Friday, December 6, 2013

Another Hawaii county limits GMOs, Japanese princess visits, Hannemann may run again, state hospital investigation, monk seal kills, housing upturn and more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

tropical plant science GMO research
University of Hawaii plant geneticist James Brewbaker courtesy photo
First Kauai, then Hawaii Island and, next, Maui. A wave of dissent against pesticides and genetically modified (GMO) crops is overtaking the Hawaiian Islands. See articles under individual island headings below.

It's been rumored for months that Mufi Hannemann is considering a return to politics, either in a run for his old Honolulu City Council seat or the 1st Congressional District seat being vacated by Colleen Hanabusa. Now the talk is that the former Honolulu mayor may have settled on Congress, a seat that he has sought unsuccessfully three times. Civil Beat.

A Japanese princess is visiting Hawaii for the next week. Princess Akiko is scheduled to watch storytellers tell Japanese and Hawaiian myths at the Hawaii Theater in Honolulu over the weekend. Associated Press.

From 2009 to 2012, humans are suspected of killing at least eight monk seals in the main Hawaiian islands. Rewards of tens of thousands of dollars have been offered and federal officials say they make serious efforts to investigate cases and bring offenders to justice. But do they? Civil Beat.

The feds are looking into workplace violence at the state’s hospital for the criminally insane after allegations of abuse of staff by patients recently surfaced. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating  the Hawaii State Hospital, hospital administrators have confirmed. Hawaii Reporter.

For the past six years, Macy's has run a campaign urging kids to write letters to Santa to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. While some schools on the mainland have joined in the effort by encouraging students to take part, that can't happen here, according to the State Ethics Commission. The commission issued an advisory Thursday, saying that the state ethics code prohibits state employees from using work time and state resources for non-state related business purposes, which generally includes supporting or promoting private charities. Hawaii News Now.


If all goes as planned, Mayor Kirk Caldwell's "Twitter town hall" on Dec. 9 will be backed by the largest response team for a microblog meeting that Hawaii has seen. Civil Beat.

Kewalo Basin small boat harbor has become a magnet for dining and retail development plans, attracting two bids in recent months for an Italian seafood restaurant and a wedding hall. Now a third proposal, which includes a food hall concept, has been floated. Star-Advertiser.

A ceremony will take place Friday at the Arizona Memorial Visitor Center to commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the Dec. 7 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Hawaii News Now.


Mayor Billy Kenoi’s decision to sign Bill 113 came as a relief and surprise to some while others contemplated what impact it might have on Big Island farming. Kenoi signed the bill banning open-air use and open-air testing of genetically modified crops, with some exemptions, Thursday. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii Island Mayor Billy Kenoi Thursday afternoon signed a bill designed to limit the future planting of genetically modified crops. Hawaii County is the second county in the state to restrict genetically modified crops. The Kauai County Council voted Nov. 16 to override a veto of a bill requiring large farms to disclose use of genetically modified crops. Star-Advertiser.

Mayor Billy Kenoi signed Bill 113 into law on Thursday, prohibiting biotech companies from operating on the Big Island and banning farmers from growing any new genetically altered crops. The bill exempts the island’s GMO papaya industry. HuffPost Hawaii.

Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi has signed a bill restricting genetically modified crops. The mayor's office says he signed the bill Thursday. Associated Press.

An Ocean View swap meet must control its traffic if it wants to keep its special permit, the Windward Planning Commission said Thursday. In a unanimous vote, the commission gave the farmers market and swap meet, located at the intersection of Mamalahoa Highway and Prince Kuhio Boulevard, three conditions it must meet. West Hawaii Today.

All signs point to a continuing healthy housing market on the Big Island with positive numbers across the board, including double-digit percentage gains in the number of sales for single-family homes and condominiums last month when compared to the same month last year, according to data released Thursday by the Hawaii Information Service. Pacific Business News.


The fight over genetically engineered crops and pesticides is shifting to Maui. Councilwoman Elle Cochran plans to submit a bill to the Maui County Council on Friday requiring agricultural companies to disclose details about their pesticide use to the county, while farmers would have to report any genetically altered organisms they are growing.  Civil Beat.

A blessing was held on Thursday morning for the new KÄ«hei Police Station, which houses a detective bureau, a criminal investigation division, a training division, uniform services and executive offices. Maui Now.

Jeffrey Kuwada has retired as Maui County clerk, effective Sunday, and former County Council Chairman Danny Mateo is on deck to replace him. Maui News.


Large agribusinesses on Kauai have started following a state Department of Agriculture voluntary program to disclose pesticide use and establish buffer zones for spraying. Companies are setting up meetings with officials of neighboring schools, medical facilities and residential properties to address concerns about pesticide use under the Kauai Agricultural Good Neighbor Program, which took effect Sunday. Star-Advertiser.

Kauai’s housing market saw some nice gains in the median sales prices of single-family homes and condominiums in November, including a 13 percent hike in the median price of a single-family home and a 2 percent increase in the median price of a condominium, when compared to the same month last year, according to statistics released on Thursday by the Hawaii Information Service. Pacific Business News.

It was a historic day at 5th Circuit Court on Thursday, with the first same-sex civil marriage ceremony to be held in the county, and the first double wedding officiated by Judge Kathleen Watanabe. Garden Island.


As more Hawaii residents flock toward raising chickens in their backyards, some may not be aware of the state and federal health regulations for selling their eggs to the public. As part of a statewide tour by the Hawaii Departments of Health and Agriculture and the University of Hawaii, a dozen of Molokai’s backyard egg farmers familiarized themselves with these guidelines during an egg workshop last Tuesday. Molokia Dispatch.

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