Friday, March 1, 2019

Visitors up, spending down in the nation's happiest state, education tax advances, FBI says Kealoha used drugs with suspects, whistle-blower alleges rail authority misused change orders, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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January sees more visitors and less spending. Hawaii’s tourism industry started 2019 with its deepest monthly drop in visitor spending in more than three years. Star-Advertiser.

As Tourism Begins To Stall, So Does Hawaii’s Economy. Hawaii’s economic growth is beginning to stall, reflecting softening visitor arrivals and spending as the U.S. economy loses steam. Civil Beat.

Visitor spending in Hawaii down for January compared to 2018. KITV.

Hawaii crowned ‘happiest state’ for seventh consecutive year. Hawaii’s “well-being score” for 2018 was 64.6, Gallup announced Wednesday. Hawaii News Now.

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A proposal currently with the state senate would drastically increase funding for Hawaii’s public schools. SB 1474 would raise the state’s general excise tax, or GET, by 0.5%. Civil Beat.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green estimates that two months into his new job, he spends 70 percent of his time focused on finding big and small ways to get more homeless people off the street. Star-Advertiser.

Lawmakers Propose Fixes For A Broken Psychiatric Care Law. Several proposals would make it easier for families and caregivers to get court orders authorizing long-term intensive treatment and medication for the severely mentally ill. Civil Beat.

Senate Bill Could Extend Leases On Public Land. Senate Bill 1251 would authorize the land board to extend leases "upon approval of a proposed development agreement to make substantial improvements to the existing improvements." Big Island Video News.

The House of Representatives passed 127 bills on third reading Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, moving them to the Senate for their consideration. Big Island Now.

Tulsi Gabbard’s Financial Disclosures Leave Out Ties To Koch-Funded Think Tank. The Hawaii congresswoman, who’s running as a Democrat for president, sits on a foreign policy advisory council for the Catholic University of America. Civil Beat.

Staunchly liberal Hawaii in no rush to legalize marijuana. Associated Press.

A majority of Hawaii residents did not panic during the false missile alert, but instead wanted more information. That's according to a study from the University of Georgia, analyzing how residents reacted to the false alarm. Hawaii Public Radio.

A staggering increase in pedestrian fatalities is happening -- and Hawaii is leading the nation -- not the kind of top ranking the Aloha State wants to have. Hawaii's pedestrian deaths increased by 18-hundred percent from the first six months of 2017 to the first six months of last year. KHON2.

The rate of shark attacks in Hawaii has been trending upward in recent years, but the risk of getting bitten by one of the feared ocean predators in isle waters remains extremely low: roughly 5-in-1 million, according to new research that examined 55 years of shark attack data from around the globe. Star-Advertiser.

Heavy snow on Maui. Historic floods on Kauai. Hawaii weather is getting weird. Hawaii News Now.

Oahu

The FBI says former Deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha “participated in recreational cocaine use” with her brother and others involved with them in a drug distribution conspiracy. Star-Advertiser.

Federal authorities: Katherine Kealoha used cocaine while she was deputy city prosecutor. Katherine Kealoha used cocaine while serving in the city Prosecutor’s Office, where she oversaw the career criminal unit, newly-filed court documents allege. Hawaii News Now.

FBI: Katherine Kealoha used drugs with those she investigated. KHON2.

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Whistleblower Lawsuit: HART Mishandled More Than 100 Change Orders. The lawsuit’s allegations echo problems flagged by the city auditor. Meanwhile, federal investigators have demanded HART provide its change order records. Civil Beat.

Whistleblower lawsuit alleges $20M in rail project change order abuses. Hawaii News Now.
http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/2019/03/01/whistleblower-lawsuit-alleges-m-change-order-abuses-honolulu-rail-project/

The HART Board said no Thursday to a request by a Honolulu City Councilmember for an independent audit of rail. KITV.

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As Oahu’s unsheltered homeless population grows, mayor vows to stick to sweeps. Despite a years-long effort to push Oahu’s homeless population into shelters, the number of people living on the streets of Honolulu is the highest it’s been in at least a decade. Hawaii News Now.

Mayor “pleasantly surprised” by latest preliminary Point in Time numbers. Caldwell agrees more resources are needed but getting help for those in need is just as important. KITV.

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Falls of Clyde receives no qualified bids. There were no qualified bids for the historic ship Falls of Clyde. Star-Advertiser.

The saga of the four-masted Falls of Clyde at Honolulu Harbor is nearing a new chapter. On Thursday, the state announced that an auction of the 140-year-old ship didn’t drum up any qualified bidders. Hawaii News Now.

No takers for Falls of Clyde. KHON2.

More DUI cases are relying on body cams because the videos provide what police reports cannot: The bigger picture of the scene during the arrest. But the videos aren’t just helping the prosecution. Hawaii News Now.

City reports it's getting better at taking abandoned vehicles off Oahu roads. KHON2.

Hawaii Island

Ormat Technologies, the owner of Puna Geothermal Venture, plans to bring the 38-megawatt power plant online by the end of the year. The state’s only geothermal power plant, and a major renewable power producer for Hawaii Island, shut down last year during the Kilauea eruption. Tribune-Herald.

Public weighs in on short-term rentals. A standing room only crowd fills council chambers for public testimony regarding draft rules for bill 108, the vacation rental bill, Thursday evening at the West Hawaii Civic Center. West Hawaii Today.

Big Island residents will have the opportunity next week to weigh in on double-digit increases in fees at small boat harbors and other facilities. West Hawaii Today.

Unlikely Wranglers Oversee An Unusual Roundup. When a dairy farm cuts back operations the cows have to find new homes. Civil Beat.

Maui

Keep water flowing, East Mauians tell Senate panel. Senators hold meeting on bills that affect Mahi Pono. Maui News.

Grand Wailea planning 224 room expansion. The Grand Wailea Resort hopes to add 224 guest room units, expand its parking structure from three to five levels and renovate and expand its swimming pool and restaurant facilities, according to a Maui County Urban Design Review Board agenda and renderings submitted to the board by the resort. Maui News.

Alexander & Baldwin realized a profit of $162 million from its sale of 41,000 acres of Maui agricultural land and expects to see a boost in income as it reinvests the money in commercial properties, A&B said Wednesday in its 2018 earnings report. Maui News.

Kauai

Mayor: Time for action on Coco Palms. Saying he is “frustrated” by a lack of progress in the reconstruction of the former Coco Palms resort in Wailua, Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami said Thursday that “we have to remind the developers that there comes a time when they have to fish or cut bait.” Garden Island.

A new boardwalk and freshly paved parking lot are waiting for visitors to Haena State Park, but it technically won’t be open until repair work on Kuhio Highway is done. Garden Island.

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