Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Deadline today to resurrect water bill, more legislative shenanigans as sine die nears, Honolulu council passes vacation rental bills, tour helicopters scrutinized after fiery crash, Kauai's Kuhio Highway reopening uncertain, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Flume brings water down from the mountain ©2019 All Hawaii News
Last Chance For The Water Rights Bill. The Senate has only Tuesday to revive the contentious legislation. But a related court case remains in limbo. Civil Beat.

Donovan Dela Cruz Plays Hardball With Foes Of The Airbnb Tax. The Senate Ways and Means chairman is threatening to kill 15 other bills in order to get senators to flip their votes and revive Senate Bill 1292. Civil Beat.

McCartney’s DBEDT nomination heading to Senate. State Sen. Glenn Wakai recommended that the full Senate not confirm Mike Mc­Cartney to lead Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism during a hearing Monday, accusing him of poor communication with the Senate, lacking a vision for DBEDT, being short on details when it comes to policy matters and not following through on commitments. Star-Advertiser.

Ige signs firearms reporting bill. Gov. David Ige signed HB 720 (Act 23), establishing reporting requirements for gun owners. Garden Island.

Red Light Camera Bill Likely To Pass Legislature. A measure that would have implemented red light cameras at intersections will instead call for further study. Hawaii Public Radio.

Former Governor George Ariyoshi received one of the state's highest honors Monday. Lawmakers inducted Ariyoshi into the Aloha Order of Merit at the State Capitol. KITV.

Southwest Airlines Announces $29 Interisland Fares. After completing an inaugural flight from Kahului to Honolulu yesterday morning, Southwest Airlines is offering $29 fares for interisland flights. Hawaii Public Radio.


Honolulu City Council committee passes 2 vacation rental bills. One bill would allow for up to about 1,715 newly permitted vacation rentals on the island, while the other would crack down on the thousands of illegal units on the island. Star-Advertiser.

City, Waste Management of Hawaii to pay $425K in settlement with EPA. The city and Waste Management of Hawaii will pay $425,000 as a part of a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency. Hawaii News Now.


Honolulu police officer charged in Kealoha mailbox case gets probation. Honolulu police Sgt. Daniel Sellers will not be going to jail for telling former deputy prosecutor Katherine Kealoha information he discovered in an investigation. Star-Advertiser.

Former HPD Sergeant Gets 1-Year Probation In Mailbox Theft Case. The first trial for former chief Louis Kealoha, his wife and two other officers is slated to begin May 13. Associated Press.

‘A humbled man’: Officer sentenced in connection with case against Kealohas. In federal court Monday, Sellers apologized for his actions, choking up as he spoke. Hawaii News Now.

In filings, Katherine Kealoha says she was ordered to tell officer to ‘stand down’. Hawaii News Now.

Confused By The Kealoha Cases? Here's A Catchup On Where Things Stand. He was Honolulu's Rolex-wearing police chief, an avid surfer who chatted with beat cops in Pidgin, Hawaii's creole language. She was his deputy city prosecutor wife, who drove a Maserati and led an elite unit targeting career criminals while showering lunches on colleagues, friends and even the workers renovating her home. Associated Press.


Why Plans For A New Navy Dry Dock Leave Ship Repair Industry Divided. Proponents say a state plan to help a well-connected maritime firm is needed to save hundreds of jobs. Civil Beat.


3 Dead In Kailua Tour Helicopter Crash. The aircraft went down on a road in a Kailua neighborhood. Fire and helicopter parts rained from the sky Monday in a suburban Honolulu community as a tour helicopter crashed and killed all three people aboard, officials and witnesses said. Associated Press.

Crash prompts calls for more scrutiny. Hawaii’s tour helicopter industry could face new regulatory head winds in the wake of Monday’s tragic helicopter crash, which killed all three people aboard when it went down in a dense Kailua neighborhood. Star-Advertiser.

Investigators to examine wreckage of a helicopter crash that left 3 dead. Hawaii News Now.

State lawmaker from Kailua wants all tour helicopters grounded until authorities assess Monday's helicopter crash. KITV.

Windward residents say they've been complaining for years about helicopters flying over their homes. Both Rep. Cynthia Thielen and Sen. Laura Thielen are asking the FAA to immediately halt tour operations in Hawaii until they find out what happened. KHON2.

Hawaii Island

Lawmakers again fail to agree on measures for Banyan Drive redevelopment. Redevelopment of Banyan Drive will have to wait until next year once again after the failure of three bills earlier this year. Tribune-Herald.

Charter Commission rejects ballot measure abolishing minimum property tax. Some owners of vast Hamakua land holdings don’t pay much more in annual property taxes than an owner of a tiny lot on a Puna lava field, says Kevin Hopkins, who wants to make the county’s property taxes more equitable. West Hawaii Today.

Big Isle tourism yet to recover. Visitor arrivals are only creeping back toward pre-eruption levels, prolonging economic pain for many businesses and workers in the state’s biggest industry. Star-Advertiser.

Researchers Battle The Rat Lungworm Problem. More funding is leading to new discoveries as the parasite continues to sicken people in Hawaii. Civil Beat.


Public Input Sought on Maui Wind Projects, May 22. The US Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public comment concerning wind farm projects on Maui and throughout the state. Maui Now.

Threat of plastic pollution focus of presentation. The public is invited to a free presentation titled “Thinking Like an Island: How to Survive the Plastic Pollution Pandemic” that will be offered by Hannah Bernard from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Wednesday meeting of Maui Nui Marine Resource Council at The Sphere at Maui Ocean Center. Maui News.


Kuhio Highway reopening delayed? The Hawaii Department of Transportation didn’t confirm with The Garden Island before press time or answer any questions about the project, but several anonymous sources close to the situation said Monday the highway reopening will be delayed. Garden Island.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Minimum wage, vacation rental, police disclosure bills die, while red light cameras, hemp, suicide bills advance; Rapozo wants to be Kauai auditor, more than half Maui school not vaccinated, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Ala Wai ©2019 All Hawaii News
Ala Wai Canal: Flood Control Project Will Do Little To Clean Up the Polluted Waterway. Federal engineers could ease the impacts of its plan if it also worked to restore the local ecology, conservationists say. The agency says its hands are tied. Civil Beat.

Minimum Wage Increase Dead For 2019 Session. Concerns about different rates of increase and the impact to employer health care plans scuttled a deal. Civil Beat.

A bill that would have increased the state’s minimum wage from $10.10 an hour to $15 an hour was killed at the last minute Friday. Tribune-Herald.

Lawmakers Shoot Down Airbnb Tax But Agree To Tax Big Real Estate Investments. A groundbreaking bill to collect revenue from real estate investment trusts moves ahead, but a plan to tax vacation rentals falls short. Civil Beat.

A bill that would have collected transient accommodations taxes from vacation rental platforms has died in a tie vote in the state Senate. The 12-12 vote came after impassioned discussion over whether the state should be collecting taxes from illegal vacation rentals without cracking down on them. Hawaii News Now.

It may soon be easier for mental health professionals and the court to force chronically homeless people with severe mental illnesses into treatment. Within hours of a deadline that would have killed the proposal, lawmakers voted unanimously Friday to pass changes to the the state’s Assisted Community Treatment Law. Hawaii News Now.

Red light cameras get green light. A proposed statewide red light detector system will first operate as a pilot program for at least a year. West Hawaii Today.

Hawaii gun group aims to sue over ‘red flag’ law. SB 1466 would create a process that police or family members could use to petition Family Court for a protective order to prevent a person from accessing firearms if that person “poses a danger of causing bodily injury” to anyone, including himself or herself. Star-Advertiser.

Why The Police Misconduct Bill Failed To Pass The Legislature — Again. One lawmaker says the bill was too complex to pass this year. But another says the political will still just isn’t there. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Ag Department Likely To Get Hemp Program. Conferees at the Hawaii Legislature on Friday struck agreement on establishing a permanent industrial hemp program in the state’s Department of Agriculture. Civil Beat.

A bill headed to the governor’s desk would, if signed, change the state’s industrial hemp pilot program into a permanent program. Tribune-Herald.

Hawaiian salt could evaporate under federal ban. The FDA has issued a warning that the color additives used to make red and black Hawaiian salt—clay from Kauai and charcoal—are not approved as safe, thereby rendering the popular gourmet items technically illegal for sale. Star-Advertiser.

Legislature Cuts Size Of UH Regents Board. House Bill 398 will reduce the numbers on the board from 15 to 11 and restructure the distribution of regents on Oahu. Civil Beat.

Legislature Passes Suicide Prevention Bills. The Hawaii State Legislature recently passed two measures to help suicide prevention and awareness efforts. Maui Now.

The spike in measles cases on the mainland is raising concern that the highly infectious and sometimes fatal disease could break out here as well. Star-Advertiser.

State officials worry low vaccination rates in some Hawaii schools may cause health risk. State law requires all students from kindergarten to 12th grade to meet immunization requirements to go to school. KITV.


‘Monster’ house bill would punish builders for lying. A bill that makes it a misdemeanor to lie to a government investigator or inspector during a building inspection won approval from both houses of the state Legislature last week and is now awaiting action from Gov. David Ige. Star-Advertiser.

Mounting city fines don’t deter owner building monster home on steroids. The city has fined the owner of a Kalihi monster home more than $124,000 after he ignored orders to stop building a year and a half ago. Hawaii News Now.

Hirono Urges for Federal Funding to Clear Rape Kit Backlog. On a visit to the Honolulu Police Department Headquarters on Wednesday, Sen. Mazie K. Hirono highlighted the important role of federal funding in helping Hawaii law enforcement clear a backlog of 1,500 untested rape kits statewide. Maui Now.

Get ready for a fare war: Southwest launches inter-island service. Southwest Airlines launched its new inter-island service Sunday, with four round-trip flights between Honolulu and Maui and introductory fares as low as $29. Hawaii News Now.

Southwest inter-island flights take off between Kahului and Honolulu. KHON2.

Hawaii Island

Next Round Of Hearings On Mauna Kea Rules Set For June. Another hearing will be held in Hilo and in Waikoloa, as the University of Hawaii invites the public to provide feedback on the latest draft. Big Island Video News.

Big Island to get bomb squad rig. The state recently awarded a $306,947 contract to Rainbow Chevrolet to provide three bomb squad vehicles, one each for Hawaii, Kauai and Maui counties. West Hawaii Today.

A project that would add 111 affordable housing units to West Hawaii is moving closer to reality. The Kaloko Affordable Housing Project upon completion would build out 111 two- and three-bedroom units on 10.75 acres off Hina Lani Street about 2 miles mauka (east) of Ane Keohokalole Highway. West Hawaii Today.

Major mixed-use plan marches forward. A development carrying about 300 residences and more than 200 hotel rooms passed a major milestone earlier this month when the county’s Planning Department determined the $65 million project won’t have significant environmental impacts on the area. West Hawaii Today.

Testing finds extremely high oxybenzone levels at Kahaluu Bay. The Kahaluu Bay Education Center last April commissioned testing to measure bay waters for the presence of oxybenzone, a chemical compound found in sunscreens and known to be harmful to coral ecosystems. West Hawaii Today.

Kalanianaole Avenue improvements continue. Work will widen Kalanianole Avenue from Kanoelehua Avenue to Kuhio Street to allow for a concrete sidewalk on the makai side, a paved shoulder on the mauka side, bicycle lanes in each direction, one through lane in each direction, a shared turn lane and installation of a 12-inch diameter waterline. Tribune-Herald.

Pahoa businesses still struggle while creating new attractions. A year after lava from Kilauea Volcano began shooting out of the ground on May 3, choking off tourism and destroying more than 700 homes, Pahoa town still needs any help it can get. Star-Advertiser.


Number of students exempt from vaccinations growing. Haleakala Waldorf School has highest rate of unvaccinated students in state. Maui News.

More than half of Maui school exempted from vaccination. Hawaii News Now.

Bill to limit tour boats at Molokini sails through Legislature. Boat operators voice support for amended measure. Maui News.

Town hall planned to address control of illegal fireworks. Residents have expressed concern over the increase in violations, impact on people, animals. Maui News.


County moves closer to selecting auditor. The County of Kauai and the County Council have begun the hiring process for a county auditor, according to one applicant, Mel Rapozo. Garden Island.

The National Tropical Botanical Garden has announced that the Limahuli Garden & Preserve will reopen soon. The garden has been closed since the April 2018 flooding which had major impacts on the garden’s infrastructure. Garden Island.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Trump Jones Act waiver could save Hawaii shipping billions, scrambling at state Capitol as legislative session nears end, UH volleyball coach Wade accused of sexual misconduct, Maui mulls $832M budget, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Matson shipping courtesy photo
Possible Trump waiver to Jones Act watched closely. The Trump administration is said to be considering a 10-year waiver to the Jones Act to allow foreign-flagged vessels to deliver natural gas to Puerto Rico — and possibly nationwide — creating the latest dust-up over the controversial century-old maritime law. Star-Advertiser.

A Flurry Of Deal-Making At The Hawaii Legislature As End Of Session Looms. Stay tuned. More decisions are coming Friday, the deadline for bills to clear conference committee. Civil Beat.

State Senate poised to accept a proposal to allow vacation rental platforms to collect Hawaii taxes. The state Senate appears poised to accept a bill tonight that would authorize vacation rental platforms such as Airbnb to collect taxes on behalf of the state, a development that triggered a last-minute lobbying push at the state Capitol today by the hotel industry and the hospitality workers union Unite HERE Local 5 to try to block the measure. Star-Advertiser.

Bill to Expand DUI Law Dies. State lawmakers chose to kill a bill that proposed expanding Hawaii’s impaired driving laws after they failed to reach an agreement on the measure in the waning hours of conference committee hearings Thursday. Civil Beat.

Stricter DUI penalties may be on the horizon. The Legislature is set to pass a bill that would significantly stiffen penalties for drunken driving offenses, including making it a felony if a driver is convicted three times of driving under the influence within 10 years — a charge that carries the possibility of up to five years’ imprisonment. Star-Advertiser.

State lawmakers agreed to $19.7 million of extra funds for positions and other programs at state departments over the next two fiscal years. The agreement reached Thursday in House Bill 116 is in addition to a $16 billion spending plan lawmakers approved in March. Civil Beat.


Funding passes for multiple construction projects. Hawaii lawmakers unveiled a state construction budget for the next two years that totals more than $3.4 billion in projects to be funded with state, federal and other funds, including injections of funding into affordable housing, airport projects and school construction. Star-Advertiser.

$3.4 billion budget agreed for renovations, repairs, construction, land acquisition statewide. Over $3.4 billion was agreed on by the House Finance and Senate Ways and Means Conference Committee today. The bill for the 2020-2021 fiscal years will now move to the full House and Senate for a final vote. KHON2.

House & Senate Committee Agree on $3.4 Billion CIP Budget. The bill now moves to the full House and Senate for a final vote. Big Island Now.


Fight Over Coffee Labeling Stalls at State Capitol. Hawaii’s coffee farmers have failed again to gain additional protections for their crop. Hawaii Public Radio.

Internal affairs case opened after Public Safety’s head trainer accused of puffing up resume. The Public Safety Department has launched an internal investigation the head of training for more than 1,000 deputy sheriffs and corrections officers statewide. Hawaii News Now.

As HMSA Changes Doctors' Pay To Lower Costs, State Isn't Monitoring. Some of Hawaii doctors say they are struggling financially under the Hawaii Medical Service Association's new payment model, arguing it is exacerbating the state's serious physician shortage and extending wait times for patients. Hawaii Public Radio.

The leadership team of the Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations held a roundtable with Lieutenant Governor Josh Green on April 23, 2019 at the State Capitol. Lieutenant Governor Josh Green asked Hawaiian homeland leaders to identify two sites per island where his office and homestead associations can collaborate to build kauhale, or transitional group homes and affordable rentals. Maui Now.

Ed Case: Some PAC Money Is OK As Long As He Knows Where It’s Coming From. As Democrats renounce corporate PACs, the Hawaii congressman still takes their cash so long as their interests align with his own. Civil Beat.


Hawaii Volleyball Coach Accused Of Sexual Misconduct. A nonprofit organization that investigates sexual misconduct for the U.S. Olympic Committee has been looking into allegations that University of Hawaii men's volleyball coach Charlie Wade engaged in sexual misconduct with a former female player. Associated Press.

University of Hawaii stands by volleyball coach accused of misconduct. The University of Hawaii is standing by volleyball coach Charlie Wade as it reviews allegations of misconduct against him. Star-Advertiser.

'Bows volleyball coach ‘strongly denies’ allegations of sexual misconduct. The head coach of the University of Hawaii men’s volleyball team “strongly denies” decades-old allegations of sexual misconduct that have resurfaced in recent days. Hawaii News Now.

UH Manoa responds to allegations against men's volleyball coach. A week ahead of the National Championship tournament, UH men's volleyball head coach Charlie Wade is accused of possible misconduct against a female athlete. KHON2.

UH men's volleyball head coach under investigation for sexual misconduct. Trouble for the head coach of the top-ranked UH Manoa men's volleyball team. Charlie Wade's under investigation by the U.S. Center for SafeSport regarding an allegation of misconduct with a female athlete. KITV.


Cost of repairing convention center’s roof soars to $50M. That’s almost double what Hawaii Tourism Authority had anticipated it would cost to complete the circa-1998 center’s largest deferred maintenance project. Star-Advertiser.

Waimanalo split over changes to park. Waimanalo residents are being asked to show up at a community meeting tonight to voice support or opposition for athletic fields and other planned improvements at the 75-acre Waimanalo Bay Beach Park, also known as Sherwood Forest. Star-Advertiser.

Estranged wife sues Honolulu police officer and HPD. The estranged wife of a Honolulu police sergeant charged with abuse has filed a civil lawsuit against him and the Police Department. Star-Advertiser.

Over 8 years, nearly 62,000 more people left Oahu for other counties than came in. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

Lifeguards have been funded for Kua Bay. Six years after legislators began the effort to bring full-time life-saving personnel to the North Kona state beach known for its beauty and danger, funding was included in the state budget for lifeguards at Kua Bay. West Hawaii Today.

Cardiac funding bill stalls. A bill that would further fund Hilo Medical Center’s interventional cardiac program has stalled in the final stages of the legislative process. Tribune-Herald.

Charter Commission rejects special election. Citing the cost and prospect of a low turnout, the Charter Commission on Thursday rejected the idea of a special election devoted to charter amendments. West Hawaii Today.

Here’s how to watch Merrie Monarch 2019 on air or online. The biggest event in the hula community is here. This week, hula halau across the state will take the stage and compete for top honors in three nights of competition at Merrie Monarch 2019. Hawaii News Now.


Council committee releases $832M budget and tax proposals. Budget invests in environmental programs, tourism impacts, is $51M more than mayor’s. Maui News.

Maui County hotels led the state overall in revenue per available room at $337, with an average daily rate of $428 and an occupancy rate of 78.6%. The first quarter of 2019 data was compiled in the latest Hawaii Hotel Performance Report published by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. Maui Now.


Tourism takes downward turn. Kauai had 123,730 visitors in March, down 1.3 percent from March 2018. For the first three months of the year, Kauai has welcomed 333,961 visitors, down 1.4 percent from the first three months of 2018. Garden Island.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Public Safety Director Espinda confirmed, no budget surplus tax refunds this year, Maui may withdraw injection well appeal, Kauai officials get raises, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Hawaii Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda, courtesy photo
Hawaii Senate reconfirms Public Safety Department leader Nolan Espinda. Nolan Espinda was confirmed by the Senate to lead Hawaii’s Department of Public Safety for another four years, but he will do so amid numerous internal and external investigations into a recent riot at the Maui jail that took more than three hours to contain, and the fatal shootings of an Oahu jail inmate and homeless man outside the state Capitol. Star-Advertiser.

The Hawaii Senate voted 17-8 on Wednesday to reconfirm Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda for another term. The Senate’s vote came after a tumultuous couple of months for Espinda and his department. Civil Beat.

State Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda was confirmed by the Hawaii Senate Wednesday after critical remarks by several of his opponents. Hawaii Public Radio.

After intense debate, senators vote to reconfirm embattled Public Safety head. Hawaii News Now.

Senate votes to reconfirm Public Safety Director Nolan Espinda. KHON2.


Lawmakers decline to issue budget surplus refunds. State lawmakers have decided to make a modest $5 million deposit into the state’s “rainy day” budget reserve fund instead of issuing taxpayer refunds from the state budget surplus this year. Star-Advertiser.

Supporters, critics of $15 minimum wage make last-minute appeals to lawmakers. The deadline to raising Hawaii’s minimum wage is getting closer and both sides of the debate have strong opinions on the issue. Hawaii News Now.

State To Housing Applicants: Sign Up Online Or Lose Your Spot On Wait List. Nearly 14,000 applicants for public housing in Hawaii must sign up online or risk losing their spot in line for one of about 6,100 federal and state-subsidized low-income housing units. Civil Beat.

Members of AARP urged Hawaii lawmakers to save a bill that would help residents save for retirement. They rallied outside the capitol Wednesday hoping to push Senate Bill 1374, which would create a "Hawaii Saves Retirement Savings Program." KITV.

Lost Your Firearm? You Have To Report It. Hawaii’s governor signed the enabling legislation into law Wednesday. Civil Beat.

Attorney general investigates use of illegal GPS jammers by DOCARE officers. The state Attorney General’s Office is investigating the use of illegal GPS jammers by state conservation officers. Hawaii News Now.

Are Medical Costs Dropping Under HMSA's New Doctor Payment Plan? HMSA now pre-pays primary care doctors with a capped amount per patient. The new system has been in place for two years, and the jury is still out on whether it's met its goal of lowering medical costs and improving the quality of care. Hawaii Public Radio.


Honolulu leads state in population loss, Census finds. Honolulu was the biggest population loser over the eight-year period, having posted a net loss of more than 61,700 residents from domestic migration — residents leaving Oahu for other U.S. counties versus newcomers arriving. Star-Advertiser.

A Nonprofit Honolulu Rehab Center Mixes Taxpayer Support With Lavish Pay. The executive director of the nonprofit Sand Island Treatment Center has been paid as much as $500,000 a year — and many counselors make over $100,000 — far in excess of their peers in Hawaii. Civil Beat.

Residents run into red tape in push to tackle squatters’ village in Kalihi Valley. Homeless squatters have built a new village in Kalihi Valley, and the city says they can’t evict them. Hawaii News Now.

Lawsuit filed raises allegations of conspiracy and abuse against HPD and several officers. KHON2.

Public input still open for "Oahu's First Pedestrian Plan". The City and County of Honolulu wants to improve pedestrian safety by creating "Oahu's First Pedestrian Plan" to update streets. It's currently taking public feedback of pedestrian areas that need additional safety measures. KHON2.

Hawaii Island

DLNR Chair Gives Pohakuloa, Mauna Kea, TMT Update. During the nomination hearing before the Senate Water & Land Committee, Sen. Kai Kahele asked DLNR chair Suzanne Case for an update on the hot-button land management issues. Big Island Video News.

Council approves software upgrade. The County Council approved a three-year, $320,000 software license Wednesday that the administration said will fix the problem holding up the county’s $2.3 million building permit system as well as improve geographic information systems at the Civil Defense Agency, Mass Transit Agency and other county departments. West Hawaii Today.

Gov. Ige Releases $1.9M for New Waikoloa Public Library. Ige released $1.9 million in Capital Improvement Project funds on Wednesday, April 24, 2019, to buy a 1.750-acre parcel for a new Waikoloa Public Library. Big Island Now.


Council looks to have final say over injection wells settlement. Chairwoman King wants to see county withdraw appeal from US Supreme Court. Maui News.

Tsuhako approved as housing director. Lori Tsuhako was unanimously approved as director of Housing and Human Concerns on Tuesday by the Maui County Council. Maui News.


Raises get green light. Raises for some county officials and employees were approved Wednesday. Garden Island.

Homeless camp cleared. In what is the start of an islandwide homeless encampment sweep, government agencies began removing unauthorized property and persons on a parcel of state land along Rice Street Wednesday morning. Garden Island.

Research rockets launched from PMRF. The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration and Sandia National Laboratories launched two research rockets this week from the Pacific Missile Range Facility. Garden Island.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Polling places may become a thing of the past, public resists Honolulu park plans, Kauai residents want road to themselves, Big Island struggles with Sunshine Law, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii paper ballots ©2019 All Hawaii News
Lawmakers approve statewide mail-in voting. Leading lawmakers have finally agreed on a plan to switch to statewide mail-in balloting starting in the 2020 election, a shift that is expected to save the state hundreds of thousands of dollars each election cycle and possibly boost voter turnout slightly. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Takes Another Step Toward Statewide All-Mail Voting. A House-Senate conference committee approves the measure, and other election reform bills remain alive as well. Civil Beat.


Senate To Vote Wednesday On Public Safety Chief. A panel of senators previously advised that Nolan Espinda not serve a second four-year term. Civil Beat.

Deputy sheriffs, COs using guns and ammo that violate state policy. The department provides all corrections officers who qualify with 9mm, semi-automatic handguns, but the 2010 policy mandates the older, Smith and Wesson .38 revolvers. Hawaii News Now.

Lawmakers Pass Bill Giving Indoor Farmers Better Electric Rates. Hawaiian Electric Co. and the Hawaii Farm Bureau say that the potential rates may not be fair. Civil Beat.

A bill to get rid of the statute of limitations for child sex abuse is facing a mysterious hurdle in the Hawaii Legislature, even though lawmakers in both chambers appear to agree that it’s a good idea. Civil Beat.

State officials announced today the launch of its “Malama Hawaii” campaign in partnership with the Hawaii Tourism Authority, encouraging visitors to care for the state’s natural resources. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Tourism Authority is partnering with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources on two new projects aimed at wilderness preservation and raising public awareness about respect for the land. Garden Island.


Neighborhoods Are Really Angry At The Feds’ $345 Million Ala Wai Project. Seven local boards want legislators to halt the flood control project, saying it protects Waikiki at the expense of their communities. Civil Beat.

Bacteria Could Clean Up the Ala Wai Cheaply and Quickly. Honolulu’s Ala Wai canal is one of the most polluted waterways in the country. Hawaii Public Radio.

A Honolulu City Council committee voiced opposition Tuesday to key parts of Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s plan for improving Ala Moana Regional Park. The Parks, Community Services and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee approved a resolution, Resolution 19-92, calling on the mayor to reconsider. Star-Advertiser.

City Council members get into debate over City's controversial master plan for Ala Moana regional park. KITV.

Honolulu residents weigh in as new bulky item collection pilot project nears. Under the new bulky item collection pilot project, residents will have to go to the City's website or call to make an appointment to get their bulky items removed. KHON2.

Convention center scrapped from plans for Hawaiian music and dance center. Key members of the state House and Senate have agreed to scrap the Hawai‘i Convention Center as the location for a proposed Hawaiian music and dance center after the state spent $800,000 studying the feasibility of the location and coming up with preliminary design and business plans. Star-Advertiser.

Kakaako Land Company fined by Hawaii Community Development Authority for poorly maintained roads. The company has been fined $250,000 by the Hawaii Community Development Authority and the deadline to pay is May 15th. KITV.

City Council Searching For New City Auditor. Edwin Young, who has held the job since 2010, retired in February. Civil Beat.

A Honolulu Police Department officer with a troubled past has been arrested for felony abuse of a household member. Officer Darren Cachola was in custody Tuesday night at Honolulu’s main police station. Hawaii News Now.

Police Sergeant who was seen hitting girlfriend in video has been arrested again. KHON2.

HPD officer arrested for abuse of household member. KITV.

HNN picks up 8 regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Hawaii News Now has netted eight Edward R. Murrow regional awards for outstanding broadcast and digital coverage in 2018. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

County budget group may violate Sunshine Law. Behind-the-scenes budget meetings could run afoul of the state Sunshine Law, County Council members learned Tuesday. West Hawaii Today.

Developers, county host community brainstorming session for Village 9. An accelerated path to alleviating some of the homeless pressure in Kailua Village began Tuesday at the West Hawaii Civic Center. West Hawaii Today.

Kuawa Street park nearly ready for use. The long-delayed Kuawa Street park in Hilo is “99 percent” sure to open by this summer, according to county Parks and Recreation officials. Tribune-Herald.


Maui Grant Funding Available. The Mayor’s Office of Economic Development has grant funding available for the last quarter of fiscal year 2019. Maui Now.

Founders of biodiesel firm unveil their own green new deal: Hemp. Earth Day blessing fetes Maui’s first state-licensed industrial hemp farm. Maui News.


Kauai residents say state misled them on rationale for reopening Kuhio Highway. Residents are pushing back on the state Department of Transportation’s decision to reopen a 2-mile stretch of Kuhio Highway to outside traffic on May 1, and they have found a new argument to fuel their objections. Star-Advertiser.

Flood insurance need arises. Some home and business owners near the Waimea and Hanapepe rivers may have to buy flood insurance starting next year because levees on the banks of both rivers do not meet federal standards for flood prevention. Garden Island.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has determined the Waimea and Hanapepe levees on Kauai do not provide a high level of protection and are to be de-accredited. New preliminary flood maps, effective in 2020 show areas behind the Waimea and Hanapepe levees to be in a high-risk flood zone. Maui Now.

Sub-par Kauai levees mean some could have to buy costly flood insurance. Residents and businesses in Waimea and Hanapepe may be required to purchase costly flood insurance after FEMA found the levees along the rivers do not provide “a high level of protection.” Hawaii News Now.

Endangered Hawaiian monk seal RH38 is back at the Hawaii Island seal hospital in stable, but critical condition about two years after being released back into the wild. Garden Island.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Connors confirmed as attorney general, raises for firefighters in new contract, Maui's first industrial hemp farm, Raybuck new Kauai police chief, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy photo
Hawaii Attorney General Clare Connors, courtesy photo
Clare Connors confirmed as Hawaii's 16th Attorney General. Clare Connors was confirmed as Hawaii's 16th attorney general by the state senate Monday. KITV.

Hawaii hotels report lackluster first quarter. State occupancy in March fell nearly 3 percentage points to 79.6%, while the average daily room rate fell 1.1% to $285, according to a report released by hotel analytic company STR. Star-Advertiser.

Firefighters’ pay to increase with new contract. Hawaii firefighters have a new two-year contract giving them 2% pay increases in each of the next two years, one-time bonuses in each of those years and an increase in their regular raises based on years of service. Star-Advertiser.

Bill would ID police fired or suspended for misconduct. Lawmakers are again considering a bill to require that police departments disclose the names of officers suspended or fired for misconduct, a controversial subject that has prompted years of debate and litigation in Hawaii. Star-Advertiser.

The embattled head of Hawaii’s Public Safety Department on Monday promised his employees he won’t retaliate against them for criticizing him. Nolan Espinda is struggling to win Senate confirmation for a second term. Hawaii News Now.

Lavish salaries, perks focus of federal theft investigation into union boss. Federal prosecutors are wrapping up a three-year investigation into IBEW Local 1260′s former business manager Brian Ahakuelo. Hawaii News Now.

Legislature passes suicide prevention bills. Two measures aimed at suicide prevention and raising suicide awareness passed the Legislature on Monday. Garden Island.

Law meant to help those with severe mental illness is trapping them on the streets. It’s estimated there are up to 600 homeless people who suffer from severe mental illness statewide. Hawaii News Now.

’Kal’s Law’ would help disabled people with jobs to keep key health benefits. People with disabilities who want to have jobs are often faced with an unfortunate decision: If they make too much money, they risk losing their Medicaid benefits. Hawaii News Now.

Climate Activists: Hawaii Legislature ‘Wasted An Entire Year’. Measures big and small died this session with little fanfare as time runs out to combat the disastrous effects of a warming planet. Civil Beat.

About 20 representatives from about a dozen organizations gathered at the state Capitol on Monday to commemorate Earth Day and mourn the death of bills they said would have helped Hawaii tackle climate change. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii's Small Independent Doctors May Be Struggling Under New Payment System. Some doctors are struggling with the latest changes in the way they are paid by the Hawaii Medical Service Association, the state’s largest health care insurer. Hawaii Public Radio.

Charter Schools Have By Far The Highest Rates Of Unvaccinated Kids. The statewide percentage of students exempted by their parents from being immunized is 8.1% at charter schools, 2.7% at private schools and 1.4% at traditional public schools. Civil Beat.


Kamehameha Schools land being readied for housing. The $12 billion charitable trust has plans to produce 8,000 to 10,000 new homes in Honolulu’s urban core over the coming years. Star-Advertiser.

Neighborhood Board Elections Begin Friday. Oahu residents will choose among more than 500 candidates to sit on 36 boards representing the island’s neighborhoods. Civil Beat.

Public meeting coming up on Oahu's First Pedestrian Plan. The City is looking for public input on areas throughout Oahu that may need to be focused on for changes to pedestrian areas like sidewalks and crosswalks. KHON2.

Petition to impeach city prosecutor prompts legal debate: Are e-signatures legal? Those pushing to impeach embattled city Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro have hit another roadblock. Hawaii News Now.

Councilwoman calls for ‘fair’ treatment of Leeward Oahu parks. Now, she wants an audit of Honolulu’s Department of Parks and Recreation. Hawaii News Now.

‘End Is Near’ For Company’s Hold On Kakaako Streets After $250K Fine. A business that has long profited from parking fees it charges on roads that it doesn’t maintain faces several legal challenges. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Island

Councilwoman’s former side job raises questions. Community members who filed an ethics complaint against Puna Councilwoman Ashley Kierkiewicz told the Board of Ethics on Monday they want to pursue the complaint against her, even though she has since publicly disclosed a possible conflict of interest and resigned her position at a public relations company that represents officers of the landowner in a zoning application before the County Council. West Hawaii Today.

Kona Micro-Distillery Gets Planning Commission Approval. On April 18, the Kona Distilling Company went before the commission, seeking a Special Permit to allow the establishment of the micro-distillery, visitor’s center (including a tasting component) and related facilities on an approximately 7.5-acre portion of 70-acres of land in the State Land Use Agricultural District. Big Island Video News.

Hawaii County’s unemployment rate edged up slightly in March, the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations reports. Some 3.7% of the island’s 87,850 person workforce was without work during March, up slightly from February when the rate was 3.6%. In March 2018, the rate was 2.6%. West Hawaii Today.


Maui’s first industrial hemp farm set to begin production. The commercial farming operation will initially produce full-spectrum industrial hemp extract. Maui News.

Maui’s First State-Licensed Industrial Hemp Farm Blessed on Earth Day. Maui Now.


Todd Raybuck has officially taken over as chief of the Kauai Police Department. Garden Island.

Police seek to spend $500K for guns, truck. The Kauai Police Department is looking to buy new trucks and guns and get federal funding to crack down on illegal drugs. Garden Island.

Thirty parking spots will be dedicated daily to Hawaii residents at Haena State Park and according to officials, reservations for Aloha State residents won’t be required. Garden Island.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Waikiki faces floods, beach erosion; lower property taxes for Honolulu homeowners, federal transit funds at stake in grant mismanagement, electric rate hike on Maui, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2019 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Waikiki Beach scene ©2019 All Hawaii News
Ige Assures Caldwell Of Ala Wai Flood Control Financing Plan. The latest letter in the saga over canal flood control informs city leaders that at least some dollars have been committed to the project. Civil Beat.

Waikiki flood concerns spur push for Hawaii shore protection. Predicting Honolulu will start experiencing frequent flooding within the next 15 to 20 years, state lawmakers are trying to pass legislation that would spend millions for a coastline protection program aimed at defending the city from regular tidal inundations. Associated Press.

VIDEO: Oahu’s Disappearing Beaches. Touring the south shore in the Civil Beat van, climate experts Chip Fletcher and Sam Lemmo talk with us about sea level rise and beach erosion. Civil Beat.


Big shifts hit Hawaii’s farm landscape. Hawaii lost its last sugar cane plantation in 2016, but the amount of land in farming and number of farms grew during the most recent five-year statewide census of agriculture. Star-Advertiser.

Biomass Included In Renewable Energy Bill Changes. A House Bill that aims to broaden the definition of “renewable energy” as used in the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission law will have to go through a state legislative conference committee if it is to become law, after being amended in the State Senate. Big Island Video News.

Employers wary of bill protecting medical pot cardholders. A bill to prohibit employers from discriminating against workers with prescriptions for medical marijuana who test positive for using cannabis has resurfaced in the final weeks of the legislative session, and was unanimously approved by the state Senate. Star-Advertiser.

Budget battle: Nonprofit seeks financial data on Hawaii public schools. The Education Institute of Hawaii wants to take a deep dive into the finances of the state’s public schools and let everyone know precisely where the money is going, campus by campus. Star-Advertiser.

Charter Schools Have By Far The Highest Rates Of Unvaccinated Kids. The statewide percentage of students exempted by their parents from being immunized is 8.1% at charter schools, 2.7% at private schools and 1.4% at traditional public schools. Civil Beat.


Honolulu officials have approved a bill that would lower property taxes by about $70 for most Oahu homeowners. The measure would raise the standard home exemption from $80,000 to $100,000, marking the first increase of this exemption since 2006. The bill also would increase the standard senior home exemption from $120,000 to $140,000. Associated Press.

The state wants to redevelop the Ala Wai Boat Harbor. That’s got boaters worried. Tuesday is the deadline for private developers to submit notices of intent to develop more than 11 acres at the Ala Wai Boat Harbor. Hawaii News Now.

DLNR seizes suspected illegal lay nets filled with undersized fish, coral. Suspected illegal lay net nearly 1,000 feet long was confiscated Friday on Sand Island by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. Star-Advertiser.

A city proposal to give people more options to get around could mean losing some parking. The measure will be heard by the council budget committee on Wednesday. KITV.

Kahana homeowners defaulting on state loans. Some families who have gone years without performing cultural activities in lieu of monthly rent at a state-owned Kahana Valley “living park” also are way behind on loan payments to the state. Star-Advertiser.

Committee to vet agreement for park plans. The City Council delays formalizing the public-private partnership to build Centennial Park in a first and final vote and instead schedules a public hearing for Tuesday to allow the public to provide feedback to the city’s parks committee. Star-Advertiser.

A plan to develop a Waimanalo beach park once had widespread support ... until now. An expensive beach park makeover is running into resistance now that the project is finally starting. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

Mass Transit mismanagement could hurt entire state’s federal funding. Millions of dollars in federal funding could be in jeopardy because the county Mass Transit Agency didn’t submit its required paperwork for three of the past six years. West Hawaii Today.

Another delay for building permits. New software that is supposed to expedite the building permit process ran into some glitches, and won’t be ready until the end of the year. West Hawaii Today.

Two Kona residents pushing back against a proposed five-story, 11-unit condominium on the makai side of Alii Drive had their petitions granted for contested case hearings Thursday by the Leeward Planning Commission. West Hawaii Today.

Sunscreen Ban May Come Too Late For Popular Snorkeling Spot. Tests detect high levels of oxybenzone, which is toxic to coral, at Kahaluu Beach Park. A ban on the chemical starts in 2021. Civil Beat.

Bill would give couple $3M for injuries. A joint state House-Senate conference committee recommended on Thursday the passage, with amendments, of a bill that would appropriate $3 million for an Ocean View couple seriously injured when a rockfall crushed their car a dozen years ago on Highway 11 in Ka'u. Tribune-Herald.

Funding Rolls In For Milolii Community Center. A $74,000 grant from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs is in addition to the $200,000 in construction funds recently released by the governor. Big Island Video News.

Kalani retreat put up for sale. Kalani Oceanside Retreat in lower Puna, which has remained closed following the eruption of Kilauea volcano last May, is for sale — and at least one creditor is crying foul. Tribune-Herald.

Home sales down in first quarter. Home sales on the Big Island are down while home prices are up after the first quarter of 2019. Tribune-Herald.


PUC Approves First Maui Electric Rate Increase in 6 Years. Maui Electric filed tariffs and rate schedules for a final increase of 3.7% – about $12.1 million in annual revenue – which helps pay for operational improvements, including system upgrades to increase reliability, improve customer service and to integrate more renewable energy. Maui Now.

State’s First Forest Carbon Offset Project Underway on Maui. Over the past three years, partners have planted 250,000 native trees and shrubs on the Leeward slopes of Haleakala. The state is now converting the carbon collected in those trees into offset credits for the state’s first-ever forest carbon sequestration program. Maui Now.

Open house set for S. Maui park plan. An updated version of the South Maui Community Park Master Plan will be available to the public at an open house on May 8, the county Department of Parks and Recreation announced. Maui News.

As stream water returns, efforts move to taro patches. After years of overgrowth, stream diversion and watershed mismanagement, taro patches in Honomanu Valley are on a path toward restoration, according to a group of East Maui residents working to clear the area and replant taro. Maui News.


Mayor’s request: $229,964,627 for 2020. Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami submitted his requested budget for the fiscal year 2020 (July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020) to the county council on March 15. Garden Island.

New Plan Aims to Limit Human Impact on Na Pali Coast. On May 1st, a stretch of Kuhio Highway on Kauai’s North Shore will reopen to the general public for the first time in more than a year. Hawaii Public Radio.

An ocean-access debate rages again in Princeville, with a committee of concerned residents and the Princeville at Hanalei Community Association uniting to find a safe solution for iconic Queen’s Bath. Garden Island.

North Shore highway, shuttle to open. Officials are finalizing the registration and shuttle system for getting to Haena State Park and other places on the North Shore. Garden Island.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Ige urges resurrection of water rights bill, vacation rental bills sent to Honolulu mayor, eruption communication criticized, gas prices up 5 cents, homeless rousting continues, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2019 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Pipe brings water down from mountain ©2019 All Hawaii News
Gov. David Ige urges Hawaii Legislature to resurrect water rights bill opposed by environmentalists. Gov. David Ige is prodding state lawmakers to resurrect a controversial bill that would give public water users, including Alexander & Baldwin, the electrical utilities, farmers and others, more time to meet stringent requirements for obtaining long-term leases, a move that has angered opponents of House Bill 1326. Star-Advertiser.

Ige Calls For Reconsideration Of Water Bill. The governor says passage of the stalled measure is in the public interest but critics called it an abuse of Ige’s position. Civil Beat.

Governor Asks Lawmakers to Revive Water Rights Bill. Gov. David Ige has asked state lawmakers to revive a bill that would extend water permits held by private users, a measure that a Senate committee shelved earlier this session. Hawaii Public Radio.

Governor Urges Lawmakers to Take Action on Controversial Water Bill. Maui Now.

Ige accused of trying to bring back ‘zombie bill’ on contentious water rights issue. Gov. David Ige has taken the unusual step of asking lawmakers to revive a hotly debated measure that many thought was dead for the session. Hawaii News Now.


Aloha State sees increase in gas prices. The average price of gas in the state increased a nickel or more in the past week and 24 cents higher in than a month ago, said GasPrices.AAA.com. KHON2.

Hawaii jobless rate climbs to 2.8%. Hawaii’s unemployment rate, reflecting slowing growth in the state economy, resumed its upward trend in March and climbed to a 28-month high of 2.8%. Star-Advertiser.


Battle lines take shape as 2 vacation rental bills advance. When it comes to the thorny issue of vacation rental homes on Oahu, it seems the clearer the issue gets, the more complex the answers appear to be. Star-Advertiser.

Short-Term Rental Regulation Advances at Honolulu Hale. On Wednesday, the Honolulu City Council held a public hearing on the latest proposals to rein in Oahu’s vacation accommodations, like those rented on Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO. Hawaii Public Radio.

After several years of debate, a measure to regulate monster homes on Oahu is awaiting Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s signature. The bill passed the City Council Wednesday, but the head of the department that will enforce the proposed rules says some details need to be hammered out. Associated Press.

A bill regulating so-called monster homes on Oahu is now in the hands of Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. KITV.


Police investigating reported kidnapping of attorney tied to Kealoha corruption probe. Chris Woo once represented Jesse Ebersole, a Big Island firefighter who told the court he had a long-term affair with Katherine Kealoha and said he lied to the federal grand jury to protect her and hide their romantic relationship. Hawaii News Now.

City plans second interim rail opening. In a significant change to the much-anticipated rollout of the Honolulu rail line, the city is now planning to open new segments of rail in 2020 and in 2023 before finally opening the entire 20-mile line in 2025. Star-Advertiser.

Ige Assures Caldwell Of Ala Wai Flood Control Financing Plan. The latest letter in the saga over canal flood control informs city leaders that at least some dollars have been committed to the project. Civil Beat.

Honolulu City Councilmember-elect Tommy Waters is eager to hit the ground running. Waters says there's a 20-day waiting period where the City Office of Elections can audit the results from Saturday's District Four Special Election. KITV.

Inspection leads to boat blaze at Honolulu Harbor. U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel Thursday were inspecting a fishing boat at Pier 16 when a neglected stove apparently caught fire, leading to a spectacular blaze. Star-Advertiser.

Coast Guard: Blaze on fishing vessel started during Customs inspection. Hawaii News Now.

Can A Sustainable Industry Be Built From An Invasive Species? A landmark project on the UH Manoa campus shows the albizia tree’s potential as a building material — and the challenges of developing manufacturing in Hawaii. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Island

Civil Defense on the hot seat. Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno found himself in the hot seat Thursday, as County Council members grilled him about communication lapses during two recent disasters. West Hawaii Today.

Volcano Watch Examines Cause Of 2018 Kilauea Eruption. The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is reiterating its position that geothermal drilling did not cause the lower East Rift Zone eruption. Big Island Video News.

Hilo Transfer Station Shutdown After Discovery of Explosive Ordnance. The explosive device was found to be a non-functioning grenade, with no detonation ability. Big Island Now.

Unexploded ordnance scare forces brief closure of Hilo transfer station. Hawaii News Now.

County cleans out more homeless camps. Hawaii County Highways Divisions crews, Hawaii Police officers and HOPE Services Hawaii employees worked to clear more homeless camps Thursday in the village and downtown Kailua-Kona areas. West Hawaii Today.


Blessing Held for $21.7 M Iao Water Treatment Plant. Mayor Michael Victorino took part Thursday in the blessing of the new $21.7 million Iao Water Treatment Plant. Maui Now.

Airport tram making practice runs. The tram connects the airport’s arrivals and departures gates with the $340 million, 1.3 million-square-foot consolidated rental car building scheduled to open May 15. Maui News.

Makawao Public Library celebrates 50 years. Maui News.


Costs still rising. According to the County of Kauai, it has received $25 million from the state of Hawaii to help recover from the April 2018 flooding disaster. Garden Island.

No place to go. Homeless to be evicted from camp near homeless shelter. Garden Island.

Settlement reached, payment delayed. Patricia and Michael Kocher Sr. still haven’t been paid the $1 million promised to them by the County of Kauai to settle a lawsuit they filed over the death of their son, who was killed four years ago by a speeding police cruiser. Garden Island.