Friday, January 29, 2016

Hawaii tourism up, copter commander fired days before deadly crash, Maui jail plans scuttled for Oahu project, lawmakers have gambling fever, inter-island ferry bill floated, zika worries add to dengue scare, airport security bribery spurs lawmaker action, mayor's deputy seeks top Hawaii County job, EPA investigates Kauai pesticide poisoning, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii’s tourism industry achieved its fourth consecutive year of records for visitor arrivals and visitor expenditures in 2015, with strong momentum expected to continue into 2016. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii hotel market is doing well, compared to its Asia Pacific counterparts, according to a new report by Hospitality Advisors and STR Inc. Pacific Business News.

The commanding officer of the Kaneohe Bay Marine squadron, which lost 12 aviators two weeks ago in a helicopter accident, was removed from his job three days prior to the tragedy because he had failed to keep the unit operating at acceptable standards, the Marine Corps Times reported Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

Copter Commander Fired Days Before Crash. Twelve Marines were killed in the Jan. 14 crash of two helicopters off Oahu’s North Shore, just three days after the unit’s commanding officer was removed from his post. Civil Beat.

Lawmakers in Hawaii want to make an exception to the state’s gambling ban by legalizing fantasy sports contests. Hawaii is one of two states, along with Utah, with no legal gambling. The Aloha State has some of the strictest anti-gambling laws in the country, Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin said. Associated Press.

There’s Another Hawaii Lottery Bill. Rep. John Mizuno’s bill would direct proceeds to be used to address homelessness. Civil Beat.

Private Police Force At Hawaii Airports Draws Legislative Scrutiny Contract security guards at the state’s airports carry guns and have the authority to arrest people. But some lawmakers question whether they’re qualified to do so. Civil Beat.

Re-establishing an interisland ferry capable of carrying hundreds of passengers as well as vehicles and cargo should be a priority for Hawaii, giving residents an alternative to expensive air transportation, according to a bill introduced Wednesday by Big Island Sen. Lorraine Inouye. Maui News.

Lawmakers Debate A Lower Blood-Alcohol Limit For Drivers. The measure is deferred, but another making it illegal to smoke in a car containing minors is passed by the Senate Transportation and Energy Committee. Civil Beat.

Establishment of a law enforcement standards board is a priority for female lawmakers at the Hawaii Legislature this year. Another is that county police commissions have members experienced in women’s issues and civil rights. The 2016 Women’s Legislative Caucus package also targets domestic violence and sex trafficking. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii Department of Health is looking for ways to beef up its staffing and expertise for responding to mosquito-borne viruses like dengue and Zika, following a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pointing out “critical deficiencies” at the agency. Civil Beat.

After months battling the dengue virus, Hawaii health officials now are wary of another mosquito-borne virus that is sweeping through the Americas and has been linked to brain damage in thousands of babies in Brazil. Tribune-Herald.

Compared to other states and regions, Hawaii’s labor market is tiny. However, its growth needs to be realistic and lofty goals are not the solution, according to a panel of experts. Hawaii faces an “uphill battle” to fix its labor market, said Jack Suyderhoud, a professor of business economics at the University of Hawaii at Manoa Shidler College of Business at a “jobs for Hawaii” panel hosted by ThinkTech Hawaii on Thursday. Pacific Business News.


Under new legislation introduced by Gov. David Ige, the price tag for building a new facility to replace the crumbling Oahu Community Correctional Center could reach nearly a half-billion dollars. Civil Beat.

A joint Senate and House committee was briefed yesterday on a proposal to move the O’ahu Community Correctional Center from Kalihi to Halawa. Hawaii Public Radio.

It’s been more than two years since building resumed on Honolulu’s rail transit system, but the project continues to cope with its earlier construction delays and those costs are proving more expensive than officials had anticipated. Star-Advertiser.

An Oahu grand jury has indicted four private security officers and traffic control officers for allegedly taking bribes from taxi and shuttle drivers at Honolulu Airport, state Attorney General Douglas Chin announced Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

An Oahu grand jury indicted four Securitas law enforcement and traffic control officers on Thursday for accepting bribes from taxi and shuttle drivers at the Honolulu International Airport, Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin announced. KITV4.

Airport bribery scheme sparks criticism over security at state facilities. KHON2.

Burglaries on Oahu dipped to a 30-year low last year, following local and national trends of declining crime. Star-Advertiser.

Folks unhappy with the city’s decision to allow alcohol in a roped-off section of the National Football League’s Pro Bowl Beach Stadium party at Queen’s Surf Beach today and Saturday are expected to voice their objections during the event. Star-Advertiser.

Police are investigating after a dozen schools received prank bomb threats Thursday afternoon. The threats were made between 2 and 3 p.m., police said, and officers were dispatched to each school. Hawaii News Now.

Several Honolulu schools were evacuated Thursday afternoon due to a series of bomb threats. Star-Advertiser.


Mayor Billy Kenoi’s top deputy quit his job Thursday and announced he’s running for mayor. West Hawaii Today.

Wally Lau announced his candidacy for Hawaii County Mayor on Thursday, resigning from his post as Hawaii County Managing Director. Big Island Video News.

A Department of Land and Natural Resources enforcement officer accused of raping a 16-year-old girl on a Hilo beach faces a possible 20 years in prison if he is convicted under terms requested by prosecutors. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaii County has identified revisions for a park project in Kukuihaele it hopes will better suit the community’s needs after residents expressed concern earlier this month. West Hawaii Today.

Two bills currently under review in the legislature call for $100,000 to study the impact of a small satellite launch facility on Hawaii Island. KHON2.

The number of visitors arriving by airline on Hawaii Island rose by 3.8 percent in 2015, according to preliminary data released Thursday by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Meanwhile, cruise ship tourism foundered slightly, dropping 0.2 percent, with 225,707 visitors arriving on the Big Island by ship in 2015. Tribune-Herald.


Plans to relocate Maui’s overcrowded jail to a larger facility in Puunene have fallen by the wayside as Gov. David Ige aggressively moves forward on plans to relocate Oahu’s largest jail to the grounds of the existing Halawa Correctional Facility. Star-Advertiser.

To prevent vehicle overcrowding and safety hazards in a parking lot at 'Ahihi-Kina'u Natural Area Reserve, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources is proposing a concrete-paved, 31,000-square-foot parking lot. Maui News.


Two government agencies are coordinating an investigation after some Syngenta workers were hospitalized last week after they were exposed to the pesticide chlorpyrifos. Dean Higuchi, Environmental Protection Agency spokesman, said his regional office was working with the Hawaii Department of Agriculture to review the incident. Garden Island.

For 2015, Kauai saw 1.16 million visitors, up 4.3 percent from 1.11 million in 2014. Garden Island.

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