Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Top Hawaii Headlines: Tuesday morning edition

Faced with a projected deficit of close to $2.6 million for the fiscal year ending today, University of Hawaii athletic director Jim Donovan is looking to hold the line on the budgets for the school's sports teams while keeping ticket prices at current levels.

Battered by what he termed "one of the toughest economies we've ever faced as an athletic department," University of Hawai'i athletic director Jim Donovan said he expects to report a $2.58 million deficit for the fiscal year that closes today.

The first swine flu death in the state and the hospitalization of another person raised concern about the spreading infection that has stricken 545 people in Hawaii.

The state Department of Health yesterday confirmed Hawai'i's first swine flu death, saying the H1N1 virus contributed to the death of a person at Tripler Army Medical Center 11 days ago.

Hawaii motorists have until Tuesday night to beat a gas tax credit expiration that will cause the price to go up 12 cents a gallon.

The earthquake that shook Maui on Sunday night was the most powerful to originate under the island in more than five years, but no damage was reported, according to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

The March 2006 Ka Loko Reservoir Dam disaster that claimed seven lives and wrought untold millions of dollars in property damage also had a considerable impact on the farming operations of the surrounding Kilauea area, a new report shows.

A woman who was sexually assaulted by her mentor and spiritual leader for at least seven years starting when she was 12 years old watched a judge sentence Manuel Guillermo Taboada to 10 years in prison yesterday.

It was his longest statement but short of an apology to the girl he sexually assaulted in the name of religion.

Maui Community College enrollment is up by 56 percent.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Top Hawaii Headlines: Monday morning edition

The Department of Land and Natural Resources is undertaking a major restructuring of its law enforcement arm to refocus on protecting the state's natural, cultural and historic resources.

While Hawai'i tourism has slowed, the number of street performers, artists and other sidewalk entrepreneurs appears to be growing along Waikiki's Kalakaua Avenue.

The state attorney general's criminal division is investigating procurement practices at the state Department of Education.

Honolulu's latest effort to move the homeless off Oahu's beaches is set to continue on the Waianae Coast.

As the Coast Guard works to replace a navigational tower toppled in a car crash at Kewalo Basin, it is also busy modernizing its extensive network of beacons and buoys.

With home and property values on the decline, the Honolulu Mayor is trying to alleviate the tax burden on Oahu homeowners, and at the same time balancing the City's budget.

Figures from the Hawaii County's Department of Research and Development show what construction workers already know -- their job loss numbers are the worst of the economic downturn.

Small land-owners got a break from the Maui County Council Water Resources Committee on Wednesday when it voted to change the way the Department of Water Supply treats some easements and ownership changes.

A judge has blocked state officials from seizing the assets of Waters of Life Public Charter School and will allow the Kurtistown-based school to pay its teachers and continue essential operations -- at least temporarily

Two local teens stuck on a cliff on the mountain commonly known as Sleeping Giant were rescued Sunday afternoon as family members and neighbors watched.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Top Hawaii Headlines: Friday morning edition

Straw huts, hula dancers and kids with hula hoops were all on display last night in the White House's backyard -- not the typical congressional picnic.

The White House luau was actually not a concept cooked up by the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, though it and the rest of the state likely will benefit from the hula-hoopla it generated.

Hawaii businesses may donate the same amounts to political candidates as individuals, according to a Thursday ruling by the state Intermediate Court of Appeals upholding a lower court's decision.

About 6.9 percent fewer visitors came to the Islands in May and spent $133 million, or 15 percent, less than a year ago, but industry leaders were encouraged that the decline in tourism seems to be slowing.

Matson and the unions representing ship captains and other crew members have agreed to continue contract talks today in San Francisco, averting for at least a day the threat of a shipping strike as contracts expired last night.

Saying a 22 percent raise "flies in the face of reason and common sense" during tough economic times, a Hawaii County councilman wants the County Salary Commission to roll back council pay hikes that went into effect last year.

Hawaii County Councilman Kelly Greenwell recently sent a letter to President Barack Obama, asking the Hawaii-born commander-in-chief to consider sending prisoners to be released from the prison at the naval base in Guantanamo Bay to the Big Island.

The Arc of Hilo and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are teaming up to process local food products with cutting-edge "green" energy technology.

The Hawaii County Council's recent reorganization violated Hawaii's Sunshine Law and stemmed from a lack of respect and communication among members, rather than a turf battle, said the architect of the leadership change.

The Maui County Department of Water Supply declared a drought watch Thursday for Upcountry, requesting residents and businesses from Haiku to Kanaio to voluntarily reduce water consumption by 5 percent.

Gov. Linda Lingle isn’t planning on releasing $750,000 for expansion of the county’s Black Pot Beach Park, Department of Land and Natural Resources Chair Laura Thielen said this week.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Top Hawaii Headlines: Thursday morning edition

Matson Navigation Co.'s top unionized officers could strike tomorrow -- putting a crimp in Hawaii's delicate supply chain -- if they do not reach accord during scheduled talks with the shipping company today.

Crew members, including captains, on Matson Navigation Co.'s trans-Pacific cargo ships have authorized their union to call a strike if a contract agreement is not reached.

Moderate to "exceptional" drought conditions have gripped much of the state, leaving firefighters prepping for a potentially busy summer of brushfires and spurring calls for water conservation on the Neighbor Islands.

Swine flu is spreading through the community, with 205 confirmed cases in the past week, the state Department of Health reported.

Ten Hawai'i students and two chaperones remain in quarantine in South Korean hospitals over swine flu concerns and likely will not be cleared until tomorrow or the weekend, officials with the Korean consulate in Honolulu said.

The United Public Workers yesterday filed a complaint against Gov. Linda Lingle and Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann with the Hawai'i Labor Relations Board, seeking to prevent them from talking publicly about potential layoffs and contract negotiations.

Taking the first official step of her weeks-long promise, Gov. Linda Lingle signed yesterday an executive order to force tens of thousands of state employees to take three unpaid days off each month, starting in July.

People who have been illegally living on state-owned land next to the Kahului Airport runway have been asked to move by day's end or face criminal trespassing charges, state officials said.

Only one more week until Oahu drivers experience a big change in how they drive. Beginning next Wednesday, cell phone use while driving is banned unless you use a hands-free device.

Hawaii County government gets high marks for its financial controls over more than $34.6 million in federal funds, according to its most recent outside audit.

Consolidated Resorts Inc. appeared headed for bankruptcy on Tuesday, and employees of its activity desk subsidiary Lahaina Ticket Co. were told it was shutting down.

The bulldozers are busy in the corner of land where the Pahoa Bypass diverges from Old Government Road, a.k.a. Pahoa Main Street.

Student numbers for fall are up sharply at both the University of Hawaii at Hilo and Hawaii Community College -- and the main reason appears to be the slumping economy

Dismayed and surprised are how the teachers describe their reaction to the news that Waters of Life Public Charter School has lost its charter.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Top Hawaii Headlines: Wednesday morning edition

Coffee has become big business in Hawaii. Eleven regions on five islands house some 830 farms statewide. This is great for our economy, and it's even better for our tastebuds. The diversity of farms and locations translates into a tantalizing cornucopia of experiences for our collective palate.

Hawaii Superferry has asked to abandon its two high-speed catamarans to creditors because of the significant cost of maintaining the vessels as the company moves through bankruptcy.

A showdown in court over Gov. Linda Lingle's planned furlough of thousands of government employees has been set for July 2, the day after the governor's plan is set to take effect.

Two state-employee unions asked a judge yesterday to block Gov. Linda Lingle from unilaterally ordering thousands of state workers to take three unpaid days off per month, starting in July.

The state's four public worker unions are starting a low-key public relations campaign to win support while they fight Gov. Linda Lingle's call for 36-day-a-year furloughs.

Five of the 20 students on a summer study trip to South Korea have been confirmed as having the H1N1 virus or swine flu. They remain in hospital quarantine and are being treated with Tamiflu, said a spokeswoman for the Pacific and Asian Affairs Council, which organized the trip.

A private company that state officials hope will put Hawaii on the road to the widespread use of electric vehicles expects to begin installing infrastructure here in about six months.

An executive with one of the largest architecture and planning firms worldwide said rail projects such as the one planned on Oahu will help increase business along the transit line

The number of West Hawaii residents calling for their own county increased during the last week, after County Council members from Hilo, Puna and Ka'u engineered a council leadership reorganization.

In a ceremony honoring Kaua‘i’s late mayor — a personal accolade everyone agreed he would have resisted — the state Department of Transportation on Tuesday broke ground on the $30 million Wailua Cane Haul Bridge Widening Project, naming both bridges spanning the Wailua River for Bryan J. Baptiste.

Honolulu police are looking for a local man in his 30s they said sexually assaulted a 15-year-old tourist at a Waikiki Beach on Monday.

A 14-month-old law banning tobacco use at all Hawaii County parks has gone largely unenforced because there's none or too few signs informing people of the prohibition.

The Maui County Council voted unanimously in favor of a bill Tuesday that would ban alcohol from Honokowai Beach Park in West Maui.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Top Hawaii Headlines: Tuesday morning edition

Exposed steel bars, crumbing concrete and other hazards have prompted Hawaii County to close the only boat ramp along the Hamakua Coast.

The Hawai'i Government Employees Association went to court yesterday, seeking to stop Gov. Linda Lingle from unilaterally imposing new layoff procedures if her furlough plans are blocked by legal challenges.

With the help of federal mediator Ken Kawamoto, the four public employee unions and the state and counties bargained for four hours yesterday, but no agreements were reached.

Another session of negotiations has wrapped up regarding, among other things, the planned state furloughs.

Faced with the largest cuts ever to Hawaii's public schools, state Board of Education members yesterday again delayed a decision on a budget reduction plan, this time saying they are concerned the state's fiscal situation may change between now and the time the governor signs the budget bill in July.

For University of Hawaii political science professor Ira Rohter, open government, citizen participation and public policy nurturing the environment weren't just subjects for academic discussion.

An emergency call for firefighters to respond to a traffic crash ended in a cautionary tale for everyone who cooks food when the firefighters got a second call to put out a fire — back at their own station house in Waipahu.

Maalaea resident Ed Begley said he "got lucky" as a brush fire roared close on both sides of his oceanfront home Sunday, but never burned his property.

After Kaua‘i County Council members Tim Bynum and Lani Kawahara lobbed allegations at Council Chair Kaipo Asing and County Clerk Peter Nakamura earlier this month, more clarity is being sought on existing policies related to government transparency.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Top Hawaii Headlines: Monday morning edition

A Belgian television crew will be in Kalaupapa tomorrow filming a documentary report about Father Damien De Veuster, who is as well known in his homeland as in Hawaii.

With Father Damien's canonization just four months away and interest in his life growing around the world, congregation members are finalizing plans for a permanent Damien museum in Waikiki, which they hope to have open in about a year; working to digitize Damien photos before they are lost to age; and fielding more requests for Damien information.

The people who provide lessons and outings to tourists and residents for water sports — specifically, surfing, kiteboarding, windsurfing, kayaking, scuba and snorkeling — are frightened that a proposed set of new Maui County rules will cripple or even doom their businesses.

The union for workers at the Hawai'i State Hospital is calling for state officials to address safety concerns at the Kane'ohe psychiatric facility following three serious assaults by patients on staff, including one last month in which a 62-year-old occupational therapist was struck in the head repeatedly with a large padlock.

Hawaii County is set to buy a brand-new $2 million search-and-rescue helicopter to replace its 27-year-old Chopper 1.

A bill that would outlaw driving while using a hand-held cell phone is now in Mayor Billy Kenoi's hands.

Oahu homes are becoming more affordable for more families because of the real estate market decline, low interest rates, and incentives.

A West Hawaii developer wants changes that would put off building a connector road between Mamalahoa Highway and its project just above Queen Kaahumanu Highway indefinitely.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Top Hawaii Headlines: Friday morning edition

The U.S. military is positioning more missile defenses around Hawai'i as a precaution against a possible North Korean launch across the Pacific, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said yesterday.

Hawaii's Pacific Command, closely monitoring events in North Korea, says it is "in good position" to respond if called upon by the Pentagon.

The U.S. military is tracking a ship from North Korea that could be carrying illicit weapons, the first vessel monitored under tougher new U.N. rules meant to rein in and punish the communist government following a nuclear test, officials said yesterday.

The state Board of Education last night voted 8-4 to approve controversial changes to the public school system's disciplinary rules, including allowing for suspicionless locker searches and drug-sniffing dogs.

If the courts don't stop her, Gov. Linda Lingle will set in motion two years of "furlough Fridays" for at least 15,600 state employees

Gov. Linda Lingle yesterday rolled out the details of her furlough plans for state workers, announcing that many state departments would close on three Fridays a month starting in July while others would modify or adjust operations to minimize the disruption to the public.

Many state workers are upset about the furloughs, since they amount to essentially a 14-percent pay cut, but they also worry the public will face service reductions when departments and offices are closed three days a week.

West Maui state Rep. Angus McKelvey said he wants the Legislature to go into an emergency special session to deal with the state's $2.7 billion revenue shortfall and Gov. Linda Lingle's plan to furlough state workers beginning July 1.

In a cost-savings measure, the state office of elections plans to close a little more than 60 polling places, with all of them being on Oahu.

The state Office of Elections is proposing eliminating 66 voting precincts statewide for next year's elections in an effort to cut costs

More than 150 people heard impassioned speeches Wednesday night in Hilo on a proposal to bring the Thirty Meter Telescope to the Big Island.

The Hawaii County Council's controversial reorganization has triggered an investigation and one lawmaker's allegation that the leadership change was illegally orchestrated.

For schoolchildren, the game of "telephone," is an amusing party pastime. But when county council members employ it as a pre-meeting meeting, it violates state Sunshine Laws.

The draft environmental assessment for the proposed midlevel Kona road is out, charting a route from Henry Street to Hina Lani Street, skirting a burial site and shifting makai near the northern end to avoid bisecting a dryland forest.

A family feud simmering since last year’s mayoral election boiled into a Carvalho-versus-Carvalho harassment arrest, with the father of Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. turning himself in at Kaua‘i Police Department headquarters in April.

A Kalihi man is in police custody, accused of sexually assaulting three elderly women at a senior living complex.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Top Hawaii Headlines: Thursday morning edition

State and union negotiators meet with one main goal in mind, to reach new government worker contracts without furloughs or layoffs.

Gov. Linda Lingle yesterday defended her furlough plans for state workers from an objection by the federal Social Security Administration.

Four employee unions and the state have fewer than two weeks to come to an agreement on how to cut $688 million n spending to ease the budget deficit.

Hawaii's congressional delegation is asking Gov. Linda Lingle to reconsider her decision to furlough state workers who are paid with federal funds, especially those who process claims for disabled residents and military personnel.

Hawaii County employees will avoid furloughs or layoffs threatened against their state counterparts under unprecedented action announced Tuesday by the state Council of Mayors.

Honolulu Prosecutor Peter Carlisle and City Council Chairman Todd Apo are seriously looking at the possibility of running for Honolulu mayor if Mayor Mufi Hannemann steps down to run for governor.

An Oahu grand jury indicted a tenured math professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa yesterday for arson in a case that his colleagues call a tragedy reminiscent of the movie "A Beautiful Mind."

North Korea is reportedly preparing to fire a long-range ballistic missile toward Hawaii early next month.

Hawaii County residents spoke unanimously Tuesday -- this isn't the time to change council committee chairmanships and last-minute resolutions isn't the way to do it.

Puna Councilwoman Emily Naeole was made the council's new vice chairwoman on a 5-4 vote Tuesday following nearly eight hours of testimony, debate and bickering.

A friendly crowd filled an elementary school cafeteria Tuesday night to speak in favor of locating the Thirty Meter Telescope in Hawaii

Maui County Council members took steps Wednesday that could lead to the long-anticipated curbside pickup of residential recycling items such as glass, cans, newspapers and plastic.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Top Hawaii Headlines: Wednesday morning edition

Hawaii drivers soon will be paying the highest taxes on gas in the country, about 62 cents a gallon.

Two weeks before the price of fuel is expected to jump by about a dime in extra taxes, the statewide average for a gallon of gasoline hit the $3 mark.

Gov. Linda Lingle told state workers yesterday to expect massive layoffs as early as July 1 if they don't accept furloughs. But the public worker unions went to Circuit Court to fight the threatened furloughs.

Three public-sector labor unions filed legal challenges yesterday against Gov. Linda Lingle's plans to furlough state workers, while the governor said she has instructed state department directors to draft layoff options as an alternative if furloughs are blocked in court.

Hawai'i's elementary and middle school students not only lag behind their national counterparts but are also outperformed by their peers in many Asian countries and parts of Europe, according to a new international grading index.

Taxes and a little confusion led the debate as the Maui County Council's Budget and Finance Committee on Tuesday began the heated and tricky process of potentially raising property taxes for bed-and-breakfast and transient vacation rental owners.

A Kona woman who killed one woman and injured two men in a drunken driving collision in 2006 will be released from prison after serving only 18 months of a 10-year sentence in prison

The state Legislature chose not to enact the Department of Land and Natural Resources' proposed Recreational Renaissance plan, but department chairwoman Laura Thielen is working on a backup approach that may accomplish some of the same maintenance and improvement goals.

The public is invited to weigh in this week and next on the environmental impacts of the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope.

Hawaii County's main office building is going high-tech.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Top Hawaii Headlines: Tuesday morning edition

U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, in his first jab at his potential rival for governor in 2010, said yesterday that Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann should put politics aside and concentrate on the city's multibillion-dollar rail project.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann formed a campaign committee to run for governor yesterday, but his potential opponent, Neil Abercrombie, says the mayor should stay put and finish work on the city's rail transit project.

Honolulu has burned up records for eight days with sizzling temperatures.

Ask anyone living on the Big Island about vog and they'll have a story to share.

Hawaii's biggest public workers union on Monday said Gov. Linda Lingle's plan to furlough state workers is illegal and it plans to block it.

When environmental activist Carroll Cox charged last week that Honolulu city crews had been illegally dumping tons of concrete rubble in Ma'ili'ili Stream and threatening the habitat of endangered wildlife, he called the unpermitted activity an outrage.

The Hawaii Public Defender's Office has tentative plans to furlough its employees three Fridays a month, meaning defense attorneys for indigent clients won't be available for criminal court hearings scheduled on those days.

Local telecommunications company Sandwich Isles Communications Inc. said it wants to purchase Hawaiian Telcom Inc. for $400 million.

John W. Goemans achieved a success few attorneys reach when the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed his stand against discrimination in the precedent-setting Rice v. Cayetano case.

A contractor doing work on Haleakala Ranch land damaged fiber-optic lines Monday morning, disrupting emergency 911 calls, phone and Internet service for Maui residents, county offices, major resort hotels and businesses.

Even when he's not here, BJ Penn's name is a big draw in Hilo.

Ever wonder what good could possibly come of plastic, or how the waste clogging Kekaha’s landfill might be put to better use?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Top Hawaii Headlines: Monday morning edition

While it may be easy to buy potted plants at a garden center, successful gardeners know the secret to a bountiful harvest starts by selecting plants known to grow well locally.

Chef Chai Chaowasaree said Saturday that he would love to have more locally produced items, but in Honolulu they have a hard time getting them.

Hawai'i's first construction project using federal stimulus money is now under way at Kahului Airport.

They maintain telescopes on Mauna Kea, work in state laboratories and on oceanographic research ships. They are state workers, but their money comes from grants from the federal government and other sources outside the state

Local recording artist Anuhea is asking for the public's help after she had two prized guitars and a laptop stolen from her truck Sunday morning in Waikiki.

Work began on Sunday to restore the Falls of Clyde. And for the first time in recent history, the old ship flew her flag in Honolulu Harbor.

The Hawaii County Council may have an internal shakeup Tuesday that would make Emily Naeole the vice chairwoman, reassign council committee heads and reduce the number of committees from seven to five.

The owners of a Hilo apartment building haven't been receiving a tax break after all, says Hawaii County's property tax administrator. Stan Sitko admits his staff incorrectly left the Hale Haumana apartment at 1452 Kinoole St. off tax rolls, but said that oversight has been fixed and won't cost the county any money.

Maui Electric Co.’s sales, measured in kilowatt-hours, are down nearly 10 percent this year, a drop that tracks closely with declining visitor arrivals, said company President Ed Reinhardt.

The good news is that Graham McCumber, 24, one of the Big Island residents seriously affected by the rat lungworm disease, is home and is recuperating nicely. But it's a long road.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Top Hawaii Headlines: Friday morning edition

Hawaiian royal societies paid tribute to King Kamehameha yesterday in a ceremony steeped in tradition and which served as a reminder of the man who united the Hawaiian Islands.

Congress began deliberations yesterday on the "Akaka bill," which would create a process for Native Hawaiian self-governance, as Hawai'i's congressional delegation sought to confront arguments that the legislation is "race-based."

Granting native Hawaiians the chance to form their own government, like those established by many of the nation's 562 American Indian tribes and Alaska natives, would break new ground and eventually be ruled unconstitutional, critics of the proposal said yesterday.

Flu and furloughs will further weaken Hawaii's struggling economy and cause income and jobs in 2009 to take their biggest plunge in 40 years and push recovery into 2011 or 2012, according to the latest quarterly update released today by the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization.

Federal officials are planning to expand the critical habitat for an endangered native seal to Johnston Island and the main Hawaiian Islands, in light of the marine mammal's decline in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

The Honolulu City Council set the day for a special election to fill the late Councilman Duke Bainum's seat.

Hawaii County's acquisition of 3 acres from a private landowner for the new Makalei Fire Station is complete and "everything is ready to go," Mayor Billy Kenoi said Wednesday.

A new greenwaste company protesting a county decision to extend a contract with the county's current vendor may have prompted government officials to rethink the renewal.

One of county government's most prolific Web surfers worked for the councilman who requested an investigation into employees' Internet abuse.

Fourteen Big Island schools are providing free lunches to all children under age 19 this summer.

Three Maui County teen-agers and the anti-tobacco movement they're leading in Hawaii were tapped for a national award recognizing their campaign against cigarettes and tobacco advertising aimed at them and their peers.

Two Kaua‘i County Council members want to know why the chair of the seven-member legislative body, Kaipo Asing, and the county clerk, Peter Nakamura, continue to stifle their requests.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Top Hawaii Headlines: Thursday morning edition

HHonolulu City Councilman Duke Bainum was remembered yesterday as a political moderate who reached out to help those most in need.

Though his chair sat empty -- draped with leis -- fellow Honolulu City Council members acknowledged the presence of Duke Bainum as they conducted perhaps their most important meeting of the year.

The Honolulu City Council is once again forced to seek out a ninth member after the sudden death of Councilmember Duke Bainum.

City Council will have to prepare for a special election to fill the seat of Councilman Duke Bainum, who died Tuesday of a heart aneurysm.

Honolulu residents will see higher property taxes, vehicle registration fees, bus fares and Waikiki parking rates under the budget package passed by the City Council yesterday.

Although he stopped short of saying he would veto it, Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann had serious concerns about the budget bill approved by the City Council yesterday that includes an increase in real property taxes but no tax credit for homeowners.

M.R.C. Greenwood, the incoming president of the University of Hawai'i, said her top priority will be navigating the 10-campus system through an estimated $148 million budget shortfall over the next two years.

A potential primary clash between Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann and U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie would give Democrats two brand-name choices for governor in 2010 but could also test resources during a recession.

Foreclosures in Hawaii soared 397.6 percent last month to a record high and pushed the state to its highest national ranking since 2005.

Last year was difficult for North Hawaii Community Hospital and the region's residents, with layoffs and leadership turnover, but the hospital's new chief executive officer thinks community relations have begun to mend.

A company trying to harvest eucalyptus and operate a veneer plant in Ookala is asking the state for a break on its penalty payments, following another postponement of its starting date.

Hawaii County pays dozens of employees to drive their personal cars for work purposes despite having its own vehicle fleet

CARE Hawaii, which provides an array of mental health services, will shut down its operations on Maui and Kauai, state health officials confirmed.

Maui Land & Pineapple has been granted an exemption to the county's "Show Me the Water" ordinance for a large-lot subdivision below the Kapalua-West Maui Airport in Mahinahina.

First swine flu cases confirmed on Kaua‘i

Tobacco bucks fill campaign coffers, drain from the Tobacco Settlement Fund

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Hawaii fire inspections to be few and far between

Gov. Linda Lingle today signed SB 564, requested by the State Fire Council, decreasing the frequency from once every two years to once every five years for county fire departments to inspect all public buildings other than schools and airports. Fire chiefs can, however, use their discretion and inspect more often.

Public schools will continue to be inspected annually by county fire departments. Airports are the responsibility of the state.

“This bill would allow a county fire department to inspect buildings according to its fire and life safety risk,” said Kenneth G. Silva, Chair of the State Fire Council and Fire Chief of the Honolulu Fire Department, in March 31 testimony to the House Finance Committee. “As our state community and population continue to grow, fire department personnel have not increased proportionately, thus making it difficult, if not impossible, to inspect all buildings in two years.”

No one testified against the measure, and it received unanimous support on every legislative vote.

Top Hawaii Headlines: Wednesday morning edition

Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann told his Cabinet and staff yesterday afternoon that he has authorized a committee to explore a potential run for governor in 2010, setting up a possible challenge to U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie in the Democratic primary.

At an after-work meeting with Cabinet members and supporters last night, Mayor Mufi Hannemann authorized supporters to form an exploratory committee for a run for governor in 2010.

Another ominous sign for the state budget: Revenue collections are coming in even lower than the state Council on Revenues predicted.

Honolulu City Council members meet today to take up the city's operating budget along with a host of fee increases and tax hike proposals, all aimed at making up a $50 million shortfall in the coming fiscal year.

A 22-year-old woman was sentenced yesterday to a year in prison for illegally accessing another woman's medical records and posting on a MySpace page that she had HIV

Expert: Hawaii drivers will pay more for gas this summer

Gov. Linda Lingle signed a new law on Tuesday that makes it illegal to electronically harass or stalk someone using text messages or social networking Web sites.

A discovery of skeletal human remains in the proposed midlevel road corridor likely won't stop the project from proceeding, a Hawaii County official says.

One of Hawaii County Councilwoman Emily Naeole's Keaau constituents didn't like it when she called him "whacky" in a West Hawaii Today article last year and he's filed an ethics complaint.

Three Maui artists and a father-son slack key duo from Waiehu captured the coveted Na Hoku Hanohano award, Hawaii's version of the Grammy, for their recording artistry Tuesday night.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Top Hawaii Headlines: Tuesday morning edition

The USS Greeneville, the fast-attack submarine involved in a deadly collision with the fishing vessel Ehime Maru in 2001, is headed back to Pearl Harbor.

Dozens of Navy divers and SEALs hauled tires, a commercial kitchen sink and other junk out of Honolulu Harbor yesterday in celebration of World Ocean Day.

State Board of Education members appeared ready yesterday to pass a 76 percent increase in the price of public school lunches.

Public school students may have to shell out $2.20 for a hot lunch beginning in January under a proposal currently making its way through the state Board of Education.

Some Hawaii public schools are aggressively competing for students in the geographic exception program to help gain funding.

State education officials are disputing methodology used in new research that places Hawai'i's public schools in the bottom third in the country when comparing graduation rates state-by-state.

Under a federal program, 57 public schools will be offering free meals to students over the summer, the state Department of Education said.

Experts at the Lincoln presidential library confirmed yesterday that an important document tied to President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation is in the Hawai'i State Archives, but they don't know for sure how it got there.

Even during the Civil War, the greatest calamity to befall the nation, the wheels of bureaucracy ground slowly but surely. It required President Abraham Lincoln to write hundreds of letters and sign thousands of official statements.

The proposed addition of the Thirty Meter Telescope Project atop Mauna Kea is moving closer to reality.

The state of Hawai'i spent more than $112,000 to provide office space for Hawai'i companies at a Beijing technology park for nearly three years — but no businesses used the space.

Maui residential real estate sales were better in May than in April, although still not much more than half as much as in May 2008.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Top Hawaii Headlines: Monday morning edition

Madam Pele's cooking up quite a show, with a cauldron of molten lava, churning within Kilauea's summit.

President Barack Obama singled out a veteran from Hawaii for special mention in his D-Day remarks at the American cemetery at Normandy's Omaha Beach.

The Surfrider Foundation's Kauai chapter is offering a reward -- as yet unspecified -- for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the shooting death of two Hawaiian monk seals on Kauai

Kamehameha Schools will begin experimenting this fall with a merit-based pay program with hopes of eventually phasing in the system throughout its campuses.

Calls to domestic violence help lines are increasing as financial pressures brought on by the recession take a toll on Hawai'i families.

Some of Hawaii's largest nonprofit human services organizations are cutting programs, laying off staff and taking other actions to cope with significant state funding losses, raising concerns about the impact on the needy.

The Office of the Public Defender, which includes a dozen attorneys on Maui, will be shut down three Fridays each month to comply with state worker furloughs required by Gov. Linda Lingle.

Despite calls for motorcyclists and drivers of four-wheeled vehicles to safely share the road, the number of motorcycle-related fatalities in Hawai'i continues to climb.

Many Hawaii County officials pay less than the rest of us in property taxes, but it's primarily a function of how long they've lived in one spot, not preferential treatment.

A man apparently drowned and his 13-year-old daughter was injured last night when their Zodiac capsized off Keauhou in rough seas, the Hawai'i County Fire Department said.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Top Hawaii Headlines: Friday morning edition

A bill attempting to hold goods labeled as "Made in Hawaii" more accountable was signed by Gov. Linda Lingle on Monday and goes into effect on July 1.

Hawaii had the highest-priced gasoline in the country this week, with prices on Maui already over $3 a gallon and the statewide average creeping closer to that mark.

State Rep. Joe Bertram III is resting and recovering from toxoplasmosis, a parasitic disease, that he apparently caught from cleaning out his cat's litter box, a family member said.

The University of Hawaii Board of Regents is likely to approve hiring of M.R.C. "Marcy" Greenwood as the first female president of the 10-campus UH system at a meeting Wednesday, board Chairman Allan Landon said yesterday.

University of Hawai'i Board of Regents Chairman Al Landon said the lone candidate for UH president has "substantial support" from regents as they prepare to vote on her candidacy on Wednesday.

Our islands could get connected by cable underwater. The high-voltage cable, 30 miles long and 9 inches in diameter would be placed on the ocean floor to link up Oahu, Maui, Molokai and Lanai's electrical systems.

Gov. Linda Lingle said the state will announce within about 10 days how state departments and agencies will be affected by state employee furloughs.

Like plastic bags before them, Hawaii's ubiquitous Styrofoam food containers are now in the sights of the Maui County Council for a potential ban.

Don't expect Honolulu to have a new police chief for another four to five months, Police Commission chairwoman Christine H.H. Camp said yesterday

Honolulu police plan to ticket drivers who disobey a new law that bans mobile electronic devices immediately after it goes into effect July 1 — a change that may take many drivers by surprise.

The Hamakua Sports Bar, part-owned by a legislative aide to Hamakua Councilman Dominic Yagong, is facing an uphill battle as community members challenge the opening of what would be Honokaa's only bar.

A total of 29 Big Island stores have been cited for selling tobacco to minors in a statewide sting operation that started last September.

Members of the Kaua‘i-Ni‘ihau Islands Burial Council on Thursday unanimously voted to defer action on a controversial burial treatment plan for Joseph Brescia’s Ha‘ena property.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Top Hawaii Headlines: Thursday morning edition

Tom Gill, who led the progressive wing of the Hawai'i Democratic Party at the birth of the state, contributed to the shift in Hawai'i's political landscape in the 1960s and later became a thorn in the sides of two governors from his own party, died yesterday. He was 87.

KGMB9's Political Analyst Peter Boylan talks about former Lieutenant Gov. Tom Gill, who died today.

Hawaii has one of the nation's highest rates of alcohol addiction but ranks as the state with the least drug dependence, according to a federal government survey released yesterday.

Seventy-one percent of Hawai'i residents lived in a household with Internet access in 2007, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Disputes over state worker furloughs were no closer to being resolved yesterday as the major players took public swipes at each other.

Gov. Linda Lingle's plan to furlough public workers is a good approach, former Gov. Ben Cayetano told KITV on Wednesday

The science-versus-sacrilege debate over the proposed solar telescope near Haleakala's summit received a jump-start Wednesday night back into Maui's public discourse for the first time in nearly three years.

Students at the University of Hawai'i-Manoa may have fewer courses and degree programs to choose from as campus officials anticipate some $50 million in budget cuts per year over the next two years.

The Hawaii County Council on Tuesday rebuffed a series of amendments from its Finance Committee chairman and passed a $386.9 million operating budget that funds vacant positions and overtime, suspends the land fund and relies on the sale of Hamakua property to make ends meet.

The Hawaii County Council Tuesday moved nearly $1 million of money set aside for retirement health benefits, but never used, to a fund to pay damages in a court case related to a South Kona bypass highway

Fish coughs up golden watch

Lifeguards are recognized for saving surfer with heart condition

Honolulu Police need your help looking for a man wanted for murder in Los Angeles.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Top Hawaii Headlines: Wednesday morning edition

The skipper of the $1 billion guided-missile cruiser that ran aground near Honolulu Airport's reef runway Feb. 5 has avoided a military court-martial.

The captain of the Navy guided-missile cruiser that ran aground off the Honolulu International Airport Feb. 5 was cited for dereliction of duty and received an undisclosed punishment yesterday, the Navy announced.

Gov. Linda Lingle yesterday signed a bill into law that reduces pay for the governor, lieutenant governor, department directors, judges and state lawmakers by 5 percent and freezes their salaries through June 2011.

Labor attorneys and public officials are questioning whether Gov. Linda Lingle has the authority to furlough state employees without first negotiating the cuts with their unions.

A state senator is worried that the governor's furlough plan may put people in danger.

While Maui County's leaders said they understood the need for Gov. Linda Lingle to take action because of falling state revenue projections, they questioned Monday her decision to order three-days-per-month furloughs for state workers and reductions of free health insurance benefits for low-income adults.

A turf war between a county councilman and Mayor Billy Kenoi's administration could cost taxpayers thousands at a time when every dollar counts

A proposal authorizing Hawaii County to negotiate buying the Pahoa steam vents sailed through the County Council's Finance Committee with unanimous support Monday.

Of the 197 adults ages 21 and older who have been arrested for 291 marijuana-related offenses in Hawaii County, 106 are Caucasian, while Hawaiians were the second-most arrested ethnicity, with 45.

A Nevada-based developer is asking the state Land Use Commission for another chance to comply with reclassification requirements.

As summertime descends upon Kauai, road repairs will begin to flourish.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Top Hawaii Headlines: Tuesday morning edition

Gov. Linda Lingle said yesterday she would order state workers to take three days a month in furloughs for the next two years and would scale back state health-care benefits for low-income adults to close what she described as a $730 million budget deficit.

Public worker unions contend that Gov. Linda Lingle cannot furlough state workers without union agreement, indicating they are willing to try to block the governor's plan.

VIDEO: Gov. Lingle's Full Speech

State education officials balked at the level of cuts suggested yesterday by Gov. Linda Lingle if it means shrinking the school year for students.

Advocates for the poor and disadvantaged say they are troubled by Gov. Linda Lingle's plan to cut $42 million from a state program that provides health insurance for low-income adults, insisting that the move may ultimately hurt the pocketbooks of all Hawai'i residents.

While Maui County's leaders said they understood the need for Gov. Linda Lingle to take action because of falling state revenue projections, they questioned Monday her decision to order three-days-per-month furloughs for state workers and reductions of free health insurance benefits for low-income adults.

Three members of the state Environmental Council have quietly resigned in recent weeks, alleging the governor ignored their work.

Honolulu remains the nation's safest major city after FBI crime statistics released yesterday indicate a 15 percent decline in crime last year, according to the FBI's annual report "Crime in the United States."

Hana High and Elementary School's new bamboo pavilion will be blessed and featured on national television this week.

Certain Hawaii County employees have used taxpayer-financed computers to access on-line classifieds, shop for children's clothes and check sports scores, the county's investigation into possible Internet abuse has found.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Top Hawaii Headlines: Monday morning edition

Hawai'i hotels continued to struggle in April, with occupancy dropping for the 14th month in a row.

Recovery is still a long way out for Hawaii's struggling hotel industry, which sustained its third month of record revenue losses in April, according to a Hawaii hotel report released today.

Education officials fear that the projected drop in state tax revenues could have a "dramatic impact" on the public school system, both in the current school year that ends in just over a week and the upcoming school year.

Gov. Linda Lingle will discuss her administration's plan to close the state budget shortfall via a live broadcast on television, radio and the Internet starting at 1 p.m. today

Global warming threatens to push endangered native Hawaiian honeycreepers closer to extinction unless the likely resulting increase in mosquitos that carry avian malaria and the pox virus is curtailed, federal scientists warn.

Futuristic aircraft may land in Hawaii

Advocates Hope Lingle Will Retain Program. Healthy Start Program Screens New Mothers

Hawaii's Department of Health will stop providing daily updates of new swine flu cases this week.

Work on the West Hawaii Civic Center is on schedule, with walls for the largest building to be erected by the end of June, Maryl Group Chief Executive Officer Mark Richards said.

Completion of the installation of the permanent bridge at Paihi is nearly finished and the County of Maui Department of Public Works is expected to reopen it on Monday.

Residents of two Kapoho subdivisions are slowly killing the pristine environment where they've chosen to live.

While the Maui Planning Commission moves forward with some of the big-picture questions in the county's general plan, residents of Waihee are looking at what the plan would mean for their small town.

Residents are urging the state to scrap its plans to develop a popular Westside Kauai state park and implement entrance fees for visitors.