Monday, February 28, 2022

Navy secretary visits Oahu, Maui mayor repeals COVID emergency rules, Kauai elects Like prosecutor, Merrie Monarch hula fest is a go, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hula dancers at 2019 Merrie Monarch festival ©2022 All Hawaii News

Plan to ‘reimagine’ University of Hawaii is considered. First steps toward “reimagining” the whole 10- campus University of Hawaii system are underway, with a proposed new focus on luring and training more local residents to the fields in which the state most urgently needs workers, such as health care, education and technology. Star-Advertiser.

Senior Hawaii Teachers Inch Closer To Receiving Pay Raises.
Lawmakers are debating whether to fund pay increases for veteran teachers and hard-to-staff positions. Civil Beat.

Money piling up behind candidates in Hawaii gubernatorial race. Who becomes Hawaii’s next governor will be up to 300,000 to 400,000 or so voters later this year, but several hundred people and organizations really want to influence the decision. Star-Advertiser.

Two virtual currency bills pass final committee hearings. A pair of bills that would provide state regulatory support for “virtual currencies” successfully passed their final committee hearings in their respective chambers last week. Tribune-Herald.

Bill for Duke Kahanamoku license plate advances.
Duke Paoa Kahanamoku, renowned as the father of modern surfing and Hawaii’s first Olympic swimming gold medalist, has been commemorated by a statue in Waikiki since 1990, the 100th anniversary of his birth. Star-Advertiser.

Dr. Richard Kelley, a significant figure in Hawaii’s tourism industry, dies at 88. Dr. Richard Roy Kelley, who headed Outrigger Hotels and Resorts for decades and served as a significant figure in Hawaii’s tourism industry, has died at age 88. Hawaii News Now.

Military personnel, aircraft training starts. The U.S. Air Force’s 15th Wing and Hawaii Air National Guard are scheduled to conduct an exercise starting today and running through March 11 that is likely to attract public attention. Star-Advertiser.

Releases From Hawaii Prisons Slowed During Pandemic Despite Supreme Court Orders
. U.S. Department of Justice statistics show the state prison system released 30% fewer inmates in 2020 than the year before, the biggest decrease among the states. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Emergency Management Agency marks 2 years of COVID operations. Even before Hawaii officially documented its first case of the coronavirus on March 7, 2020, the state’s emergency response specialists had been tapped to follow news of the emerging pandemic and try to stay a step ahead of the virus. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii reports 229 new coronavirus infections, 4 additional deaths. The new cases include 133 on Oahu,  33 on Hawaii Island, 27 on Maui, 24 on Kauai, 3 on Lanai and o on Molokai, wioth 9 new cases of Hawaii residents out of state. Hawaii News Now.


Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro visits Oahu to discuss water contamination crisis. U.S. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro will wrap up his visit to Hawaii Monday as the service continues to work to resolve the months-long contamination of its water system that serves 93,000 people on Oahu, including military families, schools, businesses and civilians living in former military housing areas. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu Scores A Win Against Big Oil In Climate Change Lawsuit. Out of over a dozen climate change cases filed nationwide, Honolulu’s case is leading the pack, attorneys say. Civil Beat.

More Problems Mount Along Honolulu Rail Track Crossings. The latest snafu, involving track gauge, raises questions about the crossings’ design as HART struggles to make their components fit together. Civil Beat.

HPD main station cellblock reopens after $4.2M renovation completed. The Honolulu Police Department opened its newly renovated cellblock Friday at its headquarters on Beretania Street. Hawaii News Now.

After lengthy inquiry, former principal of Hawaii School for Deaf and Blind to be reinstated. In 2019, the state Department of Education complex superintendent recommended that Angel Ramos, who was principal at the time, be demoted. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

Green light for hula fest: Merrie Monarch competition set to return to pre-COVID glory. With COVID-19 case counts on the decline, the 59th Annual Merrie Monarch Festival will return to its customary schedule starting April 17. Tribune-Herald.

Sexual abuse suits against former Big Island priest settled.
The Roman Catholic Church in the State of Hawaii has settled four civil lawsuits alleging a defrocked Big Island priest sexually molested teenage boys decades ago, according to court records. Tribune-Herald.

Work begins on HCCC expansion. Construction began last month on a long-planned and controversial new housing module at the Hilo jail. Tribune-Herald.

Waipiʻo Valley Road Closed To Visitors Under New Emergency Rule. As of Friday, February 25, the road is closed to visitors "as a precautionary safety measure and to further assess and mitigate the road’s conditions", officials say. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News. KITV4.


Mayor repealing Maui County Public Health Emergency Rules, effective March 1, 2022. All of Maui County’s Public Health Emergency Rules are being repealed, effective March 1, 2022, according to an announcement by Maui Mayor Michael Victorino. Maui Now. Maui News.

County looks to flip the switch on light pollution. Bill would update rules on lighting to help protect wildlife. A Maui County Council committee is considering a bill that would revise and update the county’s existing light ordinance. Maui News.

Cameron Center Installs Electric Charging Stations to Combat Climate Change. The new stations replace earlier versions installed and operated by the Hitachi Corporation in a pilot project on Maui to expand charging station availability. Maui Now.


Like Prevails Over Iseri In Kauai Prosecutor Race. A political newcomer, Like is stepping into office at a time when the island is dealing with a rise in fentanyl abuse, a suicide problem and a longstanding lack of mental health and drug addiction resources. Civil Beat. Garden Island.

Contentious cat feeding, abandoning bill heads to second reading. A bill prohibiting the feeding of feral cats on County of Kaua‘i-owned property passed out of committee last week, and will appear before the County Council for a final reading in two weeks’ time.  Garden Island.

Council discusses Hideaways access improvements. Two Kaua‘i County Council bills that passed first readings last Wednesday may appropriate up to $1.5 million to improve access to Hideaways, or Kaumumene Beach, in Princeville. Garden Island.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Hawaii Supreme Court halts candidate filing after reapportionment lawsuit, EPA launches investigation into Red Hill, Maui police employee dies chasing purse snatcher, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii Supreme Court ©2022 All Hawaii News

Supreme Court issues injunction temporarily stopping candidate filing after petition filed to declare legislative maps invalid. The Hawaii Supreme Court late Thursday issued an injunction temporarily stopping candidate filing that was to start Tuesday until it can consider a petition filed by 11 residents from three islands questioning the process by which the state Reapportionment Commission drew legislative boundary maps. West Hawaii Today. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

Bills on excessive police force, hike in fireworks fines advance. Bills that would require law enforcement officers to intervene and report colleagues using excessive force and increase fines for fireworks violations passed out of the state Senate Ways and Means Committee on Thursday. Star-Advertiser.

Moving forward: Coffee labeling bill clears House committees. A bill that would set tighter limits on using Hawaii location names to sell coffee cleared its last state House committee Wednesday, sending it back for a vote on the full house floor before crossing over to the Senate for further consideration. West Hawaii Today.

Testimony mostly positive as retirement bill passes committees.
A bill that would help state residents plan for their retirements has passed its committees in the State Senate with broad support. Tribune-Herald.

Mililani Trask named new OHA trustee for Hawaii Island. Native Hawaiian rights activist and lawyer Mililani Trask has been voted to become Hawaii Island’s trustee for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Big Island Now.

Hawaii holds onto mask mandate as loosened U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance looms. As daily coronavirus cases in Hawaii and nationwide continue to trend down, the debate over mask mandates has become a hot- button issue, particularly in the Aloha State, the last holdout with a statewide indoor mask mandate in place and no announcements on when it will end. Star-Advertiser. KHON2.

289 new COVID cases reported statewide; 8 deaths. Hawaii reported 289 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, pushing the statewide total to 235,124. Hawaii News Now.


Environmental Protection Agency launching investigation into Navy’s Red Hill fuel facility. The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that he’s launching an investigation into the Navy’s Red Hill fuel facility, telling reporters gathered in downtown Honolulu that it’s important the agency plays “its strong, independent role” in upholding environmental laws and regulations. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

Regulators Were Watching The Navy’s Red Hill Fuel Facility. What Went Wrong?  A monitoring agreement signed in 2015 failed to prevent a catastrophe six years later. Civil Beat.

Property raided over illegal dumping allegations. Pressure is mounting for a Hauula property owner who has been accused of illegal dumping on his land, as law enforcement raided his property early Thursday. KHON2. Hawaii News Now.

Kapiolani Community College Is Struggling With Lingering Irrigation Issues. Broken pumps and electrical issues are causing native plants to die, which has impacted student learning, school officials said. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Island

County scales back COVID-19 testing.
Beginning next week, the county will scale back its COVID testing sites as new daily case totals continue to decline. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News.

Waipi‘o Valley Road to Close to Pedestrians; Open for Valley Resident Vehicle Traffic Only as Plan to Fix Route Begins. Hawai‘i County will shut down Waipi‘o Valley Road to pedestrians for safety reasons after the results of a geotechnical study on the steep, crumbling roadway was made public Thursday night. Big Island Now.


Residents, industry reps debate plan to cap Maui visitor units. Some residents backed a plan to cap Maui’s transient accommodations, while industry testifiers questioned whether a ceiling would have unintended legal and financial consequences during a Maui County Council committee meeting Wednesday. Maui Now. Maui News.

Kihei Wants Long-Term Solutions To Chronic Flooding. The community has been prodding the county to take action on a report it commissioned more than a year ago that’s filled with cost-effective and environmentally friendly ideas. Civil Beat.

Maui Police Department ‘matriarch’ dies in Pukalani crash while chasing purse snatcher. A 55-year-old Maui Police Department employee died in a motor vehicle collision on Maui this morning as she was chasing someone who had reportedly stolen her purse. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now. KHON2. KITV4.

State Agrees To Pay $550,000 To Settle Lawsuit Over Inmate Suicide At Maui Jail. The 26-year-old female prisoner warned jail staff she was contemplating suicide, but the facility did not place her on suicide watch. Civil Beat.

Options to control wave energy explored as beach loss continues at “Sugar Cove” near Pāʻia. Sugar Cove, a pocket beach near Pā’ia, is home to a privately funded beach restoration effort that’s been ongoing for nearly three decades. Maui Now.


Like, Iseri make final push for Prosecuting Attorney Special General Election. There are only two days left to cast ballots for the Prosecuting Attorney Special General Election between Acting Prosecutor Rebecca Like and former Prosecutor Shaylene Iseri. Garden Island.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Legislature mulls rental car impact fee, opposes putting $1B in rainy day fund, Kauai military crash victims identified, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Driving in Hawaii ©2022 All Hawaii News

Climate change impact fee on rental cars proposed. A plan to charge tourists a special rental car fee to offset their effect on climate change has been met with technical and philosophical pushback, along with support to have visitors pay more to help the environment. Star-Advertiser.

Lawmakers rain on Gov. David Ige’s plan for $1 billion ‘rainy day’ fund.
Hawaii lawmakers this week zeroed out the proposed $1 billion emergency savings account appropriation in a Senate bill introduced on behalf of Ige, and deferred an identical House companion bill. Star-Advertiser.

Restorative Justice Group Calls For Sweeping Reform Of Women’s Prison System. A group of prominent women is pushing for a complete overhaul of Hawaii’s women’s prison system through a slew of bills under consideration by the Legislature. Civil Beat.

Bills Would Limit Rental Application Fees.
Only one member of a household may be charged a $25 fee under measures moving through the Legislature. Civil Beat.

Measure that would settle OHA's share of public land trust revenue heads to final Senate vote. Hawaiʻi lawmakers are considering a bill to settle unresolved issues over exactly how much public land trust revenue the state must direct toward the betterment of Native Hawaiians. Hawaii Public Radio.

Constitutional Changes And Legal Challenges Loom As Redistricting Commission Wraps Up Work. State lawmakers want to change the way the commission counts military personnel and college students. Civil Beat.

3 former Hawaii defense contractors plead not guilty in illegal campaign scheme. Martin Kao, 48, Clifford Chen, 48, and Lawrence “Kahele” Lum Kee, 52, of Martin Defense Group LLC, formerly known as Navatek LLC, are charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and to make conduit and government contractor contributions, and making government contractor contributions to support U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) who ran for reelection in 2020 and won. Star-Advertiser. Associated Press.

Former OHA trustee Oswald ‘Oz’ Stender remembered for his dedication to the Native Hawaiian community, dies at 90. Oswald “Oz” Stender, who rose above the turmoil of the Bishop Estate’s “Broken Trust” scandal and went on to serve 14 years as an Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee, died Wednesday. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

DOE sets rules for Hawaii graduation ceremonies.
The state Department of Education has released its gathering rules for this year’s graduation and transition ceremonies. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

Feb. 23, 2022 COVID-19 update: 134 new infections in Hawaiʻi. The  count includes two cases on Maui, 12 on Hawaiʻi Island, 10 on Kauaʻi, one on Molokaʻi, 0 on Lānaʻi, and 18 out of state.  There are 91 new COVID-19 cases on Oʻahu. Maui Now.


Council unanimously passes bill mandating permits for large underground storage tanks
, in response to Red Hill. The Honolulu City Council on Wednesday unanimously backed a measure that requires a city permit to operate an underground storage tank system that can hold more than 100,000 gallons of any regulated substance. It also requires the permit seeker to secure approval from the state health director. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

Lawmakers want the state to take over Lake Wilson, but it would come at a steep price. Some state lawmakers want the state to take over Wahiawa’s Lake Wilson and the surrounding irrigation system. Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu Settles Four Law Enforcement Lawsuits.
The Honolulu City Council on Wednesday approved legal payouts totaling millions of dollars to settle lawsuits filed against the Honolulu Police Department and Prosecuting Attorney’s office. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

Kenneth Silva Appointed To Honolulu Police Commission.
Former fire chief will fill the lone vacancy on the seven-member police commission. Civil Beat.

City: Efforts to tackle crime in Chinatown are working, but there’s more work to do.
The city administration says efforts such as cracking down on criminal activity has improved Chinatown during the past year. Hawaii News Now. KHON2. KITV4.

Hawaii Island

Council advances homeless funding bill. Hilo Councilman Aaron Chung, jogging Wednesday morning prior to the County Council meeting, came upon a large “Aloha, Welcome to Kona” sign. West Hawaii Today.

Council members question funding requests for waste management equipment
. Requests for hundreds of thousands of dollars for equipment for the county Department of Environmental Management led to frustration at Wednesday’s County Council meeting. Tribune-Herald.

County’s Honuʻapo Lands in Kaʻū to Reopen.
Because the area is cooling and new safety measures put in place, Hawaiʻi County will reopen some of its public lands in Kaʻū that have been closed since October. Big Island Now.


1,150-unit Honua‘ula project heads to mediation. The Honua’ula master-planned community of more than 1,000 housing units and mixed-use development faces yet another challenge as it heads into mediation and may end up in a contested case hearing. Maui News.

Maui Is Getting Ready To Move Part Of A Major Highway Due To Climate Change.
The Honoapiilani Highway is the main artery in and out of West Maui and keeping it open is considered crucial for public safety, commerce, tourism and other transportation needs. Civil Beat.

Temporary closure of Lahainaluna boy’s dorm comes amid investigation into misconduct allegations. A temporary closure of the boys’ dormitory at Lahainaluna High School went into effect on Tuesday, Feb. 22, and will continue for nearly a month through March 20, 2022, the state Department of Education has confirmed. Maui Now.


Victims of Kauai helicopter crash identified.
Matthew Haider, 43, Erika Tevez-Valdez, 42, Daniel Maurice, 64, and Patrick Rader, 55, were killed in Tuesday’s deadly helicopter crash on Kauai. Star-Advertiser. Associated Press. Garden Island. Hawaii News Now. KHON2. KITV4.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Four dead in military contractor helicopter crash off Kauai, former Big Island councilman sentenced to 46 months for embezzlement, bribery, Hirono tours Red Hill, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

A helicopter crash Tuesday at the Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai killed four civilian contractors. A PMRF spokesman said the Sikorsky S-61N helicopter, one of two contracted by the facility, crashed at about 10 a.m. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Associated Press. Big Island Now. Maui Now. Garden Island. Hawaii News Now. KHON2. KITV4.

Hawaii Senate panel passes ban on fundraisers during session.
The Hawaii Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday passed a bill that would ban lawmaker fundraisers during the legislative session, one of several measures aimed at addressing corruption after two former legislators pleaded guilty in connection with a bribery scandal. Associated Press. KITV4.

Heidi Haunani Tsuneyoshi running for governor as Republican.
First-term Honolulu Councilwoman Heidi Haunani Tsuneyoshi — a frequent critic of the city’s troubled rail project who represents parts of Central Oahu, the North Shore and the Windward side — announced Tuesday that she is running for governor as a Republican. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

Want To Run For Office? Filings Begin March 1.
The Hawaii Office of Elections’ candidate deadline is June 7. Civil Beat.

Navy expects 27 countries to attend RIMPAC this summer. A Navy news release said 42 ships, five submarines, more than 170 aircraft and nearly 25,000 personnel are expected to participate in RIMPAC in waters off Hawaii and San Diego. Star-Advertiser.

Last defendant sentenced in scheme to defraud Hawaii housing programs. The last participant in a scheme that defrauded local housing programs of more than $100,000 was sentenced in Hawaii’s U.S. District Court on Tuesday. The scheme ran from approximately April 2015 to August 2017 and involved four people, all of whom have now been sentenced for their participation, including IHS housing specialist Leopoldo Bitte, Jr. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

There Are Widespread Reports of Sex Trafficking, So Why No Convictions? Although state agencies have received hundreds of reports of sex trafficking in Hawaii in recent years, state prosecutors have failed to convict a single person of the crime since legislators formally outlawed the practice in 2016, a review of state and local records found. Civil Beat.

Double the time: Lawmakers consider stiffer penalty for some drunken drivers in fatal crashes. A measure that would impose a stiffer penalty on a person convicted of first-degree negligent homicide while driving under the influence of an intoxicant passed its only committee hearing Friday. West Hawaii Today.

The Nature Conservancy announces new Conservation Director. The Nature Conservancy, Hawai‘i and Palmyra has named Trevor Taylor as Director of Conservation. Maui Now.

Queen’s, Kaiser Permanente ease visitor restrictions amidst declining COVID-19 cases. Both The Queen’s Health Systems and Kaiser Permanente Hawaii have eased visiting guidelines as daily coronavirus cases and positivity rates in the state continue to decline. Star-Advertiser.

Feb. 22, 2022 COVID-19 update: 150 new infections in Hawaiʻi. Todayʻs count includes 10 cases on Maui, 26 on Hawaiʻi Island, 14 on Kauaʻi, 0 on Molokaʻi, three on Lānaʻi, and one out of state.  There are 96 new COVID-19 cases on Oʻahu. Maui Now.


Oahu's COVID-19 restrictions coming to an end on March 5, Blangiardi says.
The days of carrying a COVID-19 vaccination card or negative test result to go out on the town will soon be over -- Safe Access Oahu will sunset on March 5. KITV4.

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono calls for closing the Navy’s Red Hill fuel storage facility through the state permitting process.
U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono defended her decision Tuesday not to sign onto a congressional bill that would mandate the permanent shutdown of the Navy’s Red Hill fuel facility, telling reporters that she was focused instead on a state permitting process that could accomplish the same goal, but faster. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.  Hawaii News Now.

Commission considers adjustment to property tax exemptions. The Oahu Real Property Tax Advisory Commission is considering changes to the city’s property tax rates and exemptions — notably, for historic homes, for-profit child care centers and primary residences. Star-Advertiser.

Council chair: Media access to emergency scanners a matter of public safety. City Council Chair Tommy Waters wants to restore the news media’s ability to listen in when first responders are called to emergencies. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

Higa sentenced to 46 months in prison. Former County Councilman and Na Leo TV CEO Stacy Higa was sentenced Tuesday to 46 months in prison for embezzling from AmeriCorps and also for offering a bribe in return for federal coronavirus relief funds. West Hawaii Today. Star-Advertiser. Big Island Now. Hawaii News Now. KHON2. KITV4.

Council bill would require EV charging stations for new parking lots. A Hawaii County Council member hopes to legally require developers to include electric vehicle charging stations in new parking lots. Tribune-Herald.

HPD looking for recruits for ‘rewarding career’. Starting salary for a police officer is $65,652 a year, with benefits including paid holidays, vacation, sick leave, military leave, health insurance, group life insurance, a uniform and equipment stipend, automobile subsidy and retirement. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Now.


Major 670-acre housing project in Wailea aims to move ahead; groups intervene. A long-debated master planned community proposed for 670 acres in Wailea called Honuaʻula sought the next phase of county approval today — but two groups are challenging it. Maui Now.

Final assessment for Honokowai project released. Plan calls for hundreds of residential homesteads, multifamily residential units. The state Department of Hawaiian Homelands has published its final environmental assessment for its Honokowai Homestead Community Master Plan, which will include hundreds of residential homesteads, multifamily residential units and subsistence agricultural homestead lots on nearly 800 acres in West Maui. Maui News.

A plan to beautify a shoreline parcel on Maui has hit yet another obstacle. A lot near Kahului Harbor is finally cleared of homeless and ready for food trucks thanks to a local nonprofit organization. But it’s got a pretty foul neighbor — a sewage discharge station. Hawaii News Now.


Waitlists, affordability obstacles in Hawai‘i housing crisis
. Hawai‘i leaders met Tuesday to address the public about the state’s on-going housing crisis, recommending a multi-pronged approach to address rising home costs. Garden Island.

Princeville resort part of state’s ‘regenerative tourism’ push. The Cliffs at Princeville resort is donating a portion of guests’ bills to local conservation efforts through a new partnership with the hotel-booking website Kind Traveler. Garden Island.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Checks arrive for Kona coffee farmers in lawsuit settlement, Legislature mulls banning campaign contributions during session, state seeks to centralize law enforcement, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Coffee beans on drying floor in Hawaii ©2022 All Hawaii News

Kona coffee labeling settlements top $15.25M.
Kona coffee farmers have each begun receiving their share of a $13.1 million settlement reached in a 2019 class action lawsuit against retailers that falsely labeled commodity coffee beans as premium “Kona” coffee. West Hawaii Today.

‘Shock And Anger’ Over Legislative Bribery Cases Could Lead To Limits On Campaign Fundraising. The Legislature is considering a bill to ban legislators from holding fundraisers during session. Civil Beat. KHON2.

Some Hawaii Agencies Are Pushing A Bill That Would Limit Public Access To Government Records. House Bill 2303 would roll back a Hawaii Supreme Court ruling that opened up many records to the public, including draft documents and records that show how an agency came to a decision. Civil Beat.

3 nominees on short list to fill OHA Board of Trustees vacancy. The list includes Maunakea educator and activist Lanakila Mangauil, county housing specialist Kaloa Robinson, and Native Hawaiian attorney and former OHA trustee Mililani Trask. Hawaii Public Radio.

Lawmakers seek land transfer to help move Hawaiian Homelands beneficiaries off waitlist. A bill that would transfer land owned by the University of Hawaii to the state Department of Hawaiian Homelands is moving forward in the state Legislature. Hawaii News Now.

Pre-Fab Construction Could Be One Solution To Hawaii’s High Cost Of Housing. The entire structure of a home can go up in days using structural insulated panels, so why are we hardly using it? Civil Beat.

University of Hawaiʻi Reports Record Graduation Rates
. UH campuses across the state "achieved record highs in important graduation and retention metrics for the academic year 2020–21", officials say. Big Island Video News.

Feb. 21, 2022 COVID-19 update: 206 new infections in Hawaiʻi. The count includes 26 cases on Maui, 47 on Hawaiʻi Island, 18 on Kauaʻi, one on Molokaʻi, one on Lānaʻi, and seven out of state.  There are 106 new COVID-19 cases on Oʻahu. Maui Now.


State envisions 240-acre parcel as future home of emergency response hub.
The state is pushing for a new facility that would bring emergency agencies together to one location in central Oahu. Hawaii News Now.

Push to drain Red Hill fuel tanks touches off relocation questions. As the Navy faces increasing pressure to drain the tanks at its Red Hill fuel storage facility, the question of where the fuel could be relocated is moving to the forefront. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu To Pay Millions More In Case Of Police Chase Gone Wrong. The fatal crash caused the deaths of three people and injured others. Civil Beat.

Community leaders seek to ban chronic criminals from returning to Waikiki, other resort areas. Community leaders are backing a proposal that would ban chronic criminals who break the law in Waikiki from returning to the tourism district. If the bill is passed, the same rules would apply to other business and resort districts. Hawaii News Now.

Paradise Beverages fined $75K for polluting Waiawa Stream.
One the state’s largest distributors of alcoholic beverages was fined $75,000 for polluting Waiawa Stream with expired alcohol, carbonated beverages and vehicle maintenance pollutants, according to the state Department of Health. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii Public Radio.

On-time graduation rates at UH Manoa at record high.
The “on time” graduation rate at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 2021 reached its highest level in history, with 39.7% of first-time, full-time freshmen earning their degrees in four years, according to data released by the university.  Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu preschool closure will worsen early education shortage, advocates say. For nearly four decades, Seagull Schools' Early Education Center has sat on the corner of Beretania and Alapai Streets in downtown Honolulu. Hawaii Public Radio.

Parents fear temporary closure of Lahainaluna boys’ dorm could become permanent
. Lahainaluna High School’s boys’ dormitory is temporarily shutting down because of staff shortages. But families, who worry this may become permanent, are pushing to keep the dorms open. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

Council members attend NACo conference. Four Hawaii County Council members returned from last week’s National Association of Counties conference brimming with ideas for new county initiatives and optimism for another infusion of federal money. West Hawaii Today.

Officials: New gym for Papaaloa a top priority. State Rep. Mark Nakashima said Monday a new county gymnasium in Papaaloa is the top capital-improvement priority in his district. Tribune-Herald.


Web page established for new Maui County Department of Agriculture.
Maui County has set up a new web page as part of the formation of the new County Department of Agriculture. Voters approved a Maui County Charter amendment in November 2020 for establishment of the department, which will officially launch in July 2022. Maui Now.

Updated West Maui Community Plan and map now available to view on County website. The plan is designed to be user-friendly with graphics and pictures. A web-based map with zooming and clickable features is included to enable users to more easily view the adopted community plan map. Maui Now.

Maui Seaside Hotel in Kahului to be converted to ‘upscale’ Hilton
. Located at 100 W. Kaahumanu Ave. next to Maui Beach Hotel, Maui Seaside is a 181-room limited-service hotel with a restaurant and swimming pool. It was founded in 1956. Maui Now.

Nisei veterans center opens new resource pavilion.
Standing in front of the completed Stanley Izumigawa Resource Center Pavilion at the Nisei Veterans Memorial Center, board Chairperson Kyoko Kimura said she was “overwhelmed” by the moment. Maui News. Maui Now.


Hawaiian homestead nonprofit purchases rental property. The Homestead Community Development Corporation announced Sunday its purchase of a six-unit apartment building on Halenani Street in Lihu‘e, with the goal of keeping the housing affordable. Garden Island.

Fishers get new FADs along island’s windward side. Six fish-aggregation devices (FADs) were installed off Kaua‘i last week, restoring the local portion of a statewide buoy array to nearly full strength. Garden Island.

Seminar addresses commercial activities on state, county lands.
The Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources sought to clarify rules and regulations associated with work on public lands during a virtual seminar. Garden Island.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Kahele wants to come home, teachers want more money, Maui drops vax requirements at restaurants, bars, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2022 All Hawaii News all rights reserved

U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele would face uncertain path in governor’s race. Washington, D.C., is not in the future for the family of first-term U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele, but he faces an uncertain path if he decides to run for governor in August instead of pursuing reelection to Congress. Star-Advertiser.

Revamping salaries is key in preventing ‘mass exodus’ of Hawaii public school teachers.
Keeping droves of veteran public school teachers from departing prematurely for other fields, private schools or retirement is gaining attention not just in Hawaii, but nationwide, as officials struggle to solve the teacher shortage plaguing public schools for roughly a decade and worsened by the pandemic. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. David Ige nominates 5 to state Land Board. Gov. David Ige announced his five nominees to the state Board of Land and Natural Resources, three of whom are currently serving on the panel. Star-Advertiser.

Pilot project pays infrastructure cost for bus fleets to go electric. Hawaiian Electric is looking for bus operators to participate in a new pilot program that will offset some of the cost of converting a bus fleet from diesel fuel to electric. The utility can install up to 20 bus charging ports at 10 locations on Oʻahu, Maui and Hawaiʻi Island. Hawaii Public Radio.

Government Boards Struggle To Adapt To Hawaii’s New Open Meetings Law. Meanwhile, the Legislature is considering further changes to the Sunshine Law, including requiring that video livestreams be archived. Civil Beat.

Lawmakers advance bill aimed at increasing penalty for those who torture children. A bill aimed at preventing violence against children is moving forward at the state Capitol. Senate Bill 2092 would make the torture of a minor a felony. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii bills attempt to clarify status of support animals. Senate Bill 2438 and companion House Bill 1944 would require any person or business that sells or provides an animal for use as an emotional support animal to provide a written disclaimer that the animal does not have the special training required to qualify as a service animal and is not entitled to the same privileges as certified service animals. A separate bill, SB 2194, would have given anxiety or emotional support animals the same rights as service animals. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s New Health Equity Office Is Slow To Get Up And Running. A Senate bill seeks state funding to support the new office dedicated to addressing health disparities. Civil Beat.

Feb. 20, 2022 COVID-19 update: 4 deaths, 330 new infections in Hawaiʻi. The count includes 25 cases on Maui, 46 on Hawaiʻi Island, 42 on Kauaʻi, one on Molokaʻi, one on Lānaʻi, and 20 out of state.  There are 195 new COVID-19 cases on Oʻahu. Maui Now.


Six Democrats Apply For Ty Cullen’s House Seat. The lawmaker represented Royal Kunia, Village Park, Waipahu, Makakilo and West Loch before resigning for accepting bribes. Civil Beat.

How Honolulu’s Ex-City Attorney Went From Obscurity To A Federal Indictment. Donna Leong’s lawyer has argued her client executed a legal retirement agreement. Federal prosecutors say it was criminal. Civil Beat.

Gerard Puana, Katherine Kealoha's uncle, charged with terroristic threatening after incident in Salt Lake. Gerard Puana, the man at the center of the Louis and Katherine Kealoha corruption case, was arrested and charged this week with terroristic threatening. KITV4.

Navy documents from 2016 raised concerns about Red Hill pipeline system. For years, environmental regulators have zeroed in on the risks posed by the Navy’s aging Red Hill fuel tanks, which have been the source of dozens of leaks since they were built in the 1940s. Star-Advertiser.

Owners scramble to find funds, meet deadlines as city requires high-rises to install sprinklers. A city ordinance requiring high-rise buildings to install fire sprinklers or pass a safety inspection is raising concerns among apartment owners. Hawaii News Now.

Biggest ‘swimming pool’ on Oahu could soon welcome swimmers. No swimming” signs might come down soon at the Wai Kai Lagoon in Ewa Beach. Hawaii legislators are considering a pair of bills that would effectively end a prohibition on swimming in the 52-acre recreational amenity serving over 1,000 residents at Hoakalei Resort where hotel development is also planned. Star-Advertiser.

Public unable to monitor calls for Honolulu police, fire and Emergency Medical Services
. The public’s ability to monitor the radio communications of taxpayer-funded first respon­ders ended Tuesday when the Honolulu Police Department encrypted its channels and replaced them with periodic email updates available only to the news media. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

County budget in the works. Hawaii Island’s exuberant real estate market and a new tax on transient rentals could be enough to keep county finances out of the red despite increased spending, as administrative money crunchers work on the first stab at an annual budget by March 1. West Hawaii Today.

House members listen to mix of reviews for new Mauna Kea management. Lawmakers from three state House committees heard a mix of reviews about a proposal to create a new entity to oversee the state-managed lands of Mauna Kea during a special meeting Saturday. Star-Advertiser.

Cruise ship arrivals set to increase; more corporations expected to sign deals with state. This spring, the Big Island will see an increase in the number of cruise ships visiting Hilo and Kona.Tribune-Herald.

Get in line: Kealakehe R-1 project falls behind. A 20-year-old plan to upgrade the Kealakehe wastewater treatment plant to produce and sell R-1, the highest grade of recycled water, risks sliding down the priority scale as the county tries to shore up other projects to avoid federal fines. West Hawaii Today.


Maui drops COVID-19 vaccine, testing requirements for restaurants, bars and gyms. Proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or negative testing results will no longer be required for indoor service at Maui County restaurants, bars and gyms, Mayor Michael Victorino announced. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Maui News.

Plan pitches hiking water rates on Maui’s thirstiest users: visitor accommodations. When severe drought puts Upcountry under water restrictions — looking down the hill at South Maui’s green hotel lawns can spark frustration for residents.  Maui Now.

Gov. Ige announces $364M in capital improvement projects. Governor David Ige announced the release of $364,445,224 for Capital Improvement Projects that will be administered by various state departments. These funds were released in November and December of 2021, and January of 2022. Maui Now.

This Maui Housing Project Is Hugely Popular And Sorely Needed. Will It Finally Get Built? It’s been nearly 18 years since the developer began planning Waikapu Country Town. With the final bureaucratic hurdles now cleared, a new deal with the county could spur construction. Civil Beat.

Sugimura: preliminary data shows there are 46,743 axis deer from ʻUlupalakua to Pāʻia. On Tuesday, Feb. 15, the Task Force received updates on various work being done to address the increasing axis deer population and related negative impacts.  Maui Now.


Why Isn’t Hawaii’s Largest Union Weighing In On The Kauai Prosecutor’s Race? HGEA is unusually silent on the special election for Kauai prosecuting attorney. Civil Beat.

Ono nominated for Board of Land and Natural Resources. Karen Ono, a real estate leader, has been nominated by Gov. David Ige to serve on the state’s Board of Land and Natural Resources, representing Kaua‘i. Garden Island.

Wilcox School gets buggy, again.
When Wilcox Elementary School teacher Natsumi Miyasato and her science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) class established the school’s first cricket farm, the motivation was food sustainability based on Miyasato’s childhood background of eating crickets while growing up in Japan. Garden Island.

Kaua‘i not ready for ‘silver tsunami’. A growing elderly population combined with a shrinking younger workforce has left some wondering if the island will be able to care for its kupuna in the coming decade. Garden Island.

Friday, February 18, 2022

$100M coming from feds to drain Red Hill tanks, gambling bills die as Legislature mulls cannabis for 65-plus, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

courtesy US Navy
Red Hill fuel tank system PC:US Navy

Federal bill OK’d with funding to drain Red Hill fuel tanks. The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed a short-term funding bill that includes a provision that pushes the Department of Defense to abide by a state emergency order to drain the tanks at the Navy’s underground Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility and provides $100 million in funding for the process. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

Top State Investigator Says White Collar Crime Unit Sat On Government Corruption Cases. One of Hawaii’s top law enforcement officials says state prosecutors have done nothing with cases of white collar crime and government corruption forwarded to them by investigators during the last several years. Civil Beat.

Hawaii creates conduct commission. The state House of Representatives on Thursday created a commission that will recommend how to boost the effectiveness of state ethics, lobbying and campaign finance laws after two former lawmakers earlier this week pleaded guilty in connection with their acceptance of bribes. Associated Press. Hawaii News Now.

Pay raises negotiated for Hawaii public worker union. State labor negotiators have come to terms with one of Hawaii’s larger public workforce unions on a new four-year contract that provides roughly 4% to 5% pay raises in each of the next three fiscal years. Star-Advertiser.

Not In The Cards: Gambling Bills Among Dead Proposals At The Hawaii Legislature. Bills targeting the state auditor’s office and measures to shield the state from inmate lawsuits also failed this year. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Senate recommends passing bill allowing anyone 65 or older to use cannabis for medical purposes. On Monday Feb. 14, Hawaii Senate recommended the passing of a bill that would amend the medical cannabis law in Hawaii to allow any individual 65 or older to use cannabis for medical purposes. KHON2.

State Agencies Were Tasked With Buying More Local Food. Can Hawaii Supply It? A new report shows seven of the 18 departments bought local produce last year, spending a combined $2.6 million. Civil Beat.

DOE Plan For Virtual School Gets Thumbs Down From Board For Lack Of Details. While stressing the importance of in-person instruction, the DOE said it needs to offer an array of learning opportunities, including a virtual option. Civil Beat.

Vaccine booster not required for University of Hawaii students, staff. University of Hawaii students, faculty and staff will not be required after all to get booster shots for COVID-19, UH President David Lassner announced Thursday. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. KITV4.

Rising Covid Deaths Show Continued Toll Of Pandemic Despite Drop In Cases
. Hawaii recorded 16 deaths on Thursday, the second-highest daily number since the pandemic began. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Health Department confirms 29 cases of BA.2 omicron variant in the state. The Hawaii Department Department of Health has confirmed 29 cases of BA.2, a new lineage of the COVID-19 omicron variant first detected in the islands through whole genome sequencing in January. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii records 16 new coronavirus-related deaths, 650 additional infections. New confirmed and probable infection count includes 353 new cases on Oahu, 91 on Hawaii Island, 92 on Maui, 65 on Kauai, six on Molokai, three on Lanai and 40 Hawaii residents diagnosed outside the state. Star-Advertiser.


Blangiardi: Safe Access Oahu program for eateries, gyms will likely be dropped in March. The city is poised to drop vaccine-or-test requirements for patrons of restaurants, bars gyms, movie theaters and other venues in early March, the mayor said Thursday. Hawaii News Now.

Millions unspent as HPD patrol staffing lags and police actions decline. HPD said last year’s unusually large amount of lapsed funds – nearly $18 million – was more than usual because of pandemic-related factors. KHON2.
Deputy sheriff who was fired after nearly 40 years of service files wrongful termination suit.
In the lawsuit, deputy Sheriff Tommy Cayetano alleged that former DPS Director Nolan Espinda fired him in 2020 ― despite having 38 years of service without any disciplinary actions. Hawaii News Now.

Lawyers disagree over legality of HART board’s confidentiality rules. The state Department of the Attorney General has issued an opinion that the board overseeing the city’s troubled rail project has no legal authority to treat board members differently and require legislative appointees to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation to sign new confidentiality agreements. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu to resume normal COVID-19 testing operations at airport; testing added at Honolulu Hale, Kapolei Hale. The City and County of Honolulu’s free COVID-19 testing will continue to be available to all Oahu residents at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, but will return to normal operating hours after they were extended in January. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii businesses face challenging economic climate. Global Village, a small boutique offering apparel, handcrafted jewelry and accessories from around the world, is closing its bricks-and-mortar shop for good and transitioning to an online business full time. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Recent luxury eco-resort proposal near Hilo has residents questioning decades-old zoning maps. Resort designations have been on county land use maps for Keaukaha since the 1971 Hawaiʻi County General Plan. Hawaii Public Radio.

Ige Nominates Big Island Engineer to Serve on State BLNR. Big Island engineer Riley Smith is among several people from throughout the state picked by Gov. David Ige to serve on the Hawai’i Board of Land and Natural Resources. Big Island Now.

Pandemic, animal control issues exacerbate cat overpopulation. The Big Island’s stray and feral cat population has reached a “critical stage” because the COVID-19 pandemic and animal control problems have reduced spay and neuter opportunities and limited the intake of felines. Tribune-Herald.


Maui Police Chief Pelletier highlights first 60 days in office, says morale is good. Maui Police Chief John Pelletier discussed his first 60 days in office during Wednesday’s regularly scheduled Police Commission meeting, summarizing what is being done, and the upcoming plans he has for the department. Maui Now. Maui News.

As MPD faces staffing crisis, county is in desperate need of more 911 dispatchers.
The Maui Police Department is facing a staffing crisis with a vacancy rate of approximately 25%. However, one section in particular is desperately short staffed: 911 dispatchers. Hawaii News Now.

Should Maui Hotels Pay More For Water? This Council Member Thinks So. Both homeowners and general users ranging from mom-and-pop shops to schools to luxury hotels pay largely the same prices for water. Civil Beat.


Balloon prompts jet scramble over Kauai, Air Force says. The Air Force says it is tracking an “unmanned balloon without observable identification markings” after it was spotted over Kauai on Monday. Star-Advertiser. Garden Island.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

State Capitol to reopen to the public soon, public schools continue mask mandate, Michelle Obama holds girls' roundtable, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

copyright 2022 All Hawaii News all rights reserved
Hawaii state Capitol ©2022 All Hawaii News

State House, Senate clash over when to reopen Capitol building to the public. Lawmakers Plan To Reopen Hawaii State Capitol To The Public On March 7. The House also intends to create a panel to review existing laws and propose ethics and campaign finance reforms. Civil Beat. Maui Now. Garden Island. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii’s effort to lower the impaired driving limit is bolstered by a federal report. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a public hearing Friday on Senate Bill 2096, which would drop the threshold for the crime of “operating a vehicle under the influence on an intoxicant” to a blood alcohol concentration of .05 grams per deciliter, down from the current standard of .08 g/dL. Star-Advertiser.

President Joe Biden granted Hawaiʻi’s request Tuesday for a disaster declaration
in the wake of severe storms that tore through parts of the state late last year. Biden approves federal disaster declaration in wake of severe December storm. A powerful Kona low weather system brought heavy rains, flooding, high winds and landslides to the state in December. Hawaii Public Radio.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama leads roundtable in Hawaii with 8 girls from Oahu. Former First Lady Michelle Obama met with eight girls from Oahu for a roundtable conversation on Tuesday to learn more about their future aspirations and career goals. It was part of the first-ever Girls Opportunity Alliance roundtable discussion in Hawaii. Hawaii News Now.

Despite changing policies elsewhere, Hawaii public schools are sticking to mask mandate. School districts around the country are dropping mask requirements. But Hawaii’s Education Department said there are no plans to change their masking policies. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii records 12 new coronavirus-related deaths, 203 additional infections. The new confirmed and probable infection count includes 153 new cases on Oahu, four on Hawaii Island, 28 on Maui, nine on Kauai and nine Hawaii residents diagnosed outside the state. Star-Advertiser.


Honolulu Ethics Commission Rules Out Gift Disclosure For City Employees. However, the ethics commission is planning to propose that the Honolulu City Council consider lowering the cap on the value of gifts to $25. Civil Beat.

Killing in front of Kapolei police station sparks outrage.
A schizophrenic man with a lengthy arrest record allegedly beat a 48-year-old woman to death with a tree trunk in front of the Kapolei police station Tuesday evening, shortly after he was released pending investigation for attacking a police officer. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now. KHON2. KITV4.

HPD Chief Disputes ‘Inaccurate’ SHOPO Patrol Staffing Criticism. Honolulu Police Department Interim Chief Rade Vanic pushed back Wednesday against what he described as false claims by the state’s police union that the department is endangering Oahu residents by failing to staff enough police patrols. Civil Beat.

HART board appointees declined to sign a confidentiality agreement that calls for ‘criminal penalties’ for violating the pact. Two members of the board that oversees the city’s troubled rail project have declined to sign a new confidentiality agreement that calls for “criminal penalties” for violating the agreement. Star-Advertiser.

Condominium owners request more time from City Council to comply with fire safety codes. Condominium owners are asking for more time and more oversight from the Honolulu City Council to comply with a law that requires them to install fire sprinklers or pass a life-safety evaluation test. Star-Advertiser.

Olomana Trail is one of Oahu’s most popular hikes. It’s also one of the most treacherous. The thrill of hiking to Oahu’s steepest peaks entices thousands to Olomana Trail. But many people who decide to make the trek have no idea what the hike entails. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

Concerns over axed eco-resort at Hilo beach spark community engagement discussions. Plans have been axed for a proposed 36-unit luxury eco-resort fronting a popular Hilo beach on Hawaiʻi Island. Concerns over shoreline development near Chock’s Beach in Keaukaha are prompting discussions by residents in this small coastal community. Hawaii Public Radio.

Neighbors of Kona Brush Fire Say Homeless Camps Reason for Recent String of Blazes. Neighbors of the brush fire Wednesday in Kailua-Kona that closed two highways and evacuated multiple subdivisions said there have been several brush fires in the area recently that they believe are started in the nearby homeless camps that go unchecked. Big Island Now.

COVID-19 infections plummet: Four Big Island cases reported Wednesday, down from a high of 834 a month ago. New COVID-19 cases on the Big Island dropped to the single digits Wednesday for the first time since December as the omicron surge continues to weaken. Tribune-Herald.

Charges against BJ Penn dropped.
The state has dropped charges of DUI and reckless driving against former UFC lightweight and welterweight champion BJ Penn. Tribune-Herald.


752-unit affordable housing project proposed in Waiehu. A 752-unit, 100-percent affordable housing project proposed in Waiehu could use roundabouts to calm traffic, include a transit center and be designed to fit the character of the area, the Maui Planning Commission recently suggested. Maui News.

Preliminary work announced for Kahekili Highway slope repair project. Topographic survey work and drilling of soil test borings for the Kahekili Highway slope repair project is now scheduled for Feb. 28 through March 9, 2022, in Kahakuloa. Maui Now.

Feds Propose Lifeline For 44 Endangered Species In Maui County. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public comment on a draft recovery plan for imperiled plants and animals on Maui, Molokai and Lanai. Civil Beat.


KFD urges hiker safety, nine rescues in 2022.  In the wake of several rescues, the Kaua‘i Fire Department has taken to social media to advise the public about the dangers of hiking. Garden Island.