Friday, January 29, 2010

Gay photo display in Capitol draws controversy, train off to slow start, Kaloko Dam costs county big, Kubo's confirmation in jeopardy, other state news

The civil unions bill could live or die Friday after the state house meets behind closed doors to decide if they'll hold a vote on the issue. In the meantime, photographs featuring gay and lesbian couples are on display inside the state capitol creating its own controversy.

The governor's appointment of former federal prosecutor Ed Kubo to an Oahu Circuit Court judgeship is uncertain after a Senate committee deadlocked on approving his nomination.

The start of construction on Honolulu's planned $5.3 billion commuter rail project could be delayed several months as Gov. Linda Lingle examines details of the city's financial plan which she said appear "shaky at best."

Some lawmakers are betting that Hawaii residents heading to Las Vegas or other gambling meccas might be willing to pay $10 now to avoid paying state taxes if they win big later.

Kaua'i County will pay $7.5 million as its portion of a $25 million out-of-court settlement following the 2006 Kaloko dam disaster that killed seven people and caused widespread damage, the county announced yesterday.

Home sales are coming back, but other real estate indicators are still in the tank.

The Department of Environmental Management plans no new fees or fee increases in the 2010-111 budget it will submit to the Hawaii County Council this spring.

The much-discussed and long-desired five-year update to the Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan got one step closer to becoming official county policy Wednesday — but not without some controversy.

It is a sad fact that the Kalaupapa Hansen's disease settlement is losing patients every year, down to less than 20 today, said state Sen. J. Kalani English, whose district includes the island of Molokai.

Navigating Hilo's Bayfront may soon become easier and more fun than ever.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

State reacts to Obama's speech, teachers' union seeks higher taxes, UPW pickets itself, eBay founder Omidyar addresses students, North Shore businesses riding a wave of prosperity, more news

There was lots of reaction to the President's speech from leaders of both parties, and grassroots supporters who gathered for the big show.

President Barack Obama’s first State of the Union Address to both houses of Congress was met with support from Hawai‘i’s Democratic federal representatives.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association is proposing to increase taxes on upper-income residents to eliminate Furlough Fridays and provide support for public education.

A state Senate committee on Monday will hear two bills that seek to reduce or eliminate public school teacher furloughs, one that would take money from the state's hurricane relief fund and another that would increase the general excise tax by 1 percentage point.

Chief Justice Ronald Moon said that if the judiciary's budget is cut again, there could be "increased concerns regarding public safety and delayed access to justice."

Claiming their labor union has abandoned them by refusing to pursue an alleged contract violation, Hilo correctional officers took the unusual step of picketing the United Public Workers' Hilo office Tuesday.

This week the Alexander Baldwin board of directors is expected to meet and consider the question: Does it make sense to continue growing sugar on Maui?

An unusual season of giant waves on the North Shore has resulted in a healthy — if not epic — boost for businesses from Sunset Beach to Haleiwa.

Founder of eBay Pierre Omidyar drew quite a crowd at the Shidler School of Business at University of Hawaii on Wednesday.

W.H. Shipman Ltd. is going to court to close an adult store that has opened across the street from Keaau Middle School.

Water rates could begin rising for both residential and agricultural users as early as July 1, thanks to a study that shows the Hawaii County Department of Water Supply is collecting only about 90 percent of its costs.

Maui County just barely entertained 2 million visitors in 2009, which was a drop of 8.8 percent from 2008.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Gas prices higher, UH faculty ratifies contract, tourism rebound slow, surf's up, more Hawaii news

Hawai'i drivers are probably paying more at the pump than they would have been if the state's controversial gasoline price cap had not been suspended in 2006.

A recovery in Hawaii's visitor industry, the state's top economic engine, is at least two years out despite improved performance in December and a respectable year-end finish.

A high-surf warning is in effect for most north- and west-facing shores of the state.

After months of contentious negotiations, UH professors overwhelmingly ratified a six-year contract yesterday that cuts costs for the university in the short term to tackle mounting fiscal woes, but also restores a 6.7 percent pay reduction after 18 months, promises lump-sum payments to reimburse money lost in the pay cuts and includes something in the last two years of the agreement that workers don't hear a lot these days — a pay increase.

Unionized faculty at the 10 University of Hawaii campuses have ratified a new contract that cuts their pay by about 6.7 percent over the next 18 months but returns the money lost over the course of the six-year agreement.

The votes are in, and the University of Hawaii's Professional Assembly has overwhelming voted to ratify a new contract with UH.

W.H. Shipman Ltd. has gone to court to stop an adult video and lingerie store from operating in a shopping center across from Keaau Middle School on the Big Island.

Hawaii will soon see a lot of red, in its blue territory. On Wednesday, the Republican National Committee (RNC) kicks off its winter meeting in Waikiki.

A state House committee on Tuesday gave first-round approval to two proposals to try to reduce a tax hike many businesses said will either force them to close or to lay off more employees.

The Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce has weighed in on a bill that seeks to address a drastic increase in unemployment insurance tax rates, as well as drafted its own legislation that it hopes will gain support.

Ten percent of Hawaii County's workforce was unemployed in November, the most recent month for which the numbers are available, according to the county's Research and Development Department.

It took some getting used to recycling, but now the Big Island is the No. 1 county user of the Hawaii Deposit Beverage Container Program, said officials from Hawaii County's Department of Environmental Management.

For a while, Maui's weather has been going through warm-and-cool, hazy-and-clear cycles characteristic of El Nino conditions, according to Glenn James, senior weather analyst with the Pacific Disaster Center in Kihei.

The Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative Board of Directors on Tuesday approved three resolutions necessary for the co-op’s application for a $168 million loan to fund numerous projects in coming years.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Gov. Lingle delivers final State of the State address, civil unions bill lingering, dry spell persists, don't blame it on Kona and some lucky dogs

 Lingle's speech: video. transcript.
Looking for a bridge between recession and recovery, Gov. Linda Lingle yesterday proposed several short-term tax incentives to encourage the private sector to hire workers and invest in construction projects to stimulate the economy.

After seven years at the helm, Gov. Linda Lingle is still trying to steer a twitchy economy to safety, rebuild an education system that its supporters say is just fine and pump some life into a tourism industry that continues to need government help.

With a focus on improving the quality of life for residents, stimulating the economy, creating jobs, improving education and building a stronger future for Hawaii, Governor Lingle delivered her eighth and final State of the State Address to the people of Hawaii on Monday morning.

In her speech she talked about the financial crisis and dealing with a $1.2 billion shortfall.

During her final State of the State Address, Gov. Linda Lingle on Monday took aim at Hawaii education system toward the end of her speech, angering some education officials.

Among those listening to Gov. Linda Lingle's final State of the State speech yesterday at the state Capitol was an old political buddy from Maryland, Michael Steele, the controversial chairman of the Republican National Committee.

State House Speaker Calvin Say said yesterday that he will announce by Friday whether the House will vote on a civil-unions bill and suggested he may not have the two-thirds' majority to override a potential veto.

Even the wettest spot in Hawai'i — Mount Wai'ale'ale — wasn't so wet last year as the state experienced below-normal rainfall in all but a few spots.

A local researcher said what Hawaii residents often call vog is a mix of volcanic ash and pollution.

North Kona Councilman Kelly Greenwell is still considering whether he will run for a second term, while other lawmakers are preparing their re-election bids.

Jim Donahue doesn't know how many dogs he and his business, Lucky D Kennels, have been able to save through a dog fostering program.

Last summer’s restructuring of the fee schedule for the Wailua Golf Course has moved it further from self-sufficiency, not closer, and the Carvalho administration is working on a proposal that would walk back some of the changes.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Good time for renters, buyers, GOP on the way, Lingle's last State of the State, more Hawaii news

After riding out the housing boom, when rents skyrocketed, Hawai'i renters are finally seeing things turn in their favor.

Sales of previously occupied homes took the largest monthly drop in more than 40 years last month, sinking more dramatically than expected after lawmakers gave buyers additional time to use a tax credit.

Gov. Linda Lingle gives her final State of the State speech today, one of her last chances to try to shape public policy before her time as Hawai'i's chief executive fades into history.

A Democratic bastion for five decades and President Barack Obama's birthplace, Hawaii would seem a curious place for the Republican National Committee to hold its winter meeting.

A lawmaker says he has an idea to restore some Furlough Fridays beginning this week.

It's another step forward in Hawaii's initiative to reduce its imported energy from 90% to 30% within 20 years.

A massive wind farm proposed for Lanai has been anticipated as a major potential source of green power for Honolulu, but it remains a controversial project on the Pineapple Isle.

The Hawaii County Council talked drugs and money Friday, but decided to lobby the state Legislature only for the latter.

Jim Donahue doesn't know how many dogs he and his business, Lucky D Kennels, have been able to save through a dog fostering program.

The Important Agricultural Lands advisory committee kicked off its inaugural meeting Thursday at the Lihu‘e Civic Center.

Friday, January 22, 2010

GOP seeks more school days, Mufi honored, big spenders could influence state congressional race, garbage still piling up, more top Hawaii news

Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann on Thursday received the 2010 National Award for Local Arts Leadership from the Americans for the Arts and U.S. Conference of Mayors.

A U.S. Supreme Court decision yesterday opened a new path for corporations and unions to influence federal elections in Hawaii.

Public school bus routes, which were cut back in November, will be reduced further next school year and the fare may climb to $1 from 75 cents.

The war of words is escalating over private bus service for public school students. Caught in the middle are parents, students and school administrators. 

Mandating a minimum number of instructional days for public school students would take furloughs off the table in contract negotiations and get students back in school, Republican House members contend.

Late February to early March, that is the new deadline for shipping thousands of tons of Hawaii's trash to the mainland. But that also means the stacks of bales of rubbish will sit in Campbell Industrial Park more than month before the trash sets sail.

More than 400 East Hawaii medical workers may be affected by a series of workday furloughs OK'd by a state arbitration panel last week.

Despite the sour economy, commercial garbage haulers are chipping away at their past-due bills to Hawaii County government.

The state Campaign Spending Commission has fined Don Couch $375 for exceeding the cap on nonresident campaign contributions in his 2008 Maui County Council campaign

State Senate Democrats have the votes to pass a civil-unions bill as soon as today, but are not certain they have the two-thirds' majority necessary to override a potential veto or whether they should amend the bill to correct a technical flaw.

Kevin Rebelo and Frank Miholer own a wedding company, and they say they've married more than 4,000 heterosexual couples since 1994

Civilian contractors assigned to U.S. Navy vessels at Port Allen sprung into action recently when they observed a 30-foot fishing boat sunk at its moorings at Port Allen Small Boat Harbor.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Akaka Bill in peril, legislative session begins, House Speaker says no sales tax increase and other news

U.S. Sens. Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye plan to press forward with the Akaka Bill even though a Republican's upset victory in Massachusetts puts an end to the Democrats' filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

On an opening day drained of traditional pageantry, state House and Senate leaders yesterday challenged their colleagues to tune out special interests and regain public confidence by dealing squarely with the state's $1.2 billion budget deficit.

Speaker of the House Calvin Say is rejecting calls to allow the counties to charge a sales tax to make up for lost revenue.

The state Legislature will consider bills to decriminalize marijuana possession and legalize medical marijuana dispensaries

The military is seeking contractors to install more solar power systems at most of its major installations in the state in what ultimately would be a leap in photovoltaic power generation capability in Hawai'i, officials said.

A mistake by construction workers knocked out phone service to about 17,000 Hawaiian Telcom customers on Kauai Wednesday.

What can $2.69 million in federal stimulus money buy?

Reversing a lower court's ruling, a federal appeals court said a woman's constitutional rights weren't violated when a Taser was used on her after Maui police officers entered her home and arrested her and her husband.

They have already weather decades of intolerance, so what’s a little wind and rain?

With Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann in Washington, D.C. for a round of talks with federal transportation officials about Honolulu’s proposed $5.3 billion, 20-mile elevated-rail project, Gov. Linda Lingle hosted a public forum for a panel of architects to again detail their opposition to the plan.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Legislative session opens today, Furlough Fridays and other top news from around the islands

Hawaii lawmakers are returning to the state Capitol for the start of the annual legislative session this morning.

A resolution asking the state Legislature to let the county keep its transient accommodations tax revenues will be up for discussion Friday by the Hawaii County Council.

Central Maui lawmakers are echoing an emerging theme for legislators faced with the state's $1.2 billion budget shortfall - work to protect already-funded capital improvement projects in their districts.

Maui's state lawmakers are looking at ways to get public school students back into classrooms instead of using Furlough Fridays to help balance the state budget.

It was the most dramatic vote of last year's Legislature, and it resolved nothing: The impassioned debate at the Capitol over civil unions and gay marriage is back this week.

Drawn-out consternation over furloughs of public school teachers could add fuel to a proposal by Gov. Linda Lingle to make the schools superintendent a governor-appointed post.

Despite a reduction in instructional days for students via Furlough Fridays, interim schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said she is hopeful that the state will receive $78 million in the federal Race to the Top education competition.

There's a bill aiming to punish certain criminals if the crime they committed was near a school, public park or child care center. It's not only to be tough on crime but also to help students feel safe.

The Hawaii County Charter Commission will decide Thursday whether to put the land fund question back on the ballot.

A state judge on Tuesday granted a motion that will publicly disclose the amount the county has agreed to pay in the settlement for the civil cases of wrongful death and property damage surrounding the Ka Loko Reservoir failure nearly four years ago.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Trains, planes and Superferries, legislative budgets, dead whale and other top Hawaii news of the day

The M/V Huakai, the high-speed ferry that never fulfilled its purpose as part of Hawaii Superferry operations last year, will be mobilized for relief duty in Haiti.

One of two high-speed catamarans built for Hawaii Superferry is being sent to Haiti to help with relief efforts following the devastating earthquake.

A pilot with a Coast Guard C-130 airplane out of Hawai'i who flew into Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Sunday said the airport was like "the wild, wild west."

Reconsidering a street-level alternative for Honolulu's planned elevated commuter rail line would delay the start of the project by only six months, the American Institute of Architects' Hawai'i chapter said yesterday.

Gov. Linda Lingle said yesterday she is worried whether Honolulu will be able to afford to pay for and operate a proposed elevated rail system and that she has heard similar views expressed by the Federal Transit Administration.

Air pollution in Punaluu - it's been four days now since a dead whale's been rotting off a Windward Oahu beach.

Preparations are under way for a one-day walkout at Kaiser's Honolulu clinic, where a strike line is expected to form at 6 a.m. Tuesday.

When the Hawaii Legislature opens Wednesday, state lawmakers will have their minds on money and money on their minds

For South and West Maui legislators, 2010 will be all about hanging on to what they thought they already had.

With a new member sworn in, a new chair elected and a new year underway, the Kaua‘i Board of Ethics last week made dramatic strides toward resolving long-standing conflict-of-interest issues.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Thousands rally against gay marriage, poll gives Abercrombie, Case the edge, legislative session gearing up, and much more top Hawaii news

Thousands of people filled the state Capitol yesterday with prayer and song, a celebration of traditional values laced with an explicit warning to state lawmakers to preserve marriage as between a man and a woman.

Thousands opposed to same-sex marriage rallied at the state Capitol to send a message to lawmakers who support a civil-unions bill in this election year.

While many believe stimulating the economy and ending school furloughs should be at the forefront for the state Legislature, extending benefits for same-sex partners is also expected to be a hot-button issue.

A sea of people in white flooded the State Capitol Rotunda and spilled onto Beretania Street, hoping to convince lawmakers to kill an upcoming bill that would establish civil unions in Hawaii.

A proposed civil unions bill in the state Legislature has again drawn the attention of opponents and proponents on Kaua‘i.

While consumers in most major cities on the Mainland have the choice of several television providers, local residents have few options when it comes to video programming.

U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie is slightly ahead of Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann in the race for governor, according to a new survey of registered voters.

If an election was held now, KITV4's poll of 403 voters, with a 5 percent margin of error, shows former U.S. Rep. Ed Case would win at 37 percent of likely voters.

State Sen. J. Kalani English will probably grab a few headlines when he introduces two bills in the legislative session this week: one to legalize medical marijuana dispensaries and the other to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Exactly 117 years ago, Queen Liliuokalani was forced to give up her throne, making her Hawaii's last monarch.

The newly appointed interim superintendent of Hawaii schools says her strong ties to Hilo and the lessons she learned here will factor into her decision-making as she tries to guide the school system through rocky waters.

It is nearly impossible to pinpoint the exact date or time Hualalai may rumble to life again, but the 8,271-foot volcano will erupt, said Jim Kauahikaua, scientist-in-charge of Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

As the Legislature readies to begin grappling Wednesday with an anticipated $1.2 billion deficit - and a state constitutional requirement to balance the budget in 60 work days - Maui County's nine-person contingent is looking at wide-ranging solutions from raising the general excise tax by 1 percent to raiding emergency funds.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Casting call for surfer movie on, islands settle into normal trade-wind weather, no Magic in Obama name, residents call for DU cleanup, more news

Gentle winds and big waves are in the forecast for the weekend.

Have you ever dreamed of being in a surf movie? Now's your chance and you don't even have to surf. There's a casting call for extras this Saturday for a movie about Kauai surfing champion, Bethany Hamilton.

Four people urged a panel of judges to force the Army to clean up its depleted uranium-contaminated lands Wednesday.

Four Hawaii residents charged the U.S. Army with trying to cover up its discovery of depleted uranium and then taking a cavalier attitude about cleaning it up during a five-hour hearing Wednesday before a panel of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

There was little support at a City Council meeting yesterday for a plan to name what's popularly known as Magic Island after President Obama anytime soon, and the plan now appears to be in limbo.

While Councilman Tim Bynum pointed to a “non-starter” 50-cent fuel tax proposal to undermine other recommendations in the final draft of the Kaua‘i Energy Sustainability Plan Wednesday, his colleagues offered much harsher criticisms of the fuel tax a day later.

Two Hawaiian Electric Co. employees were injured yesterday by an underground explosion that shook the ground and knocked out power to downtown Honolulu.

"Ambiguous" wording in Hawaii County's so-called "Peaceful Sky" law needs rectifying because it's hampering the Police Commission's work, says the panel's chairman.

Think pulling off the road when you use your cell phone will get you off the hook for a ticket? Think again.

Maui County Council members took a step Wednesday toward altering the county's residential work force housing policy in an effort to coax more development of affordable housing - and any housing - in these troubled economic times.

Even as it closed a door, the Kaua‘i County Council opened a window

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Lawmakers: Help homeless, congressional candidates face off, Haiti in islanders' thoughts, more

Lawmakers yesterday said more needs to be done to move the chronically homeless out of parks and off the streets and said opening a "homeless campground" could be one solution, especially for those who don't want to move into shelters.

Former Congressman Ed Case, state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa and Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou, the three candidates in a special election for Congress, began to differentiate themselves for voters yesterday in the first public event of the campaign.

Former Rep. Ed Case says Senate President Colleen Hanabusa cannot run for Congress while she is leading the state Senate. He called on her to pick one or the other.

Forty-four agricultural workers from Thailand were forced to work on Aloun Farm for wages lower than what they were promised and required by law, said Kevonne Small, trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division.

A triple-digit increase in December foreclosures transformed Hawaii into a top 10 state for foreclosure activity and pushed monthly and year-end totals to their highest level since 2005

Collective bargaining, civil service contracts and unions provided the theme that united a number of the priorities set out by three Big Island legislators for the upcoming session.

The devastation in Haiti is causing Secretary of State to cancel her Asia-Pacific tour. She made the announcement Wednesday, while still in Hawaii. Secretary Clinton says she will return to Washington to coordinate the relief efforts.

The pictures are hard to take for Patrick Elie and Mark Benoit -- who are still waiting to hear from loved ones in Haiti.

State Attorney General Mark Bennett was three for four in state court Wednesday, prevailing on all but one defense pre-trial motion in the James Pflueger manslaughter case.

Limiting hiring and equipment purchases has generated a $7.4 million windfall for Hawaii County, which still needs to sell land and possibly raise taxes to avoid a looming shortfall, Mayor Billy Kenoi said.

Driving through a blackened landscape on a 35-foot-wide path dug up by bulldozers, Bill Bergin pointed out koa trees and ohia trees. Some were charred to a crisp, others remained, tall and proud.

At the last minute, Archie Kalepa decided to go right on a wave instead of left at the Jaws surf spot in Peahi. Then, he knew he was in trouble with "the Big Kahuna."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Clinton stresses East-West ties in Hawaii, Big Island residents challenge DU, zoo booed, more news

Video Link to Clinton's speech.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, speaking yesterday at the East-West Center, said the 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders Meeting in Honolulu will give Hawai'i a chance to showcase its unique diversity, its "aloha spirit," and its prime location as a hub between East and West.

Hawaii has a chance to showcase its diversity and act as a model for the region when it hosts the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum next year, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said yesterday at the East-West Center in Manoa.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton took a barge tour of Pearl Harbor yesterday, stopping briefly to lay a wreath in the shrine room of the USS Arizona Memorial.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made a major policy speech in Honolulu on Tuesday at the East-West Center in Manoa about America's future relationship with Asia.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is here in Hawaii, but she's not kicking back she's kicking off a 10 day trip aimed at strengthening and mending relations with countries in the Asia Pacific region.

A group of architects who have worked on Honolulu 's planned rail project yesterday said they support plans to build the $5.3 billion train on an elevated guideway.

The two largest land animals in all of Hawaii are at the center of a lifestyle dispute.

Hawaii legislators are working to change state law before business owners are slapped with a 1,000 percent increase in unemployment insurance taxes.

Four Hawaii residents, including three from the Big Island, are challenging the U.S. Army's application to possess depleted uranium.

Neil Abercrombie struck back against critics of his decision to resign his seat representing the state's 1st Congressional district and creating the need for a special election this spring in front of a friendly crowd of campaign supporters Monday morning.

Hawaii County developers have pledged $108.5 million for infrastructure to accommodate population increases caused by their developments, but so far, only $8.1 million has found its way into county coffers and only $3.6 million has been spent.

On the heels of legislative and public calls for a ban on fireworks statewide, Maui County law enforcement officials and lawmakers offered an assortment of views on regulating the popular and traditional practice of ringing in the new year with a bang.

Following a tsunami, Maui will get a glimpse of "Hereafter" this week - all thanks to movie magic.

For the second time in as many months, the Kaua‘i Planning Commission on Tuesday rejected a petition arguing North Shore landowner Joseph Brescia has not complied with permits in building his single-family residence on top of multiple known burials at Naue.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Missing moon rocks found, BOE discusses salary cap, Sec. State Clinton speaks, Honolulu vet, son, plane crash victims, surf's still up, more news

 A northwest swell is diminishing but will continue to generate high surf along most of Hawaii's north- and west-facing shores today.

Surf's up, and it is going to stay up, at least for some beaches

Missing moon rocks from the first and last human lunar landings have been discovered in a locked cabinet in Hawaii.

The owners of Aloun Farms, one of the largest and best-known agricultural businesses in Hawai'i, are scheduled to plead guilty tomorrow in federal court to illegally importing farm laborers from Thailand and holding them in virtual servitude

The state Board of Education's decision yesterday to conduct a national search for the next chief of public schools reignited a long-standing debate over the $150,000 pay cap on the superintendent's salary.
The Board of Education on Monday named its new interim superintendent.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board have taken over the investigation of a small single-engine plane crash that took the lives of a prominent Honolulu veterinarian and his 20-year-old son Sunday.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's speech today on U.S. relations with Asia and Pacific nations will be webcast.

The crackdown on illegal kayak vendors at Kealekekua Bay is continuing.

Whenever state Rep. Angus McKelvey drives down Front Street and out of the corner of his eye sees that filthy sailboat wreck, he grips the wheel a bit more and let's out a little "grrrr," he said.

A Sunday night fire in a Port Allen warehouse bay leased by Mana Divers caused an estimated $250,000 in damages but no injuries, the Kaua‘i Fire Department announced Monday.

A man died early Sunday morning after collapsing during the Hawaii Electronic Music Festival at the Palace Theater in downtown Hilo.

Tom Greenwell admits he sounds like an infomercial for KonaRed, a new wellness drink made from the ruby red coffee cherries cultivated in Kona.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Surf's up, traffic deaths down, foster children decline, senators endorse Hanabusa, another candidate for lieutenant governor, Akaka Bill stalls, more news

The number of traffic deaths in Hawai'i rose slightly last year due to a big increase in motorcycle-related fatalities. Nevertheless, 2009 marked the second straight year in which overall deaths were far below recent average.

Federal Aviation Administration investigators today plan to inspect the scene of a fiery Piper Cherokee crash that killed at least one person yesterday just off the Lanipo Trail in East Honolulu.

Firefighters plan to return today to the scene of a fatal airplane crash near Kaau Crater above Maunalani Heights to recover the remains of at least one person.

A high-surf warning is in effect for most north- and west-facing shores of the state as a large northwest swell rolls in.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is kicking off her 2010 diplomacy agenda as she did a year ago, with a trip meant to strengthen U.S. relations with key partner nations in the western Pacific.

Concerns over the language of the Akaka Bill continue to be worked out, but both of Hawaii's senators say they expect legislation granting federal recognition to native Hawaiians will be taken up by Congress shortly.

The congressional race is heating up, as one candidate shows off her new headquarters and picks up some key endorsements.

Hawaii's U.S. senators came out early with a strong endorsement of Colleen Hanabusa in her run for the congressional seat to be vacated next month by Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii.

The head of the Democratic party for Hawaii is now throwing his name into the hat for lieutenant governor.

The owners of vacant land along Komohana Street envision a $286 million "Hilo-style neighborhood marketplace" complete with medical offices, hundreds of dwellings and business space intended to attract "local" vendors.

The number of children entering -- and remaining -- in foster care in Hawaii has steadily declined over the last decade.

The state Land Use Commission cleared the way Friday for Castle & Cooke Resorts to continue using brackish water drawn from Lanai’s high-level aquifer to irrigate The Challenge at Manele golf course

Signs warning residents and visitors of the possibility of lead in the water at a pair of drinking fountains at Ka‘ana Picnic Area in Koke‘e State Park were removed last week — a year and a half after tests deemed the water to be safe for consumption.

Friday, January 8, 2010

El Nino keeps islands hot and dry, civil unions law coming, leadership tiff at BOE, professors fight pay cuts, Mighty Mo is back, more top Hawaii news

With El Nino's influence now in full effect, East Hawaii is experiencing warm, dry weather and heavy vog. And there is little relief on the horizon, according to the National Weather Service.

State senators told KITV they expect to approve a civil unions bill shortly after the legislative session starts this month.

The "Mighty Mo," the platform for the Japanese surrender in World War II, has returned to its berth in Pearl Harbor to continue serving as a floating national museum.

State Board of Education Chairman Garrett Toguchi last night refused to step down from his leadership post after several board members called for his resignation.

Board of Education Chairman Garrett Toguchi was criticized by fellow board members Thursday who claim he has not kept them in the loop on important issues.

The University of Hawai'i faculty union on Thursday filed a motion for a temporary restraining order, asking a state court to stop UH President M.R.C. Greenwood from unilaterally imposing salary reductions for UH faculty.

A reduction in the cost of caring for Hawaii's senior citizens is creating controversy.

The Federal Transit Administration raised concerns last fall that the cost of Honolulu's new commuter rail line could outpace the revenue the city has lined up to pay for it.

The board of the state public housing agency selected a replacement yesterday for the agency's executive director in spite of some pleas from community members to keep the popular chief.

State labor officials confirmed Thursday that hundreds of hotel workers on Maui will be laid off.

State cutbacks have led to the recent loss of 10 staff members at the Kaua‘i District Health Office, according to state Department of Health spokesperson Janice Okubo.

Hiring freezes, early retirement incentives and greater use of rainy day funds are among the ways some governments deal with budget emergencies.

A newly formed mainland company is hoping to purchase Kona Blue Water Farms Inc.'s offshore operations.

The latest trend in renewable energy often looks like a remote-controlled airplane - with a man-sized propellor - mounted on top of a flagpole, but it is as quiet as two people talking in a coffee shop and costs about as much as a used car.

Passengers aboard a Hawaiian Airlines Mainland flight that was disrupted by an unruly flier arrived on Maui more than five hours late Wednesday night, tired and happy to finally be on the Valley Isle.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New taxes looming, whale entangled, mayors want more, marijuana bill defeated, plastic bag ban debated, Hillary coming, union squabbling, more Hawaii news

Marine experts are searching the waters off the Kona Coast for a humpback whale entangled in polypropylene line, deflated buoys and other fishing gear.

 Two key state senators suggested the counties could impose a sales tax of up to 5 percent to recoup revenue lost if the state holds on to the counties' share of the hotel tax.

County mayors said they were open to all proposals for closing sizable gaps in their upcoming budgets, but stopped short of saying property tax hikes were inevitable.

A new proposal under consideration could force customers to pay a sales tax to help take care of soaring budget shortfalls in Hawaii.

Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi laced his request for state funds with humor. But he and his mayoral colleagues know there's nothing funny about the state's budget crisis.

Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. underscored the importance of Kaua‘i keeping its share of hotel tax revenue from the state in his testimony Wednesday morning during a joint hearing of the House Finance and Senate Ways and Means committees.

Gov. Linda Lingle's administration rejected, again, a tentative agreement between education officials and the Hawaii State Teachers Association that would have ended "furlough Fridays" for the remainder of the current school year.

The Lingle administration again rejected a $35 million proposal by the teachers union and state Board of Education to increase instruction time at public schools by seven days ending in June.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will be in Hawaii next week, where she will speak about Asia-Pacific relations and consult with U.S. military commanders in the Pacific, the State Department said yesterday.

A Hawaiian Airlines passenger plane made a belated landing on Maui last night after turning back to Portland, Ore., under the escort of armed fighter jets.

Home at last, after a fighter jet escort - a Hawaiian air flight at the center of a security scare has finally arrived on Maui.

The state Legislature is cutting five recess days from its 2010 calendar to both trim expenses and encourage members to focus on the state budget.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has picked up the pace in federally registering 48 endangered Kaua‘i species in light of a lawsuit filed earlier this week in federal court by environmental activists.

Kaua‘i drivers would be forced to pay an additional 50 cents for every gallon of gasoline or diesel fuel they purchase if the County Council goes along with measures recommended in the final draft of the Kaua‘i Energy Sustainability Plan released this week.

Hawaii County may join Maui and Kauai counties in banning plastic shopping bags if a bill by Kohala Councilman Pete Hoffmann continues along its current path.

Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. underscored the importance of Kaua‘i keeping its share of hotel tax revenue from the state in his testimony Wednesday morning during a joint hearing of the House Finance and Senate Ways and Means committees.

Defying Kelly Greenwell's threat to resign, a County Council committee voted against a resolution asking the state Legislature to decriminalize marijuana

About 35 business owners and community leaders gathered Tuesday in Hilo to forge a message to President Barack Obama on how the government can best aid the economic recovery on the Big Island.

A preliminary report on a Dec. 16 helicopter crash in Hana says the copter actually lost all power and crashed in what was intended as a simulated loss of engine power exercise.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Economy turning around, lawmakers grill Lingle, mayors plot to hold onto TAT, flu shots available, cold front coming, Bankoh the best, more top Hawaii news

For the first time in a long time, there was good news to come out of an economic meeting at the State Capitol.

State lawmakers facing a $1.2 billion budget shortfall over the next two years received some good news from Hawaii's top economists on Tuesday.

Several state lawmakers and a leading economist yesterday questioned why the Lingle administration mostly used across-the-board spending cuts to contain the state's budget deficit, arguing that it led to misguided decisions such as furloughs for public school teachers on classroom days.

Gov. Linda Lingle's budget plan for the upcoming legislative session amounts to passing the buck and relying on future administrations to solve the state's financial woes, a key state lawmaker said.

Hawaii's mayors aren't bragging about how big their budgets are. Instead, they're talking about the transient accommodations tax or TAT which comes mainly from hotel rooms.

Six months into her term, the new UH president is showing her tough side. On Tuesday night, M.R.C. Greenwood says she will not give in to the demands of the faculty union.

Acting schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi, described as a quick study with good communication skills, has the courage to work for the public interest, says former Gov. Ben Cayetano.

Public school meals might still be the cheapest grinds in town, but new price increases going into effect today aim to close the gap

Fewer people appealed their property assessments last year, but some folks are falling behind on paying their tax bills anyway.

Hawai'i health officials will lift their restrictions on H1N1 vaccine injections sometime next week and are urging people in high-risk groups to get vaccinated against the swine flu in the next several days before everyone else becomes eligible.

Forbes magazine has spotlighted Bank of Hawaii as the nation's top performing bank, while ranking Central Pacific Bank near the bottom of a list of 100 largest U.S. banks and thrifts.

Kona winds that have been coming out of the south since last week should continue until Wednesday, when a cold front is expected to arrive and bring winds out of the north and northeast,

The Kaua‘i County Council on Tuesday interviewed a multitude of mayoral appointees to various boards and commissions.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Mauna Kea management advances, surf's coming up, interim schools chief could be first from business community, special congressional election sought

The National Weather Service has issued a high-surf warning for north- and west-facing shores of Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai and Maui and west-facing shores of the Big Island.

Although businesses had no specific numbers to back their claims, merchants along Maui's north shore say customer traffic and sales go up and even double when the surf rises.

A 3rd Circuit judge has ruled in favor of the University of Hawaii in dismissing a challenge to the Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan.

A special election to fill the remainder of U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie's term in Congress could be held in May, provided that funding becomes available and the state obtains new voting machines.

U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie announced he will resign his office effective Feb. 28 to run for Hawaii governor, leaving the 1st Congressional District without representation for at least a couple of months.

The State Office of Elections says it intends to hold a special election to fill the seat of outgoing Congressman Neil Abercrombie. But how, when, and where the funding comes from is all up the air.

Gov. Linda Lingle has nominated former U.S. Attorney Edward Kubo Jr. as an Oahu circuit judge, a seat left vacant by the retirement of Frances Wong.

Acting Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi, an attorney and former executive director of the Hawaii Business Roundtable, said yesterday she hopes to become the permanent chief of Hawai'i's public school system.

The acting superintendent of Hawaii's public schools will step into the Furlough Fridays fray tomorrow in her first appearance with the Board of Education team trying to nudge Gov. Linda Lingle's administration to restore classroom days to the school calendar.

While his heart, soul, family, friends and work are here on the Garden Isle, Kaua‘i Complex Area Superintendent Bill Arakaki said Monday that he would consider moving up the state Department of Education ladder if asked.

Police issued 93 citations and made one arrest for fireworks violations over the News Year's holiday this year, a 600% increase from the 14 issued during New Year's 2009.

Starting Tuesday hundreds of public school children will head back to the classroom after the holiday break to face changes to the school bus service.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Obama leaves Hawaii, school chief explains resignation, Kileauea ushers in awareness month, a landfill on a coffee farm, beach privatization and other state news

Madame Pele proved how unpredictable she can be Saturday morning at the kickoff event for Volcano Awareness Month.

President Barack Obama bade goodbye to Hawaii last night after an 11-day getaway filled with basketball, golf, family time and tourist attractions.

President Obama wrapped up his 11-day Christmas vacation in his hometown of Honolulu last night and boarded Air Force One for the 4,800-mile flight to get back to work in Washington, D.C.

He's the leader of the free world, with a heavy agenda waiting for him when he leaves Hawaii tonight and returns to the White House.

Pat Hamamoto said her decision to resign as chief of the Hawai'i school system was not influenced by drawn-out negotiations over teacher furloughs or cuts to the public education budget.

She was in the middle of a budget crisis, Furlough Fridays and bitter collective bargaining. Yet Pat Hamamoto says none of that had anything to do with her decision to walk away from her job as state superintendent.

video: Former Schools Superintendent Pat Hamamoto spoke for the first time today about her resignation and retirement.

Supporters, opponents and others with something to say about the city's plan to build a $5.5 billion elevated rail will have a new forum to voice their opinions soon.

The HIV prevention coordinator's position and a "major link" with the community on HIV/AIDS issues has been eliminated in state Health Department budget cuts.

Last year ended without indictments in the cases of two Orchidland Estates women police say were murdered.

With the end of the "Aughts," Hawaii and Maui County look toward another election year, with a number of high-stakes contests just 11 months away.

Members of the county body that annually recommends properties to be acquired for open space and public access purposes are concerned about “vegetative encroachment and beach privatization.”

A proposal to put Kaua'i's next landfill in the middle of the state's largest coffee plantation has plenty of people asking Mayor Bernard Carvalho, "Why?"