Monday, March 31, 2014

Obama endorses Schatz, Hagel to attend Asian conference in Honolulu, Maui pushes anti-GMO ballot amendment, state cedes Mauna Kea park management to Hawaii County, Kauai council worried about big budget, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

U.S. Senate race Hawaii
Brian Schatz and Colleen Hanabusa
President Barack Obama is endorsing Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz in his primary race against Hawaii Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. In a news release, the Schatz campaign said Obama is endorsing Schatz because of his work to protect Social Security and promote clean energy. Associated Press.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz wants to make Social Security a defining issue in the Democratic primary against U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, a tactic Hanabusa contends unnecessarily alarms seniors. Star-Advertiser.

Monday marks the end of the latest campaign finance reporting period for candidates running for federal office. That means that in about two weeks, at midnight April 15, those finance reports will need to be filed with the federal government and the public will be able to get another look at the source of all the money that’s fueling some very hot races this election year. Civil Beat.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will be in Hawaii this week as the United States hosts a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for the first time. Pacific Business News.

Police in Hawaii would no longer be legally permitted to have sex with prostitutes under a bill passed Friday by a state legislative panel that would end the unusual exemption in state law. The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a larger bill that cracks down on prostitution after amending it to nix the exemption involving police conduct. Associated Press.

Just under a week before Hawaii Health Connector interim Executive Director Tom Matsuda will testify before a Congressional sub committee in Washington, D.C. about Hawaii’s troubled Obamacare system, a state senator has filed a complaint with the Government Accountability Office, asking for an investigation into the Connector’s spending of a $204 million federal grant. Hawaii Reporter.

A Maui coffee farmer said controlling invasive species such as the notorious coqui frog and fire ant is a Big Island problem. Becker is a supporter of state Senate Bill 2347, which soon will be taken up by the House Finance Committee. The legislation, written as an attempt to control the interisland spread of invasive species to the local agriculture industry, was amended last Friday. Parts of the bill would prohibit the transportation of the pests and establishes penalties for violations, including language that would require any commercial entity that transports the invasive species to pay a fine equal to the value of the infested shipment. Tribune-Herald.

Island geography, a politically balanced commission and dominance in all politics by Democrats means redistricting and reapportionment issues are different in Hawaii than in other U.S. states. Associated Press.

Lawmakers in Hawaii have been pushing and prodding hundreds of bills through the Legislature, and this week is no exception, as the Legislature enters the final month of the session. Here are five things ahead at the Hawaii Legislature this week. Associated Press.

On Tap at the Hawaii Legislature: March 31. Civil Beat.


Donors linked to contractors, developers and landowners involved with the increasingly controversial rebuilding of Kakaako have contributed more than $680,000 since 2009 to Gov. Neil Abercrombie's two gubernatorial campaigns, according to a Honolulu Star-Advertiser analysis of state data.

The surge of new construction projects in Kakaako over the past year made the development in the urban district a highly debated issue in the Hawaii Legislature this year. But with just a month left in the 2014 session, it’s still unclear what kinds of changes the Legislature will impose on the state agency that manages development in the neighborhood and whether or not lawmakers will allow new condos on the area known as Kakaako Makai. Civil Beat.

It is a lawsuit that draws attention to the intersection of Hawaii's political and real estate worlds. The plaintiff is Close Construction Inc., a contractor hired last year by the Hawaii Community Development Authority to renovate the historic but long-vacant American Brewery building in Kakaako. The defendant is HCDA. Star-Advertiser.

A high-level squabble between an Oahu regional transportation planning organization and the state Department of Transportation is jeopardizing millions of federal highway dollars at a time when Honolulu’s traffic congestion is as bad as it’s ever been and about to get a lot worse. The Hawaii DOT is refusing to pass some $2 million on to the Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization as required by federal law. That’s forced OMPO, as it’s known, to operate on reserve funds since October and prevented it from finishing transportation projects tied to 2014 appropriations. Civil Beat.

If you have driven down Waialae Avenue in Kaimuki at night lately — or over the last year and a half — you may have felt some unexpected things: Confusion about which lane you should be in; disorientation amid the maze of orange cones that are supposed to guide you; surprise at the illuminated construction dust clouds; or fear, as you realize that the headlights of cars coming from the other direction are pointed directly at you. Civil Beat.

Efforts by two Korean community groups to set up a cultural monument park on a small patch of green in one of Hono­lulu's busiest neighborhoods have been stymied in recent years by the presence of homeless encampments. The community groups and the roughly 20 people camped in and around Pawaa In-Ha Park say they've had a relatively peaceful coexistence. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaiian Electric Co.'s recently deactivated Downtown Honolulu power plant, which occupies a prime piece of real estate near Honolulu Harbor, won't be demolished to make way for commercial uses such as a restaurant or bar — at least for the time being, a HECO official recently said. Pacific Business News.


A portion of the Mauna Kea State Recreation Area is expected to be put in Hawaii County’s hands after the state Board of Land and Natural Resources authorized the signing of a management agreement Friday. Under the agreement, which the state Department of Land and Natural Resources plans to sign, the county will be responsible for maintaining and improving the developed park area. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaiian Telcom Inc. plans to install rooftop solar on 24 of its buildings around the Big Island as part of a larger, 7.5-megawatt effort to cut its energy costs across the state. Tribune-Herald.

Debbi Sale lives under a makeshift shelter of tarps in Kona. She and her husband Vance cook on a one-burner stove and use public restrooms across the street. They live on Vance’s Social Security check and improvise the rest. So the Sales were grateful for a couple of hot meals and the chance to get vision screening and new glasses at the Old Kona Airport events pavilion on Saturday. West Hawaii Today.


Maui County supporters of a ballot initiative to force growers of genetically engineered food to prove their crops' safety made their "last push" Sunday afternoon before they have to submit 8,500 signatures to the county clerk's office next week. Maui News.

Maui County's Service Center may soon get a new home at Kehalani Village Center in Wailuku or in the Maui Business Park II in Kahului. Maui News.

The North Shore Greenway, a pedestrian and bike path from Kahului to Paia, is on its way to being completed after more than 20 years of planning, with the project's final phase under review for government permits. Maui News.


A decision on whether to impose penalties against the head of the Public Utilities Commission and her husband for allegedly operating illegal vacation rentals on Kauai won't be made for at least another 45 days. The state Land Board on Friday deferred action on recommendations to impose penalties against PUC Chairwoman Hermina "Mina" Morita and her husband, Lance Laney. Star-Advertiser.

Some council members have major concerns with the mayor’s proposed fiscal year 2015 county budget. They see the $180 million finance plan as a trend in the wrong direction. Garden Island.

Some health care providers know their finances need to be put in order. How they get there is still up in the air. In the meantime, several providers on Kauai are left asking the Legislature for emergency funds to support their operations, although a recent state proposal is asking the hospitals to cut costs themselves. Garden Island.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Senate panel trims state budget, anti-GMO rally set on Maui, Morita keeps PUC post, Catholic schools ban gay teachers, Kauai drops well plan, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2014 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Sen. David Ige describes budget (c) 2014 All Hawaii News
The state Senate Ways and Means Committee on Thursday released a new draft of the state budget, scaling back the growth in spending to reflect the dramatic decline in revenue that was projected earlier this month. Star-Advertiser.

Lawmakers in a key state Senate committee advanced their version of the state’s $12.1 billion budget Thursday, making tough choices for 2015 spending after the state’s revenue projections were less than expected. The Senate Ways and Means Committee reduced expenses for this year and next year’s budgets by about $192 million, said Sen. David Ige, the committee chairman. Associated Press.

Senators snipped millions of dollars off the state budget Thursday in light of a lower revenue forecast, but not before restoring funding for preschool, environment and public safety initiatives that the House had cut in the draft it passed earlier this month. The savings would help Hawaii retain a positive ending balance for the next few years, but financial projections show the state would still enter deficit-spending mode by 2017. Civil Beat.

State Budget Heads to Joint Senate-House Conference Committee. Hawaii Public Radio.

On the very day when the Senate Ways and Means committee approved a draft of Hawaii's budget, the state's leading finance officials led a panel discussion on how it was all done. The budget dealing with both this fiscal year and next is about $200 million less than Gov. Neil Abercrombie requested. Civil Beat.

Hawaii lawmakers are expected to advance a bill that will end the state's unusual provision allowing police to have sex with prostitutes. The measure (HB 1926) under consideration Friday originally included a line that would have banned police from having sex with prostitutes. Hawaii News Now.

A Hawaii Senate panel approved Richard Ha’s nomination to the Board of Agriculture on Thursday despite resistance from opponents of genetically modified farming. The farmer from the Big Island has already served on the state board for four years, but his re-appointment made headlines earlier this month when a freshman senator from the same island launched an online campaign urging people to call on other senators to oppose Ha. Civil Beat.

State Sen. Russell Ruderman hasn’t changed his opposition to genetically modified agriculture but he has changed his view of Richard Ha. Ruderman earlier this month sent an email urging recipients who share his “revulsion” over Ha’s renomination to the state Board of Agriculture to tell lawmakers to vote against it. Tribune-Herald.

Hermina Morita, the chairwoman of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, whose term ends on June 30, will be kept on a “holdover” basis beyond when her term ends, Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Thursday. Pacific Business News.

The state Board of Land and Natural Resources will decide today how to handle allegations that Hermina Morita and her husband ran an illegal bed and breakfast in Hanalei for more than a decade. But the controversy didn’t prevent Gov. Neil Abercrombie from voicing support for the chair of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission and former state representative. Garden Island.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie issued a statement today regarding the tenure of Public Utilities Commission Chairwoman Hermina Morita: We are at a very critical juncture in developing our clean energy future and the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) needs stability to continue to address many of the important regulatory issues before it. Therefore, I intend to keep Mina Morita as Chair of the PUC, on a holdover basis beyond June 30, 2014 when her term ends. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii Catholic schools office, which supervises three dozen Roman Catholic private schools in the state, has just approved a new contract that says teachers can be fired if they engage in homosexual activity or marry someone of the same sex. The contract goes on to list a wide array of actions and behaviors that would justify termination. Civil Beat.

The one person who could have changed safety protocols at the Hawaii State Hospital to better protect workers from assaults by patients says she was not fully aware of how often the attacks occurred. Lynn Fallin is a top administrator at the Hawaii Department of Health, and she’s supposed to be notified when a State Hospital worker is the victim of a serious assault by a patient. Civil Beat.

State tourism officials expected a downturn in visitors this year just not to this extent. Hawaii tourism continued moderating in February with total year-over-year arrivals dropping 4.3 percent and total visitor spending coming in flat against 2013. The 646,759 visitors who came to the islands in February spent $1.2 billion, a 0.6 percent drop from February 2013, according to statistics released Thursday by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Star-Advertiser.

Simeon Acoba Jr. is the latest victim of a Hawaii law that forces judges to retire at age 70, but he's actually OK with that. "That is what the law is, and that's something I basically accept," said Acoba, who until Feb. 28 had been an associate justice on the Hawaii Supreme Court. Star-Advertiser.


Hawaii officials are launching a pilot project in this year’s election to give some polling-place workers shorter shifts instead of the 14-hour days they’ve worked in the past. The state will allow split shifts at 108 of Oahu’s largest polling places. The split shift will not be done at the 34 smaller precincts on Oahu or at any of the 90 polling sites on neighbor islands.Associated Press.

The recovery in Hawaii's construction industry will pick up speed this year thanks to a flurry of residential and commercial activity focused mostly on Oahu, according to a report released Friday by a group of University of Hawaii economists. Star-Advertiser.

The ambitious plan to redevelop the 15-acre Kam Drive-In site in Aiea could also help spawn hundreds of low-income housing units near the Pearlridge Transit Station and other hubs along the city's upcoming $5.26 billion rail line. Star-Advertiser.


Acknowledging that the planning for a Kona Judiciary Complex has been going on for years, the state Senate Ways and Means Committee restored the Judiciary’s funding request to the full $81 million. Between that funding and last year’s $9 million, that would bring the total amount appropriated to $90 million, the amount Judiciary officials say is enough to build the courthouse. West Hawaii Today.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources is proposing a master plan for Kiholo State Park Reserve that would leave it largely in its natural state. The plan allows for new campsites and an improved access area off Queen Kaahumanu Highway at the 4,359-acre reserve in North Kona. Tribune-Herald.


A march and rally in support of a moratorium on genetically modified organism crops will be held Sunday in Wailuku and Kahului, according to an announcement. Maui News.

Police officers throughout Maui County will be citing drivers using cellphones and other hand-held mobile electronic devices, as part of stepped-up enforcement for Distracted Driver Awareness Month in April. Maui News.

The Maui Police Department will be aggressively enforcing distracted driving violations as part of the national “U drive. U text. U pay.” campaign, which runs from April 10 to 15, 2014, department officials announced. Maui Now.

After more than two years of overall growth, Maui County's February visitor statistics changes suggest that while fewer tourists were coming to the tri-isles, those who did come were trying to get as much value as possible from their dollars. Maui News.

Maui hotels saw the greatest increase in hotel rates, with the average daily rate soaring 8.7 percent to $330.19, the highest in the state. Occupancy at Maui hotels rose 2.3 percentage points to 85.1 percent, according to the weekly report by Hospitality Advisors LLC and STR Inc. Pacific Business News.


A larger-than-usual crowd of about 50 people attended the gathering at Duke’s Canoe Club to hear the latest plans for the $17.5 million Hawaii Dairy Farms project. Concerns were many, including risks to the environment and economy, the location of the farm, and an onslaught of flies, smell and pollution on the South Shore. Garden Island.

The Kauai Board of Water Supply voted Thursday to suspend the Department of Water’s controversial Kahili Horizontal Directional Drilled Well Project. Garden Island.

Kauai is the fastest-growing county in Hawaii, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.bThe island's population rose 1.6 percent to 69,512 from 68,395 residents between July 1, 2012, and July 2013, according to the agency. Star-Advertiser.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Obama Hawaii vacation costs add up, ukulele designation controversial, the bridges of Waikiki, Health Connector seeks PR, tax hikes for Maui, $26.5M Hamakua mansion sold, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Obama says goodbye
Obama leaves Hawaii, January 2014 courtesy photo
It cost taxpayers $7.78 million in flight expenses alone for President Barack Obama's Christmas vacation to Honolulu in December and January, according to Judicial Watch, the conservative, nonpartisan foundation. Star-Advertiser.

Judicial Watch announced today that it obtained flight expense records from the U.S. Department of the Air Force revealing that President Obama incurred $15,885,585.30 in flight expenses alone for the Obama family June to July, 2013 trip to Africa and their 2013-2014 Christmas vacation to Honolulu.

The Hawaii Health Connector has issued two requests for proposals seeking contractors to perform marketing services and public relations for the state-run online health insurance exchange. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii lawmakers are considering supporting the state’s troubled health insurance exchange with up to $15 million per year. It’s not clear whether the money would come entirely from a proposed sustainability fee on insurers or general fund appropriations. The fee would hit insurers that aren’t participating in the exchange. Associated Press.

Officially designating the ukulele Hawai’i’s State Instrument is proving to be far more difficult at the State Capitol than many lawmakers ever anticipated. Hawaii Public Radio.

Will Senate Investigators Be Able to Fix the Hawaii State Hospital This Time? Civil Beat.

Hawaii's traditional unemployment rate is low, at 4.6 percent, but newly released federal data shows that more people in the islands are underemployed than are jobless. Civil Beat.

The Blood Bank of Hawaii is relaxing its eligibility guidelines and adopting a friendlier questionnaire on Tuesday, some of the broadest changes by the state's only blood center in more than a decade, to enlarge its donor pool and attract younger donors. Star-Advertiser.

For the first time, the state will allow a limited number of polling place workers to work shorter shifts this election year instead of the 14-hour days they've had to endure in past elections. The state pays election workers $85 for a more than 14-hour shift at polling places from 5:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. or later. Hawaii News Now.

To understand political campaigns you need to answer two questions: how are the candidates doing and why this is the case. Campaign coverage in Hawaii never gives decent answers to these questions. Civil Beat.

There are still some Hawaii state senators who want to see a change in leadership, though it’s unlikely to happen during the current session and maybe not until the fall elections. Civil Beat.

On Tap at the Hawaii Legislature: March 27. A selective list of bills, resolutions, hearings, briefings and events for Thursday at the state Capitol. Civil Beat.


Waikiki would get six bridges reserved for pedestrian and bicycle traffic, including four across the Ala Wai Canal, if the city adopts a regional traffic plan designed to make the area more multi-modal. A public meeting will be held Thursday to discuss the bridges and other traffic improvements outlined in the Waikiki Regional Circulator Plan, which aims to reduce growing conflicts between vehicles, pedestrians and bikers. Star-Advertiser.

The budget battles of 2013 may continue into the mayor’s second year in office. Honolulu City Council leaders are already taking a scalpel to Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s proposed budget for the 2015 fiscal year. Council members proposed reducing funding this week for some of the mayor’s top initiatives, including his Housing First program, his energy efficient lighting plan, and even his trumpeted road repaving program. Civil Beat.

Getting a permit to build a condominium tower in Kakaako was never a cakewalk, but the process is now shifting to a more rigorous, quasi-judicial and potentially adversarial format. The state agency regulating development in Kakaako recently adjusted its public hearing process and now is inviting anyone with an interest in future proposed development projects to seek a more active role in the decision-making that includes using expert witnesses and cross-examining developer representatives. Star-Advertiser.

About 1,300 Navy and Marine Corps families in privatized housing on Oahu who got a whopping 123 percent increase in their electric bills starting in October will get their rates dialed back to a 56 percent increase beginning Tuesday and continuing until the end of the fiscal year Sept. 30, the Navy announced. Star-Advertiser.

Scientists expect more endangered Hawaiian geese to migrate to Oahu now that a pair has not only settled near Kahuku, but is raising three goslings. The family of nene is believed to be the first of the rare species on Oahu since the 1700s. Star-Advertiser.

A federal biologist said Wednesday a pair of endangered Hawaiian geese that hatched goslings and settled on Oahu’s north shore were likely on their way back to Kauai from the Big Island when they stopped in Kahuku. Associated Press.


Some Hawaii residents and groups are abusing the state’s environmental rules, Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Wednesday. Abercrombie’s comments came in the context of a conversation that began with the National Park Service’s request to designate the Keauhou aquifer a water management area. West Hawaii Today.

A bill making its way through the Legislature would give a cash infusion to Big Island foster families who haven’t seen a funding increase in more than two decades. West Hawaii Today.

Mansion on Hamakua Coast sold for undisclosed amount. Seventeen miles north of Hilo on Hawaii island, a developer has made a big bet at making the Hamakua Coast more known for ultra-luxury homes than farms by building a helipad-capped mansion next to an oceanfront waterfall and listing the property for sale at $26.5 million. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Electric Light Co. is giving Country Club-Hawaii a little more time to pay down the $212,385 it owes the utility. Tribune-Herald.

Maui County residents could see hikes in real property taxes, water bills and trash collection fees as proposed in Mayor Alan Arakawa's $622.6 million county budget for 2014-15. Maui News.

Maui County Council members continued to grapple with a measure Tuesday to set aside $50,000 to hire outside legal counsel to represent the county in a lawsuit filed by MAUIWatch Facebook page founder Neldon Mamuad. Maui News.

Mayor Alan Arakawa is proposing $115.8 million of county funds for various capital improvement projects in his fiscal 2015 budget proposal. Maui News.

The Maui County Council's Budget and Finance Committee will hold evening meetings throughout Maui County in April to receive community input on the county's 2014-15 budget. Maui News.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Legislature honors fallen warriers, cops agree to stop having sex with prostitutes, Schatz and Hanabusa don't like each other, West Hawaii water wars, Maui mayor proposes $687M budget, Kauai GMO protesters to pay county for march, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

photo courtesy J. Kalani English
Hawaii color guard, courtesy Sen. J. Kalani English
Four service members who made the ultimate sacrifice were honored today during a joint session of the state Legislature. This is the 10th year lawmakers have honored the fallen with the Hawaii Medal of Honor. KITV4.

Honolulu police told a key Hawaii lawmaker Tuesday that they’re OK with making it expressly illegal for officers to have sex with prostitutes, as long as undercover officers can still say they’ll have sex so they can make arrests. Associated Press.

Following a closed-door meeting Tuesday with a key Hawaii lawmaker, Hono­lulu police reversed their objection to a potential change in state law that would make it illegal for officers to have sex with prostitutes. Star-Advertiser.

A group protesting the possibility of legal marijuana in Hawaii told lawmakers Tuesday pharmaceutical companies would try to hook people on the drug. Associated Press.

National marijuana policy advocates returned to the isles for a second year to urge state lawmakers to take a common-sense approach on marijuana policy that focuses on science, public health and safety rather than legalizing or demonizing the drug. Star-Advertiser.

It's called Hula, a new app designed to provide your date with proof you're free of sexually transmitted diseases and thus help you "get lei'd." But while the app has earned some nationwide buzz for promoting STD testing and awareness, it is drawing fire from Native Hawaiians who describe it as disrespectful and insulting to their culture. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii U.S. Senate race
Schatz, Hanabusa

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz says Rep. Colleen Hanabusa can be funny sometimes, but then struggles to find something else positive to say about the woman who is trying to take his Senate seat away. Hanabusa, for her part, doesn’t really have anything nice to say about Schatz except that he chaired Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in Hawaii in 2008. Civil Beat.

Incomes of Hawaii residents increased at the slowest pace in three years in 2013, although the pace of growth was faster than the nation as a whole, according to a report released Tuesday. Personal income in Hawaii rose 2.8 percent in 2013 from 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reported. That was down from annual growth rates of 3.7 percent in 2012 and 5.6 percent in 2011. Star-Advertiser.

Senate Bill 2682 would require 16 of the most powerful boards and commissions in Hawaii to make their financial disclosure forms public for the first time. Civil Beat.


According to the U-S Census Bureau, nearly 40 percent of all single family homes on O’ahu were built in 1969 or earlier, and could experience delays when remodeled or demolished in the near future.   But, there’s a bill making its way through the legislature that could change all that. Hawaii Public Radio.

The great flood of 2008 dumped more than 12 inches of rain in a single day into Makaha Valley, forcing mud, water and debris through nearby homes and roads. Six years later, the state is unveiling a new study which concluded that found that there are no easy and inexpensive solutions. Hawaii News Now.

The entire board of CommonWealth REIT, the majority shareholder of Hawaii’s largest industrial landowner, has been removed and now the search begins for a new board, the Massachusetts-based real estate investment trust said Tuesday. Pacific Business News.

Brandon Cayetano, son of former Gov. Ben Cayetano and owner and operator of Hawaii All-Star Paintball and Airsoft Games, died early Tuesday at Straub Clinic & Hospital. The former governor confirmed the death. The cause of death has not been released. Star-Advertiser.


Hawaii Island’s water supply is their baby, and they don’t want the federal or state government taking over its care, members of the county Water Board said Tuesday. In a unanimous vote, the Water Board agreed to draft a letter opposing a move by the National Park Service asking the state Commission on Water Resource Management to give the area served by the Keauhou Aquifer a state water management area designation. West Hawaii Today.

Students at 19 Big Island public schools began participating this week in the field test of a new English language and math assessment test. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii's largest ranch plans to talk to its neighbors about developing renewable energy and a small electrical grid for their area. Parker Ranch will present the preliminary findings of a study on the issue to the Waimea Community Association town meeting next week Thursday. Associated Press.

A dedication ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday for phase one of the Mohouli Heights Senior Neighborhood project. Big Island Now.


Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa unveiled his proposed budget for the 2015 fiscal year before the Maui County Council today. The mayor said the $687 million budget “hinges on whether or not the state is going to remove the Transient Accommodations Tax cap” that was imposed by the state a few years back to assist with a deficit. Maui Now.


Organizers of the Mana March say they will cut a check to the County of Kauai — $5,627 to be exact — to offset costs incurred during the anti-GMO, pro-Bill 2491 event in September. Fern Rosenstiel, director of Ohana O Kauai, one of the organizations behind the protest and rally, said the money was raised through donations and that she will deliver a check in the next few days. Garden Island.

When the Kilauea Sugar Plantation was shuttered in 1971 after nearly 91 years in business, Malama Kauai co-founder Keone Kealoha said it didn’t take long for developers to eye the company’s former land for homes. Garden Island.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Nene return to Oahu, labor contractor liable for worker abuse, Kauai stays with at-large council elections, Hilo judge hears GMO lawsuit, Maui court clears cops in shooting, privatizing prisons, Legislature mulls sex ed, medical marijuana, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2014 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Nene on Big Island (c) 2014 All Hawaii News
Endangered Hawaiian geese have been seen in the wild on Oahu for the first time in centuries, indicating the chances of survival for the native birds are improving, federal and state officials said. A pair of nene that migrated to Oahu has nested and hatched three goslings at the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge in Kahuku, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Monday. Star-Advertiser.

Endangered nene have been spotted in the wild on Oahu for the first time in centuries, a federal agency said Monday. Associated Press.

Critics of the state's controversial middle-school sex education pilot program, Pono Choices, expressed concern Monday that a working group convened to study the material has been meeting in secret and comprises members who might not deliver a fair and unbiased report. Star-Advertiser.

A Republican lawmaker in Hawaii has taken issue with one of the state's sex education programs, saying it "sexualizes the innocent" by teaching 11-year-old children about anal sex. Associated Press.

Hawaii lawmakers are considering a measure to improve the state's struggling correctional system by turning to the private sector for help. State Sen. Will Espero introduced a resolution on public-private partnerships for jails, prisons and other correctional facilities. A Senate panel listened to testimony from supporters and opponents during a hearing on Monday. Hawaii News Now.

A federal judge has found a California-based labor contractor liable for discrimination and abuse of hundreds of Thai workers at Hawaii farms. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Monday announced the ruling against Global Horizons, which placed the workers at six farms across the state. Associated Press.

A federal judge has ruled that a labor recruiting company that was previously accused of human trafficking did harass, discriminate and retaliate against hundreds of Thai workers in Hawaii. The ruling Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Leslie Kobayashi leaves for a jury to decide the amount of money Global Horizons owes 530 Thai workers it imported to work on farms on Kauai, Oahu, Maui and Hawaii island and what measures it needs to implement to prevent future abuses. Trial is set for November. Star-Advertiser.

Four years after Global Horizons was implicated in the largest human trafficking case in U.S. history, a federal judge has found the California labor-contracting company liable for harassing, discriminating against and retaliating against more than 500 Thai laborers working on Hawaii farms. Civil Beat.

The Beverly Hills-based farm labor contractor, Global Horizons, Inc., is liable for “harassing, discriminating, and retaliating against hundreds of Thai workers in the U.S., in violation of federal anti-discrimination laws,” the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Monday. Hawaii Reporter.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz is up with his first TV spot of the 2014 campaign season. The spot, titled "Commitment," has one primary message: Schatz is devoted to protecting Social Security. Civil Beat.

The Smart Approaches to Marijuana Project will brief state House and Senate lawmakers at 10:30 a.m. in Room 423. Civil Beat.

Supporters of medical marijuana dispensaries in Hawai’i brought a new face to the Legislature.  Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii Senate to Decide on Aaron Mahi for the Land Use Commission. Civil Beat.

A new report says Hawaii is the most expensive state in the country for renters. The National Low Income Housing Coalition says a renter would need to make a least $31.54 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment, with a fair market rent of $1,640 a month. KHON2.

On Tap at the Hawaii Legislature: March 25. A selective list of bills, resolutions, hearings, briefings and events for Tuesday at the state Capitol. Civil Beat.

State roundup for March 25. Associated Press.


The city broke ground Monday for the underwater portion of a project that will help transport sewage from the Ala Moana Wastewater Pump Station across Honolulu Harbor to the Sand Island Wastewater Treatment Plant in what the contractor called the most expensive microtunneling project in U.S. history. Star-Advertiser.

Former U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has lashed out at Hawaiian Electric Co., saying that the Honolulu-based utility needs a “better business model” when it comes to integrating more solar energy into its grid, according to a recent Forbes article. Pacific Business News.

The House Committee on Water and Land approved a resolution Monday to require a financial and management audit of the Hawaii Community Development Authority.  The agency in charge of managing land in Kakaako, Kalaeloa and Heeia has been under fire from critics who are worried about the fast pace of development in Kakaako. Civil Beat.

A long-awaited project to re-do Moanalua High School's main athletic field has been delayed for two years because of problems obtaining city and state permits. Hawaii News Now.


Does requiring farmers growing genetically modified crops to register with Hawaii County result in the release of proprietary information? That’s the question Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura will consider after hearing from witnesses and attorneys on both sides of the issue Monday. Tribune-Herald.

Improvements to Hawaii Island’s two airports take up the bulk of the $436 million in capital improvement projects the state House is proposing for the island this year. West Hawaii Today.

Construction of Hawaii Island’s first roundabout could begin as soon as August. Salvador C. Panem, state Department of Transportation Hawaii district engineer, said Isemoto Contracting Co. Ltd. won the bid for the Pahoa roundabout earlier this month. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii County is preparing to ask a federal bankruptcy judge to lift a stay and allow corporation counsel to initiate foreclosure proceedings on 80 acres of oceanfront land in South Kona. West Hawaii Today.


Ruling that Maui police officers used reasonable force in firing shots at the driver of a fleeing truck that had struck a police officer at Honolua Bay, a judge dismissed a federal civil rights lawsuit brought by two men who were in the bed of the truck when they were hit by bullets. Maui News.

Several state transportation projects are planned this week that will result in lane closures or detours in Pukalani, Kāʻanapali, and Māʻalaea. Maui Now.

Maui Paving LLC has begun work on two road resurfacing projects in Pukalani, according to an announcement from the contractor. Maui News.


The voting map won’t be carved up. The Kauai County Charter Review Commission rejected three proposals Monday that would have let county voters determine whether County Council districts, and the election of those seats, should be changed. The decision to forego a ballot question on County Council redistricting, at least for now, followed several months of discussions on whether it was time to change how the seven-member board is elected and represented on the island. Garden Island.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. said they support the Kauai County Council’s call to lawmakers to stop initiatives regulating coastal and marine resources around the island of Niihau. Garden Island.

One of the largest solar energy farms in Hawaii is about halfway done and is expected to be completed in early July, the project’s development team told Pacific Business News on Monday.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Medical marijuana task force evolves, Legislature to halt cop sex with prostitutes, flood insurance rising, Hawaii County councilman, corporation counsel seek judgeship, state to fight child death ruling against Human Services Department, Kauai to suspend well project, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2014 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Pololu Valley Overlook (C) 2014 All Hawaii News
State parks are not only a place of natural beauty, they are also turning into an important source of funds for Hawaii. KITV4.

Several bills to establish medical marijuana dispensaries in Hawaii have failed in recent years in the State Legislature, and this year's session is no exception. But a resolution aimed at laying the groundwork for such dispensaries has been approved by a House committee. Hawaii News Now.

A state House Health Committee passed resolutions Friday that aim to develop a task force for the establishment of a regulated statewide medical marijuana dispensary system. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii lawmakers will be tackling everything from prostitution to school lunches this week in hearings on bills and resolutions. The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to remove the legal protection that allows undercover police officers to have sex with prostitutes during investigations in the version of House Bill 1926 it's taking up Friday. Associated Press.

Lawmakers are going forward with changes to a bill that would end a police exemption allowing undercover cops to have sex with prostitutes. Hawaii Public Radio.

Under Hawaii law, police officers may engage in sexual penetration during investigations into prostitution. Senate Judiciary and Labor Chair Clayton Hee and his committee members are backing a request by sex trafficking advocates to put a stop to the practice through new legislation that also aims to strengthen Hawaii's anti trafficking laws. Hawaii Reporter.

Premiums are going up on nearly 14,000 federally subsidized flood insurance policies in Hawaii as Congress looks to get a federal program out of a $24 billion hole. Legislation signed by President Barack Obama on Friday means homeowners won't see premiums jump all at once, as scheduled under a 2012 overhaul. Associated Press.

Hawaii taxpayers paid the tab for Gov. Neil Abercrombie, his deputy chief of staff and two security guards at the swanky St. Regis Hotel in Washington, D.C. for a few nights last December. Their lodging alone cost $3,520. Add $7,929 to fly the four of them there — including the governor’s nearly $5,000 first-class ticket — and the five-day trip totaled $11,449. They were there for a mixed plate of state business. Civil Beat.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz says he plans to focus on Social Security, climate change and middle-class issues such as college affordability in his work in the Senate and his campaign to hold on to his seat. Associated Press.

The Hawaii Audubon Society is opposed to a proposal that could take the Hawaiian hawk off the endangered species list. Star-Advertiser.

House Bill 2560, which would allow family care centers to operate on agricultural land, is one of several that the Legislature is mulling this session that would add more exemptions to the growing list of structures that are permitted on Hawaii’s farmland. Civil Beat.

A Big Island state senator has started an email campaign seeking to stop colleagues from reappointing Richard Ha to the state Board of Agriculture. Tribune-Herald.

The ongoing practice of OCCC prison guards calling in sick on weekends and big sporting event days appears to have consequences for everyone except the guards who abuse leave. Star-Advertiser.
Are We Criminalizing Homelessness in Hawaii? Civil Beat.

On Tap at the Hawaii Legislature: March 24. A selective list of bills, resolutions, hearings, briefings and events for Monday at the state Capitol. Civil Beat.


The state plans to appeal a judge's ruling in which the state Department of Human Services was found negligent — along with a Navy diver based at Pearl Harbor — in the 2009 death of the sailor's 14-month-old boy, who was struck or shaken to death. Star-Advertiser.

Hunt Cos. Hawaii is expected to bring about 12,000 new residents to Kalaeloa after its master-plan for the area is all said and done in the next two decades. Pacific Business News.

Public meeting will provide updates on Makaha Valley flood study. Star-Advertiser.

In one of the early signs that Hawaii County is serious about what is likely to be its largest public works project in county history, officials on Friday shuttled a dozen potential bidders to the Hilo landfill. West Hawaii Today.

A group of Puna residents is intensifying its battle against a bill that would authorize Hawaii and Maui counties to issue so-called “sustainable living research permits” that would skirt building and zoning codes on parcels from 1 to 15 acres. West Hawaii Today.

Two Hawaii County officials are among six finalists to fill a vacancy in the District Court in Hilo. Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida and County Council Chairman J Yoshimoto both made the short list. West Hawaii Today.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie told a class of 26 adult corrections officer recruits Friday that they are getting in on the ground floor of what he described as a statewide initiative to revamp and reorient the corrections program. Tribune-Herald.


Maui County is in the final stages of permitting for an estimated $4.5 million rock revetment extension to protect the Wailuku-Kahului Wastewater Reclamation Facility from erosion, county officials said. Maui News.

Motorists may get some relief from the most congested portion of Puunene Avenue if state lawmakers continue to support a $10 million project to expand the two-lane portion of the street to four lanes. Maui News.


The Kauai County Department of Water is recommending the county suspend its proposed Kahili Horizontal Directional Drilled Well project. Garden Island.

Friday, March 21, 2014

GMO still hot Hawaii topic, Honolulu cops have sex with prostitutes, UH presidential finalists to be public, Kauai mayor seeks 3rd term, Hawaii wants piece of Obama library, birth control for chickens and more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii store sign (c) 2014 All Hawaii News
 Honolulu police officers have urged lawmakers to keep an exemption in state law that allows undercover officers to have sex with prostitutes during investigations, touching off a heated debate. Associated Press.

An effort to require labels on genetically modified foods in Hawaii was brought back to life in the state Legislature, but it died in committee on Thursday almost as quickly as it was revived. Associated Press.

State Rep. Jessica Wooley on Thursday unsuccessfully attempted to resurrect a proposal to require labeling for genetically modified food sold in Hawaii. Star-Advertiser.

In an attempt to get a GMO-labeling bill heard this session, Rep. Wooley turned to a legislative strategy that most would agree is, usually, a less-than-savory tactic. Hawaii Independent.

GMO’s and Pesticides in Hawai’i. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii lawmaker introduces chicken birth control measure. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii may end up working with Chicago as the process moves forward to choose a site for the Barack Obama Presidential Library. Hawaii officials Thursday acknowledged meeting with their counterparts from the Windy City regarding possible ways to collaborate in the building of the library complex. Star-Advertiser.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz visited Civil Beat on Tuesday for a wide-ranging discussion on everything from climate change and college affordability to local values and his race against U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who is challenging him in the Aug. 9 Democratic primary.

The University of Hawaii Board of Regents voted today to make public the names of its top three presidential candidates. Civil Beat.

Hawaii's lone Republican senator is preparing to ask the federal government to investigate the state's use of $204 million in Affordable Care Act grants meant to fund the troubled Hawaii Health Connector. Star-Advertiser.

Another Dental Nightmare Renews Call for Stronger Oversight in Hawaii. Civil Beat.

A federal appeals court is giving a Hawaii man another chance to argue that he should be allowed to have a rarely given license to carry a gun in public. Associated Press.

Hawaiian Electric Co. expects a cost-savings of up to $500 million each year for its customers when it begins utilizing liquefied natural gas as a replacement fuel for power generation on Oahu, the Big Island, Maui, Molokai and Lanai, a top official from the state’s largest electric utility said Thursday. Pacific Business News.

Hawaiian Electric Co. has put online graphs that show how much solar and wind power is being generated on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii island throughout the day and how much the renewable sources contribute to total power consumption. The utility wants consumers to understand the variable nature of solar and wind power and the important role of the so-called "firm" power generated at HECO plants. Star-Advertiser.

United Airlines is looking at outsourcing neighbor island ground operations, which could result in the layoff of 223 employees at the Kona, Kahului and Lihue airports. Star-Advertiser.

On Tap at the Hawaii Legislature: March 21 A selective list of bills, resolutions, hearings, briefings and events for Friday at the state Capitol. Civil Beat.


A bill making it easier for shoreline property owners to put up retaining walls and other structures is advancing through the Honolulu City Council, although some members said they want more information before they'll give it final approval. Star-Advertiser.

A controversial bill that would make it easier for homeowners to build retaining walls along their shoreline properties passed out of the Honolulu City Council’s Zoning and Planning Committee on Thursday. Civil Beat.

Renovations at Honolulu Hale are drawing major health concerns. There’s fear that city leaders and the general public may have been exposed to asbestos. KHON2.

State and city officials announced plans on Thursday to protect the Hāwea heiau complex and Keawawa wetland in East Honolulu. Civil Beat.

Construction on Farrington auditorium to start in summer. Star-Advertiser.


The University of Hawaii at Hilo has received a second $5 million grant to study how plants, animals and microbes respond to climate change. Associated Press.

From courts to classrooms to Kona tourists, the Big Island stands to gain lots of funding from the budget passed last week by the state House of Representatives. Big Island Now.

Finance Department officials say a regular review cycle of all Hawaii County parcels, developed and unimproved, would realistically take at least 7.3 years. West Hawaii Today.

The first students could graduate from Hawaii Community College at Palamanui in 2017. West Hawaii Today.

House lawmakers from Maui today issued an announcement saying they have secured more than $460 million in capital improvement project funds, including $130 million for the construction of the long-awaited Kīhei High School in South Maui. Maui Now.

The library at Paia School is scheduled to reopen today after being used primarily as storage space for the last five years. Maui News.


On the west side of Kauai, many acres of former sugar cane fields have been converted to a major testing area for genetically modified seeds. Hawaii Public Radio.

Two-term incumbent  Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., who was first installed in 2008, made good on that promise Thursday, when he filed his nomination papers with the Office of the County Clerk’s Elections Division. Garden Island.

‘A desire to be of service’ U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard honored at ‘Women of Inspiration’ Garden Island.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

AG lawsuit says Plavix ineffective for Hawaii ethnicities, Honolulu judge denied second term, Maui mulls beach smoking ban, United could lay off hundreds, Honolulu solar panel owners going rogue, public campaign funding bill dies, Kona could get movie production center, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2014 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Hanauma Bay (c) 2014 All Hawaii News
A park advocacy group says Honolulu isn’t going far enough to fix up the most treasured “jewel in the crown” — Hanauma Bay. Civil Beat.

The state attorney general is suing the manufacturers of a blockbuster prescription blood thinner who he says covered up evidence that the pricey alternative to aspirin would be ineffective for much of Hawaii's population. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s attorney general is suing the makers of a widely prescribed blood thinner he says a significant portion of the state’s population has difficulty metabolizing. Associated Press.

A lawsuit filed today by the State Attorney General against the makers of Plavix alleges that they marketed a drug in Hawaii that they knew would not work for up to half of the population. Hawaii News Now.

Today, Attorney General David M. Louie filed a lawsuit in the First Circuit Court pursuing civil penalties and disgorgement of profits for deceptive and unfair marketing practices related to the blockbuster antiplatelet drug Plavix. Hawaii Reporter.

The State of Hawaii is taking a major drug company to court. Yesterday, Attorney General David Louie filed a lawsuit for unfair and deceptive marketing practices related to the drug Plavix, which has been sold on the islands since 1998.Hawaii Public Radio.

A bill that would have changed campaign finance laws for state elections in Hawaii died in the state Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, halting its progress unless the group decides to hear the bill again this session. Associated Press.

Two bills expected to be approved by the Senate Judiciary and Labor committee Thursday represent the kind of legislation that demonstrates lawmakers can get tough on crime. House Bill 2205 would remove the probation option for sentencing people convicted of habitual property crimes. House Bill 2034 would eliminate the statute of limitations on first- and second-degree sexual assault of a minor under the age of 14 Civil Beat.

A bill moving through the Hawaii Legislature would give the state director of transportation the authority to set motor vehicle inspection rates and make other changes to the inspection program. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii’s public school system isn’t planning to ask for more time to carry out ambitious reforms that won the state a $75 million federal grant. Associated Press.

Defining instructional hours to allow for greater flexibility is the one thing everyone agrees HB1675 needs in order to be effective. Hawaii Independent.

Hawaii Senate
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union has endorsed Hawaii state Senate President Donna Mercado Kim for the 1st Congressional District seat.Civil Beat.

With the March 31 deadline to sign up for health coverage looming, the Hawaii Health Connector announced Wednesday thousands of Hawaii residents could be eligible for no-cost health coverage or tax credits. Tribune-Herald.

The United States has been at the forefront of growing genetically modified crops. But in Europe, the technology has met with a great deal of opposition. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hundreds of United Airlines employees could be laid off as the air carrier re-evaluates its ground operations at three Hawaii airports. KITV4.

The Hawaiian Electric Company is exploring the use of liquefied natural gas for power generation. Tribune-Herald.

On Tap at the Hawaii Legislature: March 20. A selective list of bills, resolutions, hearings, briefings and events for Thursday at the state Capitol. Civil Beat.


A controversial Circuit Court judge is losing his job after complaints from lawyers about his on-the-job performance, a rare "firing" of a judge. Sources said the Judicial Selection Commission will not retain Oahu Circuit Judge Patrick Border for a second 10-year term when his term expires April 7. Hawaii News Now.

With Oahu in a solar power crunch, homeowners are going rogue, turning their panels on without permission from Hawaiian Electric Co. KHON2.

A bill aimed at making it easier for shoreline property owners to put up retaining walls may set a dangerous precedent and cause harm to Oahu's beaches and other coastal areas, city planning officials and environmentalists say. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu Police Department is teaming up with Hawaii’s politically powerful police union to oppose legislation that would require police agencies to disclose the names of all officers disciplined for misconduct. Civil Beat.

Despite numerous signs warning of penalties for trespassing, 92 people have been issued citations at Sacred Falls State Park since the beginning of 2012, including the two that were issued to lost hikers Wednesday, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. Star-Advertiser.

Developers proposing a condominium tower largely surrounded by midrise town homes and rental apartments on a parking lot in Kakaako sailed through an initial public hearing Wednesday, attracting hardly a speck of the dissent raised last year on a similar project nearby. Star-Advertiser.

After more than a decade's wait, H&M will open its first Hawaii location at noon March 27 in the Waikiki Business Plaza, with 31,000 square feet of fashion on two floors. Star-Advertiser.


Kona-based United Airlines employees are disputing the company’s official statement about upcoming personnel changes at Kona International Airport. West Hawaii Today.

Nearly an acre of land in Hawi would be preserved as a community park under a proposal the Hawaii County Council Finance Committee supported Tuesday. Tribune-Herald.

Kona movie production center in the works. West Hawaii Today.

County must redo Lono Kona sewer project hearing. West Hawaii Today.

County cuts fleet of vehicles taken home by workers. Water department tricky because of 1993 arbitration decision. Maui News.

Maui County Council members are considering a bill that would ban smoking, tobacco products and electronic smoking devices at county parks and beaches. Maui News.

House lawmakers from Maui today issued an announcement saying they have secured more than $460 million in capital improvement project funds, including $130 million for the construction of the long-awaited Kīhei High School in South Maui. Maui Now.

A larger than anticipated demand for a free Google internet seminar on Maui, prompted organizers to add a second session on Wednesday afternoon. Maui Now.


Ron Horoshko seeks seat on County Council. Garden Island.

The FIRST robotics team is in its final days before leaving for the Hawaii Regional FIRST Robotics Competition at the Stan Sheriff Center at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Garden Island.


Molokai Community Health Center, which is in the midst of an  $8.5 million capital campaign, will receive $500,000 from the state to help fund the renovations that will turn the old Pau Hana in in Kaunakakai into a wellness campus. Pacific Business News.

After starting a robotics program on a trial basis this year, students of Molokai Middle School (MMS) have swept the competition, placing first and third in the state. That qualifies them to compete in the 2014 VEX Robotics World Championship VEX IQ Challenge Division in California next month as well as the International VEX Summer Games in Honolulu. Molokai Dispatch.