Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Legislature begins 30th biennial session today, second rail audit just as scathing, Supreme Court hears Honolulu election dispute, public, press barred from Kauai boys soccer game, Pearl Harbor commander removed after ordering 10 prostitutes, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Iolani Palace State Monument will begin closing its doors at 6 p.m. starting Feb. 1, the Department of Land and Natural Resources announced today, citing nighttime vandalism and vagrancy. Star-Advertiser.

You’ll no longer be able to roam the grounds of Iolani Palace at night. Hawaii News Now.

As Hawaii Legislature begins, lawmakers to focus on minimum wage to disaster recovery. The 30th biennial Hawaii Legislature will begin Wednesday morning, with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle vowing to avoid the bitterness and divisiveness that has defined the federal government. Hawaii News Now.

The state Senate and House of Representatives are set to convene the 30th Biennial Hawaii State Legislature this morning at the state Capitol. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii State Legislature to open Wednesday. KITV.


State auditor questions Honolulu rail spending on contract hires. The Honolulu rail project is spending more than $42,000 a month on contract hires including some who hold senior management positions within the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, but the agency does not evaluate the performance of those non-city workers, according to a new report issued by the Hawaii State Auditor today. Star-Advertiser.

Audit: Heavy Reliance On Consultants Is Causing Problems For Honolulu Rail Project. “Consultants often manage consultants, who manage other consultants,” the state audit found, and HART doesn’t hold them accountable. Civil Beat.

Audit: Costly consultants hold key jobs in Honolulu rail agency. Associated Press.

State Auditor Releases Second Report on HART. This report highlights oversight and accountability issues within the agency, and HART's relationship with HDR Engineering Inc. Hawaii Public Radio.

High consultant salaries red-flagged in second part of HART audit. KHON2.

Full text: Audit of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation: Report 2 is available here.


Government shutdown triggers unprecedented early distribution of food stamps in Hawaii. Here’s another impact of the government shutdown: Tens of thousands of Hawaii residents will get their food stamp payments almost two weeks ahead of schedule. Hawaii News Now.

Education Officials Are Keeping Teacher Misconduct A Secret. Information on bad teachers, including details of misconduct and current status, is hard to get in Hawaii, despite a state law requiring its release. Civil Beat.

Navy removed Pearl Harbor sub commander for bringing 10 prostitutes to hotel, report says. Star-Advertiser.

Fight Against Climate Change Is ‘An All-Out, All-In War’. Keynote speaker at Hawaii Climate Conference cites importance of equitability in how we respond to the effects of a warming planet. Civil Beat.

Lunar eclipse set to light up the sky over the weekend. A total lunar eclipse and super moon will light up the sky on Sunday, January 20. The lunar eclipse will create a red glow, while the super moon will make it appear bigger and brighter. KHON2.

Commentary: The Incredible Shrinking Tulsi Gabbard. As the Hawaii congresswoman’s past catches up with her, public interest in her as a presidential contender plummets. Civil Beat.

Why the Supreme Court might make it easier for Hawaii to order wine online. If you enjoy exploring the many vintages and nuances of wine, pay attention: The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments Wednesday in a case that could bring the multibillion-dollar wine industry closer to your doorstep. Pacific Business News.


Revote possible in City Council race. If the Hawaii Supreme Court chooses to side with City Council candidate Tommy Waters’ challenge of his 22-vote loss to Trevor Ozawa in November, voters of the East Honolulu district might need to vote again. Star-Advertiser.

In council race dispute, justices grill officials over handling of absentee ballots. State Supreme Court justices grilled elections officials Tuesday over how they handled absentee ballots as they considered a challenge to a narrow City Council win. Hawaii News Now.

Supreme Court questions process of mail-in ballot collection. Supreme Court Justices heard arguments Tuesday afternoon in a challenge over the East Honolulu District 4 council seat. KHON2.

Possible conflict of interest in Hawaii Supreme Court recount case. Hawaii's Supreme Court's considering a challenge to election day results in a close race for City Council. KITV4.


$250K payout to Kealoha links city’s top civil attorney to corruption probe. Corporation Counsel Donna Leong negotiated the deal without getting approval from the city council. Hawaii News Now.

Target letter raises question on the source of money for police chief's payout. KHON2.

Honolulu’s inflation rate rose 1.9% in 2018. Honolulu inflation rose just 1.9 percent last year, its slowest pace since 2015, as a sharp gain in energy prices was largely offset by decreases in the cost of apparel, education and communication, and small increases in food and beverages as well as shelter. Star-Advertiser.

Residential towers planned for near Aloha Stadium. Future high-rises are envisioned near a rail station next to Aloha Stadium in Halawa, but one developer wants to build extra-tall and dense towers beyond where city planners have prescribed such development. Star-Advertiser.

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded $1.3 million to the University of Hawaii at Manoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) for a three-year wave-energy research project, the university announced Monday. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii Island

Hawaii County is considering building a temporary access road over lava-covered portions of Highway 132 to enable more Puna residents to return home. Tribune-Herald.

Some residents of eruption-ravaged Puna want the County of Hawaii to allow mobile homes on the island and in their district, but the new Director of Public Works does not appear to be in favor of the idea. Big Island Video News.

Legislators want Puna boat ramp study expedited. Lawmakers are working to fast-track a study to determine the best way to reopen a boat ramp in lower Puna. Tribune-Herald.

Warden called to court 6 times for flubs. Over the course of 12 months, the warden of Hawaii Community Correctional Center was ordered before a judge six times to show cause on erroneous releases and failed transports to Kona’s courthouses. West Hawaii Today.


An environmental impact statement is underway for the 200-room Windward Hotel proposed for a 5-acre site near Costco and the Kahului Airport. Maui News.

The REIT Way Hawaii Community Giving campaign, involving a group of real estate investment trusts, donated $100,000 to Na Hale O Maui community land trust on Monday to help build 12 homes in the Kahoma Residential Subdivision and reduce the cost to homeowners. Maui News.

Maui’s Lynn Araki-Regan was appointed first deputy at the state  Department of Transportation Administration.  The announcement was made on Monday by Governor David Ige and Department of Transportation Director Jade Butay. Maui Now.


KIF boys soccer game closed to public, media. Because of an on-field altercation from a previous game, the upcoming varsity boys soccer match between Kapaa and Waimea high schools will be closed off to the public and media. Garden Island.

A presentation and panel discussion on a proposed North Shore shuttle service will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Ha Coffee Bar. Garden Island.

Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO Peter Ingram occasionally hears the stories from people looking back on days when it cost $25 to fly between the islands and coupons were available. Garden Island.

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