Sunday, May 30, 2010

Just sayin' -- Media map points to dwindling coverage

In this brave new world of media mergers, sales and downsizes, you certainly don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. But in the latest game of media musical chairs, it doesn’t hurt to have a map.

While I tried to take a light approach, I’m offering this column with the utmost aloha, empathy and compassion for my inkstained brethren at the Honolulu Advertiser, the latest casualty of the New Age of Journalism and the legacy media corporate lust for obscene profits. Friday is the last day on the job for many of those journalists, while a few will be lucky enough to take a job for less pay at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin in the newly christened Star-Advertiser.

Believe me, I’ve been there. In my three decades of living by the pen, I’ve been downsized, rightsized, outsized and offered the Morton’s Fork of an out-of-state transfer or a new job description. I want the latest casualties to know that yes, it hurts. You pour your all into this vocation, sacrifice a social life, a family life and better paying gigs on the PR side of the street. Your termination probably has absolutely nothing to do with your ability, your drive or your journalistic worth. But I am here to tell you there is life – and it can be a good life – afterward.

Some of it is our own fault. We became victims of our own complacency. We thought just because we read and reread our bylined stories and watched and rewatched our video clips start to finish, everyone else did too. We paid too close attention to the handful of followers applying the high gloss of praise, and not enough attention to the thundering quiet from the rest.

Enter the new media and bloggers – those pamphleteers of the New Age of Journalism.

It’s an exciting era we have entered. The Internet and personal Web sites are components of the greatest revolution in journalism since the invention of the printing press. Like the printing press, the Internet has opened publishing to a whole new class of hoi polloi. I’m glad it’s happening in my lifetime.

These New Age pamphleteers have a lot in common with their 18th century counterparts. Many are quick to opine, quick to set aside a few inconvenient facts while making their points. Some are even quick to accept free trips and gifts in return for glowing reviews. Nothing new about any of that.

Lest bloggers get too enamored of their own steadily rising numbers on the stat counters, here’s a cautionary tale about pamphleteers. Thomas Paine may have been the most famous of the lot, yet only six people attended his funeral. Some to mourn and some to make sure he was truly dead.

And then there’s Honolulu Civil Beat. It exists, says Editor John Temple, to "ask the important questions citizens might have in the face of the complex issues facing our community." In its first month, the new site has demonstrated it can do that.

But it remains, as pointed out by blogger Larry Geller, a gated community with a rather stiff ($19.99 monthly) paywall. The new venture has hired a few bright young and not-so-young reporters and their output is promising. But it still has a way to go breaking out of its annoying insularity, with employees primarily retweeting and hash-tagging only each other, seemingly afraid to credit other sources that break the news they dutifully tweet at their first opportunity.

Can it survive? Can any of us survive this shakeup of the status quo? Will the pendulum soon swing, once the public realizes the watchdogs have been silenced and government is running amok? Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, here’s your map. And, it’s already obsolete. But isn’t that the whole point? Just sayin’

Friday, May 28, 2010

Waikiki beach makes top 10 list, Hannemann's gubernatorial bid sets dominoes falling, economic upturn noted, Pierce Brosnan illegally renting his Kauai home? More news from around the islands

The Oahu beach named after Olympic swimming legend Duke Kahanamoku has been listed among the top 10 beaches in the nation in an annual survey for 2010.

Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann said his campaign in the Democratic primary for governor will stress issues such as education, economic recovery and sustainability, but he also said his personal values and roots growing up in Kalihi would shape his vision.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann's political aspirations and management of the city's $5.5 billion rail project are parting ways.

The race is officially on.

Just moments after Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann officially announced he is running for governor, a war of words is was being waged between the candidates. Democrats Mufi Hannemann and Neil Abercrombie, along with Republican Duke Aiona were all exchanging strong words.

The battle between Mufi Hannemann and Neil Abercrombie - a sparring match between Hawaii political heavyweights is deja vu. It's a rematch 24 years in the making.

The wait is over. The race has begun.

After months of waiting and wondering, Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann made his anticipated next political move official this afternoon.

Mayor Mufi Hannemann's announced bid for Hawaii governor Thursday is creating a domino effect with politicians now lining up for a special election to fill the remainder of his term.

Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann's desire to be the state's next governor is one of the worst-kept secrets in recent politics.

The Democratic Party of Hawaii will come together for three days of meetings and speeches at the Hilton Hawaiian Village beginning today.

The state's top economists on the Council of Revenues on Thursday said Hawaii's economy is seeing a faster and bigger turnaround than expected.

Hawai'i's economy continues on the upswing with the state Council on Revenues' latest forecast showing an increase in general fund tax revenue for the remainder of this fiscal year and next.

Hawaii's economic recovery is well under way, and revenues for this fiscal year are expected to be 0.5 percent more than last year, said the state Council on Revenues.

Nearly 400 people losing their jobs in the next two weeks when The Honolulu Star-Bulletin merges with The Honolulu Advertiser may have to wait months for millions of dollars in severance pay.

Near Waipahu High School crews began closing off a portion of Farrington Highway to begin the task of testing where Honolulu's rail route might go.

  How cool would it be to stay at James Bond’s house, maybe not even legally?

Earthquakes. Termites. Brush fires. Torrential downpours. The heat of the tropical sun. Hurricanes. Soaring utility bills.

Just days before bids were due, Hawaii County has canceled a request for proposals to privatize the county's green waste collection.

The day after the state Commission on Water Resource Management made another precedent-setting decision to restore millions of gallons of water a day to East Maui streams, Hawaii's last sugar producer issued a statement of thanks with a plea for mercy in the next rounds of decision-making for disputed access to stream water.

A refurbished Japanese cruise ship made its inaugural Hawai‘i appearance Thursday following the dedication of its refurbishing project in late March.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Hannemann to announce today, Abercrombie v Hannemann battle nothing new, one-third islander marriages mixed, cops' dirty dancer no prostitute, more Hawaii news

Nearly one-third of marriages in the Islands are between interracial couples — by far the largest percentage in the country and four times the national average, according to a new analysis of the latest census figures.

Diabetes, heart disease, strokes, cancer and other diseases -- many lifestyle- related -- have reached "epidemic" proportions in the U.S.-affiliated Pacific islands, a crisis that grips Hawaii because many islanders choose to live here under the Compact of Free Association.

Big Islanders live shorter lives and face higher cancer, heart disease and suicide rates compared with the rest of Hawaii, according to a recent report on health on Hawaii Island.

In 1986 Neil Abercrombie was the experienced, confident front-runner, while Mufi Hannemann was the aggressive, well-funded newcomer. Yet both ultimately lost the battle for the 1st Congressional District.

Hanneman opens campaign office, announcement expected soon

Central O'ahu could become home to the largest solar energy farm in the state under a proposal by Castle & Cooke Hawai'i Inc. to produce enough electricity from the sun to power 6,000 homes.

State Labor Director Darwin Ching has submitted his resignation, effective June 15, to seek election as Honolulu prosecutor.

Hawaii's wedding industry has been hit hard by the struggling economy, but the summer season and an easy to remember wedding date are offering up a much needed boost.

A bar employee who performed a "dirty dance" with a customer after a Honolulu Police Department undercover officer bought her two $40 drinks did not commit prostitution because the state did not prove the employee performed the dance in exchange for the drinks, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

Two giant pipes filled with holes - that's the solution to help prevent property damage in Manoa. Four years after the some of the worst flooding in Hawaii's history, residents got a look at how it'll work.

The Hawaii Department of Education said Wednesday even though the teachers' union has agreed with the State and the Board of Education to end 17 teacher furlough Fridays next school year, two other unions representing school workers still have not signed off on the deal.

Gov. Linda Lingle signed tougher anti-graffiti legislation into law earlier this month, but for it to work, offenders must first be caught, police and community leaders said.

As David Lyman walked through the future West Hawaii Civic Center Tuesday morning, construction workers placed a steel roofing frame on the last building at the project site.

Photographs taken by more than 10 residents show reef damage, which they claim was caused Friday by fishermen trying to net a school of akule, or big-eyed scad, off Keauhou.

A large crowd, from serious bidders to the "niele" attended Maui County's first property tax foreclosure auction in more than a decade Tuesday.

As Kaua‘i’s unemployment rate fell 0.3 percent in April to 8.9 percent, WorkWise in Lihu‘e continued to experience the same amount of “traffic” through its doors, said Bill Grier, the branch manager of Kaua‘i’s “one-stop job center.”

We all know the greats of Hawaiian music. You can’t walk through the airport or the mall without hearing The Brothers Cazimero or IZ floating into your ears.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

DOE administrators seek big pay hikes as Furlough Fridays end, Honolulu crime up, Maui water deal struck, Big Island land sale pau, more top state news

Starting in July, the salaries of Hawaii's top secondary public school administrators could go up, including the state superintendent's — to as high as $240,000 from $150,000.

With only one more day of class left in the school year, Governor Lingle announced today that school furloughs are over.

Furlough Fridays at Hawai'i public schools are a thing of the past

After enduring a school year cut short by 17 Furlough Fridays, public school students and their parents, along with principals, teachers and other education officials, head into next year with a complete academic calendar once again.

What started last September as a breakthrough by Gov. Linda Lingle and educators to reduce labor costs and help with the state's budget deficit ended yesterday with a face-saving compromise to cancel teacher furloughs and return students to the classroom for a full calendar next school year.

Furlough Fridays are over. Governor Linda Lingle made the announcement around 4:15 in a press conference Tuesday afternoon at the State Capitol.

As you might expect, most parents are thrilled to see the school furlough saga come to an end, although many are wondering why Hawaii's leaders couldn't figure it out months ago.

Frozen Investments Could Have Helped Solve State Budget Crisis

Gov. Linda Lingle on Tuesday afternoon announced the state has reached an agreement to end school closures on furlough days next year.

Gov. Linda Lingle on Tuesday spent a little more than an hour with supporters of civil unions in a private meeting in her office. The legislation would provide rights similar to marriage to unmarried couples.

Property crime in Honolulu increased 5 percent in 2009, ending a six-year streak of declining offenses in the category. Authorities said the increase is disappointing, but probably won't jeopardize Honolulu's standing as the nation's safest large city.

Once it was Cash for Clunkers. Now it's rebates for refrigerators, and the chance to save $250 while going green is proving just as irresistible to Hawaii consumers.

On the day new U.S. Rep. Charles Djou was formally sworn into office in Washington, D.C., a handful of candidates offered their services as potential candidates to fill out the remainder of his term on the City Council.

State Commission on Water Resource Management members reached a historic compromise late Tuesday night, returning some water to six East Maui streams, but leaving both sides in the water dispute dissatisfied.

Mayor Billy Kenoi took the offensive Monday, calling a news conference urging the Hawaii County Council to make public its budget-cutting plans.

With the administration giving up for now on selling Hamakua lands, one councilman wants to revoke the county's authority to do so without future council approval.

A hearing on the voter registration of Maui Council Member Sol Kaho'ohalahala will be held in Lanai City today

Koloa and Po‘ipu house some of the richest archaeological sites in the entire state. Despite widespread development, new sites are still being discovered there.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lingle meets with civil union opponents, economic impact weighed, Honolulu buses to get spy cams, staff report says Maui sugar company should return water to streams, Honolulu City Council seeks property tax hike, more news from around the state

Tourism and other businesses might benefit by about $7 million a year, but legalizing civil unions would otherwise have a minimal economic impact in the state, according to two University of Hawaii researchers.

One week ago, Gov. Linda Lingle said she needed more information before deciding on state House Bill 444. Monday she began two days of face-to-face meetings behind closed doors.

The civil union critics put a youthful face on their message Monday, bringing to the governor’s office dozens of young people, mostly Christian home-schoolers, many armed with notes they’d prepared in advance.

The governor wants to hear from both sides before she makes a decision on civil unions -- and she held the first of two private meetings on Monday.

Nearly six months after recommending that Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Co. restore water to only one of 19 streams in East Maui, staffers for the state Commission on Water Resource Management have changed their minds - at the direction of balance-seeking commissioners in the heated controversy.

Back in December, the state Commission on Water Resource Management deferred a decision on a staff recommendation to return water to only one of the 19 East Maui streams at the heart of a 10-year-old legal petition by the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., saying it was not enough of a compromise.

Waiting for a turnaround - Hawaii's construction industry has taken a big dive this year, losing more than 3,000 jobs from the year before, which was already way down.

Democratic Party Candidate Ed Case Monday pointed to the website of a national Republican group, Independent Women's Voice, as proof he was hurt by $200,000 worth of negative ads geared to help Republican Charles Djou win.

Twitter data beats phone polling in Hawaii special election

Hawaii home-care horror tales underscore risk to elderly

Non-occupant homeowners would pay less in property taxes than proposed by Mayor Mufi Hannemann, but at a higher rate than they're paying now, under a budget plan passed by the City Council Budget Committee yesterday.

Nonoccupant homeowners would face a higher real property tax rate next year, while most city departments would have to make do with fewer dollars under the operating budget advancing in the City Council.

Starting as soon as this week, Honolulu may begin using surveillance cameras on city buses.

Kamehameha Schools' expansive $118.5 million redevelopment project at its main Kapalama campus will be a boon to Hawaii's struggling building industry.

Firefighters made headway in defeating a brush fire that has burned roughly 300 acres in North Kohala. The blaze was fully contained and advanced no further Sunday, said Battalion Chief Warren Sumida, of the Hawaii County Fire Department.

Should County Council members be elected solely by residents of their districts? Maui voters say “yes!”

Monday, May 24, 2010

State slow spending stimulus money, Lost fans bid aloha, Hilo commemorates tsunamis, Kauai considers farm dwellings, brushfire eats 300 acres in West Hawaii, more top Hawaii news

Hawai'i received $1.3 billion of federal stimulus money as of March 30 and has spent $584 million. The cash was credited with saving or creating 2,566 jobs in the first quarter.

U.S. Congressman-elect Charles Djou told a national television audience this morning that his victory in Saturday's special election represented "a major historic election."

Fresh off a night of celebrating, Charles Djou says he's ready to find his way around Washington.

Neil Abercrombie's Republican opponent, Lieutenant Governor Duke Aiona, opened his campaign headquarters on North Nimitz Highway.

The Price Tag Of A Seat In Congress: $12.31 Per Vote

Veterans on Molokai are upset they have waited for nearly four years to obtain permits to build a modest, $112,000 veterans center in Kaunakakai.

Steady makai winds and dry conditions fueled a 300-plus acre brush fire that broke out Saturday in North Kohala.

Fans fed their appetites at The Counter, as they devoured the final episode of Lost.

The finale of "Lost" leaves devoted viewers with their memories

Put yourself for a moment in the shoes of a crew member of the Hollywood film “The Descendants.”

Waiakea town lived again Saturday evening, if only for a few hours.

The 12-foot-tall green clock that now stands as a tsunami memorial was erected in Waiakea town in 1939 by Martha E. Wakefield in memory of her sister, the late Mrs. Charles Edward Richardson.

During a good winter, when water levels remain high at the Kealia Pond National Wildlife Refuge, 120 or more endangered Hawaiian coot nests have been counted at the coastal wetland.

A bill that would allow bonafide farmers to build additional dwellings for their workers will be heard again at the Kaua‘i County Council meeting Wednesday in Nawiliwili.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Just sayin' -- spinmeisters deconstruct Hawaii GOP congressional victory

Let the spin begin.

Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou's victory in Saturday's special election to fill one of only two Hawaii congressional seats was just about a foregone conclusion after two Democrats split the winner-take-all ticket.  Djou won with 39.4 percent of the vote, compared to state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa’s 30.8 percent and former U.S. Rep. Ed Case’s 27.6 percent.

So it's not all that surprising that the prognosticators and spinmeisters jumped on stage early to help us understand just what this newest development means to the political parties battling for control of Congress in the upcoming midterm elections.

“How did a Republican win in Obama's Hawaii hometown?” asks the Christian Science Monitor. “Hawaii gives Rep. Pete Sessions/NRCC a needed boost after drubbing in Pennsylvania,” proclaims the Dallas Morning News.

Sure the loss, even temporarily, of a Democratic seat in this bluest of the blue states is bound to be bit of a national embarrassment for the Democratic Party, especially for the president. And the national GOP can take away some bragging rights, at least in the short term.

But folks would be wise to heed the mantra of the late Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill that “all politics is local.” This has absolutely nothing to do with the broader picture, especially in Hawaii, whose people rarely look beyond their little rocks bobbing in the great blue Pacific over to what is universally here called “the Mainland,” as if it’s just another much larger rock bobbing in the same deep blue ocean.

Instead, this all about the local Democrats, and their bitter feud to claim a seat that in their minds, is historically and rightfully theirs.  It’s also about the Democratic new guard bumping up against the Democratic old guard and the battle that sees longtime kingmaker Sen. Daniel Inouye gradually losing his grip on the reins of power he’s controlled for decades.

There’s even some spin associated with that: “Finishing order shows influence of Inouye pick,” proclaims the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. In other words, says a prognosticator in that article, Inouye, by anointing Hanabusa, didn’t pick the winner, but he did pick the loser.

Which boils down to that old saw by Will Rogers, that “I am not a member of any organized party — I am a Democrat.” That is never more true than right here, right now.

Lucky for this splintered party that voters – not candidates, egos and kingmakers – will chose the Democrat who faces off against Djou in November.

Djou is right to revel in his victory. He should proceed to Washington amid congratulations for being the first Republican in almost 20 years to breach that not-so-thin blue line. But he might be wise to take out a short-term rental of an apartment there.

Because the silly season ain’t done yet. Just sayin’.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

BREAKING -- Republican Djou wins Hawaii Congressional District 1 -- first GOP in almost 20 years

From state Office of Elections:

Congressional District I
98 of 98
(R) DJOU, Charles 67,274 39.5%
(D) HANABUSA, Colleen 52,445 30.8%
(D) CASE, Ed 47,012 27.6%
(D) DEL CASTILLO, Rafael (Del) 654 0.4%
(N) STRODE, Kalaeloa 489 0.3%
(N) BREWER, Jim 269 0.2%
(D) LEE, Philmund (Phil) 254 0.1%
(R) COLLINS, Charles (Googie) 192 0.1%
(R) AMSTERDAM, C. Kaui Jochanan 169 0.1%
(D) BROWNE, Vinny 149 0.1%
(N) TATAII, Steve 123 0.1%
(R) CRUM, Douglas 107 0.1%
(R) GIUFFRE, John (Raghu) 82 0.0%
(N) MOSELEY, Karl F. 79 0.0%
Blank Votes: 134
Over Votes: 880 0.5%
170,312 53.7%
285 0.0%

Friday, May 21, 2010

State tax checks in the mail, the taxman leaveth, Big Island still loves its pickup trucks, water the issue on Maui, UH may hike tuition, Kileauea wows the media, more top Hawaii news

Saying pickup trucks are some families' only mode of transportation, the Hawaii County Council on Wednesday rejected a resolution aimed at keeping passengers from riding in open truck beds.

In this day and age of volatile gas prices and a downward-spiraling economy, drivers may be increasingly more inclined to accept that driving is a privilege rather than a right.

It's not a lot of money in the scheme of Hawai'i's $50 billion-plus economy. But the nearly $125 million in state tax refunds that start going out today will provide a welcome psychological lift as businesses try to come back from an exhausting economic downturn.

State Tax Director Kurt Kawafuchi will be leaving his job June 15, Gov. Linda Lingle's office said yesterday.

Gov. Linda Lingle invited about two dozen public school principals, teachers and parents to her office Thursday, to discuss three education bills awaiting her signature.

A bill making its way through Congress could provide Hawai'i with an estimated $91 million to save education jobs and potentially help eliminate furlough Fridays next school year, according to U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye's office.

Hawaii will move its primary from late September to the second Saturday in August starting in 2012 to comply with a federal law intended to ensure that military and overseas voters get ballots within 45 days before elections.

Mail-In Voting The Winner In Special Election

A fundraising letter from the Republican National Committee that rankled Congress into passing a law banning deceptive mailings because they could be mistaken for an official U.S. Census document appears to be making the rounds in Hawaii.

University of Hawaii administrators are weighing whether to propose a tuition increase beginning in the fall of 2012.

Media Council of Hawaii is filing another complaint to the Federal Communications Commission about the merger between KGMB, KHNL and KFVE.

Every year thousands of visitors travel to Kilauea on the Big Island for a chance to see one of the most active volcanoes in the world. A massive plume still billows from the active lava filled vents.

Halemaumau Crater has been putting on a show like this since March 2008.

The public is being asked to comment on major improvements for Highway 130 -- the Keaau-Pahoa Road -- that may cost in excess of $100 million.

With the relaxing of water limits and removal of the penalty of jail time, the Hawaii County Council on Wednesday found a water spigot bill it could agree upon.

The proposed Villages of Aina Lea South Kohala development would offer some new regional road connectivity, with a mauka-makai road between the development, which is mauka of the Mauna Lani Resort, and nearby Waikoloa.

A U.S. Geological Survey study 4 years in the making and released this week describes the effects of taking millions of gallons of water daily from "the Four Streams" of Na Wai Eha that originate in the West Maui Mountains.

The state Commission on Water Resource Management will take up a petition next week to set new instream-flow standards for 16 East Maui streams.

The Pioneer Mill abandoned the sugarcane fields of Lahaina in 1999, and the browning of the once verdant slopes of the West Maui Mountains began.

A car running on java plum wood chips was the star of the 14th Annual Agriculture and Environmental Awareness Day, Thursday.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Paddleboarders, swimmers at odds, Kauai utility faces EPA sanctions, counties contemplate cuts, congressional election looms, more top Hawaii news

The state installs a boundary of buoys in an effort to resolve the fight for space between paddlers and swimmers at Ala Moana Beach Park

The buoys were placed in a row just off-shore as a way to prevent conflict in the water, only they instead caused some confusion.

The surf world is in mourning. Hawaiian waterman Marvin Foster has died.

Important clean energy projects have opened a rift in Hawaii's environmental community.

Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative was informed Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Justice has obtained an indictment of the cooperative for violations of the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

The central Pacific should see only two or three tropical cyclones this hurricane season — fewer than normal — but federal and state officials yesterday pleaded with everyone to be ready for the Big One.

U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka met Wed- nesday with Solicitor General Elena Kagan regarding her nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Hannemann campaign official says mayor will run for governor

State elections officials began counting the ballots in the special election for Congress yesterday while the top candidates made last-minute appeals to voters.

Hawaii elections officials on Wednesday reported that 46 percent of the ballots in the special election for Hawaii's congressional race have been returned.

In Hawaii's winner-take-all special election to fill a 1st Congressional District vacancy, candidates are struggling before Saturday's deadline to increase voter turn out.

The election of either Charles Djou or Colleen Hanabusa in this Saturday's Congressional District 1 election would put into motion a process leading to a short-term replacement.

A proposal to build the world's largest telescope atop Mauna Kea has cleared another hurdle.

The state is feeling more optimistic about the strength of the economic recovery.

Big Island homeowners fearful that a neighbor's tree may fall onto their property and cause damage or injury don't have many places to turn.

When longtime residents of this small town needed a road paved, they did what families here have done for years -- they contacted their county councilman and asked. And asked. And asked.

Some Hawaii County Council members say they want greater assurances a reorganized Transportation Agency won't cost more before they approve it as part of the budget.

Maui fire officials and their supporters made a last-ditch effort Tuesday to oppose funding cuts for the county's fire and rescue helicopter, but County Council members stuck with their plan to trim $90,000 from the program.

As far as massacres go, the one that occurred in Hilo on Aug. 1, 1938, was mild, resulting in 50 injuries and no deaths.

Charlene Prickett said her friends are going to make her a T-shirt that on the front reads "FHB -- fucking haole bitch, the lady at the end of the street," and on the back, "My friends call me Charlene."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Property tax increases looming in counties across the state, Native Hawaiian remains at issue on Oahu, Kauai, state health subsidy aims to stem unemployment, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

The tax increase on people who own their homes but don't live in them was presented as a way to protect resident homeowners from additional taxes.

Farmers and hoteliers joined forces Monday to decry tax increases they say hit the county's two main economic drivers the hardest.

The public sent a unanimous message to the Hawaii County Council at a Monday night hearing: Don't raise real property tax rates.

The Maui County Council voted unanimously Monday to fix the real property tax rates as it had last discussed them in April, but two members voted with reservations.

A forensic anthropologist has confirmed that remains found by Army contractors Friday at a Schofield Barracks construction site were human remains, the Army said Tuesday.

More than five years after opening for business, the Keeaumoku Street Walmart and Sam's Club have seen the end to a legal challenge to their construction.

Wailua path project delayed amid Hawaiian protest

Hawaii's special election wraps up this weekend, but what happens after the next Congressional Representative is chosen?

Tax collections needed to pay the city's share of a planned elevated commuter rail line are running flat year-over-year with two months to go in fiscal 2010. If they continue at their current pace, transit tax collections are headed for a third straight year of little to no growth.

Small businesses in Hawaii are getting a big boost. The state says hire someone who is collecting unemployment right now and we'll help you pay for them.

As owners of a small home construction business in Waimanalo, Ozzy and Shontaz Naweli say one of the primary roadblocks to hiring new workers is the cost of providing health care.

In 2009, 95 percent of the applications were approved, meaning a record high 33,678 firearms were registered last year, outpacing the previous year by 30 percent.

The value of building permits authorized in Hawaii County increased in March, compared with the same month last year, while the number of permits decreased slightly.

A group of around 20 volunteers worked diligently last Friday to cultivate a small piece of land that soon will thrive with papayas, bananas and taro. This is not a farm or backyard–it’s in the heart of urban Honolulu at the Institute for Human Services (IHS) homeless shelter.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Keiki on board -- no smoke in car now law on Big Island, Hawaii Five-O coming back to TV, Lingle weighs in on congressional race, Abercrombie opens West Hawaii HQ, city parking contractors say boss stole $250,000, more top Hawaii news

Gov. Linda Lingle has rebuked claims made by Hawaii’s three former governors, who said Sunday electing republican Charles Djou to Congress would not bode well for the state’s congressional delegation.

Smiling candidate? Check. Photos with keiki? Yep. Red, white and blue background? Uh-huh. Prominently placed "Contribute" button. Duh.

Hawaii elections officials are reporting that almost 41 percent of the ballots mailed to registered voters in the contest for Hawaii's vacant congressional seat have been returned.

The delay of state refund checks has been lifted, somewhat.

Gov. Linda Lingle said yesterday that she would release most tax refunds sooner than expected because revenue collections have improved as the state's economy improves.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Neil Abercrombie opened his West Hawaii campaign headquarters Sunday evening in Kailua-Kona, where he encouraged people to "break away from the false comfort of the status quo" and help change the current political climate.

Even though it has not been announced by CBS, a revamped version of "Hawaii Five-0" will finally see the light of day as part of the network's upcoming fall season lineup

'Hawaii Five-O', take two! In showbiz slang, the Five-O pilot has been picked up.

When the owners of KGMB9, KHNL and K5 television stations launched Hawaii News Now in October, they characterized the deal as a newsroom merger and not as an ownership change.

A bill signed into law yesterday expands the list of felony charges that prosecutors can levy against a suspect without going through the grand jury process.

Local anti-smoking advocates are applauding a new Big Island law that prohibits smoking in a vehicle when a minor is present.

The former general manager of a city parking concessionaire told KITV4 two city officials and co-workers helped a former city parking lot manager steal $250,000 from two city parking lots.

At the Big Island Regional Underwater Remote Operating Vehicle (ROV) Tournament, held Saturday at the University of Hawaii at Hilo Student Life Center Pool, Hilo High student Quintin Watanabe prepares to launch his team's underwater robot.

A new Kihei high school, a second Wailuku elementary school, a replacement cafeteria at Paia Elementary and a bigger one at Lahainaluna High School are the Maui District's big-ticket items moving forward soon, a top state Department of Education official said recently.

What can you do with $287? That is the fine for having an illegal tint on an automobile as stated in the citation book used by Kaua‘i Police Department officers.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cockfight bust scatters 500, former governors band against Djou, televised Honolulu City Council meetings could fall to budget ax, UH studies deep-sea vents, Hilo branch to get new chancellor, more Hawaii news

A deep-sea expedition headed by a University of Hawaii geologist has yielded insights into one of Earth's most active volcanic areas, in the Galapagos Islands.

Showing a united front in a party that has been described as divided, Hawaii's last three governors, all Democrats, warned yesterday that the election of Republican Charles Djou to the U.S. House would be a setback for Hawaii.

Three former Democratic governors asked voters yesterday to choose a Democrat in the special election for Congress and prevent Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou, a Republican, from taking advantage of a divided electorate.

Less than a week left in the special election and democrats are worried a republican could win the race for congress.

The latest ad campaign from Republican Charles Djou blasts Democratic opponent Ed Case.

Three of Hawaii's past governors are calling on voters to keep the 1st Congressional District seat Democratic

Here are some of the questions and answers that didn't make it into our one hour long debate-- like what the candidates have done and will do to help small businesses.

When construction begins on Honolulu's rail line is now up to the governor and federal government. But it's unlikely that the mayor who's been the force behind the project will be in his office for the groundbreaking.

Four O'ahu men have been charged with animal cruelty after Honolulu police raided a Nānākuli cockfight attended by an estimated 500 people Saturday afternoon.

Residents of Hakimo Road in Nanakuli have split opinions regarding a massive police raid in their neighborhood Saturday. Officers armed with a search warrant broke up a cockfighting event that was attended by an estimated 500 people.

Fifty-one of the most beautiful women took the stage for the 2010 Miss USA Pageant.

A plan by some City Council members to chop funding for the televised broadcasts of its committee meetings is starting to draw protests from their colleagues and others.

New legislation would place limits on the use of leaf blowers, offering some relief to residents from the noisy machine — but not as much as some had hoped for.

Mayor Billy Kenoi's administration appears to be moving quickly to convert the Hawaii County Band into a private nonprofit corporation.

The dean of science at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona has been tabbed to succeed Rose Tseng as University of Hawaii at Hilo chancellor.

West Hawaii, which accounts for 76.2 percent of all property value in the county, is set to be hit the hardest by property tax hikes proposed by Mayor Billy Kenoi.

The 10th Maui Matsuri was held on Saturday at the University of Hawaii Maui College.

Biotechnology is a viable industry, said agricultural expert Douglas Jones during a luncheon hosted by the Hawai‘i Crop Improvement Association and the Chamber of Commerce last week at JJ’s Broiler.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Engineering Division will hold a public information meeting on Wednesday, May 19, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. to discuss a planned improvement project at Maalaea Small Boat Harbor.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Just sayin' -- Veil of secrecy threatens access to Hawaii public records

I guess if a journalist were allowed to have an opinion about anything, it would be access to public records.

So it's appropriate here to post two letters the Society of Professional Journalists Hawaii Chapter recently sent to Gov. Linda Lingle, asking her to veto two insidious bills the state Legislature passed this year. I'm the signatory on these letters, and I did write them, but they represent the opinion of the SPJ board, on behalf of FOIA-ers everywhere.

As a moonlighting FOIA lobbyist, I guess I’d better keep my day job. Lingle on Wednesday signed the bill formerly known as “vexatious requestor” and now simply known as the  “birther” bill, and we can only hope that it won’t take on a life of its own and continue past its original purpose. Talk about vexatious!

Still to come – what the governor decides to do with the public’s right to know about complaints filed against their dentists, builders, real estate professionals, etc. Think HB1212 is a bad bill? It’s not too late to register your concerns with the governor’s office.

Stay tuned here or follow me on Twitter for updates on this bill and other government news. Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. I’m just sayin.

Friday, May 14, 2010

You don't have to be married to live on a boat, crowds gearing up for camping trips, congressional election tit for tat, windmills coming to North Shore, Furlough Fridays soon no more, monk seal dies, more news

A long running controversy over live-in boat rules at state run harbors, may soon be resolved.

Dozens of people across the island are sleeping on sidewalks and in city parks -- not because they are homeless, but because they are trying to get their hands on camping permits for Memorial Day weekend.

The state land board is poised to accept $350,000 in federal drug eradication funds.

A critically endangered juvenile female Hawaiian monk seal was found dead at Glass Beach near ‘Ele‘ele and Port Allen on May 6, but the cause of death has not been determined, said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Hawaiian Monk Seal Recovery Coordinator Jeff Walters

Hawaii's hotly contested special election to fill the 1st Congressional District seat vacated by Democrat Neil Abercrombie is moving into high gear nine days before ballots are counted May 22

"The election is pretty much over." That is the quote that sparked controversy in the special election for Congress. Charles Djou made the comment to a Washington DC reporter on Tuesday, but now says he's been taken out of context..

A political stalemate blocked efforts to restore furlough days to this year's public school calendar in Hawai'i, but the Board of Education may not have to rely on Gov. Linda Lingle's largesse next year.

Imagine there were no Furlough Fridays. Imagine if you try. Imagine that the teacher is in the classroom and the students are there, too.

The state yesterday fined the city and the company that operates the Waimānalo Gulch Sanitary Landfill $424,000 for violating their permit.

The North Shore is known for big surf, but could become famous for something else, Oahu's first wind energy farm in two decades.

The state Public Utilities Commission has approved a power purchase agreement between Hawaiian Electric Co. and the developer of a Kahuku wind farm project, described as the largest of its kind on O'ahu.

Buying a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle or trading in an old refrigerator for a newer energy-efficient model could pay off for Hawaii consumers.

The former manager of two Honolulu city parking garages in Downtown Honolulu will no longer fight charges that she stole about $250,000 in parking fees over a two-and-a-half year period

A state judge refused yesterday to dismiss theft charges against the wife of state Sen. Fred Hemmings.

A Maui County Council committee voted unanimously Wednesday to ban the use of hand-held mobile electronic devices, including cell phones, while driving.

Garden Island newspaper Publisher Randy Kozerski was driving to work yesterday when he saw a dark cloud ahead — at first thinking it was a "weird cloud," then realizing it was smoke.

More than $400 million in highway projects have been proposed by various government agencies, including Hawaii County, for 2011

An apparent misunderstanding over access to the beach below the old Papaikou sugar mill has put surfers on one side of the fence and landowners on the other -- literally.

The Maui Planning Commission took action Tuesday to advance a new Maui Bus transfer center at the Queen Ka'ahumanu Center and a new McDonald's restaurant in Lahaina.

Kaua‘i Economic Opportunity officials in a press release stated their pleasure with receipt of an Office of Hawaiian Affairs grant of $58,745 to assist in operation of the island’s only emergency homeless shelter.

The Pioneer Mill abandoned the sugarcane fields of Lahaina in 1999, and the browning of the once verdant slopes of the West Maui Mountains began.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lingle signs Obama birther bill, Honolulu budget includes tax hikes, layoffs looming for merged newspaper employees, Hawaii County police seek accreditation, more news from around the state

It's now law in Hawaii that the government can ignore repetitive requests for President Barack Obama's birth certificate.

Gubernatorial candidate Neil Abercrombie's plan to decentralize authority over public education in Hawaii to put more accountability at the school level drew support from campaign supporters Tuesday night in Waimea.

Real estate in Hawai'i's foreclosure pipeline hit a high for the year last month, signaling that homeowners continue to struggle with mortgage payments even as the economy and real estate market are showing signs of a slow recovery.

The Honolulu City Council has advanced a $1.8 billion city operating budget that includes funding for programs such as the Royal Hawaiian Band and Summer Fun, but also proposes to increase taxes on nonoccupant homeowners.

The Honolulu City Council moved another step toward a budget that raises the property tax on non-occupant homeowners, but promised to look for ways to minimize the increase before a final vote.

The merged Honolulu Star-Advertiser debuts June 7, with nearly 400 people losing their jobs in the process, according to the publisher of the combined newspaper.

Dennis Francis, Oahu Publications' president, said yesterday that the company should retain about two-thirds of the Star-Bulletin's 300 workers and about half of the Advertiser's staff of 580.

Nearly 35 percent of the state's mail-in special election ballots have been returned so far, state officials said.

On Nov. 5, 2002, Patsy Mink was re-elected to Hawaii's 2nd Congressional District with 52 percent of the vote. She had died six weeks earlier.

Former television news anchor Ramsay Wharton has filed candidacy papers for the Republican nomination for Hawaii's 2nd Congressional District seat.

Honolulu police officer Kevin Fujioka has been convicted in Las Vegas of possessing marijuana and driving drunk, both misdemeanor charges.

The Hawaii Police Department has applied for national accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi brought his budgetary justifications to a Kona audience Tuesday evening, detailing departmental cuts, furloughs and just how many funded, vacant county jobs remain.

An inmate who escaped from corrections officers during a funeral Saturday was back in police custody Wednesday afternoon after he was found in a vehicle in Kihei, police said.

With an estimated 500,000 people hiking the first two miles of the Kalalau Trail every year, from Ke‘e Beach to Hanakapi‘ai, closing the trail for maintenance purposes isn’t really an option, a state parks official said.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ed Case trailing in fundraising, Obama still popular at home, hydrogen cars coming to Hawaii, homeless buy one-way tickets, The Bus riders buying fake passes, news all around the state

Robert White came here about two years ago after living on the streets in Sacramento, Calif. He figured if he was going to be homeless, he might as well live in Hawai'i.

Hawaii's upcoming special election will fill a vacant seat in the U.S. House for only six months, but that has not stopped candidates from raising $3 million so far.

Charles Djou and Colleen Hanabusa continued to receive strong financial backing from their core groups — both topping $1 million since the start of the year — while Ed Case came in a strong third place heading into the final weeks of the special election for Congress.

State Senate President Colleen Hanabusa raised more than $364,000 in April in her bid for the 1st Congressional District seat, her campaign reported Tuesday.

What he’s Djou-ing here

A state known for high gas prices is becoming the go to spot for alternative fuel options.  Just days after Korean manufacturer CT&T tapped Hawaii to build electric cars, General Motors announced a deal with The Gas Company to bring hydrogen powered cars to Hawaii.

Auto-maker General Motors has teamed up with The Gas Company for a pilot project using hydrogen fuel to power vehicles.

Voters will decide this November whether they would rather trade in their elected board of education for an appointed one, but little data exists to help them make an informed decision.

Board of Education committee on Tuesday recommended a fee hike for the popular A+ after-school program.

Mr. President, can you still feel the Aloha spirit?

Honolulu Police on Tuesday called for stricter new laws dealing with people who brandish replica guns in public, or use them while committing a crime.

Hundreds of Oahu bus riders are being lured into buying "bargain" bus passes but are finding that using the fake cards will get them ejected from TheBus, city officials said yesterday.

Wedding bells could soon be ringing at the Ala Wai Boat Harbor, and some harbor residents don't like the sound of it.

Instead of heading to the chopping block, a 13,130-acre koa forest north of Hilo is going on the auction block.

Some members of the Hawaii County Council are taking a dim view of Mayor Billy Kenoi's proposal to balance the budget in part by raising property taxes.

First the architectural plans needed to be redrawn because the county administration omitted the County Council. Then the elevators had to be custom-made because the specs for the elevator shaft didn't fit any known elevator on the planet.

The mainland company that insured the bond for the Mamalahoa bypass wants more information from Hawaii County before handing over any money to county officials.

Power has been restored to about 1,400 Kahului customers who were left without electricity when a short circuit occurred on a power line on Dairy Road about 9:17 a.m. Tuesday, said Kau'i Awai-Dickson, spokeswoman for Maui Electric Co.

Sterling Kim's six-year struggle to build the Hale Mua affordable housing project has hit another barrier: a $12 million foreclosure action by a Colorado lender against the real estate and against the value of his hard-won government approvals.

Employees at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel spent four months building a four-man, single-hull Hawaiian sailing canoe.

Kaua‘i County Council members needed only one of the two scheduled sessions this week to tweak the mayor’s proposed budget.

Seventy-five homes for 100 years. That is the capacity of a new hydroelectric plant that was dedicated by Green Energy Hydro, Monday afternoon, in an albizia forest just outside of Koloa

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hotels more profitable, homeless invade Diamond Head, coqui coming to Oahu neighborhoods, Djou raising money as local Dems bicker, is state reneging on promise to investors? Top Hawaii news of the day.

Hotel occupancy climbed enough in March that the local lodging industry was able to turn the corner on a key measure of profitability for the first time in two years.

Even though Hawaii hoteliers are still offering room deals, a boost in occupancy statewide helped bring the industry a better return on its investment for March and for the first quarter.

Homeless Invade Slopes Of Diamond Head

First Congressional District candidate Ed Case has a new TV commercial that stops one step short of saying President Barack Obama endorses him.

Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou has seized the fundraising advantage in the special election for Congress, and likely has more cash available for the final two weeks of the campaign than congressman Ed Case and state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa.

The national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has made it official, saying it will spend no more money in the special election for Hawaii's vacant seat in Congress because an internal struggle among local Democrats could hand the seat to a Republican.

The state made a promise to investors. Then when the going got tough — a $1.2 billion deficit — lawmakers decided that they did not mean what they said.

Four Oahu high schools will be fitted with solar panels this year in a deal that will lower utility bills and save the state $1 million in roof repair costs.

What's that sound? You don't have to live in Hilo to hear that tell-tale chirp. Coqui frogs have been heard in neighborhoods all over Oahu.

Hundreds celebrate Saint Damien Day at state capitol

The possible disposition of 1,040 acres of Hawaii County's Paauilo lands will be the subject of a public meeting Mayor Billy Kenoi's administration has scheduled for later this month.

A former member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots program from World War II ditched her wheelchair, settled into the cockpit of a DA-20 Diamond Eclipse and relived her flying days Saturday.

Seventy-five homes for 100 years. That is the capacity of a new hydroelectric plant that was dedicated by Green Energy Hydro, Monday afternoon, in an albizia forest just outside of Koloa.

The wafting aroma of decaying animal carcasses is not something visitors should have to endure while enjoying Waimea Canyon’s beautiful vista, said Arthur Keale.

Employees at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel spent four months building a four-man, single-hull Hawaiian sailing canoe.

In January, Hawaii’s three former governors offered this plan for fixing our school system.