Monday, August 31, 2009

Money, not sovereignty, for Native Hawaiians

The U.S. Com- mission on Civil Rights has sent a letter to congres- sional leaders urging opposition to the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, also known as the Akaka Bill.

Programs focused on career preparation and technical training for Native Hawaiians will soon receive almost $12.2 million from the federal government.

The "Mighty Mo," the World War II battleship best known for hosting the formal surrender of Japan in 1945, is heading to the shipyard for repairs.

Superintendent Patricia Hamamoto says she intends to again seek the authority to replace the principals, most teachers and other staffers at public schools that have consistently failed to meet federal No Child Left Behind requirements in light of a push by President Obama's administration for school districts to turn around the lowest-achieving public schools.

Selling Hawaii could be considered the easiest job in the world.

Kapoho Beach Lots -- This half-mile stretch of coastline is unlike any other in Hawaii, a kind of Shangri-La of the Pacific.

HILO -- It would be the largest disposal of assets in Hawaii County history. Yet for the past seven years, county officials have been working behind the scenes to fast-track and avoid public scrutiny of the sale of millions of dollars in county-owned land.

Plant quarantine officials said last week that laying off more than half the state's agricultural inspectors would create such a logjam at Hawaii ports that it could cause shortages similar to those seen during shipping strikes.

LIHU‘E — Clunk. That’s the sound of an anchor being dropped on one of Hawai‘i’s most vital ecosystems — coral reef.

Residents of Kalama'ula on Moloka'i were allowed to stay in their homes as shifting winds pushed away a brushfire that had scorched more than 6,000 acres, threatening the Hotel Molokai, injuring a firefighter and burning a carport.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Financial hole deeper than they thought, university trims brass, Lingle and unions dickering still

The state Council on Revenues yesterday lowered the state's revenue forecast for this fiscal year but predicted a stronger rebound next year.

Hawaii's state revenues are slipping even more than expected.

Economists with the Hawaii Council on Revenues on Thursday projected an additional $98 million to the state budget shortfall raising it to more than $800 million

Statewide visitor numbers, as well as those on Maui and the Big Island, took a small hitch upward in July, but it's taken some discounts to lure recession-weary visitors to the islands.

The University of Hawai'i Board of Regents yesterday approved an executive pay cut plan, which included a 10 percent reduction in salary for new UH President M.R.C. Greenwood and 210 other executives in UH's 10-campus system.

Seventeen University of Hawaii at Hilo executives are set to have their salaries trimmed to help close a hole in the university's budget.

The Lingle administration and the Hawai'i Government Employees Association have exchanged new contract offers that bring the two sides closer together on furloughs and would stop many of the 1,100 layoffs of state workers ordered by Gov. Linda Lingle.

Despite a report released by the U.S. Army in July saying that depleted uranium at the Pohakuloa Training Area poses no risk to the public, Big Island residents urged the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Wednesday evening to investigate deeper before granting the Army a license to possess the radioactive material.

State Fifth Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe Thursday denied the county’s request for a preliminary injunction to prohibit Lady Ann Cruises from operating boat tours out of Hanalei Bay.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tourism up, but spending down

Hawai'i greeted more visitors last month than the previous July — the first increase in that key index since February 2008.

Hawaii saw a small increase in the number of visitors traveling to the islands last month for the first time in more than a year, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

Boisse Correa concluded five years as Honolulu's police chief and 39 years on the force yesterday, saying he may reappear on the public scene as a politician or in some other government role.

Seated behind his desk in his office yesterday morning, Honolulu Police Chief Boisse Correa teared up as the reality of wearing his police uniform for the last time finally sank in

A state Board of Education committee pushed forward a proposal yesterday to authorize closing 51 public libraries two days a month to meet an anticipated shortfall of $3.58 million.

Honolulu council members Wednesday gave preliminary approval to a bill to make drivers stay at least three feet away from bicyclists.

The Big Island's private schools are fighting a continuing slide in their enrollment as parents look for cheaper options.

One major audit is nearly wrapped up and could go before the Hawaii County Council in October, but that doesn't mean the county's legislative auditor has time to slow down.

Skittish lenders and real estate buyers apparently accomplished what hundreds of protesters couldn't: halt the massive Makena Resort development in South Maui.

In one of the largest community outpours in recent years, approximately 600 people from across the island gathered Aug. 21 to argue against a public access closure of an area known as Pine Trees. Because of the heated public turnout, three days later the shoreline was opened.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Secret nude beaches, farmers' plight, tax scofflaws to be posted online and other top Hawaii news

When the state of Hawaii promotes its lush tropical beaches to the world, bathing in the buff is one attraction it turns a blind eye to. While some state beaches experienced a clothing crackdown in the past, officials pay less attention to naked beachgoers these days, let alone acknowledge they exist.

The jaw-dropping views are still here, from grass-covered cinder cones to Mauna Loa in the distance, as motorists drive at high speed past the quonset huts of Pohakuloa Training Area.

The bad news has been out there awhile, reinforced by the daily reminders on the roads: Hawaii Island's rate of traffic fatalities is three times that of Oahu, twice the rate of Maui and Kauai counties.

Farmers said Hawaii biggest money makers could be seriously impacted if the state goes ahead with plans to layoff agriculture inspectors.

Farming in North Hawaii faces new challenges daily.

The Hawai'i Government Employees Association has filed a prohibited practices complaint against Gov. Linda Lingle and several of her department directors, claiming the state has not adequately consulted with the union on the layoffs of more than 1,100 state workers.

Caught in a financial squeeze by the state's budget shortfall, the Hawaii Office of Elections has decided to pay its utility and other overhead costs for the rest of the fiscal year instead of filling four key positions as the 2010 elections approach.

A Hawaii scuba instructor and underwater videographer takes a journey to the center of the ocean and finds it's covered in plastic trash. Drew Wheeler went in search of trash and he found it floating in the most remote part of the Pacific Ocean. It's often called, "the Pacific garbage patch".

Mayor Billy Kenoi did not get authorization from the Hawaii County Council Finance committee Tuesday to move forward with the sale of land in Hamakua.

Maui County will post the names of delinquent taxpayers in an effort to recoup more than $8.6 million in unpaid real property taxes, the county Finance Department announced Tuesday.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sen. Inouye, 'earmark guy,' Maui wowie bust, TV stations merge and other top Hawaii news

Sen. Daniel K. Inouye defended his earmarks before a friendly crowd Monday at the Keauhou Beach Resort.

U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, normally not a politician who seeks a lot of attention outside of election years, is proclaiming himself Capitol Hill's king of earmarks.

A "weak to moderate" El Nino weather system has developed in the tropical Pacific Ocean and could create unusual weather patterns around the world through March, a U.N. agency said Wednesday

Women inmates from Hawai'i will be removed from a Kentucky prison for safety reasons after allegations that some were sexually abused by prison guards, the state Department of Public Safety announced yesterday.

The shared-services agreement between KGMB-TV and KHNL/KFVE-TV to keep all three stations operating in the throes of the revenue-crippling recession was met with fear and loathing yesterday.

State employees who had planned to retire in December, but instead received layoff notices informing them of their jobs being cut Nov. 13, could be allowed to retire as planned.

"Don't fence us out" was the message from some Big Island hunters who were upset Monday evening about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's mandate requiring the Army to put in more fencing at Pohakuloa Training Area over the next three years.

Maui police and federal agents confiscated more than 130 pounds of high-quality processed marijuana and arrested a 37-year-old Kula woman this month in what police called Tuesday the largest processed marijuana seizure and investigation in Maui County history.

We had the opportunity to visit the Mealani Experiment Station in Waimea recently to see what the newest and latest work is being done there.

Alan Arakawa, who as mayor encouraged Sterling Kim to pursue his Hale Mua affordable housing project, on Monday encouraged Mayor Charmaine Tavares to sign the final construction plan approval so Kim can build the project on more than 200 acres in Waiehu.

Lydgate Park needs help, again.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Spending Commission: Abercrombie can't use his fed money in state campaign

U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie's race for the governor's office suffered a setback yesterday when a state commission ruled the veteran congressman cannot transfer more than $900,000 from his federal campaign fund to his gubernatorial campaign

U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie's run for governor took a financial hit yesterday as the state Campaign Spending Commission barred him from transferring about $900,000 left over from his federal campaigns to use in his run for state office.

The state Campaign Spending Commission members ruled against U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie transferring funds from his Congressional campaign to his campaign for governor.

A proposal for building 12,000 homes on what is described as the best agricultural land on Oahu goes back before the state Land Use Commission tomorrow.

Looking makai from H-1 Freeway just west of Waipahu is a tranquil view: rows of green and resting fields of fertile dirt covering 1,600 acres.

As of 5 this morning, state Civil Defense had received no reports of flooding or storm-surge damage related to the remnants of tropical depression Felicia.

Green Harvest operations Monday and Tuesday netted 284 plants and nearly three pounds of processed marijuana, said Kaua‘i Police Chief Darryl Perry.

There's not much the state Legislature can do to keep Gov. Linda Lingle from laying off the Big Island workers who run Kulani Correctional Facility and ensure island produce gets to off-island markets.

Lava from Kilauea Volcano has never taken Wendy Ford's Leilani Estates home, but it is wiping out her homeowners insurance.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Wet, windy Felicia weakens but still on track toward Hawaii. Mayor Kenoi surfs; Red Cross seeks volunteers

The outer edges of the storm should bring locally heavy rainfall tonight on the Big Island and Maui County. If Felicia follows its projected track, it will be centered over Oahu by 8 tomorrow night.

State and county Civil Defense officials said they will make many decisions on Monday morning about what to do about Tropical Storm Felicia when they get a clearer picture of where the storm is headed.

Felicia weakens slightly as it continues to approach the Hawaiian islands

While Red Cross volunteers are on standby around the state as Tropical Storm Felicia approaches, the organization is calling for new help.

Mayor Kenoi Surfs Felicia's Power

Oahu could face gale-force winds and heavy rain as early as tomorrow as former Hurricane Felicia approaches the islands, the National Weather Service warns.

Hurricane Hunters fly into Felicia

At Hawaii County Civil Defense headquarters, Administrator Quince Mento scanned a satellite photo of a slowly weakening Hurricane Felicia showing on one of the six large plasma screens dominating one wall.

In 1959, what opposition there was to Hawai'i statehood was based on a variety of factors, from fears that communists had infiltrated the territory's labor unions to concerns that statehood would further disenfranchise its Native Hawaiian population.

The dreaded, anxiously-awaited layoff notices to 1,100 state workers were distributed last Tuesday.

Former Honolulu City Councilmember Ann Kobayashi is back! She emerged the clear winner Friday night in a special election to fill the seat left vacant by the late Duke Bainum.

A proposal that could cost West Hawaii homeowners, builders and developers thousands of dollars per new home goes before the Board of Education Monday

On Monday, the leaders of the American Farm Bureau Federation were on Maui, touring the brand spanking new inspection facility at Kahului Airport. And on Tuesday, layoff notices went out to many of the state inspectors who make the building useful.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Native Hawaiian rights, language in the news

The Obama administration came through on its promise to support Native Hawaiian self-governance yesterday with a powerful statement to a Senate panel, backing a bill that would give Native Hawaiians the same rights as Native Americans and Alaskans

Next time you do a search on the Web, you could be selecting "Huli ia Google," the Hawaiian words for "search Google."

As forecasters had predicted, Hurricane Felicia continues a slow but steady weakening as it gets closer to Hawaii.

Preparation for Hurricane Felicia has boosted sales of emergency items this week at stores statewide, including tarps, flashlights and bottled water.

U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie said Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann is attacking his campaign for governor.

The Hawai'i Government Employees Association demanded yesterday that the Lingle administration stop its layoff of 1,100 state workers until there is meaningful consultation with the union over layoff guidelines.

The Maui County Council Economic Development, Agriculture and Recreation Committee on Thursday voted unanimously to recommend passage of a bill banning shark tour businesses in Maui County.

The Hawaii County Council will keep its original slate of officers and committee chairmen at least into next month, thanks to a parliamentary move that sets a Sept. 14 public hearing on the issue.

Lacking the votes to prevent the County Council from reorganizing Wednesday, minority members employed a delaying tactic that will preserve the current leadership for five more weeks.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hurricane Felicia expected to weaken, but Hawaii residents urged to be prepared

Hurricane Felicia continues to maintain Category 4 storm status this morning as it follows its westward trek across the Pacific.

From the Big Island to Kauai, residents are beginning to buy emergency items as Hurricane Felicia strengthens and moves northwest and closer to the Hawaiian Islands.

While forecasters keep watch over Hurricane Felicia as it grows in strength, it has been nearly two decades since Hawaii has seen a hurricane that caused significant damage.

Felicia maintaining strength but expected to weaken later today. The center of Felicia is located a little over 1,500 miles from Hilo. It is moving northwest at 9 mph.

If Hurricane Felicia stays on course and remains predictable, it should arrive in Hawaii on Sunday night or Monday morning but as a much weaker tropical storm or depression, said Glenn James, senior weather analyst at the Pacific Disaster Center in Kihei.

Senate President Colleen Hanabusa is expected to announce this month that she will run for the urban Honolulu congressional seat to be left vacant by U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, who is running for governor.

It took the Hawaii County Council less than 20 minutes Tuesday to undo a reorganization that earlier this summer took almost an entire day to create and spurred a lawsuit on Sunshine Law violations.

The County Council wrapped up a months-long discussion about the role of democratic principles in county policy by promising Wednesday to work together going forward, but two resolutions to change the body’s rules were rejected by 4-3 votes.

Hawai'i's state and county workers who regularly order the same prescription drug are being required to get their refills from a Florida pharmacy, prompting complaints from workers and some of the pharmacies they previously used.

Faced with Native Hawaiians claiming an interest in the land, Hawaii County Council members Tuesday unanimously postponed acting on county administration's plan to sell thousands of acres in Hamakua to help balance the budget.

Separate measures supporting Hawaii County-owned dog parks and modifying the process of registering a mo-ped were advanced by County Council committees Tuesday.

Charles Vidinha, a 78-year-old Kaua‘i resident, was indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday on charges that on May 21 he killed an endangered Hawaiian monk seal, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pink slips and hurricanes top Wednesday news

The Lingle administration yesterday delivered written layoff notices to about 1,100 state workers who will lose their jobs in November because of the state's budget deficit.

Some 1,100 state civil servants are slated to lose their jobs in three months because of Hawaii's budget shortfall.

The state on Tuesday announced that it will begin delivering layoff notices to 1,100 employees while targeting 900 non-union workers for furloughs.

Gov. Linda Lingle's plans to lay off about 80 percent of the state's agriculture inspectors will hit the Big Island the hardest, where a small number of inspectors already scramble to get produce and nursery stock certified for export.

There's no predicting what we face with Hurricane Felicia or even if it will hit our islands. But, it's still the season be prepared.

Big Island foliage grower Enrique Martinez said he is not planning any off-island trips this weekend, and he is closely watching the forecasts for Hurricane Felicia to determine whether ocean shipments of his products might be canceled.

Beneficiaries of the Hawaiian Homes Act of 1920 began their case against the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands in state Circuit Court yesterday with testimony from two people who said they had been treated unfairly by the agency.

The Kaua‘i Coffee Company Wainiha hydroelectric plant recently completed replacement of its last piece of original equipment.

A pioneer in local media, the "great matriarch" of the Maui Publishing Co. - Nora I. Cooper - died Sunday. She was 86.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Protecting coral reefs, Hawaiian homelands at issue

Wrecking coral will cost you in Hawaii.

For the past two years, the Army has reviewed more than 2 million documents under a congressional mandate to pinpoint and determine the effects of dumping of chemical and conventional weapons into the ocean -- which was banned in 1972.

After a shark sighting at a popular Oahu surf break, Chopper 8 captures dramatic video of a large shark swimming alongside surfers and then launching a full speed attack on a school of fish.

More than 2,700 Native Hawaiians who allege the state has unfairly delayed leasing land to them will get a hearing in court today, nearly 10 years after filing their lawsuit.

Maui County Council members went a step further Monday in an effort to help Native Hawaiians hold on to kuleana lands passed down through generations from the 1850s.

With no easy options left to close a $786 million budget deficit, Gov. Linda Lingle and state lawmakers are being tempted to use the $185 million in the state's hurricane relief fund to help balance the budget.

Gov. Linda Lingle is asking the state's Department of Human Services to cut $42 million from its budget over the next two years.

In a recent meeting of the state's Council on Revenues where members were tasked with estimating total state personal income, members asked how significant their estimate would be and the impact it would have in calculating the state's general fund expenditure ceiling.

South Kona Councilwoman Brenda Ford wants Hawaii County parks to go to the dogs.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Diamond Head to get makeover, other top news

Planning and design work for a long-awaited, multimillion dollar improvement project for Diamond Head State Monument is finally expected to wrap up this fall, and work could start early next year.

The number of people who have flu-like symptoms is so great, the Hawaii Department of Health has stopped testing for the H1N1 virus.

Education officials have few explanations for what they consider to be a disturbing trend — year after year Hawai'i's high schools struggle to make "adequate yearly progress" under the federal No Child Left Behind law.

The days of discount movie theaters on Oahu are gone, for now.

Proposals for the county's general plan would add thousands of new housing units to West Maui, making it one of the top areas for growth on the island over the next 20 years.

Retrofitting county facilities with photovoltaic systems and composing a monthly “green column” for The Garden Island are just two of the many projects the county is working on to “move forward” with sustainability, Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. said at the most recent Apollo Kaua‘i meeting.

On June 26, 2000, state officials awarded a $1.5 million contract for a system to monitor taxi traffic at Honolulu International Airport. Nine years later, the state has spent $1.3 million and the system is still not finished.

A memo dated July 8 from Police Chief Harry Kubojiri to County Council Chairman J Yoshimoto said that "Counter Cannabis" field operations were flown June 29 in East Hawaii and June 30 in West Hawaii. Voters in November passed a law making adult personal use of marijuana the lowest law enforcement priority, which said the council "shall not support the acceptance of any funds for the marijuana eradication program."

Remote, unimproved and isolated O'ahu beaches have become the newest homeless refuge for some of those forced to vacate Wai'anae Coast park encampments in recent months.

Former Bishop Museum director Don Duckworth was fond of calling Hawaiian Hall a "museum of a museum." When it was constructed during the closing years of the 19th century, it was a grand example of Victorian design, a lofty poem in crafted basalt and carved koa, an intricate jewel case created solely to show off what still could be collected of Hawaiian prehistoric culture.