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.

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