Friday, March 29, 2019

Audit blasts state handling of rail money, Aloha Stadium to stay in Halawa, UH president under fire, Health Department reaches settlement with dairy, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation
Train car assembly PC: Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation
State Auditor Blasts DAGS For Failure to Verify Rail Invoices. The Office of the Auditor has issued a blistering report on the failure of state accounting officials to adequately verify invoices from the transit agency developing the Honolulu rail system. Hawaii Public Radio.

Latest Audit: Agency ‘Arbitrary,’ ‘Inconsistent’ In Reviewing Rail Costs. The Hawaii agency that oversees rail spending lacks the proper rules, training and procedures to make sure its reviews are sound, the latest audit finds. Civil Beat.

The state auditor released another report Thursday relating to Honolulu's $9.2 billion rail project. KITV.

Full audit rail oversight report. Lack of Fundamentals: Review of the Department of Accounting and General Services’ Verification of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s Invoices. Hawaii Office of the Auditor.

HART work went off the rails, report says. One of the new Honolulu rail cars was damaged in an “incident,” and another work vehicle that runs on the rail line derailed twice in January, prompting the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation to issue a “safety stand-down” letter last month suspending vehicle operations, according to rail officials. Star-Advertiser.


Hawaii Island’s tourism decline contributes to state softening. Tourism performance was mixed across the isles in February with double- digit dips in spending and arrivals from Hawaii island contributing to statewide softening. Star-Advertiser.

Push To Increase Spending On Schools Loses Momentum. Policymakers say more transparency about current spending is needed before more public money is earmarked for schools. Civil Beat.

Faculty union blasts UH president, but stops short of calling for his resignation.  During a contentious Board of Regents meeting Thursday, members of the University of Hawaii’s faculty union blasted school President David Lassner for his handling of proposed budget cuts that would have forced dozens to lose their jobs. Hawaii News Now.

Former high-ranking ILWU official Nate Lum pleaded guilty Thursday to identity theft in federal court. Lum also admitted he failed to file federal tax returns. But under a plea deal, prosecutors agreed to drop a theft charge against him. Hawaii News Now.


Review affirms keeping stadium in Halawa. An alternative site analysis released Thursday by the Aloha Stadium Authority marked a step in the process of replacing the 44-year-old facility and recommended a new stadium and ancillary development be built within the same 98-acre parcel. Star-Advertiser.

Planning For New Stadium Assumes It Would Be Built In Halawa. The current site of Aloha Stadium is the preferred site for construction of a new facility that would include an adjacent business district. Star-Advertiser.

The Stadium Authority marked the beginning of the Environmental Impact Statement and master planning process for a new proposed Aloha Stadium. KHON2.

The Stadium Authority announced Thursday that it is beginning the Environmental Impact Statement and master planning process for a replacement for Aloha Stadium. Pacific Business News.


Arizona Memorial access to be restored ‘by fall,’ officials say. The National Park Serv­ice said Thursday it has awarded a $2.1 million contract for repairs to a faulty USS Arizona Memorial dock that should be completed “by fall” — in time for the next Dec. 7, 1941, remembrance. Star-Advertiser.

The National Park Service has awarded the contract for repair of the anchoring system for the USS Arizona Memorial dock.  KHON2.

Homelessness dominates public safety concerns at Waikiki conference. Honolulu Police Department Chief Susan Ballard pledged to improve public safety by working with Waikiki stakeholders to make the state’s top tourism district “uncomfortable” for homeless people. Star-Advertiser.

Couple defies city by attending to Kakaako homeless. A Kaimuki couple with a new city contract to provide mobile hot showers for Oahu’s homeless are defying the city in two ways: by continuing to operate twice a month next to the Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center and by regularly feeding about 50 homeless people in the area. Star-Advertiser.

Moanalua ‘workforce’ housing complex expansion completed. A 50-year-old affordable rental home complex in Moanalua received a blessing Thursday following the addition of nearly 500 new midprice homes. Star-Advertiser.

40 residents, employees at Honolulu senior facility fall ill; officials suspect norovirus. Hawaii News Now.

Library re-stocking shelves a year after flooding damaged contents. The Aina Haina Library has been closed for almost a year now since just after the historic flooding. KHON2.

Summer Palace of King Kamehameha III vandalized again. KHON2.

Oahu Publications Inc. has sold its 152,574-square-foot print production facility in Kapolei and the 11.61 acres of land beneath it in a $40 million leaseback transaction. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

A bill to provide Hawaii County with $60 million to assist with recovery from last year’s Kilauea eruption is expected to have its final vote today in the state Legislature. Tribune-Herald.

Tourism official: ‘It hasn’t been that great of a start to the year’. Big Island tourism has fallen to near-2017 numbers in the aftermath of the 2018 Kilauea eruption. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory To Move To Oahu? Senator Mazie Hirono pressed the Interior Secretary Nominee to get more feedback before making any decision to relocate the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory HVO to Oahu. Big Island Video News.

The state Department of Health on Thursday entered into an agreement with the owners of Big Island Dairy as its operations draw to a close. Under the agreement, Big Island Dairy’s owners are required to terminate dairy operations, remove all cows from confinement on the site, clean and remove the existing wastewater system, and pay $79,000 by June of 2019, either as an administrative penalty or to fund an environmentally beneficial project in the area. Tribune-Herald.

Big Island Dairy, Health Department Sign Consent Agreement. Big Island Video News.

A second case of rat lungworm disease has been contracted on Hawaii Island this year, the Hawaii Department of Health announced Thursday. No cases have been reported on any other island in 2019. West Hawaii Today.


Maui Harbor District Office Relocated, Blessed. This work is part of the Harbors Division’s facility improvement projects planned throughout the commercial harbor system that is aimed at supporting the state’s economic growth and maritime industries. Maui Now.

The battle against climate change got a boost Wednesday when Hawaii and California public utility commissions announced that they’ll be teaming up to fight the green fight. Maui News.

Police and courts dealing with more mental health cases. Another round of Crisis Intervention Team training completed. Maui News.


Local health clinic awarded $1.4M. A community health center on Kauai focused on providing care to Native Hawaiians will be getting over a million dollars in federal funding. Garden Island.

The Lihue Business Association’s Thursday meeting at Duke’s Canoe Club focused on medical marijuana. Garden Island.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Hawaii airports authority advances, PUC approves solar farms, paramedics administer expired medications, rental car companies can't charge tourists extra, residents take Puna Geothermal Venture to court, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Honolulu airport  ©2019 All Hawaii News
A Hawaii airports corporation might finally be approaching takeoff as a bill that aims to improve the efficiency of the state’s airports passes through the Legislature. Tribune-Herald.

Lawmakers Approve $16B Budget For Fiscal 2020, 2021. State House and Senate legislators approved a two-year operating budget today calling for hundreds of millions of dollars for state employee retirement and health benefits and other monies to address major disasters, fight invasive species and maintain highways. Hawaii Public Radio.

Push To Increase Spending On Schools Loses Momentum. Policymakers say more transparency about current spending is needed before more public money is earmarked for schools. Civil Beat.

Hawaii’s film industry wants to eliminate tax credit cap to keep productions flourishing. Some say the state's newly imposed $35 million per year cap on the tax credits is causing producers to go elsewhere and is putting Hawaii's film industry in jeopardy. Hawaii News Now.

PUC approves 6 additional solar-plus-storage systems in Hawaii. Three projects on Oahu, including one that has generated controversy because part of it is planned on prime agricultural land, one on Maui, and two on Hawaii island, are expected to add 247 megawatts of solar energy with almost 1 gigawatt-hour of storage to the grid. Star-Advertiser.

State regulators approved the first phase of Hawaiian Electric Companies’ plan to manage its grids with the latest technology at a cost of $86.3 million, the utility announced Wednesday. For a typical residential customer, the estimated cost for the first phase would be an extra 24 cents a month on Oahu; 34 cents on Maui; 27 cents on Molokai and Lanai; and 55 cents a month on Hawaii Island. Star-Advertiser.

State Reversing Rental Car Fee After Legal Snafu. The State Tax Office has notified 300 rental car companies that a law implemented at the beginning of the year is flawed and that a $2 fee must apply to tourists and residents alike. Hawaii Public Radio.


Ozawa, Waters dispute campaign mailer. The rematch in the race for Honolulu’s City Council District 4 seat has become even more contentious as the two candidates trade accusations and make counterclaims. Star-Advertiser.

Election officials ask the public to update voter registration. Honolulu's Election Administrator is responding to concerns by voters about ballots being sent to people who no longer live in the area or who've died. KHON2.

Feds Want Testimony From Katherine Kealoha’s Aging Grandmother Before It’s Too Late. Florence Puana, a key witness in both the mail box and financial fraud trials, is 99 years old and now seriously ill and hospitalized. Civil Beat.

State Ohana Zone Money Is Beginning To Produce Housing, Services. Catholic Charities is getting $7.5 million to develop a 78-unit facility to serve the homeless on the Leeward Coast. Civil Beat.

EMS paramedics allowed to use medications that have expired up to a year. EMS paramedics have expressed their frustration with staffing shortages and old ambulances breaking down. KHON2.

Homeless man who assaulted Hawaii sportscaster John Noland is sentenced to 5 years in prison. The homeless man who was found guilty of assault in connection with the death last June of Hawaii sports broadcaster John Noland apologized to Noland’s daughter in state court today. Star-Advertiser.

A man convicted of assault in the beating that led to former sportscaster John Noland’s death was sentenced to five years in prison Wednesday. Hawaii News Now.

Senate Committees move forward with plan to audit Hawaiian Humane Society. Resolution calls for audit of Hawaiian Humane Society's management and finances. KITV.

Hawaii Island

Kim seeks 72 new employees. Despite concerns about the growing cost of county employees, Mayor Harry Kim’s proposed preliminary budget adds 72 new positions. West Hawaii Today.

Denied A Hearing, Residents Take Puna Geothermal, State To Court. A group of Puna residents and one environmental group are appealing the denial of their request for a contested case hearing over a Puna Geothermal Venture permit renewal. Big Island Video News.


Maui schools, roads, airport on track for state funds. Busy hammering out the final details of a two-year, $16 billion state general budget that is expected to be sent to Gov. David Ige this week, Maui County’s state lawmakers highlighted money set to be funneled Maui County’s way for schools, highways, the airport and environmental projects. Maui News.


Kauai mayor bemoans collapse of Coco Palms effort. Like many Kauai residents, Mayor Derek Kawakami is not surprised that the latest plan to rebuild the long-shuttered Coco Palms Resort fell through. Star-Advertiser.


The original Longhi’s Italian and seafood restaurant with its open doors and signature black and white tiles along Lahaina’s Front Street closed Tuesday after 43 years. Maui News.

Longhi’s Lahaina closes its doors after more than 4 decades in business. After 43 years in business, a Lahaina restaurant has decided to close its doors. Hawaii News Now.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Hawaii wins 3 of 10 TripAdvisor top spots, ballot issues plague Honolulu election, pay raises for state, Kauai, volcano alert lowered, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii luau dancers 2019 All Hawaii News
Hawaii makes TripAdvisor top 10 Travelers' Choice Destinations in the U.S. Three Hawaii islands were named among the top destinations in the country to travel to. According to TripAdvisor, Maui was the second top choice, followed by Oahu at third, and the Big Island as 10. KHON2.

HDOT audit finds discrepancies. The Hawaii Department of Transportation’s Highways Division in fiscal year 2018 did not review capital improvement projects in a timely manner, incorrectly classified federal expenditures and violated cash management requirements by drawing funds from a federal agency prior to paying a subcontractor, according to a report issued by the Hawaii State Auditor’s Office. Garden Island.

Our Care, Our Choice Act Part 2: Some patients are pushing to get the law changed. The assisted suicide bill passed in the Legislature and became law, in order for patients to get their life-ending prescription they need to request it from their doctor on three separate occasions. KITV.

State commission proposes pay raises for elected officials. Some leading lawmakers are supporting new recommendations by the state Salary Commission that would grant all members of the Legislature raises of 10 percent in 2021 and would further boost lawmakers’ salaries in additional steps over the following three years. Star-Advertiser.

Recruitment begins today for Conservation and Resource Enforcement Officers to fill vacancies across the state.  The positions do not require any previous law enforcement experience, however, there are limited spaces available. Maui Now.

Public Safety admits less-lethal options are on hand — but not for use in the field. The state has purchased at least 35 less lethal guns and eight pepperball guns in the last two years. But none of the less lethal options are available for use by deputies on patrol. Hawaii News Now.

Amid growing concerns that a new crisis is brewing between China and Taiwan, independence-leaning Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen is in Honolulu for an always controversial yet short visit. Star-Advertiser.


Residents report more ballot abnormalities in hotly contested City Council race. The special election for east Honolulu’s City Council seat is causing confusion after several ballots were mailed to people who no longer live in Hawaii. Hawaii News Now.

Rocky start to Special Election mail-in ballots raises eyebrows with some voters. Residents we spoke to are concerned because if extra ballots were to be in the hands of the wrong person, there might be an opportunity for some to vote twice. KHON2.

'Gross incompetence or worse’: Rail purchase of reinforced steel questioned. The federal grand jury that’s investigating the rail project is looking into how the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation spent millions of dollars to buy reinforced steel. Hawaii News Now.

Some West Oahu residents push for a bypass road to help ease traffic troubles. The alternate route would also be a lifeline in times of accidents or emergencies. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

We’re another day older and deeper in debt. The lyrics to the song made famous by Tennessee Ernie Ford continue to hold true today, as Hawaii County finds its debt load continuing to creep upward. West Hawaii Today.

Kilauea volcano is now the quietest it has been in about four decades. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory lowered the volcano’s alert level Tuesday from “advisory” to “normal,” noting it has returned to a noneruptive, background state following last year’s lower East Rift Zone eruption. Tribune-Herald.

Today, the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory officially lowered the Kilauea Volcano Alert Level for ground-based hazards from ADVISORY to NORMAL, and the Aviation Color Code from YELLOW to GREEN. Big Island Video News.

Project leaders review draft EIS for wastewater treatment plant with public. West Hawaii Today.

Kona Pacific fights back against commission’s findings. A Kealakekua charter school is demanding the state commission that oversees charter schools rescind a vote kicking off a process that could close the school. West Hawaii Today.


Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino proposed Monday a $781 million no-frills budget for the next fiscal year, which includes property tax, trash pickup and water rate increases; additional property tax money for affordable housing; and opening the Central Maui Landfill one Sunday per month, but it contains no new major capital improvement initiatives. Maui News.

Maui Car Rental Facility, Electric Train on Schedule to Open May 15. A major project at Maui’s Kahului Airport in less than two months from completion. Maui Now.

New Paia Elementary building up for environmental review. Structure would be located at the front of the school next to the cafeteria. Maui News.


The county’s top officials might be getting a raise. Kauai County Councilmembers today will consider a proposal to increase their own salaries along those of 30 county executives, including the mayor, the managing director, the police and fire chiefs. Garden Island.

A federal jury on Friday awarded over $700,000 in damages to a Kauai resident who sued Wilcox Memorial Hospital after an incident in which hospital employees injected the man against his will with a high-dose cocktail of strong antipsychotic drugs that left him incapacitated for months after the incident. Garden Island.

Kauai Family Demands New Policies, Protections for Kuleana Landowners. In the wake of a closely watched kuleana land auction of part of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's estate last week, one faction of the family caught up in the property dispute is calling for change. Hawaii Public Radio.

Coco Palms resort for sale again. Coco Palms, featured in the 1961 Elvis Presley movie “Blue Hawaii,” has been closed since Hurricane Iniki slammed into Kauai in 1992, causing extensive damage to the property. Star-Advertiser.

Coco Palms Resort is up for sale again. The property is owned by Coco Palm Hui LLC, who had planned to re-open the resort after it closed due to damages caused by Hurricane Iniki. KHON2.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Senate mulls dairy decline, Coco Palms defaults, state budget advances, two ballots sent to Honolulu voter, hotel occupancy falls, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii grocery out of fresh milk on March 22 ©2019 All Hawaii News
Senate Committee Votes To Examine Hawaii Dairy Decline. The State Senate is looking to counter the “demise of Hawaii’s dairies”. Big Island Video News.

Weak start for Hawaii hotels casts uncertainty for 2019. Statewide occupancy fell nearly 3 percentage points to 83.4 percent from February 2018, while the average daily room rate dipped just over 1 percent to $290 and revenue per available room declined more than 4 percent to $242. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii hotels see drop in occupancy and revenue for February. Fewer people stayed in Hawaii hotels last month compared to February 2018, according to statistics released Monday by Hawaii Tourism Authority. Pacific Business News.

Lawmakers Move Swiftly On Spending Plan, But That’s Not The End Of The Debate. The Legislature is preparing to send a streamlined, two-year $16 billion general budget plan to Gov. David Ige within the next few days. Civil Beat.

Minimum wage bill tweaked. A bill that would increase the state’s minimum hourly wage has been modified to raise wages even more quickly. Tribune-Herald.

State lawmakers propose use of firework detection technology. Hawaii lawmakers are urging county police departments to look into new tracking technologies so officers can better enforce fireworks laws. KHON2.


Special East Honolulu election further scrutinized after a voter is mailed 2 ballots. The race for Honolulu City Council between Trevor Ozawa and Tommy Waters is heating up as voters in East Honolulu began receiving ballots in the mail. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu councilwoman seeks $21M to address homelessness. Honolulu Councilwoman Kymberly Pine has proposed that each of the nine Council members receive $2.3 million — or $21 million overall — to use in efforts to reduce homelessness. Star-Advertiser.

Public Comment Period Not Extended Afterall For Ala Moana Beach Park Project. Plans to extend the period for public comment on a proposal to renovate Ala Moana Regional Park hit a roadblock tonight. Hawaii Public Radio.

Portlock homeowners told to trim encroaching beach vegetation. On Monday staff members with the state Office of Conservation and Coastal Lands walked the beach fronting more than a dozen homes and identified properties where the vegetation was growing beyond the high- water mark. Star-Advertiser.


Humane Society CEO out following protest. After 16 months on the job, Hawaiian Humane Society CEO and President Lisa Fowler has resigned “for personal reasons,” the organization announced Monday. Star-Advertiser.

Embattled Hawaiian Humane Society CEO Resigns. Lisa Fowler was at the center of an employee uprising calling for her ouster. Civil Beat.

Oahu’s SPCA under fire for euthanizing 2 dogs despite ‘no-kill’ policy. A longtime volunteer at the Oahu Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is criticizing the animal shelter after it euthanized two dogs last Friday. Hawaii News Now.


Local Artisans Are Thriving Amid Kakaako’s Condo Boom. If they make the right connections, artists, woodworkers and other creative types can benefit from the development of all those shiny skyscrapers. Civil Beat.

Koko Crater Stables riding high after city awards concession. Koko Crater Stables is now full of horses--and riders--again. The city awarded a five year concession to Horse Haven to manage the city property. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

The convening of an International Moon Base Alliance Committee and a study of potential industries on the Big Island were two of the resolutions considered during a March 22 hearing before the Senate Committee on Energy, Economic Development, and Tourism. Big Island Video News.

A nonprofit group dedicated to recording whale songs wants to build a marine science center at Kawaihae Small Boat Harbor, and it’s secured support from a number of political, Native Hawaiian and marine backers. West Hawaii Today.

Following in the footsteps of the Hawaii Police Department, investigators at the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney are ditching their old handguns for 9 mm Glocks. West Hawaii Today.

Glenwood Park closed indefinitely after theft of 3,000-gallon water tank. West Hawaii Today.


Maui Mayor Proposes $869.5M Budget For Next Fiscal Year. Maui Mayor Michael Victorino unveiled his first budget proposal yesterday, listing affordable housing, infrastructure and the environment as top priorities for the county in the next fiscal year. Hawaii Public Radio.

Maui Hotels Still Lead State Despite Daily Rate Decline. Maui Now.

Maui Unemployment Rate Sees Slight Drop. The not seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for both the island of Maui and Maui County this past February was 2.8%, according to the Hawaii State Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. Maui Now.


Coco Palms Defaults. Efforts to redevelop the former Coco Palms resort have collapsed, with the two Oahu men behind the project facing foreclosure after defaulting on $11.2 million in financing they used to purchase the property five years ago. Garden Island.

Timeshare developer defaults on loan. The corporation that owns 21 acres adjacent to the Courtyard Marriott in Kapaa has defaulted on a loan it took out two years ago to finance the construction of a 330-unit timeshare development called the Coconut Beach Resort, according to loan foreclosure documents filed in Fifth Circuit Court earlier this month. Garden Island.

Anaina Hou looking for funding. This year will be the first full year the nonprofit has stood on its own, said Jill Lowry, who took the post of Anaina Hou executive director about six weeks ago. Garden Island.


Lanai Adventure Center gets special-use permit OK. Project on old Koele resort golf course to include zip lines and challenge courses. Maui News.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Solar farms could take over prime ag land, $4.3M more to house inmates on mainland, boat people of the Ala Wai, pieces of Zuckerberg Kauai estate sold at auction, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Taro fields on Kauai ©2019 All Hawaii News
Bill to put solar farms on prime ag land elicits stiff opposition. Developers would be allowed to put solar farms on prime agricultural land under a measure that has passed key legislative committees but is eliciting strong protest from Gov. David Ige’s cabinet while dividing farmers and environmental groups. Star-Advertiser.


Hawaii officials request $4.3 million for mainland prisoners. Hawaii's government has requested additional funds to house inmates on the mainland while upgrades continue at a state prison. Associated Press.

Cost grows for delayed upgrade at Halawa Correctional Facility. Gov. David Ige’s administration has requested an additional $4.3 million to house Hawaii prison inmates on the mainland while contractors finish a long-­delayed overhaul of the electronic locks and video surveillance systems at Halawa Correctional Facility. Star-Advertiser.

Ige Turns To Private Prison Firm For New Oahu Jail. Hawaii officials are struggling to find the hundreds of millions of dollars in state money needed for a new correctional facility. Civil Beat.


Further Review Of UH Positions Complete, None At Risk Of Being Cut. Senator Donna Mercado Kim has completed a review of more than a hundred positions at the University of Hawaii that were in jeopardy of being dropped. Hawaii Public Radio.

Senate resolution wants more restaurants to give leftovers to homeless shelters. KITV.

Free app allows users to get more involved in certain bills. The Kakou app was launched last month by Pacific Resource Partnership, which represents the Hawaii construction industry and advocates for the Honolulu Rail Transit project. Star-Advertiser.


Honolulu City Councilman Ron Menor is flexing his political muscle, saying city taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay ex-police chief Louis Kealoha’s legal fees as he fights almost two dozen federal criminal charges. Hawaii News Now.

After City Offered Help, Kealoha Says He Wants To Stick With His Federal Lawyer. Details must still be worked out regarding whether Honolulu or the federal government will cover the former police chief’s legal costs. Civil Beat.

Deadline looms for public comment on 2nd Draft EIS of Ala Moana Regional Park improvement plan. For several years the city has wanted to improve Ala Moana Regional Park and Magic Island, and officials have a plan that's being reviewed in an Environmental Impact Statement. KHON2.

Today is the last day to comment on a proposed plan to change Ala Moana regional park. The city is looking at reconfiguring parking, widening walkways, opening a dog park and constructing a playground. KITV.

New law now gives neighborhoods the option to require permits to street park. Honolulu’s Mayor signed a new law Friday that would allow restricted parking zones in residential neighborhoods. Hawaii News Now.

Following infuriating Kalihi gridlock, drivers wonder if it could’ve been avoided.  A traffic nightmare in Kalihi Friday night had some drivers running low on both fuel — and patience. Hawaii News Now.

A popular Oahu hiking trail could see money for much-needed repairs. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell wants to set aside $1 million for work on the Koko Crater Trail. Hawaii News Now.

The Boat People Of The Ala Wai Fear They’re Getting Forced Out. For years a lucky few have lived aboard their vessels at the gateway to Waikiki. But a bill in the Legislature portends big changes. Civil Beat.

Sailing club faces an uncertain future as their lease is set to expire in April. La Mariana Sailing Club has survived two tsunamis, a swindler’s attempted takeover and more than 60 years in business. But the waterfront fixture at Keehi Lagoon could be facing its biggest survival test yet. Star-Advertiser.

Opinion: Political Mailers: Shamelessly Exploiting The News Media. News organizations have no say over how their material is used. In fact, we often don’t even know it is being used. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Island

Speak out about county government: Charter Commission schedules public hearings. What’s your opinion about four-year council terms? How about a 1 percent disaster fund? The power of council members to discipline one of their own? Should the Police Commission and Fire Commission be authorized to discipline their respective chiefs? West Hawaii Today.

Vacation rental rules updated. After taking community input during two public hearings last month, the county Planning Department late Wednesday published what may become its final draft of rules regulating short-term vacation rentals. West Hawaii Today.

Permits for TMT backup proceed amid Mauna Kea obstacles. As the developer of the Thirty Meter Telescope works to fulfill the requirements of its permit for construction atop Mauna Kea, it also is drawing closer to gaining final approvals for its backup site in the Canary Islands. Star-Advertiser.

Pahala residents hear sewer financing options. The head of Hawaii County’s Department of Environmental Management met with Pahala residents Thursday evening to present options for financing mandated sewer hookups that will cost some homeowners thousands of dollars each. Tribune-Herald.

Gov. David Ige on Thursday released $2.4 million in construction funds for renovations at Kona Community Hospital. That will include work on operating rooms as well as upgrades to heating, ventilation and air conditioning. West Hawaii Today.

Economist talks about future of state, post-eruption. A leading Hawaii economist believes the state’s economy might not completely recover from the Kilauea eruption before the next major economic recession. Tribune-Herald.

The fresh lava flows in Puna may appear lifeless and barren. But to one insect in particular, known as the lava cricket, it’s prime real estate. Tribune-Herald.


Controversy flows at water meeting. Upcountry water users get 27% of their supply from East Maui, not 80%. Maui News.

Water director: East Maui streams are protected regardless of permit decision. The county’s top water official clarified what he called a “misconception” in the murky debate over the connection between East Maui waters and the debated HB1326 in the state Legislature, which would extend revocable water permits for Mahi Pono, the company that recently acquired 41,000 acres of Alexander & Baldwin’s farmland. Maui News.

Maui’s new medical care provider has hired five doctors in the last four months, bringing to 11 the number of new physicians Maui Health System has brought in since Kaiser Permanente took over management of Maui County’s three public hospitals nearly two years ago. Associated Press.

State Withholds Names Of Inmates Transferred After Maui Riot. A total of 37 prisoners were flown to Oahu after their suspected involvement in the disturbance, but five have been returned to Maui. Civil Beat.


Ohia Rapid Death Prevention Efforts Stepped Up on Kauai. State officials are ramping up efforts on Kauai to prevent the spread of diseases that are killing ohia trees. Hawaii Public Radio.

In a University of Hawaii laboratory, scientists are researching the newly identified fungus that’s causing rapid ohia death (ROD) in the endemic trees on Kauai and Hawaii Island. Garden Island.

Kuleana lands on Zuckerberg's Kauai estate sold at auction. The four kuleana parcels within Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s estate on Kauai were sold at public auction Friday — three to a retired University of Hawaii professor and one to a group of relatives, all descendants of the land’s original owner. Pacific Business News.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Education tax hike rejected by House, California Roundup cancer lawsuit could affect Hawaii, Kauai tops state for unvaccinated schoolchildren, Ozawa-Waters campaign heating up, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii grocery clerks ©2019 All Hawaii News
A proposal to increase the state excise tax to boost funding for Hawaii public schools and the University of Hawaii will not get a hearing in the state House and appears to be dead for this year. Senate Bill 1474 would have increased the state excise tax to 4.5 percent from 4 percent to provide hundreds of millions of dollars in extra funding each year for higher and lower education, but House Finance Chairwoman Sylvia Luke said Thursday she will not consider the measure. Star-Advertiser.

A jury verdict linking Roundup to a California man’s cancer could help bring large payoffs to Hawaii residents. Five former and current Hawaii residents have sued agribusiness giant Monsanto, saying repeated exposure to the weedkiller caused their cancer. Hawaii News Now.

State Historic Preservation Division to Implement “I Mua Mondays”. On all Mondays, SHPD offices statewide will be closed to the public and SHPD will not accept meetings, phone calls, emails or “walk-ins”. SHPD’s Library will also be closed on “I Mua Mondays.” Maui Now.

State jobless rate remained at 2.7% in February. Hawaii’s gradually rising unemployment rate paused in February amid a slowing growth trend that local economists have been forecasting for the state. Star-Advertiser.

Local coffee: Boosting blends to 51 percent? Under the coffee labeling bill moving through the legislature, there could be a dramatic increase in the amount of local coffee in the blends you drink at restaurants and buy at the store. KHON2.

Prison reform frustrations: Bills to address overcrowding stalls in Senate. Overcrowded jails in Hawaii is a problem that has at least one State lawmaker claims the legislature this session is doing nothing about. KITV.

Micronesian official to plead guilty in bribery scandal. A government official from the Federated States of Micronesia is scheduled to plead guilty in U.S. District Court next month to conspiring to launder bribe money he solicited from a Honolulu engineering contractor. Star-Advertiser.

Turtle conservation rules cut Hawaii’s swordfish season short for 2nd year in a row. Swordfish season typically run through the month of June. But the 15 boats that make up Hawaii’s shallow-set longline fleet are sidelined for now. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii's rent supplement initiative funds expected to run out later this year. KITV.


Ozawa-Waters battle heating up. With the special election for City Council District 4 fast approaching, Trevor Ozawa and Tommy Waters are seeking to draw voters’ attention to each other’s perceived weaknesses. Star-Advertiser.

Car racing fans push for a track at Barbers Point. A state Senate committee will hold a hearing today on a resolution “expressing support” for a racetrack on 220 acres at the former Barbers Point Naval Air Station that backers want initially for coned-course driving but could expand to quarter- mile, oval and dirt bike racing. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu police officers Thursday morning rolled into the Walgreens parking lot on Young Street and ordered three homeless people to leave the private property — part of an ongoing effort to remove a particularly stubborn group of five to 10 chronically homeless people from the area. Star-Advertiser.

The University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine and University of Hawaii Cancer Center is hosting a panel on medical cannabis for cancer from 1-3 p.m. Saturday at 651 Ilalo St. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Highway 132 Restoration Funding Bill To Go Before Council. The Highway 132 recovery project that lava-locked residents of Puna have been clamoring for will be added to the Hawaii County Capital Budget, if the Hawaii County Council approves Bill 46 during its meeting in Kona on March 28. Big Island Video News.

Proposed UH-Hilo cuts called ‘devastating’. While proposed budget cuts throughout the University of Hawaii system, recently recommended by the state Senate, would largely reduce unfilled positions at UH-Hilo if approved, a proposal to trim $300,000 from the school’s athletics budget would devastate the program, university officials say. Tribune-Herald.

Spring has sprung: Hawaiian monk seal welcomes pup at North Kona beach. It’s said spring breathes new life into the world around us — and that was certainly true this year when Hawaiian monk seal RA20 welcomed her second pup Wednesday. West Hawaii Today.


Maui is one of the fastest growing communities in Hawaii, but it faces numerous challenges including water rights, high cost of living, and a high rate of homes being used as short term rentals. Tackling those challenges will be the job of newly elected county mayor Mike Victorino. Hawaii Public Radio.

Snorkeling at Molokini Crater is one of the most popular things to do while visiting Maui—but is it becoming too overcrowded? The Department of Land and Natural Resources aquatic division has been studying impacts at Molokini for a decade. KHON2.

Kahoma Stream is blocked by debris, dries up. Community members worried about efforts to restore marine life. Maui News.

The Hawaii Commission on Water Resource Management issued a response today concerning low stream flow reported in Kahoma Stream on Maui this week. Maui Now.


Kauai Tops State For Percentage Of Unvaccinated School Kids. For the first time, the state Department of Health has released statistics on vaccination rates for individual public and private schools. Civil Beat.

Lawsuit: Zuckerberg backed Andrade. The dispute over kuleana lots on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s estate in Kilauea has spawned another lawsuit. Garden Island.

The Chan Zuckerberg family is building on their support of Kauai Community College students with a new donation to support the Waialeale Project and Early College Program. Garden Island.

Convention contention. The Kauai Republican Party is gathering Saturday for the county convention and recent infighting between a district chairman and the chairman points to a controversial convention. Garden Island.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Orchid industry in decline, Legislature rejects plastic ban, new allegations in Zuckerberg Kauai land dispute, Hirono pays up, HPD chief gets high marks, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2019 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Orchid show in Hilo ©2019 All Hawaii News
Orchid Industry in Decline. Statewide the production of flowers and other nursery products are worth more than $77 million, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Orchids make up almost 20 percent of that value. But the state’s orchid industry has been struggling in recent years. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii legislative committees reject plastics ban proposals. Two Hawaii legislative committees have rejected proposals that would have banned a variety of plastics used by the food service industry. Associated Press.

Are Hawaii Legislators Paid Too Much? It depends on who you compare them to. Compensation for lawmakers varies widely from state to state. Civil Beat.

Lyon contract scandal leaves Hawaii government officials scrambling. State and city agencies have been canceling or suspending contracts with Honolulu-­based Lyon Associates in the wake of a federal corruption probe involving the civil engineering firm whose president recently pleaded guilty to bribing government officials in Hawaii and Micronesia to obtain more than $10 million in contracts over the past decade. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii leads nation in union membership. Hawaii once again led the country in union membership with 139,000 unionized workers in 2018, 23.1 percent of wage and salary workers across the islands, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Pushes Bank Of America To Resolve Multimillion-Dollar Dispute. The company left the islands in 1997, but it had already been ordered to make $180 million in loans, partially because of discrimination against Native Hawaiians and Filipinos. Civil Beat.

The Hawaii Department of Transportation is thinking about switching drivers from a gas tax fee to a mileage fee, as a way to get more funding to fix our roads. Wednesday night was the first of many public meetings on the proposal. KHON2.

Here’s how to share your thoughts on the state’s plan to tax drivers by the mile. A controversial idea to charge Hawaii drivers based on how much they drive is now open to public input. The state Department of Transportation is starting a series of community meetings on the potential road usage charge. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii’s young people joined a national campaign against flavored tobacco Wednesday, marching from Aloha Tower to the state Capitol to take their message to lawmakers. Star-Advertiser.

Students Rally in Opposition to Teen Vaping. Hawaii Public Radio.

Execs with Xbox, 3Sixty Duty Free to advise Hawaii's Mana Up accelerator. Mana Up has added an executive with Microsoft’s Xbox video game business and an executive with 3Sixty Duty Free, an inflight duty-free retailer to the Hawaii-based product accelerator’s team of advisors. Pacific Business News.


Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard won high marks in her first annual review from her bosses at the city Police Commission. Star-Advertiser.

HPD Chief gets a good review for time on the job in new review system. Hawaii News Now.

Great annual review for Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard. KHON2.

Chief Ballard gets good marks in first evaluation. The full evaluation will be available to the media and the public Thursday. KITV.

HPD Chief Ballard Says Allegations Of Doctored Test Scores Are Unfounded. The chief told the Honolulu Police Commission Wednesday the city settled the case for $550,000 for financial reasons. Civil Beat.


EVs costing state millions, blamed for airport parking congestion. The state is losing out on millions of dollars each year in annual parking revenues because electric vehicles get to park at the airport for free. Hawaii News Now.

Flying for spring break? Don’t count on airport parking. If you’re traveling off­-island during the busy spring break period, you might want to consider getting dropped off at Honolulu airport instead of parking there due to a parking crunch, state officials said. Star-Advertiser.

Bill to fund repairs on Pali Highway moving forward. A House committee approved the bill which would provide up to $15 million for landslide clean-up and rockfall mitigation. KHON2.

Work is continuing on stabilizing the slope above the Pali Highway along the Old Pali Road. An emergency proclamation was issued Feb. 22, designating the location of the Pali Highway landslides a disaster area and providing relief for related damage and losses. Star-Advertiser.

A private utility company in California with operations in Hawaii has agreed to acquire former Navy water and wastewater systems serving Kalaeloa. California Water Service Group announced the deal Tuesday. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono made good on her word to donate her salary during the partial federal shutdown with a donation to The Food Basket, Hawaii Island’s Food Bank. The Democrat on Wednesday presented a check to The Food Basket Executive Director Kristin Frost Albrecht that’ll cover the purchase of enough rice to feed 450 families. West Hawaii Today.

Residential subdivision proposed for Puueo. A major Hawaii Island landowner is seeking to subdivide 39 acres of former sugar fields in Puueo for a residential development. Tribune-Herald.

Puna boat ramp study added to capital budget. Another bill to provide funding for a Puna boat ramp feasibility study appears dead for the legislative session. But the Legislature might still allocate the funds through the capital budget. Tribune-Herald.

Although there were no "new announcements", executives representing Southwest acknowledged the desire to bring affordable options for air travel to the Hilo-side of the Big Island. Big Island Video News.

The United States Postal Service is considering the relocation of services from the Kamuela Post Office, and the community will have the chance to comment on the proposal. Big Island Video News.


Officials ‘pleased’ with mayor’s housing nominee Lori Tsuhako. Linda Munsell named second in command. Maui News.

Water Restoration Advocates Critical of Kahoma Stream Management. Maui Now.

Thousands of o'opu die after stream dries up. Water diversions kept the stream dry for close to a 130 years.  Efforts community groups, made to bring water back now down the drain. KITV.

16 More MCCC Detainees Tranferred to Halawa, 5 Returned to Maui. Maui Now.

16 more MCCC inmates transferred to Halawa Correctional Facility. Sixteen more inmates have been identified in the March 11 riot at Maui Community Correctional Center. Star-Advertiser.

More inmates transferred to Halawa Correctional Facility in wake of last week's disturbance. KHON2.

500 indigenous scholars on Maui for conference. It is first time research event held in Hawaii. Maui News.


New allegations in Zuckerberg dispute. Several people with ancestral claims to the disputed land parcels on Mark Zuckerberg’s 700-acre North Shore estate are accusing a corporation controlled by the Facebook CEO of using deceitful, high-pressure sales tactics while attempting to convince them to sell their families’ shares in the land. Garden Island.

County asks court to stop vacation rental. A month after filing a lawsuit against a local real estate developer for using his vacation home as a short-term rental property, the Kauai County Planning Department is taking on the billionaire founder of Oakley. Garden Island.

Invasive annihilation. From brown tree snakes to coqui frogs, parakeets and mongoose, miconia and common rush, Kauai has a list of invasive species that have taken root, and is planning to prevent other species from arriving. Garden Island.

The Enduring Appeal Of Hippies. A remake of a documentary evokes nostalgia for a different time when an enclave of free spirits sprang up on Kauai’s north shore. Civil Beat.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Public slams Ala Wai flood plan, Senate shoots down prison purchase, marijuana decriminalization advances, another federal agency probing rail, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2019 All Hawaii News all rights reseerved
Along the Ala Wai ©2019 All Hawaii News
Flood control plan for Ala Wai strongly opposed at meeting. Controversy over a $345 million project to lessen flood risks at the Ala Wai Canal by building a wall around the canal and huge flood control structures in the upper reaches of the watershed drew hundreds to a Tuesday town hall meeting in Manoa. Star-Advertiser.

Hundreds attended a community meeting in Manoa Tuesday to hear from various city, state and federal agencies about a controversial flood risk management project proposed for the Ala Wai. Hawaii News Now.

Community members gather for input on Ala Wai Flood Management Project. The City and County of Honolulu has big plans to prevent a major flooding incident in Waikiki through the Ala Wai Flood Risk Management Project. KHON2.

Residents of Makiki, Palolo, and Manoa voice concerns over controversial Ala Wai flood mitigation plan. Plans to prevent catastrophic flooding of the Ala Wai Canal are met with protests. KITV.


Senate Shoots Down Proposal To Buy Underused Federal Prison. A House bill sought to save money and lessen overcrowding in state facilities by pushing to acquire the Federal Detention Center. Civil Beat.

One idea to reduce overcrowding in the state’s jails was shot down Tuesday by the state Senate. The state House proposed buying the 1,200 bed Federal Detention Center near the Honolulu airport. Hawaii News Now.

A bill to decriminalize marijuana is one step closer to becoming law. Senate lawmakers Tuesday voted to ease the penalties for people caught with small amounts of recreational marijuana. Hawaii News Now.

A measure to decriminalize possession of marijuana in small amounts is moving forward at the State Legislature. House Bill 1383 would make possessing three grams or less of cannabis a misdemeanor. It would also establish a fine, and expunge prior convictions for possession of three grams or less from criminal records. Hawaii Public Radio.

Anti-plastic proposals face hearings today. Senate Bill 522, which would ban the sale, use or distribution of plastic utensils, beverage bottles, straws, polystyrene food containers and more successfully passed through its first committees in the state House after crossing over from the Senate. Another bill, Senate Bill 367, would prohibit just the sale of polystyrene food containers statewide, and has been similarly successful. Tribune-Herald.

Water diversion bill now with Senate. Several grassroots groups on Kauai and throughout the state are targeting Kauai legislators, asking them to kill a bill that would extend temporary water diversion permits for large corporations. Garden Island.

Outdated Technology Hampers Investigations Into Hawaii Professionals. The state agency charged with overseeing thousands of licensees is finally switching to an updated complaints management system. Civil Beat.

Hawaiian Airlines urged to return outsourced call-center jobs to isles. The state House Labor Committee unanimously approved a draft resolution Tuesday urging Hawaiian Airlines to return 200-plus call center jobs it has outsourced to the Philippines. Star-Advertiser.

Lawmakers to Hawaiian Airlines: Move your call center back to the islands. The House Labor Committee Tuesday unanimously approved a draft resolution admonishing the carrier and calling on it to return those 200-plus jobs to the islands. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Supreme Court: Giant Law Firm OK To Set Up Shop Here. In a ruling based on the court’s own rules, the justices said multistate law firms can operate in Hawaii. Civil Beat.

A sea of orange flooded the Capitol with a message: Help feed Hawaii’s kupuna.  Hundreds participated in the 17th Annual March for Meals at the State Capitol Tuesday morning. Hawaii News Now.

A march Tuesday called on the State to set aside more money for senior services.  "Kupuna Care" is a state-funded program providing meals and services for seniors who cannot leave their homes. KITV.

The online forum Stolen Stuff Hawaii will attempt to flex its political muscles next month with a rally at the state Capitol. Star-Advertiser.

Tours and transportation company Roberts Hawaii has announced that President and Chief Operating Officer Percy Higashi will retire in June and executive vice president Roy Pfund will step into the role. Pacific Business News.


Bill curbing Waikiki parades and block parties advances. A bill to restrict parades and block parties in Waikiki won initial approval Tuesday from the City Council Transportation Committee. Star-Advertiser.

Another HART subpoena, targeting overpayments to move out of rail's way. HART has received a second subpoena, this time from the federal Department of Transportation OIG, collecting documents for a grand jury looking into relocation payments and real estate acquisition management, for people and companies that had to move out of rail's right of way. KHON2.

U.S. DOT Inspector General looking into rail concerns. The Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Transportation is inquiring about claims by a former quality manager for a Honolulu rail contractor who alleges he was fired last year after he complained about flaws in construction of columns and shafts that support the airport segment of the rail line. Star-Advertiser.

City Council Advances Short-Term Rental Regulations. Members of the Honolulu City Council’s Planning Committee advanced two measures that would represent a sweeping change to the way short-term rentals are regulated on Oahu. Hawaii Public Radio.

Short-term vacation rentals on Oahu could soon be regulated. A City Council committee moved a bill forward Monday that would cap the amount of residents allowed to rent out rooms on their properties to 4,000 units on Oahu. KITV.

1-year later, Kauhale Kamaile offers stability, hope for homeless families in Waianae. Tuesday marked the first anniversary of the opening of the city’s 16-unit Kauhale Kamaile project along Farrington Highway, across from Waianae High School. Star-Advertiser.

Solar permits issued on Oahu continued their downward trend and plunged 20 percent in February. There were 156 solar permits issued by the City and County of Honolulu compared with 194 in the year-earlier period. Star-Advertiser.

Kaneohe home sales outpace Windward Oahu neighbor Kailua. Sales of single-family homes in Kaneohe jumped by 75 percent last month, compared to February 2018, as prices remained unchanged, while sales in the adjacent Windward Oahu market of Kailua-Waimanalo declined by 14 percent. Pacific Business News.

Hawaii Island

Puna Geothermal Venture will host a community meeting Friday to address status of restarting the power plant and access through its “pioneer road.” Tribune-Herald.

Roundabout projects on Hwy 130 could be ‘shovel ready’ by August. The state Department of Transportation started the consultation process for future improvements to Highway 130. Tribune-Herald.

Local officials, businesses celebrate Southwest Airlines’ arrival to Hawaii. West Hawaii Today.


Maui Mayor Michael Victorino today announced his appointment of Lori Tsuhako as Director of the Department of Housing and Human Concerns and Linda Munsell as Deputy Director. Maui Now.

Closing arguments heard in Maui Lani ancestral site case. Complaint by Maui resident argues that project has disturbed about 180 burials. Maui News.

Work progresses on senior rental housing project. Work continues on the the $34 million, 165-unit Kahului Lani senior affordable rental housing development in Kahului. Maui News.

Public Safety Director Travels to Maui to Survey Riot Damage at MCCC. Maui Now.

Inmate: Broken phones a starter for ‘riot’ at jail. Smoke-filled modules, locked cells, flames to the ceiling at MCCC. Maui News.


Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami reflects on plans. He had announced an operating budget of $242 million and a capital budget of $36 million — a precipitous one-year uptick until the realization that the new half-percent increase in the general excise tax — which is expected to produce $24 million in new revenue — will be earmarked for roads and transportation. Garden Island.