stronger, a new state report says. Star-Advertiser. KITV4.

When Love’s Bakery shuts down at month’s end, 231 employees will be laid off.
Love’s Bakery, a staple of Hawaii’s food industry for nearly 170 years, announced Monday that it will end operations at the end of this month and lay off all 231 employees. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now. KHON2. KITV4.

The fight over the future of Hawaii's aerospace industry. Hawaii has a lot going for it, when it comes to aerospace development, including its location in the middle of the pacific. But research on rockets and innovation of high tech equipment can be costly and some state leaders feel that money should go elsewhere during this pandemic. KITV4.

Challenges Getting Small Farmers on State Ag Land. Small farmers on state-owned land agricultural lands, or the lack thereof, was a point of criticism by lawmakers at a recent public hearing on Hawaii's embattled Agribusiness Development Corporation. Hawaii Public Radio.

Remote Work Shows Only Modest Potential For Economic Impact So Far. Nearly one-quarter of U.S. workers did at least some part of their job remotely in January according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some remote workers are taking their newfound flexibility and relocating to Hawaii. Hawaii Public Radio.

Marijuana-related bills progressing in Legislature. Five bills related to marijuana remain alive in the state Legislature and will be heard in committee this week. West Hawaii Today.

March 1, 2021 COVID-19 Update: There were 29 new COVID-19 cases reported in Hawai‘i on Monday, including 17 on O‘ahu, eight on Maui, one on Hawai‘i Island, and three in Hawai‘i residents diagnosed out-of-state. Maui Now.


Seven students at UH-Manoa test positive for COVID-19 in apparent cluster. Seven students who live at the University of Hawaii at Manoa have tested positive for the coronavirus since Thursday and been moved off campus for care and isolation, along with three close contacts. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

Catch-and-release policies create revolving door of crime as pending cases pile up
. Crime victims and witnesses fear suspects are growing more brazen, under a catch-and-release policy that many say has turned parts of Honolulu into lost and lawless zones. KHON2.

HPD sets quota for speed program, requiring officers to make more stops. Honolulu police officers who are participating in a speed enforcement grant program this month will have to pull over at least four drivers every hour. Hawaii News Now.

263 officers found to have claimed overtime, prompting HPD to develop program to track it. In a video statement published to YouTube, Honolulu Police Department Chief Susan Ballard commented on the latest findings from an investigation into possible overtime usage of HPD’s COVID-enforcement team. KHON2. KITV4.

Here’s What Happens When Social Workers, Not Police, Respond To Mental Health Crises. Honolulu lacks a crisis response team that can be dispatched immediately to address mental health crises and behavioral health issues. Civil Beat.

$70M in federal COVID-19 funds aimed at rail project. The city’s troubled rail project is expected to receive a badly needed infusion of $70 million in federal aid from the next round of COVID-19 federal stimulus that’s expected to be approved this weekend. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

Downtown Honolulu eatery fined $4,000 for removal of red placard following mask violation.
The state Health Department said it has fined Doner Shack in downtown Honolulu a total of $4,000 for removing a red “closed” placard posted at the eatery and for operating without a permit on three occasions. Star-Advertiser. KHON2.

Internships jump-start construction careers for Oahu students. The coronavirus pandemic has thrown off job prospects for many teenagers, but Hawaii’s construction industry is still buzzing along and seeking students for paid summer internships at job sites. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Roth releases ‘bare bones’ budget
: Mayor’s first budget plan reflects cutbacks, uncertainty at Legislature. Faced with uncertainty and cutbacks at the state level, Mayor Mitch Roth on Monday released the first proposed budget of his term, described by staff as a “bare bones” plan as the county grapples with the fiscal aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii Wants To Give Away COVID-19 Tests, But Not For Big Island Airport Screening. The state Department of Health in January provided tests from its large stockpile for the Big Island program, credited by county officials as keeping case numbers low, but now says it’s not a suitable use. Civil Beat.

Fastest – and quickest – option preferred for Pohoiki ramp. Although the board of the Department of Land and Natural Resources discussed three options last week for restoring commercial ocean access in Puna, locals and lawmakers agree that there is only one option that makes sense. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News.

Gusty winds topple under-construction Waikoloa Plaza building. High winds with gusts upward of 50 mph lashed portions of the Big Island over the weekend, toppling at least one under-construction building in South Kohala. West Hawaii Today.

East Hawaii Cultural Center to put up fence to combat crime. The East Hawaii Cultural Center plans to fence its property after items were stolen from the nonprofit during a Feb. 14 burglary. Tribune-Herald.


Kahului project would include housing and civic center. A state agency is looking to transform the lot across from the Maui Beach Hotel into a civic center with affordable housing units, a community center, government offices and the potential new home of the Kahului Public Library. Maui News.

Maui Health Vaccine Clinic Appointments Now Available on VAMS for Phase 1A and 1B. The VAMS portal can be accessed by all current VAMS registered Phase 1A and 1B qualified residents to make their first dose vaccination appointment. Maui Now.


Ground broken for new $21 million gym at Kaua‘i High School. Plans for the new facility started back in the Gov. Linda Lingle administration when Rep. James Tokioka identified a Capital Priority Project and secured $14 million for the facility. Garden Island. KHON2.

Proposed DOTAX Kaua‘i reorganization. The state’s Department of Taxation plans to reduce staff and reorganize the Kaua‘i District Tax Office, eliminating some on-island services by the end of the year. Garden Island.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Hawaii tourism looking up, Mayor to act on Maui coronavirus outbreak, $70M more for Honolulu rail, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2021 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Hawaii beach scene ©2021 All Hawaii News

Hawaii’s Summer Tourism Season Is Looking Promising. Hawaii’s economy is poised for a significant recovery over the next six months, as pent-up demand for travel coincides with vaccinations on the mainland and an expected new wave of federal stimulus money in March. Civil Beat.

Gov. David Ige again withholds funding for corrections oversight staff. Two years ago the Legislature passed what was hailed as major corrections reform: It placed the Department of Public Safety, which oversees the state’s jails and prisons, under the oversight of a five-member commission. Star-Advertiser.

House Committee Advances Bill to Dissolve the Agribusiness Development Corporation. The 27-year-old entity was initially created to develop economically viable farms to fill the void created by the closure of plantations. But a recent state audit found it has done little to fill that void. Hawaii Public Radio.

Bill to reduce blood-alcohol threshold for drunken driving up for full vote on Senate floor.
Senate Bill 754 would reduce the blood-alcohol content level for being arrested and charged with driving under the influence of an intoxicant from 0.08% to 0.05%. West Hawaii Today.

Bills that would place limit on emergency beach sandbags in Hawaii shelved. Bills that would limit how long oceanfront property owners can keep stacks of emergency sandbags and heavy tarps along the public beach to protect their homes, resorts and condos from being damaged by waves are dead for the year. Star-Advertiser.

Kenji Price: An Uncertain Future For A Republican In Deep Blue Hawaii. Hawaii’s charismatic U.S. attorney is an up and coming conservative. Hawaii’s GOP would love to talk him into running for office here. Civil Beat. KITV4.

Hawaii’s acting state epidemiologist calls for reopening public schools. Dr. Sarah Kemble, acting state epidemiologist, says Hawaii’s public schools should resume in-person classes as soon as possible because children can come back safely and are missing out on too much. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Preschools See Declines In Enrollment And Available Seats. Private pre-kindergarten programs have lost $7 million in tuition as fewer families send children to school, according to the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools. Civil Beat.

A year of COVID-19: Key leaders in Hawaii’s pandemic response recall the challenges they faced. On March 5, Gov. David Ige declared a state of emergency after the death of a passenger from California on a cruise ship that visited the islands. The next day, Ige announced the state’s first COVID-19 case — a Hawaii resident who sailed on the Grand Princess in February. Star-Advertiser.

Few in Hawaii spared the far-reaching consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 was just emerging as a public- health threat in Hawaii when Coby Torda started experiencing flu-like symptoms after coming home from work as a bartender at a Waikiki club March 9. Star-Advertiser.

Feb. 28, 2021 COVID-19 Update. There were 60 new COVID-19 cases reported in Hawai‘i on Sunday, including 39 on O‘ahu, 15 on Maui, four on Hawai‘i Island, and two in Hawai‘i residents diagnosed out-of-state. Maui Now.


O'ahu Neighborhood Boards Could Get a Reboot. Another election season has just begun on O'ahu. Candidates for this year's Neighborhood Board elections have all submitted their registrations, and elections are coming up for these grassroots positions. Hawaii Public Radio.

$70 Million Secured for Honolulu Rail Project in New COVID-19 Relief Bill. US Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), helped secure $70 million for the Honolulu Rail Transit Project. The new federal funding will help the City and County of Honolulu pay for a portion of its share of the cost of the project, making up for the loss in tax revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Report recommends no salary increases for Honolulu’s top officials. The mayor and City Council members won’t be getting salary increases, according to a report presented by a group within the Honolulu Salary Commission. Star-Advertiser.

In internal video, police chief says 263 officers abused overtime policy. Honolulu’s police chief said in an internal video message to rank and file on Friday that overtime abuse within the department involved hundreds of officers. Hawaii News Now.

City wants to move forward with project to address safety issues atop Koko Crater. The city wants to move forward with a safety improvement project atop Koko Crater, but community members worry it will change the iconic view. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

DOH advises public to avoid Kailua Bay after large discharges of wastewater. The Department of Health directed the city to post warning signs at Kailua Bay for possible large amounts of bacteria in the water near the wastewater treatment plant. Hawaii News Now.

Next Ward Village condo tower about to rise. The developer of Ward Village in Kakaako anticipates starting construction on another condominium tower by the end of the month. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

No data for maps: Redistricting commission meets Monday. A commission that redraws County Council district boundary lines every 10 years plans an initial meeting Monday, but the numbers it needs to make its decisions have been delayed. West Hawaii Today.

Land Board hears three options for Pohoiki ramp restoration. Restoration of the Pohoiki boat ramp could take months — or even years. Tribune-Herald.

State fines pair of aquarium fishers record $272K. The Board of Land and Natural Resources voted unanimously Friday to fine two Big Island aquarium fishers $272,000 in civil fines stemming from an illegal aquarium fishing incident in Kona in 2020. West Hawaii Today. Hawaii News Now.

Businesses, attractions struggle as cruise ships still months away from returning.
It has been nearly one year since cruise ships stopped service to Hawaii, and there is no hint of when they might return. Tribune-Herald.

Honing their skills. Enduring cold temperatures, high winds and rain, 800 soldiers from the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division from Schofield Barracks are honing their skills at Pohakuloa Training Area. West Hawaii Today.


Mayor Victorino considers additional restrictions after variant, more clusters found on Maui. The Hawaii Department of Health reported 75 new cases of COVID-19 in Maui County.  This includes 31 historical cases dating back to November 9, 2020 and 19 cases from the Maui Community Correctional Center cluster, nine cases attributed to a Pacific Islander cluster and seven resulting from a bar and restaurant cluster. KITV4.

DOH: Uptick in Maui cases connected to virus variant. A COVID-19 variant that has spread widely in California has been associated with a recent uptick in cases on Maui, Hawaii’s acting state epidemiologist said Friday.  Maui News.

Maui High School welcomes back staff, 650 students. Maui High is one of many Maui schools to transition to a blended learning format that mixes both in-person and online instruction. Maui News.


Weather hampers whale-counters. Most of the whales came early, said Carol Everett, sanctuary site leader at Kaiwa Point Saturday, when the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and the Pacific Whale Foundation conducted the second of three coordinated whale counts for 2021. Garden Island.

DHHL seeking input on General Plan. The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands is seeking beneficiary input as part of its 2022 General Plan update beneficiary-consultation process. Garden Island.

Friday, February 26, 2021

New management structure for Mauna Kea, in-person graduation ceremonies allowed, Kaui to vaccinate hotel workers, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2021 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Native Hawaiian ceremony prior to 2019 protests over Mauna Kea ©2021 All Hawaii News

House advances measure for new Mauna Kea management. A measure that aims to form a working group to develop a new management structure for Mauna Kea was advanced Thursday in the state House of Representatives. According to the resolution, the failure of the university to properly consult with Native Hawaiians has led to mistrust and polarization within the community, a situation that must be reconciled. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Associated Press. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii public schools allowed to hold graduations in 2021 with strict protocols. Graduation ceremonies may be held at Hawaii public schools this year under strict safety guidelines that include limits on the number of guests and no physical contact during the celebration. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Now. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now. KHON2. KITV4.

Hawaii Lawmakers Consider Standardized Pandemic Travel Rules. Hawaii lawmakers are considering a bill that would standardize the state's pandemic travel restrictions across the islands, a departure from the current system that allows individual counties to opt out of a state pre-flight testing program or add their own modified safety measures. Associated Press.

Proposal Would Streamline Involuntary Treatment Of Those With Severe Mental Illness. Public defenders are obliged to fight involuntary treatment for their clients. Lawmakers are considering cutting them out of the process. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Lawmakers Mull Mediation To Prevent Mass Evictions After Moratorium Lifted. A bill would require landlords to enter mediation upon a tenant’s request, but some advocates say the measure doesn’t do enough to protect renters at risk of eviction. Civil Beat.

New commander named for Pacific Fleet sub force in Hawaii. The acting secretary of the Navy and chief of naval operations announced today that Rear Adm. Jeffrey T. Jablon will be assigned as commander of the sub force in the Pacific, replacing Rear Adm. Blake Converse. Star-Advertiser.

Feb. 25, 2021 COVID-19 Update: There were 45 new COVID-19 cases reported in Hawai‘i on Thursday, including 24 on O‘ahu, 18 on Maui, one on Hawai‘i Island, and two in Hawai‘i residents diagnosed out-of-state. Maui Now.


Honolulu City Council seeks audit of HPD overtime policies, procedures. The Honolulu City Council wants an audit conducted of the Honolulu Police Department to examine the department’s overtime policies, protocols and procedures following overtime abuse that was detected months ago. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

Changes to Honolulu EMS could mean higher ambulance fees.  Lawmakers are moving forward with a proposal to let the City control its own funding for Honolulu Emergency Medical Services. KHON2.

Retail stores allowed back at full capacity as O'ahu officially enters Tier 3. Again retail shops at 100% but they do still have to have social distancing and other protections in place. KITV4.

Some Honolulu businesses already see an increase in customers under the new reopening phase. Businesses were able to serve more people as Honolulu moved into Tier 3 of its reopening plan. Star-Advertiser.

University of Hawaii wants greater say in new stadium project. As companion bills to bolster the New Aloha Stadium Entertainment District advanced through the Legislature this week, the University of Hawaii has stepped up its campaign to gain a larger voice in the facility’s future. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Kīlauea Recovery Housing Survey Launched. The County of Hawai‘i is surveying residents affected by the 2018 eruption to help guide recovery investments and projects, including an upcoming Voluntary Housing Buyout Program. Big Island Video News.

“Bark Ranger” Program Unleashed At Hawaiʻi Volcanoes. The new, self-guided "Bark Ranger" program will help dogs and their humans to have a "pawsitive" experience in the park, the park service says. Big Island Video News.


Lt. Gov.: 10,000-12,000 Administered Doses Unaccounted for in Maui’s Vaccine Rates. There are 10,000 to 12,000 vaccine doses that were administered and are unaccounted for in Maui’s vaccine rates being reported by the Department of Health, according to Lieutenant Governor Josh Green who was a guest during a talk story webinar hosted by Councilmember Kelly King on Tuesday evening. Maui Now.

Green: Vaccine counts lagging. Lt. Gov. Josh Green estimated that there are about 10,000 to 12,000 undercounted doses in Maui County, which ranks last in the state in the percentage of the population vaccinated. Maui News.

Maui Health plans to ramp up vaccine appointments. Hospital nearly finished with rescheduled first-dose patients. Maui News. Maui Now.

Tents offer an innovative solution to schools seeking socially-distanced classroom space. The “Temptation Island” TV show that filmed on Maui recently donated six event tents to Kihei schools: Kamalii Elementary, Lokelani Intermediate, Kihei Elementary and Kihei Public Charter School. Hawaii News Now.


Kauai hotel workers could be next in line for COVID vaccines. Hotel workers in Kauai could soon be receiving their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, the Hawaii Tourism Authority said. Hawaii News Now.

$22M rental-assistance program coming.
The County Housing Agency has been given the OK by the County Council to start up what hopes to be a $22-million, federally funded rental assistance program. Garden Island.

4 lanes for Wailua. Starting Monday, the DOT’s Highway Division will begin construction between Kuamo‘o Road and the Kapa‘a bypass road for a second southbound lane on Kuhio Highway. Garden Island.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Restrictions eased for Honolulu gyms and restaurants, about half of inmates opt for vaccinations, businesses to get unemployment cost break, 1 in 3 Hawaii residents on Medicaid, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2021 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Hawaii jail dorm ©2021 All Hawaii News

State says about half of Oahu, Maui inmates who qualify under 1B opted to get vaccinated. Inmates who qualify under 1B are those 75 and up and those who are at the highest risk of complications if they catch the virus. KHON2.

Hawaii businesses poised to receive unemployment insurance relief.
With businesses throughout Hawaii poised to see big hikes in the amount they have to pay into the state fund for unemployment insurance, state lawmakers have sent a relief bill to Gov. David Ige that’s expected to significantly ease the burden. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

Frustration over Hawaii’s jammed-up unemployment system prompts rally. About 200 people vented frustration and demanded help with Hawaii’s overwhelmed jobless benefits system Wednesday outside a closed unemployment office and the state Capitol. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

Scammers likely made off with millions in fraudulent unemployment payments. Thousands of out-of-work people in Hawaii are still struggling to get unemployment benefits sorted out nearly a year into the COVID-19 economic crisis. This while scammers walk away with tens of millions — including in the names of people who never even filed a claim. KHON2.

1 in 3 Hawaii residents now on Medicaid after record-setting job losses. The number of Hawaii residents on Medicaid, the government’s health insurance program for low-income adults and children, has soared by 24% amid the pandemic as the state saw record-setting job losses. Hawaii News Now.

Broadband debate continues: Bills aimed at improving connectivity are running out of time in Legislature. Although a spate of broadband-related bills have been introduced in the state Legislature, only a few have gained traction. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii Farmers Need Land.
State Efforts To Help Aren’t Working. Providing small farmers land is key to producing more local food, but the state’s go-to model isn’t moving the needle. Civil Beat.

Senate confirms Max Otani to lead the Public Safety Department.
The Hawaii Senate confirmed today Max Otani as the director of the Department of Public Safety for a term that expires Dec. 5, 2022. The department oversees the state’s prison and jails, as well as the state’s Narcotics Enforcement and Sheriff divisions. Star-Advertiser.

Native Hawaiians Have A Front Row Seat At The US Senate. Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz gaveled in his first hearing as chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee to address Native issues in Hawaii and the rest of the country. Civil Beat. Maui Now.

Lawmakers to Bolster Native Hawaiian Burial Traditions With Modern Technology.
Hawaiʻi lawmakers are considering legislation to help the state’s funeral services industry accommodate traditional Hawaiian burial practices by using a technology known as water cremation. Hawaii Public Radio.

Feb. 24, 2021 COVID-19 Update: There were 50 new COVID-19 cases reported in Hawai‘i on Wednesday, including 16 on O‘ahu, 24 on Maui, two on Hawai‘i Island, one on Kaua‘i, and seven in Hawai‘i residents diagnosed out-of-state. Hawai‘i’s COVID-19 deaths increased to 435 with four new deaths reported today–two on O‘ahu and two on Maui.  Maui Now.


Honolulu gyms and restaurants navigate Tier 3 reopening at different paces. Restaurants and gyms can accommodate more people today, following Oahu’s move to Tier 3 of its reopening plan. However, establishments are handling the loosening of restrictions in different ways. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now. KHON2. KITV4.

Here's the list of changes in tier three of O'ahu's reopening strategy. KITV4.

Honolulu police to shut down COVID-19 enforcement hotline this weekend. On the eve of Oahu moving into Tier 3, the Honolulu Police Department announces the closure of its COVID-19 hotline at the end of this month. Star-Advertiser. KHON2.

Health care company partners with nonprofit to vaccinate Native Hawaiian communities. Roughly 60% of adults over 75 have gotten at least one dose of protection, but access to vaccination sites are especially sparse on the west side of Oahu. Hawaii News Now.

CDC study examines best practices for fitness facilities following COVID-19 cluster as Hawaii gyms ease restrictions. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study published Wednesday offers lessons learned from an Oahu cluster last summer traced to three fitness centers. Star-Advertiser. Big Island Now. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Mayor Rick Blangiardi looks at reviving Topgolf partnership at Ala Wai driving range. Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said he is looking at “picking up the baton” on a potential public-private partnership with Topgolf at the Ala Wai Golf Course and what it could mean for the city. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Union opposition keeps public works public: Public-private wastewater partnerships likely dead in Legislature. Faced with new federal regulations and crumbling infrastructure, Hawaii County pinned its hopes on the private sector to help bail it out of a growing wastewater problem. West Hawaii Today.

Aquarium trade reveals revised EIS for West Hawaii fishing.
The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council has released a revised draft environmental impact statement with a new proposal to reopen West Hawaii’s coastal waters to commercial aquarium fishing. West Hawaii Today.

Big Island Finfish Farm Hopes To Lead The Way In Sustainable Aquaculture. Blue Ocean Mariculture recently became the first U.S. operation certified by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council. Civil Beat.


Maui County is Hawaii’s new COVID-19 infection hot spot. Maui County has become the new COVID-19 hot spot in Hawaii, sporting the state’s largest seven-day positivity rate Thursday and posting the largest number of daily cases for the second time in a week. Star-Advertiser.

Maui Health Aims to Administer 3,000 First Dose Vaccinations Next Week. Maui Health issued a vaccine update this afternoon saying they are nearly finished with rescheduling first dose appointments for the 5,000 individuals whose appointments were canceled because of lack of vaccine supply in January. Maui Now.

New cell tower approved near Waiehu Kou. The Maui Planning Commission on Tuesday approved a new 40-foot-tall cellular tower along Kahekili Highway that spurred objections from some residents living in the Waiehu Kou subdivisions across from the project site. Maui News.

Airline ordered to pay $3 million to Maui family in wrongful death suit.
A jury in Washington state has ordered Alaska Airlines to pay $3.2 million to the family of Bernice Kekona, a Kahakuloa woman who died just months after falling down an escalator in her wheelchair at the Portland International Airport in 2017. Maui News.


County hoping for late spring reopening. The county doesn’t want to miss out on summer tourism because it’s not participating in the state’s Safe Travels program, County of Kaua‘i Managing Director Michael Dahilig explained Wednesday. Garden Island.

75-plus now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine
. The County of Kaua’i started distributing COVID-19 vaccines to community members aged 75 and up starting Feb. 23, and three hospitals on the island have added extra vaccination dose days to their calendar. Garden Island.

Kauai County looking for nonprofit partner in coronavirus assistance program. The County of Kauai is looking for a nonprofit partner to administer a $22 million COVID-19 assistance program to help eligible households in the county with rental and utility costs. Star-Advertiser.

Kaua'i County will allow camping beginning in March. Mayor Derek Kawakami announced on Wednesday that the county will start allowing camping next month. KITV4.