Friday, January 21, 2022

Mauna Kea master plan approved, 80-year-old Marine Corps battalion deactivated, Maui first in state to require booster for full vaccination, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Telescopes on Mauna Kea ©2022 All Hawaii News

After years of debate, University of Hawaii regents approve Mauna Kea Master Plan despite testimony condemning Thirty Meter Telescope. The University of Hawaii Board of Regents on Thursday approved an updated Mauna Kea Master Plan that guides oversight of the mountain for the next 20 years and accommodates the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope if and when it is built. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Now. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

Marine Corps to deactivate Hawaii battalion after 80 years of service. After 80 years of service, the Marine Corps will deactivate the Hawaii-based Island Warriors of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment that fought in Bougainville, Guam, the Republic of Vietnam, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. KHON2.

Hawaii public-school student absences up dramatically in latest COVID-19 surge, report finds.
A new report shows for the first time the dramatic rise in student absences at Hawaii public schools during the surge of the COVID- 19 omicron variant, with many schools reporting absentee rates two to four times higher than pre-pandemic levels. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

DOE: Nearly 3,400 COVID cases reported among students, staff amid Omicron surge. A new state report shows the spiking number of infections within Hawaii’s public school system amid the Omicron surge. Hawaii News Now.

Retention rate of Hawaii public school teachers after 5 years of employment just over 50%. The retention rate of Hawaii public school teachers after five years of employment stubbornly hovered at just over 50% last school year despite multiple state efforts, including an incentive program for teachers in hard-to-retain categories that has cost $34.5 million so far. Star-Advertiser.

Advisory panel formed to help find next DOE superintendent. As the search continues for the permanent head of Hawaii’s public schools, an advisory group is now in place to help with the selection process. The panel includes public school teachers, a parent and other community and education leaders, including UH President David Lassner. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Senate bill would hike minimum wage to $12 an hour on Oct. 1. The state Senate has introduced its version of a bill to raise Hawaii’s $10.10 an hour minimum wage — starting with an initial jump to $12 per hour starting Oct. 1. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

University of Hawaii Is Considering A Covid Booster Shot Mandate
. The university’s president, David Lassner, said the move would be in line with current discussions at the state and county level. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

FEMA will provide Hawaiʻi with $48M to pay for 1,000 temporary medical staff. The advance funding represents half of the $95.8 million sought by the Hawaiʻi State Department of Health at the request of the Healthcare Association of Hawaiʻi, the state said in a news release. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii records 9 new coronavirus-related deaths, 5,911 additional infections. The new confirmed and probable infection count by island includes 3,901 new cases on Oahu, 567 on Hawaii Island, 996 on Maui, 276 on Kauai, 43 on Molokai, 28 on Lanai and 100 Hawaii residents diagnosed outside the state. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

Honolulu Councilman Proposes Short-Term Rental Compromise. A proposed crackdown on short-term vacation rentals on Oahu has been amended to address several areas of criticism from rental operators, a move that is getting a mixed reaction from the community. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

Federal prosecutors who led corruption probe into Kealohas make it clear they’re not finished. A week after three ex-city executives were arrested by the FBI for conspiracy, agents and the special prosecutor investigating public corruption in Honolulu were back before a federal grand jury. Hawaii News Now.

Changes to fares for TheBus, TheHandi-Van up for public input. Seven proposals are being considered by the Honolulu Rate Commission. One of them would introduce residency requirements for someone to be eligible for discounted fares. Another would allow free transfers between TheHandi-Van and TheBus. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Mayor Taps Former Fire Chief To Join Honolulu Police Commission. Kenneth Silva’s nomination needs to be approved by the Honolulu City Council. Civil Beat.

City lawyers’ ouster from Iremamber Sykap case sought. Attorneys representing the family of a 16-year-old boy who was shot and killed by Honolulu police following an alleged crime spree and car chase are seeking to disqualify the city Department of the Corporation Counsel from defending both the officers and the city against civil accusations of negligence and wrongful death. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Homeowners To Get $50 Million In Federal Relief Funds. On Friday, Oahu homeowners have an opportunity to apply for up to $30,000 for each household through the first mortgage relief program on Hawaii’s most populous island. Relief funds can go toward mortgage coverage, property taxes, utility payments, homeowners association fees and other expenses. Civil Beat.

7 public schools still can’t use tap water as contamination crisis drags on.
Nearly two months after tests revealed tainted water coming from the faucets at more than a half dozen public schools, health officials say it’s still not safe to use the tap. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

State land use panel rejects Connections’ permit request. The state Land Use Commission on Thursday denied by a 6-0 vote an application by Connections New Century Public Charter School for a special use permit to build a campus on about 70 acres of leased agricultural-zoned state land in Hilo. Tribune-Herald.

Request to Change Land Use Classification for Site of Proposed Affordable Housing Project Moves Forward. The Hawai’i County Council on Wednesday approved the first reading of a land-use amendment request so an affordable housing project in Hilo can move forward. Big Island Now.

Maui

Maui becomes first island to add COVID booster shot for full vaccination status. Starting on Jan. 24, the COVID-19 booster shot will be a part of Maui’s Safer Outside program — it is a county program that requires businesses such as bars, gyms and restaurants to verify proof of vaccination. KHON2.

Maui Police 25% short staffed: 21 resignations, 13 retirements in 2021. The Maui Police Department is more than 25% short staffed with 145 vacancies department wide. According to department reports, there are 101 sworn vacancies, which is at 75% staffing; and 44 civilian vacancies for 70% staffing in that portion of the department. Maui Now.

Plan seeks more natural solutions to flood risks
. Stabilized dunes, green flood walls among the proposals in Kihei plan. Reduced wetland areas due to development in South Maui, drought and degraded watersheds and intense storms are creating a “formula for disaster” and leading to “mud floods” that pollute the ocean as they did in a recent storm, a local water quality expert said. Maui News.

State leaders disagree on who should spearhead Maui County's axis deer problems. State Sen. Lynn DeCoite says that while she believes in a multi-pronged approach that includes government and community, the Department of Land and Natural Resources should be leading the effort. Hawaii Public Radio.

Kauai

County of Kaua‘i seeks to avoid Kekaha Landfill crisis. With the Kekaha Landfill nearing its capacity, the county is scrambling for solutions to avoid a potential garbage disaster. Garden Island.


Thursday, January 20, 2022

Hawaii Legislature plans $18 minimum wage, $600M to clear Hawaiian Homes backlog as 2022 session begins, Kahele criticizes state coronavirus response, issues his own 10-point plan, state short long-term care beds, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy house republivans
Hawaii House 2022 opening day PC:House GOP

Hawaii House leaders vow to clear Hawaiian Home Lands backlog, raise minimum wage and decommission Red Hill. Leaders in the state House of Representatives set a high bar Wednesday on the Opening Day of the new legislative session by proposing $600 million to help clear the backlog of Native Hawaiians waiting to get into livable homes, raising Hawaii’s $10.10 an hour minimum wage to $18 and demanding the Department of Defense remove its fuel and tanks at Red Hill and decommission the system. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Associated Press. Maui Now. Garden Island. Hawaii News Now. KHON2. KITV4.

Senate sets agenda in semi-virtual session. During the Opening Day floor session, Senate President Ron Kouchi reiterated and elaborated on previously stated legislative priorities for members to address this year, including ways to improve affordable housing, education, local food production, mental health care as well as alleviate homelessness and address the minimum wage. Star-Advertiser.

Opening remark
s from the state Senate and House for the 2022 legislative session. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii Tourism Officials Are Seeking ‘Mindful, Respectful And High-Value Travelers’. The state tourism authority is asking the Legislature for funding to rebrand Hawaii and attract visitors who might volunteer to plant trees, clean beaches and care for taro patches. Civil Beat.

Mark Zuckerberg donates $50M to University of Hawaii to study impact of climate change on ocean. The University of Hawaii today announced a $50 million gift over seven years from billionaire Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, for research about the impact of climate change on the ocean. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Maui Now. Garden Island. Hawaii News Now.

Substitute Teachers Are In High Demand But Short Supply In Hawaii. As of Jan. 11, the Department of Education system had 3,922 substitutes, down from 4,738 in the 2019-20 school year. Civil Beat.

Staffing shortages leave scores of Hawaii hospital patients ‘waitlisted’ for long-term care beds. Health officials say there are approximately 150 “waitlisted” patients in hospitals across the state. That means the person needs to be in a nursing home or some type of skilled nursing facility but that there isn’t an available bed. Hawaii News Now.

In rare rebuke of state’s COVID response, Kahele offers 10-point plan to rein in surge. In a video and news release timed for the Legislature’s opening Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele issued a 10-point plan that he said will curb the ongoing COVID surge by encouraging more people to get boosted and by improving safety in the schools and workplace. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii sees 3,929 new coronavirus cases, bringing statewide total to 184,767. The new confirmed and probable infection count by island includes 3,026 new cases on Oahu, 240 on Hawaii Island, 397 on Maui, 198 on Kauai, 20 on Molokai, 17 on Lanai and 31 Hawaii residents diagnosed outside the state. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi may add booster to Safe Access O‘ahu plan. Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi stopped short of announcing any policy changes Wednesday during a press conference with Hawaii’s hospital leaders, but implored residents to get tested and boosted amid the recent COVID-19 surge in omicron cases. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Personal injury firms prepare to sue Navy for water contamination. Former Hawaii Attorney General Margery Bronster has paired up with a mainland firm to seek compensation for Navy water users, marking the latest legal action taken in response to the Navy’s Red Hill water contamination saga. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now. KHON2. KITV4.

New HPD Website Streamlines Gun Registration on Oahu. Second amendment advocates will no longer have to make multiple trips to register a gun with the Honolulu Police Department. KITV4.

Cyberattacks’ impact lingers at Hawaii businesses. A month after cybercriminals shut down a third-party, cloud-based timekeeping system used by employees of The Queen’s Health Systems, the Honolulu Board of Water Supply, city Emergency Medical Services workers and thousands of businesses and organizations nationwide, some supervisors continue to use manual record-keeping to track work hours and leave time. Star-Advertiser.

The state is partnering with the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement to provide $50 million to help homeowners. The Oahu housing assistance fund will offer up to $30,000 per eligible homeowner to help with mortgage, utilities, taxes and association fees. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

Wastewater tops Roth’s legislative priority list. A measure privatizing or creating public-private partnerships to handle wastewater projects is Mayor Mitch Roth’s top priority for the 2022 legislative session that started Wednesday. West Hawaii Today.

Kupuna relish return of senior activities. Kamana Senior Center has officially welcomed kupuna back to classes after 21 months of inactivity. Tribune-Herald.

Parents plead with Big Island school sports league to lift ban on spectators. Hawaii County parents are pleading with Big Island Interscholastic Federation officials to change its ban on fans at school sports games. The rule went into effect on Jan. 4 due to the ongoing surge in coronavirus cases. Hawaii News Now.

Maui

Pandemic still central to lawmakers’ priorities. Legislative session kicks off today with focus on housing, infrastructure, economy, other issues. From improving infrastructure to boosting health care training on Maui as well as addressing the ongoing effects of the pandemic, Maui County’s state legislators will have lots to handle this legislative session. Maui News.

Council aims to get handle on Maui downhill bike industry. Decades-old concerns over Maui downhill bicycling have been resurfacing in recent months, and many hope Maui County Council deliberations on the topic will help pave a new, safer path forward. Maui Now.

Workforce housing lottery for Hale Kaiola in South Maui set for March 4. The lottery will determine which successful applicants will secure one of the new housing units at the project site, which is planned for construction at the corner of Kaiola Place and ʻOhukai Road, a few blocks mauka from Mai Poina ‘Oe Ia’u and Kalepolepo Beach Park. Maui Now.

Submarine, ship, jet and balloon-type object off Maui, part of Naval exercise
. Maui Now began receiving reports from witnesses on Tuesday morning, of a ship with some type of floating object above it, about one mile offshore of Hoʻokipa, Maui. Maui Now.

Kauai

Responders pull 2,000 feet of debris from entangled whale, but some remains. Federal and state responders have removed 2,000 feet of heavy-gauge line from an adult humpback whale first sighted off Brennecke’s Beach last Sunday. Garden Island.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Ige describes how he spent $1.9T ARPA funds, state legislative session starts today, Hawaii's Tongans await word from relatives, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii’s share of $1.9 trillion in pandemic relief funding provided by the federal government last year is going to be used down to the last dollar, according to Gov. David Ige. The governor Tuesday provided a partial accounting of the $1.6 billion in American Rescue Plan Act aid sent to Hawaii in May and said much of it has already been spent while the rest will be spent by a 2026 deadline. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now.

Minimum wage, teacher shortages among hot topics in upcoming legislative session. Economic recovery, teacher shortages, the minimum wage. Those are some of the hot topics that will be discussed as the state Legislature reconvenes Wednesday for its 2022 session. Hawaii News Now.

Tax breaks and preserving Hawaii’s drinking water among the priorities for state lawmakers
this session. More tax breaks for working families and more efforts to preserve Hawaii’s drinking water. Those are some of the priorities for lawmakers for the legislative session, which starts Wednesday, Jan. 19. KHON2.

Hawaii Legislature’s session once again to begin quietly. Today’s opening of the new legislative session once again will be a staid affair absent music, dance and spreads of food following nearly two years of COVID-19-induced layoffs, unemployment and struggles for island businesses. Star-Advertiser.

State Suspends Contract For Security Guards That Watch Over The Hawaii Capitol. The original plan was that private security would help with mask and vaccination requirements as the Capitol reopened. Then omicron hit. Civil Beat.

Progressive Legislative Caucus hopes to raise minimum wage and legalize cannabis. When the Progressive Legislative Caucus formed right before last year’s legislative session, the group of 13 state representatives and five senators didn’t have enough time to prepare a bill package. After a year of preparation, the caucus hopes to pass five bills covering a wide range of topics. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii House committee’s auditor report late, needs more time. Hearings to investigate critical audits of state land management that quickly pivoted into an investigation of state Auditor Les Kondo — and were scheduled to produce a final report in November — have now extended well into January and require at least another 10 days. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

The University Of Hawaii Asks Legislators For An Additional $75 Million.
The university says it needs the funds to make up for severe budget cuts last year amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Civil Beat.

Gubernatorial candidate and Hawaii Real Estate Developer Calls Himself A ‘Social Worker At Heart’. Peter Savio has had a long career advocating for locally owned affordable housing. Civil Beat.

State Rep. Bob McDermott Running For US Senate.
The GOP lawmaker wants to unseat Democrat Brian Schatz and shut down the Red Hill fuel facility. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

Hawaii’s Tongan community eagerly awaits word on loved ones
. With communications cut off from relatives in Tonga, thousands of Tongan Americans in Hawaii, as elsewhere, are desperately seeking information on the welfare of family members. Star-Advertiser.

University of Hawaii extends online learning by a week amid COVID surge. In response to the state’s recent record-high counts in new COVID-19 cases, spurred by the highly contagious omicron variant, the University of Hawaii’s 10 campuses are extending online learning by a week. Star-Advertiser.

As surge drags on, DOE outlines its criteria for deciding if a school should switch to virtual learning.
Schools Superintendent Keith Hayashi says staffing, appropriate supervision outside of the classroom, and key support services are the considerations the department is using to determine whether a school should temporarily move to distance learning. Hawaii News Now.

DOE suspends dozens of school bus routes amid drivers shortage
, leaving families with few options. The state has had a shortage of school bus drivers since the school year began — and the Omicron surge has only made things worse. As of Tuesday, two dozen routes are suspended statewide. Hawaii News Now. Big Island Now. KITV4.

Local epidemiologist calls for better COVID data systems,
booster requirement for Safe Travels. East-West Center epidemiologist Tim Brown predicted this situation and warned people weeks ago to invest in a higher quality mask. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii sets record with 6,252 new coronavirus cases
, bringing state’s total to 180,838. The new confirmed and probable infection count by island includes 3,949 new cases on Oahu, 834 on Hawaii Island, 816 on Maui, 547 on Kauai, 24 on Molokai, 10 on Lanai and 72 Hawaii residents diagnosed outside the state. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

Navy Hires Contractor To Assess Integrity Of Red Hill Fuel Facility. The company will conduct one of several investigations into the facility that leaked fuel into military families’ drinking water. Civil Beat.

Illegal Gambling Rooms Keep Springing Up But Police Have Few Tools To Shut Them Down. Honolulu police conduct dozens of raids every year and have seized more than 700 machines that still sit, unclaimed, in a warehouse on Oahu. Civil Beat.

Redevelopment projects in Keeaumoku to change neighborhood landscape. From new hotel operators to new condominium developments, the Keeaumoku Street area will see plenty of changes, and some are even calling it the new Kakaako. KHON2.

Waikiki Galleria Tower owner sues DFS over back rent. BlackSand Capital and Waikiki Galleria Tower have filed a lawsuit against DFS, the current retail tenant of Galleria Tower, for nonpayment of about $7 million in back rent and failing to perform tens of millions in restoration work. Star-Advertiser.

City: Big fines haven’t stopped ‘egregious violator’ from flouting environmental laws. City officials say a Windward Oahu construction company is flouting zoning and environmental laws. But despite steep fines, the city hasn’t been able to stop the company. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

Trail acquisition dropped; official: ‘County would gain very little’ by fighting to obtain path to Papaikou beach. Mayor Mitch Roth has decided to abandon efforts to acquire a trail to Papaikou Mill Beach, county officials said Tuesday. Tribune-Herald.

Future of $10.5M compost facility still uncertain. Executives for a stalled $10.5 million composting project addressed a County Council panel Tuesday, extolling the virtues of a centralized system, while other island recycling groups pushed for a distributed system of smaller facilities across the island. West Hawaii Today.

UH Board of Regents nearing vote on latest Maunakea Master Plan.
The University of Hawaii Board of Regents is expected to make a decision about the Maunakea Master Plan soon. A meeting will be held on Thursday to go over the proposed master plan for their summit, which has a 20-year span and prioritizes the building of the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope. Hawaii News Now.

Council members get update on Big Island Film Office
s; some express frustration over lack of progress. Hawaii County Council members expressed frustration Tuesday that the county has not yet appointed a new film commissioner. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

MIL relaxes spectator ban after parents rally to attend games. Effective immediately a “limited number” of parents/guardians of participating teams will be allowed to attend MIL events, MIL announced online Tuesday. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now.

Developer seeks workforce housing credits for Pulelehua development
in West Maui. Maui Oceanview, LP, is requesting that the Maui Department of Housing and Human Concerns issue 120 workforce housing credits for its Pulelehua development in West Maui. Maui Now.

Kauai

Whale Ocean Count modified due to COVID-19.
The whales are back, as evidenced by the numerous sightings and, more recently, the incident with an entangled whale off the Po‘ipu shoreline. Garden Island.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Higher park fees sought, health care workers arrive, Kauai could get $1.9B missile radar, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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A steward directs traffic at Pololu lookout ©2022 All Hawaii News

Higher park fees sought for tourists in Hawaii. With tourism arrivals forecast to reach just below 10 million by the end of 2024 — and the state prohibited from limiting the number of visitors — some legislators feel pressure to expand parking and user fees at state parks designed to charge tourists for their impact on state lands. Star-Advertiser.

Biden's climate agenda is stalled in Congress. In Hawaii, one key part is going ahead. The federal Energy Information Administration estimates that 77% of Hawaii's power comes from burning fossil fuels, mostly oil and some coal. With a state deadline of getting the utility to 100% renewables by 2045, Hawaii will need to shut down oil and coal plants early. Hawaii Public Radio.

Broadband and telecommunications projects to benefit Hawaiian homestead families. The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and the Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations recently announced two separate projects for beneficiaries. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii Public Radio.

New incentives could come for teachers as staffing issues continue at Hawaii public schools. The DOE said it has hired nearly 2,000 teachers this school year. As of Jan. 11 there are nearly 4,000 substitute teachers available. KHON2.

Gambling Is Illegal In Hawaii. But Las Vegas Is Only A Plane Ride Away. Hawaii residents pump millions of dollars a year into southern Nevada’s economy. Would any of that money come home if Hawaii legalizes gambling? Civil Beat.

Menstrual Equity Measure Expected To Be On Legislative Agenda This Year. Advocates say providing free menstrual products in public schools is a health issue that needs to be addressed. Civil Beat.

Health care reinforcements begin arriving.
The first wave of health care personnel from abroad has arrived in Hawaii to help care for patients, just ahead of what some say is an expected peak in daily coronavirus cases this week. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii Public Radio. Hawaii News Now. KHON2. KITV4.

Green touts ‘boosted or tested’ for Safe Travels. It’s time to require travelers to Hawaii to have a coronavirus booster shot or to be subject to pretravel testing or quarantine upon arrival, according to Lt. Gov. Josh Green. Tribune-Herald. KITV4.

Hawaii sees 4,700 new coronavirus cases, bringing statewide total to 174,586. The new confirmed and probable infection count by island includes 3,679 new cases on Oahu, 254 on Hawaii island, 495 on Maui, 181 on Kauai, 23 on Molokai, five on Lanai and 63 Hawaii residents diagnosed outside the state. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

Kealoha settlement was rushed past Honolulu Police Commission. The private negotiations resulting in the $250,000 retirement settlement for former police Chief Louis Kealoha were handled by the city’s former corporation counsel and Police Commission chairman before the proposal was given to commissioners shortly before they voted on it, according to a former commissioner. Star-Advertiser.

Board gives positive review of Honolulu rail authority CEO, but staffing questions remain.
Members of the board of directors of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation generally praised the performance of Lori Kahikina as Interim CEO although Board Chair Colleen Hanabusa raised questions about staffing levels at the rail transit organization. Hawaii Public Radio.

Oahu nursing homes facing COVID-19 crisis. As more workers get infected or exposed to the virus, many residents are then being repeatedly isolated. KITV4.

Kamaaina investor sells Pagoda Hotel to another. A local investment company has bought the 12- story Pagoda Hotel in Honolulu from Hawaii developer Peter Savio. Star-Advertiser.

Gun Found at Honolulu Airport Makes TSA Top 10 List of 2021 Catches.
The firearm, built into a belt buckle ranked seventh on TSA’s list. According TSA oiffcials, A .22 caliber Derringer was found in the carry-on luggage of a person ticketed for travel to San Francisco International Airport. Big Island Now.

Hawaii Island

Council hopes to hear Roth’s legislative priorities today. With the legislative session kicking off Wednesday, the County Council has been eager to hear about Mayor Mitch Roth’s priorities for Hawaii Island. West Hawaii Today.

Paul Horner named CEO of Hawaiʻi Island's public access TV station. Horner replaces Connie Kiriu, who has been serving as interim CEO since April of last year. Previous CEO Stacy Higa stepped down after allegations surfaced that he diverted federal coronavirus relief funds to himself. Hawaii Public Radio.

Councilman criticized for social media post. A County Council member representing Puna received criticism on social media for a post appearing to downplay the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccinations. Tribune-Herald.

These Ka’u Kids Are Learning Outside Of The Classroom. When things were not looking great for students at Ka’u High & Pahala Elementary School, the teachers took their lessons to the region’s roots — agriculture. Civil Beat.

Cleanup continues. The Big Island may have escaped major damage Saturday when a tsunami triggered by a volcanic eruption in Tonga reached Hawaii, but the event should serve as a reminder for newcomers and residents alike to be prepared for natural disasters. West Hawaii Today. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Maui

Recently retired 2nd Circuit Court Chief Judge Bissen to run for Maui mayor. Prior to Bissen’s appointment as 2nd Circuit Court judge, he served as the interim director for the state Department of Public Safety and as the first deputy attorney general for the state, according to a biography on the state judiciary website. Maui Now.

Ban on spectators at Maui high school sporting events prompts pleas to reconsider. Thousands of Maui parents, including Maui County’s mayor, are asking Maui Interscholastic League officials to reconsider its latest policy which prohibits all spectators at all sporting events regardless of vaccination status. Hawaii News Now.

Kauai

Kauai residents raise concerns over planned $1.9 billion missile radar. Some are worried that the federal Missile Defense Agency’s proposal to build a $1.9 billion missile defense radar at the Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility could result in less access at productive fishing grounds. Star-Advertiser.

Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School goes remote. The move is due to a growing number of students, teachers and staff affected by COVID-19 isolation and quarantine requirements. Garden Island.

Entangled whale spotted off Kauai; authorities attempt to free it. Off Kauai, New drone video showed a giant whale entangled in marine debris. The mammal was seen about 300 feet off Brennecke’s Beach in Poipu. Hawaii News Now.


Monday, January 17, 2022

State can't accurately count COVID cases, closes quarantine facilities amid omicron surge, Hawaii legislative session to start Wednesday, Kauai seeks to outlaw feral cat feeding, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2022 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Feeding feral cats in Hawaii ©2022 All Hawaii News
Legislative session opening with hopes for Hawaii’s working families. The Legislature begins its third consecutive session on Wednesday with the state Capitol closed to the public because of the latest surge in COVID-19 cases, while members of the state House and Senate feel pressure to do more to help working families and low-income residents as the economy rebounds. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

Chart of members of the state Senate and House for the 2022 session. pdf.

Hawaiʻi State Senate announces priorities for 2022 Legislative Session. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to present new challenges for the state, the Hawaiʻi State Senate is focused on addressing these concerns and more in the upcoming legislative session. Maui Now.

Gov. David Ige seeks to create new law enforcement agency. Gov. David Ige is proposing the creation of a statewide law enforcement agency to streamline and help coordinate multicounty investigations, public-safety activities and training. Star-Advertiser.

Department of Education strives to provide more local food. A strategy is developing to use centralized kitchens to replace processed food imports currently served in student meals with fresh, local ingredients. Civil Beat.

Another call for investigation on UH athletics by Senate Committee on Ways and Means. The university continued to deal with the controversy that involved now-former head football coach Todd Graham, who resigned Friday, Jan. 14, amid player accusations of verbal abuse and a lack of cultural awareness, among other things. KHON2.

Federal funds to help ‘rebuild bridges across Hawaii’: State to receive $339M for repairs, improvements. Hawaii will receive $339 million in new federal funding over five years to repair and improve the state’s bridges, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz announced in a Friday statement. Tribune-Herald. KITV4.

Clean-up efforts underway following tsunami surge triggered by Tonga eruption. While a tsunami advisory has been canceled for Hawaii, people across the islands are now cleaning up the mess left behind by wave surges triggered by a large eruption in Tonga. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Availability of Hawaii COVID-19 quarantine facilities dwindling.
The availability of COVID-19 quarantine and isolation facilities has been drastically reduced since the state handed over the responsibility for providing them to the counties of Hawaii. Star-Advertiser.

DOH: Overwhelming surge in COVID tests delays reporting of both positive and negative counts. The state’s electronic data collection system for COVID-19 cases has become overwhelmed by the number of test results that it is trying to process. As a result, state health officials say they will stop processing negative test results beginning Saturday. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Hawaii records 3 new coronavirus-related deaths, 3,878 additional infections.
The new confirmed and probable infection count by island includes 2,285 new cases on Oahu, 585 on Hawaii Island, 700 on Maui, 230 on Kauai, 28 on Molokai, 28 on Lanai and 22 Hawaii residents diagnosed outside the state. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

Navy Gives New Dates For Families Displaced By Water Crisis To Return Home. The Navy continues to flush petroleum-tainted water from homes and neighborhoods, with most residents expected to be able to return starting later this month. Civil Beat.

Native Hawaiian organizations, community groups seek to restore, preserve historic lands in Luluku. The plan calls for restoring the agricultural terraces and loi systems in Luluku, creating community partnerships and educational opportunities, and starting programs that steward the land for future generations. Star-Advertiser.

Security under fire at Honolulu’s airport following rash of car thefts. State lawmakers grilled airport officials over a recent rash of car thefts at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport and urged them to invest in more consumer-friendly upgrades at the airport. Hawaii News Now.

Public can attend virtual meeting discussing Ala Wai Flood Risk study. The community will be able to attend a virtual meeting to learn about and discuss the Ala Wai Flood Risk Management General Reevaluation study on Thursday, Jan. 20. KHON2.

Hawaii Island

East vs. West: Who should get the eighth House seat? The addition of a new Big Island seat in the state House has set up a battle about whether it should go to East Hawaii or West Hawaii. West Hawaii Today.

Shortage of volcanic black cinder in Hawaii triggers emergency search.
The situation has prompted the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, at the direction of the Legislature, to pay a research team to find big deposits of black cinder on public or private land that is well suited for commercial excavation on Hawaii Island. Star-Advertiser.

Tsunami triggered by volcanic eruption in Tonga causes minor damage in West Hawaii.
A Keauhou Bay business sustained heavy damage Saturday morning as an approximately 3-foot tsunami surge tore through the Sea Quest retail store. West Hawaii Today.

First cruise ship since March ‘20 arrives in Kailua Bay.
The first cruise ship to make call since March 12, 2020, in Kailua-Kona arrived in Kailua Bay Sunday morning. West Hawaii Today.

Maui


Mayor Victorino announces bid for re-election, aims to revitalize Maui County. Victorino, a former Maui County Council member, was sworn into office as mayor Jan. 3, 2019, after defeating Elle Cochran, also a former council member. He is slated to finish his first mayoral term at the end of this year. Maui Now. KITV4.

Discovery of mysterious substance oozing from ground in West Maui draws concern. The tar-like material was found on the site of a long-shuttered sugar mill in Lahaina. Hawaii News Now.

Two people survive Hāna plane crash. The incident was reported at 9:57 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022, approximately 100 yards west of the Hāna Airport runway in heavy foliage. Maui Now.

Kauai

Feral-cat bill moves at county council; prohibits feeding, abandonment. A cat-centric county bill that would tighten up compliance with seabird-protection mandates passed first reading before the County Council Wednesday. Garden Island.

HSTA requests collective bargaining again. Kaua‘i teachers and administrators are struggling to keep schools open for in-person learning. Garden Island.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Schatz tests positive for COVID, tests lost, delayed, denied as program falters across the islands, Maui mayor recall effort fails, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in video chat

Sen. Brian Schatz tests positive for COVID-19. He is the second member of Hawaii’s congressional delegation to contract COVID-19. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Hawaii Public Radio. Big Island Now.

Health Regulators Want Budget Boost Amid Covid, Drinking Water Crises. The Hawaii Department of Health wants taxpayers to fund more than 20 new full-time employees to address long-standing staffing shortages and pay more than $23 million to fix infrastructure inadequacies as the coronavirus pandemic continues to strain the agency. Civil Beat.

DOE Officials Preview Budget Priorities To Hawaii Lawmakers. The interim superintendent, meanwhile, apologized for the recent failure of dozens of schools to report the number of Covid cases as required by law. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

State librarian asks for $1M security boost against COVID pandemic crime wave.
The state librarian, Stacey Aldrich, said the COVID pandemic has led to disturbing behavior at several public libraries across the state. KHON2.

Will This Bureaucratic Tug Of War Over Hawaii’s Ag Lands Finally End? Ranchers are fed up with two decades of waiting for the departments of Agriculture and Land and Natural Resources to sort out legally mandated land transfers. Civil Beat.

Annual Statewide Count Of Hawaii’s Homeless Population Postponed. The 2022 Point-in-Time count of homeless people in Hawaii, which had been slated for Jan. 27, was delayed to March 10 in response to an uptick of Covid-19 cases within the last few weeks. Civil Beat.

Omicron surge compounding some grocery store shortages. For stores in Hawaii, where new daily COVID-19 cases counts have climbed with the spread of the omicron variant, goods are generally available — but some aisles are punctuated by bits of bare shelving. Star-Advertiser.

FEMA assists hundreds of Hawaii families with funeral costs.
Those who lost a loved one to COVID-19 could still be eligible for federal financial assistance of up to $9,000 for funeral expenses incurred on or after Jan. 20, 2020. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii records 4 new coronavirus-related deaths, 3,392 additional infections. The new confirmed and probable infection count by island includes 2,443 new cases on Oahu, 162 on Hawaii Island, 522 on Maui, 201 on Kauai, 16 on Molokai, seven on Lanai and 41 Hawaii residents diagnosed outside the state. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

Staff shortages force Diagnostic Laboratory Services to close some COVID-19 testing sites. DLS, which describes itself as the largest, locally owned clinical testing laboratory in Hawaii, has temporarily closed at least half a dozen sites, including locations in Hawaii Kai, Wahiawa, Ewa and the Queens Physicians Office Building II on Lusitana Street. Star-Advertiser.

COVID cases surge at Oahu correctional facilities with positivity rates reaching 25%. The state Department of Public Safety said 45 inmates and one staff member tested positive on Thursday at the Oahu Community Correctional Center. Hawaii News Now.

Former council members expect to be witnesses against indicted ex-city officials.
Former Honolulu City Council members say they’re not surprised that prosecutors indicted three ex-city executives for their roles in the payoff of the ex-police chief in 2017. Hawaii News Now.

City wants public opinion on how to spend millions in federal dollars. The city wants the public to weigh in on how it should spend the $386 million awarded through the American Rescue Plan Act. Star-Advertiser.

Residences for Innovative Student Entrepreneurs breaks ground at University of Hawaii Manoa. A ceremonial groundbreaking took place Thursday on a new extension of the school’s campus where a $70 million complex is to be developed with dorms and education space for students pursuing entrepreneurship. Star-Advertiser. KHON2. KITV4.

Citizens’ group to file lawsuit against Navy to ensure safe defueling process. A new citizens’ group is preparing a lawsuit against the Navy over its Red Hill fuel storage facility. Hawaii Public Radio.

Lawmakers: Red Hill Fuel Leaked Into Well Through A Pipeline Navy Didn’t Know Existed
. Navy officials didn’t know about the pipeline until someone reviewed the facility’s schematics from 1941, lawmakers who took a tour said they were told. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

Beach rescue tubes installed to prevent Kailua drownings. Residents say the sea appears deceptively safe, but rip currents lurk beneath the surface and can pull a swimmer out. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Lost in transit: More than 400 COVID test swabs deemed ‘invalid,’ retesting urged. Hundreds of people who waited hours in line for a COVID test Friday at Old Kona Airport Park learned Thursday that those tests were lost in transit. Some 407 individuals tested on Jan. 7 by the Hawaii County-contracted TrueCare24 received the letter via email informing them of “frustrating news” about testing conducted at the county park last week. West Hawaii Today. Hawaii News Now.

Big Island Hele-On will come to temporary stop Sunday for employee disability training. The Big Island’s Hele-On bus and paratransit services will not be operating on Sunday, Jan. 23 due to training. KHON2.

Rooftop solar systems up 5.3% statewide. The number of solar rooftop systems increased 4.35% last year on the Big Island. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

Maui mayor recall attempt fails due to insufficient signatures. The recall effort needed to gather 21,586 signatures, which is equivalent to 20% of the 107,930 registered voters in Maui County during the 2020 general election. But in two attempts, the group known as RecallVictorino.org brought in a total of 1,677 valid signatures. Associated Press. Maui News.

Keawakapu parking update: BLNR decision expected Friday. The future of public beach parking at Keawakapu in South Maui surfaces for consideration before the state Board of Land and Natural Resources on Friday. Maui Now.

DLNR Aerial assessment of Molokaʻi axis deer illustrates extent of overpopulation. New aerial footage of Molokaʻi shows just how extensive the axis deer population has gotten, and the threats that it is posing to agriculture and forested lands.  Maui Now. KITV4. Star-Advertiser.

Kauai


COVID-19 testing options limited throughout island. Finding testing island-wide has been a challenge with reports of people waiting in line for up to four hours at some testing sites. Garden Island. Hawaii News Now.

Project for access to Hideaways moves forward. Public access of the trail to Kenomene (Hideaways) Beach is on its way to officially being conveyed to the county. Thursday, the Open Spaces Commission recommended authorization of up to $1.5 million to make the trail safer and more accessible, in addition to recommending purchasing of the easement. Garden Island.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Former Honolulu top officials indicted in alleged corruption conspiracy and surrender to FBI, possible repercussions in gubernatorial race, nurses' union head says avoid hospitals, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii News Now
An FBI agent handcuffs former Honolulu Corporation Counsel Donna Leong on Wednesday, Jan. 12 PC: Hawaii News Now

3 former Honolulu city executives charged with conspiracy as part of sprawling Kealoha corruption probe. In a stunning scene Wednesday morning, three former high-ranking city officials -- former city Managing Director Roy Amemiya, former Corporation Counsel Donna Leong and former Honolulu Police Commission Chairman Max Sword--surrendered to the FBI as part of the ongoing massive public corruption probe that resulted in the conviction of ex-Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his wife, Katherine. Hawaii News Now. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Associated Press. KHON2. KITV4.

Federal indictments may hurt Kirk Caldwell’s run for governor. The federal indictments of two of former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s top lieutenants are likely to further cripple Caldwell’s gubernatorial hopes this year, but likely will have less effect on the lieutenant governor’s race. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

SHOPO: Allegations against former Honolulu city officials are 'sickening'. Robert Cavaco, president of the State of Hawai'i Organization of Police Officers,  said the money the three allegedly embezzled could have been used to hire more officers for the already short-staffed Honolulu Police Department. KITV4.

Voter registration database questioned. Investigating errors and possible fraud in the state’s voter registration database is the responsibility of the county elections clerks and not the state, Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago told the state Elections Commission on Wednesday. West Hawaii Today.

It’s Tough To Figure Out Just How Hard The Pandemic Has Hit The Hawaii Economy. Personal income in Hawaii actually increased overall during the pandemic, but experts say people are going to be worse off this year as federal bailout money dries up. Civil Beat.

University of Hawaii grad students continue fight for unionization. Student leaders working to unionize graduate assistants at the University of Hawaii said they plan to appeal a First Circuit Court rejection of their lawsuit seeking the right to engage in collective bargaining with the university. Star-Advertiser.

Some Hawaii public schools have not shared COVID-19 case counts for months. Forty-two Hawaii public schools as of Tuesday had not posted their COVID-19 case counts to the state Department of Education’s public dashboard since before winter break, even though they are required by state law to do so weekly. Star-Advertiser.

Relief in sight as hospitals grapple with staffing shortage. An estimated 250 to 260 contracted health care workers from the mainland are expected to arrive in Hawaii this weekend to help care for COVID-19 patients, according to the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, a nonprofit trade association for hospitals. Star-Advertiser.

Head of nurses union: Severe staffing shortage at hospitals is impacting patient care. "I would tell the public if at all possible stay away from hospitals right now," said Daniel Ross, the head of the Hawaii’s Nurses Association. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii records 5 new coronavirus-related deaths, 3,512 additional infections. The new confirmed and probable infection count by island includes 2,612 new cases on Oahu, 290 on Hawaii Island, 373 on Maui, 158 on Kauai, 19 on Molokai, eight on Lanai and 52 Hawaii residents diagnosed outside the state. Star-Advertiser.

Oahu

Oahu company to pay $1.5M to security guards after denying overtime wages. An Oahu company that provides security guards to public and private facilities will have to pay over $1.5 million in back wages after a federal investigation determined it illegally denied workers overtime pay. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu Police Chief Search Expected To Take At Least 6 More Months
. PSI Services LLC, the consulting firm hired to assist in the search, said it plans to present the police commission with up to four finalists in June. Civil Beat.

Kapilina residents file class action TRO to not pay rent, utilities during the water contamination crisis. Kapilina Beach Homes residents affected by the Navy’s ongoing contamination crisis filed a class action complaint, on Jan. 6, demanding a jury trial to stop their landlords from charging rent and utilities. KHON2. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

Costco buys Ewa site for distribution center. Costco has made a huge real estate investment on Oahu, buying a more-or-less finished 44-acre industrial park property on the Ewa plain within the growing master-planned Ho‘opili community. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

8 projects ID’d for Puna: List includes waterlines, wells aimed at helping region recover from 2018 eruption. The few remaining homes in Kapoho might get their water restored after all. Tribune-Herald.

No Pohoiki Boat Ramp until 2024 at the earliest. The Pohoiki Boat Ramp is now not expected to reopen until late 2024. Tribune-Herald.

Funds for Waikōloa Library Secured, But Planned Location Falls Through.
The reality of a library in Waikōloa Village moved one step closer with the release of state funding, however, the project also hit a setback in that same stride. Big Island Now.

Parker Ranch donates Pukalani Stables to Paniolo Preservation Society. The historic Pukalani Stables in Waimea will be donated to the Paniolo Preservation Society, Parker Ranch announced recently. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Cruise ship arrives at Kahului Harbor, first with passengers to disembark in 22 months. The Grand Princess cruise ship arrived at Kahului Harbor on Maui today with an estimated 1,188 passengers aboard and 900-plus crew members. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now.

‘A lot of interest’ in proposed 25-mile West Maui bike, foot trail
. Wheels are turning on plans to create a 25-mile multi-use biking and walking trail that will connect Ukumehame to Līpoa Point in West Maui. Maui Now.

New streamlined registration process for riding Da Bee shuttles on Maui. The County of Maui Department of Management has a new streamlined registration process for riding the Da Bee shuttle in Wailuku. Maui Now.

Kauai

County Council discusses visitor parking fees at certain Kaua‘i beach parks. At its meeting Wednesday, the council passed a resolution allowing the county Department of Parks and Recreation to establish visitor parking fees at three county-owned beach parks, and approved at first reading a bill that would create a fee schedule. Garden Island.

8 days after landslide cut off west Kauai community, crews still racing to remove debris. Menehune Road remains below piles of rocks and crews are working to stabilize the slope. Hawaii News Now.

Kaua‘i home prices highest in state. Kaua‘i’s annual median single-family home price increased by over 35% in 2021 from the year prior to hit $1.1 million, the highest in the state, according to data from Hawai‘i independent real-estate firm Locations. Garden Island.