Thursday, March 31, 2011

Honolulu rail transit doubted, Hawaii Board of Education takes shape, Kona disaster center busy, barking dogs, golf subsidies, plastic bags debated, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

After weeks of escalating tension between Honolulu City Council members and the administration of Mayor Peter Carlisle, the council went public with a flood of concerns about the city's $5.5 billion rail project Wednesday. Civil Beat.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Wednesday reinforced his opposition to raising the Hawaii's broadest tax, saying it "isn't something we should be looking to" as the state struggles with deep budget problems. Associated Press.

The governor’s nine nominees for the Board of Education, announced yesterday, plan to meet for the first time April 26 to kick-start an overhaul of board operations, moving to audit BOE policies, shift more responsibility to the superintendent and decrease the number of employees in the board’s offices. Star-Advertiser.

BOE Appointees Include Former News Anchor, Attorneys, Academics, Execs. KITV4.

Word of the governor's announcement spread quickly on public school campuses across the state.KITV4.

Governor Neil Abercrombie announced his appointees for the new state Board of Education, tapping a diverse group of busy business executives, attorneys and even a former news anchor. Hawaii Reporter.

The Governor introduced his choices for the State Board of Education yesterday. Hawaii Public Radio.

The board consists of nine members - three from Oahu, three at-large, and one each from Hawaii Island, Maui and Kauai. Hawaii News Now.

In another step forward to advance the state’s public school system, Governor Neil Abercrombie today announced his appointments to the new Board of Education. Hawaii Independent.

Maui Memorial Medical Center CEO Wesley Lo is among nine people appointed to the Board of Education by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, the governor's office announced Wednesday. Maui News.

Preparations are on track for the Nov. 12 APEC Leaders' Meeting and the adjacent conferences that will bring at least 12,000 people to Hawaii including President Barack Obama and leaders of 20 other nations, according to members of the APEC Host Committee. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island residents continue to lag behind the rest of the state when it comes to healthy living. Tribune-Herald.

Oahu residents dodged a major disaster with the March 11 tsunami, city Department of Emergency Management officials said yesterday. Star-Advertiser.

Nearly 40 people visited Tuesday the Disaster Assistance and Recovery Center in Kailua-Kona, a one-stop shop offering information about disaster aid and services available in the wake of the March 11 tsunami, said state Civil Defense spokeswoman Shelly Ichishita. West Hawaii Today.

Zoo Director Manny Mollinedo faced his first tsunami after only three months on the job. During that emergency, the zoo lost one of its animals: a llama.KITV4.

South Kona councilwoman Brenda Ford wants to re-write the county code when it comes to barking dogs… Big Island Video News.

Joseph Wildman has withdrawn his nomination to be a judge in the 2nd Circuit Court. Pacific Business News

Marine helicopter crashes in Kaneohe Bay. Hawaii News Now.

The owners of Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu’s North Shore are renewing efforts to develop the property, but are willing to scale back a previous plan that called for five new oceanfront hotels with 3,500 rooms and condominium units. Star-Advertiser.

Bus fares, golf subsidies and the Hawaii County Band were fair game Wednesday as the County Council wrapped up three days of a department-by-department budget analysis. West Hawaii Today.

During a protest about local jobs going to mainland workers yesterday, deputy sheriffs arrested a union leader who used a bullhorn to make his statement at the Kalanimoku Building on Punchbowl Street. Star-Advertiser.

While water shortages and rate increases have plagued Molokai Irrigation System (MIS) users for years, the island’s state representative, Mele Carroll, has taken action to legally bind the Department of Agriculture (DOA) to provide water at a reduced rate. Molokai Dispatch.

Disagreement over Kaua‘i County Council rules of procedure took center stage Wednesday after committee members learned their vote not to approve an amendment to the plastic bag ban may have killed the bill. Garden Island.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hawaii economy dips, Italian coffee giant buys Kauai business, Maui plans open classroom, Hawaii County to pump $1 M into tourism, Akaka Bill redux, Puna residents file marijuana lawsuit, more

Hawaii Council on Revenues
The Council on Revenues Tuesday revised its projection on state revenues to decline to -1.6 percent, down from a March 10 forecast of .5 percent growth. Hawaii News Now.

As lawmakers prepare to write a budget addressing a shortfall estimated at up to $1.3 billion over three years, the state Council on Revenues was called back into session to set the tax revenues estimate on which, by law, the budget must be based. KITV4.

The forecast drop means a swing of more than 2 percent into negative territory, largely in line with what the administration had estimated in its end of fiscal year crunch. KHON2.

Hawaii’s Council on Revenues today revised downward its economic outlook by 1.6 percent. Hawaii Reporter

The State Council on Revenues met today at the request of Governor Neil Abercrombie. The Council lowered its projections more than 2 percentage points due to a number of factors. Hawaii Public Radio.

The Hawaii Council on Revenues Tuesday revised its forecast for the rest of the fiscal year, saying general fund revenue collections will decline by 1.6 percent, more than 2 percentage points lower than what the council had projected earlier this month Pacific Business News

The number of Hawaii visitors jumped 11.8 percent last month compared to the year before, but tourism officials responding to the data released Tuesday said they're girding themselves for a drop-off as travelers from Japan increasingly stay home in the wake of this month's devastating earthquake and tsunamis. Associated Press.

Hawaii County Council Chairman Dominic Yagong wants the county to spend $1 million to lure mainland tourists to the Big Island to fill a gap created by declines in Japanese visitors. West Hawaii Today.

From school furloughs to reductions in state services, many residents have been feeling the pinch over the past few years as Hawaii leaders have cut back because of the difficult economy. KITV4.

Dozens of people gathered at the state Capitol on Tuesday in a rally designed to raise awareness of the elderly suffering from hunger in Hawaii and encourage lawmakers to fund programs. KITV4.

The idea of taxing soft drinks may be making a comeback. Associated Press.

David Louie's nomination to be Hawaii attorney general does not appear to be in trouble, but Senate Judiciary Chairman Clayton Hee is not quite ready to sign off on a top appointment for Gov. Neil Abercrombie. Civil Beat.

U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, who has said he plans to retire after his current term expires next year, spoke on the Senate floor this morning as he re-introduced a bill to grant federal recognition for native Hawaiians, renewing his effort to win passage of a proposal that has been before Congress since 1999. Star-Advertiser.

More than a decade after it was set aside for preservation, a 20-acre site at Palauea could be transformed into a "living classroom" on Hawaiian culture, archaeology and agriculture under a proposal by the University of Hawaii Maui College. Maui News.

One of the three bidders to provide rail cars for Honolulu's transit system plans a formal protest of the contract award, which the city publicized would cost $574 million but has since acknowledged might amount up to $1.4 billion over the life of the contract. Star-Advertiser.

Rail opponents have added an attorney to their arsenal who helped write national environmental laws. Hawaii News Now.

Coffee giant Massimo Zanetti Beverage now owns Kaua‘i Coffee Company, the nation’s largest coffee estate. Garden Island.

For the sixth year in a row, the Legislature convened in a joint session to honor service members with Hawaii ties who were killed or died in a war zone, and to present their families with the state Medal of Honor. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu Zoo is in danger of losing accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Hawaii News Now.

New State Ferry Under Consideration. Molokai Dispatch.

Eight Puna residents have filed a lawsuit alleging that police, prosecutors and other county officials have failed to abide by the voter initiative making adult personal use of marijuana the "lowest law enforcement priority." Tribune-Herald.

The countdown is on for West Hawaii residents who've long-awaited their chance to pick up more live, over-the-air Hawaii Public Radio news, information and music broadcasts. West Hawaii Today.

Judge voids final EIS for housing project. Maui News.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hawaii Senate considers broad tax hike and delaying refunds, Hawaii council members call for furloughs, office buildings, Maui Ritz-Carlton on the block, more news

Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
An initial assessment of damage at Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument (Northwestern Hawaiian Islands) shows the tsunami that hit late on the evening of March 10 and early in the morning on March 11 did "tens of millions" of dollars in damage to infrastructure. Hawaii News Now.

Tsunamis generated by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake off Japan earlier this month swept up a one week-old Hawaiian monk seal pup and separated her from her mother at a remote atoll northwest of the main Hawaiian islands, but a state wildlife worker managed to reunite the pair shortly after. Associated Press.

Hawaii senators on Monday discussed raising taxes on everyone by increasing the general excise tax, the state's version of the sales tax that's paid on most transactions. Associated Press.

Closing this fiscal year's budget gap could include delayed tax refunds for the second year in a row. KHON2.

Facing lower tax collections due to falling Japanese tourism, the state Senate must cut deeper and potentially raise taxes on more residents than was proposed just three weeks ago by the state House.KITV4.

The senator in charge of finalizing the state's budget says Hawaii lawmakers have just two options to balance this year's budget: raid special funds or "completely shut down spending." Civil Beat.

State senators, growing impatient with the lack of budget details from Gov. Neil Abercrombie, asked yesterday when the governor plans to fulfill his campaign promise to restructure state government to help with the fiscal crunch. Star-Advertiser.

The state’s short and long-term fiscal crises appear to be …in one lawmaker’s words … pretty dismal. Hawaii Public Radio.

Representatives from all state departments and major agencies came before the senate ways and means committee to plead their cases for their share of state spending. KHON2.

Reality check. That is what Hawaii Senate Ways and Means committee members, and state administration officials, got today during an exchange between senators and the state budget director, Kalbert Young. Hawaii Reporter.

The poker bill going through the capitol is not a lottery or casino. Hawaii News Now.

The decision by Japan Airlines to slash flights to Hawaii by one-third adds to the challenges faced by the state's leading industry since the earthquake, tsunami and radiation scare crippled its No. 3 visitor market. Star-Advertiser.

Former Congressman Charles Djou said Sunday he's waiting to learn if fellow Republican Linda Lingle will run for U.S. Senate in 2012 before plotting his own political future.Tribune-Herald.

A resolution that urges the salary commission to forgo raises for city council members was passed unanimously Monday in committee. KHON2.

Three Hawaii County Council leaders said Monday during an hour-long back-and-forth with Mayor Billy Kenoi they think employee furloughs should continue, with Finance Committee Chairwoman Brenda Ford calling for a 4 percent reduction in force if they don't. West Hawaii Today.

In its continuing efforts to encourage the public to provide input on the future of Kaua‘i’s parks, officials said in a news release Monday that the county is conducting a survey through May 31. Garden Island.

Mayor Alan Arakawa released the Maui County budget for fiscal year (FY) 2012 to the Maui County Council for review a few weeks ago – $632 million. Arakawa also presented revenue of $686.7 million, an increase of $59.9 million compared to FY 2011. Molokai Dispatch.

The largest owner of office buildings in Honolulu is considering selling its portfolio of six properties, a move that could result in a new dominant landlord controlling nearly 10 percent of the market. Star-Advertiser.

The Ritz-Carlton in Kapalua will be sold at a foreclosure auction in May. Pacific Business News

Hawaii's highly decorated Japanese-American veterans of World War II prepared on Monday to receive what will likely be their final official commendation: the Congressional Gold Medal. KITV4.

The Honolulu Zoo's three tiger cubs had new homes lined up, but now those plans have changed. Hawaii News Now.

A recent AARP Hawaii survey of employed adults age 50 and up shows two thirds of them say they’ll work much longer if the economy doesn’t improve. Hawaii Independent.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hawaii hits budget wall, radiation leaks not threat to seafood, disaster center set in Kona, Maui buildings to reach new heights, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Gov. Neil Abercrombie appealed for fiscal responsibility Sunday in a message sent via email and posted on YouTube. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii is running out of time to find an estimated $232 million needed to balance the budget over the next three months, leading Gov. Neil Abercrombie's administration to consider emptying the state's hurricane relief fund. Associated Press.

Deep state funding reductions to education projected for the next two fiscal years will likely slow ambitious plans to boost student achievement and turn around low-performing schools, educators warn. Star-Advertiser.

Recent labor union settlements negotiated between the state and labor organizations will give thousands of workers at least four days off on a paid basis and bring an end to their furloughs.Hawaii Reporter.

Sen. Ron Kouchi says he is looking for guidance during the next two weeks in making difficult decisions on how to balance the current and future state budgets, citing the impact of the Japanese tsunami and the economic downturn. Garden Island.

Forty-eight other states have approved it in some form, but not Hawaii. Most lawmakers have consistently opposed it -- while admitting it happens regardless. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaiian Lawmakers Push Akaka Bill At State Level. Civil Beat.

Experts say radiation leaks cause no immediate threat to Hawaii's seafood. KHON2.

Hawaii’s “Aloha for Japan” tsunami relief effort announced it has collected more than $1 million in donations through March 25. Pacific Business News

The U.S. Coast Guard has completed a fly-over of the damage one of the world's largest marine reserves sustained in the tsunami. Associated Press.

Hawaii State Civil Defense will set up a disaster assistance and recovery center in Kona to offer help to people affected by the March 11 tsunami. Star-Advertiser.

During a tour Saturday of Kailua-Kona, U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono vowed to help secure federal funds and low-interest loans for those hit by the tsunami. West Hawaii Today.

A bill that would allow certain residential structures to be built higher than the current county code allows has passed first reading by the Maui County Council. Maui News.

The state has acquired 17 acres of land along the Big Island's North Kohala coast in an effort to preserve dozens of significant cultural sites and assist in marine habitat conservation efforts. Associated Press.

Following a near 17-day pause, lava is once again flowing from Kilauea Volcano's east rift zone, according to the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. Tribune-Herald.

On Prince Kuhio Day, many mark the 140th birthday of this Hawaiian royalty with a parade in Waikiki, while other remember an Alii by carrying on his legacy. KITV4.

Since January, there have been three fires that targeted boats belonging to North Shore Shark Adventures. Hawaii News Now.

Molokai Veterans Caring for Veterans (MVCV) are seeking a settlement to the lawsuit they filed against Maui County in September 2010, after years of delays in receiving a building permit for a veterans center. Molokai Dispatch.

When one lane of the new Wailua Cane Haul Bridge opens for traffic later this month or in early April, it will be the beginning of the expanded traffic flow pattern planned for the Wailua corridor. Garden Island.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Just sayin' : It’s called a privilege for reporters, but the ones it really protects are the citizens, the whistleblowers

What if Water- gate had never hap- pened?

What if whistle- blowers like Erin Brockovich were afraid to expose corporate and government wrongdoing that endanger people’s lives? What would our nation look like if everyday citizens were intimidated into keeping crucial information from the press?

What if the police, or trial lawyers seeking millions of dollars in damages, didn’t have to do their own legwork, bringing that burden of proof to a jury in the tried-and-true tradition of a judicial system guaranteeing civil rights? What if they could, instead, just scribble out a subpoena and grab a reporter’s notes about things that were told in trust and confidence?

That, my friends, is life without a shield law, also known as reporter’s privilege. It’s called a privilege for reporters, but the ones it really protects are the citizens, the whistleblowers.

Hawaii has such a shield law. Or it does, at least, until June 30. That’s the date the current law runs out, unless lawmakers make it permanent.

This limited news media privilege against the compelled disclosure of sources and unpublished information has successfully protected a journalist and a documentary film producer in Hawaii since it was enacted two years ago. More importantly, it has stood as a model for other states and a beacon to a free press, preventing untold subpoenas and threats to the exercise of journalistic endeavors.

It is difficult to quantify the negative, so it is not known how many journalists were not compelled to turn over their notes and sources because of the shield law. In short, however, there has been no documented harm to the state because of the shield law, and at least two cases where the law served its purpose in furthering a free press.

The state House sees the value in such a law. Bills by both the House Majority and the House Minority came forth this session to make the temporary law permanent. Talk about bipartisan support.

The House unanimously passed the bill March 3 and sent it along to the Senate. There it sits, with an April 8 deadline for a hearing, or it dies a quiet death. But not to act, is itself, an action, is it not?

There’s still time to get HB 1376 to a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Not a lot of time, granted. But time. Let’s at least get this important bill heard.

You can do your part by contacting Senate Judiciary Chairman Clayton Hee.

Thirty-eight states, plus the District of Columbia, have substantial protections in place, according to the The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

Should Hawaii -- the Aloha State, the state that embraces privacy and individual liberties even more than most – be the state that fails to protect that brave individual who comes forward to voice concerns about wrongdoing and corruption?  I hope not.

 Just sayin’.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Dengue fever in Pearl City, Big Island gets big bus, tsunami has a price tag, Honolulu councilman has transit conflict, hard to fire state workers, budget hole deepens, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
National Park Service firefighters have spent the week trying to prevent a wildfire ignited by Kilauea volcano from spreading through a protected rain forest inhabited by endangered Hawaiian plants and animals. Star-Advertiser.

Four people who live in the same Pearl City neighborhood are the first known Hawaii cases of locally contracted dengue fever since a 2001 outbreak in which 153 people were infected with the mosquito-borne viral illness, health officials announced yesterday. Star-Advertiser.

Data from the March 11 tsunami has given scientists more confidence in research predicting what coastal land around Hawaii will be inundated by tsunamis in the future.Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii disaster response officials are estimating the state suffered damages exceeding $30 million during this month's tsunami, a figure that could lead to the federal government providing money for repairs. Associated Press.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie is hoping to get federal aid for some of the $30.6 million of damages that occurred to Hawaii homes, businesses and property as a tsunami swept through the state on March 11. Hawaii Reporter.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie Thursday formally requested an Administrative Disaster Declaration from the U.S. Small Business Administration to help Hawai‘i Island homeowners, renters, businesses and nonprofits affected by the tsunami that swept across the state on March 11, states a release from the governor’s office. Associated Press.

A 200-pound sea turtle was rescued near Kmart, and reef fish were spotted swimming in a pond at a Kahului parking lot, days after the Japan tsunami hit Maui earlier this month. Maui News.

Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had yet to identify the radiation that arrived here Monday from Japan, a state health official said yesterday he expects the isotopes that have been detected on the West Coast to be seen in Hawaii, and in similarly low levels. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii hotels were three-fourths full during the week ending March 19, and average room rates were generally higher compared to a year ago, according to Smith Travel Research and Hospitality Advisors. Pacific Business News.

The U.S. Department of Transportation will subsidize air service to and from Kalauapa, and will select an air carrier to service the remote community following a competitive bid process, Senator Daniel K. Inouye, Senator Daniel K. Akaka and Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono announced today. Maui News.

The Abercrombie administration, not waiting for the state Council on Revenues to update its forecast, has put the projected two-year budget deficit at $1.3 billion. Star-Advertiser.

The state's top budget official has raised his estimate of the budget hole lawmakers will have to fill: The total shortfall is now $1.3 billion — more than one-third larger than previous estimates. Civil Beat.

Gambling seemed all but dead at the legislature this session. But the odds are suddenly better that some form of poker could get to the Governor’s desk. Hawaii Public Radio.

It's as difficult to fire someone from Hawaii state government as it is from the federal government, Civil Beat has learned. Civil Beat.

Hawaii senators and the state Department of Education are pushing a bill that delays a requirement for state schools to have a full 180-instructional day year until 2014. Associated Press.

Honolulu City Council Chairman Nestor Garcia told KITV4 News Thursday that he will begin officially declaring that he has a conflict of interest on the rail transit issue when it comes up for votes in the council. KITV4.

Hawaii County's new double-decker bus has arrived, and county staff is already reporting problems navigating the 14-foot-tall monstrosity around the Mass Transit Department's baseyard in Hilo. West Hawaii Today.

The Honolulu Police Department said it's seeing far fewer people applying to be police officers compared to the last time it accepted online applications in the fall. As a result, H.P.D. will extend the application period for another week. KITV4.

Cash-strapped Hawaii County plans to save $40,000 a year by taking bread literally from the mouths of its workers.Tribune-Herald.

On Thursday the first commercial wind project on Oahu was dedicated in Kahuku on the island’s North Shore, making renewable energy a reality. KHON2.

Aina Lea developers are hoping the third time might be the charm for their proposed 1,060-acre South Kohala residential and commercial development proposal. West Hawaii Today.

Voter turnout for Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative’s 2011 board of directors election was lower this year than last year despite its continued efforts to expand the methods in which voters could cast a ballot. Garden Island.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Hawaii wants its tourists back, emergency funding, gambling bills at issue, Kauai to add garbage tax, maui praises wind farm, rail tranist lauded, more news from the Hawaiian Islands

Quiet Waikiki (c) 2011 All Hawaii News
Online travel companies are appealing $170 million in assessments from the state in unpaid hotel occupancy taxes, but the Attorney General's Office says it intends to collect from several online travel companies including Orbitz, Travelocity and Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority is spending nearly $3 million to secure more flights to Hawaii, while reaching out to other untapped markets -- all in an effort to lessen the blow of the big decline expected in Japanese visitors. KITV4.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority will mount a $3-million-plus recovery plan to offset substantial losses related to the tsunami and earthquake in Japan and the radiation scare. Star-Advertiser.

The state Council on Revenues plans to hold a special meeting Tuesday to revisit its general fund forecast after this month’s magnitude-9.0 earthquake in Japan that is expected to have a drastic impact on state tourism. Star-Advertiser.

Officials with the Hawaii Tourism Authority on Wednesday laid out plans for a new recovery strategy to offset more than $200 million in anticipated losses from fewer Japanese visitors coming to the Islands. Pacific Business News

The preliminary Big Island price tag on damage from the March 11 tsunami is almost $14.2 million. Tribune-Herald.

A proposal that would allow events like the World Series of Poker to take place in a Hawaii hotel or resort was passed in two legislative committees Wednesday. KITV4.

Just when the public thought lawmakers had killed all forms of proposed-gambling in Hawaii there's a new proposal up for debate. KHON2.

A bill that would have given tax breaks to parents buying back-to-school supplies for their children has been gutted and replaced with language allowing internet poker games and poker tournaments in Hawaii. Hawaii Reporter.

Mauna Kea State Lands to be discussed at Hawaii Senate Committee. Big Island Video News.

An Oahu judge on Wednesday ruled in favor of the city of Honolulu in a lawsuit seeking to block the multi-billion dollar rail transit project. Hawaii News Now.

The good news for supporters of Honolulu’s rail project did not end at the courthouse Wednesday where Circuit Court Judge Gary Won Bae Chang dismissed a lawsuit that challenged construction of the $5.5 billion system. KHON4.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood on Wednesday pronounced Honolulu’s $5.5 billion rail transit project a model program, but sidestepped questions about how his agency would react if state lawmakers raided $200 million funding for the effort. Hawaii Reporter.

Starting July 1, the Kauai County will start charging a trash collection fee, which will be added to property tax bills. Garden Island.

Mayor Billy Kenoi is proposing that West Hawaii get a big chunk of county's capital improvement projects this year, a circumstance that likely reflects the region's rapid growth, solid tax base and developer contributions. West Hawaii Today.

Young girls in Hawaii are bought and sold as easily as pizza. Honolulu Weekly.

Building more affordable work force housing has been debated and studied for decades in Hawaii. Hawaii Public Radio.

The giant turbines in the hills above Kahuku have been pumping power into Hawaiian Electric's grid since the middle of December with no hiccups. Hawaii News Now.

Maui planning commissioners Tuesday praised a proposed wind farm as a "wonderful, wonderful project" but raised doubts about getting the massive equipment to the remote location on the southwest flank of Haleakala between two sections of the Auwahi native plant restoration area. Maui News.

A month after denying a cell phone carrier a permit to install a 150-foot pole by Halfway Bridge on Kaumuali‘i Highway, the county Planning Commission on Wednesday granted Sprint/Nextel a request for reconsideration. Garden Island.

FACT CHECK — Abercrombie: I Helped Put 'Thousands' of Federal Employees Back to Work. Civil Beat.

The man who became inextricably linked to Hawaii's 1959 statehood as a grinning newsboy in an iconic photo has died. Associated Press.

Hawaii's legislative leaders have appointed members of a commission charged with redrawing district lines for elected state and federal lawmakers. Associated Press.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hawaii radiation fears rekindled, mini-furlough proposed for public workers, lawmakers consider tax hikes, plastic bag fees, gifts, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Trace amounts of radiation from Japan's nuclear crisis were detected in Hawaii for the first time Monday night as fallout spread as far as Iceland, officials said yesterday. Star-Advertiser.

The Conversation for 3/23: Stop worrying about radiation! Hawaii Public Radio.

The more than 250 people who attended an emergency preparedness meeting in Ewa Beach Tuesday night were told Hawaii does not face the same kind of tsunami threat as Japan and that people here should have confidence in the state's published tsunami evacuation zones. Hawaii News Now.

The National Weather Service has issued an advisory of strong winds for all islands. Associated Press.

The state Civil Defense will test Oahu sirens on Wednesday and Thursday on Oahu. KITV4.

Recovering from the tsunami: PBN’s continuing coverage. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii's government employers, the four county mayors and the governor, may be offering a mini-furlough to government workers in effort to win approval of a 5 percent pay cut. KITV4.

State Senate President Shan Tsu­tsui said yesterday that a general excise tax increase is an option to close the budget deficit. Star-Advertiser.

Choosing paper or plastic bags may cost you a nickel in the future.  Lawmakers are strongly considering a bill aimed at shifting public behavior from single-use plastic and paper bags to re-usable bags. KHON2.

Hawaii will remain one of a handful of states where the attorney general is appointed, after the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday rejected a proposal to make it an elected position. Star-Advertiser.

After hearing strong opposition, the House Judiciary Committee delayed a decision on a bill to allow state employees, including lawmakers, to accept free tickets to nonprofit fundraisers and even foreign junkets without restrictions. Star-Advertiser.

Legislators quizzed state Ethics Commission executive director Leslie Kondo this afternoon about recent guidance he has delivered on gifts that lawmakers may not accept under the state Ethics Code. Hawaii Reporter.

US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is in Hawaii tonight -- his first visit to the Islands since being appointed to the cabinet-level position by President Obama two years ago. KHON2.

Although U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was the guest of honor at a Tuesday night gathering of politicians and union leaders in a Hilton Hawaiian Village conference room, the event was mostly a testament to Sen. Dan Inouye's influence. Star-Advertiser.

A month after denying a cell phone carrier a permit to install a 150-foot pole by Halfway Bridge on Kaumuali‘i Highway, the county Planning Commission on Wednesday granted Sprint/Nextel a request for reconsideration. Garden Island.

The developer of a regional mall planned for East Kapolei on Department of Hawaiian Home Lands property received approval yesterday from the Hawaiian Homes Commission to build a small phase initially and defer paying rent on most of the land for up to six years. Star-Advertiser.

Hu Honua Bioenergy scored a major victory on Monday when a long-awaited report recommended the approval of its biomass-burning power plant in Pepeekeo. Tribune-Herald.

A tight county budget inspired little participation Monday evening, with only 10 people coming out to a County Council public hearing to comment on the $366.1 million spending plan. West Hawaii Today.

Tower rises in place of old one. Maui News.

Mayor’s Aloha Garden sprouts more gardens. Garden Island.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hawaii transportation: Rapid transit, fast ferry, more cycles, higher vehicle taxes, Board of Education considers ditching its buses, more news

A bill that would establish a state-controlled, high-speed ferry system, much like the ill-fated Hawaii Superferry, cleared the Senate Transportation Committee yesterday. Star-Advertiser.

A Census worker cleared of trespassing last year after entering a Hawaii County police officer's property lost his bid Monday to have the officer and two others disciplined for their actions. West Hawaii Today.

To meet proposed budget reductions for the coming fiscal year, the Department of Education is considering getting rid of school bus service on Oahu, slashing the amount of per-student funding that schools receive by up to 6 percent and eliminating $11 million for special programs.Star-Advertiser.

Two proposals are moving through the legislature that would add to the cost of registering a car. KHON2.

Too many bills lacking cost or fiscal analysis are flowing through the state Legislature as Hawaii grapples with pension taxes and funding its schools, says a member of a conservative think tank on Oahu. Tribune-Herald.

A former employee with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources is under investigation by the attorney general. KHON2.

As Maui emergency officials prepared for the arrival of the tsunami from Japan on March 10, the new iPhones to coordinate their response were useless. KITV4.

Appraisers with the county’s real property assessment office will be conducting an island-wide review of all dwellings throughout the month of April and possibly part of May. Garden Island.

Command of U.S. Army Pacific changed hands yesterday in a ceremony reflecting Fort Shafter's multifaceted responsibilities, including the crisis in Japan, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and relations with Asia-Pacific nations. Star-Advertiser.

The 80 rail transit cars for the city's $5.5 billion project will cost $574 million to build. Star-Advertiser.

Troubles meeting deadlines have plagued the company awarded the $574 million contract to provide rail cars and a control center for Honolulu. Civil Beat.

City Says Rail Contracts Coming in Under Budget; Critics Not Convinced. Hawaii Reporter.

Italy, famous for its food, architecture, and art can apparently build a pretty good train too. Hawaii News Now.

Gas Prices Driving Up Moped, Motorcycle Business. KITV4.

Hawaii law enforcement is looking for a tool straight out of a TV cop show. Hawaii Public Radio.

Only about 20 percent of former HansenĂ­s disease patients who died in Kalaupapa have been given a proper grave, but with a commemorative memorial on the way, the remaining 80 percent will finally be recognized. Molokai Dispatch.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hawaii food prices going up, lawmakers see smaller budget, Maui mayor wants 20% spending hike, Kaui grapples plastic bags, Kona coffee labeling sought, guidebook authors could be liable, more Hawaii news

Hawaii Island cattle (c) 2011 All Hawaii News
Hawaii's ranching industry is recovering from several years of crippling droughts. KITV4.

Food is costing more.  Some Hawaii businesses are feeling the effects of rising wholesale food prices on the mainland. Hawaii News Now.

Tourists from Japan are still flying in to Hawaii, but some interviewed yesterday brought pangs of guilt with them. Star-Advertiser.

A week after the tsunami hit, the number of visitors from Japan has declined, but it hasn't fallen off a cliff. Tribune-Herald.

Here at home...retail stores who import products from Japan have been working closely with the federal government to ensure products are safe to sell and consume. KHON2.

The Hawaii lawmaker now in charge of finalizing the state's budget says the draft he's been handed is out of date and no longer relevant in light of recent world events — and he predicts the deficit will top $1.2 billion, triggering even more spending cuts and potentially bigger tax hikes. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii Legislature has narrowed the number of bills it's considering from 3,224 to more than 600. KHON2.

Ironing out the tax code, state House lawmakers want to suspend general excise tax exemptions for several business activities over the next few years to help reduce the budget deficit. Star-Advertiser.

A bill moving through the Hawaii Legislature would require the authors of visitor guidebooks or websites about Hawaii to warn readers of potentially hazardous conditions at any recommended site located on private land. Associated Press.

A bill that would prohibit using the word "Kona" on a bag of coffee unless its use is part of a trademarked name is moving forward in the state Legislature. West Hawaii Today.

Many lawmakers who received free invitations to a high-powered private reception next week at the Hilton Hawaiian Village will now have to pay $36.75 apiece to attend. Hawaii Reporter.

Arakawa proposed an overall budget of $632 million for Maui County, an increase of 20.6 percent over the current budget of $524.2 million. Maui News.

Action on an amendment that would loosen a county law banning plastic bags from check-out lines was postponed another two weeks after an O‘ahu businessman proposed an environmentally conscious option. Garden Island.

Central Maui could get a major new park complex under a proposal Mayor Alan Arakawa said he is making in coordination with Senate President Shan Tsutsui. Maui News.

Six contracts boost Hawaii’s electric vehicle industry. Pacific Business News.

A major taro restoration project in He`eia was hard hit over the weekend by the theft of most of its equipment and supplies. Hawaii Independent.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park firefighters continue to map and monitor the Napau Fire located on the east rift of Kilauea Volcano, which has burned more than 1,800 acres since it was first triggered by the March 5 Kamoa­moa fissure eruption. Star-Advertiser.

For communities around Maui County affected by tsunami destruction, funding for repairs may be on the way. Molokai Dispatch.

Hawaii State Civil Defense officials are encouraging residents to report any damage they suffered as a result of last Friday's tsunamis through Aloha United Way's 2-1-1 information and referral service. Associated Press.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Nuclear fallout misses Hawaii, Abercrombie, Obama try to quell fears, Hawaii tourism to take a hit, no dancing on Maui, big budget for Kauai, more news from the Hawaiian Islands

The first radioactive fallout from Japan's crippled nuclear plant reached Southern California early Friday, but the readings indicate levels far below a level that could endanger people, according to a diplomat. Associated Press.

Tourist arrivals in Hawaii have slowed as problems from the Japa­nese earthquake and tsunami continue to unfurl and radiation concerns mount. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie is telling Hawaii residents and tourists that Japan's nuclear emergency poses no danger to the islands. Associated Press.

As U.S. officials collect data from planes over the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, Gov. Neil Abercrombie today attempted to quell fears of radiation arriving in Hawaii. Hawaii Independent.

Government officials and commercial airlines are reassuring Hawaii residents that mail, cargo and people arriving from Japan do not pose a health risk. Hawaii News Now.

FAQ: Nuclear Radiation, From Japan to Hawaii. Civil Beat.

Aureana Tseu, a former Miss Hawaii USA, left her apartment in Tokyo, canceled appearances and returned to Honolulu Thursday. Hawaii News Now.

Isles' hurricane evacuation centers come up short. West Hawaii Today.

Donations are pouring in to aid organizations in the wake of last week's devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Tribune-Herald.

It’s illegal to dance in Maui bars and restaurants…except in designated areas. Certain permits are also needed. The strictly enforced rules have apparently been around for as long as anyone can remember. But a group of residents hopes to change that. Hawaii Public Radio.

Supporters of a proposal to build wind farms on Lanai and Molokai and transmit the power to Oahu via undersea cables say the proj­ect could help Oahu satisfy one-fourth of its electricity demand from the wind and sun by 2014. Star-Advertiser.

It appears state lawmakers won’t get updated state tax revenue projections until three weeks before this year’s legislature is scheduled to adjourn. Hawaii Reporter.

Only three members of Gov. Neil Abercrombie's Cabinet haven't yet been confirmed by the Senate following the chamber's approval of Richard Lim as director for the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. Associated Press.

Despite an unknown future for the Japanese — whose business on Kaua‘i has grown 42 percent since 2008 — Carvalho has proposed the highest-ever operation budget for Kaua‘i, topping the chart at $164.98 million. Garden Island.

Bruce Anderson will become president and CEO of Hawaii Health Systems Corp. on April 11. Pacific Business News

American Red Cross officials on Wednesday continued to help Molokai residents who had their homes pushed off foundations and sustained other damage during last week's tsunami. Maui News.

More than 250 Kona Village Resort employees are out of work while the luxury resort is closed due to damage caused by Friday's tsunami.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hawaii House moves budget, governor proposes tech czar, Honolulu symphony assets on auction block today, Maui postpones end to furloughs, Honolulu 30% gas tax hike proposed, Kauai mayor wants 12% budget increase, tsunami relief, more news

Puuhonua o Honaunau Photo (c) 2011 All Hawaii News
Powerful tsunami surges hit Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, stole the sand and uncovered "cultural and historical evidence," including sites where posts once stood and fires ignited, said Eric Andersen, the park's chief of interpretation. West Hawaii Today.

The state House yesterday approved its draft of the two-year state budget, but with an asterisk. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie is saying that he's "flexible" on raising the state's general excise tax, its broadest source of tax income. Associated Press.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie is establishing a new Office of Information Management and Technology, assisted by a $3 million grant from e-Bay founder Pierre Omidyar. Pacific Business News

A $3 million effort to modernize the state's computer and technology systems aims to streamline core governmental functions and eliminate redundancy across departments, Gov. Neil Abercrombie said yesterday in announcing the public-private partnership.Star-Advertiser.

The chairman of the Council on Revenues says the effects of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant crisis could materially affect Hawaii tax revenues, a development that would exacerbate the state budget shortfall. Hawaii News Now.

Governor Neil Abercrombie said Wednesday the state will be agressive and not "lie down" and accept the consequences of falling Japanese tourism. KITV4.

The Governor says the tragic tsunami in Japan … …the nuclear threat there and the potentially long road to recovery are foremost in the minds of state leaders.Hawaii Public Radio.

The U.S. Postal Service in Hawaii has begun checking mail arriving from Japan after mail in San Francisco and New York showed low levels of radiation, USPS officials said. KITV4.

So what’s all the potassium iodide hype about? Hawaii Independent.

Island banks are teaming to serve as collection points for the "Aloha for Japan" relief effort. KHON2.

The Hawaii Ethics Commission today opposed a bill that would loosen restrictions on gift-giving to public officials, including legislators. Hawaii Reporter.

Ron Tam and Ed Watamura are just two of the state's many commercial and recreational fishermen who disagree with the state's outright ban on bottom fishing in a dozen so-called spawning areas. Hawaii News Now.

The defunct Honolulu Symphony’s assets will be auctioned beginning at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Waikiki Resort Hotel. Assets include its music library, two grand pianos and other instruments. Pacific Business News

Hawaii Electric Light Co. is working to correct recent Big Isle customers' electric bills that were higher than normal following the company's use of estimated meter readings while utility workers were on strike. West Hawaii Today.

The Honolulu City Council advanced measures to raise the gas tax 30 percent over three years. KHON2.

The mayor's proposed city budget for the 2012 fiscal year reached the city council Wednesday and was criticized for raising fees and taxes while showing no effort to reorganize city priorities or cut waste. KITV4.

Mayor Peter Carlisle is recommending setting aside more than $43 million to fund 1,095 vacant positions as part of his operating budget for next year. Civil Beat.

Mayor Peter Carlisle’s administration has informed the City Council that it won’t be submitting an operating or capital improvement budget for the rail project in the upcoming year, saying instead that will be the purview a new authority that begins work on July 1. Hawaii Reporter.

A proposal to end furlough days for Maui County workers was deferred without objection Tuesday afternoon by members of the County Council's Budget and Finance Committee. Maui News.

Kauai mayor's budget proposal up 12% over current fiscal year. Garden Island.

In the face of a gloomy economy and uncertain impacts from the disaster in Japan, Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.’s administration has put forward an operating budget for next fiscal year that would almost entirely clean up the county’s reserve fund. Garden Island.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie made a brief visit to Maalaea Harbor on Tuesday afternoon to assess damage at the state's small-boat harbor, one of the areas hardest hit by last week's earthquake-generated tsunami. Maui News.

County Council members on Tuesday took a step toward rescinding their endorsement of selling 737 acres in Paauilo to balance the county budget. Tribune-Herald.

Authorities say lava-ignited fires from a volcano eruption in Hawaii continue to spread across Volcanoes National Park. Associated Press.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hawaii surf's up! Wind advisory set, Abercrombie tours tsunami damage, officials downplay radiation threat, Kauai plans garbage fee, more news from the islands

Paddle boarder (c) 2011 All Hawaii News
The late-winter megawaves and big-wave riders delighted, mesmerized and inspired awe in kids and adults — visitors and locals alike. Star-Advertiser.

Lifeguards made 24 rescues and assists and issued 2,375 warnings because of high surf on the North and west shores, Ocean Safety Division officials said. Star-Advertiser.

The National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory for all islands starting at 6 a.m. Wednesday through Thursday morning. KHON2.

The state is under a wind advisory today as strong and gusty trade winds whip the islands, forecasters said this morning. Star-Advertiser.

Fear for nuclear fall out is running high in Hawai'i but the state department of health says there is no radiation hazard and the department continues to monitor air quality around the clock. KITV4.

State health officials say there is no increased risk of harmful levels of radiation exposure in Hawaii from Japan, and they're advising the public against taking potassium iodide supplements as a precaution. KHON2.

In a dark warehouse near the Honolulu International Airport, there is a truck that looks like an ambulance but acts more like a mobile biohazards lab. Civil Beat

State health officials said Tuesday there is no reason to believe a plume of nuclear fallout from Japan has invaded Hawaii air space. Hawaii News Now.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie yesterday toured areas of the Big Island and Maui hardest hit by Friday's tsunami and returned to Oahu with an upbeat message that Hawaii remains open for business even as it digs out from muck and debris. Star-Advertiser.

Governor Neil Abercrombie toured several spots on the Big Island and Maui hit hard by the tsunami. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie got a first-hand look at the statewide damage from last week's tsunami and the effort to clean up the mess left behind. KITV4.

In his first trip to the neighbor islands since the tsunami ripped through Hawaii early Friday and caused damages estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars, Gov. Neil Abercrombie got some good news. Civil Beat.

Alii Drive in Kailua-Kona looked much different during Governor Abercrombie's visit on Tuesday than it did on Friday. KHON2.

The county says there is no dollar estimate yet of damage to the Big Island caused by Friday's tsunami, although statewide damages are estimated in the "tens of millions" of dollars. Tribune-Herald.

State lawmakers who toured Keehi Lagoon Tuesday say as many as 60 boats may have been sunk when the tsunami hit Hawaii last week. Hawaii News Now.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie made a brief stop at Maalaea Harbor Tuesday afternoon to talk to those affected by Friday's tsunami and assess damage to the small-boat harbor. Maui News.

Civil Defense officials from Oahu surveyed Lahaina and Maalaea harbors as well as areas in Spreckelsville on Monday afternoon to assess damage caused by Friday's tsunami. Maui News.

Kauai County plans to begin charging a fee for residential garbage collection in July. Associated Press.

Navy archeologists are studying human skeletal remains found by a fisherman at Pearl Harbor. Associated Press.

A 12 percent reduction in residential energy use equates to one billion dollars in savings for Hawaii. Hawaii Public Radio.

Land Trust looking to keep North Shore country with Hawaii’s first greenprint. Hawaii Independent.

Thousands of seabirds were killed when the tsunami generated by last week's massive earthquake off Japan flooded Midway, a remote atoll northwest of the main Hawaiian islands, a federal wildlife official said Tuesday. Associated Press.

Hawaii Rep. Mazie Hirono was born in the Fukushima Prefecture and spent several days worried about the well-being of friends and family there. KITV4.

KCCC prisoners ‘stay put’ through tsunami warning. Garden Island.

ML Macadamia Orchards LP reported a net loss of $1 million, or 14 cents per diluted share, on revenues of $7.6 million for the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2010. Pacific Business News

The Molokai Community Plan, last updated in 2001, is on the move after holding community engagement workshops last October. Molokai Dispatch.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie says tourism in Hawaii is likely take a big hit in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunamis that have devastated Japan, as Japanese visitors cancel trips or hold off on future vacation plans. Associated Press.

Last week’s tsunami and earthquake in Japan thwarted plans for a joint concert featuring a Japanese community band and the Honolulu Community Concert Band. Hawaii Reporter.

Lisa Denning went to Kealakekua Bay Sunday to document the debris covering the reef and the cleanup efforts. West Hawaii Today.