Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Abercrombie launches re-election bid, UPW contract inked, elections, solar credit, ag bills die, beach-born baby rescued, Maui councilor proposes no-new taxes budget, DLNR tackles Native Hawaiian protesters, Tesoro postpones layoffs, Caldwell staff get pay hikes, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

United Public Workers contract
UPW Director Nakanelua, Hawaii Gov Abercrombie courtesy photo
More than 9,000 blue-collar workers for the state and counties have a new four-year contract that their union says acknowledges the sacrifices they made during tough budgeting times. Star-Advertiser.

The state inked another union contract Monday, the latest deal to come down before the legislative session comes to a close this week. Gov. Neil Abercrombie and county mayors signed a four-year agreement with United Public Workers Unit 1, which represents some 8,000 blue-collar employees. Civil Beat.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has formally launched his campaign to win a second term in 2014, saying Hawaii has built momentum coming out of recession and he wants it to continue. Associated Press.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie formally launched his re-election campaign Monday, citing the state's financial rebound and progress toward his "New Day" agenda as reasons voters should give him a second four-year term. Star-Advertiser.

Joined by Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and dozens of friends and supporters at Ward Warehouse Monday, Neil Abercrombie formally kicked off his 2014 re-election. Civil Beat.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie launched his re-election campaign Monday, as the Republican Party searched for an opponent to run against him in 2014. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie launched his 2014 campaign for re-election on Monday, promising to keep the state’s economy strong and to improve the educational system. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii lawmakers are preparing to vote on the final bills of the legislative session after a heated week of negotiations, but some advocates are disappointed several initiatives failed in the final hours after gaining momentum earlier. Associated Press.

Hawaii Lawmakers Set to Debate and Pass About 150 Bills in Final Hours of the 2013 Session. Hawaii Reporter.

A bill that would have required an evaluation of the chief election officer after each general election died because of a procedural gaffe in a legislative conference committee last week. Star-Advertiser.

A bill that would have changed the state tax credits for solar photovoltaic systems in Hawaii has failed to progress, leaving in place the administrative rules set by the state Department of Taxation that went into effect in November. Pacific Business News.

A contentious but at times comical scrap between Rep. Jessica Wooley and Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz has left in limbo $175 million in revenue bonds to preserve agricultural land. Star-Advertiser.

The Pacific Rim International Conference on Disability and Diversity is underway in Honolulu this week, and one thing they will be looking at is the connection between disabilities and prison incarceration. Hawaii Public Radio.

As a younger member of the Hawaii Supreme Court at age 46, Steven Levinson wrote the landmark opinion issued nearly 20 years ago that launched the debate over same-sex marriage that still reverberates today across the country and in the nation's highest court. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaiian Electric said on Monday that a record 13.9 percent of energy came from renewable sources last year. KITV4.

Hawaii Teacher: New Teacher Evaluation System Will Damage Education. Civil Beat.

State roundup for April 30. Associated Press.

Oahu

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is taking a pay cut, but those closest to him are already making more than their predecessors in the Carlisle administration. Civil Beat.

Whoever abandoned a newborn girl at Sandy Beach late Sunday night could have avoided prosecution by turning the baby over to the proper authorities, state officials said. Star-Advertiser.

A shocking discovery was made on a south shore beach overnight. A baby just hours old was found abandoned on the sand. KHON2.

There are about 4,000 bus stops on Oahu, and right now there are no restrictions on where people who are waiting for the bus can smoke. Hawaii News Now.

The owner of a local wheel boot company may lose his business if a bill is approved this week at the Hawaii Legislature. Civil Beat.

Tesoro Hawaii Corp. now says that it will hold off on laying off about 210 of its employees while the Texas-based refiner and marketer of petroleum products remains in discussions with potential buyers for its Kapolei refinery. Pacific Business News.

On Monday, as Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell led a walking caravan of local officials through downtown, traffic consultant Dan Burden challenged the group to make the streets there safer for pedestrians. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Sovereignty activists who planted a garden twice without permission near the King Kamehameha the Great statue in Hilo will be billed for the cost of removing their crops, William Aila, state Department of Land and Natural Resources chair, said Monday. Tribune-Herald.

Abel Simeona Lui, the colorful and controversial figure behind recent acts of Hawaiian sovereignty protests and civil disobedience around the island, will spend his 70th birthday in jail Wednesday. West Hawaii Today.

Real estate agents and appraisers agree — West Hawaii’s real estate market is hot again. West Hawaii Today.

A Fire Department hazardous materials team was unable to determine what caused people in the District courtroom at the Kona Courthouse in Kealakekua to begin coughing Monday morning. West Hawaii Today.

On Friday, state legislators approved $100,000 to fund early efforts to launch an international flight training center and advanced aviation degree program at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Tribune-Herald.

Safeway has settled a lawsuit filed by a customer over the labeling of its “Kona Blend” coffee. Big Island Now.

Maui

Maui County Council Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Mike White is seeking to cut Mayor Alan Arakawa's proposed county budget for next fiscal year by $23 million and is proposing to not raise any real property taxes. Maui News.

Council Member Mike White today proposed the stabilization of real property tax rates in fiscal year 2014. Maui Now.

Hale Makua Health Services is accepting applications for financial assistance to its Adult Day Health program in Kahului, thanks to a $25,000 grant from The Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation. Maui News.

Results of a remedial investigation of the ‘Āhihi Kīna‘u Natural Area Reserve in South Maui will be discussed during an upcoming public meeting, officials said. Maui Now.

Kauai

Seed crop producer Syngenta will move its Hawaii research operations from Oahu to Kauai in June, a company official said Monday. Star-Advertiser.

County building applications are set to go paperless this week. Effective Wednesday, building applications submitted electronically will receive priority over paper-based applications. Garden Island.

Kaua‘i’s unique topology and weather allows some of the best star gazing conditions at sea level, said Dr. James Dire. Garden Island.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Hawaii Legislature enters final week, minimim wage hike dies, PACS must name top campaign donors, state employee firings secret, Hawaii needs more hotels, officials warn of Kauai drownings, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy photo Hawaii Senate majority
Hawaii Legislature conference committee, courtesy photo
Committees of negotiators in the Hawaii Legislature have approved funding for several new initiatives, including proposals to revitalize emergency funds, create a new school readiness program and establish a new entrepreneurship initiative. Associated Press.

After discussing a slew of election-related bills this session, lawmakers agreed on a bill that will require political action committees to disclose in all advertisements the names of the top three donors that contributed to the message. Star-Advertiser.

Minimum Wage Hike Legislation Dies in Conference Committee. Hawaii Reporter.

The Media Council of Hawaii has sent a letter to all Hawaii state senators and representatives urging them to vote against House Bill 622, the weakened media shield law. Civil Beat.

Some federal and state officials are supporting the idea of shortening the permits process for work on traditional Hawaiian fishponds to encourage more restorations. Star-Advertiser.

State officials say they've recently discovered a conflict in state law that requires them to leave the public in the dark about government employees who are guilty of certain types of misconduct. Civil Beat.

In the past two years, state workers have been suspended and fired for a range of misconduct, including harassment, theft and workplace violence. Civil Beat.

By 2030, more than a third of Hawaii residents will be neighbor islanders, a reality that observers predict will almost certainly have repercussions big and small for everything from the state’s economy to its politics. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii interests are significantly scaling back on federal lobbying, the result of changes in the political landscape that are making it tougher to get issues through Congress and secure dwindling federal dollars. Civil Beat.

Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO Mark Dunkerley says that the state needs to provide an even more diverse mix of hotels to accommodate visitors to the Islands, including those from China. Pacific Business News.

Oahu
A new proposal before the Honolulu City Council would add bus stops to the growing number of places a person can't smoke on Oahu. Star-Advertiser.

For the first time in more than 60 years, fireworks didn't light up the night in Kailua last Fourth of July. Now a group of residents is raising money to make sure it doesn't happen again. Hawaii News Now.

An excess of fuel inside of a boiler is to blame for a stubborn fire that burned early Monday morning at the Pacific Biodiesel facility on Sand Island, according to sources at the scene. Hawaii News Now.

Ewa Beach residents are now officially ready for a natural disaster, said the National Weather Service. After the 2011 tsunami those living in the town felt that they were not fully prepared, so they took things into their own hands. KITV4.

Kahaluu Elementary principal selected as principal of the year. KHON2.

Hawaii

Just a few weeks after Mayor Billy Kenoi warned County Council members he was considering a property tax increase, the council will vote on forming a task force to consider the county’s real property tax rates and rules. West Hawaii Today.

It sometimes rains on the Veterans Day Parade parade in downtown Hilo, but never like this. The popular, annual November parade won’t be held this year due to the construction along Kamehameha Avenue, a key part of the six-year-old parade route, said the parade’s chairman and founder, Dan Kama. Tribune-Herald.

Leaders of the specialty coffee industry are traveling to the state’s largest agricultural district in May to learn about award-winning Ka‘u coffee. Tribune-Herald.

A lease of state land to a Colorado man nearly two decades ago has turned out to be a nightmare for Hawaii’s taxpayers. Big Island Now.

Maui

Maui County announced its selection of Anaergia Services of Carlsbad, Calif., for the county's Integrated Waste Conversion and Energy Project that will divert roughly 85 percent of waste from the Central Maui Landfill and produce renewable fuels. Maui News.

Honolua's Lipoa Point is one of few areas left in West Maui that has resisted commercial development, and now that state lawmakers have alloted $20 million toward its preservation, it is likely to stay that way. Maui News.

Maui received an "A" grade for air quality - the best in the state - in an American Lung Association national report that may raise the eyebrows of residents who have complaints about cane burning and dust from fallow fields. Maui News.

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa announced the selection of Anaergia Services for the county’s proposed Integrated Waste Conversion and Energy Project. Maui Now.

Kauai

A spate of visitor deaths this year has officials wanting to educate tourists about the dangers. Associated Press.

Residents may be puzzled as to why Census workers are knocking on their doors — three years after the last decennial count, and seven years until the next one. Two basic Census Bureau surveys are the American Community Survey and the Community Population Survey. Participants respond quarterly for two consecutive years to household questions in one and employment or job search information in the other. Garden Island.

Dive tournament targets invasive species. Garden Island.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Friday, April 26, 2013

Hawaii tourism up, solar credits dim, shield law perforated, Maui seeks auditor, HGEA contract votes, no credit for teacher supplies, Hawaii Island smoking ban working after 5 years, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Kona attractions copyright 2013 All Hawaii News
Hawaii luau (c) 2013 All Hawaii News
The number of visitors coming to Hawaii in the first three months of the year surged 7.1 percent to 2.1 million, but tourism officials said Thursday the industry’s growth will likely slow later in 2013. Associated Press.

A 7.6 percent increase in visitor arrivals and a 7.8 percent rise in visitor spending in March kept Hawaii's tourism industry ahead of last year's record numbers, but travel experts warned the growth rate could slow later this year. Star-Advertiser.

March turned out to be another month of growth for tourism in the state. The Hawaii Tourism Authority says overall visitor arrivals were up 7.6% compared to a year earlier, while visitor spending was up 7.8%. The number of tourists coming from Japan was also up—by a little more than four percent. And a growing trend for those Japanese visitors is a movement beyond Waikiki---searching for a more local experience. Hawaii Public Radio.

Key Hawaii lawmakers are deciding how to divvy up $30 million among several competing initiatives, including collective bargaining agreements and Gov. Neil Abercrombie's early childhood education initiative. KITV4.

Hawaii lawmakers are negotiating the details of proposals to allow the state to partner with private companies to develop some public land. Associated Press.

Consumers may soon be able to obtain low-cost loans to install solar and other alternative energy systems and then repay the loans through the savings on their electrical bills. Star-Advertiser.

A generous state tax credit that helped fuel the growth of solar but led to accusations of abuse would be reconfigured under a compromise pending before state lawmakers today. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Government Employees Association announced late Thursday that it would allow its unit of state professional and scientific workers to vote on a state contract offer even though it has not been endorsed by the union's negotiating team. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Growth Initiative, which would encourage entrepreneurs who might help diversify the state's economy, received a $6 million vote of confidence Thursday. State House and Senate negotiators agreed to provide financing next fiscal year for the Hawaii Strategic Development Corp. to start the initiative. Star-Advertiser.

Citing a lack of funds, lawmakers Thursday killed a proposed tax credit that would have helped teachers offset their out-of-pocket classroom expenses. Star-Advertiser.

Some Good Government Bills Still Alive. Civil Beat.

A panel of Hawaii lawmakers on Thursday approved a new draft of the state shield law that removes protections for free newspapers and magazines and requires that newspapers must be printed in order to be covered. West Hawaii Today.

State lawmakers Thursday agreed to make permanent a law that offers journalists limited protection from having to disclose confidential sources in court, but bloggers and other nontraditional journalists would be excluded. The bill would also expand the exceptions to the law beyond felony cases and civil lawsuits that involve defamation. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii journalists are decidedly unhappy with the latest version of the state shield law that protects reporters from having to reveal sources and turn over unpublished material. Now, they just want it to die. Civil Beat.

A Honolulu resident and law firm have filed a federal lawsuit accusing the Hawaii Medical Service Association of using anti-competitive practices to maintain a monopoly that has led to skyrocketing health insurance premiums for more than a decade. Star-Advertiser.

Colleen Hanabusa taking on Brian Schatz for U.S. Senate seems to have a lot of people excited. Civil Beat.

Oahu

A bomb scare halted operations at state Circuit Court, closed roads and shuttered area businesses for nearly five hours Thursday as police investigated a suspicious package that turned out to be harmless. Star-Advertiser.

It was business as usual at the Circuit Court and neighboring buildings by 1 p.m. Thursday, after a bomb scare caused evacuations and shut down Halekauwila between South and Punchbowl for hours during early morning rush hour. Hawaii News Now.

James Campbell High School wasn't built to hold thousands of students. Civil Beat.

More than 144,000 cars a day travel the H1 freeway between Middle Street and Ward Avenue so there really isn't a good time to close it but the state may not have any other choice. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu ranks #6 among American cities for its number of high-rises–472 buildings at least 12 stories tall–ahead of Philadelphia, Boston and Dallas. The thicket is about to get a lot thicker. Honolulu Weekly.

The impacts of sequestration on Hawaii’s most popular visitor attraction are actually benefiting some of its neighboring sites, including the Battleship Missouri Memorial. Pacific Business News.

The state is converting its antiquated departure lobbies at Honolulu International Airport into more modern facilities. Hawaii News Now.

A heavy downpour left Windward Oahu residents stranded Wednesday night. The Waikane Valley Stream spilled over into the road, shutting down Kamehameha Highway. KHON2.

Hawaii

It’s back to the drawing board for the county Salary Commission. After hearing from members of the public Thursday who were mostly opposed to proposed raises, the commission decided to do more work on the plan rather than implementing it in time for the new fiscal year that starts July 1. West Hawaii Today.

A 5-year-old tobacco use ban at Hawaii Island beaches and parks has made a noticeable impact on the quality of the environment at isle recreation areas, according to county officials. Tribune-Herald.

A $50,000 grant is headed to the nonprofit West Hawaii Community Health Center. The grant is aimed at supporting programs that focus on the treatment and management of chronic diseases in our community. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Gabbard Brings Cultural and Community Values to Congress. Maui Weekly.

New Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui plays an important role in Hawai‘i’s post-Inouye political landscape. Maui Weekly.

A Maui Family Court judge who was charged Tuesday with tampering with government records had submitted a letter that day saying she was retiring immediately, State Judiciary spokes­woman Marsha Kita­gawa said. Star-Advertiser.

Mimi DesJardins resigned as a 2nd Circuit Family Court judge Tuesday, the same day a complaint was filed in Wailuku District Court charging her with tampering with a government record, according to the state Judiciary. Maui News.

The application deadline for the newly created county auditor position has been extended to Tuesday, according to an announcement from Maui County Council Member Riki Hokama, chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee's Temporary Investigative Group. Maui News.

State lawmakers are reportedly considering a $20 million appropriation for efforts to acquire Lipoa Point at Honolua on Maui, supporters said. Maui Now.

After years of lobbying from both community residents and lawmakers, it looks like Kihei will finally have a high school complex to call its own. Maui News.

Kauai

If you missed the deadline to apply for a homeowners exemption based on low income, relax. The Kaua‘i County Council unanimously approved a bill Wednesday that extends the deadline. Garden Island.

A small but vocal group, donning umbrellas, rain jackets and signs, rallied Sunday against AT&T’s proposed 80-foot cell phone tower in Kilauea. Garden Island.

Molokai

One of Molokai’s primary air carriers, Island Air, has made changes to their flight schedule that have raised concerns among local customers. The airline has cancelled all flights between Molokai and Maui, and as of May, will decrease flights between Molokai and Honolulu from five to three per day. Molokai Dispatch.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Temporary Hawaii hotel tax becomes permanent, minimum wage coming along, prison oversight lacking, Honolulu traffic second-worst, Maui judge charged with evidence tampering, Honolulu councilman wants congressional seat, sovereignty activists challenge DLNR, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2013 All Hawaii News
Royal Hawaiian hotel (c) 2013 All Hawaii News
Lawmakers agreed Wednesday to make permanent a temporary increase in the hotel room tax rate that was set to expire in 2015. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii lawmakers are negotiating a minimum wage increase aimed at helping residents grapple with the high cost of living in the islands. Associated Press.

State lawmakers have agreed on a bill that would enable the state to conduct historic preservation reviews of construction projects in phases, rather than all at once, but the final vote on the legislation could be difficult. Star-Advertiser.

State officials still don’t do a good job providing oversight of for-profit, mainland prisons that hold about one-third of Hawaii’s inmate population, according to a recent report from the Auditor’s Office. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s plan for state-funded preschool is still in limbo despite a rapidly approaching deadline. Associated Press.

Waikiki community leaders and activists are speaking out against a legislative effort to allow the state to make money off school lands through public-private partnerships. Star-Advertiser.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee plans to back Hawaii U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz in his bid for re-election next year amid a primary challenge from U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, a spokesman said Tuesday. Associated Press.

A Hawaii congressional seat has opened for the third time in just three years, and any ambitious politician has to be thinking about running for it. Civil Beat.

Pledging to run a campaign that will touch all corners of urban Honolulu, City Councilman Stanley Chang on Wednesday became the first to declare his candidacy for the congressional seat expected to be vacated by U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. Star-Advertiser.

It's not even official – but that hasn't stopped at least one candidate from announcing a bid for U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa's Congressional Seat if she decides to challenge appointed Senator Brian Schatz. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Lawmakers’ $3 Billion List of Projects Available Online. Civil Beat.

Lawmakers vote to ban the parking boot. Hawaii News Now.

Common Cause Hawaii, the League of Women Voters, Hawaii's Thousand Friends and Americans for Democratic Action have dubbed these bills "Frankenstein" constructions and scores of supporters submitted a petition to the state House and Senate demanding that the Legislature reject seven gut-and-replace bills and 11 Frankenstein bills, and to ban any future use of either legislative practice. Civil Beat.

Honolulu-based ocean shipper Matson Inc. announced Wednesday it is reducing its fuel surcharge for its Hawaii service by 3.5 percentage points because of a change in bunker fuel prices.Pacific Business News.

Oahu
The good news: Honolulu no longer ranks as America's worst city for traffic congestion. The bad news: It's now the second-worst. Star-Advertiser.

The city stepped up pressure on members of (de)Occupy Honolulu on Wednesday, removing about six tents and other property from in front of the Blaisdell Center Concert Hall with just 15 minutes' warning. Star-Advertiser.

A plan to replace the city's existing fuel tax with a highway user fee got an initial approval from the City Council Budget Committee on Wednesday but could be facing a bumpy road ahead. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu City Council’s Budget Committee advanced a bill today to establish a fee for the use of County roads and highways. Hawaii Public Radio.

Chinatown leaders say the shortage of public bathrooms is a problem, and maybe even a deterrent for visitors. KITV4.

In 2003, Campbell High School — which sits in the heart of Ewa Beach — was the state’s 11th largest public school, enrolling roughly 1,850 students. In less than 10 years, however, enrollment has skyrocketed by more than 50 percent, accounting for some of the most pronounced student population growth in Hawaii. Civil Beat.

A Dean & DeLuca luxury food market where items include $1,000 tins of caviar and $35 cuts of filet mignon is to open its first store in Hawaii as part of the planned Ritz-Carlton Residences Waikiki Beach condominium-hotel where penthouses are priced at about $15 million. Star-Advertiser.

Volunteers and workers gathered in Waianae Wednesday to plant up to 20 very rare native Hawaiian nanu (Gardenia brighamii) plants that they cultivated from the last remaining nanu growing wild on Oahu. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

The state Judiciary is getting 90 percent less funding for the Kona Judiciary Complex than it asked for this Legislative session. West Hawaii Today.

One of the items that did not get funded – despite an intensive lobbying effort on its behalf – was a building for the University of Hawaii at Hilo pharmacy school, which currently operates out of temporary facilities. Big Island Now.

The presence of endangered Hawaiian stilts and coots is delaying a $12 million upgrade to the Kealakehe Wastewater Treatment Plant. West Hawaii Today.

The Big Island received a failing grade for particulate pollution in the air, according to an American Lung Association report card released Wednesday. Associated Press.

Sovereignty activists plan to return Saturday to the site of their “Kanaka Garden” in front of the King Kamehameha the Great statue in Hilo to continue their protest of the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom and what they view as an illegal occupation by the United States. Tribune-Herald.

Paauilo Elementary and Intermediate School Principal Brian Paul Simon has been placed on leave mere weeks before the end of the school year. The change in leadership at the school came six days after Simon was ordered to serve out a sentence on a DUI charge dating back to 2009. Tribune-Herald.

Maui

A Maui District Family Court judge has reportedly stepped down after being charged Tuesday with tampering with a government record. Star-Advertiser.

Second Circuit Family Court Judge Mimi DesJardins resigned Tuesday, the same day a complaint was filed in Wailuku District Court charging her with tampering with a government record, according to the state Judiciary. Maui News.

They take an oath of office, swearing to uphold the law. But one Maui judge is accused of breaking the law. KHON2.

Hawaii legislators charged with negotiating the state budget have agreed to a $23.8 billion biennium budget proposal - including $130 million for the Kihei high school. Maui News.

Full funding for a new Kīhei High School, in the amount of $130 million, is included in a draft version of the legislative budget that is now headed to the full House and Senate for final votes. Maui Now.

Kauai
The Kaua‘i Humane Society is asking for nearly $1 million in its new budget proposal. Garden Island.

Green mokihana berries intertwined with maile vines are the main components of Kaua‘i’s trademark lei. While neither of these endemic plants are endangered, thoughtless harvesting at accessible locations could affect available supplies for future generations, according to cultural practitioners. Garden Island.

The bench warrant for an off-island celebrity witness who missed a court hearing last week was lifted Wednesday in 5th Circuit Court. Randolph Trey Parker, co-creator of the animated television series “South Park,” missed an April 17 appearance as a prosecution witness in a 2009 case involving the burglary of his residence along with terroristic threats using firearms and weapons. Garden Island.

Kaua‘i’s people gave 1,100 pounds of food Saturday during the Hawai‘i Foodbank, Kaua‘i Branch 24th annual food drive. Garden Island.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Legislature settles on $23.8B biennium budget, Hanabusa-Schatz showdown creates wide-open House seat, Oahu smoking ban expands, GMO bills die, Honolulu officials lobby Washington for rail, iconic lifeguard shacks to be removed, Maui chips away at unfunded liabilities, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy AARP-Hawaii
Hawaii Capitol, courtesy AARP-Hawaii
State House and Senate negotiators reached agreement Tuesday night on the final draft of a two-year state budget. The state would spend $11.8 billion in fiscal year 2014 and $11.9 billion in fiscal year 2015. The budget is slightly more than Gov. Neil Abercrombie had proposed for 2014 but less than the governor had requested for 2015. Star-Advertiser.

State budget negotiators on Tuesday passed a $23.8 billion biennium budget three days ahead of their internal deadline, but they were unable to agree on how much money to put toward economic growth and early education initiatives. Civil Beat.

The debate over whether genetically modified produce sold in Hawaii should be labeled as such came to a close at the state Capitol this week with the House snubbing a Senate resolution that called for several state agencies to study the issue. Star-Advertiser.

A Honolulu city councilman and others have raised late objections to a bill that would authorize the private development of public school land, undermining its chances as state House and Senate negotiators approach a deadline on Friday. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii lawmakers are trying to iron out key differences between the House and Senate versions of legislation to develop school lands so the state can generate revenue to fix ailing educational facilities. Civil Beat.

As U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa readies a campaign to take on appointed U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz in 2014, potential successors to her U.S. House seat are preparing for what promises to be a wide-open primary contest. Star-Advertiser.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee plans to back Hawaii U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz in his bid for re-election next year amid a primary challenge from U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, a spokesman said Tuesday. Associated Press.

Brian Schatz may have been appointed to the U.S. Senate rather than elected, but national political analysts say he is slightly favored to win a 2014 primary contest against U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. Civil Beat.

It’s a heavyweight bout in which the loser could go home for good. That’s how one political analyst is describing the upcoming race for U.S. Senate. KHON2.

Her camp isn't confirming, but reports say U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa will challenge Brian Schatz for his seat in the U. S. Senate in 2014. "The profile of both of these candidates are about the same," political analyst Dan Boylan said. Hawaii News Now.

The Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, a key research entity that has existed for nearly four decades and is aimed at helping to oversee Hawaii’s attempts to wean itself from imported oil, is in serious jeopardy of losing crucial funding from the state’s so-called barrel tax. Pacific Business News.

Historic preservation supporters, archaeologists and Native Hawaiian groups celebrated Earth Day on Monday by rallying at the state Capitol to demand that legislators shelve a bill that would allow for archaeological inventory surveys to be done in phases while construction work is ongoing. Star-Advertiser.

The Public Land Development Corp. has been repealed and a bill to create a similar agency has died in the state Legislature. But the debate over what to do with underutilized public lands remains anything but settled. Tribune-Herald.

A conference committee composed of House and Senate members will meet tomorrow, 4/24/13, at 10:30am in room 325 at the State Capitol, to attempt to address differences in SB946 SD1 HD1 relating to the unfunded liability of the Employee Union Trust Fund (EUTF). Hawaii Reporter.

Does the state ethics law prohibit use of the University of Hawaii’s email system to criticize or attempt to roll back decisions of the faculty union without obtaining its prior permission? That’s the rather startling claim made by the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly as it defends against critics of its recent decision to cut decades-long ties to the National Education Association as of Sept. 1. Civil Beat.

The recently signed compassionate care bill was the top priority for women lawmakers this session… but there are more bills they want passed in the final days before adjournment May 2nd. Hawaii Public Radio.

Lengthy delays are not expected at Hawaii’s airports despite thousands of air traffic controllers nationwide being forced to take furloughs because of budget cuts. West Hawaii Today.

The state’s No. 1 industry, which has led Hawaii’s economic recovery while posting record numbers, could see a drop in arrivals in the second half of the year as airlines cut back on seats flown to the islands. Star-Advertiser.

State roundup for April 24. Associated Press.

Oahu

A bill that would ban smoking at all 293 Honolulu city parks and beaches gained preliminary approval Tuesday from the City Council Public Safety and Economic Development Committee. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and other officials said they were encouraged about continued federal funding for the city’s rail project after meeting with Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood on Tuesday. Civil Beat.

City leaders looking to keep the Honolulu rail project's federal funding on track met Tuesday in Washington, D.C., with top Obama transportation officials and the members of Congress whose continued support they'll need. Star-Advertiser.

With the popularity of cell phones these days, emergency call boxes along Oahu's roadways are becoming obsolete. During the last six months, the Hawaii Department of Transportation removed approximately 276 roadside phones along freeways and highways. Hawaii News Now.

There’s a ray of hope for more than 200 Tesoro workers who are about to lose their jobs. Both the union and the company say there are possible buyers. KHON2.

Chevron Corp. is expanding its renewable energy effort in Hawaii with the planned development of a utility-scale solar photovoltaic project near its Campbell Industrial Park refinery that would provide up to 1 megawatt of generating capacity for Oahu's electrical grid. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii
The island’s iconic wooden lifeguard shacks are slated for removal to be replaced with fiberglass units manufactured on the mainland. West Hawaii Today.

Mayor Billy Kenoi says he doesn’t want it and his finance director says the county can’t afford it, but the county Salary Commission is proceeding with a meeting Thursday to consider a $22,000 raise for the mayor and raises up to 19.8 percent for some department heads. West Hawaii Today.

A federal appeals court has ordered a new trial in a lawsuit filed by the family of a Texas soldier who was killed and others who were injured during a live-fire training exercise in Hawaii. Associated Press.

Department of Water Supply officials are hoping to reopen the Hawaiian Ocean View Estates well fill station at noon today, after a three-week outage. West Hawaii Today.

Former Council Chairman Dominic Yagong and former County Clerk Jamae Kawauchi acted against a Human Resources Department opinion in firing several elections workers last year, the attorney for the reinstated Elections Division chief says. West Hawaii Today.

Maui


Maui County faces $330 million in unfunded pension liabilities and $610 million in liabilities for retiree health benefits as of the end of last June, according to state officials appearing before the County Council on Monday. Maui News.

Hawaii legislators charged with negotiating the state budget have agreed to a $23.8 billion biennium budget proposal -- including $130 million for the Kihei high school. Maui News.

The Kihei, Lahaina and Pukalani satellite offices of the Division of Motor Vehicles and Licensing will be closing early this week so that staff can attend union ratification meetings, according to a county news release. Maui News.

Kauai

Kaua‘i Beekeepers Association Chair Jimmy Trujillo said local folks are “concerned about the health of bees,” as well as the dependency on chemical farming. Garden Island.

The Solid Waste Division recently awarded $40,000 in recycling and waste diversion grants to local organizations. Garden Island.

A five-star rating for a senior health care plan has an asterisk when it comes to serving Kaua‘i. Garden Island.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Hanabusa to challenge Schatz for U.S. Senate, labor contracts take bite out of Hawaii budget, Abercrombie signs emergency contraception bill, PLDC is pau, state pays $5.75M for sex abuse at Deaf and Blind School, petroglyphs vandalized, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

U.S. Senate candidates
Brian Schatz, Colleen Hanabusa vie for U.S. Senate
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa has decided to challenge U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz in the Democratic primary next year, according to a source close to her campaign. Star-Advertiser.

A national Democratic source told Civil Beat this morning that Rep. Colleen Hanabusa informed the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in Washington D.C. that she will be challenging Sen. Brian Schatz in next year’s special election.

U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa will challenge U.S. Senator Brian Schatz in the 2014 Democratic primary, Hawaii News Now has learned.

She hasn’t filed the papers, but sources close to Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa’s camp say it’s official.  She will go head-to-head with Senator Brian Schatz in next years Democratic primary. KHON2.

Sen. Mazie Hirono will be breaking bread with President Barack Obama over at his place tonight. Civil Beat.

State House and Senate budget negotiators said Monday that new contracts for public-sector labor unions would likely limit their options for spending on tax incentives and new state programs. Star-Advertiser.

The latest draft of the Hawaii state budget removes funding for about 200 vacant positions in state agencies and sets aside about $15 million to compensate for federal budget cuts. Associated Press.

House and Senate leaders have made significant policy decisions, unveiling them during the fifth conference committee hearing on the state budget Monday evening at the Capitol. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed a bill Monday that repeals the Public Land Development Corp., satisfying persistent public outcry over the land agency, which has been overwhelmingly criticized for its broad power to develop state land. Associated Press.

Nearly two years after signing Act 55, which created the Public Lands Development Corporation, Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed a repeal of the controversial law Monday. Garden Island.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie has signed a new law requiring hospital emergency rooms to offer emergency contraception to female victims of sexual assault. Associated Press.

Legislators and activists were all smiles Monday as they packed into Gov. Neil Abercrombie's ceremony room at the state Capitol to watch him sign into law a bill that ensures sexually assaulted women will have access to emergency contraception anywhere they seek emergency care. Star-Advertiser.

The occasion on Monday was the signing of House Bill 411, which ensures that female sexual assault victims are provided "accurate, unbiased information" about and access to emergency contraception when receiving care at hospitals. Civil Beat.

Lawmakers are considering a proposal that would effectively change the way developments are planned throughout the state, by no longer requiring developers to complete archaeological studies prior to beginning construction. Hawaii News Now.

Time is running out for Hawaii lawmakers to negotiate a bill that would make the state shield law permanent before it expires June 30. Civil Beat.

A federal judge gave final approval Monday to a $5.75 million settlement to a class-action lawsuit that claims students at the Hawaii School for the Deaf and Blind physically and sexually assaulted other students. Star-Advertiser.

A former U.S. defense contractor’s Chinese girlfriend might have coaxed top secret national security information from him, according to documents filed in federal court Monday. Civil Beat.

The number of youth locked up in the state's Juvenile Detention Facility while their cases are handled in Family Court has plummeted 43 percent in the last three years, reflecting a drop in youth arrests and a concerted effort to reduce unnecessary detention. Star-Advertiser.

About 55 percent of the youth in the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility are from the neighbor islands, even though those islands account for 30 percent of the state's population. Star-Advertiser.

Visitor traffic from two of the larger business meetings of the year has given Waikiki hoteliers an opportunity this month to carry strong rates into the start of the slower "shoulder" season and bolster neighbor island traffic. Star-Advertiser.

More than one billion people in 192 countries were expected to participate in Earth Day activities today… marking the 43rd year of focusing on environmental awareness. Hawaii Public Radio.

Oahu

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said this week that he won’t accept a raise proposed by the city’s salary commission, but he didn’t mention that he has a side job as a member of Territorial Bancorp’s board of directors that pays more than some city workers make in a year. Pacific Business News.

Landscape planter boxes may soon prevent the tents of (de)Occupy Honolulu members from returning along the Beretania and King street sidewalks at Thomas Square. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, City Council Chairman Ernie Martin and Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation officials are in Washington, D.C. this week to update federal officials about the progress of the $5.16 billion elevated-rail mass-transit project, the mayor’s office said in a statement. Pacific Business News.

Construction on the city’s $5.2 billion Honolulu rail project ground to a halt last August after attorneys from the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation representing Paulette Kalekini convinced Hawaii Supreme Court justices that the city violated environmental laws. Hawaii Reporter.

Many hikers still not deterred despite posted violations at Mariner's Ridge trail. KITV4.

Zero to Three Court focuses on children neglected or abused during their most vulnerable years, from birth until age 3. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii

Vandals have damaged 26 of 167 petroglyphs in a lava field located off trail in the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park’s Kaloko area. West Hawaii Today.

The University of Hawaii’s Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy came up short this week, when the school’s lack of permanent facilities cost it points in an accreditation evaluation. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii Island hunters are again expressing concerns over the state’s aerial sheep eradication. West Hawaii Today.

A fight is brewing for control of Hawaii Nui Brewing LLC about a week after the Hilo beer maker filed for bankruptcy. Star-Advertiser.

Maui

The Fairmont Kea Lani resort on Maui sponsored a community reef clean-up event recently in celebration of Earth Day, hotel administrators said. Maui Now.

Maui attorney Steven Songstad has been disbarred from practicing law, based on multiple ethical violations in 14 cases, according to a Hawaii Supreme Court order. Maui News.

Beginning on Monday, April 22, some bus stops in West Maui will be out of service due to Honokōwai road repairs and related road closures. Maui Now.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and a cast of executive-level supporting players came to Maui on Wednesday, April 10, for a session billed as "Cabinet in Your Community." Maui Weekly.

Kauai

A project aimed at revitalizing an ailing watershed got a big boost Sunday from volunteers who braved flash flood advisories to battle a silent but deadly enemy. Garden Island.

The Kaua‘i Police Department is supporting the statewide and national campaign for “Distracted Driving Awareness Month.” Garden Island.


Molokai

For 28 years, the Native Hawaiian Library has quietly served Molokai, offering programs and resources to children and adults while enduring as a place of learning and discovery. Molokai Dispatch.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Hawaii Legislature debates minimum wage, agreement gives HGEA union 4% salary boost, lawmaker residency requirement fails to make ballot, Hawaii Island blogger gets $17,500 in police beating, blogger sues Maui County, Maui mayor vetos tax credit, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

USGS Hawaii Volcanic Observatory
Kilauea lava, courtesy Hawaii Volcanic Observatory
The U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcanic Observatory reported "vigorous lava flow" activity from Kilauea's Puu Oo crater over the weekend. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii lawmakers want to create a homeland security office within the state Department of Defense to help prevent terrorist attacks in Hawaii. Associated Press.

Time is running out on a proposal that would increase the state's minimum wage starting in 2014. Lawmakers appear to agree on policy but still need to work out details if they hope to strike a deal before key deadlines this week. Star-Advertiser.

Beginning this week, Hawaii lawmakers will decide whether the lowest-paid workers in the most expensive state in the nation should be paid more for their labor. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii Government Employees Association, the largest public labor union in Hawaii, announced it has reached a tentative agreement on a new contract with the state and all four counties. KITV4.

The Hawaii Government Employees Association (HGEA) today announced that the union’s Unit 2, 3 and 4 negotiating teams, which consist of rank-and-file bargaining unit members, have reached tentative agreements with the state and county government employers for the contract period from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2015. Civil Beat.

Hawaii lawmakers have rejected a bill that would have added a question to voters’ 2014 ballots asking whether should be stricter residency requirements for candidates who want to run for the state Legislature. Associated Press.

Tsutsui
With four months under his belt, Hawaii's first lieutenant governor from Maui, Shan Tsutsui, has made a smooth transition to a life of more attention - and protection. Maui News.

A bill that gives the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission new financial regulatory tools to drive clean energy infrastructure investment and reduce long-term rates has won final passage and awaits the governor’s signature. Pacific Business News.

Mental health advocates are cautiously optimistic about a proposed law that would clarify who can be ordered to get outpatient psychiatric help. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie wants to funnel millions of dollars to private pre-schools as part of his early childhood learning initiative, which aims to better prepare kids for kindergarten. KITV4.

Some 50,000 intermediate and high school students at public schools statewide will start taking a four-hour college-prep test beginning Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed relaxing restrictions on sending Hawaii Sharwils, the state’s dominant commercial avocado variety, to the mainland. Star-Advertiser.

State roundup for April 22. Associated Press.

Oahu

Plaintiffs, including former Hawaii Gov. Ben Cayetano, in a federal lawsuit seeking to stop the $5.16 billion Honolulu rail transit project have asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to expedite its decision on their appeal. Pacific Business News.

Philippine Consulate vandalized; flag ripped in half. KHON2.

Nearly 5,000 young people get in trouble with the law and land in Oahu's Family Court each year, but their cases are confidential by law so few people know who they are, how they wound up in court or what happens to them. Star-Advertiser.

Residents in the area of Schofield Barracks may experience periodic increases in noise, April 22 through April 26, as a result of scheduled training exercises. Hawaii News Now.

The city of Honolulu is offering $1.6 million in grants to qualified nonprofit organizations for programs that will serve economically and/or socially disadvantaged people or support public programs in the arts, culture, economic development or the environment. Star-Advertiser.
 
Hawaii

The Hawaii County Council has paid blogger Damon Tucker $17,500 to settle a lawsuit charging police officers roughed him up and damaged his equipment while he was shooting video of police responding to an early morning brawl outside a Pahoa nightspot. West Hawaii Today.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority is forecasting visitor arrivals will hit 8.5 million and visitor spending will total $15.8 billion in 2013. To reach that lofty goal or even surpass it, the state agency is focusing on improving the distribution to the Neighbor Islands, said David Uchiyama, HTA vice president of brand management. West Hawaii Today.

Residents got a better look at the proposed widening of Kuakini Highway to four lanes as soon as 2017 during a public meeting held Friday in Kailua-Kona. West Hawaii Today.

Firefighters and rescue personnel from around Hawaii Island converged upon the U.S. Army facility on Saturday for its first-ever Firemen’s Muster. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Mayor Alan Arakawa announced today his decision to veto Council bill #16*, which would have affected the Circuit Breaker tax credit for qualified homeowners. Hawaii Reporter.

Mayor Alan Arakawa has vetoed a bill that would change the county's "circuit breaker" property tax program. Maui News.

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa has vetoed the council’s bill that would have amended the County’s Circuit Breaker tax credit, according to announcement. Maui Now.

Despite continued talks among government officials of recent sequestration and looming budget woes, the economies of Maui County and the state are actually in pretty good shape, economists say. Maui News.

The publisher of an alternative weekly newspaper is suing Maui County, alleging he was harassed, assaulted and falsely arrested while filming Duane "Dog" Chapman for a story in 2011. Maui News.

Beginning on Monday, April 22, some bus stops in West Maui will be out of service due to Honokōwai road repairs and related road closures. Maui Now.

Kauai

A small but vocal group, donning umbrellas, rain jackets and signs, rallied Sunday against AT&T’s proposed 80-foot cell phone tower in Kilauea. Garden Island.

Visitors to Kaua‘i used to stay an average of 3.4 days. They are now averaging 7.2 days on the island and this, say local officials, presents them with more time to enjoy the island’s beauty. Garden Island.

A project aimed at revitalizing an ailing watershed got a big boost Sunday from volunteers who braved flash flood advisories to battle a silent but deadly enemy. Garden Island.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Judiciary asks for more money, Kulani prison to reopen, Hawaii needs doctors, lawmakers debate Shield Law, preschool vouchers to go to ballot, Kauai coral disease spreading, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2013 All Hawaii News
Hawaii Supreme Court building (c) 2013 All Hawaii News
Inadequate courthouse security, an increased backlog of cases and long waits for a wide range of services are just some of the problems the public can continue to expect if the Legislature fails to fully fund the state Judiciary’s budget request. Civil Beat.

More Hawaii doctors have left their practices over the past year and likely will continue to do so just as the first major piece of federal health reforms rolls out. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s congressional delegation this week pushed for more support of a measure that would provide funds to train health care providers in rural areas. West Hawaii Today.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz rakes in the cash from Hawaii business and political leaders. Civil Beat.

State House and Senate negotiators Thursday reached agreement on a proposed constitutional amendment that would ask voters next year whether public money should be spent on private preschool. Star-Advertiser.

House lawmakers aren't going along with the Senate’s version of a bill that protects journalists from revealing their confidential sources under certain circumstances. Civil Beat.

With the newly ratified teachers contract approved by Gov. Neil Abercrombie and expected to be funded by lawmakers, work now begins on creating a new evaluation system that negotiators have agreed will be used to reward and dismiss teachers. Star-Advertiser.

The U.S. Senate on Thursday confirmed Derrick Kahala Watson to a seat on the the U.S. District Court in Honolulu. Pacific Business News.

State roundup for April 19. Associated Press.

Oahu

Kahala community leaders are rejoicing after the Honolulu City Council's approval of a bill allowing the city to impose stiffer fines on property owners who blight their neighborhoods by leaving overgrown foliage and trash in their yards. Star-Advertiser.

City officials say they're scrambling to find money to reverse more of the bus cuts that have hit riders the hardest. Star-Advertiser.

A convicted rapist will get a $35,000 check from the city of Honolulu, although he’ll likely be behind bars when it arrives. On Wednesday, the Honolulu City Council approved a legal settlement with Dewitt Lamar Long for injuries he sustained in 2010 when he was beaten by four cops during a traffic stop. Civil Beat.

City Council Chairman Ernie Martin said he was insulted by the behavior of some members of Mayor Kirk Caldwell's Cabinet at this week's Council meeting and made it clear that he expects them to act with decorum and respect at the meetings. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu-based Watermark Publishing officially launched a new self-publishing service on Thursday that will help Hawaii residents share their stories. Pacific Business News.

Rep. Gene Ward, R-Hawaii Kai, Sen. Laura Thielen, D-Kailua-Hawaii Kai, and Sam Slom, R-Hawaii Kai-Diamond Head, sent a letter on April 16 to the Honolulu City Council asking its 9 members to oppose development of the “Great Lawn”, a parcel 14-acre parcel in Hawaii Kai now zoned as preservation land. Hawaii Reporter.

It’s been a favorite hangout spot at Ala Moana Center for nearly 30 years. But on Thursday, some long-time customers got the sad news. Zippy’s is closing at the end of the month. KHON2.

Hawaii

Lawmakers have agreed upon funding for the Kulani Correctional Facility, paving the way for the mothballed prison outside Hilo to reopen next year. Tribune-Herald.

Eighteen months after two Environmental Management employees were arrested on charges of stealing diesel fuel from the Waimea baseyard pumps, the county administration has instituted procedures to keep it from happening again, but the Prosecutor’s Office has yet to formally charge the suspects. West Hawaii Today.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is going all in on geothermal. OHA’s Board of Trustees voted Thursday to invest $1.25 million into the Huena Power Consortium, with an upfront contribution of $600,000. Tribune-Herald.

A memorial fund has been established in honor of West Hawaii businessman Guy Toyama who helped champion sustainability, renewable energy and entrepreneurship efforts. West Hawaii Today.

Maui

Maui's hotel occupancy rate slipped 1.1 percentage points in February to 82.6 percent while hotels made more money for their rooms, according to the monthly update from Hospitality Advisors LLC. Maui News.

Maui teachers were pleased to finally have a tentative labor contract in hand, and most said Wednesday afternoon that they voted in favor of the proposal even though they still had concerns about teacher evaluations and medical coverage. Maui News.

Kauai

The outbreak of deadly coral disease along Kaua‘i’s North Shore may be targeting more than one species of Montipora coral. Garden Island.

Retired auto dealer James Pflueger faces a long-delayed trial in September after he declined to accept a plea agreement that would have dismissed his manslaughter charges related to seven deaths when the Ka Loko dam breached seven years ago. Star-Advertiser.