Thursday, March 31, 2022

Capitol no longer requires vax cards for entry, federal transit officials visit Honolulu, complaints dismissed against Maui doctors pushing unproven COVID remedies, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hawaii Capitol ©2022 All Hawaii News

Proof of vaccination or negative test no longer required at Hawaiʻi State Capitol. Visitors to the Hawaiʻi State Capitol will no longer have to show their vaccination card or proof of a negative COVID test, state officials announced Tuesday. Mask rules differ in the state House and Senate. Masks are optional but requested in House chambers and rooms, but are mandatory in Senate chambers and rooms. Hawaii Public Radio.

Omicron Subvariant Now Responsible For 40% Of New Hawaii Infections. Cases of the highly contagious BA.2 Covid strain have been confirmed in every county, prompting fears of a new surge. Hawaii’s daily Covid count has risen slightly in recent weeks, with the state logging a seven-day average of 129 cases Wednesday after hitting a post-omicron surge low of 89 cases March 18, according to the state’s newest numbers. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser.

Local COVID forecasters say eased restrictions will result in small case increase
. The Hawaiʻi Pandemic Modeling Working Group says it expects the lifting of COVID restrictions in all counties to result in a small increase in cases, but nothing like the past omicron and delta variant surges. Hawaii Public Radio.

Two Years Into The Pandemic, Hawaii Is Finally Poised To Test Its Sewage For Covid. After a series of short-lived efforts by state and county agencies, Hawaii is finally primed to launch its own program to test sewage for coronavirus this summer – nearly two and a half years into the pandemic. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

Producer responsibility bill hanging on in the Legislature: Bill seeks to reduce packaging waste in landfills. A bill paving the way to make producers of certain goods take greater responsibility for their packaging waste has cleared the state House and is making progress in the Senate. West Hawaii Today.

UH Faculty Leadership Votes To Condemn Donna Mercado Kim. The University of Hawaii faculty are considering asking Senate leadership to remove Sen. Donna Mercado Kim from the Higher Education Committee. In a rare move, seven of the 10 campus faculty leadership groups issued a public rebuke of Kim condemning her “inappropriate legislative actions,” which they say includes introducing several measures taking aim at the university’s decision-making authority as well as faculty tenure. The votes have been going on all month. Civil Beat.

Gov. Ige Makes New Board of Ed Appointments. The appointees include N. Makana McClellan, the director of business development and community relations at Shriners Children’s Hawaii; Lauren Moriarty, former dean of academics at Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies; and Ken Kuraya, a retired DOE administrator. Civil Beat. Big Island Now.

Ige Names Two To UH Board Of Regents. American Savings Bank Vice President Gabriel Lee and EPIC Ohana Executive Director Laurie Tochiki will assume the Board of Regents seats, pending Senate approval. Civil Beat.

Late kumu hula Edith Kanakaʻole to appear on US quarter
. The late Native Hawaiian hula teacher Edith Kanakaʻole is among five women who will be individually featured on a U.S. quarter next year as part of a program that depicts notable women on the flip side of the coin. Associated Press. Garden Island. Hawaii News Now.


Federal transit officials are in Honolulu for rail project risk analysis amid invasion of Ukraine. Officials from the Federal Transit Administration are in Honolulu this week to do some risk analysis for the latest version of the city’s rail project. Hawaii Public Radio.

Judge Awards $1.375M In An Inmate Suicide At Halawa Correctional Facility. The state admitted liability in the case of a 28-year-old prisoner who was on ‘observation status’ in the medical unit, but hanged himself anyway. Civil Beat. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

Proposal For Waiawa Correctional Facility Aims To Keep Families Together.
A new family resource center comes with a price tag of about $420,000. Civil Beat.

$10 million gift for Mid-Pacific Institute to expand educational opportunities within and beyond campus. An anonymous donor has given $10 million to Mid- Pacific Institute, the largest gift in the Manoa private school’s history. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Waiaka Bridge replacement project picks up steam. A long-stalled project to replace the 90-year-old Waiaka Bridge on Highway 19 in Waimea is moving again. West Hawaii Today.

Two mumps cases detected in South Kona area. The state Department of Health confirmed that two people had been identified, and they are both members of the same household. Tribune-Herald.


State dismisses complaints against Maui doctors over controversial COVID-19 treatments. Two doctors who stirred controversy last year for promoting the anti-­parasitic drug ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine as treatments for COVID-19 have escaped disciplinary action after the enforcement arm of the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs declined to pursue complaints against them. Star-Advertiser.

‘Give us access’: Hunters want to help with Maui County deer overpopulation
. House Bill 1872 requires the Department of Land and Natural Resources to recognize that game mammals provide a food source. Hawaii News Now.

Sonic Drive-In latest big-name chain headed for Hookele. Fast food eatery holds groundbreaking, could open by end of year. Maui News. Maui Now.

$18.5M home becomes Maui’s most expensive sale this year. Originally listed at $19.9 million, the six-bedroom, seven-bathroom home on about an acre in Wailea-Mākena saw high interest and sold in about three weeks. Maui Now.


Kawakami files for reelection. Wednesday, Mayor Derek Kawakami officially filed for reelection. Garden Island.

Kamokila Hawaiian Village forced to close on Kauai. For generations William Kihei Fernandes' 'ohana cultivated native plants, built thatched-roof hale and educated thousands of keiki at the Kamokila Hawaiian Village. The Department of Land and Natural Resources said it allowed the lease to expire in December as the agency reevaluates the use of the four-acre property. KITV4.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley honors Vietnam vets in Honolulu, Smith & Wesson sues over public records costs, Mexican Consulate assists hundreds on Maui, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

PC: Depaartment of Defense
Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff speaks in Honolulu PC:DOD

Vietnam veterans commemorated at Punchbowl. National Vietnam Veterans Day was observed Tuesday at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl in a ceremony attended by the country’s top military leader, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Star-Advertiser. KITV4.

Hawaii Health Department adopts CDC guidance, authorizes 2nd COVID booster for some. Effective immediately, people who received their first booster shot at least four months ago may receive a second booster shot of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine if they are over the age of 50. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

Ige’s New Attorney General Faces Senate Questions Over Employee Complaints. The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to vote on the nominee’s appointment on Friday. Civil Beat.

New Hawaii law clarifies procedures for filing criminal complaints. A newly enacted law that clarifies the process for filing criminal complaints will give prosecutors across the state a chance to refile charges in more than 1,000 misdemeanor cases that were dismissed in the wake of a December ruling by the Hawaii Supreme Court. Star-Advertiser. KITV4.

Bill To Limit Public Access To Government Records Is Dying In The Senate. A bill that would make it more difficult for the public to get access to “pre-decisional” government records is quietly dying in the state Senate, but lawmakers want to establish a working group to consider when those records should be made public, and when they should be kept secret. Civil Beat.

Smith & Wesson Sues Hawaii Over The High Cost Of Public Records. The AG’s office wanted more than $20,000 for records related to firearms issues. Civil Beat.

Commentary: Hawaii Is The Latest State To Get Hit With Claims Of Election Fraud. The state elections commission is looking into a complaint about the accuracy of voter registration rolls. Civil Beat.


Honolulu Prosecutors office pushes for more funding. Honolulu Prosecutor, Steve Alm, wants to hire about 15 more attorneys to help with the caseload. Currently, Alm says there are 89 deputy prosecutors on staff, but keeping them on the job is proving to be a challenge. KHON2.

Resolution calls for completing long-delayed land deal. In 1991, an act of Congress called on the secretary of the Army to hand over to the state 87 acres of land that makes up the western end of Dillingham Airfield, a section of property that also includes the adjacent shoreline, locally known as Army Beach. But the conveyance, for unknown reasons, never happened. Star-Advertiser. KITV4.

Menor To Run For Honolulu City Council, Not Lieutenant Governor. The former councilman and state representative wants to return to Honolulu Hale. Civil Beat.

BWS chief engineer worries Red Hill fuel contamination could be spreading.
A state Department of Health spokesperson wasn’t aware of any changes. Hawaii News Now.

Feds checking new rail plan for potential problems. Federal transit officials are on Oahu this week asking questions about reducing rail construction to 19 stations over 18.75 miles at a cost of $9.8 billion. Star-Advertiser.

‘Complete Streets’ beacon aims to improve safety on Kailua Road. City officials Tuesday morning unveiled a new crosswalk with a flashing beacon to help pedestrians cross a busy thoroughfare in the heart of Kailua town more safely. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Island

Hilo anesthesiologist, Honolulu ex-prosecutor’s brother, pleads guilty to one charge before drug trial.
The brother of former Honolulu prosecutor Katherine Kealoha imprisoned in a corruption case pleaded guilty to one charge in an indictment alleging the doctor prescribed drugs to friends so they could sell them for cash. Rudolph Puana’s drug-dealing trial on 53 other counts began today with jury selection. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Associated Press. Hawaii News Now.

Groundbreaking for new HVO facility within the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s campus could happen next year. A new Hilo home for the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is slowly getting closer to reality. Tribune-Herald.

‘The Flash’ Ezra Miller creates a stir in Hilo: TRO filed against the actor a day after arrest at Hilo bar. A Hollywood actor who was arrested in Hilo on Monday had a restraining order filed against them Tuesday after a series of erratic incidents over the last few weeks. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Now. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.


Hundreds on Maui assisted during Mexican Consulate visit. The Mexican Consulate handled about 480 appointments on March 26 and 27, helping individuals and families with their passports and other documentation. This was the first visit by the Consulate in two years due to the pandemic with brisk demand for appointments. Maui Now.

Kihei roundabout causing headaches and concerns. A new project is underway to make crossing a busy highway in Kihei safer for pedestrians. Construction on the state’s first two-lane roundabout started last week. KHON2.

Kuau landowner fined $60K over shoreline violations. Company must also install sand berms as part of agreement with county. Kuau Cove Properties, the landowner of Mama’s Fish House, will pay the county a $60,000 fine and conduct a project expected to cost upwards of $165,000 to resolve violations that occurred on the shoreline fronting the restaurant in 2019. Maui News.

Lahainaluna boys’ dorm to reopen Sunday. Facility has been closed since late February due to lack of staffing. Maui News.


County seeking funds for Po‘ipu infrastructure projects.
The county is taking another crack at a federal grant which would provide $26 million in funding for road projects in Po‘ipu. Garden Island.

CAP plane was off-course when it crashed. Witnesses say fatal Kauai flight was flying near mountain. U.S. safety regulators said today that a small plane that crashed on Kauai earlier this month and killed two men on board had been flying close to a mountain in poor weather. Associated Press. Garden Island. Hawaii News Now.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Honolulu delays plastic, polystyrene ban, Maui hospital seeks more state aid, 'The Flash' actor Ezra Miller arrested in Hilo bar, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Man checks out Hawaii lunch plate ©2022 All Hawaii News

Honolulu’s Ban On Plastic And Polystyrene Containers Is On Hold For 6 Months. Implementation of Honolulu’s ban on plastic and polystyrene containers is being further delayed after businesses said supply chain challenges are preventing them from complying. Civil Beat.

Bill To Ban Male Jail Guards From Strip Searching Female Inmates Advances. Senate Bill 2777 faces another hearing in the House Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee on Wednesday. Civil Beat.

Lawmakers call on exploring a four-day work week
. Some lawmakers said a four-day work week may not be such a bad idea, and now there is a proposal to create a task force to explore this possibility. KHON2.

Citizen whale counts wrap up for 2022 season. This season’s totals for the three days were higher than last year’s and almost equivalent to 2019. The one-day volunteer counts provide a snapshot of humpback whale sightings and activity from the shoreline across multiple sites, as distinguished from deeper research into population trends. Star-Advertiser.


Water use on Oahu continues rising.
Water use on Oahu has continued to increase since November, despite the Honolulu Board of Water Supply urging residents to implement conservation measures after a fuel leak at the Navy’s Red Hill fuel facility resulted in the closing of three municipal wells. Star-Advertiser.

$1B to defuel Red Hill in budget proposal. President Joe Biden included $1 billion to defuel the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility in his annual budget proposal. This is on top of the hundreds of millions already directed toward dealing with the water contamination crisis. KHON2.

Punawai Hale hoping for full occupancy. Punawai Hale studio apartments hopes to finally fill its 20 units with once-homeless residents by the end of the month after opening in November 2020. Star-Advertiser.

Planning for new Oahu jail hits snag over state funding. Hawaii’s 50-member House of Representatives recently passed a state budget draft that rejects a request from Gov. David Ige to allocate $15 million for continued planning and procurement work to build a new Oahu Community Correctional Center in Halawa. Star-Advertiser.

City expands homeless outreach response team to Kailua. The city’s Crisis Outreach Response and Engagement units, or CORE, made contact with 10 unsheltered individuals living across Kailua last week. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii Island

$600 million DHHL bill advances. A bill that would allocate $112 million to Big Island housing projects on Hawaiian Home Lands is still alive and moving through the Senate. Tribune-Herald.

‘The Flash’ actor Ezra Miller arrested at Hawaii Island bar. Actor Ezra Miller, who has prominent roles in the Justice League and Harry Potter “Fantastic Beasts” film franchises, was arrested for suspicion of disorderly conduct and harassment early Monday after allegedly becoming belligerent at Margarita Village on Silva Street. Star-Advertiser. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.


Maui’s Private Hospital System Is In Need Of More State Aid.
The hospital group is expected to request a state subsidy increase for the first time since Kaiser took over five years ago. Civil Beat.

Kaiser Permanente’s clinic in Kīhei reopens April 4. After being closed for more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kaiser Permanente Hawaiʻi’s clinic in Kīhei will reopen April 4. Maui Now.

College enrollment still trails pre-pandemic levels. There was a slight recovery in college-bound enrollment by Maui County’s 2021 graduating high school seniors compared to the previous graduating class, but efforts to continue higher education are still being hampered by the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on education. Maui News.

Online public meeting to discuss South Maui budget priorities Wednesday. Hosted by Maui County Council Member Kelly Takaya King, a virtual town hall at 6 p.m. Wednesday will discuss South Maui budget priorities for fiscal year 2023. Maui Now.

Former Maui DWS employee says he was fired for pointing out contamination concerns. One year after filing a whistleblower lawsuit against Maui County, a former Department of Water Supply employee is still fighting for his job back. Ashley Hooks’ lawsuit claims he was retaliated against and unlawfully fired in 2020 after he alerted the state that Maui’s largest surface water treatment facility had been contaminated. Hawaii News Now.


DeCosta’s agriculture bills get pushback from local lawyer.
A trio of proposed bills that would eliminate tax exemptions for large-scale tree farms, orchards and wasteland was met with some resistance at a public hearing last week. Garden Island.

How cuts in state mental health care affect Kaua‘i. On Kaua‘i, one clinical psychologist, one social-service assistant and six human-service professionals were laid off as part of the 2020 cuts. Now, despite a state budget surplus, whether or not these positions will be restored remains an open question. Garden Island.

Kauaʻi County to temporarily suspend rental relief program during April. Kauaʻi County will temporarily suspend its rental relief program next month. But government officials will still be accepting new applications for assistance. Hawaii Public Radio.

Lawmakers want Kauai’s Russian Fort Elizabeth to have a new name. Resolutions moving through the state Legislature urge the Board of Land and Natural Resources to restore the eastern shoreline of Kauai’s Waimea Valley, currently called Russian Fort Elizabeth Park, to its former Hawaiian name, Paulaula. Star-Advertiser.


Monday, March 28, 2022

Hawaii drops travel restrictions, most mask mandates, Green, Luke get early union endorsements, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

Honolulu airport July 31 2021 PC:My Kailua Facebook community page

After screening more than 12M passengers, Hawaii lifts all restrictions for mainland arrivals. With the Safe Travels program ended, mainland arrivals came into the islands Saturday without having to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.

Mask rules remain for public school students, stirring mixed opinions. It’s been a month since the CDC updated its guidelines and said they no longer recommend universal indoor masking in education settings with low or medium COVID levels. DOH continues to recommend indoor masking. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii becomes last state to lift mask mandate, but some opt to keep wearing them. While businesses can decide to put mask rules in place, the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii says most are leaving the decision up to customers. Hawaii News Now.

Judge Dismisses Vaccine Mandate Suit. A federal judge said Hawaiian Airlines employees challenging the company’s vaccine requirement could sue again after the EEOC has made a final determination. Civil Beat.

These Environmental Bills Have Survived The Legislative Process So Far. Most of the bills proposed by the Environmental Legislative Caucus have died, with only five of 12 measures remaining. Civil Beat.

Two broadband internet-related bills still alive. Most broadband internet-related bills are dead in the state Legislature, while a surviving bill will create another state agency to develop broadband infrastructure.  Tribune-Herald.

Hawaiian Home Lands financial-assistance proposal stirs debate. Proposals to infuse $600 million to help clear the backlog of Hawaiian Home Lands beneficiaries include different ways to provide financial assistance to Native Hawaiians willing to remove themselves from the waitlist of 28,700 beneficiaries. Star-Advertiser.

Federal funding earmarks to help boost University of Hawaii research to record $500 million. Thanks in part to the return of congressional budget earmarks, the University of Hawaii system will receive tens of millions of dollars in the new federal budget, including research dollars that will help bring UH’s overall research funding to a record-­high $500 million for the year. Star-Advertiser.

Panel recommends 5 nominees to Hawaii Land Board.
The Senate Committee on Water and Land recently held public hearings on two separate days to vet five nominations from Gov. David Ige for the seven- member board overseeing the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii’s Population Continues A Slide That Began In 2017, New Data Shows. The pandemic interrupted survey collection efforts but researchers say the new data can be helpful to chart Hawaii’s demographic shifts. Civil Beat.

Justice department urges vigilance as internet crimes cost Hawaii more than $17 million in 2021. People in Hawaii lost $17.2 million to online crimes last year, with investment scams, romance cons and the illegal use of digital currency accounting for the largest financial swindles, according to the FBI Internet Crime Report. Star-Advertiser.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green Is Racking Up Union Endorsements, Adding To His Momentum. The primary election is still nearly five months away and only a handful of candidates have formally filed to run, but Lt. Gov. Josh Green and state Rep. Sylvia Luke are already emerging as two of the biggest beneficiaries in the biennial union endorsement sweepstakes. Civil Beat.


Land plan pits University of Hawaii against Hawaiian homes agency. Hawaii lawmakers are trying to force the University of Hawaii to give a long-vacant piece of land near Diamond Head to the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. Star-Advertiser.

City plans to increase enforcement of short-term vacation rentals. The city Department of Planning and Permitting plans to hire short-term vacation rental investigators following persistent complaints about property owners taking advantage of short-term rental regulations in residential zones. Star-Advertiser.

Honolulu COVID quarantine sites will transition to affordable housing, city officials say. City officials said the number of rooms needed for isolation-quarantine dropped from 58 in January to less than five by mid-March, and that as of Wednesday, only two individuals remained at Harbor Arms, one of its two facilities. Star-Advertiser.

State and city eye 19 empty Waikiki lots. State Rep. Adrian Tam is leading a drive to get the city to purchase long-vacant plots of Waikiki land owned by Okada Trucking Co. and earmark it for higher use. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Island

Keauhou Bay redevelopment and bungalow resort proposed. The state’s largest private landowner is seeking public input on a plan to reconfigure commercial and cultural attractions at Keauhou Bay and build a 150-unit bungalow-style resort. West Hawaii Today. Big Island Video News.

Skate park design unveiled: Project would cost about $6M over four phases of construction. After 15 years of unfulfilled plans, a conceptual design for the Hilo Skate Park finally was revealed to the community Thursday night. Tribune-Herald.

Council advances Waikoloa timeshares. A plan to replace nine holes of golf at Waikoloa Beach Resort with 900 timeshare units, a 140-unit workforce housing complex and 25 single-family home lots was advanced Wednesday by the County Council after a dispute between council members over whether asking for a list of community benefits amounts to “pay to play.” West Hawaii Today.

Trial delayed again: Ex-cop in missing drug case fires attorney as jury selection got underway. A former Hawaii Police Department officer slated to stand trial last week on charges stemming from a May 2019 indictment for allegedly stealing cocaine from a police evidence locker in Hilo back in May 2016 received a continuance after firing his court-appointed attorney. West Hawaii Today.

Is Katherine Kealoha A Credible Witness In The Coming Drug Trial Of Her Brother? The criminal trial for the brother of disgraced former Honolulu Deputy Prosecutor Katherine Kealoha, Rudolph Puana, a Big Island anesthesiologist accused of running an illicit prescription drug ring, is set to start this week following repeated delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Civil Beat.

HCC students grow crops on Honua Ola land
; 90% of harvest will go to The Food Basket. Big Island agriculture students are taking the opportunity to plant produce on three acres of land through a partnership with Honua Ola Bioenergy in Pepeekeo. Tribune-Herald.


Hawaiian Electric mulls later shutdown for Kahului plant. Hawaiian Electric is weighing whether to push back the retirement of its fossil fuel-reliant Kahului Power Plant as it works to get spare parts for four engines at another key facility. Maui News.

PARKLINQ introducing ‘smart parking’ at Maui Ocean Center. Hawaiʻi-based company PARKLINQ has developed a high-tech, tiered parking rate system, which the company says is the first of its kind in the world. Maui Now.


While visiting Kaua‘i, Gov. Ige talks infrastructure, COVID.
On this most recent trip, Ige and his team came for a blessing of the Lihu‘e Airport, showcasing the renovations to the lobby and ticketing area, marking yet another point of investment by the state in county infrastructure. Garden Island.

Friday, March 25, 2022

State agricultural land may be transferred, Legislature mulls limiting governor's emergency powers, two counties gain, two lose population in census, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Cattle in Hawaii ©2022 All Hawaii News

 As Covid-19 Emergency Ends, Hawaii Lawmakers Consider Limits On Executive Power. Two measures that would give lawmakers the authority to end the governor’s emergency proclamations have advanced to their final committees in the House and Senate. Civil Beat.

Effort To Transfer State Agricultural Land Survives Latest Hurdle. Long-standing plans to transfer agricultural land from Hawaii’s land and resources agency to the Department of Agriculture encountered new difficulties this week in the Legislature. Civil Beat.

U.S. Census data shows losses and gains for Hawaii.
The Census Bureau estimated Oahu’s population at 1,000,890 as of July 1, down 1.2%, from the year-earlier figure. Hawaii County, the second most populous in the state, had an estimated 202,906 residents, an increase of 2,160, or 1.1%, according to Census data. Maui County’s population also declined over the 12- month period, by 434 residents to 164,221, down 0.3%. Kauai County saw its population grow by 253 residents to 73,454, an increase of 0.3%. Star-Advertiser.

Gov. Ige extends COVID-19 food assistance spending. Hawaii Gov. David Ige has signed an emergency proclamation allowing federal funds to continue to flow to food assistance recipients during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic national public health emergency, his office said Thursday. The proclamation allows $18 million in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP benefits to go to recipients each month. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii’s COVID mandates set to end tonight. The face masks are coming off after 11:59 p.m. today, when Hawaii lifts its indoor mask mandate — but not everywhere. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii Public Radio. Hawaii News Now.


Judge Rejects Amemiya Effort To Dismiss Conspiracy Charge. Former Honolulu managing director Roy Amemiya’s attempt to dismiss his federal conspiracy charge was denied by U.S District Court Judge Leslie Kobayashi on Thursday. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

Masks will still be required on TheBus, TheHandi-Van after Friday. Riders will still need to wear masks at all times while onboard TheBus as well as TheHandi-Van after Friday under federal rules, according to the Honolulu Department of Transportation Services. Star-Advertiser. KHON2. KITV4.

Debate Over Who Should And Shouldn’t Be In Jail Is Tripping Up Plans For A New Oahu Facility. A leading Democrat is withholding funding for a new jail in Halawa, arguing officials won’t really know how large the jail should be until the bail reform debate is resolved. Civil Beat.

Hawaiʻi Department of Health moves to long-term phase of remediating Red Hill water shaft. It’s been about a week since the Department of Health gave the all-clear for homes and businesses on the military’s water system. Experts are now dealing with the long-term phase of remediating the Red Hill water shaft. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii Island

Roth recounts challenges, accomplishments during first state of the county address. It was a trial by fire for Mayor Mitch Roth and his new administration in late 2020 when he took office during the midst of a global pandemic and uncertain economic times. West Hawaii Today. Civil Beat. Big Island Video News.

Audit of fire department identifies weaknesses.
A county audit of the Hawaii Fire Department reveals it’s beleaguered by a shortage of workers and resources.Tribune-Herald.


Maui Mayor Outlines Plan For $1 Billion County Budget. Maui Mayor Michael Victorino on Thursday released his proposed $1 billion budget for the next year, outlining how he plans to run Maui County and invest in new projects like repaving roads, boosting beach parking options for local residents and shoring up water systems to protect against natural disasters. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

Proposed agreement with Waikapu project earns committee’s support. A Maui County Council committee on Wednesday threw its support behind a proposed public-private partnership between the county and developers of Waikapu Country Town that would add more affordable housing in exchange for the developer’s required contribution toward a wastewater treatment plant and other traffic improvements. Maui News.

Hawaii cannabis industry expands with additional Maui dispensary, new edibles options.
Maui Grown Therapies on Friday will open its third medical cannabis dispensary, this one in Pukalani. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now.

Maui County to resume in-vehicle road testing Monday, DMVL says. In-vehicle road testing will resume starting this Monday for learner’s permit holders seeking driver’s licenses for passenger vehicles, according to a county Division of Motor Vehicles and Licensing announcement Wednesday. Maui Now. Maui News.


Judge Rejects Plea Deal For Former Kauai Councilman Who Led Meth Ring. Arthur Brun changed his plea to guilty as part of an agreement with prosecutors. But a judge rejected the deal, opening up the possibility of a trial. Civil Beat. Garden Island.

Council begins FY23 budget discussions. The Kaua‘i County Council is poring over Kawakami’s March submittal which seeks a $260.2 million operating budget and $48.9 million capital improvement projects budget. Garden Island.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Altered Mauna Kea management plan advances, Case pushes for Jones Act waiver, Legionnaires’ disease pops up in Waikiki, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Mauna Kea visitors ©2022 All Hawaii News

Bill seeking new management for Mauna Kea advances in Senate. A bill that would establish a new authority to oversee the stewardship of Mauna Kea’s summit advanced in the state Senate on Wednesday with changes intended to provide a more gradual transition away from the University of Hawaii. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Hawaii Public Radio. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News. Hawaii News Now.

Case urges Jones Act waiver, calls out Matson, Pasha.
U.S. Rep. Ed Case on Wednesday criticized the two main ocean cargo companies shipping goods between the mainland U.S. and Hawaii — Matson Navigation Co. and Pasha Hawaii Transport Lines — for opposing his request to President Joe Biden to exempt Hawaii from the Jones Act for the duration of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Tribune-Herald.

Legislative Bill calls for audit of State's Agricultural Parks. The House Agricultural Committee voted on Wednesday to advance two resolutions calling for an audit of the state's 10 agricultural parks. KITV4.

Hawaii State Hospital continues to bar visitors.
As COVID-19 vaccines became widely available through the first half of 2021, hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and jails throughout the country began reopening their facilities to in-person visitation, helping ease the isolation and loneliness that had gripped many since the start of the pandemic. But the Hawaii State Hospital, which houses mentally ill patients referred by the courts, has continued to bar visitors. Star-Advertiser.

Local Habitat for Humanity branches receive $9.25M from unexpected national gift. Habitat for Humanity Maui and Kauaʻi Habitat, organizations that build and renovate homes for low-income residents, are among 82 Habitat affiliates gifted $436 million by Scott. Hawaii Public Radio.

University of Hawaii to suspend COVID-19 vaccine, testing requirements. Starting Saturday, the University of Hawaii 10-campus system will suspend its mandatory vaccination rule for students and employees. Star-Advertiser. KITV4.

Foodland to close its 7 pharmacies, transfer all prescriptions to Longs Drugs. Foodland Super Market, Ltd. today announced it will be transferring all prescriptions from its Foodland Pharmacies to Longs Drugs, and closing all seven of its pharmacy locations by mid-April. Star-Advertiser. Garden Island. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii’s Indoor Mask Mandate Is Finally Ending. The two-year requirement will expire at midnight Friday, leaving a perplexing patchwork of mask choices and policies for locals and tourists to navigate. Civil Beat.

Hawai‘i reports 827 Covid-19 cases, 5 additional deaths in past week. The statewide test positivity rate is 2.9%. -- the positivity rate in Honolulu County is 3.6%; on the Big Island it's 1.5%; in Maui County it's 2.3%; and on Kauai it is 2.8%. Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 239,591 total infections to date. KITV4.


New parking rules, restrictions proposed for short-term rentals. New rules prohibiting on-street parking for vacation rentals in communities zoned as rural, residential or apartment use will be considered before the City Council as soon as next month. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

Former Honolulu corporation counsel Donna Leong did not lie to the FBI, attorney says. The city’s former corporation counsel entered a not guilty plea today to new charges that she made false statements to agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation about who she spoke with and how she organized a $250,000 separation settlement with former Honolulu police Chief Louis Kealoha. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat.

State Investigation: Hawaii Investment Firm CEO Falsified Campaign Donations. JL Capital CEO Timothy Lee is accused of eight counts of illegal contributions to Keith Amemiya and Kym Pine in the 2020 Honolulu mayoral election. Civil Beat.

City prosecutor clears 2 HPD officers in fatal shooting of machete-wielding man.
Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm said during a news conference this morning that the use of deadly force resulting in the death of Elia S. Laeli, 41, was justified, and no charges will be filed against the two officers. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Hawaii News Now.

Lawmakers request prioritization of affordable housing if water shortage affects building projects. The Honolulu Board of Water Supply says it will consider a request by state lawmakers to prioritize affordable housing if new development projects are curtailed because of water shortages. Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii Health Department investigating 2 cases of Legionnaires’ disease in Waikiki. The Hawaii Department of Health today said it is investigating two cases of Legionnaires’ disease in guests who stayed at The Grand Islander by Hilton Grand Vacations in Waikiki. Star-Advertiser. Maui Now.

Hawaii Island

County to halt COVID-19 testing beginning Saturday. County-sponsored testing began on March 23, 2020, and administered 90,310 PCR tests islandwide throughout the two-year period. West Hawaii Today

Bus’n out with buses: Electric, hydrogen and fossil fuel buses forming new Hele-On fleet. Hawaii County is planning to jump into electric buses in a big way with 10 new buses planned as early as next year and an East Hawaii charging network as a pilot project. West Hawaii Today.

Are rising energy costs an emergency? Council members receive update from Hawaiian Electric. During a Tuesday meeting of the County Council Committee on Regenerative Agriculture, Water, Energy and Environmental Management, council members heard an update from Hawaiian Electric about the rising energy costs on the island stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News.

Department of Hawaiian Home Lands breaks ground on project in Kealakehe. The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands broke ground Wednesday on a 125-lot project in Kealakehe. Star-Advertiser. West Hawaii Today. Big Island Video News.

Police: Excavators unearth grenade in Keaukaha
. Police say that an excavation company uncovered what appeared to be an old, unexploded military-style hand grenade last week while digging a hole for a utility pole. West Hawaii Today. Big Island Now. Hawaii News Now. KHON2.


Committee wants Ethics Board to look into Napili home’s approval process. Construction resumes on controversial structure after stop-work order lifted. Maui News.

Mama’s Fish House owner, Maui County reach agreement over shoreline violation. Maui Planning Commission on Tuesday heard a settlement agreement that proposed the landowner pay a lesser fine of $25,000 in exchange for committing to a costlier, five-year beach nourishment project fronting the restaurant. Maui News.

Piʻilani Highway roundabout at Kūlanihākoʻi to proceed. The State of Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation is developing the proposed intersection improvements to provide access to the new high school and slow higher speed traffic along Piʻilani Highway. Maui Now.

New emergency proclamation signed for Maui County’s axis deer problem related to drought
. Last year, large numbers of axis deer started migrating into agricultural and developed areas, seeking food and water during a period of drought in Maui County. Maui Now.


County required to update plumbing code. A bill making the necessary changes was introduced to the Kaua‘i County Council on Wednesday, with letters of support from the Plumbing &Mechanical Contractors Association of Hawai‘i and Plumbers and Pipefitters UA Local 675. Garden Island.

Kauaʻi taro farmers champion measure that could change water lease process across Hawaiʻi.
  Kauaʻi taro farmers champion measure that could change water lease process across Hawaiʻi. In Waiʻoli Valley on Kauaʻi’s north shore, one group of taro farmers is pushing for legislation that could be a game changer for taro farmers across the islands. Hawaii Public Radio.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Minimum wage battle continues in Legislature, illegal campaign contributions investigated in Honolulu mayoral race, Maui loses a round in homeless sweeps court case, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands


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Pool workers at Hilton Waikoloa Resort ©2022 All Hawaii News

Hawaii lawmakers tussle over 1 minimum wage bill. A clash of wills and philosophies among state lawmakers over how to raise Hawaii’s minimum wage now appears centered on one bill at the Legislature instead of two. Star-Advertiser. Garden Island.

State funding for Hawaii Tourism Authority up for debate. The state House of Representatives is allotting the Hawaii Tourism Authority a dollar to pay for its operations, and has eliminated all money for staffing in the version of the state budget that it transmitted to the Senate. Star-Advertiser.

Hawaii Kids Could Lose Access To Free Meals At School With End Of Federal Funding. Public school students have been eligible for free breakfast and lunch during the pandemic through a program that is set to expire in June. Civil Beat.

Red Hill crisis could be a pivotal moment for discussions on the U.S. military's future in Hawaiʻi.
Native Hawaiians have long had a contentious relationship with the federal government — and the military in particular — over its land use, from the bombing of Kahoʻolawe to water contamination at Red Hill. Hawaii Public Radio.

Burning Wood For Power? It’s A Question Utilities Commission Nominee Will Face. A key state senator is pushing for adding “firm renewables” to Hawaii’s mix of electricity sources, including two controversial projects. Civil Beat.

Careless Mistakes’ And Other Problems Are Keeping The Hawaii State Hospital Closed. The $160 million new hospital building has remained empty for more than a year as the state resolves personnel issues, construction problems and design flaws. Civil Beat.

State Wants $1 Million To Accredit Conservation Officers. A joint panel of House lawmakers Tuesday morning voted unanimously to advance Senate Bill 3019, which would require the state Department of Land and Natural Resources to get accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. Civil Beat.

Longtime BOE member Herb Watanabe dies at 93.
Herbert S. Watanabe, former elected member and chairman of the state Board of Education, died Feb. 21 in Honolulu. He was 93. Tribune-Herald.


Billionaire-backed developer under investigation for illegal political donations. The state Campaign Spending Commission is investigating a local developer for alleged campaign finance abuses. In a complaint made public Tuesday, the commission alleges that Timothy Lee, CEO of JL Capital, improperly reimbursed three employees and a former worker after they gave $12,000 to the political campaigns of former Honolulu mayoral candidates Kym Pine and Keith Amemiya in 2020. Hawaii News Now.

Hawaii Health Department says Red Hill response has cost it $1.5 million.
The state Department of Health is seeking $1.5 million in emergency funds to cover its ongoing costs from responding to the Navy’s Red Hill water crisis. Star-Advertiser.

City extends downtown preschool lease for six months. Plans for a major overhaul to the city’s Civic Center underground parking structure are forcing a large preschool sitting atop it to vacate the premises, but Mayor Rick Blangiardi on Tuesday announced a six-month lease extension and admitted to miscommunication with school officials. Star-Advertiser. Hawaii Public Radio. Hawaii News Now.

Board of Water Supply says restrictions may be necessary
amid dry weather and fuel contamination. Board of Water Supply Manager and Chief Engineer Ernie Lau told state lawmakers that rising salt levels have been detected in its Beretania Well in Honolulu. Hawaii Public Radio. KHON2.

Hawaii Island

Mauna Kea stewardship bill runs into opposition at Senate hearing. A bill that would establish a new authority to oversee the stewardship of Mauna Kea’s summit ran into a volley of opposition Tuesday in a hearing before a state Senate committee. Star-Advertiser. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Video News.

Bill to select site for new Kona hospital awaits final committee hearing.
House Bill 1638 was passed 4-0 by the Senate Committee on Health, Human Services and Homelessness following a hearing Friday afternoon. West Hawaii Today.

Ige: No to Roth’s Energy Emergency Request.
Hawaiʻi County Mayor Mitch Roth is so concerned about how much higher energy costs could increase, he asked Gov. David Ige last week to declare an energy emergency, which could expedite decisions by the state Public Utilities Commission on renewable energy projects. Big Island Now.


Lawsuit over “houseless sweeps” at Kanahā advances, County of Maui plans to appeal. A Maui judge rejected the County of Maui’s request to dismiss a lawsuit filed against it by residents of a “houseless encampment” at Kanahā during “sweeps” conducted late last year. Maui Now. Hawaii News Now. KITV4.

King steps down from council, leaves door open for state run. She endorses Robin Knox, who’s set to face King’s 2020 challenger Tom Cook. Three-term Maui County Council Member Kelly Takaya King is stepping down from her South Maui seat, though she left the door open for a possible run at state office. Maui News. Maui Now.

Mayor Victorino to present FY 2023 proposed budget. Mayor Michael Victorino will present his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2023 at 1 p.m., Thursday, March 24, in the Council Chamber on the 8th floor of the Kalana O Maui Building, 200 S. High Street in Wailuku. Maui Now.


State House resolution urging Waimea park renaming. A state House committee moved forward a resolution to formally rename Waimea’s Russian Fort Elisabeth State Historical Park to Pa‘ula‘ula. Garden Island.

State, county celebrate completion of Lihu‘e Airport Ticket Lobby Improvements. The state Department of Transportation hosted the blessing for the recent improvements to the ticket lobby. Useable area was increased by relocating the the U.S. Department of Agriculture baggage-screening equipment and filling in four garden areas. Garden Island. KHON2.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Slow travel trend seeks cultural experiences, Kauai Civil Air Patrol crash leaves two dead, omicron subvariant BA.2 spreads statewide, more news from all the Hawaiian Islands

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Hula lessons ©2022 All Hawaii News

New 'slow travel' trend counters the fast-paced social media motivated visitor. A relatively new travel trend is countering the fast-paced, excitement-driven marketing of destinations. A local research firm says Hawaiʻi could benefit from this concept — called “slow travel.” Hawaii Public Radio.

Hawaii hotel occupancy starts soft, but momentum is building. Hawaii hotels kicked off the year with a softer start than expected, but this week’s endpoint for the state’s Safe Travels program is expected to help the industry slide into a more robust summer. Star-Advertiser.

Omicron subvariant BA.2 now present in all major Hawaii counties. The omicron subvariant, BA.2, now makes up approximately 13% of the variants circulating in Hawaii, according to the latest report from the state Department of Health State Laboratories Division. Star-Advertiser.

Legislature Passes Bill To Clear Up ‘Chaotic Situation’ In State Courts. A Hawaii Supreme Court ruling in December led to the dismissal of dozens of cases as well as confusion among judges over how to interpret it. Civil Beat.

Legislature advances bill giving counties more power to take private property. A bill giving counties the power to take private property where civil fines have accrued and sell it to clear up the debt has passed the state House and its first Senate committee. West Hawaii Today.

Coffee labeling bill headed to final Senate hearin
g. The measure would require coffee blend labels to disclose geographic and regional origins and percentage by weight of the blended coffees. It would also prohibit using geographic origins of coffee in labeling or advertising for roasted or instant coffee that contains less than a certain percentage of coffee by weight from that geographic origin, phased in to a minimum of 51%. West Hawaii Today.

Senate Panel Approves Governor’s Land Board Nominees. The new members will be dealing with a number of hot-button issues, including Mauna Kea management, military leases and  aquarium fishing. Civil Beat.

EPA offers 10 new low-emission school buses to Hawaiʻi public schools. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is granting Robert's Hawaiʻi School Bus $200,000 to replace 10 buses running on diesel fuel. The models from 2005 will be replaced with 2022 diesel buses. Hawaii Public Radio.


New rail route is just ‘first phase,’ Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi says. The latest idea to end rail construction at Halekauwila and South streets would cost $9.8 billion and, if approved, assure three years of federal funding that would save about $100 million in financing costs, Mayor Rick Blangiardi said Monday. Star-Advertiser.

HART CEO Says She Won’t Accept Potential $25,000 Bonus. The executive director leading Honolulu’s struggling rail project now says that she will not accept a $25,000 bonus for her first year on the job, days before the board that oversees her was slated to vote on that award. Civil Beat.

Hawaii lawmakers considering regulatory shake-up of Aloha Stadium project. Hawaii senators are pushing to shake up control of an effort in progress to replace Aloha Stadium and redevelop 73 acres of state land around a new facility in Halawa. Star-Advertiser.

To slow ‘monster home’ construction, city revokes permit for Pacific Heights property. The city last year issued to permit to the owners of the home at 2761 Pacific Heights Road, but pulled it because the planned development apparently exceeded the square footage limits. Hawaii News Now.

The Navy Water Crisis Could Halt New Construction On Oahu. If the water system can’t take on new users, it would be “catastrophic,” a construction industry lobbyist said. Civil Beat. KHON2.

Mayor hopes HPD can fill hundreds of vacancies to increase police presence. Right now there are over 320 vacancies in the Honolulu Police Department. Hawaii News Now.

Former Hawaii News Now Director Is Blangiardi’s New Spokesman
. The mayor said the city did poorly last year “controlling the narrative.” He hopes a new communications director will change that. Civil Beat.

Hawaii Island

Stewardship measure could imperil astronomy on Mauna Kea, University of Hawaii says. A controversial measure that would remove the University of Hawaii from its role as manager of the Mauna Kea summit will be heard in a public hearing this afternoon before a state Senate committee.  Star-Advertiser. Tribune-Herald. Hawaii News Now.

County officials provide update on Puna roads cut off by 2018 eruption. Work to fully restore Pohoiki Road is now not expected to be completed until late 2025. Tribune-Herald. Big Island Now.


Save Maui trip money by camping in a rental? Council may put brakes on the growing practice. Rental vehicles with camping accessories can’t be used as visitor accommodations under a new proposal being considered by county lawmakers.  Maui Now.

State to pay $550K to family of inmate who hanged herself at Maui jail. The state has agreed to pay more than half a million dollars to the family of a Maui inmate. The lawsuit claims guards did nothing to prevent the mother of four from committing suicide back in 2017. Hawaii News Now.

Food hub grows beyond expectations. Nonprofit Maui Food Hub expanded operations and services after securing a new facility with warehouse partner SunFresh Hawaii LLC in Kahului last month. Organizers say this space doubles their previous capacity. Maui News. Maui Now.


2 volunteer pilots killed in Civil Air Patrol crash. Two volunteers with the Hawaii Wing of the Civil Air Patrol were killed when their plane crashed Sunday afternoon a few thousand feet below the Kalalau Lookout on Kauai during a training exercise. Star-Advertiser. Civil Beat. Associated Press. Big Island Now. Maui Now. Garden Island. Hawaii News Now.

Rebecca Like swears in as Prosecuting Attorney. County of Kaua‘i Prosecuting Attorney Rebecca “Becky” Like was sworn into her position by Judge Randal Valenciano during a private ceremony in the Fifth Circuit Court. Garden Island.

Incumbents sweep KIUC board election. The makeup of the Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative board of directors will remain the same for another year, following KIUC’s annual board election concluded Saturday. Garden Island.

Omicron variant detected in wastewater.
The state Department of Health recently added testing wastewater samples on Kaua‘i to its various methods of monitoring variants, state DOH Kaua‘i District Health Office Deputy Director Lauren Guest said Monday. Garden Island.