Thursday, December 31, 2009

Lucky we live Hawaii: Ahi, fireworks, Obama, Palin, Pelosi, Limbaugh and Rove and all the day's news

A number of companies and hotels will offer pyrotechnics shows around the state on New Year's Eve as part of celebrations.

Maui might get more crackle and pop this New Year's Eve.

Dry conditions prompt fireworks warning

Beginning at midnight, employees at Tanioka's Seafoods and Catering in Waipahu were to begin cutting large blocks of ahi into thin slices. The pre-dawn work today is in anticipation of the morning arrival of scores of customers who ordered sashimi for New Year's.

President Barack Obama continued his low-key holiday vacation, spending several hours at the secluded North Shore home of a high school friend.

Karl Rove, a senior advisor and top political strategist to former President George W. Bush, is scheduled to appear at the state GOP's annual Lincoln Day dinner in February, local Republicans said Wednesday.

Rush Limbaugh, the conservative talk radio host, is "resting comfortably" in the Queen's Medical Center after suffering chest pains, his program said in a statement.

In stark contrast to Sarah Palin, whose Hawaii vacation was photographed and touted in the press, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is enjoying a very private luxurious time at the Four Seasons Hualalai resort on the Big Island.

Crime in Honolulu rose nearly 6 percent in the first half of 2009, even as it fell nationwide.

Despite an initial rejection by the governor ... a proposed agreement to reduce the number of teacher furlough days is still alive.

Hawaii County is moving forward with its revised version of a $1.4 million upgrade to Reed's Bay Beach Park in Hilo.

Firefighters continued to build a fire break around the Kealakekua Ranch fire Tuesday, West Hawaii Battalion Chief Reuben Chun said.

Many Hawaii County property owners are abusing agricultural tax exemptions and not paying their fair share of taxes, according to the chairman of the Real Property Tax Board of Review.

The voters’ rejection in 2008 of a proposed charter amendment that would have loosened ethical restrictions does not impact how the law is interpreted, county officials have determined.

Do you walk three miles to and from work everyday? Would you expect a 7-year-old to?

A recent study has thrown new light on the previously underestimated extent of pre-contact Hawaiian agriculture, particularly in dry lee areas of the Big Island.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Obama family snorkels, Big Island land conserved, rat image plagues Chinatown, and more Hawaii news

President Barack Obama picked the perfect day to go snorkeling at Hanauma Bay.

Big Island ranch land that is habitat for endangered native bird species and plants will be protected from development under an agreement between the owners and the Nature Conservancy.

Gov. Linda Lingle's aides are expected to meet with education officials this morning to discuss ending teacher furloughs, but the teachers union will not be at the table.

An interim replacement for the state's chief elections officer is to be selected by the state Elections Commission.

A state judge Tuesday ordered unsealed the State of Hawai‘i portion of a settlement agreement in the wrongful-death and property-damage lawsuits against retired Honolulu car dealer James Pflueger.

In the Chinese calendar 2009 is the year of the Ox, but it could turn out to be remembered for the rat after video surfaced of rodents crawling all over food in a Chinatown market. Now the community is trying to fight the image with education.

At the Deep Draft Harbor there's no sight of the barge that's supposed to make a historic journey. Currently, by the city's estimates there's probably about 300 tons of rubbish stacking up dockside.

The fate of two major Mauna Kea telescopes is in limbo following a decision in mid-December to cut funding for at least one of them.

Hawaii County wants to turn down the tap on water waste at emergency water spigots and is proposing changes to county law to do just that.

Local fish retailers are pretty sure there will be enough sashimi to go around this New Year's, although some say it is too early to tell if the prices will be higher or lower this year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Whale watchers needed, governor, educators still at odds, fishermen protest, more Hawaii news

Anyone who wants to help in this year's whale count can sign up now.

Federal wildlife officials were reassessing their work to try to disentangle a humpback whale off West Maui on Christmas Day, and whale expert Ed Lyman said Sunday that he believes the distressed whale will be able to survive its injuries.

Gov. Linda Lingle yesterday shot down an agreement between the teachers union and education officials to end most furlough days this school year, saying it was not "fiscally responsible."

If the University of Hawaii does not get pay concessions from the faculty union, layoffs and cuts in student financial aid are "potentially on the table," UH President M.R.C. Greenwood said.

The University announced 3,500 professors will see a 6.67 pay cut over the next year and a half. On average the University said professors make $84,000 a year. The cut equates to $5,600 less a year.

Ringing fishing bells and holding protest signs, a coalition of more than 90 boaters and fishers held a demonstration at the state Capitol yesterday against proposed state rules that they say would restrict their recreation and lifestyle.

The president wrapped up about five hours of golf at the Luana Hills Country Club Monday without finishing the full 18 holes.

Good riddance to 2009, a lost year.

"Lucky you live Hawaii."

The long-awaited completed revision of the Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan, which has as its goal a minimum of 35 percent diversion from the landfill and productive uses of even non-recyclable trash, was recently presented to the Kaua‘i County Council.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Air travel smooth, smoking down, whale finally freed, First Family vacations, unions drag feet, more news

Despite increased security at airports following two scares in Detroit, many passengers arriving in Honolulu Sunday said they did not experience any unusual travel delays.

The quarantine station at Honolulu Airport is seeing a lot of international passengers arriving with swine flu but no illnesses requiring quarantine or isolation, say Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials.

A series of tobacco tax hikes are helping to curtail local sales of cigarettes and cigars.

Businesses in Kailua said they have seen a surge in customer traffic since the first family arrived for the holidays.

It seems the teachers union, along with blue-collar workers, are dragging their feet in hopes that they can make it to the finish line called the legislative session and make their case before lawmakers that they should not have to take a hit.

A whale entangled in fishing gear off of Maui was freed on Christmas Day by rescuers led by the Hawaiian Islands Entanglement Response Team.

Whale expert Ed Lyman of the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary said he believed the team freed the whale of most or all of the material it was dragging, which included an anchor; but that he could not be sure because he didn't get a chance to look under the animal before it swam away.

The Christmas shopping season was a mixed bag for Hilo merchants, some of whom did strong sales, while others are hoping for better business in 2010.

As the number of homes in foreclosure grows larger and larger, so do the problems caused by an increasing number of homes sitting vacant, ownerless and uncared for in neighborhoods around Maui.

Living in a grass hut, tepee or igloo may not be ideal for most people, but these structures provide the fundamental concepts of sustainable living that have been around “a lot longer than we have,” said architect and sustainability consultant Peter Arsenault.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Welcome home, Barry-O, big waves coming for Christmas, residents leaving Hawaii, more state news

Images of Hawai'i's clear skies, blue waters and verdant cliffs were being beamed to a snow-bound Mainland audience even before President Obama touches down in his hometown today for an expected 10-day Christmas vacation.

Waves of 40 feet or higher are forecast for north shores on Christmas day.

Two more rounds of extra-big and giant-sized waves are expected to hit the north and west shores of Maui and Molokai this week, said Glenn James, senior weather analyst at the Pacific Disaster Center in Kihei.

More Hawaii residents moved to the U.S. mainland through the past year than vice versa, helping to keep the state's population growth rate relatively low, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Education officials remained tight-lipped on details of a tentative agreement with the state teachers union to reduce furlough days for public school teachers.

Battered by foreign competition and a sputtering economy, the last major pineapple producer in Hawaii completed its final harvest after 97 years in the agricultural business.

Those who imbibe their holiday spirits should be aware that police plan to step up drunken driving enforcement.

Hawaii County government, having batted 0 for 2 on two different approaches to providing affordable housing, remains mired in litigation, is contemplating a drastic revision of county code and is preparing to try yet a third approach.

The county Charter Review Commission voted unanimously to move forward with a ballot measure that would, if approved by voters next year, extend the term for Kaua‘i County Council members from two years to four.

Even for many U.S. cities and municipalities, the life-sustaining liquid delivered to consumers, even when safe, can taste like the shallow end of a swimming pool

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cher selling Big Island home, state-county budget fights continue, state readies for Obama, more news

Cher's six-bedroom Hawaii home overlooking the Pacific Ocean is set to be auctioned Jan. 18.

Hawai'i's love affair with President Obama is as ardent as ever, and so far there's every sign it's mutual.

It is unlikely that an agreement to end public school teacher furloughs will be reached in time to prevent the next "furlough Friday" on Jan. 8, a goal Gov. Linda Lingle had set when she proposed her plan last month.

The executive director of the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly said yesterday that the union is "fully prepared" to go to court and defend a clause in its contract that would prevent the administration from cutting faculty salaries.

Gov. Linda Lingle plans to take the counties' share of the transient accommodations tax to balance state budgets for the next three years.

Hawaii County's budget hole may get $17 million deeper after the state indicated Monday it would suspend payments of the hotel room tax to the counties.

Already staring at a potential $140 million hole in their next budget, the City Council and Mayor Mufi Hannemann's administration now face the prospect of coming up with $45 million more, based on the governor's plan to scoop all of the hotel room tax money that normally is divvied up among the state's four counties.

With Maui County already facing a bleak outlook for property tax revenue next year, Gov. Linda Lingle's proposal to suspend the counties' share of hotel room revenue came as more bad news Monday.

State officials have taken a 6-foot boa constrictor into custody after a Big Island resident discovered it.

Hawaii hospitals are eyeing the key senate vote, expected on Christmas Eve.

Many customers of the county Department of Water will see their bimonthly bill rise 10.3 percent effective Jan. 1.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lingle unveils budget, garbage and power on Oahu, monk seal attacks tourist, more Hawaii news

Gov. Linda Lingle, trying to close a $1.2 billion budget deficit through June 2011, said yesterday that she would delay tax refunds from April until July and ask state lawmakers to scoop hotel-room tax revenues that now go to counties.

Hawaii's four counties could feel the brunt of the state's financial crisis in the coming fiscal year as the governor looks to close a $1.23 billion budget hole using money usually allocated to the counties.

Gov. Linda Lingle said she plans to delay some income and corporate tax refunds until after July 1 to help the state deal with its $1.2 billion budget shortfall.

It's a billion dollar fix. The governor unveiled a sweeping new plan on Monday to balance the budget, in part, by delaying tax returns.

The state has started the planning necessary for laying a network of undersea cables to transfer wind-generated electricity from Lana'i and Moloka'i to O'ahu.

The company with a contract to ship O'ahu trash to the Mainland has yet to do so, seven weeks after it first said it would.

The City of Honolulu Monday broke ground on an expansion to the city's H-POWER waste-to-energy facility in Campbell Industrial Park. The facility, which converts solid waste to electricity, will generate enough power to supply 25,000 additional homes.

Public opinion will be sought at a hearing on the state's plan to reduce medical coverage for Pacific Islanders who migrate to Hawaii under the Compact of Free Association.

Investigators continued work Sunday at a Kahului Airport hangar examining the wreckage of an Aerospatiale AS350 helicopter that crash-landed on a remote Hana coastline Wednesday.

An adult female monk seal on Monday attacked and seriously injured a 28-year-old female visitor from Kirkland, Wash.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Political season fires up, Health Department in focus over rats, Oahu readies for Obama, more state news

When U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie announced he would resign from Congress to devote his attention to his campaign for governor, many Democrats were startled by the response from U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye.

The Hawaii Democratic Party is now accepting applications to temporarily fill its top post.

A highly publicized rat problem at a Chinatown market is again highlighting the shortage of state food safety inspectors — whose O'ahu ranks have dwindled from 23 in 1988 to nine today — and one state senator called the problem a serious public health concern.

Combining technology and traditional archaeology, scientists have identified thousands of acres of land farmed by early Hawaiians.

Hawaii Island Conservation Director for The Nature Conservancy Robert Shallenberger takes bird enthusiasts from the eastern shore of the Big Island to Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument and documents seabirds of the archipelago in "Hawaiian Birds of the Sea: Na Manu Kai."

Hawaii Birds: An Introduction to Over 140 Species of the Most Common and Distinctive Hawaiian Birds

Honolulu Symphony orchestra members gathered at the Blaisdell Concert Hall yesterday to show their support for keeping the orchestra going despite the symphony's bankruptcy filing.

Tour guides are afraid a temporary no-fly zone created when President Barack Obama visits Oahu will hamper aerial sightseeing of popular spots in what is usually a busy tourist season.

On Sunday morning, people in Kona saw hail and a waterspout off shore.

A decade ago, a scandal over rigged promotions rocked the county and cost taxpayers millions -- but the fallout resulted in a better Police Department

Two federal agencies will investigate an incident in which concrete blocks dropped by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources off Keawakapu earlier this month damaged live coral.

For the past year, at the direction of Mayor Charmaine Tavares, the county Department of Planning has quietly been working to streamline and update the county's out-of-date code into a new era of "smart-growth" and "mixed-use" planning.

Housing on Kaua‘i is anything but affordable, according to Anne Punohu of the Kaua‘i Fair Housing Law Coalition.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Lucky we live Hawaii, economy drops a bit, H1N1 vaccines available, bus service continuing

People in sunny, outdoorsy states -- Louisiana, Hawaii, Florida -- say they're the happiest Americans, and researchers think they know why.

The latest economic forecast says Hawai'i could see some recovery starting early next year, though it will be weak and not shared by all sectors.

The state Council on Revenues trimmed the state's revenue forecast yesterday, but the reduction was less than state lawmakers feared, and economists spoke optimistically about the state moving out of the recession.

The state's budget deficit grew by about $40 million as the Council on Revenues reduced its revenue forecast by one percentage point, predicting tax money for the 2010 fiscal year to come in about 2.5 percent lower than a year ago.

East Hawaii businesses that depend on the cruise ship industry will continue sailing through the doldrums of stagnant tourism in 2010.

Kamehameha Schools spent 5.5 percent less on educational programs in the 2009 fiscal year than the year before, though the trust said it increased its reach to Native Hawaiian children by 16 percent compared to last year.

The Department of Education said on Thursday that school bus services will not end in the spring and any claims that they will end are completely false.

The U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee on Thursday approved changes in the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act that would provide a much faster route to a sovereign Native Hawaiian government.

If you're looking to get vaccinated against swine flu there's good news. The Department of Health expanded the range so more people can get the nasal spray.

The Hawaii Supreme Court heard arguments Thursday in a dispute over environmental law. At stake is a plan to expand the Turtle Bay Resort.

A Legacy Land Conservation Commission grant, combined with money from the county's Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation fund, will be used to buy 10 acres in North Kohala.

The state Water Resource Management Commission decided on Thursday afternoon to postpone a decision in the contested case over 19 East Maui streams.

From the time Ken D’Attilio of Inter-Island Helicopters decided to get out of the tour business, the company phone hasn’t stopped ringing with inquiries about tours, a company spokesman said.

Wrapping up what has been an occasionally contentious 2009 with quite possibly its most heated meeting to date, the Kaua‘i Board of Ethics on Thursday laid out the path it will take on its way to clarifying a controversial section of the County Charter.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Lingle, teachers hit impasse, Akaka Bill advances, turtles in trouble, standoff ends in shootout

Changes to longline fishery rules endanger the future existence of turtles, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday against the National Marine Fisheries Service

The teachers union and Gov. Linda Lingle's administration have hit a standstill in talks on reducing the number of Furlough Fridays at public schools, diminishing chances of a solution before early January.

After two days of negotiations that initially appeared productive, talks between the teachers union and the governor's office collapsed with both sides unable to agree on how to end furloughs of public school teachers.

Talks aimed at ending furlough days for Hawaii public schools broke off on Wednesday morning with no deal and no new meetings scheduled.

A Native Hawaiian federal recognition bill moved forward in the House yesterday without the proposed changes that have drawn opposition from Gov. Linda Lingle.

The long-running battle over allowing more bed-and-breakfast operations on Oahu is settled for now after the City Council voted down a proposal to lift a cap imposed 20 years ago.

The voggy and hazy conditions the islands are experiencing will last at into Thursday. Then a cold front will come over the islands, scrubbing the vog out of the skies.

Baby boomers reaching the end of their work years, coupled with a tight county budget, are creating an increase in "retirement in place" for Hawaii County employees.

Mayor Charmaine Tavares will seek a second four-year term in 2010.

The federal government's Advanced Technology Solar Telescope is most likely coming to Haleakala, but whether Native Hawaiian groups want to - or should - participate in its establishment was a subject for debate Tuesday afternoon.

Big Island police shot and killed a 60-year-old Puna man Wednesday afternoon after a standoff of over ten hours. Police say that the man, who has yet to be identified, fired a gun numerous times during the standoff.

The Kaua‘i County Council wasted no time Wednesday morning, questioning Mayor Bernard Carvalho’s decision to move forward with siting a new landfill at the Umi site near Kalaheo and grilling the county’s consultant for answers about the selection process.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Lingle opposes Akaka Bill changes, facelift for Volcano House, boat fees going up, more news

The Lingle administration, which has consistently backed federal recognition for Native Hawaiians, opposes changes to the bill pending before Congress because of "potentially enormous" implications to the relationship between Hawaiians and the state.

The value of Kamehameha Schools' endowment fell by more than $2.2 billion in the wake of the global economic meltdown, prompting some belt tightening at the state's wealthiest charitable trust

Talks between the teachers union and state officials to restore instructional time for students resume today as hope grows that a joint solution can be arrived at before the start of the 2010 Hawaii Legislature.

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia scored higher than Hawaii in a study of public health emergency preparedness released today.

The state is turning up the heat on illegal vendors at Kealakekua Bay.

The Department of Health (DOH) confirms that Hawaii did receive some of the child H1N1 vaccines that are now being recalled.

The National Park Service plans an estimated $7.2 million in renovations to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park's historic Volcano House hotel, with more than half that amount to be invested by a concessionaire who will take over the facility's contract next year.

The number of fully loaded containers coming into Kawaihae Harbor peaked in 2007, with the equivalent of nearly 99,000 20-foot containers arriving.

One result of switching many state employees' mail-order prescriptions to Florida is that Paradise Pharmacy will close today after 20 years in business in Pukalani.

Technically, Hawai‘i’s small-boat harbors system has been operating contradictory to state law since its inception.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Akaka Bill up for debate, new sponges, coral found, bed and breakfasts head to likely defeat, more

Opponents of federal recognition for native Hawaiians are urging Hawaii's congressional delegation to hold hearings in Hawaii on the latest version of the Akaka Bill, which is being discussed in Congress this week.

Sen. Daniel K. Inouye denied accusations yesterday by a group of mostly Native Hawaiians that he is trying to avoid public scrutiny of legislation that would grant them historic new status by hiding it in a defense bill.

A bill that would allow the issuance of more bed-and-breakfast permits on Oahu for the first time in 20 years will likely be defeated when it comes up for a final vote tomorrow.

New and dramatic species of coral and sponges have been found in the Pacific during deep-sea dives near the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, scientists said yesterday.

A shortage of trees had families scrambling this weekend in Hawaii.

An Oahu Christmas tree vendor says more Christmas trees are expected to be available for sale Wednesday or Thursday. Richard Tajiri, who runs the Christmas tree concession at Ala Moana Center near Sears, says 400 more trees have been ordered.

Hawaii County Council members on Tuesday will debate a resolution that would ask the state Legislature to decriminalize marijuana

A garage sale of abandoned liquids, jams, jellies and lotions took a West Hawaii couple by surprise last week, but it turns out that airport officials have signed off on the donation of discarded items to a nonprofit.

Immediate efforts are needed to curb the rapid decline of endemic seabirds being impacted by the modernization of mankind, according to Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative’s final draft Short-Term Seabird Habitat Conservation Plan.

Homeowners who have provided affordable housing in recent years but failed to file paperwork to earn property tax breaks were granted a do-over by the Kaua‘i County Council last week but will not get a refund for any increases they may have paid in the interim.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Abercrombie resigning soon but not yet, Honolulu Marathon a success, taxes could go up, more news

U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie said yesterday that a collapse of leadership in Hawai'i has motivated him to resign from Congress and return in a matter of weeks to campaign full time for governor.

With key legislation on health care reform, military spending, the Akaka Bill and other issues expected to come before Congress in the coming weeks, U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie says he will complete work on those matters before resigning his seat.

U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie on Sunday confirmed his plans to resign from Congress, but remained vague on when he will leave.

On Jan. 1, Hawai'i will join the ranks of about a dozen states that have e-waste recycling programs.

The cost of already-pricey Hawaii could soon get higher.Lawmakers are considering a hike in Hawaii's version of the sales tax.

Thousands of runners took part Sunday morning in the fourth largest marathon in the nation.

Billy Kenoi is a man of contradictions.

Federal money going to a North Kohala land conservation project will be used to purchase 17 acres, several state groups announced Friday.

Hundreds of new homes would be built in Lanai City under an affordable housing project proposed by the county for development over 17 years.

In what appears to be a blow to East Maui Native Hawaiian taro farmers and environmentalists - and a potential much-needed win for struggling Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. - the state Commission on Water Resource Management staff has recommended that water diverted by HC&S be restored to only one of the 19 streams it uses to irrigate its sugar crop.

Unlike public school students across the state, those at Hana High and Elementary School have not lost classroom instructional time because of Furlough Fridays.

Landfill opinions abound at Kaua‘i Coffee open house

Friday, December 11, 2009

DLNR mulling park fees, Honolulu marathon to flash by homeless, Maui, Mauna Kea telescopes in news

The Board of Land and Natural Resources is being asked at a meeting this morning to approve entry fees for tourists at eight parks statewide.

Of an estimated 15,000 jobs in Hawai'i expected to be created or saved through federal stimulus money in the next few years, just over 1,400 direct local jobs can be tied to the funds so far.

The federal government's Advanced Technology Solar Telescope, a highly controversial project to study the sun that's $23 million in planning and 10 years in the making - so far - will receive the money it needs to be built atop Haleakala.

On Sunday, 22,000 runners will be going into Kapiolani Park for the Honolulu Marathon, where they will finish the race right across the street from a group of homeless campers who have set up about 20 tents in the park.

Mary Oshiro, state House Majority Leader Blake Oshiro's mother, usually recruits aunties, cousins and neighbors to bake homemade desserts for Opening Day of the state Legislature each January.

The administrator of the Honolulu Liquor Commission believes he will be cleared of wrongdoing when an investigation that has put him on administrative leave is wrapped up.

An ailing Hilo man whose wife persuaded lawmakers to change a law so they could live in the same care home has died.

The University of Hawaii's John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) is now offering H1N1 vaccines to pregnant women on Oahu.

Hawaii County residents may see their electric rates rise next year.

The battle over Mauna Kea's future landed in Circuit Court on Wednesday, where attorneys for the University of Hawaii argued with a coalition of Hawaiian and environmental groups before Judge Glenn S. Hara.

Surfrider Foundation Kaua‘i Chapter is offering another $3,000 to anyone who has information leading to the arrest and conviction of April’s Westside monk seal killer.

The county Board of Ethics thinks Mayor Billy Kenoi's ethics proposals go too far, and Wednesday the board took the first stab at making them less stringent.

Big Island charter school representatives had an opportunity to share their challenges and concerns with a federal education department representative Wednesday.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

OHA wants ceded land $$, Elections Office retooling, hunkering down, babymaking for the recession

"We are closing a decade -- a difficult decade," Office of Hawaiian Affairs chairperson Haunani Apoliona said.In OHA's annual State of OHA address, Apoliona said she'll petition lawmakers for a process for the state to pay back money it owes for making money off ceded lands.

The state Office of Elections hopes to complete as early as next month the first major revision since 2000 of the rules governing how elections are held in Hawaii.

Due to the recession and the state's projected $1 billion budget deficit through June 2011, state House and Senate leaders have canceled plans for the usual pomp on Opening Day in January.

Funding for everything from the historic Royal Hawaiian Band to nonprofit programs could face the chopping block in the search for ways to tackle a $140 million Honolulu city budget deficit.

After losing tens of millions on bad loans to California homebuilders, Central Pacific Bank is shutting down its Mainland operations.

Foreclosures in Hawaii rose again in November for the 29th straight year-over-year increase, as resort areas of the neighbor islands continue to push the statewide rate higher.

Honolulu Marathon week officially kicked off Wednesday with the opening of the Marathon Expo.

Two Big Island power plants made the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's newly-released list of the state's top 10 industrial polluters for 2008.

The 12 destinations Frommer's announced earlier this month included many places that a less adventurous American traveler would hesitate to go -- like Tunisia, Cuba, Vietnam, India -- and Hawaii Island.

Property tax increases aren't out of the picture for Hawaii County residents, Mayor Billy Kenoi said Tuesday evening.

Jan McEwen, who has bachelor's and master's of science degrees, will be out of a state job, again, this month. This time, she is going to collect unemployment and use the time to write a book about gardening, she said Tuesday.

Nearly 200 acres of pristine watershed will be preserved with the purchase of Kawaikapu Ranch lands in southeast Molokai by the Molokai Land Trust.

A ban on the use of handheld electronic devices while driving seemed destined for passage out of committee Wednesday before being deferred at the final moment amid safety concerns.

The humpback whales are back in Hawaiian waters! If you scan the ocean carefully, you may see them spout or breach.

Between 2000 and 2005, the teen birthrate in Hawaii decreased from 46 to 36 births per 1,000 15- to 19-year-old females. But in 2006, the year for which the most recent data is available nationwide, a 14 percent jump in Hawaii’s teen birth pushed it back up to 41 percent. National Kids Count Project

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

No magic in Obama name for island, surf lures the best, Lingle talks special session, more news

Some parkgoers at Magic Island Beach Park last night gave a thumbs-down to a plan to rename the 30-acre Magic Island section of Ala Moana Beach Park after Honolulu-born President Obama.

A dwindling income has taken a toll on nonprofit groups in Hawai'i, forcing nearly six in 10 to lay off staff and more than a third to eliminate services to the needy, according to results of a November survey released yesterday.

Gov. Linda Lingle's administration is starting to sound out legislative leaders about a possible special session to raid much of the state's $60 million rainy day fund to wipe out some of the public school teachers' furlough days.

About a dozen to two dozen students at a time waved signs in front of the state Capitol yesterday afternoon, urging the Legislature to restore funds to the University of Hawaii.

Greg Long scored a perfect 100 in the final round to push him ahead of 2002 "Eddie" champ Kelly Slater, who led for almost the entire tournament. A perfect ride by the 25-year-old Californian helped him surge ahead to win big wave surfing's most esteemed title. This was only the second time that Long was invited to the Eddie Aikau tournament.

Thousands of people flocked to the North Shore today to watch the surfing competition.

Kaua‘i residents, some in favor of a makai alignment for the Wailua segment of the multi-use path and some strongly opposed, piled into the War Memorial Convention Hall Monday night to tell Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. their thoughts on his recent announcement to keep the boardwalk on the sand.

Academy Award-winning filmmaker and part-time Maui resident Clint Eastwood is going to let the Valley Isle make his day - three of them - when he films part of his newest movie here.

Having recently obtained County Council authority to sell 737 acres of the county's Hamakua lands, Mayor Billy Kenoi's administration is now delaying the liquidation effort until after the holidays.

A Kamehameha Schools lessee is proposing a gate across Keawaiki Road to cut off vehicle access to the Keawaiki Beach Lots, according to a draft environmental assessment filed with the state.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Monster surf continues, education official visits, Pearl Harbor attack remembered, more Hawaii news

More monster waves are forecast today for O'ahu's North Shore, where thousands fought traffic and battled for parking yesterday to catch the kick-off of a swell that brought surf of up to 40 feet.

Monster waves drove several people to Red Cross shelters and drew thousands of onlookers to Oahu's North Shore, creating bumper-to-bumper traffic between Haleiwa and Waimea Bay, where many hoped to see a premier surfing event.

Some of the biggest names in tow-in surfing are expected to return today to the legendary "Jaws" surf spot, where wave heights could top 50 feet.

The northern shores of all Hawaiian islands remain under a high surf warning that has been extended through Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

The Keawaula portion of Kaena Point State Park was closed Monday due to high surf conditions, according to officials at the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). The decision was made upon the recommendation of Ocean Safety lifeguards.

Baldwin and Hookipa beach parks closed shortly after 8:30 a.m. Monday because dangerously high surf and shore breaks posed unsafe conditions for beachgoers, Maui County announced.

The public wants to hold elected leaders accountable for education in Hawaii, says Gov. Linda Lingle, renewing her push to change Hawaii's educational structure.

A top federal education official told parents yesterday to keep the pressure on for a solution to teacher furloughs, but also said the crisis could be used as an opportunity to improve quality at some of the state's poorly performing public schools.

Dozens of survivors of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Monday solemnly remembered those who died in the aerial assault 68 years ago.

Headline from 1941 inflames conspiracy theory

Hawaii County solid waste officials have responded to complaints about shortened transfer station hours by revising the schedule so more people can dump their rubbish en route to work.

Winners of the 39th annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival's coffee label, web site and recipe contests have been announced.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Surf's up -- way up, humpback whale freed, funeral operator going under, counties struggle with budgets

Officials say the big surf has so far caused no major problems on Oahu's North Shore. Wave heights are upwards of 30 feet to 40 feet, with occasional 50-foot sets on outer reefs.

Surfers and surf watchers are expected to flood the north and west shores of O'ahu and Maui today in what is being called epic surf that may be the biggest in 40 years.

As high surf approaches Oahu, evacuation shelters in Sunset Beach, Haleiwa and Waianae are ready to take in people who live in the danger zones. But on Sunday, not many people were taking advantage of the facilities.

Marine experts cut loose a yearling humpback whale yesterday that had been entangled in heavy plastic rope near the Hawaiian Islands.

Suspending executives' raises, imposing a hiring freeze and furloughing workers are among the measures being considered by Hawaii County leaders facing a possible $45 million budget deficit.

The economy may be in the doldrums, but that's not stopping Mayor Billy Kenoi's administration from hiring new employees.

A raging stream that caused a Hau'ula home to fall into its waters is cutting a new channel to Kamehameha Highway, threatening the stability of the only thoroughfare through that area of Windward O'ahu.

The assets of RightStar, Hawaii's biggest cemetery and funeral operator, will be auctioned Dec. 21 at the state's First Circuit Court in Honolulu.

Now, finally, the Maui County Council will get into the nitty-gritty part of Maui's long-awaited master planning process.

A 48-year-old male visitor from Apple Valley, Calif., drowned Sunday afternoon at Kipu Falls, a county news release states.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Humpback whale rescue continues, Obama's holiday plans firming up, H1N1 slightly elevated, more news

Wind and rough seas are impeding efforts to free a young humpback whale from a tangle of heavy rope wrapped around its mouth and body.

Rescuers tried for a second day Wednesday to free a young humpback whale tangled in rope, and while they enjoyed some success in removing hundreds of feet line, the remaining rope still posed a threat to the animal's life.

NOAA's Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary is seeking to fill eight primary seats and eight alternate seats on its advisory council.

President Obama is expected to vacation in Hawai'i later this month, a holiday tradition for the president and his family.

Hawai'i residents have registered guns at a record pace for each of the past four years, and appear headed for a new high again this year, preliminary figures show.

The state Board of Education last night declined to ask for an emergency $12 million for student transportation, which means public schools could run out of money to pay for school bus service by April.

Man lying on side of road dead after apparently being run over by driver pulling to the side as police cars respond.

A city prosecutor said he will ask the state parole board to require a man and woman who nearly starved their 12-year-old daughter to death to serve 50 years in prison before they are eligible for parole.

Swine flu activity is "somewhat elevated" for this time of year in Hawaii, state health officials say, but it is not rising and the islands possibly can avoid the pandemic upsurge that occurred on the mainland.

The mystery of the "hot spot" that created the Hawaiian Island chain over the last 75 million years has been unraveled with an experiment that "opened a window into the earth."

The state Department of Human Services director on Thursday defended a decision to cut childcare subsidies to some families by as much as 80 percent

Kalihi-Palama Health Center has a new shipment of H1N1 vaccine. It won't be around for long.

The county has no intention of implementing a pay-as-you-throw fee at solid waste transfer stations in the near future, Mayor Billy Kenoi said Wednesday.

The Hawaii County Council doesn't want the state Land Use Commission dissolved after all.

Two pit bulls belonging to a Kawaihae family were euthanized 48 hours after the dogs ripped open the throat of a neighbor's Labrador retriever and were deemed dangerous, said Lynette Fluaitt, director of operations with the Hawaii Island Humane Society.

With home construction at a near standstill, Maui County will - and must - make some changes to its controversial residential work force housing policy, Council Member Wayne Nishiki said Wednesday.

Charred wood and melted glass is all that remains of about one third of the northern portion of the former retail annex to the world-famous Coco Palms after a Thursday morning blaze further decimated a once-iconic hotel already in disrepair for years.

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday there was no basis for claims of discrimination and conspiracy made by former Kaua‘i Police Department Chief K.C. Lum against several county officials, upholding a lower court’s decision.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Chinatown rat video sends Health Department scurrying, elections worries escalate, more news

Blogger exposes rat problem in Chinatown

An appetite-killing video spreading around the Internet of rats leaping and scurrying over produce at an indoor Chinatown food stall prompted the state Health Department yesterday to issue a citation to the business — while highlighting Chinatown's perennial problem with rats and other potentially disease-carrying vermin.

When the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled three years ago that the public shoreline extends to the seasonally highest wash of the waves, many saw it as a sign that wealthy coastal landowners would no longer be allowed to extend their yards onto the beach.

The resignation of Chief Election Officer Kevin Cronin is renewing concerns about whether there is enough money, manpower and time to plan successful elections next year.

People in Hawaii have given less money at red kettles across the state so far this year, compared to last year at this time, the Salvation Army said.

A 54-foot fishing vessel, the Logan, ran aground about 50 yards offshore of the John Dominis restaurant at Kewalo Basin at around 7:30 AM Wednesday. According to fire officials on the scene, the Logan was returning to Kewalo when the incident occurred.

The final two components of a plan to manage Mauna Kea were rolled out Tuesday in Hilo at a public open house.

Facing unprecedented deficits, the Hawaii County Council will take its first stab at next year's budget at its meeting today.

No concrete pads for the planned affordable townhouses at the Aina Lea project in South Kohala have been poured, the infrastructure is not in place and no progress is yet visible from Queen Kaahumanu Highway.

Whale experts will be monitoring the location of a juvenile humpback after failing to free the animal from several hundred feet of heavy rope Tuesday.

A state court judge on Wednesday ruled in favor of Lady Ann Cruises and against Kaua‘i County in a Hanalei boating case.

The "facts" on roadside spraying depend largely on whom you listen to or care to believe.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Libraries closing for furloughs, elections chief resigns, Hawaii soldiers headed to Afghanistan, more

Workers at the state's public libraries will take 15 furlough days a year for the next two fiscal years, closing libraries on those days starting Dec. 16.

Kevin Cronin, the state's embattled chief elections officer, informed the state Elections Commission yesterday that he intends to resign at the end of the year.

President Obama's announcement on Tuesday of a troop surge in Afghanistan comes as Hawaii's Army National Guard prepares to send a unit to the war-torn country.

Despite working for nearly two years to eliminate "illegal camping" at Kapi'olani Park, the city finds itself grappling with another homeless encampment there.

On the Diamond Head end of Waikiki next to Kapiolani Park, a disabled Laura Lambertson pitched her tent for the night Monday on a strip of land between the sidewalk and Kalakaua Avenue, along with scores of other homeless people.

As many as 1,275 new bed-and-breakfast homes could be established on Oahu under certain conditions intended to allow true homeowners to take in additional income to keep their properties.

Hawaii's two U.S. senators, Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka, are in strong support of President Barack Obama's plan to add 30,000 troops to the Afghanistan war. But Hawaii's two House members, Reps Neil Abercrombie and Mazie Hirono, questioned the plan.

Oahu law enforcement officials arrested a man they said conned Hawaii banks out of $130,000.

Hawaii County farmers who have lost crops to vog and sulfur dioxide emissions can continue applying for low-interest loans from the federal government.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering more low-interest loans to Hawaii Island farmers whose crops are suffering from the vog, declaring the county as a primary natural disaster for a second time in less than 18 months.

A three-day land and air search for Hana residents Carl and Rae Lindquist ended Monday when Maui firefighters conducted a 2-hour search of a streambed and a shoreline near where the couple's battered sport utility vehicle was found Saturday morning.

A lawsuit filed in state court demands efforts to widen Kuhio Highway through Wailua be abandoned until an environmental impact statement is completed.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tourism ending year on high note, Kilauea is scientists' focus, H1N1 vaccine still scarce

A difficult year for tourism is ending on a high note thanks to two large back-to-back conventions and the Honolulu Marathon, but the good news is being tempered by the lack of big-attendance events in the first half of 2010.

Signs increasingly point to Sony shortly announcing an extension of its sponsorship of the Sony Open in Hawai'i golf tournament that will take it at least through 2011.

Kilauea's ongoing eruption -- 27 years in January -- will be highlighted at the American Geophysical Union's fall meeting Dec. 14-18 in San Francisco.

A top aide to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said Hawaii is the only state to furlough teachers and cut instructional days as a budget-cutting move.

One of the highest ranking education officials in the country is touring some of Hawaii's public schools. He is here to listen and learn and also meet with the state and teachers union about the 17 furlough days a year, which reduced Hawaii's school year to the fewest days in the country.

The state health director told KITV on Monday that her department is suffering from a lack of accurate information about how much H1N1 flu vaccine has been shipped to Hawaii and how much doctors and other health care providers have actually used.

More doses are on the way. It's Hawaii's biggest-yet shipment of H1N1 vaccine, and not a moment too soon for anxious parents who've been hunting for those shots all over town.

The Maui Fire Department on Monday called off the search for a Hana couple that disappeared on Thanksgiving Day.

Sometime in January, Maui Economic Opportunity will forge ahead with a project that will allow the community, its youth groups and former prison inmates to take part in activities on a parcel of land in Waihee while learning about agriculture, Hawaiian culture and life skills.

A pair of Cost Control Commissioners submitted their resignations in September in light of the Board of Ethics’ position on Charter Section 20.02D, further showing how ethical concerns can impact participation in and productivity of government.

West Hawaii keiki can get an eyeful of candy this holiday season by making a quick trip to The Fairmont Orchid.