Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Lawsuit over Pohakuloa, election day voter registration passes, Legislature passes $12.1B budget, HECO told to lower electric rates, 8% raises for Honolulu officials, Turtle Bay money delayed, no more sex with prostitutes, Supreme Court ponders records retention, public hospitals face cuts, Kauai town goes styrofoam-free, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2014 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Pohakuloa Training Area © 2014 All Hawaii News
Two Hawaii Island residents are suing the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and its director, William Aila, for allegedly failing to protect trust lands at Pohakuloa Training Area. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii lawmakers passed a bill Tuesday that will allow voters to register at polling places on the same day they vote. Associated Press.

Hawaii lawmakers have passed a bill that will end an unusual exemption in state law that allowed police to have sex with prostitutes. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Legislature on Tuesday approved a $12.1 billion state budget that reduces spending to reflect lower revenue and wrapped up work on hundreds of bills as the session drew near its close. Associated Press.

Both houses of the Legislature overwhelmingly approved the State Budget today which was less than what the Governor asked for but more for some state departments, including public schools and the University of Hawai’i system. Hawaii Public Radio.

Public hospitals to cut services to make up $48M shortfall. The financially struggling 12-member system, which acts as the safety net for communities where medical care is lacking, had hoped for legislation to partner with or be purchased by a local nonprofit provider such as Hawaii Pacific Health, The Queen's Health Systems or Kaiser Permanente Hawaii. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii lawmakers are making kindergarten mandatory for children starting in the fall. Star-Advertiser.

The House approved a bill Tuesday (SB 2768) that compels children who turn 5 years old before July 31 of a school year to attend kindergarten. Associated Press.

Hawaii’s counties will receive a total of $10 million more in annual hotel tax revenue under a plan state lawmakers have approved. Associated Press.

The state Senate voted Tuesday to confirm state Rep. Jessica Wooley as director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control, finding the attorney and environmental advocate qualified and capable for the post. Star-Advertiser.

A flurry of final votes as lawmakers also weighed in on an important political nomination. KITV 4's Paul Drewes spent all day in the Senate and has the latest from the state capitol.

The state Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday ordered Hawaiian Electric Co. to reduce energy costs and accommodate more solar power and other renewable energy on the grid. Hawaiian Electric must submit its plans for carrying out the orders within four months, said Michael Champley, one of three commissioners who announced the orders with Gov. Neil Abercrombie. Associated Press.

The Public Utilities Commission sent a strong message to Hawaiian Electric Companies Tuesday, saying the company is not moving fast enough to lower utility rates and connect more photovoltaic systems into the grid. Backed by the governor, the commission laid out an action plan on what the goals should be for the utility company. KHON2.

A handful of reporters gathered in Gov. Neil Abercrombie's Ceremonial Room on Tuesday morning awaiting an announcement about four major energy policy decisions and taking bets on what they would be. Abercrombie soon took the podium, flanked by the three leaders of the Public Utilities Commission, and announced that Hawaii has "turned the corner" in its shift to renewable energy. Civil Beat.

State Rep. Jessica Wooley will head the Office of Environmental Quality Control and Brian Tamamoto will serve on the Hawaii Community Development Authority despite last-minute objections from some lawmakers. Civil Beat.

The Center for Food Safety is a well-funded nonprofit that spends millions of dollars on litigation, community outreach and politics to support organic and sustainable agricultural practices. It opposes GMOs, pesticides and other technologies that it worries might be harmful to humans or the environment. Civil Beat.

Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann publicly announced at the end of last week that he will indeed run for governor again this year. But unlike his last two runs for public office, when he suffered crushing defeats in Democratic Party primaries, this time Hannemann says he’s running as an “Independent.” Civil Beat.

On Tap at the Hawaii Legislature: April 30. A selective list of bills, resolutions, hearings, briefings, meetings and events for Wednesday at the state Capitol. Civil Beat.


Uncertain about whether they have the votes, state House leaders have put off a decision on whether to finance $40 million in bond money for a conservation easement at Turtle Bay Resort until Thursday, the last day of session. Star-Advertiser.

The Honolulu Salary Commission voted 5-1 Tuesday to give the mayor, City Council members and most city department heads raises of 8 percent next year. Star-Advertiser.

University of Hawaii-Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple is proposing to eliminate six to eight mostly-vacant dean and director positions and consolidate departments to save more than $1 million a year. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu's housing market is  becoming even more expensive, and recruiters say that the high cost of living here is a  major hurdle in attracting employees. Pacific Business News.

Some of Honolulu's homeless are moving off the streets and into secluded tree houses. Hawaii News Now.

Outrigger Enterprises Group plans to cap off its Waikiki Beach Project with another $100 million investment, which would add meeting space and a 350-foot hotel tower to the Outrigger Reef on the Beach. Star-Advertiser.


More than a decade after Geoffrey Molfino bought — and sold — a 49-acre parcel of Hawaii Island land, the case he brought against the county for allegedly failing to maintain accurate records was heard before the state’s highest court. In an unusual move — for the first time on record — the Supreme Court justices met in West Hawaii, in a courtroom convened in the Kealakehe High School gym, to allow Molfino’s attorney, Peter Esser, and Deputy Corporation Counsel Laureen Martin to make their oral arguments. West Hawaii Today.

A state Senate bill seeking funds for a proposed flight-training center at Hilo International Airport was deferred last week. The state House of Representatives passed SB 3092 earlier this month, but the measure did not make it out of conference committees last week. Tribune-Herald.

The leases for three Banyan Drive properties will expire next year, leaving hotel operators and residents little certainty about their future. Tribune-Herald.

Big Island minister Roger Christie learned his legal fate Monday, and his case has invigorated lawmakers and advocates who believe, as Christie does, that marijuana should be made legal. Christie was held for 3 years and 9 months in Hawaii’s Federal Detention Center without bail and or a trial on charges related to growing and distributing marijuana. Hawaii Reporter.


A recent study tested five Maui Meadows residences that had opted to install smart meters in 2012 and found that the electromagnetic radiation emitted by the devices is not enough to present a hazard to residents in the area. Maui News.

Despite not getting the share of the hotel room tax he anticipated, Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa told council members Monday that he doesn't want to increase property taxes, as there are other ways the county can make up for lost revenue. Maui News.

Maui County Council's Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Mike White wants to cut current property tax rates by 3.1 percent as well as maintain rates for trash collection fees, reduce county overtime pay and eliminate any new county positions. Maui News.


Styrofoam free. Kilauea takes big step to become even more green friendly. Garden Island.

County officials across the state may have to wait a little longer to get more of their share of tax revenues charged to most visitor accommodations throughout the state. Garden Island.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

RIMPAC heading to Hawaii, Lingle chairs Djou campaign, Maui to lower property taxes, pot minister gets 5 years, hotel tax downsized, Kauai to make ballot initiatives harder, hospital privatization fails, Hawaii County mulls raises, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

2012 photo courtesy of the U.S. Navy
RIMPAC 2012 courtesy U.S. Navy
Twenty-three nations, about 40 ships, six submarines, hundreds of aircraft and 25,000 people are participating in this year's Rim of the Pacific war games in and around Hawaii June 26 to Aug. 1, the Navy said. Details until now have been few, but Navy officials released some of the specifics of this summer's iteration of the world's largest international maritime exercise. Star-Advertiser.

The state's four mayors and County Council leaders failed in their full-court press to get the state Legislature to lift the cap on their share of hotel room tax revenues Friday, but they walked away with $10 million more for their troubles. Star-Advertiser.

A bill that would have authorized Hawaii’s semipublic hospitals to work with private partners won’t become law this year. Senate Bill 3064, sponsored by Sen. Josh Green, D-Kona, Ka‘u, died late Friday night, when officials failed to release it. West Hawaii Today.

A bill to name the ukulele the official state musical instrument stalled and died last week in conference committee because both houses could not reach an agreement. But there is still hope for passage of another measure that could do the same thing before the session adjourns Thursday. Hawaii Public Radio.

State lawmakers advanced a proposal on Friday to increase the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by January 2018. Maui Now.

Office of Environmental Quality Control
Jessica Wooley, chairwoman of the House Agriculture committee whom Abercrombie has appointed director of the Office of Environmental Quality Control, faces opposition from key legislators in the Hawaii state Senate. So does  Brian Tamamoto, appointed to serve on the Hawaii Community Development Authority. Civil Beat.

Hawaii environmental groups have launched a campaign to pressure state Senators to confirm House Agriculture Chair Jessica Wooley as the governor’s Director of ​the Office of ​Environmental Quality Control. Hawaii Reporter.

A $500,000 pesticide subsidy aimed at combating the coffee berry borer has made it through its last round of negotiations and is scheduled today for a final vote in the state Legislature. Tribune-Herald.

A cap on the salary Hawaii pays its schools superintendent would get a boost for the first time in 13 years under a bill — initially presumed dead for this session — lawmakers advanced out of conference committee Monday afternoon. Star-Advertiser.

A bill that would have made it easier for residents of high-rise apartment buildings and renters to switch to solar was killed in conference committee on Friday. Senate Bill 2934 was a priority piece of legislation for clean-energy advocates. The measure would have allowed residents without roof space or those living in areas where Hawaiian Electric Co.’s electric grid can’t accommodate any more solar to still take advantage of solar energy. Civil Beat.

Hawaii ranks in the top 10 in the United States for solar energy with both Hawaiian Electric Co. and the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative recognized for being leaders on both the solar megawatts rankings and the solar watts-per-customer rankings, according to a new report released Monday. Pacific Business News.

A state board has issued new rules for solar panel installation that will require journeyman electricians to do more of the work, which is expected to raise the cost of installing the systems. Associated Press.

Hawaii legislators will vote on a bill today that will make it a felony to post a photograph of an individual in the nude without their permission. Tribune-Herald.
copyright 2014 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Lingle © 2014 All Hawaii News

Former two-term Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle is chairing Charles Djou’s campaign for Congress, the Republican candidate announced Monday. Civil Beat.

State Rep. Mark Takai has a status that no other candidate in the Democratic primary for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District can match. Takai is a combat veteran. Civil Beat.

There were 760 fewer visitors arriving in Hawaii each day in the first quarter of 2014 compared with a year earlier, and those who came spent a dollar less per day, as the tourism industry continued to lag behind last year's record numbers. Star-Advertiser.

The US Department of Education released a report on high school graduation rates across the country for 2012 on Monday. For the first time ever, the rate hit 80%. Hawaii beat the national average at 82%. Hawaii News Now.

State roundup for April 29. Associated Press.


The company contracted to oversee various construction projects at the University of Hawaii is suing the school for more than $4.6 million over complications related to two projects, including $2.8 million for costly delays to the brand-new UH Manoa Campus Center. Civil Beat.

Detractors have called it unaffordable housing, but a planned second tower of the 801 South St. condominium project in Kakaako has attracted an overwhelming number of buyers with moderate incomes. Star-Advertiser.

An undercover sting at a Keeaumoku massage parlor could wind up backfiring on Honolulu Police. Police arrested a 41-year-old woman at the VIP Lounge for prostitution back in February but only after the vice officer said he engaged in sexual activity with the woman. Hawaii News Now.

The state has agreed to settle three alleged abuse cases against Kipapa Elementary School employees for a total of $190,000. Star-Advertiser.


Six county department heads and three deputy directors will get 5 percent raises July 1, but heftier pay hikes for the County Council, mayor and top managers are less certain, following action Monday by the county Salary Commission. West Hawaii Today.

A Big Island man who openly used his ministry to promote marijuana use has been sentenced to five years in federal prison for having 300 pot plants as part of a distribution ring. Associated Press.

The wife of a Hilo man who was sentenced Monday to five years in federal prison for having 284 marijuana plants called his sentence — and hers — “disappointing." Sherryanne “Share” Christie, the wife of Roger Christie, received a 27-month prison sentence for her role in what prosecutors described as a drug distribution ring. Tribune-Herald.

Bids to complete the Mamalahoa bypass came in slightly higher than Hawaii County officials had estimated they would. But bids for the second half of the project, building a new intersection at the Napoopoo Road junction with Mamalahoa Highway, came in slightly lower than estimates. West Hawaii Today.

Pohakuloa Training Area could see upgrades, including a runway capable of handling large air transports, under a bill aimed at enhancing the U.S. military’s operations in the Pacific region. Tribune-Herald.


Budget and Finance Committee Chair Mike White today announced a proposed average 9% reduction to real property tax rates for the fiscal year 2015 budget. Maui Now.

As the costs of long-term care for seniors continue to climb, especially in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, officials with Maui agencies that deal with aging suggest senior residents take more preventative measures. Maui News.


In the future, amending the Kauai County Charter via a citizen’s petition could be more difficult. On Monday, the County of Kauai Charter Review Commission discussed, and later deferred for one month, a proposal that would quadruple the number of signatures required to petition an amendment to the charter from 5 to 20 percent of registered voters. Garden Island.

Kauai Island Utility Cooperative was honored Monday by the Solar Electric Power Association as one of the nation’s Top 10 utilities for its delivery of solar energy. Garden Island.

Monday, April 28, 2014

No aloha for ukulele, GMO fervor brings campaign cash, final week for Hawaii Legislature, election day voter registration advances, Pohakuloa could get military money, Maui airport improvements bring runway closure, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2014 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Ukulele player in Merrie Monarch parade © 2014 All Hawaii News
Sorry, ukulele. Hawaii won’t spurn the steel guitar to sound its love for you. Bills in the state Legislature that would’ve declared the friendly little guitar the official instrument of Hawaii both died near the end of the legislative session. Associated Press.

Hawaii lawmakers are heading into the last week of the 2014 Legislative session, preparing to clear the decks on hundreds of bills before the action ends Thursday. Associated Press.

Chad Blair: Why I Hate Conference Committee. Civil Beat.

The fervor surrounding genetically engineered crops in Hawaii is expected to spill into this year's elections, as a number of candidates have already begun framing their campaigns around an anti-GMO sentiment. It's also anticipated to lead to increased spending on particular races that will pit opponents of genetically modified organisms against those who believe that large agribusiness and chemical companies, such as Monsanto, Syngenta and BASF, are a boon to the local economy and global food production research. Civil Beat.

A bill that would ban smoking in and around Hawaii Public Housing Authority units is headed for passage by the state Legislature. Star-Advertiser.

State lawmakers are considering a measure to downward voter turnout reverse the trend by allowing same-day voter registration. Hawaii News Now.

A state board has issued long-awaited licensing guidelines covering workers who install solar panels — a move that will result in a greater involvement of licensed electricians in the installation process. Star-Advertiser.

The influential Sierra Club of Hawaii is urging people to ask state senators to vote in favor of Jessica Wooley's appointment as director of the Office of Environmental Quality Control. Civil Beat.

Hawaii’s elevator standards are on their way up — but they have further to go. Two years ago, Hawaii's elevators were on a downward trajectory. The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) was way behind on elevator and boiler inspections, and working with an “archaic” code that some experts said was a threat to public safety. More than 5,000 of the more than 7,000 elevators in the state required inspecting, meaning that no one knew for sure how many needed repairs. Civil Beat.

Heart of tourism industry lies in hana hou visitors. Problems with the homeless and increases in travel costs could keep some from coming back, officials say. Star-Advertiser.

State roundup for April 28. Associated Press.


Honolulu’s Salary Commission is recommending raises of 8 percent for many of the city’s top officials – a rate that’s almost five times the annual inflation rate. That might seem like a steep increase, but for many of the positions — such as the police and fire chiefs and Honolulu City Council members — salaries would still lag far behind those of their counterparts in mainland cities of comparable size. Civil Beat.


Bill would upgrade Pohakuloa. A measure set to be introduced in Congress would assess security in Asia and the Pacific. Star-Advertiser.

There’s a good chance three former or current council members will be running for the Puna District 4 County Council seat, following the addition this week of former Councilwoman Emily Naeole. West Hawaii Today.

House and Senate conferees have agreed to include funding in the state budget for two major Big Island projects — the planned $90 million Kona Judiciary Complex and the planned $55 million University of Hawaii Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy building. Pacific Business News.

The state Legislature’s budget conference committee has agreed on a proposal to fund a permanent building for the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy, legislators and university officials said Friday. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii County Council members tapped their district contingency funds for $525,354 during the last 10 months, with a majority of expenditures going to park facilities. Tribune-Herald.

Two students at the University of Hawaii at Hilo have filed a federal lawsuit against the school, alleging their First Amendment rights were violated on campus. The lawsuit claims U.H. Hilo staff prevented them from passing out copies of the U.S. Constitution. Hawaii Public Radio.


The House Finance Committee and Senate Ways and Means Committee put finishing touches on the state budget, approving funds for several key capital improvement projects in Central Maui, including funds for: the widening of Puʻunēnē Avenue; planning and design of a new middle school in Central Maui; and design and construction of a Central Maui Regional Park and Sports Complex. Maui Now.

Repair and reconstruction of the taxiway for Kahului Airport's main runway that begins Wednesday will force the closure of the runway during nighttime hours most days through the end of the year and will increase air traffic over Kahului and Wailuku, the state Department of Transportation said. Maui News.

The state Board of Land and Natural Resources on Friday approved a request to restrict hunting dogs for at least two years in Molokai's Puu Alii Natural Area Reserve and in portions of reserve areas in East and West Maui. Maui News.


Several nonprofit organizations are supporting a charter amendment petition to regulate pesticides and the growth of genetically modified organisms on Kauai. Star-Advertiser.

It’s a question of in-house versus outsourcing. A cost-saving proposal by the Office of the County Attorney to create a litigation team within the County of Kauai department is being met with some resistance by officials who question how the team would be assembled — and whether the extra attorneys would be financially worth it. Garden Island.

State and county representatives are celebrating the passage of a measure that pushes back the sunset clause on a law that allows county lifeguards to operate on state beaches. Garden Island.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

'Politics is personal,' says U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz at campaign HQ grand opening - Watch the video

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, talks about the tight primary contest against U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa.

"Politics is personal," Schatz said, noting the contest is splitting family and friends, as well as those who previously stood side-by-side working on the same campaign.

He urges his supporters to be "Happy Warriors" during the April 27, 2014 grand opening of his Hilo campaign headquarters.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Hawaii Legislature is down to the wire, state's first death penalty case since 1944 troubles rights groups, Chinese tourists seen as 'economic salvation,' ID, please, in GMO lawsuit, Sunshine Law exemption broadens, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2014 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Merrie Monarch hula festival © 2014 All Hawaii News
Merrie Monarch hula contest, festival continues. See more here.

Hawaii lawmakers are confronting a deadline to pass the state budget, but they’re still deciding how to work out key issues that include a historic land-preservation deal and funding for a slew of nonprofits. Legislative appropriations committees have until Friday night to reach agreement on all aspects of the state’s $12 billion budget. Associated Press.

House and Senate lawmakers have agreed to carve out a new exemption in the Sunshine Law for county councils to get together outside their regular meetings. Civil Beat.

There were surprises Thursday as the clocked ticked toward a Friday 6 p.m. deadline for bills to advance to a final round of votes next week. Civil Beat.

Giving victims of childhood sexual abuse more time to seek justice, state lawmakers agreed Thursday on a bill that would extend a unique window to file lawsuits for another two years and include the state and counties among the potentially liable. Star-Advertiser.

A conference committee of state lawmakers passed House Bill 1926 Thursday to plug the legal loophole that lets police have sex with prostitutes. The committee, chaired by Rep. Karl Rhoads and Sen. Clayton Hee, also reached agreement on House Bill 1750 to combat revenge porn. Civil Beat.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie is taking Sen. David Ige to task over failing to put $40 million in the state budget to pay the state's share of a sensitive land deal with Turtle Bay Resort. Civil Beat.

The outcome of a decades-long battle to protect O’ahu’s North Shore from development will likely be decided on the last day of state budget deliberations at the State Capitol tomorrow.  Lawmakers have yet to decide on whether to fund the state’s portion of the offer to purchase the coastline property. Hawaii Public Radio.

The state Department of Education supports the annual 4.5 percent raises an arbitration panel awarded to principals and other educational officers earlier this week, according to a statement released Wednesday by the department. Star-Advertiser.

US Senate race in Hawaii pits opposing wings of Democratic Party. Los Angeles Times.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz’s latest reports with the Federal Election Commission show he’s using his considerable cash advantage to keep him in front of voters while driving even more money to his campaign bank account. The senator, who’s locked in a tight race with U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, is spending his cash on media, polling, fundraisers and political consulting, among other campaign essentials. Civil Beat.

The civil rights compliance director for public schools across the state is under investigation for complaints that she conducted biased investigations and did campaign work for a gubernatorial candidate on state time. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaiian Airlines CEO Mark Dunkerley called China the "economic salvation" for Hawaii tourism but said the state is ill-equipped to handle the expected surge of tourists who are likely to come in future years. Star-Advertiser.

A majority of Hawaii residents support the installation of more rooftop solar photovoltaic systems, while also believing that Hawaiian Electric Co. is slowing these installations to protect its profits, a new poll says, although the state’s largest electric utility pointed out that its rooftop solar policies are not about the financial impact on the Honolulu-based company. Pacific Business News.

On Tap at the Hawaii Legislature: April 25. Civil Beat.


A federal jury returned a guilty verdict Thursday for the first person in the state to stand trial for a death penalty crime. Star-Advertiser.

The possibility that former Hawaii soldier Naeem Williams could face execution is troubling for some folks in a state where the death penalty has not been imposed since 1944. Star-Advertiser.

A Marine who admitted killing a prostitute in his Waikiki hotel room last year was found guilty Thursday of "murder while engaging in an inherently dangerous act," a crime punishable by a maximum of life in prison without the possibility of parole, the Marine Corps said. Star-Advertiser.

Residential towers in Kakaako makai of Ala Moana Boulevard would be permitted to rise on eight large parcels -- or just two -- under competing proposed amendments to one of the most controversial bills at the Legislature this year. Star-Advertiser.

The City Council Transportation Committee is moving forward with plans to audit the Handi-Van program. But the committee also agreed to a request to delay the start of the audit to allow the impact of planned improvements to be assessed. Star-Advertiser.

For a second consecutive year, the rail project's top executive will receive a $35,000 bonus. Star-Advertiser.


A Big Island papaya farmer will have to identify himself to continue as part of a lawsuit against Hawaii County’s registration program for genetically modified crops, Judge Greg Nakamura said Thursday. Tribune-Herald.

Faced with a May 5 deadline to present his final budget proposal to the Hawaii County Council, Mayor Billy Kenoi said Thursday he’s crafting a spending plan that doesn’t take any increases in the county’s share of the hotel tax into account. West Hawaii Today.

Legislators in a joint conference committee opted Wednesday to include a $2 million appropriation in the state’s budget next year for Hilo Medical Center’s fledgling Primary Care Residency Program. Tribune-Herald.

The family of a man who died after being tased by a Hawaii Police Department officer intends to file a lawsuit against the department, their attorney said Thursday. -  West Hawaii Today.

A Hilo jury Thursday found a 32-year-old Hilo man guilty of first-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault in the shootings of two police officers Jan. 2, 2013. Tribune-Herald.


East Maui Irrigation Co. and The Nature Conservancy agreed on a deal that will add 3,721 acres of rain forest to Waikamoi Preserve, creating the largest private nature reserve in the state. Maui News.

A portion of the Hāmākua Ditch across the Kailua Gulch in East Maui broke on Thursday, April 24, resulting in a “mud plume” in the ocean near Baldwin Beach Park, officials at Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company said. Maui Now.


In a recent online poll question, The Garden Island asked readers, “Who should pay the cost of rescue operations for people who are hurt or stranded on the Kalalau Trail?” Sixty percent voted for the hikers because they were being careless or not paying attention, while 35 percent said the state because it manages the trail.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Hannemann to run for governor as Independent, state budget negotiations snarled, Kauai group starts anti-GMO ballot initiative, jury says Haleakala trail belongs to the state, Honolulu bus signs bill advances, would-be bidder pans Hawaii County waste reduction plans, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2014 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Mufi Hannemann and supporters 2012 file photo © All Hawaii News
Former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, hoping voters have grown weary of both Democrats and Republicans, will run for governor as an independent. Star-Advertiser.

Minimum wage, transient accommodations tax, construction spending snag Legislature's budget negotiations. Civil Beat.

Hung up over construction spending, state House and Senate negotiators have pushed deliberations on the state budget to Friday, the deadline to have bills ready for final votes next week before the session adjourns. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii lawmakers passed a bill out of conference committee Wednesday that will force county police departments to disclose more information about officers who get in trouble for misconduct. Civil Beat.

Victims of child sexual abuse in Hawaii would have more time to file lawsuits against abusers if lawmakers and the governor approve one of two bills pending in the Legislature. In a highly publicized law, victims have been given a two-year window to file lawsuits in cases that passed the statute of limitations, which led to a surge of filings. Associated Press.

A Republican lawmaker in Hawaii is saying the state Department of Education is being secretive about its sex education program. Rep. Bob McDermott is taking issue with the Pono Choices curriculum that’s being developed by the Department of Education. He says it sexualizes the innocent by teaching 11-year-old children about anal sex. Associated Press.

The state Intermediate Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that the Circuit Court can hear a legal challenge to former House Speaker Calvin Say's residency. Six voters in Say's Palolo state House district had questioned his residency, arguing that the Democrat actually lives with his family in Pauoa Valley. Star-Advertiser.

The search for the next University of Hawaii president is advancing, though mostly under the radar as the presidential selection committee led by Carl Carlson prepares to present its final report on Monday to the Board of Regents and Chairman John Holzman. Pacific Business News.

Hawaiian Electric Co. and its sister utilities did not fare well in a new opinion poll that showed 9 out of 10 residents in their service areas believe the companies have slowed rooftop solar installations to protect their profits. Star-Advertiser.

State-of-the-Art Political Campaign Intimacy. Civil Beat.

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

Selling advertising space on the sides of Honolulu buses may yet become reality after the City Council Budget Committee voted to revive Mayor Kirk Caldwell's revenue-generating plan Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

On the eve of a critical deadline, a woman Wednesday sued the Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu and its former vicar general, Marc Alexander, accusing him of sexually abusing her 30 years ago when she was a minor and he was working at St. John Vianney in Kailua. Star-Advertiser.

TRO against Honolulu police major dropped. KHON2.

Two coqui frogs were captured on Oahu this month, one in Waikiki and one in Kalihi Valley, state Department of Agriculture officials said Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

When the Polynesian Voyaging Society's two double-hulled canoes embark on their unprecedented worldwide sail next month, they aim to spread a message to protect what the group has dubbed "Island Earth." But they'll need the help of environmental leaders back home to put that call for stewardship into practice. Star-Advertiser.


A would-be bidder for Hawaii County’s waste reduction facility claims the county’s bid solicitation was designed to favor large-scale waste-to-energy incinerators. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii County Corporation Counsel Lincoln Ashida is taking a job with a private practice May 1, ending a nearly three-decade tenure with the county. Ashida, who has been the county’s top civil attorney for 13 years, is joining the Hilo office of Torkildson, Katz, Moore, Hetherington &Harris as senior counsel. Tribune-Herald.

Big Island Police last week said Randall Hatori died as a result of cardiac arrest not because he was tased. But an independent autopsy obtained by Hawaii News Now said the 39-year-old Kona man's death was a homicide.

A David Ige supporter woke up Wednesday morning to find the campaign signs he had put up Tuesday evening had already been vandalized. West Hawaii Today.

Thousands expected to try out for ‘Wheel of Fortune’ shows on Big Isle. West Hawaii Today.


A jury on Maui ruled Wednesday that the Haleakala Trail on Maui belongs to the state, dismissing Haleakala Ranch Company’s claim to the land. The decision followed a 14-day jury trial brought by Public Access Trails Hawaii. The Maui-based nonprofit has been advocating since 2011 to secure public access to the historic trail. Civil Beat.

Jurors decided Wednesday that the state, not Haleakala Ranch, owns a section of a historic trail that once ran from Makawao town to the summit of Haleakala. Maui News.

A proposed settlement between Maui County and Neldon Mamuad, creator of the popular MAUIWatch Facebook page, has yet to be agreed on, forcing the county to file a memorandum of opposition against Mamuad's federal lawsuit. Maui News.

Local developer Peter Savio plans to expand his Pagoda hotel brand to Maui with the purchase of the Maui Beach Hotel, an adjacent golf course and a vacant lot where the circa-1953 Maui Palms Hotel once stood. Star-Advertiser.

Some Kauai residents are collecting signatures that would put to vote a citizens’ initiative aimed at regulating the GMO industry. Garden Island.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Hawaii Democrats to let Ige, other candidates speak, supporters fret over ukulele bill, Maui bans smoking at parks, beaches, Honolulu bans sweepstakes gambling machines, Kauai mulls golf fees, Hawaii garrison tops in the Army, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

The decision to name the ukulele the state instrument in Hawaii is proving more difficult than some lawmakers expected. Associated Press.

The National Conference of State Legislatures ranked Hawai’i number one for having the most interesting legislative proposal in the country.   It has nothing to do with the state budget … minimum wage increase or proposals to buy conservation land.  The number one topic in the national publication’s monthly magazine has to do with a bill naming Hawai’i’s official musical instrument. Hawaii Public Radio.

The Democratic Party of Hawaii on Tuesday evening reversed course and agreed to allow state Sen. David Ige, who is challenging Gov. Neil Abercrombie in the primary, to speak at the party's state convention in May. Star-Advertiser.

Private school teachers typically make far less than their public school counterparts. That applies nationally as well as locally. The median public school teacher salary in the Aloha State is about $55,300 this year, according to Hawaii Department of Education spokeswoman Dara Young. Meanwhile, for a private school teacher it is roughly $48,700, according to Myra McGovern of the National Association of Independent Schools, an umbrella organization that collects compensation data from member teachers. Civil Beat.

Lawmakers are fast-tracking legislation that would make kindergarten mandatory for 5-year-olds in hopes of giving the state time to run a public education campaign about the change before the school year ends next month. Under Senate Bill 2768, beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, kindergarten attendance would be mandatory for children who are 5 years old on or before July 31 preceding the school year. Hawaii's compulsory education age currently starts at 6. Star-Advertiser.

When the chair of the House Finance Committee dropped key provisions of a bill intended to further limit the legal liability of the state and counties for injuries occurring on public property as long as signs warning of dangerous conditions are property posted, some supporters of the measure responded by accusing Rep. Sylvia Luke of violating the conflict of interest provisions of the state ethics law. Civil Beat.

U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii has received the 2014 Army Community of Excellence Award as the top installation in the Army. Hawaii Reporter.

On Tap at the Hawaii Legislature: April 23. A selective list of bills, resolutions, hearings, briefings, meetings and events for Wednesday at the state Capitol. Civil Beat.

State roundup for April 23. Associated Press.


The odds are looking good that sweepstakes gaming machines will be outlawed on Oahu after a Hono­lulu City Council committee Tuesday endorsed a proposed ordinance. Star-Advertiser.

House negotiators on a controversial bill allowing residential development in Kakaako Makai are signaling they may be willing to compromise. Rep. Cindy Evans told Sen. Maile Shimabukuro Tuesday at the State Capitol that the House wants "to move" on Senate Bill 3122 "and that definitely we need to find a solution." Civil Beat.

The 21-year-old woman accused of damaging a 130-year-old glass door at Iolani Palace two months ago entered a plea of not guilty Monday in Circuit Court to criminal property damage and burglary. Drew Paahau is scheduled for trial the week of June 23 before Circuit Judge Rom Trader. Star-Advertiser.

On Tuesday, Forest City Military Communities announced the completion of a decade-long military housing proj­ect to renovate and rebuild about half of the Navy and Marine Corps' more than 6,700 housing units in 36 neighborhoods on Oahu and Kauai as part of just such a public-private venture with the Department of the Navy. Star-Advertiser.

Walgreens plans to open its 19th store in Hawaii in Downtown Honolulu this fall right across from its biggest rival, CVS-owned Longs Drugs, a spokesman for the nation’s largest drugstore chain told Pacific Business News.


State officials are proposing two agreements to settle 11 of the 12 complaints against Dr. John D. Stover for medical and dental work. The pre-petition settlement agreements, filed April 15, will be sent to the state Medical Board and state Board of Dental Examiners for consideration. Tribune-Herald.

Changes to flood zone maps in South Kona could mean elevations of houses as well as insurance premiums. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is in the process of updating flood maps for several areas in Hawaii County, with South Kona and Waikoloa among the most recent areas. South Hilo will also come under FEMA scrutiny in the near future. West Hawaii Today.

Lincoln Ashida, the county’s top civil attorney for the past 13 years, is moving to the private sector. The longtime government lawyer is resigning at the end of the month to join the law firm Torkildson, Katz, Moore, Hetherington & Harris. Big Island Now.

A group of protesters gathered outside of Lincoln Park in downtown Hilo on Tuesday morning, sporting signs that read “Aloha not racism” and “Park for Peace.” Tribune-Herald.


A bill that effectively bans tobacco use at county parks, beaches and recreational facilities in Maui County, passed second and final reading today in the Maui County Council. Maui Now.

The chairman of the Maui County Council's Budget and Finance Committee is not looking to make any "significant rate changes" or to do any "upheaval" to current real property tax rates - in contrast to Mayor Alan Arakawa's proposed budget calling for an across-the-board 6.5 percent increase in rates. Maui News.


It’s been eight months since the County of Kauai began closing Hanamaulu Beach Park at night in an effort to combat excessive vandalism, illegal activity and vagrancy. Garden Island.

For more than eight decades, the County of Kauai-owned Wailua Golf Course has been known as one of the more affordable pastimes on the island. But deciding fees for the golf course could change. The Kauai County Council is expected to decide today whether to put the issue on this year’s ballot for voters to decide. Garden Island.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Raises for Hawaii principals, UH culls presidential candidates, attorneys call Kauai GMO opponents 'eco-terrorists,' hotel workers fight condo conversion, Mauii stream deal reached, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy Earth Justice
Maui stream, courtesy Earthjustice
The state Commission on Water Resource Management has approved a settlement to a decade-long legal dispute that is expected to assure continuous flow of streams in an area of the West Maui Mountains, particularly Iao Stream. Star-Advertiser.

For the first time in more than a century, there will be a steady flow of water from mauka to makai in all four Na Wai Eha streambeds. Maui News.

A decade–long Maui water dispute has been settled. Over the past 10 years, Native Hawaiian and conservation groups have been caught in a legal battle with Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company and Wailuku Water Company over how much water the companies should divert from Na Wai Eha, or The Four Great Waters. These include Iao, Waihee, Waiehu and Waikapu streams. Hawaii Public Radio.

An arbitration panel has awarded annual 4.5 percent pay raises to approximately 850 Department of Education principals, vice principals and other school and district-level educational officers, the Hawaii Government Employees Association announced Monday. Star-Advertiser.

The University of Hawaii presidential committee has completed its work and will send a shortlist of names to the full Board of Regents on April 28, according to a UH news release. Star-Advertiser.

The House and Senate remain apart on what to do with the minimum wage. The House wants it to increase to $10 by 2018 but the Senate wants a $10.10 wage by 2017. The House also wants to increase the tip credit — the amount that businesses like restaurants can deduct from employees who rely on tips — to 75 cents by 2016, while the Senate wants to keep it at 25 cents. Civil Beat.

State Rep. Tom Brower hinted Monday at how the Legislature might amend the law that determines how much hotel tax money each of Hawaii’s four counties receives annually. Brower, one of the co-chairs on a joint House-Senate committee that is working on the bill, said the House is working on one of two possibilities: removing the cap in step increases or raising the cap. Civil Beat.

Parents are pushing the Hawaii Legislature to pass a bill that would require insurance companies to cover treatments for autism, a move opposed by some insurers, who say it could lead to higher costs for people seeking coverage. Associated Press.

House and Senate budget conferees have agreed to a $50 million kickoff of a statewide program to provide financing for photovoltaic and other alternative energy initiatives. It is designed to make clean energy projects available for under-served community members, including low- and moderate-income homeowners and renters and non-profit organizations. Big Island Now.

Hawaii’s healthy citizens owe much to the state’s trailblazing health system and its long history of near-universal health insurance. Tribune.

On Tap at the Hawaii Legislature: April 22. A selective list of bills, resolutions, hearings, briefings and events for Tuesday at the state Capitol. Civil Beat.


A Honolulu City Council committee is planning to take up a measure on Tuesday that aims to protect hospitality jobs lost when hotels convert rooms to condos and time shares. Bill 16 would require companies to apply for a permit before transforming more than 20 percent of their hotel rooms to condo or time share units. Civil Beat.

Chinatown has attracted its share of hip restaurants, bars and art houses over the last decade. Now the lure of flexible office space and business support might attract start-up companies and technology entrepreneurs to the area. Star-Advertiser.

Construction of the Honolulu rail system is expected to spark a development boom along the transit corridor running from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center and a key element in the city's emerging transit-oriented development plans is supposed to be affordable housing. Civil Beat.

CBRE Inc. Hawaii, one of the largest commercial real estate firms in the state, is cutting its office space in half at its headquarters in Downtown Honolulu. The “Workplace 360” model, which is currently being constructed in one-half of CBRE’s office at Bishop Square’s Pauahi Tower in Downtown Honolulu, will be a 100 percent free-address environment, where no one has an assigned office or workstation. Pacific Business News.

Prospects are good that a bill will pass this legislative session allowing experimental sustainability communities in Maui and Hawaii counties, following the appointment of a House-Senate conference committee and dismissal of ethics charges against the bill’s sponsor. West Hawaii Today.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced Monday the release of $3.3 million for a new aircraft rescue and firefighting facility (ARFF) at Hilo International Airport. The amount was part of a larger release of $335 million for various airport projects around the state. Associated Press.

Hawaii County officials have asked a federal bankruptcy court to allow them to foreclose on $20 million worth of South Kona land. West Hawaii Today.

Three former Hawaii Community College student government officers say they were voted off the Hilo school's student council after trying to account for an estimated $1.8 million in student fees that have been collected over the past five years. Star-Advertiser.

The Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority is seeking a new lease for the former HGP-A geothermal test site. NELHA Executive Director Greg Barbour said the new lease would not allow for additional geothermal use on the property. Tribune-Herald.

A total of $305.5 million is being released for the planned Consolidated Car Rental Facility and roadway improvements projects at Kahului Airport on Maui, Governor Neil Abercrombie announced today. Maui Now.

A teenager who stowed away in a wheel well Sunday during a Hawaiian Airlines flight from San Jose, Calif., to Maui was found to be in stable condition at Kahului Airport and was later transported to Honolulu for follow-up medical care, an ambulance company official said. Maui News.


Kauai’s biotech seed industry is asking a judge to nullify the county’s pesticide and genetically modified crop ordinance without going to trial. Plaintiffs Syngenta, Pioneer Hi-Bred, Agrigenetics and BASF jointly filed a pair of motions last week seeking summary judgment in their legal challenge of Ordinance 960 (formerly Bill 2491). Garden Island.

County residents can give their two cents on four bills seeking to generate more money for county services and reallocate future tax revenues Wednesday. Of those four proposals which will go before the County Council, three were pitched by Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.’s administration this year and range from increasing landfill tipping fees to modifying county tax allocations for open space projects. Garden Island.

Jeff Davis, known commonly by his radio show host name, “The Solar Guy,” has announced his run for governor as a member of the Libertarian party. Garden Island.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Week of hula in Hilo, revenge porn in lawmakers' sights, stowaway boy survives cross-Pacific wheel-well flight to Maui, counties to learn their share of hotel tax, EMS staff shortage threatens Honolulu, Kauai fights wastewater quality standards, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2014 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Merrie Monarch file photo © 2014 All Hawaii News
About 2,500 witnessed a Sunday midday performance by Halau O Ka Ua Kani Lehua under the direction of kumu hula Johnny Lum Ho. The performance was part of the Merrie Monarch Festival’s Ho‘olaule‘a, the kick-off event for Merrie Monarch week in Hilo. Tribune-Herald.

See this week's full Merrie Monarch schedule here.

There's a juggling act going on at the Hawaii Legislature as lawmakers negotiate the finer details of hundreds of bills. Members of the House and Senate are getting together in conference committees this week to bridge the gaps between their goals. Associated Press.

The counties will likely know Monday afternoon if the state is going to give them millions of dollars in additional hotel tax money. Hawaii lawmakers are scheduled to meet in conference committee to finally decide the issue that has kept local officials guessing all session. Civil Beat.

Legislation designed to protect victims and punish perpetrators of "revenge porn" is making its way through the Hawaii Legislature. House Bill 1750 has advanced in the state Senate and House of Representatives with little opposition. The bill would make it a first-degree violation of privacy to post an image or video of another person either nude or engaging in sexual contact without their consent and with the intent to "substantially harm" that person. Civil Beat.

Money Floods Campaign Coffers in CD1 Race. Civil Beat.

You can trace the genetic makeup of most corn grown in the U.S., and in many other places around the world, to Hawaii. But these same farms have become a flashpoint in a spreading debate over genetic engineering in agriculture. Associated Press.

Hawaii's community college students lag far behind the national average when it comes to timely graduations. Data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that fewer than 13 percent of the students who enrolled in one of Hawaii’s community colleges in 2009 graduated from their programs within three years, the benchmark typically used by the federal government to describe “on-time” graduation.  Civil Beat.

Hawaii hotel rates rose 4.5 percent during the week of April 6-12, while statewide occupancy was relatively flat, according to a report by Hospitality Advisors LLC and STR Inc. Pacific Business News.


It’s the first time the Honolulu Emergency Medical Services Division has faced this problem: too many employees calling in sick. EMS couldn’t talk on camera or by phone, but told KHON2 the unexpected staff shortage forced them to temporarily suspend service at four of its 22 units on Oahu.

Honolulu has endured 12 straight weeks of rising gasoline prices, but an industry expert says fuel prices may peak finally in the next two to four weeks before a possible slide back down. Star-Advertiser.

Updated rules should make it easier for the city to maintain and regulate Wai­kiki publication dispensing racks and their enclosures. Bill 67 (2013) was approved 9-0 by the Hono­lulu City Council on Wednesday and signed into law Thursday by Mayor Kirk Caldwell. Star-Advertiser.

On Monday, construction will begin on a 6-foot-high aluminum fence along the Cromwell's seawall to prevent jumping and injuries. Star-Advertiser.

USS Port Royal to remain with Navy. The cruiser will be "laid up" at Pearl Harbor until it is returned to service. Star-Advertiser.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture in September eased rules prohibiting the export of the avocados to the mainland, allowing farmers here to ship the Sharwils to 32 cold weather states each winter, from November through March. West Hawaii Today.


A 16-year-old boy who stowed away in the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines jet that traveled from San Jose, Calif., to Maui on Sunday has been released to Child Protective Services and will soon be reunited with his family, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Star-Advertiser.

The FBI says a teenager stowed away on a Hawaiian Airlines flight to Maui from San Jose, California. Hawaii News Now.

A 2nd Circuit judge has granted Maui County a partial summary judgment and a preliminary injunction against Paia businessman Michael Baskin, ruling that he's prohibited from continuing to operate two of his short-term rental properties without required permits. Maui News.

A disabled Maui man who was forced to crawl on his hands and knees by airline workers has reached a legal settlement with the carrier. Baraka Kanaan made national headlines when he sued Delta Airlines last year, alleging that he was twice forced to crawl down the aisle of his plane, down a flight of stairs and onto the tarmac, even though he is partially paralyzed. Hawaii News Now.


The County of Kauai is fighting stricter water quality standards at its Wailua Wastewater Treatment Plant, which already has a history of exceeding certain pollutant limitations. Garden Island.

The Elections Division of the Office of the County Clerk will be mailing Yellow Notice of Voter Registration Postcards to all voters on Monday. Also known as the “Yellow Card,” the postcard provides election dates and  information for the upcoming elections. Garden Island.


Managing the kitchen at Lanikeha Community Center on Molokai had been the Molokai Community Service Council's kuleana for more than a decade, but the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands turned over the responsibility to another community group last month. Maui News.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Hawaii, Turtle Bay reach conservation deal, salary hikes for Honolulu, Hawaii County officials, minimum wage hike could be delayed, GAO to probe Hawaii Obamacare exchange, police to be barred from sex with prostitutes, Maui County to settle blogger's First Amendment lawsuit, Ethics Commission to investigate nepotism at state hospital, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Oahu Hawaii North Shore
Turtle Bay Resort public domain image
The owner of Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu's North Shore has agreed to sell some of its development rights to the state, the city and a trust for $48.5 million in a deal that will reduce the resort's expansion plan and preserve much undeveloped land. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii state and city officials have reached a $48.5 million deal with Turtle Bay Resort to conserve more than 600 acres of the resort's land that was slated for development. Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced the agreement on Thursday at the Hawaii State Capitol along with Attorney General David Louie, Sen. Clayton Hee, Turtle Bay's CEO Drew Stotesbury, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Honolulu City Council Chairman Ernie Martin, the Trust for Public Land Hawaiian Islands Program Director Lea Hong, and North Shore Community Land Trust Executive Director Douglass Cole. Civil Beat.

North Shore Oahu Hawaii
Turtle Bay Resort public domain image
A $48.5 million deal has been reached to establish a conservation easement on about 666 acres of land at Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu’s North Shore, saving portions of this land from future development forever, Hawaii state officials said Thursday. Pacific Business News.

Turtle Bay Resort is agreeing to protect more than 660 acres of land on Oahu’s North Shore in a deal reached with the state, county and a nonprofit organization. The resort will continue to own and use the land. But it and future owners will be bound by conservation easement restrictions. Associated Press.
Oahu Hawaii North Shore
Turtle Bay Resort public domain image

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced an agreement has been reached between the State of Hawaii, City and County of Honolulu, The Trust for Public Land, and Turtle Bay Resort (TBR) to establish a conservation easement on 665.8 acres of land at Turtle Bay Resort in Kahuku. Hawaii News Now.

There’s been a new development in the battle over land belonging to the Turtle Bay Resort. Governor Neil Abercrombie has announced a deal that would conserve 665 acres of land on Oahu’s North Shore. The $48.5 million agreement establishes a conservation easement, protecting the coastal area from future resort development. Hawaii Public Radio.

State lawmakers in both chambers agree that legal permission for police to have sex with prostitutes should end. House and Senate members are still negotiating on the version of House Bill 1926 they will send to the governor. But they concur that the crime bill should revoke a peculiar exemption that permits police in Hawaii, in the course of their duties, to have sex with prostitutes. Associated Press.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office said Wednesday it will investigate Hawaii Health Connector’s spending of its $204 million federal grant. Senate Minority Leader Sam Slom filed a complaint March 27, asking for the investigation. Hawaii Reporter.

Republican state Sen. Sam Slom said the U.S. Government Accountability Office will investigate the Hawaii Health Connector's use of $204 million in federal grants. Slom complained in March to the GAO, an independent, nonpartisan agency that investigates federal government spending for Congress, that Hawaii had spent more than $80 million on information technology contracts for a faulty website. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii House members put forward a new minimum wage plan Thursday that would allow most employers in the state to take a longer time to increase wages. In the new proposal presented to a conference committee of Senate and House members, employers with fewer than 100 employees — most employers in the state — would not have to pay $10 an hour until 2019, phasing in the increase over five years. Associated Press.

House and Senate lawmakers found common ground Thursday on a few dozen differences between their chambers’ respective versions of the state budget, but it was mostly minor stuff on the second day of hearings in conference. But with an April 25 deadline to iron out a final draft, the pressure will be on the 29-member joint committee to tackle the bigger disagreements when it reconvenes Monday. Civil Beat.

Sen. Clayton Hee wants to see how Gov. Neil Abercrombie feels about requiring some of the most powerful state boards and commissions to start filing public financial disclosure statements.  If Senate Bill 2682 can avoid a veto, Hee said he’s inclined to go along with the House version of the legislation despite its broader reach. Civil Beat.

The state Ethics Commission has agreed to open an investigation into nepotism at the Hawaii State Hospital. A state Senate panel investigating mismanagement and assaults on staff at the Kaneohe psychiatric hospital has documented that at least eight staffers have relatives working at the facility. Star-Advertiser.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is making her first trip to Japan, South Korea and China as a member of Congress. Gabbard, a Democrat, announced Thursday she will be part of a mostly Republican delegation to meet with leaders in the three Asian powerhouse nations. Star-Advertiser.

State roundup for April 18. Associated Press.


The Honolulu Salary Commission is proposing 8 percent raises be given to Mayor Kirk Caldwell, City Council members and most department heads starting July 1. Star-Advertiser.

With its court battles behind it, Oahu's elevated rail project is poised to become a concrete-and-steel reality and city officials have launched an effort to show the public the construction that's already happening. Star-Advertiser.

If you change channels between local television newscasts, you may have noticed that some of the broadcasts are identical. The Federal Communications Commission, which has the power to regulate such matters, recently concluded that it is a problem worthy of its attention. A recent FCC decision will prohibit a single company from controlling two or more television stations in the same market, which could signal changes in Hawaii’s TV news market. Civil Beat.

A high ranking Honolulu Police officer has been stripped of his police powers.  Maj. Ryan Borges has turned in his gun and badge while the department investigates harassment complaints from a 33-year-old man. Hawaii News Now.

A study on traffic lights passed second reading and would cost $5.6 million. KHON2 wanted to know why this study would be so expensive and how it would help.


The county Salary Commission has pay hikes in store for county officials who didn’t get raises last year, including the next mayor and County Council. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii Island’s tourism industry has steadily increased over the years, but an increase in hotel prices and air fares could have an adverse effect on the market this year. That was the message David Uchiyama, brand manager and vice president of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, gave at a luncheon with the Japenese Chamber of Commerce Thursday. Tribune-Herald.

EPA official tours Kona reuse site. West Hawaii Today.

An advocacy group for victims of sexual abuse is asking the state Department of Human Services and Catholic Charities to explain how children were continually placed in the care of Jay Ram, accused in a lawsuit of abusing boys he fostered and adopted. Tribune-Herald.

The Leeward Planning Commission is sending a bill requiring subdivision site visits back to the County Council with an unfavorable recommendation, but not before conceding the concept behind the proposal has some value. West Hawaii Today.

For the first Lanai Planning Commission meeting since the February plane crash that killed two Maui County planning staff members, all county officials from Maui attending Wednesday night's meeting elected to take the ferry to and from Lanai. Maui News.

A Maui County Council committee recommended Wednesday to authorize a settlement of a federal lawsuit in which county administration officials were alleged to have violated an employee's First Amendment right to free speech in a case involving the popular MAUIWatch Facebook page. Maui News.

Maui Fire Chief Jeffrey Murray received a positive evaluation from the Maui County Fire and Public Safety Commission during its annual mandated review, the commission announced today. Maui Now.

Despite having to relocate their businesses to Lahaina and Maalaea harbors after Mala Wharf closed for repairs March 16, boaters and commercial tour operators say business is still "on par." Maui News.

Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. is researching options that could possibly end the need to burn the leaves off its sugar cane crop before harvest. Maui News.


Review: Police shooting justified. Following a Kauai Police Department investigation, the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney has concluded its review of the police-involved shooting of Mason Saio on Aug. 16. Garden Island.

Court documents released Wednesday by the state attorney general’s office show a company owned by retired auto dealer James Pflueger has paid $350,000 to the state of Hawaii. The money was part of a controversial plea deal that let’s Pflueger’s company, Pacific 808 Properties LP, and not Pflueger himself, take responsibility for 7 manslaughter charges. Hawaii Reporter. In November 2008, Pflueger was charged with 7 counts of manslaughter and one count of reckless endangerment in the first degree for recklessly causing the deaths of 7 people when his Ka Loko dam breached on March 14, 2006. Hawaii Reporter.