Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Consumer spending fattens state budget, Obama vacation costs Honolulu police $277K in overtime, Hawaii banker named to federal reserve, schools lag under decentralization, manta rays suffer fin damage, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Increased consumer spending, spurred by savings from lower gasoline and heating fuel prices, should help the U.S. economy overall and in turn have a positive impact on Hawaii's economy, state economists predicted Tuesday. The improved economic outlook prompted the state Council on Revenues to revise upward its forecast for the current fiscal year, predicting revenue growth of about 4.5 percent, up from the 3.5 percent growth predicted in September. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. David Ige’s administration and state lawmakers have a little more money to work with as they develop the next biennium budget for the state in the coming months. The Hawaii Council on Revenues decided Tuesday to increase its revenue forecast for the current fiscal year, which started July 1. Its previous projection of a 3.5 percent increase in revenue was raised to 4.5 percent, which translates to roughly $53.7 million in additional revenues for the general fund. Civil Beat.

No new day for school empowerment. A pair of new studies show decentralization of the DOE saw little progress over the past four years. Will our new governor have more success? Hawaii Independent.

Allan Landon, the unflappable and unpretentious former head of the state's second-largest bank, is being summoned for another challenge. On Tuesday, President Barack Obama said he will nominate Landon, 65, to a seat on the seven-member Federal Reserve Board. If approved by the Senate, he would become the first banking executive from Hawaii to ever serve on the prestigious committee. Star-Advertiser.

President Barack Obama said Tuesday he plans to nominate retired Bank of Hawaii Chairman and CEO Allan R. Landon to the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii’s largest health insurer says it’s still having substantial problems with the state’s health exchange. The staff at Hawaii Medical Services Association has spent 27,940 hours working on technical issues with the Connector, and a fifth of those hours were spent in the last two months. Associated Press.

Obesity task force seeks fee for sugar-sweetened drinks. KITV4.

FBI: Investment Scams on the Rise in Hawaii. Hawaii Reporter.


The bill has come in for President Barack Obama and his family's holiday vacation in Hawaii. According to Honolulu police, the cost for HPD officers' overtime pay during the first family's visit was more than $277,000. Hawaii News Now.

President Barack Obama left Oahu over the weekend, but he left Honolulu taxpayers with the bill. KHON2.

The state has lost its appeal of 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. Star-Advertiser.

Developers of a wind farm set to break ground later this year in Kahuku are boasting of its low-priced energy, but Oahu residents will still be paying six times the national average for the wind energy produced from the 10 turbines. Civil Beat.

It was pretty certain before 2014 was over that Oahu home prices would set a record. And they did. Yet there also was a dip in the number of sales as limited inventory clashed a bit with buyer demand. The Honolulu Board of Realtors released for publication Wednesday its latest monthly sale report with December data that rounded out a year during which record prices were broken. Star-Advertiser.


Creating more housing by allowing people to live in industrial-commercial mixed districts is proving a tough pill for the Hawaii County Council to swallow. The council Planning Committee on Tuesday lauded the goal of a measure advanced by the county administration, but said there are too many concerns to allow Bill 4 to go forward without more work. West Hawaii Today.

A Tuesday morning overflight of the June 27 lava flow showed that breakouts upslope of the stalled front advanced another 150 yards to the north in the past day. Hawaii County Civil Defense said the breakouts were about 1-1.5 miles upslope of the front, which has remained quiet for about a week. Tribune-Herald.

Lava flowing from Kīlauea’s Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō Vent has left the lower Puna community in a state of limbo. The slow moving disaster has prompted one researcher to look at how residents are coping with the flow. Hawaii Public Radio.

Earl Bakken, the 91-year-old inventor of the pacemaker and a longtime Big Island resident, already has his 9-acre Kona Coast estate off the grid but now wants to power it without any fossil fuels. Now Bakken has started building one of the largest private residential photovoltaic systems in Hawaii not connected to a utility electrical grid. Star-Advertiser.

Big Island employers began paying the state’s new increased minimum wage last week, and the change is either long overdue or an unwelcome hardship, depending on whom you talk to. Tribune-Herald.

Opinion: Could an Airship Ferry Residents Stranded by the Lava Flow? A Hilo attorney and entrepreneur has a plan for the "Lava Ferry" if Highway 130 in Pahoa is taken out. Civil Beat.


A Maui research and conservation group says 10 percent of the more than 300 manta rays in waters south of Lahaina have amputated or severely damaged fins. The Hawaii Association for Marine Education and Research says the manta rays are injured when they get caught in fishing lines. Associated Press.

About 10 percent of 330 manta rays identified off Olowalu have an amputated or severely damaged fin used in eating, caused by entanglement in fishing lines. Maui News.

Coffee growers on Maui are bracing for a destructive beetle to eventually make its way to the island. Star-Advertiser.

Maui coffee growers are taking measures to belay the arrival of the coffee berry borer beetle that has been brewing trouble for farmers on the Big Island for years and that made its way to Oahu in December. Maui News.


Kauai legislators are preparing district and shared concerns as they get ready for their first session Jan. 21. Garden Island.

Community meetings will be held around the island next week to discuss the county’s Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan update. The discussions will be led by the Kauai Civil Defense Agency and two researchers from the University of Hawaii’s Social Science Research Institute, Dr. Cheryl Anderson and Dr. Sarah Henly-Shepard. Garden Island.

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